Gill's Sermons

A DECLARATION OF THE FAITH AND PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, IN CARTER LANE, SOUTHWARK, UNDER THE PASTORAL CARE OF DR. JOHN GILL

 

Read and assented to at the Admission of Members.

 

Having been enabled, through divine grace, to give up ourselves to the Lord, and likewise to one another by the will of God, we account it a duty incumbent upon us, to make a declaration of our faith and practice, to the honour of Christ, and the glory of his name; knowing, that as with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, so with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; {Ro 10:10} a which declaration is as follows, namely,

 

I. We believe, That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, are {2Ti 3:15-17; 2Pe 1:21} the word of God, and the only {Joh 5:39; Ac 17:11; 2Pe 1:19-20} rule of faith and practice.

 

II. We believe, That there is but one {De 6:4; 1Co 8:6; 1Ti 2:5; Jer 10:10} only living and true God: that there are {1Jo 5:7; Mt 28:19} three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son {Joh 10:30; Php 2:6; Ro 9:5; 1Jo 5:20} and the Holy Ghost {Ac 5:3-4; 1Co 3:16-17; 2Co 3:17-18} are as truly and properly God as the Father. These three divine persons are distinguished from each other, by peculiar relative properties: The distinguishing character and relative property of the first person is begetting; he has begotten a Son of the same nature with him, and who is the express image of his person; {Ps 2:7; Heb 1:3} and therefore is with great propriety called the Father: The distinguishing character and relative property of the second person is that he is begotten; and he is called the only begotten of the Father, and his own proper Son; {Joh 1:14; Ro 8:3,32} not a Son by creation, as angels and men are, nor by adoption, as saints are, nor by office, as civil magistrates; but by nature, by the Father’s eternal generation {Ps 2:7} of him in the divine nature; and therefore he is truly called the Son: The distinguishing character and relative property of the third person is to be breathed by the Father and the Son, and to proceed from both, {Job 33:4; Ps 33:6; Joh 15:26; 20:26,22; Ga 4:6} and is very Properly called the Spirit, or breath of both. These three distinct divine persons, we profess to reverence, serve, and worship as the one true God. {1Jo 5:7; Mt 4:10}

 

III. We believe, That before the world began God did elect {Eph 1:4; 1Th 1:4; 5:9; 2Th 2:13; Ro 8:30; Eph 1:5; 1Jo 3:1; Ga 4:4-5; Joh 1:12} a certain number of men unto everlasting salvation whom he did predestinate to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ of his own free grace, and according to the good pleasure of his will; and that in pursuance of this gracious design, he did contrive and make a covenant {2Sa 23:5; Ps 89:2,28,34; Isa 42:6} of grace and peace with his son Jesus Christ, on the behalf of those persons; wherein a Saviour {Ps 89:19; Isa 49:6} was appointed, and all spiritual {2Sa 23:5; Isa 55:3; Eph 1:3} blessings provided for them; as also that their {De 33:3; Joh 6:37; 10:28-29; Jude 1-25} persons, with all their grace {2Ti 1:9; Eph 1:3; Col 3:3-4} and glory, were put into the hands of Christ, and made his care and charge.

 

IV. We believe, That God created the first man, Adam, after his image, and in his likeness, an upright, holy, and innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying him: {Ge 1:26-27; Ec 7:29; Ps 8:5} but he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God; {Ro 5:12; 3:23} the guilt of whose sin is imputed; {Ro 5:12,14,18-19; 1Co 15:22; Eph 2:3} and a corrupt nature derived to all his offspring descending from him by ordinary and natural generation: {Job 14:4; Ps 51:5; Joh 3:6; Eze 16:4-6} that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean; averse to all that is good, incapable of doing any, and prone to every {Ro 8:7-8; 3:10-12; Ge 6:5} sin: and are also by nature children of wrath, and under a sentence of condemnation; {Eph 2:3; Ro 5:12,18} and so are subject, not only to a corporal death, {Ge 2:7; Ro 5:12,14; Heb 9:27} and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual; {Mt 8:21; Lu 15:24,32; Joh 5:25; Eph 3:1} but are also liable to an eternal death, {Ro 5:18; 6:23; Eph 2:3} as considered in the first Adam, fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance, but by Christ, the second Adam. {Ro 6:23; 7:24-25; 8:2; 2Ti 1:10; 1Co 15:45,47}

 

V. We believe, That the Lord Jesus Christ, being set up from {Pr 8:22-23; Heb 12:24} everlasting as the Mediator of the covenant, and he having engaged to be the {Ps 49:6-8; Heb 7:22} Surety of his people, did in the fulness of time really assume Joh 1:24; Ga 4:4; Heb 2:14,16-17 human nature, and not before, neither in whole, nor in part; his human soul being a creature, existed not from eternity, but was created and formed in his body by him that forms the spirit of man within him, when that was conceived in the womb of the virgin; and so his human nature consists of a true body and a reasonable soul: both which, together and at once the Son of God assumed into union with his divine person, when made of a woman, and not before; in which nature he really suffered, and died {Ro 4:25; 1Co 15:3; Eph 5:2; 1Pe 3:18} as the substitute of his people, in their room and stead; whereby he made all that satisfaction {Ro 8:3-4; 10:4; Isa 42:21; Ro 8:1,33-34} for their sins, which the law and justice of God could require; as well as made way for all those blessings {1Co 1:30; Eph 1:7} which are needful for them both for time and eternity.

 

VI. We believe, That eternal Redemption which Christ has obtained by the shedding of his blood {Mt 20:28; Joh 10:11,15; Re 5:9; Ro 8:30} is special and particular: that is to say, that it was only intentionally designed for the elect of God, and sheep of Christ, who only share the special and peculiar blessings of it.

 

VII. We believe, That the justification of God’s elect, is only by the righteousness {Ro 3:28; 4:6; 5:16-19} of Christ imputed to them, without the consideration of any works of righteousness done by them; and that the full and free pardon of all their sins and transgressions, past, present, and to come, is only through the blood of Christ, {Ro 3:25; Eph 1:7; Col 2:13; 1Jo 1:7,9} according to the riches of his grace.

 

VIII. We believe, That the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and faith, is not an act of {Joh 1:13; Ro 9:16; 8:7} man’s free will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious, and irresistible grace {Php 2:13; 2Ti 1:9; Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:3; Eph 1:19; Isa 43:13} of God.

 

IX. We believe, that all those, who are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sanctified by the Spirit, shall certainly and finally {Mt 24:24; Joh 6:39-40; 10:28-29; Mt 16:18; Ps 125:1-2; 1Pe 1:5; Jude 24; Heb 2:13; Ro 8:30} persevere; so that not one of them shall ever perish, but shall have everlasting life.

 

X. We believe, That there will be a resurrection of the dead; {Ac 24:15; Joh 5:28-29; Da 12:2} both of the just and unjust; and that Christ will come a second time to judge {Heb 9:28; Ac 17:31; 2Ti 4:1; 2Th 1:7-10; 1Th 4:15-17} both quick and dead; when he will take vengeance on the wicked, and introduce his own people into his kingdom and glory, where they shall be for ever with him.

 

XI. We believe, That Baptism {Mt 28:19-20; 1Co 11:23-26} and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of Christ, to be continued until his second coming; and that the former is absolutely requisite to the latter; that is to say, that those {Ac 2:41; 9:18,26} only are to be admitted into the communion of the church, and to participate of all ordinances in it, {Mr 16:16; Ac 8:12,36-37; 16:31-34; 8:8} who upon profession of their faith, have been baptized, {Mt 3:6,16; Joh 3:23; Ac 8:38-39; Ro 6:4; Col 2:12} by immersion, in the name of the Father, {Mt 28:19} and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

 

XII. We also believe, That singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs vocally, {Mt 26:30; Ac 16:25; 1Co 14:15,26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16} is an ordinance of the Gospel, to be performed by believers; but that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their {Jas 5:13} liberty in using it.

 

Now all, and each of these doctrines and ordinances, we look upon ourselves under the greatest obligation to embrace, maintain, , and defend; believing it to be our duty {Php 1:27; Jude 3} to stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel.

 

And whereas we are very sensible, that our conversation, both in the world and in the church, ought to be as becometh the Gospel of Christ; {Php 1:27} we judge it our incumbent duty, to {Col 4:5} walk in wisdom towards them that are without, to exercise a conscience {Ac 24:16} void of offence towards God and men, by living {Tit 2:12} soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

 

And as to our regards to each other, in our church-communion; we esteem it our duty to {Eph 4:1-3; Ro 12:9-10,16; Php 2:2-3} walk with, each other in all humility and brotherly love; to watch {Le 19:17; Php 2:4} over each other’s conversation; to stir up one {Heb 10:24-25} another to love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as we have opportunity, to worship God according to his revealed will; and, when the case requires, to warn, {1Th 5:14; Ro 15:14; Le 19:17; Mt 18:15-17} rebuke, and admonish one another, according to the rules of the Gospel.

 

Moreover, we think ourselves obliged {Ro 12:15; 1Co 12:26} to sympathize with each other, in all conditions, both inward and outward, which God, in his providence, may bring its into; as also to {Ro 15:1; Eph 4:12; Col 3:13} bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings and infirmities; and particularly to pray for one another, {Eph 6:18-19; 2Th 3:1} and that the Gospel, and the ordinances thereof, might be blessed to the edification and comfort of each others souls, and for the gathering in of others to Christ, besides those who are already gathered.

 

All which duties we desire to be found in the performance of, through the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit whilst we both admire and adore the grace, which has given us a place, and a name in God’s house, better than that of sons and daughters. {Isa 56:5}

A DEFENSE OF A BOOK, ENTITLED, THE ANCIENT MODE OF BAPTIZING BY IMMERSION

 

Plunging, Or Dipping In Water, Etc. AGAINST MR. MATTHIAS MAURICE’S REPLY, CALLED, Plunging into Water no Scriptural Mode of Baptizing, etc.

 

Chapter 1. Some Remarks on Mr. M’s entrance to his Work

 

Having lately attempted to vindicate the ancient mode of baptizing, by immersion, plunging, or dipping into water, against the exceptions of an anonymous pamphlet, entitled, The manner of baptizing with water, cleared up from the word of God and right reason, etc. The author, who appears to be Mr. Matthias Maurice of Rowell in Northamptonshire, has thought fit to reply. He seems angry at the treatment he has met with; but if he thought that his name would have commanded greater respect, why did not he put it to his book? and why did he refuse to give satisfaction to his friends when inquired of about the author of it? Would he be treated as a gentleman, a scholar, or a Christian? he ought to have wrote as such. Who is the aggressor? who gave the first provocation? If I have any where exceeded the bounds of Christianity, or humanity, I would readily acknowledge it upon the first conviction; but who indeed "can touch pitch, without being defiled with it?" Three or four pages are filled up with a whining, insinuating harangue, upon the nature of controversies, and the disagreeable temper and spirit with which they are frequently managed; designing hereby to wipe himself clean, whilst he is casting reproach upon others. I would not be an advocate for burlesque and banter in religious controversies; but if he would have them banished from thence, why does he make use of them, even in this his performance, which begins with such loud exclamations against them. As for instance, how does he pun upon presumptive proofs, page 13 and in page 27. Speaking of our baptizing in holes or cisterns, as he is pleased to call them, "Thus, says he, you have forsook the scriptural way of baptizing with water, and have hewn out unto yourselves cisterns," referring to Jer 2:13 besides the frequent sneers with which his book abounds. Now if burlesque and banter, in general, ought to be laid aside, much more punning and bantering with the words of scripture, which are sacred and awful. Is this the man that directs others to "write in the fear of God, having the awful Judge, and the approaching judgment in view;" and yet takes such a liberty as this? He says, page 7, "I shall not entertain the reader with any remarks upon his performance, as it is ludicrous, virulent and defaming:" Which, itself is a manifest defamation, as the reader cannot but observe; it being asserted without attempting to give one single instance wherein it appears to be so. With what face can he call it ludicrous; when he himself, in the debate, has been so wretchedly guilty that way? when he talks, page 9 of "Christ’s being under water still: and in page 10 of John’s thrusting the people into thorns and briars, when he baptized in the wilderness;" as also his concluding from Philip and the Eunuch’s coming up out of the water, page 19 that "neither of them was drowned there;" with other such like rambling stuff, which he might have been attained to publish to the world. Moreover, what defamation has he been guilty of, in representing it, as the judgment of "some of us to baptize naked?" page 22. And in the words of a servant of Christ, as he calls him, page 44 tells the world that we "baptize persons in thin and transparent garments;" which, in other cases, would be accounted down right lying. Nay even in this his last performance, page 44 he has the assurance to insinuate, as if we ourselves thought plunging to be immodest, because we put lead at the bottom of our plunging garments; why could not he as well have argued from our making use of clothes themselves? it is strange that a carefulness to prevent every thing that looks like immodesty, should be improved as an evidence of it: None but a man that is ill-natured and virulent, would ever be guilty of such an insinuation. What his friends, at Rowell, may think of his performances, I cannot tell; but I can assure him, that those of his persuasion at London think very meanly of them; and, as the most effectual way to secure the honor of their cause, which is endangered by such kind of writing as his, say, "he is a weak man that has engaged in the controversy;" though, perhaps, some of his admirers may think that he is one of the mighty men of Israel, who, like another Samson, has smote us hip and thigh; but if I should say, that it is with much such an instrument as he once used, I know that I should be very gravely and severely reprimanded for it, my grace and good manners called in question, and perhaps be pelted into the bargain, with an old musty proverb or sentence, either in Greek or Latin; but I will forbear, and proceed to the consideration of his work, as he calls it. His first attack, page 8 is upon a final sentence of Latin, made use of to express the nauseous and fulsome repetition, of threadbare arguments in this controversy, to which he has thought fit, to give no less than three several answers.

 

1. He says the Latin is false, because of an erratum of coctum for cocta; which had I observed before the last half sheet had been worked off, should have been inserted among the errata; whereby he would have been prevented making this learned remark; though had it not fallen under my notice, before he pointed it to me, he should have had the honor of this great discovery. He does well indeed to excuse his making such low observations, as being beneath the vast designs he has in view. I might as well take notice of his Greek proverb, page 25 where osper, is put for asper, and charge it with being false Greek, though I should rather choose to ascribe it to the fault of the printer, than the inadvertency of the writer. However, he does well to let his readers know that he can write Greek; which they could not have come at the knowledge of, by his former performance. But why does not he give a version of his Latin and Greek scraps, especially seeing he writes for the benefit of the Lord’s people, the Godly, and poor men and women, that cannot look into Dictionaries, and consult Lexicons; besides, all the wit therein will be lost to them, as well as others be left unacquainted with his happy genius for, and skill in translating.

 

2. He says, "the application of this sentence is false:" But how does it appear? why, because at Rowell he and his people are very moderate in the affair of baptism, they seldom discourse of it; when every body knows, that has read my book, that the paragraph referred to, regards not the private conversation of persons on that subject, but the repeated writings which have been published to the world on his fide the question. If the different sentiments of his people, about Baptism, "make no manner of difference in affection, church-relation," etc. as he says page 9 why does he give them any disturbance? what could provoke him to write after the manner he has done? He knows very well, however mistaken they may be about this ordinance, in his apprehensions, yet that they are conscientious in what they do; why should he then sneer at them, as he does for their practice of plunging, and fix upon them the heavy charges of superstition and will-worship? Is not this man a wise shepherd, that will give disturbance to his flock, when the sheep are still and quiet?

 

3. He would have his reader believe, that in using this sentence, I would insinuate, that the notions wherein they differ from us about baptism are poisonous, when I intend no such thing; nor does the proverb, as expressed by me, lead to any such thought, but is used for a nauseous repetition of things, with which his performance, we are considering, very plentifully abounds. We do not look upon mistakes about the grace of God, the person of Christ, and the person and operations of the Spirit, to be of a lesser nature than those about Baptism, as he reproachfully insinuates; for we do with a becoming zeal and courage, oppose such erroneous doctrines in those who are of the same mind with us, respecting baptism, as much as we do in those who differ from us therein. Page 10. He seems to be angry with me for calling him an anonymous author; what should I have called him, since he did not put his name to his book? he asks, "Who was the penman of the epistle to the Hebrews?" Very much to the purpose indeed! and then brings in a scrap of Greek out of Synesius, with whom, however he may agree in the choice of an obscure life, yet will not in the affair of Baptism; for Synesius was baptized upon profession of his faith, and after that made bishop of Ptolemais. "Hundreds of precious tracts, he says, have been published without the names of their authors;" among which, I hope, he does not think his must have a place, it having no authority from the scripture, whatever else it may pretend to; as I hope hereafter to make appear.

 

Chapter 2. The proofs for immersion, taken from the circumstances which attended the Baptism of John, Christ, and his Apostles, maintained: and Mr. M’s demonstrative proofs, for pouring or sprinkling, considered.

 

The ordinance of water-baptism, is not only frequently inculcated in the New Testament, as an ordinance that ought to be regarded; but also many instances of persons who have submitted to it, are therein recorded, and those attended with such circumstances, as manifestly show, to unprejudiced minds, in what manner it was performed.

 

1. The baptism of Christ administered by John deserves to be mentioned, and considered first: This was performed in the river Jordan, {Mt 3:6,13} and the circumstance of his coming up out of the water, as soon as it was done, recorded verse 16 is a full demonstration that he was in it; now that he should go into the river Jordan, to have water poured, or sprinkled on him, is intolerable, and ridiculous to suppose. Mr. M. in his debate, page 6 tells us, that the words "only signify, that he went up from the water;" to which I replied, that the preposition apo signifies out of, and is justly rendered so here. I gave him an instance of it, which he has not thought fit to except against; yet still he says, the "criticism delivers us from a necessity of concluding, that Christ was in the water:" though it has been entirely baffled; neither has he attempted to defend it. And, because I say, that "we do not infer plunging, merely from Christ’s going down into, and coming up out of the water;" therefore he would have the argument from hence, as well as from the same circumstances attending the baptism of the Eunuch, wholly laid aside; which I do not wonder at, because it presses him hard. He seems to triumph, because I have not, in his positive and dogmatical way, asserted those circumstances, to be demonstrative proofs of immersion; as though they were entirely given up as such; but he is more ready to receive, than I am to give. This is a manifest indication, I will not say, of a wounded cause only, but of a dying one, which makes him catch at every thing to support himself under, or, free himself from those pressures, which lie hard upon him. We insist upon it, that those proofs are demonstrative, so far as proofs from circumstances can be so; and challenge him to give the like in favor of pouring or sprinkling. Is it not a wretched thing, to use our author’s words; that not one text of scripture can be produced, which will vindicate the practice of sprinkling in baptism; and that among all the instances of the performance of the ordinance, which are recorded in scripture; not one single circumstance can render it so much as probable?

 

2. We not only read of many others baptized by John, but also the places which he chore to administer it in, which will lead any thinking, and considering mind to conclude, that it was performed by immersion: Now, one of those places, where John baptized a considerable number, and among the rest Christ Jesus, was the river Jordan, {Mt 3:6; Mr 1:5,9} the latter of which texts Mr. M. says, page 12 "leads us to no other thought, than that Jesus was baptized of John at Jordan as the preposition eiw, he says, is sometimes translated;" though he gives us no one instance of it. Now in his debate, page 7 he says, "that the holy Ghost himself tells us, that nothing else is intended by it than baptizing in Jordan;" and yet this man takes a liberty to differ from him. What will he be at next? to such straits are men driven, who oppose the plain words of the Holy Ghost, as he is pleased to say in another case. Ænon was another of those places, which John chose to baptize in; and the reason of his making choice of it was, because there was much water there, {Joh 3:23} which was proper and necessary, for the baptizing of persons by immersion. Mr. M. says, page 19 "that the holy Ghost does not say that they were baptized there, because there was much water; but that John was also baptizing in Ænon because there was much water there;" but what difference is there? Why only between John’s administering the ordinance, and the persons to whom it was administered. He says, page 21 that I have granted that the words, he means udata polla, literally denote, "many rivulets or streams;" which is notoriously false; for I do in express words utterly deny it; and have proved from the use of the phrase in the New Testament, and in the Septuagint version of the Old, as well as from Nonnus’s paraphrase of the text, that it signifies "large waters, or abundance of them:" I do assure him, that neither of the editions of Nonnus, which he has the vanity to mention, was made use of by me; but if there had been any material difference in them, from what I have made use of, I suppose he would have observed it to me, if he has consulted them; and I would also inform him, that Nonnus has not always a Latin version printed along with it, as he wrongly asserts. I have consulted Calvin upon the place directed to by him: the text says, that Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea; and Calvin upon it says, that "he came into that part of the country which was nigh to Ænon;" but neither the text, nor Calvin upon it, say that they were both at Ænon, as our author insinuates; so that from hence there appears no necessity of concluding that choice was made of this place for the accommodation of the large number of people which attended, either upon the ministry of Christ or John; that so both they and their cattle might be refreshed, as he ridiculously enough suggests. As to the account he has given of the land of Canaan, it is manifest, notwithstanding all his shifts and cavils, that he did represent it in general as a land that wanted water, especially a great part of it; now whatever little spots (for the land itself was not very large) might not be so well watered, yet it is certain, that in general it was; and is therefore called a land of brooks of water, etc. But since he acknowledges there was plenty of water at Ænon, where John was baptizing, which is sufficient for our purpose, we need not further inquire about the land.

 

3. Another remarkable instance of baptism is that of the Eunuch’s, in Ac 8:38 we are told, that they came unto a certain water, where the Eunuch desiring baptism, and Philip agreeing to it, after he had made a confession of his faith, it is said, Ac 8:38, that they went down both into the water; they first came to it, and then went into it; which leaves that observation without any real foundation, which supposes that their going down into the water signifies no more than the descent which led to the rivers for they were come thither before, as appears from Ac 8:36 where a phrase is made use of different from this in Ac 8:38. Now though I had observed to our author, that it was not to, but into the water they went, to which he has not thought fit to reply; yet he still produces his impertinent instance of going down to the sea in ships; which is all that can be obtained from him, to set aside the force of this evidence; which, how weak and ridiculous it is, will easily appear to every judicious reader. Now if persons will but diligently consider those plain instances of baptism, in an humble and hearty search after truth, they will find that they amount to little less than a full demonstration that it was performed in those early times of John, Christ, and his apostles, by an immersion or plunging of the whole body under water, as has been fully acknowledged by many great and excellent divines, But now let us consider Mr. M’s demonstrative proofs for pouring or sprinkling water in baptism, produced by him, page 14.

 

1. He says, "pouring water in baptism, is a true representation of the donation of the Spirit; being, according to God’s word, instituted for that end." {Isa 44:3; Eze 36:25; Mt 3:11; 1Co 12:13} But the word of God no where expresses, or gives the least intimation, that baptism was instituted for any such end; it is true, the donation of the Spirit is sometimes called a baptism, and so are the sufferings of Christ; but do we make use of such mediums as there to prove the representation of them to be the end of this ordinance? though it would with equal strength conclude the one as the other: Besides, he might as well argue, that the end of baptism is to represent the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, because that is called a baptism also. But how does pouring of water in baptism, according to the practice of our modern Paedobaptists, represent the donation of the Spirit, when they only let fall a few drops of water upon the face? But the Spirit’s grace is expressed by pouring floods of water upon his people in Isa 44:3 one of the texts referred to by our author. Though I have acknowledged, and still do, that the ordinary donation of the Spirit is sometimes expressed by pouring, and sometimes by sprinkling, yet that it was the extraordinary one which the disciples received on the day of Pentecost, that is particularly called the baptism of the Spirit and of fire, by John and Christ. Now says Mr. M. page 17 if this was by pouring, then you are undone: perhaps not. But what does he think will undo us? why the prophecy of Joel, cited in Ac 2:16-17. I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. To which I reply, that though this extraordinary instance of the Spirit’s grace is expressed, as well as the more ordinary ones are, by pouring, under the Old-Testament-dispensation, in allusion to those frequent libations, or drink-offerings, which were then used; yet it need not seem strange, that when this prophecy was nearer accomplishing, and there was a greater display of divine grace, that another word should be used which more largely expressed the abundance of it: It is no wonder that it should be more abundant in the exhibition than in the prophecy; besides this text, and all others in the Old Testament, which express the Spirit’s grace in this, or any other form of language whatever, can never be looked upon as sufficient proofs of the manner in which a New-Testament ordinance is to be administered, which was never instituted with a view to represent it.

 

2. He says, it, that is, "pouring water in baptism," exactly answers to John’s "baptism he said that he baptized with water." {Lu 3:15} But it seems, according to him in page 15 that the phrase of baptizing with water, regards the strength of the administrator’s arms, wherewith he performs, and not the mode of baptizing; so that he can pretty easily tell us wherein and wherewith a person may be plunged, though he still says plunging with water is an expression without sense; but he cannot yet inform us how a man can be plunged in it, without being plunged with it. I urged that in all the evangelists the words are, en udap, "in water," excepting Lu 3:16 where the preposition is omitted, which has occasioned some to think it redundant in the other Evangelists, which I observe no ways hurts our sense and reading of the words; now he wonders that this should make for our reading, or be of any use to us; when all that I observe is, that it does not make against us; if it does, let him make it appear. John baptized in water, persons were baptized by him in the river Jordan, and not with it.

 

3. Another demonstrative proof of "pouring water in baptism, is, that it is exactly agreeable to the signification of the word, as the Lord gives it to us in the New Testament." {1Co 10:2} Which place I shall more fully consider hereafter, and make it appear, that it is there to be understood in the sense of dipping or plunging.

 

4. His last proof is, "that it directly answers the promise of what Christ should do, {Isa 52:15} so shall he sprinkle many nations;" to this text he says, page 43 the commission in Mt 28:19 refers, which if it does, though I cannot see it can without a very large stretch, it must be only in that part of it which concerns the teaching of the Gentiles by the ministry of the apostles, and not that which respects the baptizing of them; for the word here rendered sprinkle, is rwbd zyn expressive of speaking, as Kimchi on the place observes; and the meaning is, that Christ shall speak to the Gentiles in the ministry of the gospel by the apostles, with so much power, majesty, and authority, that Kings themselves shall shut their mouths at him; that is, shall silently submit to the scepter of his grace, and to the doctrines of his gospel; for that which had not been told them, shall they see; and that which they had not heard, shall they consider. Moreover, who, in the world, could ever imagine, that the ordinance of water baptism, with the mode of its administration, should be intended here? a man must have his imagination prodigiously heated indeed, and his mind captivated with a mere jingle of words, that can look upon such proofs as there, fetcht out of the Old Testament, as demonstrative ones of the true mode of baptizing under the New. Thus we have had a taste, as he calls it, of his demonstrations of pouring or sprinkling water in baptism.

 

Chapter 3. A vindication of Erasmus, and of his version of. {Ac 10:47} The author of the debate in page 22 urges the impropriety of Peter’s speech in Cornelius’ house, when he talked of forbidding water in baptism, if plunging was the right mode of its administration; to which I replied, that if there was any impropriety in the text, it was not to be charged, either upon the words or sense of the holy Ghost, but upon our translation; and urged, that the word water should be put in construction with the word to be baptized, and not with the word forbid, and the whole text be rendered thus, Can any man forbid that these should be baptized in water, which have received the holy Ghost as well as we? and produced the testimony of Erasmus to confirm it. Now let us attend to Mr. M’s animadversions upon it. And,

 

1. Within the compass of four or five lines, he tells two palpable and notorious untruths; for first, he affirms that I say that the words in

Ac 10:47 and Ac 1:2 are not more easy or more usual.

 

5. The sense of the text requires such a transposition of the words; for the meaning is not, as if Peter thought that any person would go about to hinder them of water convenient for the administration of the ordinance of baptism; for such a sense of the words would be trifling and jejune, and yet this our version seems to incline to; but that there might be some who would be displeased with, and to their utmost oppose, the baptizing of those Gentiles. Hence Peter says, Who can forbid that these should be baptized in water? Therefore, and what will further confirm this sense and reading of the words, he commands them in the next verse to be baptized: he does not order water to be brought unto them, but that they be baptized in the name of the Lord. To all which,

 

6. Might be added, that this transposition of the words has not its confirmation only from the authority, judgment and learning of Erasmus which is not inconsiderable, but also from others; for, as Cornelius a Lapide has observed, both the Tigurine version, and that of ‘Pagnines Pagnine’s, read the words the same way: so that however Erasmus may be disapproved of by the learned, as our author asserts, yet it seems this version is regarded by them.

 

Chapter 4. The end of the institution of the ordinance of Baptism, considered.

 

As the ordinance of water-baptism derives its authority from Christ, so it was instituted by him for some end or other, which may make for his own glory, as well as for the comfort, edification, and increase of faith in his people; and what that end is, we shall now inquire. Mr. M. page 33 says, "the manifest end of it is a representation of the donation of the Spirit to us in the new covenant." {Isa 44:3; Mt 3:11; 1Co 12:13} As for the former of there proofs, I need only say, that an Old-Testament-text can never be a proof or evidence of what is the end of the institution of a New-Testament-ordinance: Besides, if it could be thought to have any reference to the affair of baptism, it would only regard the mode, and not the end of this ordinance, for which he has cited it already, and to what purpose has been also shown. As for the two latter texts here produced by him, they only inform us, that the Spirit’s grace is called a baptism, and so are the sufferings of Christ, {Lu 12:50} the representation of which he will not own to be the end of baptism, though every body will see that this may be as strongly concluded from hence, as what he contends for; besides, the martyrdom of the saints is called a Baptism, {Mt 20:23} as also the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, {1Co 10:2} yet no body ever thought that the design of baptism was to represent either of these. Now these are what he calls the plain proofs of the manifest end of baptism, without any force upon scripture. What sort of readers does Mr. M. expect to have, that will be imposed upon by such proofs as there? But there are manifest proofs which fully discover to us, that the end of this ordinance is to represent the sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Christ has particularly instituted two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s-Supper, to be observed by his people; and the end of the one is no less evident than that of the other. It is said of the Lord’s-Supper, As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. {1Co 11:26} It is also said of Baptism, That so many of us, as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into his death. {Ro 6:3} Did Christ say in the celebration of the Ordinance of the Supper? This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. {Mt 26:28} His disciples in his name have also laid, Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins: {Ac 2:38} that is, that their faith in that ordinance might be led to the blood of Christ, by which remission of sins was procured; to the grave of Christ, where they were left; and to a risen Savior, where they have a full discharge from them; all which, in a very lively manner, is represented in this ordinance of baptism. There are many other texts, besides their, which would lead any truly serious and inquiring mind to observe this to be the true end of baptism, as Ro 6:4; Col 2:12; 1Pe 3:21, and 1Co 15:29 but because those texts are excepted against by Mr. M. it will be proper more particularly to consider them, and what he is pleased to advance against the commonly received sense of them. 1st, "Ro 6:4; Col 2:12" he says, "are not to be understood of water-baptism, but of the baptism of Christ’s sufferings, in which his people were considered in him, and with him, as their head and representative." I firmly believe the doctrine of Christ’s being a common head, representative, and surety of all the elect of God; for which reason, in my reply, I acknowledged his sense of those texts to be agreeable to the analogy of faith; on the account of which he triumphs, as if it shone with an unconquerable evidence, as his expression is, page 34 when I never owned it to be the true sense of the words; for a sense may be given of a text that is agreeable to the analogy of faith, which is foreign enough to the mind of the holy Ghost therein; as for instance, if of Ge 1:1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; a man should give such a sense as this, that God chore a certain number of men in Christ unto salvation, before he created the heaven and the earth: This is a sense that is agreeable enough to the analogy of faith, but none will say that it is the sense of the text. But let us a little consider the exposition of those texts, so much boasted of, and see how well it will bear. As for Ro 6:4. though we are hid to be buried with him in baptism, yet it is added, Wherein also you are risen with him; but how we can be laid to be risen with him in the baptism of his sufferings, will, I believe, not be very easy, to account for. It is better therefore to understand those texts, in the more generally received sense both of ancient and modern divines, who unanimously interpret them of water baptism; in which the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are very evidently represented, when performed by immersion. 2dly, He says, 1Pe 3:21 is not meant of water baptism, but of the blood of Christ sprinkled upon the conscience. That the blood of Christ, as sprinkled upon a believer’s conscience, is ever called a Baptism, I never met with; and, I will venture to say, can never be proved. Besides, the baptism that Peter speaks of was a figure, anptupon, " an antitype" of Noah’s ark, and of the deliverance of him and his family by water; which was a kind of resurrection from the dead, and did well prefigure our salvation by the resurrection of Christ, represented to us in the ordinance of water baptism. 3dly, The sense of 1Co 15:29. given by me, is also objected against by Mr. M. page 32 and another substituted in its room. Let the readers of the controversy between us judge which is most agreeable. The text is difficult, and has employed the thoughts and pens of the most able and learned men in all ages: Both the senses have their defenders. I shall only refer the reader to the learned notes of Sir Norton Knatchbull, on 1Pe 3:21 where both those texts are considered by him; and where he has sufficiently proved, from scripture, fathers, schoolmen, and modern interpreters, that the ordinance of baptism is a true figure, and just representation of the resurrection of Christ, and of ours by him.

 

Chapter 5 A consideration of the signification of the Greek word paptizw, and particularly, the use of it in Mr 7:4; Lu 11:38, and Heb 9:10.

 

That the proper, primary, common, and natural sense of the Greek word Baptizw, is to dip or plunge, has been acknowledged by the greatest masters of that language; and it is a rule which should be carefully attended to, that the first, natural, and common sense of a word ought to be used in the interpretation of scripture, unless some very good reason can be given why it should be used in a remote, improper, and consequential one. Now though the nature, end, and circumstances of the ordinance of baptism, manifestly shew that immersion is the right mode of administering it, and do abundantly confirm the sense of the Greek word, directing us to the proper and primary use thereof; yet some have endeavored to confine it to a more low and remote sense, but none have attempted to do it with more positiveness and confidence than our author. But what method does he take to effect it, and how does he succeed therein? Why, 1st, he will exclude all the testimonies of the use of the word among Greek authors uninspired, especially Heathens; which is unreasonable If our translators had confined themselves to this rule, they would have made but poor work in their version of some part of the Bible, where a word is but once used, or at least but very rarely in that sense in which it is to be taken. Now if a controversy concerning the use of a Greek word in scripture arises, which cannot be determined by it, though I do not say this is the case in hand, what methods must be taken? Will it not be very proper to consult Greek authors, either Christian or Heathen, and produce their testimonies, especially the latter? who cannot be suspected of perverting the use of a word, having never been concerned in our religious controversies. But it seems, if we will make use of them, we must be said under an obligation to prove that: "they were delivered under the immediate inspiration of the holy Ghost" was ever such an unreasonable demand made in this world before? Or was the inspiration of the holy Spirit ever thought necessary to fix and determine the sense of a word? But I am willing to lay aside those testimonies in this controversy. And, 2dly, Be confined, as he would have me, to the use of the word in the New Testament; but then I must, it seems, be confined to the use of it, as applied to the ordinance of baptism, which is also unreasonable: He says the word, whenever applied to the ordinance, signifies pouring or sprinkling only; which is a shameful begging of the question; and if I should say it only signifies dipping or plunging, whenever applied to it, how must the controversy be decided? Must we not refer the decision of it to other texts of scripture? It is true, the circumstances, which attend the administration of the ordinance are sufficient to determine the true sense of the word, and I am willing to put it upon that issue; but I know he will not stand to it: Besides, why has he himself brought other texts of scripture into the controversy, where the ordinance or baptism is not concerned? As Mr 7:4; Heb 9:10, and 1Co 10:2 as also the Septuagint version in Da 4:33 why may not others take the same liberty? And what miserable replies has he made to my instances out of the latter? that in 2Ki 5:14 he says, discovers that they, that is, the Septuagint, understood no more by it than, louw. No more than louw! Is not that enough? is not louw a word that includes in it all kinds of washing, especially bathing of the whole body; and is always used by the Septuagint to express the Jewish bathings, which were always performed by immersion; and that Naaman understood the prophet of such a kind of washing, is manifest from his use of it; he dipped himself in Jordan, kata to rhma Elisaiv? according to the word of Elisha. As for the other in Isa 21:4 he says, "it is no wonder they made use of the word, for they knew very well that sin procures showers of divine displeasure to be poured upon a person, people, and nation." I desire the next time he pretends to baptize an infant, that he would pour showers of water upon it, if he thinks proper, according to this sense of the word Baptizw, which he allows of. But however, though those testimonies must be laid aside, yet, 3dly, I hope Lexicons may be made use of to direct us in the sense of the word, if it is only as it is used in the New Testament. Yes, that will be allowed of; for Mr. M. himself consults Lexicons, though he does well to let us know so; for one would have thought, by his positiveness, that he had never looked into one in all his life. Well, but what do the Lexicons say? How do they render the word baptizw? Why by mergo, immergo, to dip or plunge into; and this they give, as the first, and primary sense of the word; but do they make use of no other words to express it by? Yes, they also use abluo, lavo, to wash; and they mean such a washing as is by dipping, but Mr. M. page 38 asks, where do they tell us so? I answer in their Lexicons. Let Scapula be consulted, who thus renders the word Baptizo, mergo seu immergo: Ut quae tingendi aut abluendi gratia aquae immergimus. But, 4thly, Let us now consider those texts where the word is used in the New Testament; I am willing to be confined to those which Mr. M. himself has fixed upon, and we will begin, First, With Mr 7:4 and when they come from the market, except they wash or baptize (themselves) they eat not; which may be understood either,

 

1. Of the things they bought in the market, which they did not eat until they were washed: Thus the Syriac version reads the words; and what they buy in the market, unless it be washed, they eat not: The same way read all the oriental versions, the Arabic, Ethiopic, and Persic. Now this must be understood of those things that may be, and are proper to be washed, as herbs, etc. And nobody will question, but that the manner of the washing there was by putting them into water. But,

 

2. If the words design the washing of persons, they must be understood, either of the washing of their whole bodies, or else of some part only; as their hands or feet: It seems most likely, that the washing of the whole body is intended, as Grotius, Vatablus, Drufius, and others think; because washing of hands is mentioned in the preceding verse. Besides, to understand it thus, better expresses the outward, affected sanctity of the more superstitious part of the people. All the Jews washed their hands and feet before eating; but those who pretended to a greater degree of holiness, washed their whole bodies, especially when they came from a market; and of this total ablution of the body is Lu 11:38 to be understood. And here I cannot forbear mentioning, a passage of the great Scaliger to this purpose. "The more superstitious part of the Jews," says he, "not only washed their feet, but their whole body." Hence they were called Hemerobaptists, who every day washed their bodies before they sat down to food; wherefore, the Pharisee, which had invited Jesus to dine with him, wondered that he sat down to meat before he had washed his whole body, Lu 11. But those that were more free from superstition, were contented with washing of their feet, instead of that universal immersion. Witness the Lord himself, who being entertained at dinner by another Pharisee, objected to him, when he was sat down to meat, that he had given him no water for his feet, Lu 7. If, by this washing, we understand only the washing of their hands when they came from market; then it will be proper to inquire in what manner this was performed: And it must be observed, that whatever was the manner which they used, it was not used as a national custom, or as it was according to the word of God; but what was most agreeable to the traditions of the elders, as is manifest from the text itself. Now this tradition is delivered in their Misna in these words; "They washed their hands before they eat common food, by an elevation of them; but before they eat the tithes, the offering, and the holy flesh, they washed by immersion."  It is reported in the same tract, that Johanan Ben Gud-Gada, who, they say, was one of the most religious in the priesthood, "always eat his common food after the manner of purification for eating of the holy flesh;" that is, he always used immersion before eating; and it is highly reasonable to suppose, that the Pharisees, especially the more superstitious part, who pretended to a greater strictness in religion than others, used the same method. It deserves also to be remarked, that this tradition, which some of the Jews have been so tenacious of, that they would rather die than break it, is by them laid to be founded on Le 15:11 and hath not rinsed his hands in water; where the Hebrew word qfç is used, which signifies a washing by immersion: and so Buxtorf renders it. Moreover, in the above said Misna we are told many things concerning this tradition, as the quantity and quality of the water they used, the vessels they washed in, as well as how far this washing reached, which was qrp d[, by which they meant, either the back of the hand or the wrist or else the elbow, as Theopylact observes on Mr 7:3 who in this is followed by Capellus.  Now some one of these, the word pugmu intends, which we translate oft. As to their manner of washing, it was either by taking water in one hand and pouring it upon the other, and then lifting it up, that the water might run down to the aforesaid parts, that so it might not return and defile them; or else it was performed by an immersion of them into water; which latter was accounted the moot effectual way, and used by the more superstitious part of the Jews. Now those who contend the most for a washing of hands, and not the whole body, as Pocock and Lightfoot, yet frankly acknowledge that it must be understood of washing of them by immersion. Lightfoot’s words are these, "The Jews used, says he, "µydy tlyfg" a washing of hands; that is, by lifting them up in the manner before described; and µyry tlibf an immersion of the hands; and the word niywntai, used by our Evangelist, seems to answer to the former, and Baptizwontai, to the latter." So that from the whole, suppose washing of hands is here intended; yet the sense of the Greek word, Baptizw contended for, is nevertheless effectually secured: Nor need we be much concerned at 2Ki 3:11 being thrown in our way by Mr. M. page 41. For,

 

1. The text does not say that Elisha poured water upon the hands of Elijah, to wash his hands withal: and if he asks what did he then do it for; suppose I should answer, I cannot tell, how will he help himself? It lies upon him to prove that he did it for that end, which he will not find very easy to do.

 

2. Some of the Jewish writers think, that washing of hands, is not intended, but some very great miracle, which followed upon Elisha’s pouring water on Elijah’s hands, and is therefore mentioned as a thing known, and what would serve to recommend him to the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom. But taken in the other sense, the recommendation would be but very inconsiderable; besides, they were now in a very great strait for water, 2Ki 3:9 and they might expect, from his former performance, some miracle would be now wrought by him for their relief, as was 2Ki 3:17,20. But,

 

3. Suppose washing of hands is intended, and that this phrase is expressive of Elisha’s being Elijah’s ministering servant, and that it was his usual method to wash his master’s hands by pouring water upon them; it makes nothing against the sense of the word in Mr 7:4 since that regards the superstitious walking of hands, as has been observed, which was performed by an immersion of them, and is there justly reprehended by our Lord. Secondly, The other text produced by Mr. M. in page 41 is Heb 9:10 where the apostle speaks of divers washings or baptisms, which I have asserted to be performed always by bathing or dipping, and never by pouring or sprinkling. And I still abide by my assertion, the instances produced by him being insufficient to disprove, it 1. He mentions Heb 9:19 where the apostle speaks of Moses’s sprinkling the book and people with blood; but does he say that they were waffled therewith? or was ever this instance of sprinkling reckoned among the ceremonial ablutions? When only a few drops of blood or water are sprinkled upon persons or things, can they be said, in any just propriety of speech, to be washed therewith?

 

2. He instances in Ex 29:4 which speaks of the washing of Aaron and his sons, but not a word either of sprinkling or pouring, so that it makes nothing for his purpose: Besides, the Septuagint here use the word louw, by which they always express the Jewish bathings, which were performed by a total immersion of the body in water.

 

3. His next instance is Nu 8:6-7. Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them; and thus shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them; sprinkle water of purifying upon them. But why did not he read on? and let them shove all their flesh, and wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean; that is, by bathing their whole bodies, which was done, as the Targum of Jonathan upon the place says, in forty measures of water. Now, it was thus the Levites were washed. Sprinkling the water of purification, was indeed a ceremony used preparatory to this bathing, but was itself no part of it, as will more fully appear from,

 

4. His other instance in Nu 19:18. where it is laid, that tents, vessels, or persons, that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave, were to be sprinkled; but why did not he transcribe the 19th verse (Nu 19:19)? where his readers would have been informed, that as this sprinkling was to be done on the third and seventh days, so after that, on the seventh day, the unclean person was to purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water: So that all those aspersions before, were but so many preparations to the general washing or bathing himself all over in water, on the seventh day. I shall therefore still abide by it, that none of the ceremonial washings were performed by sprinkling; and indeed, to talk of washing by sprinkling, deserves rather to be laughed at, than to have a serious answer; it being no more reconcilable to good sense, than it is to the just propriety of language, or universal customs of nations. From the whole it appears, that Maimonides was not mistaken in his observation; and that the word in Heb 9:10 properly signifies bathings or dippings. And now, Thirdly, We are come, as he says, to that great text, 1Co 10:2, which he directs to, as the poor man and woman’s Lexicon; and it is pity but that they should know how to make use of it. Here the children of Israel are said to be baptized in the cloud, and in the sea. But since the word is here used in a figurative sense, it is not very fair in our antagonists to urge us with it, nor, indeed, any other place where it is so used; yet we are no: afraid of engaging with them in the consideration of those places, and particularly this; wherein there is enough to justify the apostle in the use of the word, and at the same time secure its sense on our side. When we consider, that the cloud in which they are said to be baptized, passed over them, so that they were covered therewith; and if it let down, at the same time, a shower of rain upon them, it makes it still look more like a baptism; which also is aptly resembled by their passage through the sea, the waters standing up on both tides, so that they seemed to be buried in them. Which things being considered, justifies the apostle, I say, in the use of the word, which strictly and properly signifies dipping or plunging. Words, when used in a figurative sense, though what is expressed by them is not literally true; yet the literal sense is not lost thereby: For instance, in the word dipage When a person has been in a large shower of rain, so that his clothes and body are exceeding wet, we often say of such an one, he is finely dipt; the meaning of which is, that he is as wet as if he had been dipt all over in a brook or river. So likewise of a person that has just looked into a book, controversy, art, or science; we say, that he has just dipt into it; whereby we mean, that he has arrived but to a small acquaintance with, or knowledge in those things. Now would it not be a vain thing for a man, from hence, to attempt to prove, that the word dip is not to be understood in its native, common, and literal sense, in which we mostly use it. This observation will serve to vindicate my way of accounting for the use of the word in the present text, as well as for baptw in Da 4:33. In fine, from the whole, we may well conclude that Baptism ought to be performed by immersion, plunging, or dipping in water, according to the practice of John, Christ, and his apostles, the nature and end of the ordinance, and the true and native signification of the word; which mode of baptizing has been used in all ages of the world, and I doubt not but will be, notwithstanding all opposition made against it. As to the endangering of health by immersion, I referred the reader to Sir John Floyer’s History of Cold-bathing. Mr. M. insinuates that I have misrepresented him. I only intimate to the reader, that Sir John gives a relation of several cures performed by cold-bathing: And I could easily fill up several pages with a catalogue of diseases for which he says it is useful, together with instances of cures performed by it. He asks, "Why I do not inform my reader in how many cases Sir J. F. and Dr. B. thought cold-bathing inconvenient and dangerous?" I could, indeed, soon acquaint the reader, that Sir John Floyer thought it not proper to be used when persons were hot and sweating, nor after excessive eating or drinking; as also, that they should not stay in it too long, until they were chilled; and that if any danger came by it, it was usually in such cases: But this will do his cause no service, nor affect ours. I could also have told my reader, that he thinks cold-bathing to be useful in Consumptions, Catarrhs, etc. the cases which Mr. M. instances in; who cites Dr. Cheyne’s Essay on Health, page 108 where the Doctor says, "that Cold-bathing should never be used under a fit of a chronical distemper, with a quick pulse, or with a headache, or by those that have weak lungs." But why does he not acquaint his reader that the Doctor in the very same paragraph, says, "that cold-bathing is of great advantage to health- It promotes perspiration, enlarges the circulation, and prevents the danger of catching cold." So that every body will easily see, as all experience testifies, that there is no force in the argument, taken from the endangering of health by immersion. By this time the reader will be capable of judging whether Mr. Gill is fairly answered or no, as Mr. M. has expressed in his title-page; though it would have been as well to have left it for another to have made the remark, and so took the advice of the wise man, Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. {Pr 27:2} But before I conclude, I shall take liberty to ask Mr.. M. four or five questions.

 

1. Why does he not tell the world who that servant of Christ is, whose words he uses; he says, I am mistaken in saying that they are the words of Ruffen; but I still aver, that they are used by him; but whether Ruffen took them from his servant of Christ, or his servant of Christ from Ruffen, I cannot tell; for that two men, without the knowledge of one another’s words, should fall into the same odd, and awkward way of speaking, and commit the very same blunders, is not reasonable to suppose; but however, let him be who he will, Mr. Stennett’s reply to Ruffen, which I have transcribed, fully detects the sin and folly of those indecent expressions. As to what Mr.. M. says, page 44 "that he is very willing that both Stennett and Ruffen should lie dormant;" I believe it, for as the latter will never be of any service to his cause, so the former would give a considerable blow to it, was his book more diligently perused.

 

2. What does he mean by the word of the Lord, he so often mentions, when speaking of the sense of the Greek word? Does he mean the original text of the New Testament? That uses a word in the account it gives of this ordinance, which, as has been made appear, always signifies to dip or plunge. Or, by the word of the Lord, does he mean our translation; which uses the word baptize, thereby leaving the sense of the Greek word undetermined, had not the circumstances, attending the accounts we have of the administration of this ordinance, sufficiently explained it; as will clearly appear to every one who considers them: Had this rendered it dip, as some other versions have done, none, one would think, would have been at a loss about the right mode of administering this ordinance; though in Holland, where they use no other word but dipping to express baptism by, yet they nevertheless use sprinkling; nay, as I am informed, the minister when he only sprinkles or pours water upon the face of the infant, says, "I dip thee in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the holy Ghost." Such a force have prejudice and custom on the minds of men, that it puts them on doing what is contrary to the plain and manifest sense of words.

 

3. Why has he dropped his new found name of Plungers, which he seemed to be so fond of in his former performance, and thought so exceeding proper for us, and revived the old name of Anabaptists? which we cannot be, neither according to his principles, nor our own; not according to ours, because we deny pouring or sprinkling to be baptism; not according to his, because he denies dipping or plunging to be baptism.

 

4. Why are Dr Owen’s arguments for Infants-baptism published at the end of his book? How impertinent is this? When the controversy between us, is not about the subjects, but the mode of baptism: Perhaps his bookseller did this, seeing Mr. M. says nothing of them himself, nor recommends them to others; but if he thinks fit to shew his talent in this part of the controversy, he may expect attendance thereto, if what he shall offer deserves it.

 

5. Why has he not defended his wise reasons for mixed communion, and made some learned strictures upon those arguments of mine, which he has been pleased to call frivolous, without making any further reply to them? He has very much disappointed many of his friends, who promised both me and themselves an answer, to that part of my book especially; but perhaps a more elaborate performance may be expected from him, upon that subject, or some other learned hand. However, at present, I shall take my leave of him; but not with Pr 26:4 which he has been ashamed to transcribe at length, lest his readers should compare the beginning and end of his book together; whereby they would discover, how much he deserves the character of a Gentleman, a Scholar, or a Christian; as also, how well this suits the whining insinuations, with which he begins his performance. I shall add no more, but conclude with the words of Job, Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words? But what doth your arguing reprove?

A DISCOURSE ON PRAYER

 

1Co 14:15; former Part. What is it then? I will pray the Spirit, and will pray with the understanding also.

 

The design of this epistle is chiefly to reprove the Church at Corinth for the divisions and contentions, which were there fomented and kept up on account of their ministers; some being for Paul, some for Apollo, and others for Cephas; and to remove some irregular practices from among them, which were either openly avowed, or connived at by them; such as continuing a wicked person in their communion, going to law with one another before heathen magistrates, and the disorderly attendance of many of them at the Lord’s table. The apostle having finished this part of his design, does, in the twelfth chapter, largely insist on the subject of spiritual gifts; where he gives an account of the diversity of them, of their author, and of their various usefulness in the church of Christ; for which reason he exhorts the members of this church to covet them earnestly, though he would not have them depend on them, since they are not saving. In the thirteenth chapter, he prefers charity, or love, to them, and shews, that without this they are useless and unprofitable to those who have them. In this fourteenth chapter, he presses them to follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather, says he, that ye may prophesy. He proves, by many arguments, and especially by that taken from edification, that prophesying in a known language, in the mother tongue, which is understood by the people, is preferable to the gift of speaking in an unknown language, not understood by the people, and so unedifying to them. It is evident, that by prophesying, he means not only preaching, but praying, since he instances in it, and argues, in the words preceding my text, thus: For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful; that is, when I pray in an unknown language, being under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, I make use of that extraordinary gift which he has bestowed upon me, and my own spirit is indeed refreshed by it: But what I myself conceive, understand, and express, is useless and unprofitable to others, who do not understand the language in which I pray; therefore, says he, in the words of my text, What is it then? What is to be done in this case? What is most prudent and advisable? What is most eligible and desirable? Must I not pray with the Spirit at all? Shall I not make use of that extraordinary gift which the Spirit has bestowed upon me? Shall I entirely neglect it, and lay it aside? No, I will pray with the Spirit; I will make use of the gift I have; but then it shall be in such a way and manner, as that I shall be understood by others, I will pray with the understanding also. In these words may be considered,

 

I. The work and business of prayer, which the apostle resolved in the strength of Christ, and, by the assistance of his Spirit, to be found in the performance of; I will pray, &c.

 

II. The manner in which he is desirous of performing this duty; with the Spirit, and with the understanding also.

 

I. I shall consider the work and business of prayer, which the apostle resolved, in the strength of Christ, and by the assistance of his Spirit, to be found in the performance of. It will not be amiss, under this head to enquire into the object of prayer, the several parts of it, and its different kinds, I shall begin,

 

1. With the object of prayer, which is not any mere creature. Prayer is a part of religious worship, which is due to God only. To address a creature in such a solemn manner is idolatry. This is a sin the Gentiles have been notoriously guilty of, [i] who have paid their devoirs this way, both to animate and inanimate creatures. The idolatrous Heathen is thus described by the prophet; {Isa 45:17} He maketh a god his graven image; he falleth down unto it, and worshipped it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me, for thou art my god. Such a practice as this, is an argument of great ignorance and stupidity; {Isa 45:20} They have no knowledge, that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. It is no wonder that their prayers should be in vain, since their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands: They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear {Ps 115:4-6} not, They are insensible of the wants of their votaries, and unable to help them; they are not in a capacity to give them the least relief, or bestow the least temporal mercy on them: Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Art not thou he, O Lord, our God? Therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things. {Jer 14:22} The Papists have followed the Pagans in their idolatrous prayers to angels, the virgin Mary, and other saints departed, and even to many that were not saints; but it may be said to them, what Eliphaz said to Job, {Job 5:1} in another case; Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?

 

God only is, and ought to be the object of prayer. My prayer, says David, shall be unto the God of my life. {Ps 42:8} God has a right to this part of worship from us, as he is the God of our lives, in whom we live, move, and have our being; who grants us life and favour, and whose visitation preserves our spirits; who daily follows us with his goodness, and loads us with his benefits; to whom we are obliged for every mercy, and on whom the whole support and continuance of our beings depend: and we are under greater obligation still, as well as have greater encouragement, to address the throne of his grace, as he is the God of all grace, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus; all which may assure us, that his eyes are upon us, his ears are open to our cries, that he has both a heart and a hand to help and relieve us; he is a God that hears and answers prayer, to whom all flesh shall come, who are sensible of their need of him, and dependence upon him; his arm is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that he cannot hear; nor did he ever say to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.

 

Though the Lord our God is but one Lord; there is but one God, which, with the Scriptures, we assert, in opposition to the polytheism of the Gentiles, who had gods many, and lords many; yet there is a plurality of persons in the Deity, [ii] which are neither more nor fewer than Three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, which Three are One; the Father is God, the Word is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. Though the Persons in the Godhead are more than One, yet the Godhead itself is single and undivided. Now God in either and each of the Three divine Persons, may be prayed unto. It is lawful for us to address in prayer either God the Father, or God the Son, or God the Holy Ghost distinctly, though not any of them to the exclusion of the others, This I mention, to disentangle the minds of some, who may have some scruples and hesitations about praying to the distinct Persons in the Deity. Now it is easy to observe, that there are petitions directed to each of the three Persons distinctly; of which I shall give some few instances from the Scriptures.

 

God the Father is sometimes singly and distinctly prayed unto, though not to the exclusion of the Son or Spirit. It would be too tedious to reckon up all the instances of this kind: The epistle to the Ephesians will furnish us with a sufficient number to our purpose. In one place the apostle says to them, {Eph 1:16-17} I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; where God the Father is prayed unto, as distinct from the Lord Jesus Christ, whose God and Father he is, and distinct from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, who as such is prayed for. And in another place, he says, {Eph 3:14,16-17} For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; in which passage God the Father is addressed, as the object of prayer, distinct from Christ and the Spirit; the former of which he desires might dwell in their hearts by faith, and that they might he strengthened by the latter in their inner man. If these instances were not sufficient, others might be produced; but about God the Father’s being the object of prayer, there is no question nor hesitation.

 

God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, may be distinctly prayed unto, of which are many instances in Scripture. Sometimes he is prayed unto in conjunction with his Father, as appears from all those passages {Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2; Ga 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:2; 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 25; 2Jo 3; Re 1:4-5} in the epistles, where grace and peace are desired from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ; and from many others such as these: {1Th 3:11-12} Now God himself, and our Father, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you; and the Lord, that is, the Lord Jesus, make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and towards all men, even as we do towards you; and in another place, {2Th 2:16-17} Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope, through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work. Sometimes Christ is prayed unto singly and alone; as by Stephen at the time of his death, when he prayed, saying, {Ac 7:59} Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. By the apostle Paul, {2Co 12:8-9} when he had a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him; for this, says he, I besought the Lord thrice, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, as appears from the context, that it might depart from me: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. By the apostle John, when Christ said to him, {Re 22:20} Surely I come quickly, he replies, Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus. And by many others; such as those mentioned by Ananias to Christ, when he bid him arise, and go to Saul; {Ac 9:14} Lord, says he, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

 

God the Holy Ghost may be also prayed unto, as he is sometimes and singly alone, and as distinct from the Father and the Son; {2Th 3:5} The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. By the Lord, I understand the Lord the Spirit, whose work it is to direct the hearts of believers into the love of God, and to shed it abroad in their hearts; who is manifestly distinguished in this petition from God the Father, into whose love, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, into a patient waiting for of whom, the hearts of the saints are desired to be directed by him. Sometimes he is prayed unto distinctly, in conjunction with the other two Persons, as by the apostle Paul; The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2Co 13:14} And by the apostle John, {Re 1:4-5} Grace be unto you, and peace, from him, which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is a faithful witness. By the seven spirits cannot be meant angels; for it cannot be thought that they being creatures, should be put upon a level with the divine Being, and be with him addressed in such a solemn manner; but by them we are to understand the Holy Spirit of God, who is so called either in allusion to Isa 11:2, or on account of the seven churches of Asia, to whom John wrote by his dictates, or to denote the perfection and fulness of his gifts and graces.

 

Now though each divine Person may be singly and distinctly addressed in prayer, and all Three together, being the one God, be considered as the object of it; yet, according to the order of persons in the Deity, and suitably to their several and distinct parts, which they, by agreement, take in the affair of man’s salvation, God the Father, the first Person, is generally addressed as the object of prayer, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit: Christ is the Mediator, by whom we draw nigh to God; and the Holy Ghost is the inditer of our prayers, and who assists in the putting of them up unto him.

 

The first Person is usually addressed in prayer under the character of a Father, and as our Father; so Christ taught his disciples to pray, {Mt 6:9} Our Father which art in heaven, &c. and he is to be considered in this relation to us, either as the Father of our spirits, the Author of our beings, by whom we are provided for, supplied, and supported in them. In this manner the church in Isaiah’s time applied to him, {Isa 64:8-9} saying, But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we are all the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Or he may be considered as the Father or Author of our mercies, temporal and spiritual, which he, in a kind and gracious manner, bestows on us, through Christ, and that as the Father of Christ, and as our God and Father in Christ. In this view the apostle addresses him, when he says, {2Co 1:3} Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. And, in another place, {Eph 1:3} Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Now these several considerations furnish out so many reasons and arguments to induce and encourage us to apply to him who is the God of all grace, and is both able and willing to supply our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

The second Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, is the Mediator between God and man. God absolutely considered, is a consuming fire; there is no approaching to him as creatures, and especially as sinful creatures. Job was sensible of this, when he said, {Job 9:32-33} He is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment; neither is there any days-man betwixt us, that might lay his hands upon us both. Now Christ is the days-man, the Mediator, the middle Person, who has opened a way for us to God, even a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. (Heb 10:20; Joh 14:6; Eph 2:18 and Eph 1:6; 1Pe 2:5) He himself is the way, the truth and the life; he is the way of access to God; through him, both Jews and Gentiles, have an access, by one Spirit, unto the Father; he is the way of acceptance with God; our persons are accepted in the Beloved, and our spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ: The prayers of the saints are called odours; (Re 5:8 and Re 8:3-4) they are of a sweet smelling savour to God; which is owing to the mediation of Christ, the Angel of God’s presence, who stands continually at the golden altar before the throne, with a golden censer in his hand, to whom is given much incense, with which he offers the prayers of all saints, and which makes them a sweet odour to God. Our encouragements to prayer, and to the exercise of grace in that duty, are chiefly taken from, and our pleas for the blessings of grace, are founded on the person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and intercession of Christ. Seeing then, says the apostle, {Heb 4:14-16} that we have a High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession: For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. And in another place, {Heb 10:22} he exhorts and encourages to this work in much the same manner; Having, says he, an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

The third Person, the Holy Spirit, takes his part, and has a peculiar place in this work; he is the author of prayer, the inditer of it, who forms it in our hearts, creates breathings, and desires after spiritual things, stirs us up to prayer, and assists in it. Hence he is called, {Zec 12:10} The Spirit of grace and supplications; both the gift and grace of prayer come from him; he informs us of our wants, acquaints us with our necessities, teaches us both, in what manner, and for what we should pray; what is most suitable for us, and agreeable to the will of God to bestow on us, and helps us under all our infirmities in prayer; which is observed by the apostle, for the use, instruction, and comfort of believers, when he says, {Ro 8:26-27} Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the heart, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God. As Christ is our Advocate with the Father, pleads our cause, and makes intercession at the right hand of God for the acceptation of our persons and prayers, so the Holy Spirit is our Advocate within us; he makes intercession for us in our own hearts; he puts strength into us; he fills our mouths with arguments and enables us to plead with God. Christ is Mediator, through whom, and the Spirit, the assister, by whom we have access to the Father. God, as the God of all grace, kindly invites us to himself; Christ, the Mediator, gives us boldness; and the Spirit of grace, freedom and liberty in our access unto him; and this is what the scriptures call Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and praying in the Holy Ghost. But of this more hereafter. I proceed,

 

2. To consider the several parts of prayer; in which I do not design to prescribe any precise form of praying, but to observe to you the method and matter of it, which may serve to direct and assist you in it. It is proper to begin this work with a celebration and adoration of some one or more of the divine perfections; which will at once have a tendency to strike our minds with a proper sense of the divine Majesty, glorify him and encourage us in our supplications to him; all which is highly necessary in our entrance on it. All the perfections of God are instructive to us in this work, and serve to influence our minds and affections towards him, command our fear and reverence of him, engage our faith in him, strengthen our dependence on him, and raise in us expectations of receiving good things from him. The greatness, glory, power, and majesty of God, the holiness, purity, and righteousness of his nature, oblige us to an humble submission to him, and reverential awe of him. The consideration of his love, grace, mercy, and goodness, will not suffer his dread to make us afraid. We learn from his omniscience, that he knows not only our persons, but our wants, and what is most suitable for us, when the most convenient season, and which the best way and manner to bestow it on us. It can be no small satisfaction to us, that all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do; the thoughts of our hearts are not hid from him; the secret ejaculations of our minds are known to him; the breathings and desires of our souls are before him; he understands the language of a sigh and groan; and when we chatter like a crane or a swallow, it does not pass unobserved by him. His omnipotence assures us that nothing is too hard for him, or impossible to him; that he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; that we cannot be in such a low estate or distressed condition, or attended with such straits and difficulties, but he is able to relieve, deliver and save us. We conclude from his omnipresence, that he fills the heavens and the earth; that he is in all places, at all times; that he is a God at hand, and a God afar off; that he is near unto us, wherever we are, ready to assist us, and will be a very present help in trouble. His immutability in his counsel, and faithfulness in his covenant, yield the heirs of promise, strong consolation. These give us reason to believe that not one of the good things which the Lord has promised shall ever fail; that what he has said, he will do: and what he has either purposed or promised, he will bring to pass: He will not suffer his faithfulness to fail; his covenant he will not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his lips. You see that the notice of these things is necessary, both for the glory of God and our own comfort. It is also very proper when we begin our addresses to God, to make mention of some one or more of his names and titles, as Jehovah, Lord God, &c, and of the relations he stands in to us; not only as the God of nature, the author of our beings, the Donor of our mercies, and the Preserver of our lives, but as the God of grace, the Father of Christ, and our Covenant God, and Father in Christ. After this manner our Lord directed his disciples to pray, saving, Our Father which art in heaven, &c.

 

In the next place, it highly becomes us to acknowledge our meanness and unworthiness, to make confession of our sins and transgressions, and pray for the fresh discoveries and manifestations of pardoning love and grace. When we enter into the divine presence, and take upon us to speak unto the Lord, we should own with Abraham, {Ge 18:27} that we are but dust and ashes; and with Jacob, {Ge 32:10} that we are not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which God has shewed unto us. Confession of sin, both of our nature and of our lives, is a very proper and necessary part of this work. This has been the practice of the saints in all ages; as of David, which appears from his own words; {Ps 32:5} I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquities have 1 not hid: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. So Daniel, when he set his face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, made confession both of his own and of the sins of others; I prayed unto the Lord my God, says he, {Da 9:4-6} and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant, and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments. We have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. And the apostle John, for the encouragement of believers in this part of the duty of player, says, {1Jo 1:9} If we confess our sins, he, that is, God, is just and faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness: Not that confession of sin is either the procuring cause, or means, or condition of pardon and cleansing, which are both owing to the blood of Christ; in justice and faithfulness to which, and him that shed it, God forgives the sins of his people, and cleanses them from them; but the design of the apostle is to shew that sin is in the saints, and is committed by them, and that confession of sin is right and acceptable in the sight of God; and, to animate and encourage them to it, he takes notice of the justice and faithfulness of God in pardoning and cleansing his people, through the blood of Christ, which, as he had a little before observed, cleanseth from all sin. Nay, we are not only to make confession of sin in prayer, but to pray for the pardon and forgiveness of it. Christ directed his disciples to this part of their duty, when he bid them pray after this manner; {Mt 6:12} Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This has been the constant practice of the saints, as of Moses; {Ex 34:9} O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go amongst us, and pardon our iniquities and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. Of David; {Ps 25:11} For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great. Yea, he says to the Lord, {Ps 32:6} For this, shall every one that is godly pray unto thee, in a time when thou mayest be found. And of Daniel, {Da 9:19} O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do, defer not, for thine own sake, O my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. Now it ought to be observed, that very frequently when the saints pray, either for the forgiveness of their own, or others sins, their meaning is, that God would, in a providential way, deliver them out of present distress, remove his afflicting hand, which lies heavy on them, or avert such judgments which seem to hang over their heads, and very much threaten them which, when he does, is an indication of his having pardoned them. We are to understand many petitions of Moses, {Ex 32:32; Nu 14:19-20} Job, {Job 7:21} Solomon, {1Ki 8:30,34,36,39,50} and others, in this sense: Besides, when believers now pray for the pardon of sin, their meaning is not that the blood of Christ should be shed again for the remission of their sins; or that any new act of pardon should arise in God’s mind, and be passed by him; but that they might have the sense, the manifestation, and application of pardoning grace to their souls. We are not to imagine, that as often as the saints sin, repent, confess their sins, and pray for the forgiveness of them, that God makes and passes new acts of pardon; for he has, by one eternal and complete act of grace, in the view of his Son’s blood and sacrifice, freely and fully forgiven all the trespasses of his chosen ones, all their sins, past, present, and to come: but whereas they daily sin against God, grieve his Spirit, and wound their own consciences, they have need of the fresh sprinklings of the blood of Jesus, and of renewed manifestations of pardon to their souls; and it is both their duty and interest to attend the throne of grace on this account.

 

Another part and branch of prayer lies in putting up petitions to God for good things, temporal and spiritual mercies, the blessings of nature and of grace. As we ought to live in a dependence on divine providence, so we should daily pray for the common sustenance of our bodies, the comfort, support, and preservation of our lives; as our Lord has taught us, saying, Give us this day our daily bread. {Mt 6:11} Our requests in this way ought, indeed, to be frequent, but not large: we should not seek great things for ourselves. Agur’s prayer {Pr 30:7-9} is a proper copy for us to follow: Two things, says he to the Lord, have I required of thee, deny me them not before I die; Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. The spiritual blessings we should ask for, are such as God has laid up in the covenant of grace, which is ordered in all things, and sure, Christ has procured by his blood, the gospel is a revelation of, and the Spirit of God makes intercession for in our own hearts, according to the will of God; for these things we should pray in faith, nothing wavering; {Jas 1:6; 1Jo 5:14-15} for this is the confidence that we have in him, that is, God, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. When we pray for special mercies, spiritual blessings, such as converting glace for unconverted friends and relations, we ought to pray in submission to the secret will of God.

 

Thanksgiving for mercies received, is another thing which we should not be forgetful of at the throne of grace; In every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, says the apostle, {Php 4:6} let your requests be made known to God. As we have always mercies to pray for, so likewise to return thanks for; it becomes us to continue in prayer, {Col 4:2} for constant supplies from heaven, and to watch in the same with thanksgiving, that is, to wait for the blessings we have been praying for; and when we have received them, to watch for a proper opportunity, and make use of it, to offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. When this part is neglected, it is highly resented by the Lord; as appears from the case of the ten lepers, {Lu 17:15-18} when one of them saw that he was healed, turned buck, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan; upon which our Lord says, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God save this stranger.

 

Before we conclude the exercise of this duty, it is proper to deprecate such evils from us, which are either upon us, or we know we are liable to, or may befall us; such as temptations of Satan, the snares of the world, the distresses of life, public calamities, &c. This was in part practiced by Daniel: O Lord, says he, {Da 9:16} according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain; because for our sins, and the iniquities of our Fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. And this is intimated by Christ to his disciples, in that excellent directory of prayer he gave them, part of which was this; Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. {Mt 6:13}

 

At the close of this work of prayer, it is necessary to make use of doxologies, or ascriptions of glory to God; as we begin with God, we should end with him; as in the entrance on this duty, we ascribe greatness to him, so at the conclusion of it we should ascribe glory to him. Such an ascription of glory to God, we find, was used by Christ at the end of the prayer he taught his disciples, in this manner: {Mt 6:13} Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. By the apostle Paul in this form; {Eph 3:21} Unto him, that is, God, be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. And in another place thus; {1Ti 1:17} Now unto the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever. By the apostle Jude in these words; Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy; to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. {Jude 24-25} And by the apostle John after this manner; {Re 1:5-6} Unto him that hath, loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. These, and such like ascriptions of glory to God, Father, Son, and Spirit, are necessary at the finishing of our supplications, since the mercies and blessings we have been either petitioning, or returning thanks for, come from him; besides, they serve to shew forth the praises of God, and to express our sense of gratitude to him, our dependence upon him, and our expectation of receiving good things from him.

 

The whole of this exercise of prayer should be concluded with pronouncing the word Amen; as a testification of our hearty assent to what we have expressed, and of our sincere desires and wishes, that what we have been praying for might be accomplished, and of our full and firm persuasion and assured belief that God is able, willing, and faithful to perform all that he has promised, and give whatsoever we have been asking of him, according to his will. But I proceed,

 

3. To consider the several sorts and kinds of prayer, or the various distributions into which it may be made, or the different views in which it may be considered.

 

Prayer may he considered either as mental or vocal. Mental prayer is what is only conceived in the mind; it consists of secret ejaculations in the heart, which are not expressed with an audible and articulate voice. Such was the prayer of Hannah, of whom it is said; {1Sa 1:12-13} that as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah she spake in her heart, only her lips moved; but her voice was not heard, therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. Vocal prayer is that which, being conceived and formed in the heart, is expressed by the tongue, in words, with an audible and articulate voice, so as to be heard and understood. This the prophet intends, when he says, {Ho 14:2} Take with you words, and turn unto the Lord, say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips.

 

Again, Prayer may be considered either as private or public. Private prayer is that which is either performed in the family, by the head or master of it, the rest joining with him in it, or by a society of Christians in a private house, or by a single person in secret and alone; concerning which Christ gives these directions and instructions: {Mt 6:5-6} When thou prayest, says he, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men: verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Public Prayer is what is used in the house of God, which is therefore called, {Isa 56:7} an house of prayer; where the people of God meet together, and, with the other parts of divine, public, and social worship, perform this. The first Christians, in the early days of the gospel, are commended, among other things, for their continuing stedfastly in prayers, that is, in public prayers, {Ac 2:42} they constantly met where prayer was wont to be made; and God was pleased to give a signal testimony of his approbation of this their practice; for, at a certain time, they had prayed, the place was shaken, where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. {Ac 4:31}

 

Once more: Prayer may be considered either as extraordinary or ordinary. Extraordinary prayer is that which is made use of on particular and special occasions; as that exercise of prayer, which was kept by the church on account of Peter’s being in prison. The divine historian says, {Ac 7:5} that Peter was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him; which instance of extraordinary prayer was followed with an extraordinary event; for whilst they were praying, an angel was dispatched from heaven, and loosed Peter from his bonds, who came to the place where the church was assembled, before they had broke up their exercise. Such also were the prayers of the elders of the church in those times for the sick, which the apostle James speaks of; {Jas 5:14-15} is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. Ordinary prayer is what is used in common in the church of God, in a religious family, or by a single person, at stated times; which, with David and Daniel under the Old Testament, were three times a day, {Ps 55:17; Da 6:10} evening, morning, and at noon; which practice is laudable enough to follow, provided no stress is laid on the punctual performance of this duty at these precise times, and is not made the term and condition of our acceptance with God, and of our standing in his favour, which would be to reduce us to the covenant of works, ensnare our souls, and bring us into a state of bondage.

 

II. I come now to consider the manner in which the apostle was desirous of performing this duty.

 

1. With the Spirit. By the Spirit, some understand no more than the human breath, or voice; and suppose, that the apostle’s meaning is, that he would pray vocally, with an articulate voice, with distinct sounds, so as to be understood: perhaps some passages in this chapter, which may seem to favour this sense, might incline them to it; as when the apostle observes, {1Co 14:7-11} that things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them are without signification; therefore, if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a Barbarian; and he that speaketh, a Barbarian unto me. But the apostle here, by voice and distinction in sounds, does not intend a clear, distinct, articulate voice, but the mother-tongue, a known language, in opposition to an unknown tongue and foreign language, not understood by the people. This sense of the words is mean, low, and trifling, as well as forced and strained.

 

By the Spirit, rather is meant the extraordinary gift of the Spirit bestowed on the apostle and others, by which they spoke with divers tongues, and which he determined to make use of, though in such a manner, as to be understood: He would not use it without an interpretation. This is the sense I have given of it already, and is the most generally received sense of interpreters, and which may be confirmed by the use of the word in the context; as in 1Co 14:2. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God, for no man understandeth him; howbeit, in the Spirit, that is, by exercising the extraordinary gift of the Spirit, he speaketh mysteries; and in 1Co 14:14, If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, that is, I pray by virtue of the extraordinary gift of the Spirit, bestowed on me; but my understanding is unfruitful; I am of no use and service to those that hear me. So likewise in 1Co 14:16. Else when thou shalt bless with the Spirit, that is, when thou givest thanks in an unknown tongue, through the gift of the Spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned, say, Amen, at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

 

There is another sense of the phrase, which I am unwilling to omit, and that is this: By praying with the Spirit, some understand the apostle’s own spirit, or his praying in a spiritual way, with a spirit of devotion and fervency; and indeed, in such a manner he performed every part of religious worship and service, whether preaching or praying, or any thing else: God is my witness, says he, {Ro 1:9} whom I serve with my spirit, in the gospel of his Son; which kind of service is most agreeable to the nature of God: {Joh 4:23} He is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. And it becomes us to be fervent in spirit, whilst we are serving the Lord. Such a frame of soul particularly in prayer, is most suitable to the work, most desirable to the saints, acceptable to God, and powerful with him; the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much. {Jas 5:16}

 

We may be said to pray with our spirits, or in a spiritual way, when we draw nigh to God with a true heart; or when we are enabled to lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in the heavens; people may draw near to him, as the Jews of old did, {Isa 29:13} with their mouth, and with their lips honour him, and yet, at the same time, their heart may be removed far from him, and their fear towards him, be taught by the precept of men. It is one thing to have the gift of prayer, and another to have the grace of prayer, and that in exercise: it is one thing to pray with the mouth, and another to pray with the heart. Praying in a formal, graceless manner, is mere outside worship, lip-labour, bodily exercise, that profiteth nothing; it is useless to men, and unacceptable to God, who accounts of it, and calls it no other than howling. Hence he says of some, {Ho 7:14} They have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds. Spiritual fervent prayer is, more or less, performed in the exercise of the grace of faith; such who draw nigh to God with a true heart, should also in full assurance of faith. The apostle James directs to prayer in this way; {Jas 1:5-7} If any of you, says he, lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed: for let not that man think, that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. We should not only have an assurance of faith, with respect to the object whom we address, which is absolutely necessary; {Heb 11:6} For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; but also with respect to the things we pray for, when they are such which God has promised, which he has laid up in his covenant, put into the hands of his Son, and, we know, are according to his revealed mind and will to give; all which is consistent with that reverence and godly fear, by which we serve God acceptably; with that humility which becomes supplicants, and is grateful to God, who resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble: and with that submission and resignation of our wills to his will, in which Christ is a glorious pattern to us, when he in prayer said, {Lu 22:42} Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. In a word, when we pray with our spirits, or in a spiritual way, we not only lift up our hearts to God, and what we ask for, ask in faith, with a reverential, filial fear of the divine Majesty, in deep humility of soul, and with an entire submission to God’s will; but also in the name and for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; we do not present our supplications to God for our righteousness’s, but for the Lord’s sake, and for his great mercies; we come not in our own name, but in Christ’s; we go forth not in our own strength, but in his; we make mention of his righteousness, and of his only; we plead the merits and efficacy of his blood; we bring his sacrifice in the arms of our faith; we expect audience and acceptance upon his account alone, and that our petitions and requests will be heard and answered for his sake and we leave them with him, who is our Advocate with the Father. This may he called true, spiritual, fervent, and effectual prayer.

 

Prayer cannot he performed in such a manner, without the grace, influence, and assistance of the Spirit of God. Some therefore think, that by the Spirit, in my text is, meant the Holy Spirit of God; and that praying with the Spirit, is the same which the apostle Jude calls, praying in the Holy Ghost. If we take the words in this sense, we are not to suppose that when the apostle says, I will pray with the Spirit, that he imagined he could pray with the Holy Spirit, and under its influences when he pleased; his words must be considered only as expressive of the sense he had of the need of the Spirit of God in prayer, and of his earnest desires, after his gracious assistance in the performance of it. I have already observed what place the Holy Ghost has in the work of prayer; he is the Author of it; he is the Spirit of grace and supplications; the inditer of it, he forms it in the heart; {Jas 5:16} the effectual fervent, energdmenh, the inspired, the in-wrought prayer of a righteous man availeth much; that is, such a prayer as is formed in the soul by a powerful energy of the Spirit of God, who puts things into the heart and words into the mouth: Take (Ho 14:2) with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: He directs in the matter of prayer; (Ro 8:26-27) for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God. And, indeed, who so proper as he, who searches the deep things of God, and perfectly knows his mind? he helps the saints under all their infirmities; when they are shut up in their souls, and cannot come forth in prayer with liberty, he enlarges their hearts, and gives them freedom of soul, and liberty of speech, so as they can pour out their souls before God, and tell him all their mind: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. {2Co 3:17} Without him we cannot pray, either with faith or fervency; nor can we call God our Father without him, the Spirit of adoption, or use that freedom with him, as children with a Father; but because ye are sons, says the apostle, {Ga 4:6} God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

 

Perhaps it may be objected, that if the Spirit of God is so absolutely necessary in prayer, then men ought not to pray, unless they have the Spirit, or are under the immediate influences of his grace. To which I answer, That prayer may be considered as a natural duty: and as such is binding on all men, even on a natural man, destitute of the Spirit, and ought to be, and may be, performed by him in a natural way; to which there is something analogous in the brute creatures, whose eyes wait upon the Lord; And he giveth to the beast his food, and unto the young ravens which cry. (Ps 145:15 and Ps 147:9) And we may observe, that the apostle Peter put Simon Magus upon prayer, though he was in a state of unregeneracy; Repent, says he, {Ac 8:22} of this thy wickedness; and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. It is true, none but a spiritual man can pray in a spiritual manner; but then the spiritual man is not always under the gracious and Powerful influences of the Spirit of God; he is sometimes destitute of them, which seems to be David’s case when he said, {Ps 51:11-12} Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me; restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit; and yet we are to pray without ceasing, to pray always, and not faint. {1Th 5:17} And one thing we are to pray for is the Spirit, to influence and assist us in prayer, and to work in us whatever is well pleasing in the sight of God; And we have reason to believe that such a petition will be heard and answered; for if earthly fathers know how to give good gifts unto their children, how much more shall our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? {Lu 18:1} And, indeed, when we are in darkness and distress, without the light of God’s countenance, the influences of his Spirit, and the communications of his grace, we have need of prayer most, and ought to be most constant at the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need. This was David’s practice; {Ps 130:1} Out of the depths, says he, have I cried unto thee, O Lord; and so it was Jonah’s, when he was in the belly of hell, and said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet, says he, I will look again towards thy holy temple: {Jon 2:2,4,7} And he adds, When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. And so it was the practice of the church in Asaph’s time; who, under darkness and distress, said, {Ps 80:3-4,19} Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved. O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? But I proceed,

 

2. To observe that the apostle is desirous of performing this duty of prayer, with the understanding also, that is, in a language that may be understood by others; for, as he observes in 1Co 14:9, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? And for his own part, he declares, in 1Co 14:19, he had rather speak five words in the church with his understanding, that by his voice he might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. This condemns the practice of the Papists, who pray in a language not understood by the people.

 

Or to pray with the understanding, is to pray with the understanding illuminated by the Spirit of God, or to pray with an experimental spiritual understanding of things. A man may use many words in prayer, and put up a great many petitions, and yet have no savoury experience, or spiritual understanding of the things he prays for. The understanding of man is naturally dark, as to divine and spiritual things. The Holy Ghost is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, who enlightens the eyes of our understanding, to see our lost state and condition by nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the impurity of our hearts, the imperfection of our obedience, the insufficiency of our righteousness, the need of Christ, and salvation by him, and the aboundings of God’s grace and mercy, streaming through the Mediator’s person. Such who are thus enlightened, are able to pray with the understanding also: they know who they pray unto, whilst others worship they know not what; they can come to God as their God and Father, as the God of all grace and mercy: they know the way of access to him, and are sensible of their need of the Spirit to influence and assist them, by whom they know what to pray for, as they ought, and are well assured of the readiness of God to hear and answer them for Christ’s sake: And, says the apostle, {1Jo 5:15} If we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. These are the persons who pray with the Spirit, and with the understanding also; these find their account in this work, and it is a delight to them.

 

I shall conclude this discourse with a few words, by way of encouragement to this part of divine worship. It is good for the saints to draw near to God; it is not only good because it is their duty, but because it yields their souls a spiritual pleasure; and it is also of great profit and advantage to them: It is often an ordinance of God, and which he owns for the quickening the graces of his spirit, for the restraining and subduing the corruptions of our hearts, and for the bringing of our souls into nearer communion and fellowship with himself. Satan has often felt the force and power of this piece of our spiritual armour; and it is, indeed, the last which the believer is directed to make use of. Praying souls are profitable in families, neighbourhoods, churches, and common-wealths, when prayerless ones are in a great measure useless. The believer has the utmost encouragement to this work he can desire; he may come to God, not as on a seat of justice, but as on a throne of grace. Christ is the Mediator between God and him, his way of access to God, and his Advocate with the Father; the Spirit is his Guide, Director, and Assister; he has many exceeding great and precious promises to plead with God; nor need he doubt of a kind reception, a gracious audience, and a proper answer, though never so mean and unworthy in himself; since the Lord will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise his prayer.



[i] What the Heathens prayed to their gods for, and what rites and ceremonies they used in prayer, see Alex. ab. Alex. Genial. Dierum 1. 4. c. 17.

 

[ii] See my Doctrine of the Trinity stated and vindicated, &c. cap. 2.

A DISCOURSE ON SINGING OF PSALMS AS A PART OF DIVINE WORSHIP

 

Preached The 25th Of December, 1733 To A Society Of Young Men, Who Carry On An Exercise Of Prayer On Lord’s-Day Mornings, At A Meeting-House On Horslydown, Southwark.

 

1Co 14:15 (Latter Part) I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

 

On this day in the last year, you were pleased to call me to preach to you from the former part of this verse; which led me to discourse concerning the work and duty of prayer, which, at your request, was published to the worldly and now, at your fresh instances, I am desired to insist upon the latter part of it, which regards the duty of singing; and, since the text and context were opened so far as was necessary, in my former discourse, I shall immediately attend to the consideration of the subject before me, which I shall handle in the following method:

 

I. I shall endeavor to show you what is singing, and the nature of it, as an ordinance of God.

 

II. Prove that it is an ordinance not confined to the Old Testament dispensation.

 

III. Inquire into the subject matter of singing, or what that is which is to be sung.

 

IV. Point out to you the persons who are to sing. And

 

V. Observe the manner in which this ordinance should be performed.

 

I. I am to show you what is singing, or what is the common idea we have, or can have of it. Singing may be considered either in a proper, or in an improper sense; when it is used improperly, ‘tis ascribed to inanimate creatures: So the heavens, the earth, {Isa 44:23; 49:13; 1Ch 16:33; Ps 65:13} mountains, forests, the trees of the wood, the pastures clothed with flocks, and the valleys covered with corn, are said to ring and shout for joy, or are exhorted to it: And it is also in this improper sense that the heart is said to sing; as when Job says, {Job 29:13} I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy; that is, greatly to rejoice; singing for joy being put there for great joy, which is the cause of it. Singing, taken in a strict and proper sense, and as a natural act, is an act of the tongue, or voice; though not every action of the tongue, or sound of the voice, is to be called singing. Speech is an action of the tongue; but all kind of speaking, or saying, is not singing. Singing is speaking musically, or with the modulation of the voice: There two sounds, speaking, or saying, and singing, have not the same idea. When I am told, as it is commonly expressed, that such an one said grace before and after meat; I readily understand, that he asked a blessing of God upon his food before eating, and returned thanks for it afterwards, according to the common use of speech in prayer to God, and in conversation with men: But if it should be told me, that he sung grace before or after meat, I should not be able to form any other idea of it in my mind, but that he expressed all this in a tonical, musical way, with a modulation of the voice. Likewise it is not any clamor of the tongue; or every sound of the voice, that is to be accounted singing, but an harmonious, melodious and musical sound of it; otherwise; why should the tuneful and warbling notes and strains of birds be called singing, any more than the grunting of a hog, the braying of an ass, the neighing of a horse, the barking of a dog, or the roaring of a lion.

 

Let us now consider this action of the tongue, or voice, as performed religiously, and we shall find, that singing of God’s praise is speaking out his praise musically; or it is an expression of it, with the modulation of the voice; and so is an ordinance distinct from prayer, praise, giving of thanks, and inward spiritual joy.

 

It is distinct from prayer, as is evident from my text; otherwise the Apostle must be guilty of a most wretched tautology; which is by no means to be admitted of. The Apostle James mentions prayer, and singing of psalms, as two distinct things; to which he advises different persons, or persons under different circumstances; when he says, {Jas 5:13} Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

 

Nor ought it to be objected to us, that we sometimes sing petitions, or what is prayer-wise, since praying, or making petitions, is different from singing them: However, those who are of a different mind from us about singing, should not object this, since the only way of singing, or at least, the most principal one, they pretend to make use of, is in prayer, and that is praising God in prayer. But,

 

Singing of God’s praise is distinct from praising him; though we do praise him in singing, yet all praising of God is not singing; singing is one way in which we praise God; but there are many ways in which we praise him, when we cannot be said to sing: As for instance, we praise God when we give thanks unto him for mercies spiritual or temporal; when we speak well of his adorable perfections and glorious works, either in public or private; and we are capable of praising him by our lives and actions, as well as by our tongues; in neither of which senses can we be said to sing. If all praising is singing, I should be glad to know what singing of praise is. For, that it is different from giving of thanks, appears from the institution of the Lord’s-supper; in which giving of thanks, and singing an hymn, or psalm, as in the margin of your bibles, or a song of praise to God, are mentioned as very distinct things but of this more hereafter: I shall now only just observe, that the Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Ephesians, {Eph 5:19-20} when he exhorts them to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, afterwards mentions giving of thanks to God in the name of Christ, as another duty incumbent on them.

 

Nor is inward spiritual joy, or heart rejoicing, singing of God’s praise. True spiritual joy is wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost, and takes its life from views of the person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and atonement of Christ; and is increased by the shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart, and by discoveries of covenant interest in the Father and in the Son. Now, when the soul is in such a comfortable situation, ‘tis in the most agreeable frame to sing the praises of God; hence says James, is any merry? Euyumei tiv, is any of a good mind, or in a good frame of soul? let him sing psalms: Not that these are the only persons that are to sing psalms, or this the only time, any more than that afflicted persons are the only ones that are to pray, and the time of affliction the only time of prayer: But as affliction more especially calls for prayer, so spiritual joy and rejoicing, for singing of psalms; but then this spiritual joy is not singing, but the cause or reason of it, and what eminently fits a person for it.

 

Though there is such a thing as mental prayer, there is no such thing as mental singing, for singing in the heart without the voice; speaking or preaching without a tongue, or voice, are nor greater contradictions, or rather impossibilities, than singing without a tongue or voice is; such an hypothesis is suited for no scheme but Quakerism: And we may as well have our silent meetings, dumb preaching, and mute prayer, as silent singing. Singing and making melody in the heart, is no other than singing with or from the heart, or heartily, or, as it is expressed in a parallel place, with grace in the heart, i.e. either with gratitude and thankfulness, or with grace in exercise; together with the voice.

 

Singing of God’s praises is a vocal action, and should be performed in a social way, in concert with others; with the voice together shall they sing, {Isa 52:8} and not only with the voice, but with the modulation of it: It is not any noise of the tongue or voice, but an harmonious, melodious, joyful one. {Ps 95:1-2} O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation: Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. But,

 

II. I shall endeavor to prove, that this ordinance of singing does not belong to the ceremonial law or was confined to the Old Testament dispensation, but is a part of natural religion, and moral worship, perpetually binding on all mankind, and so to be performed by believers in a spiritual and evangelic manner, under the gospel dispensation. And,

 

1. It will appear, from the practice of the Heathens, that it was a part of natural and moral worship, who, though greatly in the dark, both about the object and manner of worship, yet, by the dim light of nature, groped after the knowledge of both, if haply they might find them; and as by this dim light they were directed to pray to a superior Being when in distress, as Jonah’s mariners did; so, by the same light, they were directed to sing praises to him when they received mercies, prayer and singing, being alike parts of natural religion and moral worship. So that though the Gentiles had no positive laws nor scheme of revelation to guide them in the worship of God, yet, in some instances, did, by nature, the things contained in the law; which shew the work of the law written on their hearts. I will just produce some few instances respecting the present case. Clemens Alexandrinus intimates, that one part of the religious worship of the Egyptians, consisted of hymns to their gods; his words are these; "First a singer goes before, bringing forth some one thing of the symbols of music; and they say, that he ought to take two books out of those of Hermes, the one containing the hymns of the gods, the other, the method of a royal life." And a little after, he adds; "There are ten things which are suitable to the honor of their gods, and contain the Egyptian religion as sacrifices, first fruits, hymns, prayers, shows, feasts, and such like things." This is confirmed by Porphyry, who says that the Egyptians devote "the day to the worship of their gods; in which, three or four times, viz. morning and evening, noon and sun-setting, they sing hymns unto them: The same Porphyry says, concerning the Indians, that "they spend the greatest part of the day and night in prayers and hymns to the gods:" And moreover, that when they commit their bodies to the flames, that they may, in the purest manner, separate the soul from the body, they sing an hymn, and die." And, in another place, explaining that symbol of Pythagoras, " That drink offerings are to be poured out to the gods, by the ear of the cups; by this, says he, is intimated, that we ought to honor the gods, and sing hymns to them with music, for this goes through the ears."

 

Very remarkable is a passage of Arrianus, the stoic philosopher; "If, says he, we are intelligent creatures, what else should we do, both in public and private, than to sing an hymn to the Deity, to speak well of him, and give thanks unto him? Should we nor, whether digging or plowing, or eating, sing an hymn to God? Great is God, who has given us there instruments, by which we till the earth. Great is God, that has given us hands, a faculty of swallowing, and a belly; that we secretly grow and increase, and that, whilst we sleep, we breath; each of there things ought to be taken notice of in an hymn: But the greatest and most divine hymn we ought to sing is, that he has given us a reasonable faculty of using these things in a right way: What shall I say, since many of you are blind? ought not some one to fill up this place, and give our an hymn to God for you all? If I was a nightingale, I would do as a nightingale; and is a swan, as a swan; but since I am a rational creature, I ought to praise God; this is my work; this I will do; nor will I desert the station to the utmost of my power; and I exhort you to the self same song." And, in another place he says, "This is my work whilst I live, to sing an hymn to God; both by myself, and before one or many." Much of this language would well become the mouth of a Christian. It is observed concerning the muses, that they were chiefly employed about the hymns and worship of the gods, and that Come of them had their names from thence, as Mespomene, Terpsichore, and Polymnia; and that Homer got so much credit, admiration, and applause as he did, was owing, among other things, to the hymns which he composed for the gods; and there is still extant, among his works, an hymn to Apollo. Moreover, formerly rewards were proposed in the Pythian games, for such who best sung an hymn to the God. And Julian the emperor, takes notice of many excellent hymns of the gods, which he advises to learn, as being of great use in the knowledge of things sacred; most of which, he says, were composed by the gods; some few by men inspired by a divine spirit. From there, and other instances which might be produced, we may conclude, that the Gentiles wore obliged, by the law of nature, to this part of worship, and, by the light of nature, were directed to it; and consequently that it is a part of natural religion and moral worship. Moreover,

 

2. It is evident, that the people of God sung songs of praise to him before the law was given by Moses. When the Lord so remarkably appeared for the children of Israel, by delivering them our of the hands of the Egyptians, and carrying them safely through the Red Sea, though their enemies were drowned in it; Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song, unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea, etc. Miriam and the Israelitish women, sung the tune. This is the first song the scriptures make mention of; though, the Jews say, Adam sung one before. Now, by what law did the Israelites sing this song? it could nor be by the Levitical law; for that system of laws was not as yet given to that people and when that body of laws was delivered to them, we do nor find that singing of God’s praises was any part of it; it is not to be met with in the whole body of Jewish laws, given out by Moses; why then should it be reckoned of ceremonious institution, or a part of worship peculiar to the Old Testament? Nor was it by any positive law, or according to any part of external revelation God had made to the sons of men, the children of Israel sung; for no such positive law was extant, or any such revelation made, as we know of. It remains then, that in doing this, they acted according to the dictates of their consciences, and the examples which might have been before them, by which they were influenced, as to cry to the Lord when in distress, so to sing his praises when they were delivered.

 

3. It may easily be observed, that when psalmody was in the most flourishing condition among the Israelites; under the direction and influence of David their king, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, it was not confined to that people; but all nations of the earth were called upon, and exhorted to sing the praises of God, even by the Psalmist himself; Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands, Hebrews all the earth, sing forth the honor his name; make his praise glorious. Let the people praise thee, O God, let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord all the earth, sing unto the Lord; bless his name, shew forth his salvation from day to day. {Ps 66:1-2; 67:3-4; 96:1-2} Now if singing was not a part of moral worship, but of a ceremonious kind, and peculiar to the Old Testament dispensation, the nations of the earth would have had no concern in it; it would not have been obligatory upon them, but proper only to the Israelites, to whom alone pertaineth the giving of the law and the service of God.

 

4. Nothing is more manifest, than that when ceremonial worship was in its greatest glory, and legal sacrifices in highest esteem, that singing of psalms and spiritual longs was preferred unto them, as being more acceptable to God; I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving, says David; This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock, that hath horns and hoofs. {Ps 69:30-31} Now can any other reason of this difference be given, than that the sacrifice of an ox or bullock was of ceremonial. institution; whereas, praising God was a part of moral worship, which might be performed in a spiritual and evangelic manner.

 

5. When the ceremonial law, with all its instituted rites, was abolished, this duty of singing, remained in full force. The Apostle Paul, in his epistles written to the churches at Ephesus and Colosse, declares in the one, that the middle wall of partition, between Jew and Gentile, was broken down: Meaning the ceremonial law, and that which was the cause of enmity between both; even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, was abolished. {Eph 2:14-15} And in the other; says, Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or the new moon, or of the sabbath day, , which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ; {Col 2:16-17} and yet, in both, {Eph 5:19; Col 3:16} exhorts them to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Now it is not reasonable to suppose, that the same Apostle, in the same epistles, written to the same persons, should declare them disengaged from some things, and under obligation to regard others, if there equally belonged to the ceremonial law, and were alike peculiar to the Old Testament dispensation.

 

6. This practice of singing the praises of God, has been performed by creatures who were never subject to the ceremonial law; by whom I mean not the Gentiles, who have been already taken notice of, but the angels, who, though subject to the moral law, so far as their nature and condition will admit of; yet, in no one instance, were ever concerned in ceremonial service. Now these holy and spiritual beings were very early employed in this divine and heavenly work of singing; there morning stars, so called for their brightness and glory, sang together; these Sons of God, by creation, shouted for joy, when the foundations of the earth were fastened, and the corner stone thereof laid: {Job 38:6-7} As they did also when the corner stone of man’s redemption was laid in the incarnation of the Son of God; at which time there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men; {Lu 2:14} who likewise will join with the saints in Hallelujahs and songs of praise to God, throughout an endless eternity. For,

 

7. We may say of this duty what the Apostle says of charity {1Co 13:8,11} that it never faileth, though prophesies, tongues, and knowledge shall. For, when all ordinances, whether of a moral nature, or of positive institution, shall cease, such as prayer, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s-supper, and the like; this will continue, and be in its greatest glory and perfection. This will be the employment of saints when raised out of their dusty beds, on the resurrection morn, in the power and virtue of the resurrection of their risen Lord. Thy dead men shall live, together with, or as my dead body, shall they arise: Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead: {Isa 26:19} These having their souls and bodies reunited, shall come to the Zion above, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: These shall stand upon the mount with the Lamb, and sing in the height of it, even that new song which no one can learn, but those who are redeemed from the earth, But I proceed,

 

III. To consider the subject matter of singing, or what that is which is to be sung. The direction of the Apostle Paul in this case, is certainly to be regarded, who, in two distinct epistles, {Eph 5:19; Col 3:16} exhorts to the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; and what these are, it will be proper to inquire. And,

 

1. By psalms, is meant the book of psalms, composed by David, Asaph, Heman, and others, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God; which is the only sense in which this word is used throughout the whole New Testament: Nor is there any reason to believe, that the Apostle Paul designs any other in the above mentioned places; or the Apostle James, when he says, {Jas 5:13} Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Those who are of a different mind, ought to shew in what other sense this word is used, and where, and what those psalms are we are to sing, if not the psalms of David, etc. since it is certain, there are psalms which are to be sung under the New Testament dispensation.

 

2. By hymns, we are to understand, not such as are composed by good men, without the inspiration of the Spirit of God. I observe indeed, from ancient writers, and from ecclesiastical history, that such compositions were made use of very early, even from the times of the Apostles; and I deny not but that they may now be useful; though a great deal of care should be taken that they be agreeable to the sacred writings, and the analogy of faith, and that they be expressed, as much as can be, in scripture language; yet, after all, I must confess, that I cannot but judge them, in a good measure, unnecessary, since we are so well provided with a book of psalms and scriptural songs, indited by the Spirit of God, and suitable on all occasions: However, I cannot think that such composure’s are designed by the Apostle; nor can I believe that he would place such between psalms and spiritual songs, made by men inspired by the Holy Ghost, and put them upon a level with them, and to be sung equally with them, to the edification of the churches; therefore, I take hymns to be but another name for the book of psalms; for the running title of that book may as well be, the book of hymns, as of psalms; and so it is rendered by Ainsworth, who also particularly calls Ps 145, an hymn of David: So the psalm which our Lord sung with his disciples, after the supper, is called an hymn, as the psalms of David in general, are called, by Philo the Jew, umnei hymns, as they are also songs and hymns by Josephus. 

 

By spiritual songs, may be meant the psalms of David, Asaph, etc. the titles of some of which, are, songs, [i] as sometimes a psalm and song, a song and psalm, a song of degrees, and the like; together with all other scriptural songs, written by men inspired by God, and are called spiritual, because the author of them is the Spirit of God, the writers of them men moved and acted by the same Spirit; the subject matter of them spiritual, designed for spiritual edification, and opposed to all profane, loose and wanton songs.

 

These three words, psalms, hymns, and songs, answer to µyrwmzm µylht, and µyryç, the titles of David’s psalms; and are, by the Septuagint, rendered by the Greek words the Apostle uses. I shall not trouble you with observing to you how these three are distinguished by learned men, one from another, but only observe, what has been remarked by others before me; that whereas the Apostle, in his exhortations to singing, directs to the titles of David’s psalms, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that it was his intention that we should sing them: But, inasmuch as there are some queries, scruples, and objections about the singing of them, it will be proper to attempt a satisfactory answer to them.

 

(1.) It is inquired, whether the book of psalms was originally written in verse or metre? The reason of this enquiry is, that if it should appear that it was not originally written in Hebrew metre, then there is no reason why it should be translated into metre in another language, and so consequently not to be sung in the manner we do. To which, I answer, That the book of psalms, with some other writings of the Old Testament, were originally written in metre, is universally allowed by the Jews, and does also appear from the different accentuation of them, from that of other books. Josephus; a learned Jew, says, "That David being free from war, and enjoying a profound peace, composed songs and hymns to God, of various metre; some trimetre, i.e. consisting of three feet, and others pentametre, i.e. of five feet." David’s psalms seem to be of the Lyric kind; hence Jerom, who, of all the fathers, best understood the Hebrew language, calls "David, our Simonides, Pindar, Alcaeus, Flaccus, Catullus, and Serentis," who were all of them Lyric poets. And in another place, he says, "If it should seem incredulous to any that the Hebrews have metre, or that the Psalms or the Lamentations of Jeremiah, or almost all the scriptural songs are composed after the manner of our Flaccus, and the Greek Pindar, and Alcaeus, and Sappho; let him read Philo, Josephus, Eusebius Caesariensis, and he’ll find, by their testimonies, that what I say is true."  The learned Gomarus, in his Lyra, has given out of the Psalms, and other poetical books of the scriptures, several hundred of instances of verse of the Iambic, Trochaic, Dactylic, Anapaestic, Choriambic, Jonic, Antispastic, and Paeonic kind, which he has compared with a like number out of Pindar and Sophocles. The Jews indeed have now lost the knowledge of the sacred poetry, and have been, for many hundred of years, unacquainted with it; though R. Benjamin Tudelensis says, that there lived in his time, at Bagdad, one R. Eleazar, and his brethren, who knew how to sing the songs as the singers did, when the temple was standing. But be this as it will, there’s reason enough to conclude, that the book of Psalms was originally written in verse; and therefore it is lawful to be translated into verse, in order to be sung in the churches of Christ.

 

(2.) It is queried, whether the book of Psalms is suitable to the present gospel dispensation, and proper to be sung in gospel churches. I answer, Nothing is more suitable to the gospel state, or more proper to be sang in the churches of Christ; since it is so full of prophecies concerning the person, offices, grace and kingdom of the Messiah; concerning his sufferings, and death, his resurrection, ascension and session at the right hand of God; which are now more clearly understood, and are capable of being sung by believers, in a more evangelic manner than when they were first composed: Besides, this book is full of exceeding great and precious promises, as the ground of the faith and hope of God’s people; is a large fund of experience, a rich mine of gospel grace and truth, and is abundantly suited to every case, state and condition, the church of Christ, or a particular believer, is in at any time. A little care and prudence used in the choice of proper psalms, on particular occasions, would fully discover the truth of this.

 

(3.) It is objected, that persons often meet with things which are nor, and which they cannot make their own case; yea, sometimes with what is shocking and startling to a Christian mind; such as imprecations and curses, on enemies or wicked men. And it is asked, Should persons sing cases not their own, and such things as there now mentioned; would they not be guilty of lying to God, and of want of that charity to men which is so much recommended under the gospel dispensation? To which, I reply, That as to singing cases not our own, this is no more lying to God than reading them is, singing being but a flower way of pronunciation in a musical manner; therefore, if this ought to deter persons from singing, it should also from reading: Besides, in public worship, we sing not as single persons, but in conjunction with, and as parts of the community, and body of the people; so that what may not be suitable to one, may be so to another, and in both, the end of praise be answered. Moreover, when we sing the cases of others, and which we cannot make our own, we sing them as such, and not as our own sense and experience; which yet may be very useful to us, either by way of example, or advice, or comfort, or instruction, or admonition, and the like: And if this should not be the case, yet there are two other principal ends of singing, viz. the praise and glory of God, and the edification of others, which may be attained this way and, after all, the same objection will lie against public prayer, as much as against public singing; since no prayer put up by the minister, in public, at least, not all the petitions in it, any more than every psalm or hymn, sung in public, are suitable to the cases of all persons present; yet this has not been thought a sufficient argument against public prayer, or to deter persons from joining in it. As for imprecations and curses on wicked men, though the scriptural instances of them are no examples to us to do the like; because these were made by men under the inspiration of the Spirit of God; yet they were prophetic hints of ruin and destruction to wicked men, and as such should be considered, and may be sung by us, and that to the glory of God and some instruction to our selves; for herein we may observe the justice and holiness of God, the vile nature of sin, the indignation of God against it, and the just abhorrence and detestation, that sin and sinners are had in with God, and should be had in with all good men.

 

(4.) It is said, that if we must sing the psalms of David, and others, then we must sing by a form; and if we may sing by a form, why not pray by one? I answer, the case is different; the ordinance of prayer may be performed without, a form, bur not the ordinance of singing: The Spirit of God is promised as a Spirit of grace and supplication, but nor as a spirit of poetry. And suppose a person had a gift of delivering out an extempore psalm or hymn, that psalm or hymn would be a form to the rest that joined with him; unless we suppose a whole congregation to have such a gift, and every one sing his own psalm or hymn; but then that, namely, joining voices together, which is the beauty, glory, and harmony of this ordinance, would be mere jargon, confusion, and discord. Besides, we have a book of psalms, but we have not a prayer book: Had we a book of prayers, composed by men inspired by the Spirit of God, as we have a book of psalms made by such, we should think our selves under equal obligation to pray by a form, as we now do to sing by one. Add to this, that the psalms of David were composed on purpose to be sung by a form, in the very express words of them, as they accordingly were. David, when he had wrote them, sent them to Asaph, and his brethren, or to the chief musician, the master of the song, who had the management of it, or some such person, to be made use of in public; for thus it is written, {1Ch 16:7} Then on that day David delivered first this psalm, to thank the Lord, into the hands of Asaph and his brethren. And we may observe, that some hundreds of years after, the psalms of David and Asaph were sung in the express words of them, by the order of king Hezekiah; for so it is said {2Ch 29:30} Moreover, Hezekiah, the king and the princes, commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord, with the words of David and of Asaph, the seer; and they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped. Hence also, when the people of God were exhorted to sing his praise, they were bid not to make, but take a psalm ready made to their hands; {Ps 81:1-2} Sing aloud unto God our strength; make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob; take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp, with the psaltery. Which leads me,

 

(5.) To consider another objection made against singing the psalms of David. The singing of there was formerly attended with. the use of musical instruments; such as the harp, timbrel, cymbals, and the like: If then they are to be sung now, why not with these instruments, as heretofore? and if these are disused, why should not singing it self? I reply, That the use of musical instruments was not essential to singing; therefore, tho’ these are laid aside, that continues. The Old Testament dispensation was a showy, gaudy, and pompous one, suited to the then infant state of the church; there were many ceremonious rites which attended the worship of God, even that part of it which was of a moral nature; which ceremonious rites, though now abolished, the worship being of a moral nature, remains in full force: As for instance; it was usual to burn incense at the time of prayer; now the use of incense, which was typical of the acceptance of the prayers of the saints, through the mediation of Christ, is laid aside; but the duty of prayer, being of a moral nature, continues: So the use of musical instruments, which attended the work of singing the praises of God, and was typical of inward spiritual melody, is at an end, when singing, being equally of a moral nature with prayer, is still obligatory. It is now sufficient, if, when we sing vocally, at the same time we make melody in our hearts to the Lord. I close this with an observation of an ancient writer; "Barely to sing, says he, is not fit for babes, but to sing with inanimate instruments, with cymbals, and with dancing; wherefore, in the churches (i. e. under the gospel dispensation) the use of such instruments, and others, fit for babes, is taken away, and bare or plain singing remains." I proceed,

 

IV. To point out to you the persons who are to sing, and who ought to be found in the performance of this duty, I shall take no notice of a private person’s singing by himself, alone, or of the family discharge of this duty, or of its being done in concert, between two or more persons; no doubt but it is lawful for a single person to sing the praises of God alone, at home, in his own house, in his closet, when he thinks proper; and it may very laudably be performed in Christian families, where they are able to carry it on with decency and good order; yea, any two, or more persons, may join together in this part of divine service, as Paul and Silas did in prison, {Ac 16:25} who, at midnight, prayed and sang praises unto God; which is an instance of singing vocally, and in concert, and was attended with some miraculous operations; with which all gospel ordinances were at first confirmed, and which brought on, and issued in the conversion of the jailor. Bur what I shall chiefly attend to, will be to prove that gospel churches, or the churches of Christ, under the gospel dispensation, ought to sing the praises of God vocally; and this I shall do from the following considerations.

 

1. From the prophecies of the Old Testament, which declare, that the churches, in gospel times, should sing; and in which they are called upon, exhorted, and encouraged to do it. In many of the psalms, which respect the times of the Messiah, and the gathering of the Gentiles to him under the gospel dispensation, such as the 47th, (Ps 47) 68th, (Ps 68) and 95th, (Ps 95) the people of God are frequently invited to sing praise unto him, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Likewise, in the prophecies of Isaiah {Isa 52:7-9; 35:1-2,6; 26:1; 54:1} it is declared, that not only the watchmen, gospel ministers, such whose feet are beautiful on the mountains, who bring good tidings, and publish peace and salvation, shall lift up the voice, and that with the voice together shall they sing; but also the churches under their care, and such souls they are made useful to, are called upon to break forth into joy, and sing together; yea, it is promised, that the Gentile church, under the name of the wilderness, and solitary place, shall be glad and rejoice, even with joy and singing; that even the tongue of the dumb shall sing, and the ransomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.

 

Moreover, that in that day, meaning the gospel day, shall this song be sung in the land of Judah, in the gospel church: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. To add no more; how expressly is the Gentile church exhorted and encouraged to this work, in another part of these prophecies? where it is said, Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing; and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wise, saith the Lord. Blessed be God, these predictions are, in a great measure, fulfilled; gospel churches among the Gentiles, as well as in the land of Judea, have lift up their voices, and sung the praises of God according to these prophecies; which is, at once, a confirmation of the authority of the scriptures, and of the truth of this ordinance. But,

 

2. I prove it to be a duty incumbent on gospel churches, under the New Testament dispensation, from express precepts and directions given to them concerning it. It is not only prophesied of in the Old Testament, but it is also commanded in the New, that they should sing. The church at Ephesus was a gospel church, as was also that at Colosse; and they are both expressly enjoined as such, by the Apostle Paul, who in this, as in their things, had the mind of Christ to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. {Eph 5:19; Col 3:16} Besides, if singing was not a duty belonging to New Testament churches, why should any directions about it be given to them? such as to sing with grace in their hearts, with the spirit, and with the understanding; and to do it in such a manner, so as to speak to themselves, and to teach and admonish one another. {1Co 14:15; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16}

 

3. That New Testament churches should sing, will more fully appear from New Testament instances and examples. There are not only prophecies and precepts, but also precedents in favor of this practice; and the first instance of this kind I shall mention, is, that of Christ and his Apostles, who sung an hymn, as a church, at the close of the Lord’s supper; of this the evangelist assures us; When they had sung an hymn, says he, they went out unto the mount of olives: {Mt 26:30} Our ears are continually dinned, by those who are of a different mind from us, with an old translation, in which, they say, the words are rendered, When they had given thanks. But, First, This work was done already; he, i.e. Christ, took the cup, and gave thanks.

 

Secondly, A different word from that is here used, and which, in its first and primary sense, signifies to sing an hymn, or song, to the honor of God. And,

 

Thirdly, This old translation must be a false one, since it fixes such a character of rudeness and arrogance upon the Apostles, as is unbecoming the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus; what, they give thanks! What business had they to give thanks? Had they done so, they had took upon them an office, and thrust themselves into a province that did not belong to them. Who should give thanks but Christ, the master of the feast, who was then in person present at his own table? No, they sung an hymn in concert, with their Lord at the head of them; which hymn was either one of Christ’s composing on that special occasion, or rather was a part of the Hallel the Jews sung at the Passover, which began with the 113th (Ps 113), and ended with the 118th psalm (Ps 118); the first part of which they sung before they sat down to eat, and the other after they had eaten, and after they had drunk the fourth and last cup; which last part seems to have been postponed the eating of the Lord’s supper, as containing in it several verses suitable to that ordinance, especially the closing part, which is this: I will praise thee, for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord. O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. God is the Lord which hath shewed us Light. Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.[ii]  For my own part, it would be agreeable to me, if this was always sung at the celebration of this ordinance. But to return to my argument. This hymn, or psalm, was sung by Christ and his Apostles, at a church; which, though one of the least of the churches, yet the purest that ever was on earth; where Christ sung, according to his promise made long before, when he said, {Ps 22:22} I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the congregation wilt I praise thee; which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews; cites in this manner; I will declare thy name unto my brethren, and in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee, uhmnsw se; will I sing a hymn unto thee; which he accordingly did sing in the midst of the congregation, the church, among his brethren, the Apostles, at the institution of the supper; and is an example we ought to follow at the administration of that ordinance. The church at Corinth, in the times of the Apostles, sung psalms: There were, indeed, some disorders among them, in the performance of this, as well as other parts of public worship, which the Apostle Paul endeavors to rectify in his epistle to them; How is it then, brethren? says he, when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation; let all things be done to edifying {1Co 14:26} where he does not blame them for those things, provided care was taken to avoid confusion, and that the edification of each other was regarded: And what he says in my text, with respect to himself and his own conduct in the discharge of both the duties of prayer and singing, is designed as an example and an instruction to this church.

 

The book of Revelation is a representation of the slate and condition, service and sufferings of the churches of Christ on earth, in the several periods of time, until his second coming; in which we have frequently an account of their being concerned in this work of singing; {Re 5:9-10; 14:1; 15:3; 19:1-7} either the Lamb’s new song or the song of Moses, or both; and which is represented as their employment, more or less, until the end of time. Now, since we have prophesy, precept, and precedent, for the practice of singing in New Testament churches, none should scruple the performance of it. But, before I dismiss. this part of my subject, it will be necessary to give an answer to the two following queries.

 

(1.) Whether women should sing in public, or in the churches? The reason of this query is, because the Apostle says, {1Co 14:34-35} Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. From whence it is inferred, that if women are to be silent, and not speak in the church, then they are not to sing or speak to themselves and others, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. To which I answer, that it is evident the Apostle is to be understood of such kind of speaking in public, as carries in it authority over the man, which singing does not; so he explains himself in another place, Let the women learn in silence, in all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. {1Ti 2:11-12} It is certain, that all kind of speaking in the church, is not forbidden to women; otherwise it would not be lawful for them to give an account of the work of God upon their souls, by word of mouth; nor could they be witnesses for or against any member of the church chargeable with any iniquity. In these and such like cases, they have, no doubt, a right, and should have the liberty of speaking in the church: As for singing of psalms, though, as an ancient writer observes, "The Apostle commands women to be silent in the church; yet they are capable of performing this service well, which is agreeable to every age, and fit for both sexes." And indeed, if this is a part of moral worship, as, I think, I have sufficiently proved it is, it must be a duty belonging to them, and binding on them: Besides, it has been practiced by them in all ages of the church. Miriam, and the Israelitish women, sung, as well as Moses and the children of Israel, at the Red Sea; as did also Debora with Barak; and not to take notice, of the singing women in the temple service, there is a prophecy of gospel times, in which it is said, {Jer 31:8-12} that a great company of the blind and lame, with the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child, should come and sing in the height of Zion; and indeed, what else is the woman’s prophesying, {1Co 11:5} which the Apostle does not object to, though he does to her doing it with her head uncovered, any other than her singing of psalms? as is well judged by a learned writer, [iii] since prophesy is explained by the same Apostle, by singing as well as by praying and preaching in another place. {1Co 14:15,24,26}

 

(2.) It is a case of conscience with some, whether they should sing in a mixed multitude, or in the presence of unbelievers, they joining with them. The solution of which, I would attempt in the following manner; let it be observed, that singing, as a part of moral worship, is binding on all men, without exception, believers and. unbelievers; the former, indeed, are the only persons who are capable of performing it in a spiritual and evangelic manner; but the latter may have a sense of God’s goodness upon their minds, and be able to praise him for their temporal mercies, though they cannot do it in faith, nor without sin; nor indeed, can they perform a natural or civil action, any more than a moral one, without sin; for the plowing of the wicked is sin. {Pr 21:4} But it does not from hence follow, that a man must not plow, or perform any civil action, because he sins in it. And so likewise it ought not to be concluded, that a man should not pray, or sing psalms, or perform any other moral action, because he cannot do it in a spiritual way; for it is better for him to do it in the best way he can, than not at all. But, supposing that it is not the duty of unbelievers to sing psalms, it will be very difficult to know who are such in public assemblies; and if such should join with you, why should this affect you that are believers? Will this sin of theirs be ever laid to your charge, or you be accountable for it? Should you neglect your duty because they are not in theirs? Must your mouths be stopped because theirs are open? Should you not rather blush and take shame to your selves? When you see them so forward to what you judge is not their duty, and you your selves so backward to it. Besides, it has been the practice of the saints, in all ages, to sing in mixed assemblies. There was a mixed multitude which came up with the Israelites out of Egypt, in whose presence Moses and the children of Israel sung at the Red Sea, and who, very probably, joined with them in the song, since they had a share in the common deliverance. The psalmist David, declared it as his resolution, and, no doubt but it was his practice, when he had opportunity, to sing the praises of God among the Heathens. Therefore, says he, will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the Heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people, I will sing unto thee among the nations. {Ps 18:49; 57:9} The church, in Solomon’s song, is represented, not only as taking her part in the song in the midst of, but as joining with the daughters of Jerusalem, though they were ignorant of Christ her beloved. It is evident, that the church at Corinth sung psalms in the presence of unbelievers, as well as performed other parts of public worship; which was one reason that made the Apostle so desirous of rectifying the irregularities in this, as in the rest; that so unbelievers, who came in among them, might be convinced and obliged to own, that God was in them of a truth. Moreover, inasmuch as unbelievers are admitted to public prayers, and to join with you in them, why not to public singing? especially, since some ends of this ordinance cannot be answered without their presence; which are to declare the Lord’s doings among the people, and make known his wonders and his glory among the Heathen: {Ps 9:11; 96:3} To add no more, this ordinance has been an ordinance for conversion; I have known it to be so, and so have others besides me; and a good reason this is why it should be continued publicly in our churches, and unbelievers be admitted to an attendance on it.

 

V. I come now to consider the manner in which this ordinance should be performed, which I shall do very briefly, and shall chiefly regard what is expressed in my text, in which the Apostle is desirous that he might, and determines to, sing with the Spirit, and with the understanding also.

 

1. With the Spirit. By which may be meant, either the extraordinary gift of the Spirit, by which the Apostle was capable of delivering out a psalm or hymn extempore, and that in an unknown tongue; though he was determined to make use of this gift in such a way, as to be understood by others, that so they might receive some profit and edification by it; or else, by the Spirit, may be designed the Spirit of God, who is absolutely necessary to the spiritual performance of this duty. Believers, in the discharge of this work, stand in great need of him to excite their attention, assist their meditations, enlighten their understandings, raise their affections, strengthen their faith, and make a comfortable application of what is sung to themselves; or, by singing with the Spirit, may be meant, singing with his own spirit; and indeed, believers should be servant in spirit, whilst they are serving the Lord in any ordinance: As God is a Spirit, he must be worshipped in spirit, or with our spirits, that is, with our hearts engaged in the work we are concerned in; and then may we be said to sing with the spirit, when we sing with grace in our hearts, or in the lively exercise of faith, and hope, and love; for to the due performance of this ordinance in a spiritual way, is required a large measure of grace, a good deal of spiritual light, knowledge, experience and judgment, for we should sing,

 

2. With the understanding also, i.e. either in a language that is to be understood, or with the understanding of what is sung, {Ps 47:7} sing ye praises with understanding; or to the understanding of others; for one end of this duty is, to teach and admonish others as well as our selves; and, perhaps, the Apostle may have some regard here to one of the titles of David’s psalms[iv], viz. lykçm, maschil, which signifies a psalm, giving instruction, or causing to understand. Unless we sing in all these senses with understanding, we sing with little advantage, either to our selves or others. In a word, besides our mutual edification, we should have in our view the glory of God; we are to sing unto the Lord, not to our selves, or to raise our natural affections, or to gain applause from others, by the fineness of our voice, and exact conformity to the tune; but to the glory of Father, Son and Spirit, who are that one God, who condescends to inhabit the praises of Israel. Having now considered the several things I proposed, relating to the ordinance of singing, I shall subjoin a short account of the faith and practice of the saints in the three first centuries of Christianity, with respect either to singing alone, or in the family, or in the churches; which added to the scriptural account of this duty, may serve the more to confirm us in the practice of it. If the Therapeutae, a sect of religious persons mentioned by Philo the Jew, who was contemporary with the Apostles, were Christians, as Eusebius thinks, then we have a proof, besides the scripture ones, of the Christians’ singing of psalms and hymns in the times of the Apostles; for of there Philo says, "That they not only gave themselves up to a contemplative life, but composed longs and hymns to God, in various kinds of metre and verse, and which they wrote as was necessary in graver rhyme, and which they not only composed but sung" tho’ perhaps, he may intend the Essenes, of whom Porphyry says, that "They kept the seventh day of the week in hymns to God, and in rest."

 

There are some, indeed, who think they were neither, but a sect of Jewish philosophers: However this be, ‘tis certain, That there is now extant an epistle of Pliny to Trajan the emperor; in which he tells him, that one part of the charge against the Christians was, "That they used to meet together at a flared time, before it was light, and sing a hymn among themselves, to Christ, as to a god." Tertullian refers to this letter, and expresses the charge in it thus; "That they had their meetings before it was day, to sing to Christ and to God." Eusebius cites the same, and observes, that "Pliny declared that he found nothing impious in them, nothing done by them contrary to the laws, except that rising early together, they sung an hymn to Christ after the manner of a god."  Now this letter was written in the latter end of the first century, or at the beginning of the second, and, as some think, whilst the Apostle John was yet living. Justin Martyr, Anno 150 in his epistle to Zena and Serenus, if it will be allowed to be genuine, speaks of the singing of psalms, hymns, and songs; and directs to the use of psalmody, in such a manner, as not to grieve our neighbors.

 

Athenogenes, a martyr, in the second century, as he was going to the fire, delivered an hymn to those that stood by, in which he celebrated the Deity of the blessed Spirit.  Clemens Alexandrinus, Anno 190, or 200, speaking of a good man, says, "His whole life is a continual holy day, his sacrifices are prayer and praise, the scriptures are read before eating of food; and, whilst eating, psalms and hymns are sung; and, at night, before he goes to bed prayer is performed again." And, in another place, he observes, that "a man’s love, friendship, and good will to God, should be shewn by thanksgiving and singing of psalms," and he himself composed an hymn to Christ, which is still extant at the end of his Paedagogue.

 

Tertullian, who lived about the same time, has many things in his writings, which shew that singing of psalms, both publicly and privately, was practiced in his day; in one place, he says, "After washing of hands, and lighting up of candles, meaning at their Christian meetings, and love feasts, every one might come forth, and sing to God, either out of the holy scriptures, Or what was of their own composing." And elsewhere, among the arguments he makes use of to prevail on Christians to marry among themselves, this is one; "psalms and hymns," says he, "are harmoniously sung between the happy pair; and they provoke each other to sing the better to their God." And in another place, he speaks of the reading of the scriptures, singing of psalms, preaching, sermons, and of prayer. as the several parts of public worship. And to add no more, in another book he makes this to be one part of the happiness of a chaste and continent man, that, "If he prays to the Lord, he is near to heaven; if he studies the scriptures, he is wholly there; if he sings a psalm, he pleases himself."

 

Origen, Anno 226, or 230 speaking of the need of the Spirit of God in prayer, adds, "Even as no man can sing a psalm or hymn to the Father in Christ, in good rhyme, proper verse and metre, and in concert, except the Spirit, who searcheth all things, even the deep things of God, first searches, and, as much as can be, comprehends the deep things of the mind, with songs of praise and hymns."

 

Cyprian, Anno 246 exhorted Donatus to the practice of singing of psalms, in an epistle to him, "Let a psalm, says he, be sung at a feast, kept with moderation; and that thou mayest have a retentive memory, let thy voice be melodious. Begin this work after the usual manner." Nepos, an Egyptian bishop, Anno 260 is greatly commended by Eusebius, not only for his faithfulness, labor, and diligence in the scriptures, but for his psalmody; which was very grateful to many of the brethren at that present time.  I might go on to produce testimonies, proving psalmody to be in use in the church in the times of Constantine, not far from the third century, which, as Eusebius, who was on the spot, relates, was performed with a very decent and agreeable modulation of the voice. As also, in the churches at Alexandria and Milan, when Athanasius was bishop of the one, and Ambrose of the other, who both lived in the fourth century. I might also observe, what spiritual delight and comfort the great Austin found in attending on this ordinance; but I choose to go no further than the three first centuries, which were the purest and most incorrupt ages of Christianity.

 

Paulus Samosatenus, who denied the divinity of Christ, is the only person I have met with in this period of time, that objected to the psalms and songs sung in the churches, which he condemned as novel compositions; and yet provided women to sing in the church concerning himself: His reason for it seems to be, because the divinity of Christ was in an excellent manner let forth in the old songs and psalms; as appears from a passage in Eusebius, mentioned to confront Artemon and Theodotus, who had represented Christ’s divinity as a novel doctrine. "The psalms and songs of the brethren, says Eusebius, which were written by the faithful, from the beginning, set forth the praises of Christ as the word of God, ascribing divinity to him." From the whole it may be concluded, that this ordinance of singing of psalms, as it was used by Christ and his Apostles, so it was continued in the ages next to them; and though it has been dragged through the sinks of popery, yet it ought not to be rejected on that account: Had our reformers treated the ordinances of Christ in such a manner, because they found them corrupted, we should have had no ordinance now in being: Let us rather do all we can to clear this of every degree of superstition, and restore it to its native simplicity and spirituality.



[i] So Ps 30:1; 55:1; 46:1; 58:1; 65:1; 67:1; 68:1; 75:1; 76:1; 83:1; 87:1; 88:1; 92:1; 93:1; 126:1; 127:1; 128:1; 129:1; 130:1; 131:1; 132:1; 133:1; 134:1

[ii] Ps 118:21-29

[iii] Lightfoot, Vol. p. 85, 1157.

[iv] So Ps 32:1; 42:1 with many others.

A DISSERTATION CONCERNING THE BAPTISM OF JEWISH PROSELYTES

Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee; that it may be displayed because of the truth Ps 60:4

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CONTENTS

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Chapter 1 Of the various sorts of Proselytes among the Jews.

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Chapter 2 The occasion of this Dissertation.

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Chapter 3 The proof of the Baptism of Jewish Proselytes inquired into; whether there is any proof of it before; at; or quickly after the times of John and Christ.

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Chapter 4 The proof of this custom only from the Talmuds and Talmudical writters.

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Chapter 5 The reasons why Christian Baptism is not founded on; and taken from; the pretended Jewish Baptism of Israelites and Proselytes.

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CHAPTER 1 OF THE VARIOUS SORTS OF PROSELYTES AMONG THE JEWS

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Intending to treat of the admission of proselytes into the Jewish church by baptism; or dipping; it may be proper to consider the different sorts of proselytes among the Jews; and which of them were thus admitted; as is said. The word "proselyte" is originally Greek; and is derived; as Philo observes; apo tou proselhluyenai; "from coming to;" that is; from one sect or religion to another; as from heathenism to the Jewish religion; and so Suidas says; proselytes are they oi proselhluyotev; "who come from" the Gentiles; and live according to the laws of God; and such an one is called by the Septuagint interpreters of Ex 12:19; Isa 14:1; and by the Greek writers following them; geiwrav; which is rightly interpreted by Hesychius; such of another nation who are called proselytes to Israel; and which word comes near to the Hebrew word rg and nearer still to the Chaldee word arwyg used for a proselyte; and is; by Eusebius; interpreted epimiktouv; such as were mixed with Israelites. There were two sorts of proselytes with the Jews; some say three; a proselyte of the gate; a mercenary proselyte; and a proselyte of righteousness; the first and last are most usually observed. I. First; One sort was called _______" a proselyte of the gate"; and in scripture; "the stranger that is in thy gates;" {De 14:21; 24:14} being a sojourner; and permitted to dwell there; hence such an one had also the name of ____ __" a proselyte inhabitant"; {see Ex 12:15; Le 25:45,47} one who was allowed to dwell among the Jews on certain conditions; and is generally distinguished from another sort; called a "proselyte of righteousness;" of whom more hereafter. Though the Jews; not always consistent with themselves; and so not in this matter; sometimes interpret "the stranger in the gate;" of a proselyte inhabitant; or a proselyte by inhabitation; and sometimes of a proselyte of righteousness. So Nachmanides; having explained the stranger in the gate of a proselyte inhabitant; or one who obliged himself to keep the seven precepts of Noah; according to the usual interpretation of it; observes; "Our doctors interpret it differently; for they say; ‘thy stranger within thy gate’; simply denotes; a ‘proselyte of righteousness’." So that according to them; such a stranger may be taken both for the one and for the other; in different respects; but commonly the proselyte inhabitant is only understood; who in general was obliged to promise; that he would not be guilty of idolatry; or worship any idol; this he was to promise before three witnesses; for it is asked; "who is Ger Toshab; that is; a proselyte allowed to dwell in Israel? (the answer is) Whoever takes upon him; in the presence of three neighbours; that he will not commit idolatry." It follows; "R. Meir; and the wise men say; whoever takes upon him the seven precepts which the sons of Noah obliged themselves to observe." Others say; "these do not come into the general rule of such a proselyte. Who then is one? He is a proselyte who eats what dies of itself; (or) who takes upon him to keep all the commandments in the law; except that which forbids the eating of things which die of themselves;" but the usual account of such a proselyte is; that he agrees to observe the seven precepts enjoined the sons of Noah; six of which were given to Adam; the first man; and the seventh was added to them; and given to Noah; and are as follow a. Concerning idolatry; by this a son of Noah was forbid to worship the sun; moon; and stars; and images of any sort; nor might he erect a statue; nor plant a grove; nor make any image. b. Concerning blaspheming the name of God. Such an one might not blaspheme; neither the proper name of God; Jehovah; nor any of his surnames; titles; and epithets. c. Concerning shedding of blood; or murder; the breach of which command he was guilty of; if he slew one; though an embryo in his mother’s womb; and one who pursued another; when he could have escaped from him with the loss of one of his members; etc. d. Concerning uncleanness; or impure copulations; of which there were six sorts forbidden a son of Noah; as; with an own mother; with a father’s wife (or stepmother); with another man’s wife; with his sister by the mother’s side; with a male; or with mankind; and with a beast. e. Concerning rapine; or robbery and theft; of which such were guilty; whether they robbed a Gentile or an Israelite; or stole money; or men; or suppressed the wages of an hireling; and the like. f. Concerning the member of a living creature; taken from it while alive; and eating it: this is the command; it is said; which was to Noah; and his sons; and of which the Jews interpret Ge 9:4. g. Concerning judgments or punishments to be inflicted on those who broke the above laws: this command obliged them to regard the directions; judgment; and sentence of the judges appointed to see the said laws put into execution; and to punish delinquents. Now such Gentiles; who laid themselves under obligation to observe these commands; had leave to dwell among the Israelites; though not in everyone of their cities; not in Jerusalem particularly; wherefore those devout men and proselytes said to dwell in Jerusalem; Ac 2:5,10 were not proselytes of the gate; but proselytes of righteousness. Nor are such sort of proselytes now received; only while the Jews lived in their own land; and were not under the jurisdiction of another people; or as they express it; while jubilees were in use and observed.  This sort of proselytes; though they did not enjoy the privileges the proselytes of righteousness did; yet some they had; they might worship and pray in the court of the Gentiles; though not in the temple; they might offer burnt offerings; though not other sacrifices; their poor were fed with the poor of Israel; their sick were visited by Israelites; and their dead were buried with them.  Such proselytes as these; as they were not obliged to circumcision; nor to other commands peculiar to the Jews; none but those before observed; so neither were they baptized; or dipped; when made proselytes; which is said of others. Maimonides affirms of such a proselyte; that he is neither circumcised nor dipped. Bishop Kidder[i]  is therefore mistaken in saying; that proselytes of the gate were baptized; but not circumcised. II. Secondly; there was another sort of proselytes; which are taken notice of; at least; by some as such; who were called µyrkç "mercenary" ones; and are reckoned as between proselytes of the gate and Gentiles. In Ex 12:44-45 a mercenary; or "hired servant;" is distinguished from a servant bought with money; he being hired only for a certain time; as for six years; and also from a foreigner; a stranger in the gate; a proselyte of the gate; and both of them are distinguished from the servant bought with money; who was circumcised; and might eat of the passover; when neither of the other might; being both uncircumcised; and therefore R. Levi Barzelonita is thought to be mistaken when he says; "a mercenary is a proselyte; who is circumcised; but not dipped; for so the wise men explain it:" but if a stranger or proselyte of the gate was not circumcised; much less a mercenary; who was far below him; besides; if he was circumcised; he might eat of the passover; which is denied him: and so Ben Melech observes of these two; the foreigner and the hired servant; they are Gentiles; and uncircumcised: and Abendana; in his notes upon him; from the Rabbins; says; the former is a proselyte inhabitant; or a proselyte of the gate; who takes upon him the seven precepts of the sons of Noah; the latter is a servant whose body is not possessed; that is; is not in the possession of his master; not being bought with his money; is only an hired servant; and so not circumcised. But perhaps Jarchi’s note will reconcile this to what Barzelonita says; "Toshab; a foreigner; this is a proselyte inhabitant; and Shacir; or hired servant; this is a Gentile;" but what is the meaning? are they not uncircumcised? (that is; both of them) and it is said; "No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof": but they are as a circumcised Arabian; and a circumcised Gabnunite; or Gabonite; though circumcised yet not by Israelites; but by Gentiles; which gave no right to the passover. Hottinger thinks these mercenary proselytes; and with him Leusden seems to agree; were mechanic strangers; who left their own country; and came among the Jews for the sake of learning some mechanic art; and who; conforming to certain laws and conditions; prescribed by the Jews; were permitted to sojourn with them until they had learnt the art. There are but few writers who speak of this sort of proselytes. However; it seems agreed on all hands; that whether circumcised or not; they were not baptized; or dipped. III. Thirdly; There was another sort of proselyte; called qdx rg a "proselyte of righteousness"; see De 16:20 a stranger circumcised; and who is so called when he is circumcised; and sometimes tyrb ˆb rg "a proselyte; the son of the covenant;"[ii]  the same as an Israelite; see Ac 3:25. This sort of proselytes were the highest; and had in greatest esteem; who not only submitted to circumcision; but embraced all the laws; religion; and worship of the Jews; and were in all respects as they; and enjoyed equally all privileges and immunities; civil and religious; as they did; except being made a king; though one might if his mother was of Israel; and being members of the great Sanhedrim; yet might be of the lesser; provided they were born of an Israelitish woman; nay; even such have been in the great Sanhedrim; as Shemaiah and Abtalion; who were of the posterity of Sennacherib; but their mothers being Israelites; it was lawful for them to judge; that is; in the great Sanhedrim; for one was the prince; and the other the father of that court.  So the Jews say; the posterity of Jethro sat in Lishcat Gazith; that is; in the great Sanhedrim; which sat in that room; and for which they quote 1Ch 2:55 yet it has been a question; whether a proselyte should be made a public minister; or president of the congregation; called ____ ____; but the common opinion was; that he might be one: of this sort of proselytes; of whom they boast; some were persons of note for learning; or wealth; or worldly grandeur; but without sufficient ground. Some; they own; were not sincere who became proselytes; either through fear; or to gratify some sensual lust; or for some sinister end or another. Some were called "proselytes of lions"; who became so through fear; as the Samaritans; because of the lions sent among them; and that they might be freed from them; embraced the worship of God; though they retained also the worship of their idols. Others were called "proselytes of dreams"; who were directed and encouraged to become proselytes by such who pretended to skill in dreams; as being omens of good things to them. Though some; in the place referred to; instead of twmlj "dreams;" read "windows;" and render the words "proselytes of windows;" so Alting; meaning the windows of their eyes; who; to gratify the lust of the eyes; became proselytes; as Shechem; being taken with the sight of Dinah; submitted to circumcision for the sake of her; and others were called "proselytes of Mordecai and Esther;" who were like those who became Jews in their times {Es 8:17} through fear of the Jews; as there expressed. Others were true and sincere proselytes; who cordially embraced the Jewish religion; and from the heart submitted to the laws and rules of it; these were called ______ ____" drawn proselytes"; who were moved of themselves; and of their own good will; without any sinister bias; and out of real love and affection to the Jewish religion; embraced it. Compare the phrase with Joh 6:44. And such; they say; all proselytes will be in the time to come; or in the days of the Messiah; and yet sometimes they say; that then none will be received: and when persons propose to be proselytes; the Jews are very careful to ask many questions; in order to try whether they are sincere or not; and such as they take to be sincere they speak very highly of; they say; "Greater are the proselytes at this time; than the Israelites when they stood on mount Sinai; because they saw the lightning; heard the thunder; and the sound of the trumpet; but these saw and heard none of these things; and yet have taken upon them the yoke of the kingdom; and are come under the wings of the Shechinah" though elsewhere; and in common; they speak but slightly of them; and say; "They are as grievous to Israel as a scab in the skin; or as a razor to it; because they often turn back again; and seduce the Israelites; and carry them off with them; yea; they say they stop the coming of the Messiah."  However; they have a saying which shows some regard to them; "A proselyte; even to the tenth generation; do not despise a Syrian; or an heathen before him; he being present; or to his face; because till that time their minds are supposed to incline towards their own people;" and so it is said; the daughter of a proselyte may not be married to a priest; unless her mother is an Israelitess; even unto the tenth generation. And there is another saying of theirs; Do not trust a proselyte until the twenty fourth generation; that is; never; not only priests; Levites; and Israelites; but even bastards; and the Nethinim; or Gibeonites; were preferred to proselytes.  Some of these sayings do not seem so well to agree with the words of Christ {Mt 23:15} to reconcile which; it is thought; that while the temple was standing; the desire of making proselytes was stronger than after it was destroyed by the Romans; resenting that; they became indifferent about making proselytes; and were unconcerned about the salvation of the Gentiles; and contented themselves with receiving such only who freely came over to them. It never was deemed so honourable to be the descendants of proselytes; as of original Hebrews. Hence the apostle Paul gloried that he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews; both his parents being Hebrews. A Rabbi of note among the Jews; whose parents were both proselytes; or Gentiles; is called not by his proper name; Jochanan; but Ben Bag-Bag; that is; the son of a Gentile man; and the son of a Gentile woman; and for the same reason he is called in a following paragraph; Ben He-He; numerically He being the same with Bag; though it is said; these abbreviations were used from reverence to him; and a regard for him; and; indeed; the Jews were not to reproach and upbraid proselytes with what they and their ancestors had been; or had done; they were not to say to a proselyte; Remember thy former works; nor were they to say to the sons of proselytes; Remember the works of your fathers; for this is the affliction and oppression of them; as they understand it; they are cautioned against; {Ex 22:21; Le 19:33} nay; they were to love them as themselves; because the Lord God loved the stranger; {Le 19:34; De 10:18} for of proselytes of righteousness they interpret these passages.  Now it is of this sort of proselytes; proselytes of righteousness; that it is said; they were admitted into covenant; and into the Jewish church; as the Israelites were; the males by circumcision; by tlybj "baptism;" or dipping; and by sacrifice; and the females by baptism; or dipping; and by sacrifice; and it is the baptism or dipping of these proselytes; that will be inquired into; and be the subject of the following Dissertation.

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CHAPTER 2 THE OCCASION OF THIS DISSERTATION

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I. Several learned men; and some of our own nation; whom I shall chiefly take notice of; have asserted; that it was a custom or rite used by the Jews before the times of John the Baptist; Christ; and his apostles; to receive proselytes into their church by baptism; or dipping; as well as by circumcision; and these both adult and infants; and that John and Christ took up the rite of baptizing from thence; and practised; and directed to the practice of it; as they found it; and which; they think; accounts for the silence about infant baptism in the New Testament; it being no new nor strange practice. The writers among us of most note; who make mention of it are; Broughton; Ainsworth; Selden; Hammond; and Lightfoot; men justly esteemed for their learning and knowledge in Jewish affairs. Mr. Hugh Broughton is the first of our nation I have met with who speaks of it. He says;[iii]  "The Babylonian Talmud; and Rambam (Maimonides) record; that in the days of David and Solomon; when many thousands of heathens became proselytes; they were admitted only by baptism; without circumcision. So now; when the New Testament was to be made for the many; that is; for all nations; baptism was not strange; neither is John an astonishment for that; but demanded whether he be Elijah or Christ; or that special prophet named in Deuteronomy." A little after he observes; that "Christ from baptism used of them (the Jews) ‘without commandment; and of small authority’; authorizes a seal of entering into the rest of Christ; using the Jews’ ‘weakness’ as an allurement thither." Where; by the way; he makes this usage to be "without commandment;" that is; of God; and to be but of "small authority;" even from men; and a piece of "weakness" of the Jews; and yet authorized by Christ; which seems incredible. Mr. Henry Ainsworth is the next I shall mention; who takes notice of this custom. His words are;[iv] "That we may the better know how they (the Jews) were wont to receive heathens into the church of Israel; I will note it from the Hebrew doctors:" and then gives a large quotation from Maimonides; the substance of which is; that as by three things Israel entered into the covenant; by circumcision; and baptism; and sacrifice; in like manner heathen proselytes were admitted; on which he makes this remark: "Whereupon baptism was nothing strange unto the Jews when John the Baptist began his ministry; {Mt 3:5-6} they made a question of his person that did it; but not of the thing itself." {Joh 1:25} Dr. Hammond; another learned man; speaks of this same custom or rite with the Jews: he says;[v] that "proselytes born of heathen parents; and become proselytes of justice; were admitted by the Jews; not only by circumcision; (and while the temple stood) by sacrifice; but also with the ceremony or solemnity of washing; that is; ablution of the whole body; done solemnly in a river; or other such great place or receptacle of water." So he says; Jethro; Moses’s father-in-law; was made a proselyte in this way; and that this ceremony of initiation belonged not only to those; which being of years; came over from heathenism to the Jews’ religion; but also to their children infants; if their parents; or the consessus (the sanhedrim) under which they were; did in the behalf of their children desire it; and on condition that the children; when they came to age; should not renounce the Jewish religion; nay; he says; the native Jews themselves were thus baptized; for all which he refers to the Talmud; Tr. Repud. by which I suppose he means the tract Gittin; concerning divorces. But I have not met with anything relating thereunto in that treatise. For the same purposes it is quoted by Dr. Wall; who; I suppose; goes upon the authority of Dr. Hammond; since he acknowledges he was not so well acquainted with the books to be searched for such quotations. Now Dr. Hammond observes; that. "having said thus much of the custom among the Jews; it is now most easy to apply it to the practice of John; and after of Christ; ‘who certainly took this ceremony from them’;" and further observes; that by this it appears; how little needful it will be to defend the baptism of Christian infants from the law of circumcising the infants among the Jews; "the foundation being far more fitly laid" in that other of Jewish baptism. Yea; in another of his works he suggests that this custom is the "true basis of infant baptism."[vi] The very learned Mr. Selden is more large in his quotations in various parts of his works; from both Talmuds and other Jewish writers; concerning this rite and custom; which authorities produced by him; and others; will be given and considered hereafter. At the close of which he makes these remarks; that the Jewish baptism was as it were a "transition" into Christianity; or however; a shadow of a transition; not to be passed over in silence; and that it should be adverted to; that the rite or sacrament of baptism; used at the beginning of Christianity; and of the gospel by John; and by the apostles; was not introduced as a "new action;" and as not before heard of; "even as a religious action;" but as well known to the Hebrews; as a rite of initiation; from the use and discipline of their ancestors; and as joined with circumcision. Dr. Lightfoot; who must be allowed to be well versed in Jewish literature; has produced the same authorities Selden has; if not more; in support of the said rite or custom; as in early use with the Jews; and exults and triumphs abundantly over the Antipaedobaptists in favour of infant baptism; on account thereof: he asserts; that "baptism had been ‘in long and common use’ among them (the Jews) many generations before John the Baptist came; they using this for admission of proselytes into the church; and baptizing men; women; and children for that end:-hence a ready reason may be given why there is ‘so little mention’ (no mention at all) of baptizing infants in the New Testament; and that there is neither ‘plain precept’ nor ‘example’ for it; as some ordinarily plead; the reason is; because there needed none; baptizing infants having been as ‘ordinarily used’ in the church of the Jews; as ever it hath been in the Christian church:-that baptism was no strange thing when John came baptizing; but the rite was known so well by everyone; that nothing was better known what baptism was; and therefore there needed not such punctual and exact rules about the manner and object of it; as there had needed; if it had never been seen. before:-that Christ took up baptism as it was ‘in common and known use’; and ‘in ordinary and familiar practice’ among that nation; and therefore gave no rules for the manner of baptizing; nor for the age and sex of persons to be baptized; which was well enough known already; and needed no ‘rule’ to be prescribed:-observing how very known and frequent the use of baptism was among the Jews; the reason appears very easy; why the Sanhedrim; by their messengers; inquired not of John; concerning the reason of baptism; but concerning the authority of the baptizer; not what baptism meant; but whence he had a licence so to baptize. {Joh 1:25} Hence also the reason appears why the New Testament does not ‘prescribe’; by some more ‘accurate rule’; who the persons are to be baptized:-the whole nation knew well enough that little children used to be baptized; there was no need for a precept for that; which had ever by common use prevailed."[vii]  Dr. Wall; upon these authorities; has thought fit to premise an account of this Jewish baptism; to his history of infant baptism; as serving greatly the cause of it; and as throwing light upon the words of Christ and his apostles; concerning it; and the primitive practice of it; and; animated by such autho who does not know his right hand from his left in this matter; takes it up; and swaggers with it. And; indeed; scarce any will now venture in the defence of infant baptism without it. This is the last refuge and dernier resort of the Paedobaptists; and; indeed; a learned baronet of our nation says; he knows not of any stronger argument in proof of infant baptism than this is. Now since so great a stress is laid upon it; and it is made a matter of such great importance; as to be a "transition" into Christianity; and to be "closely connected" with Christian baptism; that from whence it is taken; and is the "rule" to direct how to proceed; both with respect to the manner and objects of it; yea; is the "basis and foundation" of infant baptism; and the "strongest argument" in proof of it; and which makes other arguments; heretofore thought of great weight; now "unnecessary": it is highly proper to inquire what proof can be given of such a rite and custom being in use among the Jews; before the times of John Baptist; Christ; and his apostles; and if so; what force and influence such a custom can and ought to have on the faith and practice of Christians. The proof of which will next be considered.

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CHAPTER 3 THE PROOF OF THE BAPTISM OF JEWISH PROSELYTES INQUIRED INTO; WHETHER THERE IS ANY PROOF OF IT BEFORE; AT; OR QUICKLY AFTER THE TIMES OF JOHN AND CHRIST

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The inquiry to be made is; whether there are writings or records before the times of John; Christ; and his apostles; or at or near those times; or in the third and fourth century from the birth of Christ; or before the Talmuds were written; which make any mention of; or refer to any such rite and custom in use among the Jews; as to admit proselytes to their religion by baptism; or dipping; along with other things. Now upon search it will be found; I. First; That nothing of this kind appears in the writings of the Old Testament; which chiefly concern the Jewish nation. We read of many who either were; or are supposed and said to be made proselytes; as the Shechemites in Jacob’s time; the multitude that came out of Egypt with the Israelites; Jethro; Moses’s father in law; Shuah; Tamar; Rahab; and Ruth; and many in the times of Mordecai and Esther; who became Jews; Es 8:17 but not a word of their being admitted proselytes by baptism. Dr. Lightfoot indeed says;[viii] that Jacob admitted the proselytes of Shechem and Syria into his religion by baptism; but offers no proof of it; the Jews pretend; that Pharaoh’s daughter was a proselytess; and the Babylonian Talmud; quoting the passage in Ex 2:5. "And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself"; R. Jochanan says; she came down to wash herself from the idols of her father’s house; and the Gloss on the place is; "to dip on account of proselytism;" but then the Gloss is the work of Jarchi; a writer in the twelfth century; and was it so said in the Talmud itself; it would be no sufficient proof the fact. Dr. Hammond says; that Jethro was made a proselyte this way; but produces no scripture for it; but refers to the Talmud; Tr. Repud; but there it is not to be found; as before observed: and Schindler asserts the same; as said by the Jews; and seems to refer to the same Tract in general; without directing to any particular place: and from him Hammond seems to have taken it upon trust; and some other writers also; without examination; since no such passage is to be found in that Tract. Pfeiffer; in proof of it; refers to a book called Zennorenna; a commentary on the law; written in Hebrew-German; in the seventeenth century; by R. Jacob Ben Isaac; a German Jew.  Indeed; in the Talmud; Jethro is said to become a proselyte; but no mention is made in what manner he was made one; and elsewhere explaining these words; djyw "and Jethro rejoiced;" says Rab; he made a sharp sword to pass over his flesh; that is; according to the Gloss; he circumcised himself; and became a proselyte; but not a word of his baptism; or dipping; and so the Targum on Ex 18:6-7 is; "And he said to Moses; I Jethro; thy father-in-law; am come unto thee ‘to be made a proselyte’; but if thou wilt not receive me for myself; receive me for the sake of thy wife; and her two children; who are with her; and Moses went out from under the clouds of glory to meet his father-in-law; and bowing himself; kissed him; and he made him a proselyte; but nothing is said of the manner of doing it." Mr. Broughton also; as before quoted; says; that the Babylonian Talmud; and Rambam record; that in the days of David and Solomon; many thousands of heathens were made proselytes; and admitted by baptism only; but this instance is not to be met with in the Babylonian Talmud; yea; that expressly denies it in two different places; and in which it is asserted that they did not receive proselytes neither in the days of David; nor in the days of Solomon; Solomon’s wife; Pharaoh’s daughter; is indeed excepted; because the reason for which they say; proselytes were not then received; namely; because they might be desirous of being made proselytes; that they might be admitted to the king’s table; could have no influence on her; since she was the daughter of a mighty king; and yet it is said by some; that though it was Solomon’s intention to make her a proselyte; yet he was not able to do it; and she became one of his troublers; and by what is said of her; in 2Ch 8:11 it looks as if she did not become a proselyte; Rambam; or Maimonides; indeed; to reconcile what later writers have said; with those words of the Talmudists; have contrived a distinction between the Sanhedrim and private persons; as if proselytes; though not received in those times by the former; were by the latter. He says; there were many proselytes in those times who were made so before private persons; but not before the Sanhedrim; he owns the Sanhedrim did not receive them; and though they were dipped; yet not by their order; and with their consent; but he produces no passage of scripture to support this private dipping; nor do the scriptures any where speak of such numbers of proselytes in those days; and much less of their baptism; and the strangers; who in the Greek version are called proselytes; whom Solomon numbered and employed at the building of the temple; {2Ch 2:17} at most could only be proselytes of the gate; not of righteousness; and so there can be no pretence for their admission by baptism; or dipping; nor is there anything of this kind with respect to any persons to be found in the writings of the Old Testament. There is a plain and express law for the admission of proselytes to the Jewish religion; and for what; as a qualification; to partake of the ordinances and privileges of it; particularly to eat of the passover; and that is the circumcision of them; with all their males; and on this condition; and on this only; they and theirs were admitted without any other rite annexed unto it; they were obliged unto; nor does it appear that ever any other was used; no; not this of baptism; there was but one law to the stranger or proselyte; and to the home born Israelite. {see Ex 12:48-49} There were proselytes in the times of Hezekiah {2Ch 30:25} who came out of the land of Israel; to eat the passover at Jerusalem; who therefore must be circumcised; according to the said law; but there is no reason to believe they were baptized. There was a law concerning the marriage of a captive woman taken in war; {De 21:10-14} previous to which she must become a proselytess; and the law enjoins various particular rites to be observed in order to it; as shaving her head; paring her nails; and putting off the raiment of her captivity; but not a word of her baptism; which one would think could never be omitted; had such a custom prevailed as early as the times of Moses and Jacob; as is pretended. There were various bathings; baptisms; or dippings incumbent on the Israelites; and so upon such proselytes who were upon an equal footing with them; and equally under obligation to obey the ceremonial law; which consisted of various washings; baptisms; or dippings; yet none of them for proselytism; but for purification from one uncleanness or another; in a ceremonial sense: these seem to be what a learned writer calls "aquilustria;" "lustrations by water"; which he thinks it is clear the captive Jews in Babylon observed; from having their solemn meetings by rivers; {Eze 3:15; Ezr 8:15,21} but it is not so clear they had their abode in such places; whether for a longer or shorter time; on account of them; and it is still less clear what he further says; that these lustrations had a promise of grace annexed to them; were sacraments of the Old Testament, and a type of our baptism. However; though he supposes the returning Jews and proselytes were circumcised; he does not pretend they were baptized; nor does he attempt to prove proselyte baptism from hence. Among the ten families said by the Jews to come out of Babylon; the proselytes are one sort; but they say nothing of their baptism. {see Ezr 6:21} As for those scriptures of the Old Testament the Rabbins make use of to justify this custom of theirs; they will be considered hereafter.

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II. Secondly whereas there are several books called Apocrypha supposed to be written between the writing of the books of the Old Testament and those of the New and are generally thought to be written by Jews; and to contain things which chiefly have respect to them; and though there is sometimes mention made in them of proselytes to the Jewish religion; yet not a syllable of any such rite or custom; as of baptism or dipping at the admission of them; particularly of Achior the Ammonite; in the times of Judith; upon her cutting off the head of Olophernes it is said; that "he; seeing all that the God of Israel did; strongly believed in God; and circumcised the flesh of his foreskin; and was added to the house of Israel unto this day;" that is; he and his posterity continued in the Jewish religion. Now here is mention made of his being circumcised; previous to his addition; or his being proselyted to the Jewish church; but not a word of baptism; or dipping; in order to it; see Judith 14:6 in the Apocrypha. III. Thirdly; mention is made of proselytes in the New Testament; {Mt 23:15; Ac 2:10; 6:5; 13:43} but nothing is said concerning their admission; and the manner of it. Indeed; in the Ethiopic version of Mt 23:15 the words are rendered; "They baptize one proselyte"; which seems to have respect to the custom under consideration; but then this is but a translation; and not a just one. The Ethiopic version is not only reckoned not very good; but of no great antiquity. Ernestus Gerhard says of the antiquity of it; he dare not affirm anything certain. And Ludolph; in his history of Ethiopia; relates; that he could find nothing certain concerning the author and time of this version but thinks it probable it was made at the time of the conversion of the Habessines; or a little after; but not in the times of the apostles; as some have affirmed; and in the margin; a little after; he observes; that in an Ethiopic martyrology; St. Frumentius; called abbot of Salama; is said to be the author of it; who; according to another place in the said history; seems to have lived in the fourth century; in the times of Athanasius; and is thought to be the first founder of the Christian religion in Ethiopia; and the first bishop in it. Scaliger takes the Ethiopic version to be a recent one; and Deuteronomy Dieu;[ix] from what the author or authors of the version of the evangelist Matthew; add at the end of it; suspects that they were of the Maronites; who became subject to the pope of Rome A. D. 1182; and so this version is too late a testimony for the antiquity of such a custom; and the closing the translation of some of the epistles with desiring the prayers of Peter and others; shows what sort of persons they were who translated them; and in what times they lived. The title of the book of the Revelation in this version; is; "The vision of John; which John was bishop of the metropolis of Constantinople; when he suffered persecution;" by which it appears not to be ancient. Hence Dr. Owen[x] calls it a "novel" endeavour of an illiterate person; and the translation of the clause itself in Mt 23:15 is censured by Ludolphus as ridiculous; the word by which it is rendered being used in the Ethiopic language to convert a man to Christianity; or to make a man a Christian; which is by it absurdly attributed to the Scribes and Pharisees.

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IV. Fourthly; as there are no traces of this custom in the writings before; at; or about the times of John; Christ; and his apostles; so neither are there any in those which were written in any short time after; as; not in Philo the Jew; who lived in the first century; who; though he is said by some to be ignorant of Jewish customs; yet one would think he could not be ignorant of such as were used at the admission of proselytes; since he lived at Alexandria; where it may be supposed many proselytes were; more than in Judea; and of the manner of their admission he could not but have knowledge; both then and in former times; and he makes mention of proselytes; and of them as equally partakers of the same privileges; and to be treated with the same honour and respect as home born citizens; and as they were admitted by Moses; but is altogether silent about this custom of baptizing; or dipping them; nor is there the least trace or hint of this custom in any Rabbinical books; said by the Jews to be written a little before; or after; such as the books of Bahir; Zohar; the Targums of Onkelos on the Pentateuch; and of Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the prophets. V. Fifthly; Josephus; the Jewish historian; lived in the same age; a little after Philo; was well versed in the affairs of the Jews; even in their religious rites and ceremonies; having been a priest among them. He not only observes; that many of the Gentiles came over to their religion; but even speaks of whole nations who became Jews; and that they were made so by circumcision; as of the Idumaeans; whom Hyrcanus conquered; and suffered to remain in their own land; on condition that they would be circumcised; and conform to the laws of the Jews; and who; out of love to their country; did comply with circumcision; and so became Jews; and of the Ituraeans; whom Aristobulus fought against; and added part of their country to Judaea; and obliged the inhabitants; if they would remain in their country; to be circumcised; and live after the laws of the Jews; and quotes Strabo; who; upon the authority of Timogenes; says; that he enlarged the country of the Jews; and made part of the country of Ituraea theirs; joining them to them by the bond of circumcision.  By which accounts it appears; that both these people were made Jews; or were proselyted to them by circumcision; but not a word is said of their baptism; or dipping; which; according to this custom; as is said; must have been of men; women; and children; which; had it been practised; could not have been well omitted by the historian. He also speaks of Helena; queen of Adiabene; and of her son Izates; embracing the Jewish religion; and relates how desirous Izates was of being circumcised; that he might be a perfect Jew; without which he could not; but for a time he was dissuaded from it by his mother; and a Jew merchant; who instructed them; but afterwards; being exhorted to perfect the work by one Eleazer; who was more skilful in Jewish affairs; he submitted to circumcision: but neither Josephus nor Eleazer say a word about his baptism; or dipping; which yet; according to the pretended custom as then prevailing; was necessary; as well as circumcision; to make him a complete proselyte. Nor is any mention made of the baptism or dipping of Helena; which; had it been at this time; would not have been omitted by the historian; since it was by that only; according to this notion; that females were then made proselytes. He also speaks[xi] of another son of Helena; Monbaz; embracing the Jewish religion; but says nothing of his baptism. VI. Sixthly; it may be inquired; whether or no any mention is made of this custom of receiving proselytes among the Jews by baptism; or dipping; in the Targums; or Chaldee paraphrases. The most ancient ones extant are those of Jonathan Ben Uzziel of the prophets; and of Onkelos of the Pentateuch; the one at the beginning; the other toward the end of the first century; in which nothing is met with concerning the admission of Jewish proselytes by dipping. The other paraphrases are by uncertain authors; and of an uncertain age. The Targum of the Megillot; or five books of Ruth; Ecclesiastes; Canticles; Lamentations; and Esther; is written by an unknown author; it is the latest of all the Targums. In that of Esther only the phrase became Jews; {Es 8:17} is rendered; became proselytes; but nothing is said of their manner of becoming such. In that of Ru 1:16 the requisites of a proselyte are particularly observed; where Ruth is introduced; saying; that she desired to be made a proselyte; when Naomi informs her what commands the Jews were obliged to observe; as to keep the Sabbaths and festivals; and not to walk beyond two thousand cubits (on the Sabbath day); not to lodge with Gentiles; to observe the three hundred and thirteen commands; not to worship an idol; etc. to all which Ruth is made to agree; but not a syllable is said about baptism; or dipping; whereas; that; with a sacrifice along with it; before the building of the temple; and while the temple stood; and since; without it; is the only thing; according to this notion; by which females were admitted proselytes. In the Targum of Jonathan of Ge 9:27 the sons of Japheth are said to be made and to dwell in the school of Shem. In the Jerusalem Targum; and in that of Pseudo-Jonathan; the souls that Abraham and Sarah got in Haran; {Ge 12:5} are said to be the souls who were made proselytes by them; and In the same Targum of Ge 21:33 at Beersheba; where Abraham planted a grove; he is said to make proselytes; and teach them the way of the world; of the world to come; but nothing more is said of the way and manner in which they were made such. In the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan of Ge 38:2 Judah is said to make the daughter of a Canaanite a proselytess; and then married her; and in the same Targum of Nu 11:4 the mixed multitude who came with the Israelites out of Egypt; are interpreted proselytes; and no doubt but many of them were such; and Jarchi thinks the son of the Israelitish woman; whose father was an Egyptian; was a proselyte; since he was among the children of Israel. {Le 24:10} And Africanus affirms; that the Jews genealogical tables; in which an account was kept of original Jews and of proselytes; as of Achior the Ammonite; and Ruth the Moabitess; and those who came out of Egypt mixed with the Israelites; and which continued to the times of Herod; who burnt them; that his family might not be known. But to return to the Targums; in the Pseudo-Jonathan’s of Ex 18:6-7; Jethro is made to say to Moses; as before observed; that he was come to be made a proselyte; and Moses is said to make him one; but in what manner it is not said; and so the rest before mentioned; indeed; the same Targum of Ex 12:44 is; "And every stranger who is sold for a servant to an Israelite; bought with money; then thou shalt circumcise him; and thou shalt ‘dip him’; and so shall he eat of it;" the passover. Now in this Targum of Ex 26:9 not only mention is made of the Misnah; but it abounds with Talmudic fables and traditions; and so must be written after both the Misnah and Talmud; and in the Targum of Nu 24:19 mention is made of the city of Constantinople; which shows it to be not ancient; and that it is not the work of the true Jonathan. And besides all this; the case of the servant refers not to a proselyte; who became so of choice; but to a bought servant; who; according to the original law in Ge 17:12-13; was obliged to be circumcised; and so; according to the Rabbinic custom; to be dipped; but then; according to these writers; baptism; or dipping for servitude; was a different thing from baptism; or dipping for proselytism; the one was on a civil; the other on a religious account; the one was repeated when a servant was made a free man; and the other never.  The same Pseudo-Jonathan in his Targum of De 21:13; to the conditions required of a beautiful captive; in order to be married to an Israelite; this is added; that she should dip herself; and become a proselytess in his house; but the text has nothing of it; nor the Targum of Onkelos; nor is this custom to be met with in the paraphrases of the true Jonathan; only in this; which was written after the Talmud; and does not come within the time under consideration. VII. Seventhly; nor is there any mention of such a custom in the Jew’s Misnah; or Book of Traditions; which is a collection of all the traditions among the Jews; which had been handed down from age to age; and were collected together from all parts; and written in a book of this name; in order to be preserved. This was written by R. Judah Hakkadosh; in the middle of the second century; A. D. 150 or as others in the beginning of the third century; reckoning the date of it one hundred and fifty years from the destruction of the temple; which brings it to the year 220 and here; if anywhere; one might expect to meet with this rite or custom; but no mention is made of it. Dr. Gale[xii] seems to allow it upon what Dr. Wall has transcribed from Selden; which he granted without examination. The doctor says;[xiii] It is not only mentioned in the Gemara; but in the text of the Misnah itself; which; as he suggests; speaks of a child becoming a proselyte by baptism; or dipping; but the passage he has from Selden says no such thing; which runs thus; "A she stranger; a captive; and a maiden; who are redeemed and become proselytes; and are made free; being ‘under’ (or; as in the following section; above) three years and one day old; are allowed the matrimonial dowry;" that is; when they come to age; and are married; but not a word is here of their being made proselytes by baptism; or dipping; indeed; the tradition shows; that minors may be proselyted; and that a man’s sons and daughters may become proselytes with him; but there is no need to have recourse to a tradition for this; the law is express; that a stranger who desires to be a proselyte to the Jewish religion; and to eat of the passover; must be circumcised; and all his males; and then he and all his children; males and females; may be admitted to eat of it; Ex 12:48-49 only the circumcision of the males is required; but no baptism; or dipping of any. There is a passage in the Misnah; which perhaps some may think countenances this custom; which is this; "A stranger who is made a proselyte; on the evening of the passover; the house of Shammai say; he ‘dips’ and eats his Passover in the evening; but the house of Hillell say; he that separates from uncircumcision; is as he that separates from a grave." Now it should be observed; 1. That here is a division about this matter; be it what it may; Shammai; and his party; assert; that a proselyte newly made; might dip and eat his passover that evening; but Hillell; and his party; dissent; for a reason given; and the determination; in all cases; was generally according to Hillell; as it was in this; so we learn from Maimonides. 2. This baptism; or dipping; was not on account of proselytism; but for ceremonial uncleanness; for it goes along with cases of that kind; instanced in before. The canon begins thus; "A mourner (who was unclean according to the ceremonial law) dips and eats his passover in the evening; but eats not of the holy things: he that hears tidings of the death of his (friend or relation); and who gathers to him bones; dips; and eats of the holy things:" and then it follows; "A stranger who is made a proselyte; etc." 3. This rule; according to Shammai; was concerning one already made a proselyte; and therefore the dipping; or baptism; he prescribes to him; in order to his eating the passover that evening; was not to make him a proselyte; but for some other reason. Wherefore; 4. This strongly makes against admission of proselytes by baptism; or dipping; at that time; for if he had been made a proselyte that way; there would have been no reason for a second dipping to qualify him for the passover. 5. The case of such an one; according to Hillell; is; that being just out of heathenism; he was unclean; as one that touched a dead man; a bone; or a grave; and therefore could not eat of the passover that evening; but must wait seven days; until he was purified according to the law in Nu 19:11-19.  6. After all; the view of Hillell; in putting such a person off from eating the passover the evening he became a proselyte for the reason given; was with respect to the next year; and by way of caution; fearing that should he be then in any uncleanness; which required purification; he would say; Last year I did not dip; or purify myself from any uncleanness; and yet I eat; and now I must dip and eat; not considering that the last year he was an heathen; and incapable of uncleanness; according to the law; but now he was an Israelite; and capable of it; and so it is explained in the Gemara and Gloss on it; and by other interpreters.  Besides; this baptism; or dipping; was not on account of proselytism; but was common to; and obligatory upon; a circumcised Israelite; in order to eat of the passover; as is acknowledged by all. There were several in the times of the Misnic doctors; and before the Misnah was compiled; who were persons of eminence; and said to become proselytes; as Onkelos the Targumist; who; it is said; was made a proselyte in the days of Hillell and Shammai; hence he is called Onkelos the proselyte; some say he was a sister’s son of Titus the emperor; and by whom three Roman troops; sent one after another; to take him; were made proselytes also; and Aquila; the author of the Greek version of the Bible; became; as is said; a proselyte in the times of Adrian and so the emperor Antoninus Pius; and Ketiah; a nobleman in Caesar’s court; as before observed: yea; the famous R. Akiba; a Misnic doctor; was a proselyte; and so was R. Meir.  And of the circumcision of most of these we read; but nothing of their baptism; neither in the Misnah; nor in any other Jewish writings. Not to take notice of those very early masters of tradition Shemaia and Abtalion; before observed; who were proselytes of righteousness; there were also women of note within this time; who became proselytes; as queen Helena; with her two sons; of whom mention is made in the Misnah; and Beluria; the proselytess; who had a discourse with R. Gamaliel; and the wife of Turnus Rufus; whom R. Akiba married; after she was proselyted.  Now though female proselytes were admitted by baptism only; as is pretended; yet nothing is said of the baptism of these women. And as there is no mention of this custom in the Misnah; so neither have I observed any notice taken of it in the Rabbot; which are commentaries on the Pentateuch and five Megillot; before named; and which were written by R. Bar Nachmoni; about A. D. 300; according to Buxtorf in one of which the text in Ge 12:5 is commented on; "And the souls they had gotten in Haran"; which the Targums of Pseudo-Jonathan and Jerusalem; interpret of the souls they proselyted; before observed; and here it is said; "These are the proselytes which they made:-R. Hona said; Abraham proselyted the men; and Sarah proselyted the women;" but not a word is said about the baptism or dipping of either. Yea; Abraham and Sarah are said to be proselytes themselves; but it is not suggested that they were baptized. In these commentaries mention is made of the circumcision of proselytes; particularly of king Monbaz; and his brother; said to be the sons of king Ptolemy; and of Aquila; the Greek translator; but nothing is said of their baptism. VIII. Eighthly; nor is this rite or custom of receiving Jewish proselytes by baptism; or dipping; once spoken of by any of the Christian fathers of the first three or four centuries; which they could not be ignorant of; if from hence Christian baptism was taken; and especially such who were Jews; or had any connection with them; or were acquainted with them; and with their affairs; as some of them were. Barnabas was a Jew; and an apostolic man; contemporary with the apostles; there is an epistle of his still extant; in which he treats chiefly of Jewish rites; and of their being typical of evangelic things; and of their having their fulfilment in them; and yet says not a word of this initiating baptism; which he could not have failed making mention of had he known anything of it; yea; he sets himself to find out what was beforehand said concerning the ordinance of baptism; he says; "Let us inquire whether the Lord has taken any care to make manifest beforehand anything concerning the water;" that is; concerning baptism: and then he adds; "Concerning the water; it is written to Israel; how the baptism that leads to the remission of sins; they would not; but appointed for themselves;" meaning their superstitious worship; our Lord inveighs against; but says not a word here; nor elsewhere; of the baptism of proselytes; for which he had a fair opportunity; had he known anything of it. Justin Martyr; who lived in the second century; was a Samaritan; and had knowledge of Jewish affairs; and had a dispute with Trypho the Jew; the same with Tarphon; a Jewish doctor; frequently mentioned in the Misnah; yet neither he nor Trypho say anything of this custom. In answer to a question put by Justin; what was necessary to be observed; Trypho replies; "To keep the Sabbath; to be circumcised; to observe the new moons; to be baptized; or dipped; whoever touches any of these things forbidden by Moses;" meaning; that such should be baptized; or dipped; who touched a dead body; or bone; or grave; etc. but not a syllable is here of the baptism; or dipping of proselytes. And Justin himself makes mention of Jewish proselytes; and calls them circumcised proselytes; but not baptized; by which it seems he knew nothing of any such custom; as to baptize them; yea; he does; in effect; deny there was any such custom of baptizing any; that universally obtained among the Jews; since he speaks of a certain sect; whom he will not allow to be truly Jews; called by him Baptists. Whereas; if it was the practice of the whole nation to receive proselytes by baptism; or dipping; a particular sect among them; would not be stigmatized with such a name; since they must be all Baptists; both original Jews and proselytes; if they were all admitted into the Jewish church by baptism; as is affirmed. Origen; who lived in the beginning of the third century; in the city of Alexandria; where were great numbers of Jews; with whom he was acquainted; and must know their customs; says of Heracleon; an heretic; he opposes; "That he was not able to show that ever any prophet baptized;" meaning; a common and ordinary one; and if none of these ever baptized; what foundation could there be for the baptism of proselytes before the times of Christ? Epiphanius; in the fourth century; was born in Palestine; lived some time in Egypt; had great knowledge of the Jews; and of their affairs; but seems to know nothing of this custom; as used neither in former nor in later times: he says; neither had Abraham baptism; nor Isaac; nor Elias; nor Moses; not any before Noah and Enoch; nor the prophet Isaiah; nor those who were after him and he speaks of the Samaritans; that when they came over to the Jews; they were circumcised again; and gives an instance in Symmachus; who; when he became a proselyte; was circumcised again. So likewise be speaks of Theodotion being proselyted to Judaism; and of his being circumcised; but not a word of the baptism; or dipping; of either of them. He also speaks of Antipater; the father of Herod the king; that when he became procurator of Judaea; he was made a proselyte; and was circumcised; both he and Herod his son; but says nothing of their baptism; or dipping; so Herod is called by the Jews a Proselyte; and his reign; and that of his posterity; µyrgh twklm "the reign of the proselytes"; who became so by circumcision; and that only; for ought appears. And of him; as a proselyte; but not of his baptism; speaks Jerome;[xiv] he lived in the same century; and great part of his time in Judaea; was acquainted with several Jews he had for his teachers; and with their traditions; of many of which he makes mention; but never of this of admitting proselytes by baptism; or dipping. He speaks of proselytes; and of their circumcision; and says; that "if strangers received by the law of the Lord; and were circumcised; and were eunuchs; as was he of the queen of Candace; they are not foreign from the salvation of God;" but not a word of their baptism or dipping. The instances given by Dr. Wall; from Tertullian; Cyprian; Gregory Nazianzen; and Basil; only respect either the figurative baptism of the Israelites at the Red Sea; or their baptisms and bathings by immersion; for their purification from ceremonial uncleanness; but not for proselytism. So when the same writer quotes Arrianus; an heathen Stoic philosopher of the second century; as speaking of tou bebammhnou; "a baptized Jew"; or one that was dipped; by whom the doctor thinks is meant one made a proselyte by baptism; no other may be designed than either a Jew who bathed his whole body; to purify himself from legal pollutions; or an Hemero-baptist; a sect of the Jews; who bathed themselves every day; or rather a Christian; as many learned men are of opinion;[xv] since it was not unusual with heathen writers to call Christians; who were baptized; Jews; because the first Christians were Jews; and came from Judaea; into other parts of the world; and were reckoned by the heathens a sect of the Jews;[xvi] and were often confounded with them. Now since it appears there is no mention made of any such rite or custom of admitting Jewish proselytes by baptism; or dipping; to the Jewish religion in an writings and records before the times of John the Baptist; Christ; and his apostles; nor in any age after them; for the first three or four hundred years; or; however; before the writing of the Talmuds; it may he safely concluded there was no such custom; which had obtained in that interval of time. It remains therefore to be considered; what is the true ground and foundation of such a notion and from whence it sprung; which will be done in the following chapter.

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CHAPTER 4 THE PROOF OF THIS CUSTOM ONLY FROM THE TALMUDS AND TALMUDICAL WRITTERS
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Seeing the rite of receiving proselytes by baptism; or dipping among the Jews; is nowhere mentioned in any writings before the times of John and Christ; nor in any after; nearer than the third and fourth centuries; it is next to be inquired; when and where we first hear of it; and upon inquiry it will be found; that the first mention of it; for ought as yet appears; is in the Jewish Talmuds. The testimonies from thence concerning it; and the whole evidence; as there given of it; will now be laid before the reader. There are two Talmuds; the one called Jerusalem; the other Babylonian; the one written for the Jews at Jerusalem; and in Judaea; after the destruction of the city and temple; and in the Jerusalem dialect. The other for the use of the Jews in Babylon; and in those parts; and in their style. The former is the most ancient; and therefore I shall begin with it; being finished; as generally supposed; in the year 230; but if the Misnah was not compiled till the year 220; being one hundred and fifty from the destruction of Jerusalem; there must be a longer space of time than that of ten years between the one and the other. David Nieto; lately belonging to a Jewish synagogue here in London; says; the Jerusalem Talmud was written near a hundred years after the Misnah; but other Jews make it later still; and make a difference of two hundred and thirty three years between the finishing of the one and the other; the one being finished in 189; and the other in 422; which is much more probable; and so this Talmud was not earlier than the beginning of the fifth century; nay; sometimes they place it in the year 469; the latter end of that century. Scaliger places it in the year 370. Mr. Whiston in 369. And so Elias Levita writes; that R. Jochanan compiled it three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem; but Morinus will have it to be after the year 600; which is carrying it down too low. The passages I have met with in it any way relating to the case under consideration; for it will be allowed there are some; and therefore it will be owned; that Mr. Rees
[xvii] was mistaken in saying it was not pretended to be found in it. The passages are as follow. In one place; a certain Rabbi is represented as saying to another; "Wait; and we will ‘dip’ this proselytess tomorrow. R. Zera asked R. Isaac Bar Nachman; Wherefore? because of the glory of that old man; or because they do not dip a proselyte in the night. He replied to him; Why do not they dip a proselyte in the night? Abda came before R. Jose (and said); What is the meaning then of not dipping a proselyte in the night?" And a little after; in the same column; a saying of R. Hezekiah is reported; "A man finds an infant cast out (an exposed infant); and he dips it in the name of a servant;" or for a servant; on account of servitude; but then dipping for servitude; and dipping for proselytism; were two different things with the Jews; as before observed; and yet this is the only clause produced by Dr. Lightfoot out of this Talmud; for the above purpose; or by any other that I have seen. However; there are others which speak of the dipping of adult proselytes; which became a matter of controversy. In another treatise; in the same Talmud; mention is made of a proselyte circumcised; but not dipped; (and it is added) all goes after circumcision; that is; that denominates a proselyte. "R. Joshua says; yea; dipping stays (or retards) it; and Bar Kaphra teaches; that he who is not dipped; this is right (a true proselyte); for there is no proselyte but dips for accidents;" that is; for accidental and nocturnal pollutions; and it seems such a dipping sufficed for proselytism. Of so little account did these Rabbins make of dipping for proselytism; who first mention it; not only make it insignificant; but as a delay of it; and what was an obstruction and hindrance of it: and further on it is said; "A proselytess less than three years of age and one day; she has not knowledge for dipping (or when she is dipped); and afterwards returns and is dipped for the name of the Holy One of Israel; every one is a proselytess; and she is a proselytess." This looks like Anabaptism; or rebaptization for want of knowledge when first dipped. And a little further still; "A stranger or a proselyte who has children; and says; I am circumcised; but I am not dipped; he is to be believed; and they dip him on the Sabbath." In another treatise; a mention is made of a proselyte who dipped after the illumination of the East; that is; after sunrising. These are all the places I have met with in the Jerusalem Talmud any way relating to this custom. Dr. Wall[xviii] refers to two or three other passages in this Talmud; through mistake for the Babylonian Talmud; in which he may be excused; because; as he himself says; he was not well acquainted with these books; but he cannot be excused of inadvertency in transcribing from his authors; unless they have led him wrong. The Babylonian Talmud is next to be considered; from whence testimonies may be brought relating to the custom under consideration. This Talmud was finished; as is usually said; about A. D. 500; according to the account of the Jews it was finished three hundred and sixteen years after the Misnah; and eighty three after the Jerusalem Talmud.  Though Morinus thinks it did not appear until the seventh or eighth century. According to the Jewish doctors, as related in this Talmud, the Israelites, and the proselytes, were admitted into covenant in the same way and manner; and which they conclude from Nu 15:15 "As ye are, so shall the stranger be, before the Lord": on which they thus descant: "As your fathers entered not into covenant but by circumcision and dipping, and acceptance of blood or sacrifice; so they (the proselytes) enter not into covenant, but by circumcision, and dipping, and through acceptance of blood," or sprinkling of blood, as the Gloss is; or by sacrifice, as it is sometimes expressed, which is favourably accepted of God; and without both circumcision and dipping, none were reckoned proper proselytes; this is said two or three times in one leaf; "A man is not a proselyte unless both circumcised and dipped." R. Chiyah Bar Abba went to Gabla, it is said, and he saw the daughters of Israel pregnant by proselytes, who were circumcised but not dipped; he went and told R. Jochanan, who declared their issue bastards, and not children of the law, or legitimate: about this a controversy was raised, related in the same place; "A stranger that is circumcised and not dipped, R. Eliezer says, lo, this is a proselyte; for so we find by our fathers, that they were circumcised, but not dipped; one that is dipped, and not circumcised, R. Joshua says, lo, this is a proselyte; for so we find by our mothers (not maids, or maidservants, as Dr. Lightfoot[xix] translates it) that they were dipped and not circumcised." Had the account stopped here, the decision must have been against dipping: for it is a rule with the Jews, that when R. Eliezer and R. Joshua dissent, the decision is according to R. Eliezer, whom they often call Eliezer the Great, and say many extravagant things of him; particularly, that if all the wise men of Israel were put into one scale, and Eliezer the son of Hyrcanus, into the other, he would weigh them all down; yet here the wise men interpose, and say, "He that is dipped and not circumcised, circumcised and not dipped, is no proselyte, until he is both circumcised and dipped; for R. Joshua may learn from the fathers, and R. Eliezer from the mothers."
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And so in this way they reconciled both; but R. Eliezer continued in the same sentiments, which he afterwards declared for, and affirms, that a proselyte that is circumcised, and not dipped, awh ayl[m rg "he is an honourable proselyte"; so that according to him, dipping was not necessary to one’s being a proselyte; and R. Barzelonita says, of a sort of proselytes which have been taken notice of, he is a proselyte who is circumcised and not dipped. So that the Jews are not agreed among themselves about this point. The manner of receiving a proselyte, and dipping him, when circumcised and healed of his wound, and of the dipping of women also, is related in the same treatise of the Babylonian Talmud; "A stranger when he comes to be made proselyte, "at this time", they say unto him, What dost thou see, to become a proselyte? Dost thou not know that the Israelites "at this time" are in distress, and in sorrowful circumstances, driven about and scattered, and are reproached, and chastisements come upon them? If he says, I know this, and I am not worthy (to be joined with them), they receive him immediately; and make known unto him some of the light, and some of the heavy commands (the particulars of which follow); if he receives them, they immediately circumcise him; and if there be anything remains, which hinders circumcision, they return and circumcise him a second time, and when he is healed, they dip him immediately, and two disciples of the wise men stand by him, and make known to him some of the light and some of the heavy commands; then he dips, and goes up, and he is an Israelite. If a woman, the women set her in water up to her neck, and two disciples of the wise men stand by her without, and make known some of the light and some of the heavy commands." Maimonides adds, "After that she ‘dips’ herself before them, and they turn away their faces, and go out, so that they do not see her when ‘she goes up out of the water’." Of a woman big with child when she is dipped they have this rule "A stranger pregnant, who is made a proselytess, her child has no need of dipping, that is, for proselytism, as the Gloss; is because sufficient for it is the dipping of its mother; and a woman that is dipped as unclean, according to the doctors, that is sufficient to make her a proselytess." Says R. Chiyah Bar Ame, "I will dip this heathen woman, in the name or on account of a woman;" that is, as the Gloss is, for the dipping of uncleanness, she being a menstruous woman, and not for the dipping of proselytism. Says R. Joseph, "I will make it right;" that is, pronounce that she is a perfect proselytess; for though she is not dipped for proselytism, yet being dipped for uncleanness, it serves for proselytism; for a stranger or a heathen is not dipped for uncleanness. There are various circumstances observed in the same treatise concerning the dipping of proselytes; as the place where they are dipped; "In a place it is said, where a menstruous woman dips, there a proselyte and a freed servant dip;" that is, as the Gloss is, in a quantity of forty seahs of water: the time of its being done is also signified; as that they do not dip in the night; and it is disputed whether it should be done on the Sabbath day: three witnesses also were required to be present; and where there are three, he (the proselyte) "dips" and goes up, and lo, he is as an Israelite. It is said, "It happened in the house of R. Chiya Bar Rabbi, where were present R. Oschaia Bar Rabbi, and R. Oschaia Bar Chiya, that there came a proselyte before him who was circumcised, but not dipped; he said unto him, Wait here till tomorrow, and we will dip thee. Three things are to be learnt from hence. 1. That three persons are required (at the dipping of a proselyte). 2. That he is not a proselyte unless he is circumcised and dipped. 3. That they do not dip a proselyte in the night;" to which may be added, 4. That they must be three Rabbins who are promoted, that is, are famous and eminent ones, who are witnesses, as it seems these three were. There is but one instance in this Talmud, that I have met with, of the dipping of a child or a minor, made a proselyte; and a male is so called until he is thirteen years of age and one day; of such an one it is said, "A proselyte, a little one (a minor), they dip him by the decree of the Sanhedrim;" that is, as the Gloss is, one that has no father, and his mother brings him to the Sanhedrim, to be made a proselyte, and there are three at his dipping; and they are a father to him, and by their means he is made a proselyte. And in the same place it is observed of a stranger, whose sons and daughters are made proselytes with him, and acquiesce in what their father has done, when they are grown up, they may make it void. There is another instance of the dipping of a minor; but not for proselytism, but for eating the Trumah, or the oblation of the fruits of the earth. So a certain one says, "I remember when I was a child, and was carried on my father’s shoulders, that they took me from school, and stripped me of my coat, and dipped me, that I might eat of the Trumah in the evening;" but this was not a proselyte, but an Israelite, the son of a priest, who, it seems, was not qualified to eat of the oblation without dipping. This as one of their various baptisms, or dippings.
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This now is the whole compass of the evidence from the Talmuds for the rite of admitting proselytes among the Jews by baptism, or dipping. I have not omitted anything relating to it in them that has fallen under my observation. As for the quotations usually made from Maimonides, who lived in the twelfth century, in proof of this custom; whatever may be said for him as an industrious and judicious compiler of things, out of the Talmud, which he has expressed in purer language, and digested in better order; he cannot be thought to be of greater and higher authority than those writings from whence he has derived them; for his work is only a stream from the Talmudic fountain. And as for later writers; as the authors of Lebush, Schulchan Aruch, and others, they derive from him. So that the Talmuds appear to be the spring and source of what is said of this custom, and from whence the proof and evidence of it is to be fetched; but whether the reasonings, decisions, and determinations therein concerning it, can be judged a sufficient proof of it, without better testimonies, especially from the scriptures, deserves consideration.
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It must not be concealed, that it is pretended there is proof of it from scripture; which I shall attend unto. The proof of the Jewish fathers entering into covenant by baptism, or dipping, is fetched from Ex 19:10 where, two or three days before the giving of the law, the Israelites were ordered to "wash" their clothes; hence it is said in the Talmud, to prove that dipping was used at the entrance of the Israelites into covenant, according to which the baptism, or dipping of proselytes, is said to be; "From whence is it (or a proof of it?) From what is written Ex 19:10 where there is an obligation to wash clothes, there is an obligation to dip." And again (Ex 24:8), "Moses ‘took it (the blood) and sprinkled it on the people’; and there is no sprinkling without dipping." And in another place, "Sprinkling of blood (or sacrifice, by which also the Israelites, it is said, were admitted into covenant) of it, it is written, ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings’, etc. But dipping, from whence is it? From what is written; ‘And Moses took half of the blood, and sprinkled it on the people’; and there is no sprinkling without dipping."
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This is the proof, which surely cannot be satisfactory to a judicious mind; dipping is inferred from sprinkling; but though the blood was sprinkled upon the people, they were not dipped into it surely; nor even into water, from what appears; and though dipping and sprinkling are sometimes used together, as in the cleansing of the leper, and in the purification of one unclean, by the touch of an unclean bone, etc. (Le 14:7; Nu 19:19), yet the one was not the other. From washing of clothes dipping is also inferred, without any reason; for these two, in the above places, and in others, are spoken of as two distinct acts, and are expressed by different words; and yet it is upon this single circumstance the proof depends. Now, as Dr. Owen observes, "this washing of clothes served that single occasion only of showing reverence of the divine presence, at the peculiar giving of the law; nor did it belong to the stated worship of God; so that the necessity of the baptism of bodies, by a stated and solemn rite for ever, should arise from the single washing of garments, and that depending upon a reason, that would never more recur; of the observation of which no mention is made, nor any trace is extant in the whole Old Testament, and which is not confirmed by any divine command, institution, or direction, seems altogether improbable" And he elsewhere
[xx] says, "From this latter temporary occasional institution (ceremonial washing at Sinai) such as they (the Jews) had many granted to them, while they were in the wilderness, before the giving of the law, the Rabbins have framed a baptism for those who enter into their synagogue; a fancy too greedily embraced by some Christian writers, who would have the holy ordinance of the church’s baptism to be derived from thence. But this "washing of their clothes", not of their bodies, was temporary, never repeated; neither is there anything of any such baptism or washing required in any proselytes, either men or women, where the laws of their admission are strictly set down." And it may be further observed, that the Talmudists give this only as a proof of the admission of Israelites into covenant; whereas, the solemn admission of them into it, even of the whole body of them, men, women, and children, and also of the proselytes who were in their camp, as all the Targums and the Greek version have it, when on the plains of Moab, at Horeb, before their entrance into the land of Canaan (#Deut.29:10-12|), was not by "any" of the "three" things they say the admission was, that is, by circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice; of the two latter not the least hint is given, and the former was not practised while the Israelites were in the wilderness, not till Joshua had introduced them into the land of Canaan. The Jews seem to be conscious themselves that the baptism or dipping of proselytes, is no command of God; since at the circumcision of them, in the form of blessing they then use, they take no notice of it, which runs thus. "Blessed art thou, O Lord God, the King of the world, who has sanctified us by his precepts, and has ‘commanded’ us ‘to circumcise proselytes’, and to fetch out of them the blood of the covenant; for if it was not for the blood of the covenant the heaven and earth would not be established; as it is said, ‘If my covenant with day and night’, etc. Jer 33:25."
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Dr. Lightfoot
[xxi] carries this custom of admitting proselytes by baptism, or dipping, higher than the Jews themselves do. He ascribes the first institution and use of it to Jacob, when he was going to Bethel to worship, after the murder of the Sechemites by his sons; when, the doctor says, he chose into his family and church, some of the Shechemites and other heathens. But some learned men of the Paedobaptist persuasion, have thought the notion is indefensible, and judged it most prudent to leave it to himself to defend it, or whomsoever may choose to undertake it; and he himself was in doubt about the first institution of this sort of baptism; for he afterwards says, "We acknowledge that circumcision was of divine institution; but by whom baptism, that was inseparable from it, was instituted, is doubtful." Certain it is, it has no foundation in what Jacob did, or ordered to be done, when he was about to go to Bethel, and worship there; previous to which he ordered his family to "put away the strange gods" that were among them, which they had brought with them from Shechem; and he likewise ordered them to be "clean", and "change their garments"; which cleanness, whether to be understood of abstaining from their wives, as some interpret it; or of washing of their bodies, as Aben Ezra, as a purification of them from the pollutions of the slain, as the Targum paraphrases it, and after that Jarchi: and which change of garments, whether understood of the garments of idolaters, which the sons of Jacob had taken and put on, when they stripped them; or of their own garments, defiled with the blood of the slain; or of their meaner or more sordid garments, for more pure and splendid ones. All that can be concluded from hence is, and is by the Jews concluded, that when men come before God, they should come with clean bodies, and with clean garments; as an emblem of the more inward purity of their minds, which is necessary to every religious service and act of devotion, such as Jacob and his family were now about to perform, and which the very heathens themselves had a notion of; "Casta placent superis, pura cum veste venito." But not a word is here of any covenant Jacob and his family entered into, and much less of any proselytes from Shechem and Syria being brought into it with them, by baptism, or dipping, as is pretended.
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I have met with another learned man, who carries up this custom higher still; and asserts, that Jacob did not feign out of his own brain this practice of washing the body, and of change of garments; but took it from the history of Adam, and from his example; and he supposes that Adam, at the solemn making the covenant with him, was washed in water, before he put on the garments given him of God; and that as he was the first who sacrificed, he was the first who was baptized by the command of God; and so baptism was the most ancient of all the sacred rites. But let the history of Adam be carefully read over by any man, and he will never find the least hint of this, nor observe the least shadow or appearance of it; but what is it that the imagination of man will not admit and receive, when once a loose is given to it? Pray, who baptized Adam, if he was baptized? Did God baptize him? Or did an angel baptize him? Or did Eve baptize him? Or did he baptize himself?
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Since then this rite or custom of admitting into covenant, whether Israelites or proselytes, by baptism or dipping, has no foundation but in the Talmuds; and the proof of it there so miserably supported from scripture, surely it can never be thought that Christian baptism was borrowed from thence; or that it is no other which is continued in the Christian church, being taken up as it was found by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles; the folly and falsehood of which will be evinced in the following chapter.


CHAPTER 5 THE REASONS WHY CHRISTIAN BAPTISM IS NOT FOUNDED ON, AND TAKEN FROM, THE PRETENDED JEWISH BAPTISM OF ISRAELITES AND PROSELYTES
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Having traced the admission of the Jewish proselytes by baptism, or dipping, to the spring head of it, the Jewish Talmuds; I shall now proceed to give reasons, why Christian baptism cannot be thought to be taken from such a custom; nor that to be a rule according to which it is to be practised.
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I. First, the Talmuds are of too late a date to prove that such a custom obtained before the times of John and Christ, since they were written some centuries after those times, as has been shown; and besides, there is in them a plain chronological mark, or character, which shows that this custom took place among the Jews since they were driven out of their own land, and scattered among the nations, and suffered reproach and persecution; for among the interrogatories put to persons who came to them to be made proselytes, this question was asked, "What dost thou see to become a proselyte? dost thou not know, or consider, that the Israelites are ‘now’ hzh ˆmzb ‘at this time’, in sorrowful circumstances, driven about and scattered, and loaded with reproaches and afflictions? If he says, I know this; and I am not worthy (that is, to be joined to them) they receive him immediately." Many are the surmises and conjectures of learned men concerning the original and rise of this custom. It is scarce worth while, to take notice of the notion of Grotius, that this custom was taken up on account of the flood, and in commemoration of the world’s being purified by it: nor of Sir John Marsham’s, that it was taken up by the Israelites, in imitation of the Egyptian’s manner of initiating persons into the mysteries of their goddess Isis, by washing them; for which he cites Apuleius. A goodly pattern of Christian baptism this! it is much it never entered into the thoughts of these learned men, or others, that the Jews took up this rite of dipping their proselytes, as they found it among the Medes and Persians, when they lived in their countries, and so brought it into Judaea, some hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, and his forerunner John the Baptist; since of the eighty rites the Persians used in the initiation of men into the mysteries of Mithras, their chief deity, the first and principal was baptism. They "dipped" them in a "bath", and "signed" them in their "foreheads", and had a sort of an "Eucharist", an oblation of bread, as Tertullian has it, and an image of the resurrection (that is, in their baptism); promising the expiation of sins by the laver; and also had an imitation of martyrdom. Some say, this custom of the Jews was taken up by them out of hatred to the Samaritans, and was added to circumcision, to distinguish them from them: but if so, it is very much that Symmachus the Samaritan, when he came over to the Jews, was not only circumcised again, as he was, but also baptized, or dipped; of which Epiphanius, who gives an account of his becoming a proselyte to them, and of his being circumcised, but not of his being baptized, as before observed. Dr. Owen thinks this custom was taken up by some Antemishnical Rabbins, in imitation of John the Baptist; which is not very probable, though more so than anything before advanced. To me it seems a clear case, that this custom was framed upon a general notion of the uncleanness of heathens, in their state of heathenism, before their embracing the Jewish religion; and therefore devised this baptism, or dipping, as a symbol of that purity, which was, or ought to be, in them, when they became Jews, of whom they might hope to gain some, they being now dispersed among the nations; and of some they boast, even of some of note: and this was first introduced when they digested the traditions of the elders into a body, or pandect of laws; and were finishing their decisions and determinations upon them, to be observed by their people in future time. Since I wrote the preceding chapters, I have met with a quotation; for I will not conceal anything that has occurred to me in reading, relative to this custom of dipping Jewish proselytes; I say, I have met with a quotation by Maimonides, out of a book called Siphri, an ancient commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy, which has these words: "As the Israelites did not enter into covenant but by three things, by circumcision, dipping, and acceptation of sacrifice; so neither proselytes likewise." Now if this is the ancient book of Siphri, from whence this passage is taken, as may seem, which is a book of an uncertain author and age; and is allowed to be written after the Misnah; yet if it is the same that is referred to in the Babylonian Talmud, it must be written before that was published, though it might be while it was compiling, and it may be, by some concerned in it; since the rite referred to is expressed in the same words in the one as in the other; and is founded upon and argued from the same passage of scripture (Nu 15:15), and seems to be the language and reasoning of the same persons. However, "if" the passage quoted by Maimonides stands in that book, which is a book I never saw, though printed; "if", I say, these several things can be made plain; it is indeed the earliest testimony we have of this custom; especially if the book was written before the Jerusalem Talmud, which yet is not certain: but be it as it may, it is a testimony of the same sort of persons, and of no better authority than what has been before produced, and serves to confirm, that this custom is a pure device of the Jewish doctors, and is merely "Rabbinical"; and besides, at most, it can only carry up this custom into the "fifth" century, which is too late for John Baptist and Christ to take up the ordinance from it; and on account of these testimonies not being early enough for such a purpose, the late Dr. Jennings has given up the argument from them, in favour of infant baptism, as insufficient. His words are, "After all, it remains to be proved, not only that Christian baptism was instituted in the room of proselyte baptism; but that the Jews had any such baptism in our Saviour’s time: the earliest accounts we have of it, are in the Mishna (but in that we have none at all) and Gemara." And again he says, "here wants more evidence of its being as ancient as our Saviour’s time, than I apprehend can be produced to ground an argument upon it, in relation to Christian baptism."
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II. Secondly, this custom, though observed as a religious action, yet has scarce any appearance of religion and devotion in it; but looks rather like a civil affair, it being in some cases under the cognizance and by the direction of the Sanhedrim, or court of judicature. There was no divine solemnity in the performance of it. It was not administered in the name of the God of Israel, whom the Jews professed; nor in the name of the Messiah to come, expected by them, as was the baptism of John; nor in the name of the Three divine Persons in the Trinity, which yet the ancient Jews believed. They dipped their proselytes indeed, according to their account, µçb "in the name" of a proselyte, or as one; and a servant, "in the name" of a servant, or on account of servitude; and a free man, "in the name" of a free man; but neither of them in the name of any divine Person, or with the invocation of the name of God; so that it had no appearance of a religious solemnity in it. To which may be added, that this custom gave a licence to things the most impure and abominable, things contrary to the light of nature, and not to be named among the Gentiles, and which must make it detestable to all serious persons. According to the Jews, it dissolved all the ties of natural relations, which before subsisted among men; for according to them, "As soon as a man is made a proselyte, a soul flies out of a (celestial) palace, and gets under the wings of the Shechinah, (or divine Majesty) which kisses it, because it is the fruit of the righteous, and sends it into the body of a proselyte, where it abides; and from that time he is called a proselyte of righteousness; so that now he has a new soul, and is a new man, another man than he was before;" not a better man, but, to use our Lord’s words, he is made "twofold more the child of hell". For, according to them, all his former connections with men are broken, and all obligations to natural relations are dissolved; and he may, without any imputation of crime, be guilty of the most shocking incest, as to marry his own mother or his own sister. But hear their own words, "When a Gentile is made a proselyte, and a servant made free, they are both as ‘a newborn babe’; and all the relations which they had when a Gentile or a servant, are no more relations to them;" or their kindred and relation by blood is no more; as brother, sister, father, mother, and children, these are no more to be so accounted; insomuch, that, "when one becomes a proselyte, he and they (his quondam kindred) are not guilty, by reason thereof, on account of incest, at all; so that it is according to law (the civil law of the Jews) that a Gentile may marry his own mother, or his sister, by his mother’s side (his own sister), when they become proselytes." But though they allow it to be lawful, they have so much modesty and regard to decency, or rather to their own character, that it is added; "But the wise men forbid this, that they (the proselytes) may not say, we are come from a greater degree of holiness to a lesser one; and what is forbidden today is free tomorrow; and so a proselyte who lies with his mother or his sister, and they are in Gentilism, it is no other than if he lay with a stranger." Now can any man, soberly thinking, judge that the New Testament ordinance of baptism was taken up by John and Christ from such a wretched custom, which gave licence to such shocking immorality and uncleanness; or that Christian baptism is built on such a basis as this?
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III. Thirdly, to suppose that John took up the practice of baptizing as he found it among the Jews, and from a tradition and custom of theirs, greatly detracts from the character of John, his divine mission, and the credit of baptism, as administered by him; and is contrary to what the scriptures say concerning him. They represent him as the first administrator of baptism, and, for a while, the sole administrator of it; for, for what other reason do they call him the Baptist, and distinguish him by this title, if it was then a common thing, and had been usual in time past, to baptize persons? The scriptures say he was a man sent of God, and sent by him "to baptize with water" (Joh 1:6,33). But what need was there of a mission and commission to what was in common use, and had been so time out of mind? The Jews hearing of John’s baptizing persons, sent messengers to him, to know who he was that took upon him to baptize; who asked, "Why baptizest thou, if thou art not that Christ, nor Elijah, nor that prophet?" As if it was a new thing; and that it was expected he should be some extraordinary person who baptized. But why should such questions be put to him, if this was in common use, and if any ordinary person, however any common doctor or Rabbi, had then, and in former times, been used to baptize persons? The scriptures speak of John’s baptism as the "counsel of God": but according to this notion, it was a device and tradition of men; and had this been the case, the Jews would not have been at a loss, nor under any difficulty, to answer the question Christ put to them, nor indeed, would he ever have put such an one; "The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or from men?" for his putting the question thus, supposes the contrary, that it was not from men, but from God: and if it was not of God, but a tradition of men, they could have readily said, "Of men"; without being confuted by him, or exposed to the people; but being thrown into a dilemma, they took the wisest way for themselves, and answered, "We cannot tell". Dr. Wall
[xxii] says, If John had been baptizing proselytes, and not natural Jews, the Pharisees would not have wondered at it, it being so well known to them; and he suggests, that the wonder was, that natural Jews should be baptized: but why so! for according to this notion, the original natural Jews were received into covenant by baptism; they as the proselytes, and the proselytes as they; the case, according to them: was similar. But let us examine this affair, and see how the fact stands. When John first appeared baptizing, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were natural Jews, came to his baptism, and were not admitted to it, but rejected from it, as unfit and improper persons; and others of the same nation and profession, in their turn, "rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized by John" (Mt 3:7; Lu 7:30). On the other hand, publicans, the Roman tax gatherers, of whom some indeed were Jews, others heathens, both equally odious, and therefore joined together, these "justified God", being baptized with the baptism of John; and these "went into the kingdom of God", into the gospel state, before the Pharisees, and embraced its doctrines, and submitted to its ordinances (Lu 7:29,12; Mt 21:31), and even soldiers, Roman soldiers, for no other soldiers were then in Judea, were among the multitude who came to be baptized by him, to whom he gave good instructions, but did not refuse to baptize them (Lu 3:7,14), and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose forerunner John was in his ministry and baptism, gave orders to his disciples to baptize indiscriminately persons of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, who believed in him; and who accordingly did baptize them: so that baptism, in those early times of John, Christ, and his apostles, was not confined to natural Jews; the wonder and the question upon it, as above, were not about the persons baptized, whether Jews or Gentiles, but about baptism itself, and the administrator of it, as being altogether new. The account which Josephus,[xxiii] the Jewish historian, who lived soon after the times of John, gives of him, and his baptism, agrees with the sacred scriptures; and which testimony stands not only in the common editions of that historian, but is preserved by Eusebius,[xxiv] as a choice piece of history; in which, he not only says John was a religious and good man, but, with the scriptures, that he was surnamed the Baptist, to distinguish him from others; and that he ordered the Jews who lived righteous and godly lives to come to baptism, and such only did John admit of; and that baptizing was acceptable to God, when used not for removing some sins (by which his baptism is distinguished from Jewish baptisms, which were used to purge from sin in a ceremonial sense) but for the purity of the body, the soul being before purified by righteousness. Also he observes, with the scriptures, that multitudes flocked to him; and that Herod, fearing that by his means his subjects would be drawn into a revolt, put him to death. But why such flockings to him, if baptism had been a common thing? And what had Herod to fear from that? He might reasonably conclude, that if this was no other than what had been usually practised, the people would soon cease from following him. Nay, Josippon Ben Gorion;[xxv] the Jew’s Josephus, the historian whom they value and prefer to the true Josephus, says of that hlybj hç[ "he made", instituted, and performed baptism, as if it was a new thing, founded by him; and for which later Jews express their resentment at him. One of their virulent writers says, "Who commanded John to institute this baptism? in what law did he find it? neither in the old nor in the new." Now this would not be said by the Jews, if John had taken up his baptism from a custom of theirs; nor would they speak of the ordinance of baptism in such a scandalous and blasphemous manner as they do, and in language too shocking to transcribe.
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IV. Fourthly, the Jews will not allow that any proof of baptism can be produced out of the writings of the Old Testament, nor out of their Talmuds. Such passages in the Old Testament which speak of washing, and in which men are exhorted to "wash" and be "clean", as Isaiah 1:16 it is said, are to be understood of men cleansing themselves from their sins, and not of plunging in water; "To plunge a man in water, is no where written; why therefore did Jesus command such baptism," or dipping? and whereas the passage in Eze 16:9 "Then washed I thee with water", is by some interpreted of baptism; the Jew observes the words are not in the future tense; "I will wash thee": but in the past tense; "I have washed thee"; and so cannot refer to baptism. And whereas the promise in Eze 36:25 "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness", etc. is brought by some, I suppose he means some popish writers, as another proof of baptism the Jews replies, "What sin and uncleanness does baptism take away? and what sin and uncleanness are there in newborn babes? Besides, says he, you do not do so; you do not sprinkle, but you are plunged into water:" which, by the way, shows that sprinkling was not used in baptism when this Jew wrote, which was in the twelfth century, as Wagenseil, the editor of his work, supposes. The same Jewish writer asks, "If the law of Jesus, and his coming, were known to the prophets, why did not they observe his law? and why did not they ‘baptize themselves’, according to the law of Jesus?" And he represents David as praying (it must be supposed, under a prophetic spirit) for those who should, in this captivity of the Jews, be forced, against their wills, to baptism, and that they might be delivered from it, Ps 69:1; 144:7. Nor does this writer take any notice of receiving proselytes by baptism; though he makes mention of receiving men proselytes, yet by circumcision only; and also of women proselytes, but not a word of baptism of either; and had he thought the baptism their Talmud speaks of, had any affinity with our baptism, and was the ground of it, he would not have been so gravelled with an objection of the Christians, as he was; which is put thus, "We baptize male and female, and hereby receive them into our religion; but you circumcise men only, and not women:" to which he appears to be at an entire loss to answer; whereas he might have readily answered, had the case been as suggested, that we baptize women as well as men, when they are received proselytes among us. But that the Jews had no notion that Christian baptism was founded upon any prior baptism of proselytes, or others, among them, as related in their Talmud, is manifest from a disputation had between Nachmanides, a famous Jew, and one brother Paul, a Christian, in the year 1263. Brother Paul affirmed, that the Talmudists believed in Jesus, that he was the Messiah, and was both God and man: the Jew replied, after observing some other things, "How can brother Paul say so, that they believed in him; for they, and their disciples, died in our religion? and ‘why were they not baptized’, according to the command of Jesus, as brother Paul was? And I would be glad to hear," says he, "‘how’ he learned baptism from them (the Talmudists) and ‘in what place’ (of the Talmud)? did not they teach us all our laws which we now observe? and the rites and customs they gathered together for us, as they were used when the temple was standing, from the mouths of the prophets, and from the mouth of Moses, our master, on whom be peace? And if they believed in Jesus, and in his law, they would have done as brother Paul has; does he understand their words better than they themselves?"
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V. Fifthly, to say, as Dr. Lightfoot does, that Christ took baptism into his hands as he found it, that is, as practised by the Jews, is greatly to derogate from the character and authority of Christ; it makes him, who came a Teacher from God, to teach for doctrines the commandments of men, which he himself condemns. It makes that "all power in heaven and in earth", said to be given him, in consequence of which he gave his apostles a commission to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"; I say, it makes it to dwindle into this only, a power to establish a tradition, and commandment of men long in use before he came. Again, who can believe that Christ, who so severely inveighed against the traditions of the Jews, could ever establish any one of them, and make it an ordinance of his; and particularly, should inveigh against those, respecting the baptisms, or dippings of the Jews then in use among them; and especially without excepting that of their baptism of proselytes from the rest, and without declaring it his will that it should be continued and observed; neither of which he has done.
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VI. Sixthly, such a notion as this highly reflects dishonour on the ordinance of baptism; that one of the principal ordinances of the New Testament, as that is, should be founded on an human tradition, an invention of men; it must greatly weaken the authority of it, as well as disparage the wisdom of the Lawgiver; and must have a tendency to bring both the author and the ordinance into contempt. Nothing can make an ordinance a Christian ordinance, but its being instituted by Christ. If baptism is an institution of men, and received and retained from men, and regulated according to their device, it is no Christian ordinance: and, as Witsius says, "Whatever may be said of the antiquity of that rite (proselyte baptism, which yet with him was dubious and uncertain) there can be no divine institution of it (of baptism) before John, the forerunner of Christ, was sent of God to baptize; for to him that was expressly commanded; ‘The word of God came unto John’, Lu 3:2; Joh 1:33, etc."
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VII. Seventhly, if it was the custom of the Jews before the times of John and Christ, to receive young children as proselytes by baptism, or dipping, and this was to be as a rule according to which Christian baptism was to be practised; then most surely we should have had some instances of children being baptized by John, or by the apostles of Christ, if "baptizing infants had been as ‘ordinarily used’ in the church of the Jews, as ever it hath been in the Christian church," as Dr. Lightfoot says; and yet we have not one instance of this kind; we no where read of any children being brought to John to be baptized, nor of any that were baptized by him; nor of any being brought to the apostles of Christ to be baptized, nor of their being baptized by them; from whence it may be concluded there was no such custom before their times; or if there was, it never was intended it should be observed by Christians in later times; or otherwise there would have been some precedents of it, directing to and encouraging such a practice: many things would follow on such a supposition, that Christian baptism is borrowed from and founded on proselyte baptism, and the latter the rule directing the practice of the former; for then,
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VIII. Eighthly, Self-baptizing, or persons baptizing themselves, without making use of an administrator, might be encouraged and established; which is what the Paedobaptists charge, though wrongly, some of the first reformers of the abuses of baptism with; since it is plain, from the quotations before made, that though it is sometimes said, "they", that is, the doctors or wise men, "baptize", or "dip", yet it is also said, both of men and women, that they "dipped themselves"; as of a man lkj awh "he dipped himself", and went up from the water; and of a woman, being placed by women in the water, lkj "she dipped", that is, herself; and so Leo of Modena says,
[xxvi] of a Jew proselyte, that after he is circumcised, and well of his sore, "he is to wash himself all over in water", in the presence of three Rabbins, or other persons in authority, and from thenceforth he becomes as a natural Jew; and, indeed, all the Jewish baptisms, or bathings, commanded in the law, were done by persons themselves (see Le 14:8-9). And Dr. Lightfoot[xxvii] thinks that John’s baptism was so administered; he supposes, that men, women, and children came unto it; and that they standing in Jordan, were taught by John, that they were baptized into the name of the Messiah, ready to come, and into the profession of the gospel, about faith and repentance; and that "they plunged themselves into the river", and so came out.
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IX. Ninthly, if this Jewish custom is to be regarded as a rule of Christian baptism, it will tend to establish the Socinian notion, that only the first converts to Christianity in a nation, they and their children are to be baptized, but not their posterity in after ages; for so both Lightfoot and Selden, with others, say, who were sticklers for Christian baptism being taken from the custom of baptizing, or dipping Jewish proselytes, and their children; that only the children of proselytes, born before their parents became such, were baptized, or dipped; but not those born afterwards: baptism was never repeated in their posterity; the sons of proselytes, in following generations, were circumcised, but not baptized;
[xxviii] and, as Dr. Jennings[xxix] rightly observes, "it was a maxim with the Rabbins, ‘Natus baptizati, habetur pro baptizato’." This "restriction of baptism to children born before their parents’ proselytism, rests on the same authority as the custom of baptizing any children of proselytes." So that if the one is to be admitted, the other is also; and so the children of Christian parents are not to be baptized, only the converts from another religion; and these the first, and their then posterity, but not afterwards.
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X. Tenthly, if this custom, said to be practised before the times of John and Christ, is the rule to direct us in Christian baptism, there were several circumstances attending that, which should be observed in Christian baptism, to make it regular; it must be done before three witnesses, and these men of eminence; but who, of such a number and character were present at the baptism of the apostle Paul? (Ac 22:16,18). Nor was it to be performed in the night; what then must be said of the baptism of the jailor, and his family? (Ac 16:33) nor on a Sabbath day; nor on a feast day; yet Lydia, and her household, were baptized on a Sabbath day (Ac 16:13,15), and the three thousand Christian converts were baptized on the day of Pentecost? and which was also the first day of the week, the Christian Sabbath (Ac 2:1,41). Wherefore, if this Jewish custom was the rule of baptism, and from whence it was taken, and by which it should proceed; (for if in one case, why not in others?) these instances of Christian baptism were not rightly performed.
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XI. Eleventhly, if the Ethiopian eunuch Philip baptized, was a proselyte, as Grotius and others say, he must be either a proselyte of the gate, a proselyte inhabitant, or a proselyte of righteousness; not the former, for he was no inhabitant in any part of Judea; but most probably he was the latter, since he was a very devout and religious man, had an high opinion of the worship of God among the Jews, and had travelled from a far country to worship at Jerusalem; and so Dr. Jennings
[xxx] justly observes, that "he seems to be rather a proselyte of the covenant, or completely a Jew; not only from his reading the scripture, but because he had taken so long a journey to worship at Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, one of the three grand festivals; when all the Jewish males, who were able, were, according to the law, to attend the worship of God at the national altar." He appears to have thoroughly embraced the religion of the Jews, even their whole law, and was conversant with their sacred writings; he was reading in one of their prophets when Philip joined his chariot, and was taken up into it by him: whereas a son of Noah, as the Jews called a proselyte of the gate, might not study in the law, according to their canons, which they say he had nothing to do with; only with the seven precepts of Noah; and, indeed, no Gentile or uncircumcised person. And if the eunuch was a proselyte of righteousness, according to the pretended custom of dipping such, he must have been baptized, or dipped, when he became a proselyte; and since, according to this notion, he must have been baptized with a baptism which John and Christ took up as they found it among the Jews, and which is the basis and foundation of Christian baptism, and the rule to direct in the performance of it, it is much he should desire baptism again! and that Philip, who is thought to be a proselyte also (Ac 6:5), and must know the custom of making proselytes, should administer it to him: and if he had been baptized before, must he not then be an Anabaptist? And so the proselytes in Ac 2:10 were, as Drusius and others think, proselytes of righteousness, who had embraced the Jewish religion, and were circumcised, and, according to this notion, baptized. Besides, none but proselytes of righteousness might dwell in Jerusalem; as has been observed, Chap. 1. And also proselytes of the gate were never called Jews, as these were; only proselytes of righteousness: and if any of these were among the three thousand converted and baptized by the apostles, which is not improbable, must not they be also Anabaptists? The Grecians, or Hellenists, whose widows were neglected in the daily ministration, are thought by Beza, and others, to be widows of Jewish proselytes, and therefore it is highly probable, that their husbands had been members of the Christian church at Jerusalem, and so must have been rebaptized; and most certain it is, that Nicholas of Antioch, who was one of the seven appointed to take care of these widows, was a proselyte, and as Grotius truly thinks, a proselyte of righteousness; and so, as he must have been baptized according to this notion, when he became a proselyte, he must have been rebaptized when he became a member of the Christian church at Jerusalem, of which he most certainly was, being chosen out of it, and appointed to an office in it (Ac 6:1,5).
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XII. Twelfthly, it may be observed, in a quotation before made, that if a proselytess big with child was baptized, or dipped, her child needed not baptism, or dipping, the mother’s baptism, or dipping, was sufficient for it: but this is not attended to by Paedobaptists; it seems, in the beginning of the fourth century, there were some of the same opinion with the Jews; but a canon in the council of Neocaesarea was made against it; which, as explained, declared that the child of such a person needed baptism, when it came to be capable of choosing for itself;
[xxxi] which canon should not have been made, if this Jewish custom is to be regarded as a rule.
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XIII. Lastly, As an argument "ad hominem", it may be observed, that if this custom is to be considered as a rule of Christian baptism, then sprinkling ought not to be used in it; for the baptism of Jewish proselytes, men, women, and children, was performed by dipping; as all the above quotations show. To which may be added, that one of their rules respecting proselyte baptism is, that a proselyte must dip in such a place (or confluence of water) as a menstruous woman dips herself in, or which is sufficient for such an one; and that, as the Gloss is, was what held forty seahs of water; and to this agrees the account Maimonides gives of such a confluence of water, that it must be "sufficient for the dipping of the whole body of a man at once; and such the wise men reckon to be a cubit square, and three cubits in depth; and this measure holds forty seahs of water." And he further says, "that wherever washing of the flesh, and washing of clothes from uncleanness, are mentioned in the law, nothing else is meant but the dipping of the whole body in a confluence of water—and that if he dips his whole body, except the top of his little finger, he is still in his uncleanness:—and that all unclean persons, who are dipped in their clothes, their dipping is right, because the waters come into them (or penetrate through them) and do not divide," or separate; that is, the clothes do not divide, or separate between the water and their bodies, so as to hinder its coming to them; so the menstruous woman dipped herself in her clothes; and in like manner the proselyte. Let such observe this, who object to the baptism of persons with their clothes on. Again, as an argument of the same kind, if baptism was common in all ages, foregoing the times of John, Christ, and his apostles, as is said, then it could not succeed circumcision, since it must be contemporary with it. Upon the whole, what Dr. Lightfoot,
[xxxii] and others after him, have urged in favour of infant baptism from hence, is quite impertinent; that "there was need of a plain and open prohibition, that infants and little children should not be baptized, if our Saviour would not have had them baptized; for since it was most common in all ages foregoing, that little children should be baptized, if Christ had been minded to have had that custom abolished, he would have openly forbidden it; therefore his silence, and the silence of the scripture in this matter, confirms Paedobaptism, and continues it unto all ages" But first, it does not appear that any such custom was ever practised before the times of John, Christ, and his apostles, as to admit into the Jewish church by baptism, proselytes, whether adult or minors. No testimony has been, and I believe none can be given of it. And, as some very learned men have truly observed, and as Dr. Owen[xxxiii] affirms, there are not the least footsteps of any such usage among the Jews, until after the days of John the Baptist, in imitation of whom, he thinks, it was taken up by some Ante-Mishnical Rabbins; and, as he elsewhere says, "The institution of the rite of baptism is no where mentioned in the Old Testament; no example is extant; nor during the Jewish church, was it ever used in the admission of proselytes; no mention of it is to be met with in Philo, Josephus, nor in Jesus the son of Syrach; nor in the evangelic history." What testimony has been given of this custom, falls greatly short of proving it; wherefore Christ could have no concern about abolishing a custom which had not obtained in his time; nor was there any room nor reason for it, since it had never been practised, for ought appears: his silence about what never existed, can give no existence to it, nor to that which is founded on it, Paedobaptism; and which is neither warranted and confirmed by any such custom, nor by the word of God, in which there is an high silence about both. This custom of baptizing little children was so far from being common in all ages foregoing the times of John, Christ, and his apostles, that not a single instance can be given of anyone that ever was baptized; if there can, let it be produced; if not, what comes of all this bluster and harangue? With much more propriety and strength of reasoning might it be retorted; that since it is plain the children of the Jews, both male and female, did eat of the passover, which was not an human custom and tradition; but an ordinance of God, common in all ages foregoing the times of John, etc. and since, according to the hypothesis of the Paedobaptists, the Lord’s supper came in the room of the passover; for which there is much more reason in analogy, than for baptism coming in the room of circumcision; it should seem, if our Saviour would not have had children eat of the Lord’s supper, as they did of the passover, he would have openly forbidden it. A plain and open prohibition of this was more needful than a prohibition of the baptism of infants, if not his will, had there been such a custom before prevailing, as there was not; since that could only be a custom and tradition of men; and it was enough that Christ inveighed against those of the Jews in general, which obtained before, and in his time; and against their baptisms and dippings in particular. And after all, it is amazing that Christian baptism should be founded upon a tradition, of which there is no evidence but from the Rabbins, and that very intricate, perplexed, and contradictory, and not as in being in the times referred to; upon a tradition of a set of men blinded and besotted, and enemies to Christianity, its doctrines and ordinances; and who, at other times, reckoned by these very men, who so warmly urge this custom of theirs, the most stupid, sottish, and despicable, of all men upon the face of the earth! If this is the basis of infant baptism, it is built upon the sand, and will, ere long, fall, and be no more.I conclude this Dissertation in the words of Dr. Owen, "That the opinion of some learned men concerning transferring the rite of Jewish baptism, by the Lord Jesus, which, indeed, did not then exist, for the use of his disciples, is destitute of all probability." And after all, perhaps, the Paedobaptists will find their account better in consulting the baptism of the ancient heathens, and its rites, than that of the Jews; said to be in use before the times of Moses, and in ages since, and that among all nations; and being more ancient than Christian baptism, a learned writer referred to, says, it is as a sort of preamble to it. And from whom the Paedobaptists may be supplied with materials for their purpose.



[i] Demonstration of the Messiah, part 2. p. 176.
[ii] R. Levi Ben Gersom, in Ex 22:21. fol. 95. 2.

[iii] Works, p. 201, 203.

[iv] Annotat. On Ge 17:12.

[v] Annotat. In Mt 3

[vi] Six Queries, p. 191, 195.

[vii] Lightfoot’s Works, vol. 1. Harmony and Chronicle of the New Testament, p. 9, 10, 17. Harmony of the Four Evangelists, part 1. p. 465, 466. part 2. p. 526, 527. and part 3. p. 583, 584. Vol. 2. Hor. Hebrews in Mt 3:6.

[viii] Chronicle, p. 18.

[ix] In Append. ad Matthew p. 584.

[x] Of the divine Original, &c. of the Scriptures, p. 343. vid. Theologoumen. 50:1. c. 1. p. 4.

[xi] Antiqu. c. 3. s. 1. These became proselytes in the times of Claudius Caesar, Ganz Tzemach David, par. 2. fol. 15. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 141. 1. Of king Izates, see Tacit. Annul. 50:12. c. 13, 14.

[xii] Reflections on Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, p. 327.
[xiii] History, Introduction, p. 49.
[xiv] Comment. in Mt 22:fol. 30. I.
[xv] "Quem locum frustra quidam adducunt, ut probent Judaeos ritu baptismi uti solitos fuisse, cum apertissime de christianis loquatur.58 philosophus", Oweni Theologoumen. 50:1. c. 9. p. 109. And with Dr. Owen agrees Dr. Jennings; "It is most likely," says he, "that Arrian meant Christians, in the place alledged; because in his time many persons became proselytes to Christianity, but few or none to Judaism.—Besides, if he had spoke of proselytes to Judaism, it is highly probable he would have mentioned their circumcision, for which the heathens derided them, rather than their baptism, which was not so very foreign to some of the heathen rites of purification." Jewish Antiquities, vol. 1. c. 3. p. 138.
[xvi] See Gale’s Reflections on Wall’s History, Letter 10. p. 355-362.
[xvii] Infant Baptism no Institution of Christ, p. 23.
[xviii] History of Infant Baptism, Introduct. p. 44.
[xix] Works, vol. 1. p. 526. vol. 2. p. 117.
[xx] On Hebrews vol. 1. Exercitat. 19. p. 272.
[xxi] Chronicle of the Old Testament, p. 18. Harmony of the Evangelists, p. 465. Hor. Hebrews in Mt 3:6.
[xxii] Introduction to his History, p. 64. Ed. 2. 4to.
[xxiii] Antiqu. 50:18. c. 6. s. 2.
[xxiv] Eccl. Hist. 50:1. c. 11.
[xxv] Ibid. Heb 13:25. c. 45.
[xxvi] History of the Customs of the Jews, par. 5. c. 2.
[xxvii] Hor. Hebrews in Mt 3:6. vol. 2. p. 122.
[xxviii] See Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, Introduct. p. 50, 55..61
[xxix] Jewish Antiquities, ut supra, p. 135. Marg.
[xxx] Jewish Antiq. p. 159, 160.
[xxxi] See Stennet against Russen, p. 103, 104.
[xxxii] Hor. Hebrews in Mt 3:6. vol. 2. p. 119.
[xxxiii] On Hebrews vol. 1. Exercitat. 19. p. 272.

A DISSERTATION CONCERNING THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF POPERY

 

What is generally meant and understood by Popery, is well known. As for the name it matters not from whence and from whom it is, nor when it began to be in use, nor in what sense the word papa is used in heathen and ecclesiastical writers. By the latter it was given to Christian bishops in common; as to Cyprian, Athanasius, Austin, Epiphanius, and others; until the bishops of Rome assumed it as peculiar to themselves: but it is not the name, but the thing we are inquiring after; and as things are before they have a name, so Popery was in being before it bore this name. It did not begin at Rome, nor was it always confined there; nor did it cease at the Reformation in the reformed churches; some of its unholy relics continued with them, and still do, and even in Geneva itself. It is commonly believed by Protestants, that the Pope of Rome is Antichrist; and the Roman church, its hierarchy, doctrines and practices, Antichristian; and by Protestant writers and interpreters, for the most part, it is supposed that the same Antichrist is meant in 2Th 2:3-10 to whom the description agrees; as, the man of sin, the son, of perdition, who exalts himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped; sitting in the temple of God, shewing himself to be God. Now this same man of sin, was then in being in the apostles time, though not arrived to his manhood; to deny this, would be just such good sense as to deny that an infant exists because it is not grown up to man’s estate. Antichrist was not then revealed, but was to be revealed in his proper time, when that which hindered his being revealed was taken away, even the Roman empire: he was in being, though he lay hid and concealed till an opportunity offered to show himself. The mystery of iniquity, which is one of the names of mystical Babylon, or the Antichristian whore of Rome. Re 17:5 began to work already, when the apostle wrote the above prophecy, and gave the above description of Antichrist; and so the apostle John says, that the spirit of antichrist, which should come, even now already, is it in the world.  {1Jo 4:3} Antichrist was not only in embryo in the times of the apostles, but was arrived to some bigness, so as to be active and operative. Now Popery may be considered in a twofold respect; both as an hierarchy, and usurped jurisdiction, and tyrannical domination over others; and as a system of Antichristian doctrines and practices: and in both views it will appear, that what is now so called, had a very early beginning.

 

Popery may he considered as an Antichristian hierarchy, a tyrannical jurisdiction over other churches, gradually obtained by usurpation; and though such an affectation of preeminence and dominion was forbidden, and condemned by Christ, {Mt 20:26-27; 13:8,11} and by his apostles, and even by Peter, whom the pope of Rome claims as his predecessor, {2Co 1:24; 1Pe 5:3} yet this Diotrephesian spirit, or love of preeminence, appeared even in the apostolic age, {3Jo 9} and though the office of bishop or overseer, and of presbyter or elder, and of pastor, is one and the same, and equal, according to the scripture account, {Ac 20:27} and there were but two officers in the church, bishops and deacons, {Php 1:1} yet we soon hear of the superiority of bishops to presbyters, and of the subjection of presbyters to bishops, as well as of deacons to both, and of the people to them all; as appears from the epistles of Ignatius, in the second century; and in the third and following, we read of a great variety of offices, together with others since added, which make the present Antichristian hierarchy; as will be observed hereafter.

 

The bishops of Rome very early discovered a domineering spirit over other bishops and churches; they grasped at power and exercised it, though they met with rebuffs in it. In the second century there was a controversy about keeping Easter. The Asian churches observed it on the 14th day of the new moon, let it fall on what day of the week it might; but the church of Rome, with other churches, observed it on the Lord’s day following. Victor then bishop of Rome, being a fierce, and blustering bishop, threatened at least to excommunicate, if he did not excommunicate, the said churches, for not observing Easter at the same time that he did. Eusebius says, that he attempted to do it; from which Irenaeus of France, endeavoured to dissuade him, though he was of the same mind with him, with respect to the observance of Easter; but Socrates the historian says, he did send them an excommunication; which was an instance of tyrannical jurisdiction exercised over other churches. In the middle of the third century there was a dispute about rebaptizing heretics who repented and came over to the church: the African churches and bishops, as Cyprian and others, were for rebaptizing them, and did; but Stephen, bishop of Rome, violently opposed the baptism of them, and cut off all the churches in Africa for the practice of it; which is another instance of the power the bishop of Rome thus early usurped over other churches: though indeed it was highly resented by the eastern churches, and displays his imperious and imposing temper, as if he wanted to make himself a bishop of bishops.

 

In the beginning of the third century, in Tertullian’s time, the bishop of Rome had the titles of Pontifex Maximus, and of Episcopus Episcoporum.  Julius I in the fourth century, took upon him to reprove some eastern bishops for deposing others, and ordered the restitution of them; though they despised his reproofs, and even deposed him for first communing with Athanasius and others.  Platina says, that he reproved them for calling a council at Antioch, without the leave of the bishop of Rome; which he urged, could not be done without his authority, seeing the church of Rome had the preeminence over the rest of the churches: but the same author says, they confuted his claim with a sneer. Adolphus Lampe, in his Ecclesiastical History, observes, that it is thought that Mark, sitting in the Roman chair, A. D. 335 first arrogated to himself the title of universal bishop: and indeed if the letters of Athanasius and the Egyptian bishops to him, and his to them, are genuine, they both gave the title to him, and he took it to himself; their letter to him runs thus, "To the reverend Mark, pope of the holy Roman and apostolic See, and of the universal church." And his to them begins thus, "To the venerable brethren Athanasius, and all the bishops in Egypt, Mark, the bishop of the holy Roman and apostolic See, and of the universal church." And in the former, the see of Rome is called the mother and head of all churches.

 

Though historians generally agree, that the title of universal bishop was given by Phocas to Boniface III in the year 606, at the beginning of the seventh century, yet an anonymous writer, [i] in an essay an scripture prophecy, p. 104 published in 1724, quotes from Sigonius Deoccid Imper. p. 106, and 314, two passages, showing, that Valentinian, the third emperor of the west, in A. D. 445 and Marcion, emperor of the east, in A. D. 450 assigned something like an universal power to pope Leo I which was more than a century and a half before the times of Phocas. The title of universal bishop might not be established by authority of the emperor until his time, yet pretensions were made to it, and it was claimed by the bishops of Rome before, and in some instances given. And though pope Gregory I in the sixth century, a little before the time of Phocas, condemned John of Constantinople as antichrist, for taking upon him the title of Oecumenical bishop, because it entrenched upon his own power and authority; yet this humble pope, who called himself servus servorum, asserted, that the apostolic see, meaning the see of Rome, was the head of all the churches; and vehemently inveighed against the emperor, for taking it to himself.  And it is certain that this pope claimed a jurisdiction over the churches in Britain, since he appointed his legate, Augustine the monk, metropolitan over the whole island;  who endeavoured to bring the British bishops and churches to a conformity to the Roman church, and the rites of it, and to acknowledge the pope’s authority. This was before the time of pope Boniface the third, who obtained of the emperor the title of universal bishop.

 

The primacy of the church of Rome to other churches, with respect to rank and order, which made way for primacy of power, was very early asserted, claimed, and allowed. Several sayings of the ancient writers much contributed to it: from the grandeur and magnificence of the city of Rome, being the metropolis of the empire, an argument was very early used to a superior regard to the church in it. Irenaeus, who lived in the second century, observes, that "to this church (the Roman church) every church should convene (or join in communion;) that is, those everywhere who are believers; propter potentiorem principalitatem; in which always by them who are, everywhere is preserved that tradition which is from the apostles." And Cyprian, in the middle of the third century, calls it the chair of Peter, and the principal church, from whence the sacerdotal unity arises. Jerom,  in the fourth century, writing to pope Damasus, calls him his blessedness, and the chair of Rome, the chair of Peter: and Optatus, in the same century, says, the Roman church is the episcopal chair, first conferred on Peter, in which he sat the head of all the apostles, and the chair of Peter: and earlier in this century the council of Nice was held, the sixth canon of which gave equal power to the bishop of Rome, over the bishops of his province, as the bishop of Alexandria had by custom; and by the third canon of the council at Constantinople, A. D. 381, 382, the bishop of Constantinople had the prerogative of honor after the bishop of Rome, because Constantinople was New Rome: and this was confirmed by Justinian the emperor, in the sixth century, who ordained, that the pope of Rome should have the first seat, and after him the archbishop of Constantinople. And what served to strengthen the primacy of the church of Rome, and increase its power, and which the bishops of it failed not to avail themselves of, was the bringing of causes in difference between other bishops and their churches to them, either to have their advice or to be decided by them: and indeed this was done by the order of Constantine himself, who enjoined, that the causes of contending bishops should be brought to the bishop of Rome and his colleagues, and there decided: and this was advised to by some eminent doctors of the church, particularly Ambrose, who calls the Roman church the head of the whole Roman world or empire: and advised Theophilus, that what was committed to him by the synod at Capna, should be referred by him to the priest of the Roman church (the pontiff).  And it is no wonder that Leo I in the fifth century, should require such respect and obedience to himself, who claimed the apostolical and episcopal dignity of Peter; and subjection to the see of Rome, as to the blessed apostle Peter: yea, he required of Theodosius the emperor himself, that the writings of the bishop of Constantinople might be sent to him; testifying that he embraced the true doctrine, and condemned those that dissented from it.  In his epistle to the bishop of Thessalonica, he asserts his care of all the churches, and the see of Rome to be the apostolic see; and ordered him, that all matters of difference should be brought to him to decide, according to the pleasure of God. He ordered the African heretics who repented, to send the account of their repentance and faith to him, that it might appear they were catholic.  He also assumed a power of calling general councils: and termed Peter’s seat, or the see of Rome, universal; and Peter the Praesul of the see of Rome, and the primate of all bishops.  In the beginning of the fifth century, during the sixth council at Carthage, which lasted six years, the popes Zozimus, Boniface I and Caelestinus I strove with all their might and main to get some sort of primacy and monarchy over the other bishops, though they failed in their attempt. 

 

The care of the church of Christ at first, with respect both to things temporal and spiritual, lay wholly and entirely in the hands of the apostles; but finding the temporal affairs of the church too burdensome to them, they directed it to choose a sort of officers called Deacons, to take care of them, Ac 4:1-6 and so there were two offices, and two only, as before observed, in the primitive apostolic churches, {Php 1:1} but they were soon increased, by distinguishing bishops and presbyters, making the latter to be a distinct office from and subservient to the former: and afterwards offices became numerous; and before the bishop of Rome had the title of universal bishop by authority; and were the same which now constitute the hierarchy of the church of Rome, very few excepted; for even in the third century the following orders are ascribed to Caius bishop of Rome, as of his appointment, and as degrees to a bishoprick; first a door-keeper, then a reader, then an exorcist, an acolyte, a subdeacon, a deacon, and a presbyter, and then a bishop: nor is it improbable that such orders and offices obtained as early, since Cyprian, in the same century makes mention of an acolyte often, and of readers; of Aurelius a reader, and of Saturnus a reader, and of Optatus a subdeacon, and of exorcists: and Cornelius bishop of Rome, who lived about the same time Cyprian did, writing to Fabius bishop of Antioch, concerning Novatus, says, That in the catholic church were but one bishop, forty-four presbyters, seven deacons, and as many subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, exorcists and readers, with door-keepers, fifty-two.  All these are mentioned together, excepting acolytes, by Epiphanius in the fourth century.  And Eusebius observes, that in the persecution under Dioclesian, the prisons were filled with bishops, presbyters, deacons, readers and exorcists: that in the council of Nice there were bishops, presbyters, deacons and acolytes. And Jerom in the same century speaks of a reader, an acolyte, and a psalm singer: and likewise Ambrose, speaking of the qualifications for different offices, one, he says, is fit to read distinctly; another is more agreeable for singing psalms; another for exorcising evil spirits; and another to take the care of the vestry: all which, he says, the priest should look after, and what every one is fit for, appoint him to that office. Sozomen speaks of an archdeacon in the church of Alexandria, whose office it was to read the Holy Bible; and Optatus calls Caecilianus an archdeacon: and in Persia, Sozomen says, Simeon was archbishop of Selucia and Clesiphon, famous cities in it; and there were patriarchs appointed over provinces by the synod at Constantinople, as Socrates relates; and both he and Sozomen make mention of Peter, an archpresbyter of Alexandria, and of Timothy an archdeacon there, in the fifth century; so that long before Popery arrived to its height, there was much the same popish hierarchy as now: that of Cardinals seems to be the only exception, yet there were of the name, though not of the same office and dignity.

 

In the fourth century, monkery, celibacy and virginity came much into vogue; the monastic life was much commended in this age by Basil and his father, as may be seen in his works. The first of these Monks, Anchorites and Eremites, is said to be one Paul of Thebes, as Jerom relates; and their disciples, in less than half an age, were so multiplied, that the deserts of Egypt and Arabia were full of them. These indeed were men of more strict and religious lives than those of later ages, who go by the name of monks. Even before the time of Constantine, and in it, there were societies of virgins, professing perpetual virginity, which he had a great regard unto; and such Helena found at or near Jerusalem, in whose company she took great pleasure, and ministered unto them. Arius is said to infect with the poison of his doctrine seven hundred virgins professing virginity.  And Ambrose says, the virgins came to Milan from various parts, even from the furthest parts of Mauritania, to be consecrated and veiled: so early were monasteries and nunneries set up, at least the foundation of such institutions were so early laid, and the forms, rules, rites and ceremonies of them prescribed, which now make so great a figure in Popery.

 

Popery may be considered as a system of Antichristian doctrines and practices, some of the principal of which the apostle Paul has prophetically given notice of in a few words, 1Ti 4:1-3. Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgivings of them which believe and know the truth. All which are notorious doctrines and practices of the Papists, and are here plainly pointed at; and which, with others, are a branch of the mystery of iniquity which began to work in the times of the apostles, and more manifestly appeared soon after their departure. Very remarkable are the words of Hegesippus, an ancient historian, testifying, that "till the times of Trajan (A. D. 100.) the church continued a virgin pure and incorrupt; -but after the sacred company of the apostles ended their lives by various kinds of death, -then the conspiracy of impious error began to take place, through the deceit of false teachers." For this branch of popery, or mystery of iniquity, takes its rise from the heresies of false teachers of the first ages, and from unguarded expressions and errors of those who have been called fathers of the church; and who, in other points, were counted sound and orthodox; and which, by degrees, grew up to that enormous mass of Antichristian doctrines which are the peculiars of popery; and, to begin with those the apostle foretold in the above quoted passage.

 

Worshipping of angels and praying to saints departed; which are meant by the doctrines of devils, or demons, as Mr. Mede thinks, such. as the heathens reckoned a sort of mediators between God and men; as the papists esteem angels to be mediators of intercession, though not of redemption; and therefore invoke them to intercede for them; and the papists are they who are meant in Re 9:20, said to worship devils, and idols of gold and silver, &c. And this doctrine of worshipping demons or angels, was embraced by a few, even in the times of the apostles; for the apostle Paul warns the Colossians, that no man beguiled them in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels. {Col 2:18} This was a tenet of Simon Magus, the father of heresies, who held, that the world was made by angels: and this is ascribed to him by Tertullian.  And Theodoret reckons it as the notion of Caspocrates, Epiphanes, Prodicus, and the Caiani; and in his exposition of Col 2:18 he says, that this evil notion continued long in Phrygia and Pisidia wherefore the synod which met at Laodicea, the metropolis of Phrygia, forbade by a law to pray to angels; and he says, that to his time might be seen among the people of those countries, and those that bordered upon them, the oratories of St. Michael.

 

In the latter end of the second century lived the heretics Angelica, so called because they worshipped angels, as says Isidore.  Origen, who lived about the same time, and in the beginning of the third century, gives a form of player to angels: "Come, O angel, receive one in word converted from his former error, from the doctrine of devils, from iniquity, speaking highly; and receiving him as a good physician, cherish and instruct him; he is a little one, he is born today, an old man growing young again; and receive, retribution to him, the baptism of the second regeneration; and call to thee other companions of thy ministry, that all ye equally may instruct in the faith, who were sometimes deceived."  Austin in the fourth century, and beginning of the fifth, seems to favour the same: quoting Php 4:6 he observes, requests are not to be understood "as made known to God, who knows them before they were made, but as made known by us to God through patience; or perhaps also, they are made known by angels, who are with God, that they might in some sort offer them to God; and consult concerning them, and that they might know what was to be fulfilled; he commanding, as they ought to know, and bring it to us, either openly or secretly;" for which he quotes, Tobit 12:12 The angel said to the man, When thou and Sarah prayest, I offer up your prayer in the sight of the love of God.

 

Praying to saints was used as early; so Origen directs a prayer to Job, in this manner; "O blessed Job, living for ever with God, abiding in the presence of the king and lord; pray for us miserable ones, that also the terrible majesty of God may protect us in all tribulations and deliver us from all the oppressions of the wicked one, and number us with the just, and write us with them who are saved, and make us rest with them in his kingdom, where we may perpetually magnify him with the saints."  And elsewhere, "I think, says he, that all the fathers who died before us, fight with us and help us by their prayers;" and which he confirms by a Doctor of the church senior to him. Cyprian, in the third century, hints the same, when he says, "If any of us go first from hence, through the celerity of time divine worthiness, let our love persevere with God for our brethren and sisters; and let not our prayer for the mercy of the father cease." So Basil, in the fourth century, in his homily on the forty martyrs, has these words; "Here is help prepared for Christians, namely, the church of Martyrs, the army of the triumphants, the chorus of those that praise God: often have ye used means, often have ye labored to find one praying for you: there are forty sending forth one voice of prayer; where two or three are met together, &c. but where there are forty, who can doubt of the presence of God; he who is pressed with any trouble, let him flee to them; he that rejoices, let him recur to them; the one to be delivered from evils, the other to continue in prosperity." In the same century there are instances of Nazianzen praying to Cyprian, and to Basil dead, and particularly to the virgin Mary very early was prayer made, and her intercession implored. Iran-us, in the second century, calls the virgin Mary the advocate of the virgin Eve, which at best is an unguarded expression. Athanasius, in the fourth century puts up a prayer to her in this manner, "Hear, O daughter of David and Abraham; incline thine ear to our prayers, and do not forget thy people and us, who are of the family and house of thy father; -unto thee we cry, remember us most holy virgin, who hast remained a virgin from the birth, and reward us for those speeches with great gifts from the riches of thy grace-gift thou art full of-Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee! intercede for us, dame, mistress, queen, and mother of God." And Nazianzen makes mention of one Justina, a virgin, in the times of Cyprian, who was delivered from a temptation by applying to the virgin Mary.  Epiphanius speaks of some who made a God of her, and of some in Arabia who offered cakes to her, and celebrated sacred things in her name: and in the fifth century, Petrus Gnaph-us, or the fuller, bishop of Antioch, ordered that the mother of God should be named in every prayer.

 

Another tenet, and which is a popish one, the apostle Paul foretold would be broached in future time, is forbidding to marry, {1Ti 4:3} so antichrist, as described by the prophet Daniel, is said not to regard the desire of women, . {Da 11:37} This was a tenet of the ancient heretics; this branch of the mystery of iniquity soon began to operate among them, and was held by them; by the Ebionites, who, as Epiphanius says, magnified virginity, and by the Saturnalians, who said to marry and beget children was of the devil; and that matrimony was a doctrine of the devil; and by the Severians, who said, that a woman is the work of Satan and by the Marcionites, who condemned marriage as an evil and unchaste business; and from these sprung the Encretites, at the head of whom was Tatian, who, as those before called marriages, corruptions and fornications: and if the canons ascribed to the apostles are theirs, persons holding such a tenet were in their days, since the 51st canon runs thus; "If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or whole of the sacerdotal list, abstain from marriage, flesh and wine, not for exercise, but through abomination of them, forgetting that all things are very good, and that God made man male and female; but blaspheming, accuses the workmanship of God, either let him be so corrected (amended or set right); or be deposed, and cast out of the church; and so if a layman." The notion of celibacy, and in disfavor of marriage, began to obtain early among those who were counted orthodox. Dionysius, bishop of Athens, supposed to be the same as in Ac 17:34, is said to write an epistle to the Gnossians, still extant, in which he admonishes Pinytus, their bishop, not to impose as necessary the yoke of chastity or continence upon the brethren; but to consider the infirmity which is in most men; which supposes that such a yoke was attempted to be laid. Athenagoras, in the second century, seems to speak too highly of celibacy; "you will find many of us, says he, of both sexes, who are become old and are unmarried in hope of having more communion with God." And a little after, he speaks severely against second marriages, condemning them as adultery, and as a transgression of the law of God. In the third century, not only second marriages were spoken against by Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian, but marriage itself was slightly spoken of, and continence, celibacy and virginity were highly extolled. Tertullian says, "he preferred continence and virginity to marriage, though not forbid; but gave the preference to a fuller holiness." Origen calls virginity the work of perfection and Cyprian commends chastity (or the single life) as a state of angelic quality, and "virginity, he says, equals itself to angels; yea, if ye diligently examine it, it exceeds, while it strives with the flesh it carries off a victory against nature, which angels have not and again, though marriage is good and instituted by God, yet continence is better, and virginity more excellent, which neither necessity nor command compel to, but the choice of perfection persuades to it." I have observed already how the monastic life, celibacy and virginity, were in great vogue in the fourth century; in the former part of which the council of Nice was held, in which it was moved by some bishops, that those who were married before they were in holy orders, should not cohabit with their wives; upon which Paphnutius, a confessor, rose up and vehemently opposed it, as putting an heavy burden upon them; alleging, that all had not such strict continence, that marriage was honourable, and that to make such a rule might be an occasion of scandal to them and to their wives; and that it was sufficient to observe the ancient tradition of the church, that those who came into holy orders unmarried, should not marry afterwards; but that those who were married before, should not be separated from their wives; to which the synod assented: but then it should be observed, that it had been an ancient tradition that men in holy orders should not marry, if not married before they came into them. Athanasius, in the same century, says many things in praise of virginity and continence, "O virginity, never failing opulence: O virginity, a never fading crown. O virginity, the temple of God and the dwelling place of the holy Spirit. O virginity, a precious pearl, to many inconspicuous, and found by a few only. O continence, hated by many, but known and respected by the worthy ones: O continence, which makes death and hell to flee, and which is possessed by immortality; O continence, the joy of the prophets, and the boast of the apostles: O continence, the life of angels, and the crown of saints; blessed is he that retaineth thee." Jerom has many things in his writings, too numerous to transcribe, in favour of virginity and celibacy, and to the discouragement. of marriage. And Austin, though he in some places speaks well of marriage, yet he was of the mind, that virgins devoted to holiness have more merit with God than believers who are married; opposing Jovinian, who denied it. It is easy to observe, how much these notions got ground, and monkery obtained, and was established in the fifth and sixth centuries before the man of sin was at his height.

 

Another popish tenet, foretold by the apostle Paul as a part of the apostasy which would hereafter come upon, is abstaining from meats, {1Ti 4:3} and observing fasts, such as the Quadragesima or Lent, &c. and which quickly took place: the above mentioned ancient heretics, the Saturnalians, Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites, and Encretites, who were against marriage, were also for abstinence from meats; as appears from Iren-us, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Theodoret, in the places before referred to. The Gnostics observed the fourth and fifth days of the week as fast days; and who knew, as Clemens of Alexandria says, the enigmatical meaning of them, the one being called the day of Mercury; and the other the day of Venus; and the Montanists are said to be the first that instituted laws concerning fasting, and who laid the foundation for many Antichristian practices. Quadragesima, or Lent, and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, very early obtained in the church. The former was differently observed by the ancients. Irenaeus, in the second century, says, there was a dispute about Easter day, and of the manner of the fast itself, that is, which was before it; some thought they must fast one day, others two, others more, some forty hours, reckoning a night and day for a day, and this difference was not in this present age, but long before. Socrates relates, that the fast before Easter was differently kept; they at Rome fasted three weeks before it, excepting the sabbath, (Saturday) and the Lord’s day; and they in Illyria and in all Greece and in Alexandria, fasted six weeks before it; and that, they called Quadragesima. Others began the fast seven weeks before Easter, and fasted three weeks only, and but five days in a week, nevertheless they called this Quadragesima but, says the historian, to me it seems wonderful that they should disagree about the number of days, and yet call it by the same name: and to the same purpose Sozomen says, "that Quadragesima, in which in the people fast, some count it six weeks, as the Illyrians and the western nations, all Lybia and Egypt, with Palestine; some seven, as at Constantinople, and in all the provinces round about unto Phoenicia; some, out of these six or seven weeks, fast three weeks by intervals; others only three weeks together before the feast; some only two, as the Montanists." And Socrates the historian relates, that "the ancients were not only found to differ about the number of days on which they fasted, but about the food also they abstained from; some abstained from animals entirely, others of animals only eat fish, some with fishes eat fowl also, because they are of the water, according to Moses; some abstained from fruits of trees, and from eggs; some eat bread only, and others not that." And Epiphanius observes, that the customs of the church were various, "some abstained from all flesh, beasts, fowls and fishes, and from eggs and cheese; some from beasts only, but ate fowls and the rest; some abstained from fowls and used eggs and fishes; others did not eat eggs; and others fishes only; some abstained from fishes, but ate cheese; others did not make use of cheese; others, moreover, abstained from bread; and others abstained from the hard fruits of trees, and from nuts, and from things boiled." Wednesdays and Fridays were kept as fast days in Tertullian’s time, by the Catholics, whom he calls Psychici, he being himself then a Montanist. And Origen speaks of those days, and of Lent, as solemn fasts in his time. The canons, commonly called the canons of the apostles, were, according to bishop Beveridge, collected before the end of the third century, and in them is one which runs thus, can. 60. "If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or reader, or singer, does not fast on the holy Quadragesima of Easter, nor on the fourth day (of the week,) nor on the preparation (to the sabbath, Saturday, which preparation was on Friday,) except he is hindered through bodily weakness, let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be separated." In the fourth century, Jerom speaks of keeping Lent as an apostolical tradition; "We fast one Quadragesima, according to the tradition of the apostles, in the whole year, at the time agreeable to us; they (the Montanists) make three Quadragesimas in a year, as if three Saviours suffered."  And in another place, he says, "The Lord himself, the true Jonah, being sent to preach the gospel, fasted forty days, and leaving us an inheritance of fasting, prepared our souls for the eating of his body under this number." And elsewhere he observes, "should any say, if it is not lawful to observe days and months, and times and years, we must be guilty of a like crime in observing the fourth day of the week, the preparation, and the Lord’s day, and the fast of Quadragesima, and the feast of Easter, and the joy of Pentecost:" To which he makes answer. Austin likewise not only mentions the fast of forty days, but thus reasons for it:  "The Quadragesima of fasts has indeed authority both in the ancient books (the old testament,) from the fastings of Moses and Elias; and out of the gospel, because the Lord fasted so many days showing that the gospel does not dissent from the law and the prophets." And a little after, "In what part of the year could the observation of the Quadragesima be fixed more fitly, than near and contiguous to the passion of the Lord?" Ambrose, in the same century, has these words, "It is good at all times to fast, but it is better to fast with Christ in Quadragesima (or Lent); for this Quadragesima the Lord has consecrated to us by his own fasting." And in another place, "The Lord has so ordained, that as in his passion, and the fasts of Quadragesima, we should sorrow; so in his resurrection, and in the feasts of Quinquagesima, (or Pentecost,) we should rejoice." 

 

Popish festivals were observed very early, long before the Pope of Rome arrived to the height of his ambition. The feast of Easter was kept in the second century, as the controversy between Anicetus and Polycarp, and between Victor and the Asiatic churches, shows; yea in the fifth century, if Polycrates is to be credited, who says, that, "Philip the apostle who died at Herapolis, and, John at Ephesus, Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenia, Sagaris, who died at Laodicea, Papyrius and Melito, all kept Easter on the 14th day of the month; and the bishops of Rome, before Victor; as well as he, kept it on the Lord’s day following; so Aniectus, Pius, Hyginus, Telesphorus, Xytus and Soter." And so did Iren-us in France; and thus it continued to be observed by the order of Constantine.  The vigils of the Passover, or Easter-eve, were very calmly observed; Eusebius makes mention thereof as in the times of Narcissus, patriarch of Jerusalem, in the second century; and Tertullian speaks of the whole night preceding Easter day, as very solemn; and Austin, in the fourth century, mentions Easter-eve as solemn likewise. Pentecost was observed as early as Easter, and is spoken of along with it by Tertullian, by Origen, and by Jerom; and Ambrose says, "Let us rejoice on this holy day as at Easter; on both days there is the same and the like solemnity; at Easter all the Gentiles used to be baptized, and at Pentecost the apostles were baptized," that is, with the holy Ghost.

 

Christmas-day, or Christ’s birthday, was celebrated in the second century, on the 8th of the calends of January; as appears from the paschal epistle of Theophilus.   In the times of Dioclesian, and before the council at Nice, Anthimas, bishop of Nicomedia, with some thousands, were burnt, by fire being set to the place where they were assembled to keep the feast of Christ’s birthday.  Basil, in the fourth century, has a sermon upon it, in which he calls it Theophania, the appearance of God, and says, "Let us celebrate time solemnities of a saved world, the birth-day of mankind." Ambrose has several sermons upon it; and in one of them, sermon ten says, "the vulgar used to call the Lord’s birth-day the new sun: and so Chrysostom in the fifth century."

 

The feast of the Annunciation of the virgin Mary was observed by time ancients. Gregory of Neoc-sarca, called Thaumaturgus, in the third century, has three sermons on the annunciation, and calls it a festival. It is unmentioned by Athanasius in the fourth century, concerning which he says, "This is one of the feasts of the Lord, and is quite venerable; so that according to the order of things which are preached in the gospel of Christ, it ought to be accounted an holy day, since in it we treat concerning the descent of the Son of God from heaven." Feasts kept in memory of the martyrs, we read of still more early. Origen, in the latter end of the second century, says, "We do memory to the saints, our parents and friends, who die in the faith; -we celebrate the religious with the priests, calling together the faithful with the clergy, inviting the needy and the poor, the fatherless and the widow, filling them with food, that our festivals may be done to the memory of rest to the deceased, whose memory we celebrate." So Tertullian, in the beginning of the third century affirms, "We make oblations for the dead, and for their anniversary birth-days." And Cyprian, in the middle of it, says of some dead, "The days on which they depart are registered by us, that we may celebrate their memories among the memories of the martyrs." And even in a synod in his time, notice is taken "of sacrifices and offerings made for persons after death." In the fourth century it was usual in all churches to observe them. Eusebius relates, that by the order of Constantine, governors of provinces, and those under them, not only observed the Lord’s day, but honored the feast days of the martyrs; also the ecclesiastical festivities. Sozomen reports, that the Alexandrians kept with pomp a feast on the day that Peter their bishop was martyred; and Theodoret, that the church at Antioch kept an annual feast to the honour of the martyrs Juventinus and Maximinus. Ambrose has a sermon for the saints throughout the year, and makes mention of the feasts of the apostles Peter and Paul; and in one place he says,  "We forget the birth-days of the dead, but the day on which they die we renew with great solemnity;" and again, "Whose life we know not, their deaths we celebrate." And Jerom observes, that according to the variety of countries, different times are appointed in honor of the martyrs.

 

In the fourth century the relics of the martyrs came much in vogue. Sozomen makes mention of the relics of many saints and martyrs being found, and removed, and laid up with great honour and veneration. And so Ambrose, of the bodies of St. Gervasius and Protesius, in a letter to his sister Marcellina, in which he gives an account of the finding and translation of them, and miracles done; and concludes, "Let us lay up the holy relics, and carry them into temples worthy of them, and celebrate the whole day with true devotion." In the sixth century, part of the wood of the cross on which Christ was crucified was found, and the relics of the martyr Sergius, as Evagrius relates.  And in the fourth and following centuries, temples were dedicated to the saints, and images placed in them, with wax candles and lamps burning.

 

The popish notions of a Limbus patrum, of purgatory and praying for the dead, were embraced long before the pope of Rome was declared an universal bishop. Clemens of Alexandria in the second century, had a notion, that before Christ came none were saved, but those that lived piously were in hell; and Christ, when he came went thither, and preached to them, and so did his apostles; and thereby they were converted and saved; and of the place of the saints after death, Tertullian seems to have such a notion, that they were not in heavenly bliss; "the bosom of Abraham, he says, is not celestial, yet higher than hell; and in the mean while affords refreshment to the souls of the righteous, until the consummation of all things at the resurrection." And a little after he says, "The bosom of Abraham is some temporal receptacle of believing souls." Purgatory was the opinion of Origen in the third century; he was the first, as Theophilus Gale says, that introduced purgatory from the Platonic school at Alexandria into the church of God, and gave a great advance to the whole system of papism or antichristianism. "I think, says he, the saints, when they depart out of this life, remain in some place the divine scripture calls paradise; and as in some place of learning, an auditorium, if I may so say, or a school of souls, in which they may be taught of all those things they have seen on earth." And in some places he gives plain hints of purgatory; "it is certain, says he, there remains a fire, which is prepared for sinners, and we shall come to that fire, in which the fire will prove every one’s work, what it is; and as I think we must all come to the fire, even if any one is a Paul or a Peter, yet he must come to the fire; but such shall hear, though thou passest through the fire, the flame shall not burn thee; but if any one, like me, is a sinner, he shall come indeed to the fire, as Peter and Paul, but he shall not so pass through as Peter and Paul." In another place he says,  "Whose sin is such that it is neither forgiven in the present world, nor in that to come; he passes on in his uncleanness one and another week, and at the beginning of the third week he is purged from his uncleanness." And in another work of his, he has these words, "To every one of these who have need of punishment by this fire, and together also of healing, it burns, but does not burn them out, who have no matter to be consumed by fire; but it burns and burns them out, who build on a building of actions, words and thoughts, figuratively called wood, hay, and stubble." And he has various hints of this kind in other parts of his writings. Lactantius in the fourth century, says, "When God shall judge the righteous, he shall also try them by fire: them whose sins, either in weight or in number, have prevailed, they shall be touched by the fire, and shall be burnt; but those whose righteousness and virtue are in full maturity; they shall nor perceive the fire." And a little after, "Let no one think, that souls are immediately judged; after death they are all detained in one common prison, until the time comes, that the great judge shall make trial of the merits of men." Jerom expresses his faith in this point, thus; "As we believe the eternal torments of the devil, and of all deniers and ungodly persons; so we believe a moderate sentence of the judge, mixed with clemency, on sinners and ungodly persons, and yet Christians, whose works are to be and purged by fire." Epiphanius, in the same century, delivers the faith of Christians in this manner, "We believe that Christ came to give pardon to these who of old knew him, and did not stray from his deity, thought for errors were detained in hell; to them who were then in the world, by repentance; to them that were in hell, by mercy and salvation." And he was of opinion, that prayers made for the dead profited them, though they did not cut off all fault.  And of the same opinion was Austin, who says, "It is not to be denied, that the souls of the dead are relieved by the piety of the living; since for them the sacrifice of the mediator is offered, or alms are made in the church; but these are profitable to them, who when they lived merited, that they might be profitable to them afterwards." More of this may be read in another tract of his. Elsewhere he says, "In the old saints the Holy Spirit, was not so, as he is now in believers because when they went out of the world, they were in hell, and it is incongruous that he who goes from hence, having the Spirit of God, should be held in hell." And he seems in one place, to grant a purgatory; "That some such thing is done after this life, is not incredible; and whether it is so may be enquired; that some believers are either found or hid by a certain purgatory-fire, how much the more or less they have loved perishing goods, so much the slower or sooner they are saved." Gregory Nyssene says of children dying in infancy, "What shall we think of such, who so die? shall the soul see the judge? shall it be presented with others before the tribunal? shall it undergo the judgment of those who have lived? shall it receive a reward according to merit? or be purged with fire according to the words of the gospel? or be refreshed with the new of blessing?" Boetius, in the sixth century, is express for purgatory; his words are, "Are there no punishments after you leave the body dead? The answer is, yea and great ones truly; some are exercised, I think, with a severe punishment, and others with a mild purgatory."  Gregory I defended the opinion of purgatory in the same century.

 

The popish notion of transubstantiation had its rise from the old heretics, and was cherished and strengthened by the unguarded expressions and erroneous sentiments of the ancient fathers, even before the man of sin arrived to his manhood. Mark, the heretic, in the second century, would have it thought that he changed the wine into blood by invocation upon it, just as a popish priest would be thought by pronouncing some words to change the bread into the body, and the wine into the blood of Christ. Irenaeus, in the same century, has an expression which has too favourable an aspect on this very absurd notion; "when the cup mixed, and the bread broken, perceive the word of God, they become the Eucharist of the blood and body of Christ." In the third century, the phrases of offering the sacrifice of Christ, and of sanctifying the cup by the priest, were used; as by Tertullian, who calls the administration of the supper, offering the sacrifice; and by Cyprian, who speaks of the Lord’s sacrifice being celebrated by a lawful sanctification, and of the priest’s sanctifying the cup; and says, that "the priest officiates in the room of Christ, and imitates that which Christ did, and then offers up a true and full sacrifice in the church to God the Father." In the fourth century several unguarded expressions were used, as by Athanasius, that there was nothing of the flesh and blood of Christ to be found in the world, but what was daily spiritually made by the hands of priests upon the altar; and by Nazianzen, who speaks of some defiling the altars with blood, which have their name from time most pure and unbloodly sacrifice: and Ambrose speaks often of celebrating mass and offering the sacrifice; and he composed some prayers preparatory to it, and he produces examples to prove, that "not that in which nature has formed, but which the blessing hath consecrated, and the greater is the force of blessing than of nature, because nature itself is changed by the blessing." And after many instances of the miracles in Egypt, he observes, that, "if human blessing could do so much, what shall we say of the divine consecration itself, where the words of the Lord the Saviour operate?" And a little after, he has these words "this is my body"; before the blessing of the heavenly words the species is named, after the consecration the body of Christ is signified, he calls it his own blood. Before the consecration another thing is said, after the consecration it is called blood. Cyril of Jerusalem says, "The bread and the wine of the Eucharist, before the holy invocation of the Trinity are mere bread and wine; but when the invocation is made, the bread becomes the body of Christ, and the wine the blood of Christ." Gregory Nyssene says, "The bread is made the body of Christ by sanctification; the bread a little before was common bread, but when the mystery has made it holy, it is made and called the body of Christ; so the mystical oil; so the wine, though of small worth before the blessing, after the sanctification of the Spirit, both of them work differently." A mind elsewhere, he says, "I rightly believe that the bread sanctified by the word of God, metapoieit ai, is transmuted into the body of God the Word; for bread was that body, potentially it was sanctified by the indwelling of the Word, which tabernacled in the flesh; thence therefore the bread transmuted in that body, passes into a divine power, by the same now also become equal.-The bread is immediately transmuted by the Word into the body, as it is said by the Word, This is my body." Chrysostom, in the fifth century, seems to strengthen the doctrine of transubstantiation, when he says, "Do you see the bread? Do you see the wine? do they go as the rest of the food into the privy? God forbid, that thou shouldst so think for as if wax put to the fire is assimilated to it, nothing of the substance remains; so likewise here think that the mysteries are consumed in the substance of the body." In the sixth century, Gregory I says, it appears that they called the Lord’s supper a viaticum; and even in the fourth century, it used to be given to dying persons as such. Honoratus of Verceil, gave it to St. Ambrose who as soon as he received it died, carrying with him the good viaticum, as Paulinus in his life relates. And Ambrose himself says, that in his time, travelers and sailors used to carry it with them. Yea, even in the third century, it used to be sent to those who were hindered by sickness from partaking of it; there is even an instance of its being sent by a boy, and put into the mouth of a dying man, upon which he expired.

 

The first instance of corruption in baptism, as to the form of it, and also as to the mode of it, was made by Mark, the heretic, and his followers; who made a mixture of oil and water, and poured it on the head.  And the next instance is in Novatus, who received baptism on a sick bed by perfusion (as the Clinci also did,) if he might be said to receive it, as Cornelius, the then bishop of Rome observes; and when he recovered, and got to be made a presbyter, all the clergy and many of the people, judged it was not lawful, that such an one, who was baptized in that manner, should be admitted among the clergy; nor could such an one be a presbyter, according to the 10th canon of the council of Neocaesarea. An innovation with respect to the subjects began to be made in the third century, in the African churches, and prevailed much in the fourth, through the zeal of Austin in favour of original sin, and for the salvation of infants, which he thought could not be saved without it. This use of chrism, exorcism, signing with the sign of the cross, and other corruptions early introduced, have been observed in some former treatises of mine.  Thus we see that the principal things of which the popish hierarchy consists, and the chief principles and practices which are now reckoned popish ones, were held and maintained before the popes of Rome arrived to the full power they had long been aiming at; and which together make up what we call Popery.

 

THE COROLLARY

 

From all this is, That since it can be no objection to the doctrine of invocation of angels and saints departed, being called a popish doctrine; nor to time prohibition of marriage, and abstaining from meats, and keeping divers fasts and festivals, being called parts of popery; nor to the doctrines of purgatory and transubstantiation being popish ones, though they were severally broached and embraced ages before the pope of Rome was declared universal Bishop; it can be no objection to Infant Baptism being called a part and branch of popery, though it was introduced into the churches in the third and fourth centuries, and so before the Roman antichrist arrived to his highest pitch of grandeur; it being a tenet held by the Papists, as founded upon the tradition of the church; and being no more agreeable to the word of God, than the other above tenets held by them are. Truth indeed is most ancient; but error follows closely at its heels, and is nearly as ancient; so that high pretensions to antiquity in matters of faith and worship, are no otherwise to be regarded, but as they have the concurrent evidence and testimony of the sacred scriptures; they only can be trusted to with safety.



[i] In the abstract of the history of popery, p. 1. margin.

A GOOD HOPE THROUGH GRACE OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF MR. EDWARD LUDLOW

 

Preached Jan. 1, 1749.

 

…And good hope through grace.- 2Th 2:16

 

Three things the apostle does in the context: he describes the happy state and condition of the persons he writes to; he exhorts them to stand fast in the faith, and hold fast the truth; and he prays for them.

 

First, He describes their happy state, in opposition to the followers of the man of sin, the son of perdition, who were given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned. First, by their character, as Brethren, of Christ, of the apostle, and of one another, in a spiritual relation; and as beloved of the Lord, or of God, as some versions; of God the Father, who had so loved them as to give his Son for them; of the Lord Jesus Christ; who had given himself for them; and of the Lord the Spirit, who had quickened and sanctified, them: and he further describes them by their election of God, for which he thought himself bound to give thanks to God for them; the date of which is, from the beginning, or eternity; the means, sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth; the end, salvation; the evidence, the effectual call of them by the gospel to the enjoyment. of that glory, which Christ is in the possession of, and is preparing for them.

 

Secondly, He exhorts them to stand fast in the faith of the gospel, and not be moved away from it; seeing they were so much in the favor of God, were chosen, of him, and called by him: and to hold fast the traditions they had been instructed in, both by word of mouth and by letter: not the traditions of the Jewish elders; nor such like unwritten traditions the Papists plead for; but the truths and ordinances of the gospel; so called, because delivered by Christ to his apostles, and by them to the churches, either by speech, or by writing; and, are the evangelical cabala, which ought to be held fast till Christ’s second coming:

 

Thirdly, He prays for them, as being most affectionately concerned for their welfare; and therefore, he follows his exhortations with petitions; well knowing this was the most effectual way to have them succeed. The objects addressed are, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father; two divine persons in the godhead: and seeing our Lord Jesus Christ is equally prayed unto as God our Father; and the same things are asked of him as of the Father; and the same gifts and blessings of grace are ascribed to the one as to the other; yea, he is mentioned in the address before his Father; we may conclude his perfect equality with him, and so his true and proper deity; or prayer, which is such a considerable branch of worship, would not be made to him, nor would he be placed on an equal foot with his Father, and much less be set before him. The things prayed for are, that these divine persons would comfort their hearts; with fresh discoveries of their love to them; with renewed applications of pardoning grace and mercy; with the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel; by the word and ordinances of it; and by granting them fellowship with Father, Son, and Spirit, in private and in public: and also, that they would stablish them in every good ward and work; in every truth of the gospel, and in the practice of every duty. It is a good thing for a Christian to have his heart established in the doctrines of grace; and it is his honor to be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: and though the saints are in a firm and stable state, as being interested in everlasting love, secured in the covenant of grace, and safe in the arms of Christ; yet they have need of establishment in the present truths, that so they may not be carried away with the error of the wicked; and in the exercise of grace, that they may not fall from the steadfastness of their faith; and in the discharge of duty, that they be not drawn off from it. Now there is abundant reason to conclude that these petitions would be heard and, answered,

 

1. From the characters of the persons addressed, our Lord Jesus Christ himself. he who is our Lord, not by creation only, as he is Lord of all; but by redemption, having bought us with his precious blood, and therefore are not our own, but his; and by virtue of a marriage-relation to us, he having espoused us to himself in righteousness, mercy, and loving-kindness; and therefore, is our Lord, and we should worship him: and moreover he is Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, who has saved us from our Sins, and from wrath to come, with an everlasting salvation; and is the Christ of God, anointed to be Prophet, Priest, and King, which offices he sustains and executes for us; and therefore may it not reasonably be concluded that whatsoever is asked of him and in his name, will be granted? The other, person is God even our Father; not by creation merely, as he is of all men, who are his offspring, and the care of his providence; -but by adoption, through Jesus Christ: he who is Christ’s God is our God, and he who is Christ’s Father is our Father; which relation is owing to his free favor and love; and if earthly parents are ready and willing to give good gifts to their children to the utmost of their power; will not our heavenly Father give every good and needful thing to his children, so near and dear to him? And which may be further concluded,

 

2. From the love each person bore to those for whom the petitions are presented: which hath loved us; which relates both to God our Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, who have both loved us; such who were by nature children of wrath, enemies in their minds by wicked works; and were far from having any true love to God or Christ; so far from it, that they were enmity itself unto them, and yet loved by them. Matchless, unparalleled Grace! The Father loved them, and therefore appointed them not unto the wrath they deserved, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ; loved them, and therefore made a covenant with them in Christ, ordered in all things and sure, full of precious promises and spiritual blessings, suited to their cases and circumstances; loved them, and therefore made them the care and charge of his Son, put them into his hands, and laid up grace and glory for them; loved them, and therefore sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be the Savior and Redeemer of them; loved them, and therefore spared him not, but delivered him up into the hands of justice and death for them; loved them, and therefore begot them again to a lively hope, and quickened them when dead in trespasses and sins; loved them, and therefore justified them, pardoned them, and adopted them into his family, and made them heirs of himself, and joint-heirs with Christ. And our Lord Jesus Christ himself loved them with the same love his Father did, and as early; and therefore in eternity became their surety, and espoused their persons and cause; loved them, and therefore in time assumed their nature, bore their sorrows, took upon him their sins, and suffered for them; loved them, and therefore gave himself an offering unto God for them; loved them, and therefore shed his precious blood for the remission of their sins, and washed them from them in it; loved them, and therefore is gone to prepare heaven and happiness for them, and will come again and take them to himself, that where he is, they may be also. Now, from persons of so much love, and who have given such strong proofs of it, what may not be expected? And which may be still further concluded,

 

3. From the gifts of grace, bestowed as the fruits of such love: and hath given us everlasting consolation; God is the God of comfort, and all true comfort springs from him; Christ is the consolation of Israel, and if there is any real, solid comfort, it is in him, and comes by him, through his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and which is applied by the holy Spirit, through the word and ordinances, which are breasts of consolation; and by the ministers of the gospel, who are Barnabases, sons of comfort; and miserable comforters are all others that attempt to comfort in another way.

 

And whatever comfort is had in this way, is a pure gift of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ; it is what men are undeserving of, and therefore the least measure of it should not be reckoned small; because those that share it are by nature children of wrath, as others: and though this, as to sensible enjoyment, dots not always continue, but is interrupted through the prevalence of corruptions, the violence of Satan’s temptations, and through divine desertions; yet the foundation of it is always, and is everlasting, as the everlasting love of God; and therefore the elect are not, and cannot be consumed; the everlasting covenant of grace, which yields the heirs of promise strong consolation; the everlasting righteousness of Christ, by which being justified, they have peace with God; and everlasting salvation by him, and therefore shall be saved from wrath to come; and both Christ and the holy Spirit, the other comforter, always abide, and are the same to-day, yesterday, and for ever: and besides, as the spiritual joy of believers is what no man can take away from them, so it eventually issues in everlasting consolation, without any interruption in the future state; when the redeemed shall be come to Zion, they shall have everlasting joy on their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. The other gift is good hope through grace; and since God and Christ have bestowed such high favors upon the saints, it may be reasonably thought, that they will go on to comfort their hearts, and establish them. And this clause in the text being what our deceased friend pointed at, and laid the emphasis upon, I shall a little more largely insist upon it, and do the following things.

 

First, I shall give some account of the nature of the grace of hope.

 

Secondly, Shew the original of it, that it is of God, and a gift of his.

 

Thirdly, Explain in what sense it is through grace.

 

Fourthly, Make it appear that such an hope is a good one.

 

First, I shall give some account of the nature of the grace of hope; and which may be learnt in a good measure from the things with which it is conversant. And,

 

1st, It is of things unseen. An object seen and enjoyed leaves no room for the exercise of hope about it; wherefore the apostle says, hope that is seen is not hope; {Ro 8:24-25} that is, what is seen and enjoyed is not the object of hope; and hope can be no longer conversant with it, since it is in actual possession; concerning which the same inspired writer in the same place thus strongly reasons; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Christ is the object of our hope, and he is unseen by us, with our bodily eyes, is only seen by faith; he is gone to heaven, and is at the Father’s right hand, out of our fight; but we hope and believe that he will come again and receive us to himself; and therefore we expect him our Savior from heaven, to raise our bodies, and change them, and make them like his own, and to re-unite them to our souls, and give us perfect happiness with him: the glories of the future state we are hoping for, are unseen realities; what eye has not seen, nor ear heard; eternal things we are looking at by Faith, and which are a support under present afflictions, are invisible; they are within the vail, into which faith enters, and gives a glimpse of; and hope follows, and waits for a clear light and full enjoyment of.

 

2dly, It is of things future, things to come: present things are not the object of hope; for what are present with us, we no more hope about; we and hope ceases, which was exercised concerning them when at a distance: nor have them, are the things of this present life the only objects of hope; for if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. {1Co 15:19}

 

Our hope indeed has to do with future things in the present life; we hope for more communion with God and Christ in ordinances, and therefore wait patiently in them; we hope for further supplies of grace out of the fullness that is in Christ, and therefore wait upon him and for him; we gird up the loins of our minds, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Christ: our hope reaches beyond the grave, to a future state in another world; to the resurrection of our bodies; to our standing at the right hand of Christ; to our being justified before men and angels; to our receiving the crown of life and glory; to our admission into the everlasting kingdom; and to our being with Christ for evermore, and being like him, and seeing him as he is. The things we are hoping for are laid up for us to be enjoyed hereafter; we have here some pledges and foretastes now, but the main is yet to come; and therefore we keep looking for it: faith only gives those things we are hoping for a kind of subsistence, and realizes them to us; and therefore it is said to be the substance of things hoped far, and the evidence of things not seen. {Heb 11:1}

 

3dly, It is of things difficult to be obtained, as future salvation is; for though the righteous are certainly fared, yet scarcely {1Pe 4:18} that is, with difficulty; by reason of the many corruptions, temptations, and snares in the way; and particularly by reason of afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions for Christ’s sake: they come to the enjoyment of it through a strait gate and a narrow way, through many tribulations and sorrows; and there try and exercise hope. And yet,

 

4thly, It is of things possible; or otherwise there would be no room, nor reason for hope; nothing but black despair would ensue, and a resolution to lay aside all thoughts about our happiness in another world, and to take the swing in carnal lusts and pleasures; saying, there is no hope, but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. {Jer 18:12} But eternal glory and happiness being what God has prepared and promised, what is to be had through Christ, and that by sinners, even the chief of them, there is hope in Israel concerning this thing; {Ezr 10:2} and the least encouragement given to a sensible sinner, hope lays hold upon; and it improves every hint and circumstance to its own advantage; such a soul putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; {La 3:29} and as the possibility and probability of happiness appear to him, so in proportion his hope rises.

 

5thly, It is of things certain, which have a real being, and which are solid and substantial; and which not only faith is the substance of, but they are really laid up in heaven, are in the hands of Christ, and shall certainly be enjoyed; and of which the hoping Christian has no reason to doubt: and there is not only a certainty in the object of hope, but there is such a firmness and stability in the grace itself, that the soul in the lively exercise of it rejoices in hope of the glory of God; and which is so sure unto him, that he is even said to be already saved by hope. {Ro 8:24}

 

6thly, True hope is always attended with faith: these two graces go together; where the one is the other is; they are wrought by the same hand, and at the same time, in regeneration; and are more or less exercised together; though the one may be at some times more visible in its exercise than the other; and there may be hope when faith is scarcely discernible; yet faith is at the bottom, and is the substance of things hoped for; and without which there would be no hope; and some of the acts of these graces are so similar, so much like to one another, that they are scarcely to be discerned and distinguished from each other; and therefore are put for one another: So what is called trusting in Christ, Eph 1:12 is in the Greek text hoping in Christ; and these two are joined together in Jer 17:7. I proceed,

 

Secondly, To shew the original of this grace, that it is of God, and a gift of his; for this clause, and good hope through grace, is in connection with the words preceding, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which -hath given both everlasting comfort and good hope. As faith, so hope, is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; and what is said of the one is true of the other, that all men have it not. {Eph 2:8; 2Th 3:2} Hope is not to be found naturally in men; nor is it in any natural man, in a man that is in a state of unregeneracy; such may express it, but not experience it; it is too commonly and too profanely said, "As I hope to be saved;" when such who use the phrase know not what a good hope through grace is; it is the character of God’s own people before conversion, that they are without hope, as well as without God and Christ in the world: {Eph 2:12} This is a grace which is wrought in the soul in regeneration by the Spirit of God, and is one of his fruits; it is implanted by him, and grows up under his influence; it is through him believers wait for the hope of righteousness by faith; and it is through his power they abound in the exercise of it: No man has it till he is born again; for he is, of abounding grace, begotten to it: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; {1Pe 1:3} by which it appears, as well as from our text, that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ have a concern in the production of a good and lively hope; that it is owing to the abundant mercy of the one, and the resurrection of the other, who was raised and glorified that our faith and hope might be in God {1Pe 1:20} and that it is not until a man is regenerated; whatever hope he has before, is not a lively one, and so not a good one: The gospel is the ordinary means by which it is ingenerated, and therefore may be called the hope of the gospel; {Col 1:23} and certain it is, that the gospel being good news, and glad tidings of good things, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ, tends greatly to encourage and promote hope; its doctrines being doctrines of grace, and its promises being free, absolute, and unconditional, are calculated for this purport, and greatly serve it; from there the heirs of promise have strong consolation, who flee to Christ and lay hold on the hope set before them; the promises they are heirs of, and which yield them comfort, encourage their hope in Christ, who is set before them, in the gospel, as the object of it; and, generally speaking, it is a word of promise which the holy Spirit brings home and applies to the Soul, which is the ground and foundation of its hope: Hence says David, Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. {Ps 119:49} Indeed whatsoever is written in the scriptures is written for our use, profit, and learning, that we through comfort of them might have hope; {Ro 15:4} and there are many things which, under a divine blessing, serve to cultivate and increase this grace; as the consideration of the power and faithfulness of God in his promises; the free grace and mercy of God displayed in salvation by Christ; the sufferings, death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ; and present experiences and a recollection of past ones; for experience worketh hope: {Ro 5:4} But then the cause, means, motives and encouragements of it, all shew it to be of the grace of God, and a gift of his. And which may further appear, by,

 

Thirdly, Explaining in what sense it is through grace. Grace is the spring and source of it; it comes to us from and through the grace of God; it is a part of that grace, which the God of all grace is the donor of; it is a part of the fullness of grace which is in Christ the Mediator, and is had of him; it is a part of that grace which the spirit of grace operates, and is the author of in conversion. Grace also is the object of it. The words may be literally rendered from the original text, and good hope, en caipp, "in grace," and so the phrase is the same with hoping in the mercy of God: {Ps 147:11} the mercy of God in Christ is the ground and foundation of hope; and is not only the motive and encouragement to it, let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy; {Ps 130:7} but is the thing itself, which hope is conversant with: the sensible sinner, or hoping Christian, hopes in the pardoning, justifying, and adopting grace of God, through Christ; he hopes that the good work of grace is begun in him; and he hopes and believes it will be performed until the day of Christ; he hopes for larger measures of grace from Christ, to enable him to do his will and work, to oppose his own corruptions, to withstand Satan’s temptations, and to discharge his duty to God and man; he hopes the grace of Christ will be sufficient for him, or that a sufficient supply of it will be given him, to carry him through all the trials and difficulties of life; he hopes that his covenant-God and Father will supply all his need out of his riches in glory by Christ, and that God will give him persevering grace to hold on and out unto the end; he hopes for grace to be brought to him at the appearance of Christ; and he hopes for glory, which is the perfection of grace. Moreover, a good hope through grace is an hope that is exercised through the grace of God; that is to say, that a man hopes for such and such things, and that he shall have them; not through any merits of his own, or through works of righteousness done by him, but through the grace and mercy of God. Thus for instance,

 

1st, Let the thing hoped for be salvation, as David says, Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation: {Ps 119:166} this the sensible soul knows is not by works, but by grace; and therefore he hopes for it, not through the one, but through the other: he is well assured that God saves and calls men, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace; that it is not by works of righteousness they have done they are saved, but according to the mercy of God through the blood of Christ, and washing of regeneration; and that they are saved by grace, and not merit, to prevent boasting in the creature; and therefore he hopes for it in this way, and in this only: and it is its being by grace which encourages him to hope for it; for were it by works, he should for ever despair of obtaining it. He observes, that it is freely wrought out by Christ, who came into the world having salvation, and is become the author of it; that it is already done, Christ on the cross said, it is finished, {Joh 19:38} and now he is on the throne, he says, it is done, {Re 21:6} and so completely done, that nothing is wanting in it, nor can any thing be added to it; and therefore the man that is acquainted with all this, hopes for it through the grace of Christ, that has wrought it, without any works of his: he further observes, that Christ came to seek, and to save lost sinners; yea, that it is a truth to be depended on, and is worthy of his acceptation and the acceptation of others, that Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners; and that the worst and vilest have been washed, cleansed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God; and therefore he hopes for salvation through the same grace and favor that has been shown to them, though he has been as bad as they, and may think himself worse; he takes notice that Christ is listed up in the ministry of the word, as the brazen serpent was listed up on the pole, that whoever, looks to him and believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life; he is encouraged by the gospel-declaration that whoever believes in him shall be saved; {Mr 16:16} and by the gospel instruction given to a sensible, sinner in his case, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved; {Ac 16:31} which, he considers as wonderful displays of the grace of God in Christ through which he is enabled to hope in him.

 

2dly, Let it be the pardon of sin he is hoping for: As sin is the first thing the Spirit of God convinces a man of, it is the pardon of it that he in the first place seeks after; and when he understands the right way in which it is to be had, he hopes for it; not through his tears, humiliations, and repentance, but through the grace of God streaming in the blood of Jesus: He finds that God only can forgive sin, against whom it is committed; that this is his sole prerogative, which he exercises, in a free and sovereign manner; that he has promised, in covenant to his people, that he will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will he remember, no more; {Heb 8:12} that he has proclaimed his name in his gospel, a God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin; {Ex 34:6-7} and that there is none like him on that account; and therefore he is greatly encouraged to turn to the Lord, who will abundantly pardon, and to hope in his mercy: He understands by the sacred writings, that God set forth his Son to be the propitiation for sin; and that he sent him forth, in the fullness of time to shed his blood for the remission of it, there being no remission without shedding of blood; and that he has exalted him at his right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins; and therefore he hopes for it through, him, seeing with him there is mercy and plenteous redemption: And though he observes that forgiveness of sin is through the blood of Christ, yet according to the riches of divine grace, and comes through the tender mercy of our God; and therefore he hopes for it, not according to his own merit, but according to the multitude of God’s tender mercies. The gospel declaration, that whosoever believes in Christ, shall receive remission of sins {Ac 10:43} and the many instances of pardoning grace and mercy, even such that have been great sinners, and whole sins were attended with aggravated circumstances; as David, who was guilty of murder and adultery; Manasseh, of most abominable crimes; Peter, of denying his Lord and Master; Saul, the persecutor, the blasphemer, and the injurious person, and the notorious sinner spoken of, who loved much because much was forgiven her; all these engage to the exercise of hope for pardon, through the free grace and mercy of God.

 

3dly, Let it be eternal life which is the thing hoped for, as that is; in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lye, promised before the world began, says the apostle; {Tit 1:2} hence, eternal glory and happiness being the object, of hope, is called the blessed hope, and the hope which is laid up in heaven. {Tit 2:13; Col 1:5} Now, eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; it is that kingdom which it is our heavenly Father’s good pleasure to give unto his children; it is what he of his rich grace, has prepared for them, and promised to them, calls them unto, makes them meet for, and bestows upon them: Not only the promise of eternal life, but that itself is put into Christ’s hands for them; and he has power to give it to as many as the Father has given him; and to them he does give it, and they shall never perish: And since it is a gift of pure free grace, therefore do sensible sinners, seeking for glory, immortality, and eternal life, hope for it; which they could, never expect upon any other foot: And they are the rather encouraged to hope for it, since God has declared it to be his will, that whoever sees the Son, and believes on him, shall have it; and be cause they find the holy Spirit of God is at work upon their, hearts, has begun the good work, which he will finish, and is working them up for that self-same thing, eternal life and happiness; wherefore they reason as Manoah’s wife did, that "if the Lord were pleased to destroy them, he would never have shewed them and told them such things as he has done, or wrought such things in them;" and hence for grace and through grace they hope for glory; seeing to whom God gives grace, he gives glory; these are inseparably connected together; whom he calls and justifies, them he also glorifies, And, Fourthly, Such an hope is a good one, There is a bad hope and there is a good one. There is the hope of the worldly man, who makes gold his hope, and says to the fine gold, thou art my confidence; {Ro 15:13} he puts his trust in it; and not only places his dependence on it for present and future good in this life, but hopes for eternal life upon the account of it; imagining there is none the King of kings will delight to honor in the world as himself, who enjoys so large a portion of this; this is a bad hope. There is the hope of the man that is only upon principles in which he has been brought up; who hopes upon the faith of others, his natural descent, or being born of such and such parents, and his religious education; this is a bad hope. There is the hope of the moralist and legalist; who hopes he shall inherit eternal life because of the good things he has done; because of his moral life and actions, and his works of righteousness in obedience to the law; whereas by there no man can be justified, and so not saved, or ever enter into the kingdom of heaven; this is a bad hope. There is the hope of the hypocrite, who hopes for heaven because of his profession of religion and subjection to ordinances, and going through a round of duties in a formal manner, and with a mere outward show; this is a bad hope; it is like the spider’s web, and will be as the giving up of the Ghost, and be of no avail; even though such may have gained a name among men to be holy and good, when God takes away their souls. And there is the hope of the profane sinner, for such have their hope; and they hope for salvation through the absolute mercy of God; they fancy if they have but time to say at last, "Lord have mercy on us," all will be well; this is a bad hope; for there is no mercy for sinners, but through the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ. But the hope we have been treating of is a good one, and may be so called,

 

1st, Because it is laid upon a good foundation; not upon the absolute mercy of God; not upon the merit of the creature; not upon any outward acts of righteousness; not upon civility, morality, or an external profession of religion; all which are sandy foundations to build an hope of eternal happiness upon; but upon the person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ; upon the person of Christ, who is God over all blessed for ever, and is able to save to the uttermost, who is the hope of Israel, the Savior thereof in time of trouble, and Christ our hope, and in us the hope of glory; upon his blood, which cleanses from all sin, and was shed for the remission of it; upon his righteousness, which justifies from all sin, and gives a right and title to eternal life; and upon his sacrifice, by which sin is finished and made an end of, and reconciliation is made for it.

 

2dly, Because not only the author of it is good, who from it is called the God of hope, {Ro 15:13} but because the objects of it are good things; it is of good things to come, and the best things are referred till last; now the saints have their evil things, their sorrows and afflictions, but hereafter they shall have their good things. Christ is come an high priest of good things to come unto his people; and there good things are laid up for them, and shall be enjoyed by them; and hope is waiting for them: And the hoping Christian knows them to be good by the foretastes and pledges he has had of them; such as a sight of God in Christ; communion with Father, Son, and Spirit; fellowship with angels and glorified saints; perfect knowledge, holiness, and pleasure. 3dly, Because it is in its nature and effects good: It is called a lively hope, or a living one; {1Pe 1:3} because it has not only for its subject a living man in a spiritual sense; and for its foundation, not dead works, but a living Christ; and for its object, eternal life; but because it is of a quickening, exhilarating, and cheering nature; and because it is attended with living works of righteousness; for as faith without works is dead, so is hope likewise; and because it always continues, and is sometimes in lively exercise, when other graces are not so lively: It is also said to be of a purifying nature; every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure; {1Jo 3:3} and which it no other ways does than as it deals with the pure and spotless righteousness of Christ, and with his precious blood, which purges the conscience from dead works.

 

4thly, Because of its great usefulness: It is that to the soul an anchor is to a ship when becalmed, or in danger through rocks and shoals; it preserves and keeps it steady; and is therefore said to be as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast. {Heb 6:19} And it serves the same use and purpose as an helmet does to the head; and therefore the hope of salvation is said to be for an helmet; {1Th 5:8} this grace preserves the head and heart of a Christian from bad principles in perilous times; for he can give into none that strike at the foundation of his hope; it is an erector of his head, and keeps it above water in times of trouble, inward and outward; and it covers his head in the day of battle, between him and his spiritual enemies; this he will never give up, This grace is of singular use under afflictive dispensations, of providence; the believer-rejoices, in hope of the glory of God, even in tribulations; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Ghost, which is given unto us, {Ro 5:2-5} And it is of eminent service in the hour of death; for when the wicked is driven away in his wickedness, like a beast to hell, the righteous hath hope in his death; {Pr 14:32} of tiring again at the last day, and in the mean while of being in the arms of Jesus, and of being happy with him; and therefore can look upon death and eternity with pleasure. Yea, this grace is of so much importance and usefulness, that even salvation is ascribed unto it, we are saved by hope; {Ro 8:24} not by it, as the efficient cause of salvation, for there is no other author or efficient cause of salvation but Christ; but by it as a means of coming to, and enjoying the salvation Christ has wrought out: As we are saved by Grace through faith, in like manner we are saved through hope; being begotten unto it, we are kept through it, till we receive the end of it, the salvation of our souls; wherefore upon the whole, it must be good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. {La 3:26}

 

There is a sort of people risen up among us of late, who sneer at this phrase, a good hope through grace, not considering that it is a scriptural one; and represent such who have attained to nothing higher, as in the lower form and class of Christians, if they deserve that name; and suggest, that persons may have this and everlastingly perish: but let us not regard what these flighty people say; let us attend to what the scriptures say, to what our text says concerning it; which speaks of it as of God, as a gift of his; ascribes it to his grace, represents it as a fruit of the love of God and Christ; joins it with everlasting consolation; and mentions it as a blessing of grace, which the apostles themselves, whom God had set in the first place in the church, in the highest office in it, were possessed of, and were thankful for: Let us attend to what a solid saint on a dying bed says of a good hope through grace; what his sentiments, his notions of it are; and such an one, I mean a solid saint, was our deceased friend, whose death is the occasion of this discourse; as must be allowed by all that knew him, who are capable of judging of a spiritual man.

 

At my first visit to him after he had took to his bed, upon inquiring into the spiritual estate and frame of his soul, he told me, he had a good hope through grace; and added, if I may but go out of the world with a good hope through grace, it will be more to me than all the exaltations and joys some persons speak of; that is enough, I am content, or words to this purpose; and subjoined, that if any thing should be said of him after his decease, meaning in this public way, he desired it might be from this passage of scripture, we have been considering. It pleased God to favor him with a religious education, to bless him with an early conversion, and to cast him betimes under a gospel ministry; by which means his judgment was formed, fixed, and established in gospel principles, in the doctrines of grace, of which he had a clear discerning: And as he had a retentive memory, he treasured up in it the quintessence and flower of gospel discourses, and the pithy sayings and sententious expressions he had heard or read in them; which, together with that large stock and fund of gracious experience of the love of God to his own soul, abundantly furnished him with rich materials for spiritual discourse; and which made his conversation very pleasant, profitable, and instructive; he being able to speak of divine things in very apt words, with great freedom, propriety, and pertinence. The frame of his soul was generally spiritual and heavenly, and so habituated he was to spiritual things, and so much given to the contemplation of them, and meditation upon them, that in the midst of worldly business, and even upon the Exchange, when he met with a proper person, would at once enter into a Christian conversation about such things, which lay warm upon his heart, he had been lately hearing or meditating upon; which shows the bias and bent of his mind. And as he was indulged with a large measure of grace, so he had great afflictions to try and exercise that grace; which afflictions he bore with uncommon patience seldom making mention of them, especially in a way of complaint; and never murmuring at the dispensations of God; but taking all kindly at his hand, as coming from a loving Father, and designed and overruled for his spiritual good, profit, and advantage. He was remarkable for his humility, he was clothed with it, that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. His outward conversation in the world was exemplary, and as became the gospel of Christ, and was ornamental to it. He was many years a worshipper with us in this assembly; but became a member of this church but of late: We promised ourselves a great deal of usefulness from him in our church-state; but God has took him away, and he is joined to better company, and is employed in higher service: he was very comfortable in his soul, throughout his last illness; his faith was kept steady, ever looking to Jesus, in whom he knew all his salvation lay. He has left to you, his dear children, a shining example both in civil and religious life; may you tread in his steps; let it be your great concern to know your father’s God, to worship, fear, and follow him; so he who has been his God, will shew himself to be yours, and be your God and guide even unto death. May we all learn something from this providence, and from this discourse, occasioned by it; and it becomes us,

 

1. To inquire whether, we have any hope of good things to come, and what that hope is; whether it be a good one or a bad one. If it is founded on any thing short of Christ, it is a bad one; if it is upon the Creature and creature, any it will be of no avail; if it is through works, and not through grace, we hope for heaven and happiness, it will prove a vain hope: But if it is founded upon what Christ is unto us; what he has done for us; and what he is in us; it is a good one, and will answer some good purposes in life and death: And then if we are satisfied we have such an hope, it becomes us,

 

2. To bless God for it; since he is the donor and author of it. It is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God; and we should ascribe it not to nature, nor to the reasonings of our minds, the power and freedom of our wills but to the grace of God: We might have been left to black despair, and to sink into hell under the weight of guilt; there might have been nothing but a fearful looking for of wrath and fiery indignation, which our sins deferred; but God has dealt graciously with us, he has given us a good hope through grace, Wherefore it becomes us,

 

3. To continue in the use of this grace; to pray for the holy Spirit of God to cause us to abound in it; and to enable us to hold fast the rejoicing of it firm unto the end; to gird up the loins of our minds, and hope for future grace and eternal glory; and to go on hoping, believing, loving, until hope is exchanged for fruition, faith for vision, and love is in its highest exercise.

A KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, AND OF INTEREST IN HIM, THE SUPPORT OF A BELIEVER IN LIFE AND IN DEATH

 

A Discourse occasioned by the Death of Mr. Joshua Hayes.

 

2Ti 1:12

 

I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

 

THE occasion of my reading these words, at this time is the decease of Mr. Joshua Hayes, late member of this church of Christ: who frequently made use of them, and expressed his faith in a living Redeemer by them. It was therefore thought, by his friends, that they would be very suitable for the subject of a Funeral Discourse; in compliance with whose request, I have read them unto you.

 

In 2Ti 1:9-10, we have the sum and substance of the everlasting gospel; which lies in salvation by the free grace of God (in distinction from the works of men), according to the eternal purpose of God, and the wise scheme of things formed in the divine mind from everlasting: where it was a secret and hidden thing, but now made manifest by the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ in our nature; who by his obedience, sufferings, and death, hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. All this you will see in the verses I have referred to, which run thus: Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel. Which exactly agrees with what the apostle elsewhere affirms, that we are saved by grace not by works, lest any man should boast. {Eph 2:9} And that these, who are the chosen of God are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus; according as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world. {Eph 1:3-4} Christ incarnate is become the high Priest of these great things laid up m the everlasting purpose, covenant, and promise of God: and has abolished death, even corporal death, as a penal evil, and destroyed the second death, so that it shall have no power over those whom he has redeemed by his precious blood and by his obedience, sufferings and death, hath opened a way for them to enjoy eternal life. He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. {Joh 10:10} This is a compendium of the grace of the gospel; of that gospel, of which the apostle says he was appointed a preacher. And a gospel preacher indeed he was. Never was the gospel more freely, fully, faithfully, and powerfully or constantly preached, than it was by him. He was appointed to this work from all eternity. He was a chosen vessel of salvation (as the Lord himself says) to bear his name among the Gentiles. {Ac 9:15} He was also appointed by a gospel church at Antioch: for, said the Spirit of God in the prophets there, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. {Ac 13:12} He was an apostle of Jesus Christ, and had all the signs of apostleship in him. An apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus C/inst: {Ga 1:1} sent forth, commissioned and qualified by him for the important work of preaching the everlasting gospel. And particularly he was, as he said, a teacher of the Gentiles: for though all the apostles and ministers of the word were included in the same commission, and commanded to go into all nations, teaching and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; yet our apostle had a special and particular commission to preach the gospel among the Gentiles. As the gospel of the circumcision was committed to Peter (for he was the person more particularly pitched upon to preach the gospel to the circumcised Jews), so Paul was particularly pitched upon to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, And it is not easy to say, to how many nations he was sent, and among whom he preached the gospel, and among whom he was made successful in founding and raising churches for the honour and glory of God.

 

Now, on the account of this his office, and the faithful execution of it, he met with much persecution. For the which cause (says he), I also suffer these things; {2Ti 1:12} for he was at this time a prisoner at Rome. Again, he says, I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elects’ sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. And this was no other than what he always expected wherever he came. He knew, from the nature of things, and from divine appointment, that bonds and afflictions awaited him wherever he went; and he cheerfully endured them for the good of souls, and the glory of the divine name. For the which cause, I also suffer these things, 2Ti 1:12, that is, for being a preacher of the gospel, an apostle of Christ. He was hated by Jews and Gentiles on this account: of the Jews, partly because he preached the gospel, and partly because he preached it to the Gentiles, that they might he saved; than which nothing more provoking to them. Hated by the Gentiles, because they thought he introduced a new religion among them, and that he was a setter up of strange Gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection; {Ac 17:18} because his ministry tended to the demolishing of idolatry and superstition amongst them. Wherefore he was hated by them, and endured the things he did; to all which he was appointed, as well as to be a preacher of the gospel. Nevertheless, ( he adds) I am not ashamed. Not ashamed of the sufferings I endure in a righteous cause: not ashamed of the gospel, for which I suffer these things, which is the power of God unto salvation. Nor am I ashamed of Christ, the sum and substance of this gospel; not ashamed of my faith in him, nor of my hope of eternal life and salvation by him; for hope makes not ashamed. {Ro 5:5} Now the ground of all this, lies in the words I have read: For I know whom 1 have believed; and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. This was the foundation of the apostle’s joy and comfort, of the satisfaction of soul, and serenity of mind, which he enjoyed amidst all the sufferings he endured for the sake of the gospel. He had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew the object in whom he had believed. He knew him at first conversion; and had, throughout the whole of his ministrations, committed his natural life, and the preservation of it, into the hands of a good God, and a blessed Redeemer. He was therefore easy, come what would. Whatever suffering he endured, he knew all was safe. I know whom I have believed. I know he will never leave me, nor forsake me; he will preserve and bring me safe to his everlasting kingdom and glory, where I shall enjoy the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. {2Ti 4:8}

 

And that which was the ground and support of bin], under all his trials and exercises, may be, and often is, the support of the people of God under all their trials and exercises; or what gives them relief under their present troubles, and in the view of an eternal world, This will better appear, and we shall have a clearer understanding thereof, by enquiring into, and observing the following things.

 

I. Who the object of the apostle’s faith was, or who it was he believed and trusted his all with I know whom I have believed, or trusted.

 

II. The knowledge he had of this object of Faith whom he believed and trusted. I know, &c.

 

IN. The persuasion he had of the ability of this person he had believed in, to keep what he had committed to him against a certain day.

 

IV. The support this was to him in his present circumstances, and in the view of death and eternity, which he saw was near at hand; for he says in a following passage, 1 am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. {2Ti 4:6}

 

I. Let us consider who it was that was the object of the apostle’s faith, and is the object of the faith of every true believer. Now this can be no other than our Lord Jesus Christ. How often do we hear him speak of his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! This was the constant course of his spiritual life. This he assures us himself. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. {Ga 2:20} From hence it is clear, that the object he believed in, or trusted, was the Son of God: the Messiah: the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

And he is the object of every true believer’s faith, and ought to be so. Our Lord himself directs unto it when he says to his disciples, Ye believe in God, believe also in me. {Joh 14:1} There is the same reason to believe in Christ as in God the Father because he is equally God with him; so is as proper an object of faith as the first person in the blessed Trinity. And it is unto him that souls, made sensible of their lost state and condition by nature, are encouraged to look, to believe in, and exercise faith upon, as you will observe in the instance of the Jailor. When he came in trembling and said, "Sirs, what shall I do to he saved?" they answer at once, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. {Ac 16:31}

 

Christ is the object of a sensible sinner’s trust: the object of a true believer’s faith in the business or salvation. But then let us enquire a little into the nature of this faith he exercises upon Him. It is not to be considered as a mere historical faith: a bare assent to a set of propositions concerning Christ, his person, offices, mud the like; no, the devils have a faith; they have a creed, and in many respects a more orthodox one too than some that call themselves Christians. The devils believe that there is a God, and that there is one God; though they tremble at it. They know and believe, that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God; yea, that he is the Son of God, and that he is the Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, sent into the world to be time Saviour of men. All this they believe, and a great deal more that they are obliged to believe, and cannot help it, concerning the Son of God; but this is not the faith of God’s Elect. There are some weak people in our days that talk of a bare belief of the simple truth, and call this, faith in Christ Jesus; but it falls greatly short of it. For a man may have all faith of this kind, may believe every thing that is proposed and revealed in the word of God, and yet not have that faith which is of the operation or God.

 

Special faith is a spiritual thing. It is a spiritual sight of Christ. Yea, faith is the eye of the soul, the enlightened eye of the soul opened by the Spirit of God, to see the glory, the excellency, there is in our Lord Jesus Christ: to see his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth to see him as the able, willing, all-sufficient, and most suitable Saviour. Faith is said to he the evidence of things not seen. It has a sight of unseen things, as of the unseen Saviour; and in its continual and constant actings is a looking unto Jesus. Looking off from every other object (a man’s own righteousness, and every thing else) unto Jesus Christ the Lord our righteousness, as the living Redeemer, the only and all-sufficient Saviour. It is no other than a soul’s going out of itself to Christ, to lay hold upon him, and trust in him for everlasting life and happiness. Expressed often by a coining to him, influenced by his Spirit and grace, and the declarations of grace he makes, saying, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and 1 will give rest. {Mt 11:28} And all that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. {Joh 6:37} A poor sinner, sensible of his wretched lost state by nature, and of what he deserves, is encouraged to go out of himself to lay hold on Christ, who is the tree of life to them that lay hold upon him. It is, I say, a going forth and laying hold of Christ, under a sight of sin and a sense of danger, of ruin and destruction without him.

 

Some people in our days talk of faith as a very easy thing-only believe-only believe, say they; but it is to be feared these persons that talk in this manner, and make such an easy thing of believing in Christ, never saw their lost state by nature, the sinfulness of sin, and the ruin and destruction that it brings: never saw themselves upon the precipice of hell, dropping as it were into everlasting damnation. Let a person he in these circumstances, and then let him tell me, whether it is an easy thing for him to believe in Christ for life and salvation: and yet this is done, and herein lies the trial of faith. This shews the genuineness of it, when a soul under a sense of all its iniquities, with all their aggravating circumstances, demerits and deserts, can venture his soul upon Christ. Give me this man. It is he that knows what it is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he finds a great many discouragements, doubts, and fears; a thousand objections before he can do this. He does not find it a very easy thing: it is a work of almighty power and efficacious grace.

 

It was under such a sense of sin as I have mentioned, that the apostle trusted in Christ; and he considers that grace as exceeding abundant which communicated faith and love to his soul who had been before a blasphemer, a persecutor, aid injurious. 1Ti 1:13-14. And his faith arose to a full assurance, as the words of our text expresses; and elsewhere he says, The life I live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. {Ga 2:20} He had a firm belief of interest in Christ: an assurance of faith in Christ. And it is what the Lord is pleased to grant unto some of his children that have not that share of grace and gifts as that great man had; Let us (he says) draw near with a true heart. {Heb 10:22} He does not mean himself only, and his fellow apostles, or men of the highest gifts and character in the church; but the children of God in general; believers in common: Let us, all of us, draw near to God with a true heart, in a full assurance of faith. In full assurance of the object of faith prayed unto; that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In full assurance of having those petitions put up unto him that are agreeable to his will answered; in full assurance of a Mediator between God and man, and of an interest in his prevailing mediation and intercession; "Let us draw near with true hearts in full assurance of faith," by the blood of Jesus. For that is the ground and foundation of all assurance: even the precious blood of Jesus, shed for many for the remission of sins.

 

Now this faith, whether in a higher or in a lower degree, as to the principle of it, is of God. It is not of a man’s self; no, it is by the grace of God, and the power of God, that it is wrought. All men have not faith: {2Th 3:2} no, far from it. The greater part appear to have none, no true faith; and it is to be feared, that many that talk of it, are destitute of it, and know not what the thing is. And they that have it, have it not of themselves: By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. {Eph 2:8} Hence our Lord says, No man can come unto me, (that is, believe in me) except it be given unto him of my Father. {Joh 6:65} Special faith is a gift of God’s grace; and it is of the operation of the Spirit of God in the soul. He works it there. It is he that gives this spiritual eye, the eye of faith; which communicates light to the understanding, and enables the soul to go out of itself to Christ, and venture upon him for life and salvation. It is the fruit and effect of electing grace; and therefore it is sometimes called the faith of God’s elect. {Tit 1:1} It is an exceeding precious grace in all, it is like precious faith; {2Pe 1:1} for those that have the least degree of it, obtain the same precious faith as the greatest and strongest believer. It is precious faith, it can never he lost; it is more precious than gold which perisheth. Gold is a very durable metal, but it perishes; but faith never does. Christ, who is the object and the author of it, he is the finisher of it; and he prays for his people, as he did for Peter, that their faith fail not. That same Spirit of grace that works faith in the soul, performs the work of faith with power upon the soul. Those that truly believe in Christ, shall most certainly receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls. So much for the first thing, the object of faith; and the exercise of faith upon the object. I know whom I have believed.

 

II. I am to consider the knowledge the apostle had of the object of his faith; and which every true believer also has. I know whom I have believed.

 

Faith in Christ, is not a blind and implicit thing, a faith in an object unknown; no, it is in a known object. Faith and knowledge go together! where the one is, the other is also. Though there may be, and is, faith in an unseen Christ, that is, who is not seen with the bodily eyes; whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: {1Pe 1:8} yet an unknown Christ can never be the object of faith. He must be known, or he can never be believed in. Our Lord said to the blind man, whom he had cured, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? {Joh 9:35} The poor man made answer, and very wisely, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? Suggesting, that he must know him, before he could believe in him. He knew there was such a person as the Messiah, that was to come into the world as the Saviour of Sinners; but as yet he did not know him, and therefore says, Who is he?

 

There is an external knowledge and hearing that is necessary, even to a bare assent; before any can know or believe in him; For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? {Ro 10:14} so there is a special knowledge necessary to special faith. And as a man’s knowledge is, so is his faith: if he has only an historical knowledge of Christ, he has only an historical faith: if he has a special knowledge of Christ, he has a special faith. And as his knowledge increases, so does his faith, They that know the Lord, follow on to know him; and as they know more of him, faith grows stronger and stronger in him. They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee. {Ps 9:10} And the more a soul knows of Christ, the more will he trust him; the stronger will his faith be in him. As it is among men, the more we know a man, a friend, the greater confidence we put in him; so the more we know of Christ, and of God in Christ, the stronger will our faith be in him. But then, this knowledge is not to be understood of a speculative knowledge: it is not a mere notional knowledge of Christ, of his person, his nature, and his offices: or, as he is revealed in the sacred Scriptures, as the Saviour of men; it is a more spiritual knowledge than this. Men may have a great deal of knowledge of Christ, and of things relative to him, and yet have no spiritual knowledge. They may have that kind of knowledge that may enable them to preach him to others, and plead in the great day, "Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils: and in thy name done many wonderful works?" {Mt 7:22} To whom Christ will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you." And therefore you may depend upon it, they never knew him, notwithstanding all the knowledge they may pretend to have had; or otherwise, he would not thus address them. Spiritual knowledge of Christ is joined with spiritual affection to him. It is a knowledge of approbation: a knowledge of his person, as the chiefest among ten thousand. It is a knowledge of Christ is a Saviour, altogether suitable and all sufficient; and which determines a soul at once to look to no other but him, and to say, He also shall be my salvation. {Job 13:26} He first knows him, then believes in him, and commits his all unto him. And this is an experimental knowledge of Christ, which is expressed by the various senses; for there is that in the new man which answers to all the senses of the outward man, It is a seeing the Son, and believing on him; {Joh 6:40} It is a hearing his voice, so as to distinguish it front that of a stranger. {Joh 10:4-5} It is a tasting that the Lord is gracious. {1Pe 2:3} A handling the word of life; {1Jo 1:1} and a savoring the things of God, and not of man; smelling a sweet smell in Christ’s garments, which smell was of myrrh, aloes, and cassia. {Ps 45:8} These expressions set forth the exercise of faith in Christ, on a true knowledge of him, and show that knowledge to be not merely notional, but really experimental.

 

This is also an appropriating knowledge, more or less; a soul that thus knows Christ, is able to appropriate him, in a measure, to himself, and sometimes arrives to such a confidence as to point him out, and say with the church, This is my beloved, and this is my friend. {Song 5:16} And with Thomas, My Lord and my God! {Joh 20:28} and with the apostle, Who loved me, and gave himself for me. {Ga 2:20} The nature of the expression in the text is such, as when the apostle says, We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God: {2Co 5:1} that is, we are assured of it; it is not a mere conjectural knowledge, but a thing we are quite satisfied about. So Job expresses his faith in a living Redeemer, in such language, I know that my Redeemer liveth. {Job 19:25} He not only knew there was a Redeemer, and that he would appear upon the earth another day; but he knew him to he his, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." Every degree of knowledge has something of certainty in it, or else it would be skepticism, a mere conjectural knowledge; but this is not the case with the knowledge of true believers, they can say with the apostles, We believe, and are sure, that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. {Joh 6:69}

 

This knowledge, though it is imperfect in the present state, yet it is a growing knowledge. There is such a thing as growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ, by means of the ministration of the word, and the administration of the ordinances. The path of the just is as the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. Every degree of this spiritual knowledge of Christ has salvation inseparably connected with it, For this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. {Joh 17:3} And therefore it must be the most excellent of all knowledge, which made the apostle say, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. {Php 3:8} What signifies what a man knows, if he don’t know Christ crucified: and the way of life and salvation by him? All his knowledge in things natural, civil, or even in religious matters, is of no avail. What if his eyes are opened as Balaam’s were, who saw the vision of the Almighty, and who said, he should see him (the Saviour) but not nigh? What signified all the prophetic knowledge and light he had, while he was destitute of a spiritual knowledge of Christ? Nothing short of this will be of any avail: and if a man has but this, it is enough.-If he has but the smallest degree of it, he shall be saved; for every one which seeth the Son (it is not said, whoever has such and such a degree of spiritual sight) and believeth on him (even though his faith be but small) shall have everlasting life. {Joh 6:40}

 

Now this spiritual knowledge comes from God, as faith does; it comes from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All the three Divine Persons are concerned in communicating this spiritual light and knowledge. The Father. To him our Lord ascribes it, when he says to Peter, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood, (carnal sense and reason) hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. {Mt 16:17} Sometimes it is attributed to God the Son, We know (says the apostle John) that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. {Joh 5:20} And sometimes to the blessed Sprint, who is styled a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. {Eph 1:17} And it is a special gift of God’s grace, and for which we should he thankful who have any share in it.

 

III. We may observe the firm persuasion the apostle had of the ability of the person he had believed in, to keep what he had committed unto him against a certain day.

 

We will here enquire what he committed to him. Not his labors and sufferings, expecting they would hereafter be brought forth to his advantage. They were, indeed, great: but they were performed by the grace of, and through strength communicated from God. As for his sufferings, they were many indeed, more than others of his fellow-laborers in the gospel; but then he knew that the sufferings of this present life, were not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in him.

 

Rather he may mean the souls of the persons he had been instrumental in the conversion of; and we find him sometimes commending such persons to God and to the word of his grace. {Ac 20:32} These he committed to Christ, and believed that he would keep them, and that he should meet them as his joy and crown of rejoicing in another day: or it may be interpreted, of his natural life which he had committed unto the hands of his Redeemer, who he knew would take care or it, who told him, at first setting out, not to be afraid. And he had experienced many a time, that he had saved it when in imminent danger: though it seems best of all to understand it of his precious and immortal soul, and the everlasting concerns thereof. This he committed to his dear Redeemer at first conversion, when he first knew him, and he knew he was able to keep it safe against the day here referred to. So every true believer does the like; commits and commends his immortal soul into the hands of his Redeemer, and there he leaves it.

 

This Let of committing it to Christ, supposes knowledge. No man that is wise, will commit any thing or worth into the hands of one unknown to him; and much less will any commit his immortal soul into the hands of one unknown. No, he must know him, they that know thy name, will put their trust in thee; {Ps 9:10} and it implies the giving the preference to Christ, above all others. We may consider the apostle as looking about among all the sons of the mighty upon earth, and angels in heaven, to see whether any of those were fit to commit his soul unto, and finding none of them were, he says, Whom have I in heaves but thee? and there is none upon earth, that I desire beside thee. He saw on insufficiency in all others; that they were unequal to the task of saving his soul; that salvation was not to be hoped for from the mountains; that truly in the Lord, and in him only, was salvation to he found. Such a view have all true believers, and therefore say they, Ashur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; neither will we say any more to the works of our hands, ye are our Gods; for is thee the fatherless find mercy. {Ho 14:3} Each of them addresses Christ, as Ahab did Benhadad, I am thine, and all that I have. {1Ki 20:4} "I give up my soul, and all that I have, to be saved in thee, with an everlasting salvation." It denotes trusting in Christ for grace here, and glory hereafter: leaving all with him, believing that he is able to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him.

 

As to the day here referred to, this may be understood of the day of death. Death is appointed by the Lord, to every man; {Heb 9:27} and against this day, the apostle committed, and so every true believer commits, his soul into the hands of Christ, when he hopes to meet with the Lord, and to be for ever with him, out of all danger from every enemy. Or it may he understood of the day of the resurrection. The first resurrection. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and happy will they be; for on them the second death shall have no power, and they shall be for ever with the Lord. Or it may be understood of the day of judgment, in which they must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, in which he will make an open acknowledgment of them, and say, "These persons are the gift of my Father unto me: I have redeemed them with my blood; and by my grace they have been enabled to commit themselves into my hand: lo! here am I, and the children which God hath given me,"

 

The ground and foundation of this trust in Christ, arises from his proper Deity. He being God over all, blessed for evermore, it is this that encourages a soul at first, and that from the declaration Christ himself has given, Look unto me, and he ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am GOD, and there is none else. {Isa 45:22} His being the former and the maker of all things, forming all things by the word of his power, is another argument. "He whose hands laid the foundation of the earth, and whose right hand hath spanned the heavens," may well he considered as able to keep the soul which is committed to him against that day. His having already performed the work his Father gave him to do, is another foundation from whence this trust and confidence in him arises. He came, and his own arm has brought salvation. The work is done. He has obtained eternal redemption for all his people; and seeing it is done, what encouragement is here for a poor soul to commit himself into the hands of Christ; believing that he is able to keep him. To which may he added, the consideration of God the Father trusting Christ with the souls of his people. He has put all his beloved ones into the hands of his Son; he has trusted him with all their persons, grace, and glory; and he is faithful to him that appointed him, and will at last say, "Lo! here am I, and the children which thou hast given me." "Well then, (may a soul say) If God the Father hath trusted him with thousands of souls, surely I may trust him with mine. If he hath been faithful to him that appointed him, in keeping the souls that were committed to him; I may believe that he will keep mine."

 

IV. I pass on now to the last thing, namely, that this is the support of every true believer, in life and in death; that they know whom they have believed, This was the apostle’s support under all his trials, afflictions, and sufferings, for the sake of the gospel. Hear his own words, For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed. {2Ti 1:12} "I am easy under them, I know whom I have believed." So let the believer’s afflictions and sufferings be what they will, if he knows whom he has believed, he is sure that they will all work together for his good; that ere long he shall be free from them, and be for ever with the Lord, into whose hands he has committed his immortal soul. This the apostle knew, that though men were able to kill the body, they could not reach the soul. That was in the hands of Christ, and therefore it was safe; bound up in the bundle of life; hid with Christ in God; laid and built upon that Rock of Ages, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. The apostle was now in the view of death and eternity; and this was his support in the view of an eternal world. And the same upholds every true believer, more or less. O what a support must this he to a dying saint, that though he is leaving the world, and all things in it; though he has no more an interest in his worldly substance, relations, friends, and acquaintance, and soul and body are parting, yet still his interest in a blessed Redeemer continues! He knows whom he has believed. When flesh and heart, and every thing else fails him, God is the strength of his heart, and his portion for ever. Christ is his Redeemer and Saviour; who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. What a supporting consideration must this be to him; that when he is brought to the streams of Jordan’s river, that blessed Redeemer, who has been his God and guide through life, will not leave him now; but will be with him through the valley of the shadow of death; therefore he fears no evil. Now he is not at a loss for a surety and Saviour; he knows whom he has believed. He knows the Lord his Righteousness; and that he has a righteousness in him that will answer for him in time to come. How delightful the thought, when he is just upon the borders of another world, that now he is departing from hence, to be for ever with the Lord to be lodged in those mansions his Saviour and Redeemer is gone before to prepare for him; that he may be with him where he is, and for ever behold his glory.

 

But these are but some short hints of what gracious souls more largely experience under present troubles, and in the views of death and eternity.

 

This knowledge of Christ was the support of our deceased friend, whose death has been the occasion of my discoursing on these words. His standing in this church has been but a short time; though an ancient professor and disciple of Jesus Christ. He belonged to other churches in the country; who gave him the character of an upright man. For the time that he hath been with us, he has behaved as one that made a good profession of the grace of God. He walked answerable to it; and appeared to have a great deal of affection to, and a liveliness in, divine and spiritual things.

 

In his last illness he was very comfortable. To one that visited him, he said, he had been many years walking through a dirty narrow lane; but hoped he was now come near the end of it and he desired to depart, and be with Christ. He had no darkness nor fears upon his mind; all was bright and serene. He expressed his faith in Christ, as that foundation that will never give way: he knew whom he had believed. And so I find he continued, until he sweetly fell asleep in Jesus: and there we must leave him till the resurrection morn.

 

Upon the whole we may see, of what importance an interest in Christ is; to know whom we have believed, and to commit our souls to him. Of what use is this, both in life and in death! A soul may well say, "Give me an interest in Christ, or I die." There is no happiness without it and a knowledge of that interest how comfortable it is!

 

As to those of us who have made a profession, let us enquire what is the object of our faith and trust? Is it any thing of our own, or is it Jesus Christ? If we trust in a wrong object it will do us no good. We should also consider what our knowledge of Christ is, whether it is notional or experimental; as it is the latter only which issues in eternal life. As to those of you who are trembling, doubting believers, I would say, Give not way to unbelief. Were not you enabled years ago to give up yourselves unto Christ: to venture your souls on him. And is he not the same yesterday, today, and for ever? Why then should you give way to an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God? Leave all with him, and fear not.

 

To conclude, what encouragement is there for poor sensible sinners, to commit their souls into the hands of Christ, who is able to save to the uttermost; and who hath assured us, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

A PRINCIPLE OF GRACE IN THE HEART, A GOOD THING ALWAYS TENDING TOWARDS THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL

 

1Ki 14:13 Because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel.

 

The whole verse reads thus, And all Israel shall mourn for him; for he only, of Jeroboam, shall come to the grave; because in him was found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.

 

These words are spoken of Abijah, son of Jeroboam, king of Israel. He was now sick, and Jeroboam was concerned for him. He wanted to know what would become of him; whether he would recover from his sickness, or not. Therefore he sends his wife to Abijah the prophet, upon this errand: but, as he knew the prophet had no good opinion of him (a dislike to him, indeed, because of his idolatry), he orders his wife to disguise herself, and go as a country-woman, with presents to the prophet, to know what would become of the child. She goes; but as soon as she enters the prophet’s house, he, being before apprized of it by the Lord, gives her to understand he knew who she was: told her, he had a message from the Lord, that would be disagreeable to her, and her family; namely, that God, for the idolatry of her husband, had determined to cut off her whole family: that such of them as died in the city should be eaten by dogs; and such as fell in the field, should be devoured by the fowls of the air: and that, as to the child she came to inquire about, he should die as soon as she got home, or before her feet entered the city. But in as much as he was a promising youth, he informs her, there would be a general lamentation for him by all Israel; and also, that he was the only one of the family that should be interred in a decent manner, for the reason given in the text; Because in him there was found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. It seems, there did appear in him some dislike of that idolatry his father had set up in the kingdom, and in his own family; and he had some regard to the pure worship of God; which raised the expectations of the people of Israel, that when there should be a change, things would be the better, both with regard to civil and religious affairs.

 

Those things which they observed in him, arose from a principle of grace, which the Lord had implanted in his heart, called, some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel.

 

The observation that I make upon these words, is, That in every regenerate person there is some good thing towards God; let him be of what family he will, or in what place be may. This child was the son of a king, brought up in a palace, educated in a family very idolatrous; and yet there was some good thing in him towards the Lord God of Israel.

 

The apostle Paul says indeed of himself, that in him, that is in his flesh, dwelt no good thing: {Ro 7:18} even then he was a regenerate person. How then must we understand the apostle, seeing it is manifest there is some good thing in every regenerate man; and no doubt was in him. It may be replied, there was no good thing in him naturally; for there is none that doeth good, no not one; {Ps 14:3} and the reason is, because there is no good thing in them. If there was, there would be some good thing done by them; but there is no good thing in them naturally, and therefore there is none done by them. Paul means, there was no good thing in him, except what grace had produced: for if there be any good thing in man’s heart, it is not by the power of man, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. It is he that works in all good men, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. There was no good thing in him, that he could call his own; whatever good thing was in him, it was from the Lord. Was he spiritually alive? it was not he that lived, but Christ that lived in him. {Ga 2:20} Did he perform so many great and good things, more than others? It was not he, but the grace of God, that was with him. Besides, there is a restrictive clause in that passage; In me, that is, in my flesh; which signifies there was some good thing in another part of him, though not in his flesh; or the old man, in whom there is no good; from whom nothing good comes; and by whom nothing good is done. But, in the inward man of the heart, there dwelt some good thing; and so it is, in every regenerate man.

 

I shall now endeavour to shew,

 

I. What that good thing is, which is in every regenerate man.

 

II. That this good thing, is something in them.

 

III. That it is but some good thing, not every good thing; or however, that it is not every good thing complete.

 

IV. That this good thing in regenerate men, will be found in them, sooner or later. For in him is found some good thing.

 

V. That this good thing is sometimes found in a child, the child of a king; and one that comes from a bad family. Some good thing was in this young man in the house of Jeroboam. There is an emphasis upon that, in the house of Jeroboam; that sinful, vile, idolatrous family.

 

VI. Wherever there is a good thing in any, it is always towards the Lord God of Israel,

 

I. I shall inquire what this good thing is, that is in the heart of every regenerate man. In my last discourse I have shewn you what wickedness there is in the heart of man: and what the plague of a man’s heart is; and now I shall shew you what goodness there is in a regenerate man’s heart. This, in general, is no other than the good work of grace in the heart; which the apostle calls a good work: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. {Php 1:6} The efficient cause of it is good, even God; who is good essentially; independently good; and from whom every good thing comes. Whatever is done by him, must be good, whether in nature, providence, or grace. The work of creation, when he reviewed it, was declared to be very good. The work of the new creation, the spiritual workmanship of grace upon the soul, is also good, very good. The moving cause of this is the goodness, grace, and mercy of God, who, for the great love wherewith he loved us, hath quickened us, when dead in trespasses and sins. {Eph 2:4-5} The mean, by which this work is generally wrought, is the good word of God. Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth. {Jas 1:18} The effects thereof are good. It makes a man good: it enables him to do good works. It is productive of every thing that is good. The grace of God, not only as a doctrine, but more especially as a principle, influentially teaches men, that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world. Now it is this good work, in general, which is the good thing that is found in every regenerate man.

 

In particular it may design the various graces of the Spirit of God, which are wrought in the souls of those who are born again. Indeed the Spirit of God himself has a place in the hearts of such persons, as the author and finisher of this good thing, the work of grace: and who himself is good. Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. {Ps 143:10} He is good himself, essentially good. Good in his influence, operations, gifts, and graces. He is promised in the covenant of grace; I will put my Spirit within them. He has, in conversion, a place in the hearts of his people; received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? {Ga 3:2} And, indeed, this indwelling of the Spirit of God in the hearts of his people, is the grand criterion which distinguishes a regenerate from an unregenerate man: Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Ye are not in a carnal and unregenerate state, but in a spiritual and regenerate one; if so he that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. {Ro 8:9}

 

The Spirit of God is in his people, as the author of the good work of grace upon their souls. In consequence of his being there, a new heart is given them; a new spirit is put within them, in which are new principles of grace, holiness, life, love, joy, peace, and comfort; new desires, new affections, new resolutions; all things are become new. This is the new creature, the new man the Scripture speaks of; which is no other than an assemblage of the several graces of the blessed Spirit. The fruits and graces of the Spirit are many; the principal of which are these three, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or Love; but the greatest of them is love. Where one is, there are the others. Where Faith, the principal, cardinal, leading grace is, there is Hope; for Faith is the substance of things hoped for: {Heb 11:1} and there also is love; for faith works by love. {Ga 5:6} There are besides these, several other graces, which, altogether, make up this good thing that is found in every regenerate man, and which is towards the Lord God of Israel. Thus, for instance, there is the grace of repentance towards God. In Ac 20:21, the apostle uses this phrase of the doctrine of repentance, and so of faith; but what he says of either of these, as a doctrine, is true of them as a grace; Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. For true evangelical repentance, is no other than a godly sorrow, or a sorrow after a godly sort, and for sin because it is committed against a God of love, grace, mercy, and goodness. The Spirit of God convinces every man, that he powerfully works upon, of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; shews him the evil nature of sin, and the just demerit of it; shews it to him in the glass of the divine law, where he sees it in its proper colors; and thereby it becomes exceedingly sinful unto him; fills him with shame and confusion of soul; brings him to God in an humble manner to confess it, and causes a self-loathing and abhorrence, on account of his offences. Thus it was with Job, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. {Job 42:6} There is no doubt to be made, of his having some good thing in him towards the Lord God of Israel, when he said these words. So there was undoubtedly in the poor publican, when he stood, and dared not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, and said, God be merciful to me a sinner. There was in him repentance towards God.

 

There is the fear of God, and that is a good thing. This the Lord, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, puts into the hearts of his people, when he calls them by his grace. I will put my fear in their hearts. {Jer 32:40} This appears as early in conversion, as any grace whatever; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. {Pr 9:10} As soon as ever a man is made, in any measure, wise to salvation, the fear of God appears in him. There is a tenderness of heart and conscience. He cannot do the things which others do, or which he himself before had done: as Nehemiah says of some that governed before him, that he did not, as they, because of the fear of the Lord. There is a fear implanted in their hearts of offending God; for the fear of the Lord, as the wise man defines it, is to hate evil, and depart from iniquity. {Pr 8:13}

 

There is love towards the Lord God of Israel, God appears in his amiable perfections, in the declarations and promises of his grace, and the expressions of his love. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and that causes him to love God. We love him, because he first loved us. {Joh 4:19} Christ appears in all the loveliness of his person, offices, and grace; and in his love in dying for his people. Thus he becomes the object of such a soul’s love, to such a degree, that he cannot but say as Peter did, Lord thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. {Joh 21:17} There is also love to the brethren, to the saints, upon whom the image of Christ appears: and by this it is known that such are passed from death to life; that they are born again, because they love the brethren. {1Jo 3:14} There is love to the good word and ways of God, the worship of God, and ordinances of God, and to every thing that is good.

 

There is also hope of happiness in another world. Though a man before conversion was without hope: yet being regenerated, he is begotten again to a lively hope. Christ being set before him as the object of hope, and he encouraged to flee to him, and lay hold upon him; he expects everlasting life. His hope is as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which enters into that within the veil. {Heb 6:19} This must be allowed to be some good thing surely; for it is called a good hope through grace. {2Th 2:16}

 

There is faith also; and that is another part of this good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. A sinner that is wrought upon, as just now described, trusts in God as his Saviour, and says, as Job did, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him and he also shall be my salvation. {Job 13:15-16} Now this faith is the gift of God unto him; it proceeds from the operation of the Spirit of God upon him, by the instrumentality of the word. Faith comes by hearing; {Ro 10:17} and it is productive of good works for faith without works is dead. {Jas 2:20} Now this is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel.

 

There are other graces also which I might mention such as patience, under afflictive dispensations of providence. For though no affliction is joyous, but grievous; yet it works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, to them who are exercised therewith and the chief of these is a peaceable frame of soul, or quietness of mind under the rod. Tribulation, to regenerate persons, sometimes is of use; to increase their patience, rather than to destroy it. Tribulation worketh patience; {Ro 5:3} is a mean of increasing it. The apostle James says, Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. {Jas 1:2} He means, not the temptations of Satan; but afflictions, which are temptations, or trials, of the graces of God’s people. For he adds, The trying of your faith worketh patience; and let patience have its perfect work. {Jas 1:4} When this appears in exercise, it is a clear case there is some good thing in such a person, towards the Lord God of Israel. When, like Aaron, they hold their peace under trying circumstances; and with David, are dumb because the Lord did it; are still and know that he is God, a sovereign Being, who does whatever he pleases.

 

There is also resignation to the will of God. Those who are not inured to afflictions, are like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; fret and are impatient under it. But where there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel; there will be, more or less, of submission to the will of God. Such will say, as Eli did; It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Not my will, but thine be done.

 

In a word, this good thing, found in the heart of a regenerate man towards the Lord God of Israel is, the sanctification of the Spirit, in all the several branches thereof, of which those that I have mentioned are some. It is called the sanctification of the Spirit, because he is the author of it: for if we are sanctified, it is in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. {1Co 6:11} This, in the present state, is imperfect; but is carrying on, and will be brought to perfection in all those in whom it is begun. The God of truth will sanctify us throughout, and will preserve our whole souls, bodies, and spirits, blameless, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where this is, there will appear many good things. The text says, some good thing: several good things it may be truly said. Good thoughts will arise in the hearts of such. For though the heart of man is bad, and so wicked as I represented unto you in my last discourse, though the thoughts of a carnal man’s heart are only evil, and that continually and though regenerate persons have a great deal of reason to complain, of the vanity of their minds and the sinfulness of their thoughts; yet there are good thoughts arise in them, which are of God. I say, of God; because we cannot think a good thought, of ourselves. {2Co 3:5} But there do arise good thoughts concerning God, his being, perfections, and purposes; his love, his everlasting love to his people We have thought of thy loving kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple {Ps 48:9} And O, how pleasant are the thoughts, how sweet the meditations of God’s people, upon the everlasting love of God, and the fruits of it! It is pleasing to the Lord, when his people are thus thoughtful of him. A book of remembrance was written for them that thought upon his name; {Mal 3:16} upon his name as proclaimed, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and truth.

 

There are also good desires in the hearts of regenerate persons. The desires of their souls are to the name of the Lord, and to the remembrance of him. There are spiritual breathings after him, as the hart panteth after the water brooks. There are holy resolutions which are formed in their minds, under the influence of divine grace. In the strength of divine grace, they resolve to make mention of the Lord, of his righteousness, and of that only. In the strength of divine grace, they are enabled to resist sin; to strive against it, and to abstain from all appearance of evil: to resist Satan’s temptations, and to do every good work. It was the holy resolution of Joshua, and it shewed some good thing in him towards the Lord God of Israel, when he said, As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord. Resolutions indeed, taken up in a man’s own strength, signify nothing; but when they are made in the strength of divine grace, arising from an internal principle, they are of worth, and come to something. In short, where there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel, the good word of God dwells in the heart. The matter of this word is good, and the effects of it are good. Now this comes, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance in the hearts of regenerate persons; where it works effectually, and where it dwells. It abides, it dwells richly in all wisdom. It is received in the love of it, and is highly esteemed, more than necessary food. It is more, to the Believer, than thousands of gold and silver. If now we put all these things together, and others that your own experiences may dictate, you will know in some good measure, what is that good thing that is in the heart of every regenerate man.

 

-But I go on,

 

II. To observe, that this good thing, possessed by regenerate persons, is something within them, The text says not, some good thing done by them; but some good thing in them, towards the Lord God of Israel: this good thing is all internal; nothing external. It is not an outward form of godliness: there may be that, where there is not the inward power. The apostle speaks of some that had a form of godliness, that is, the outward form, but denied the power; {2Ti 3:5} that is, the inward power upon the heart. There may be a notion of things, where there is no grace. There may be an outward profession of faith, where there is no true faith; and an external obedience to the ordinances of the gospel, and yet this good thing may be wanting; as in Simon Magus, who professed to believe, but was destitute of true faith, and was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. {Ac 8:23}

 

This good thing is not an outward reformation of manners. There may be this, and no good thing in the heart. Herod heard John gladly, seemed to have a great flow of affection for what he heard; yea, it is said, he did many things; that is, agreeable to what he heard preached: he did them externally. There was an appearance of good things done by him, and yet there was no good thing in him. So the scribes and pharisees were outwardly righteous: looked like good men; made a fair shew in the flesh; and thought themselves very holy and religious; but inwardly, as our Lord says, were full of all manner of wickedness. So that there is a great difference between some good thing in a man, and such good things as may appear outwardly.

 

This good thing, is not an outward humiliation for sin; such as was in Pharaoh, while he was under the terror of the plagues of thunder, hail, and lightning; who cried out, The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked; {Ex 9:27} but, as soon as the storm was over, he returned to his former hardness of heart. Such a disposition was in Ahab, concerning whom the Lord says, See how Ahab humbleth himself: {1Ki 21:29} yet it was only an external humiliation; for there was no good thing in him. There may be a great many tears shed by persons, seeming on account of sin; but these are no true mark or sign of good things in them. Esau sought the blessing with tears, but found no place for repentance. Judas made a confession of sin, and yet there was no good thing in him.

 

An abstinence from the gross enormities of life, is not this good thing. Restraints may be laid upon persons, by their parents, masters, or civil magistrates; or through the force of conviction in an awakened conscience; which when over, they return like a dog to his vomit, and like a sow that is washed, to her wallowing in the mire. But this good thing is within a man: some good thing in him towards the Lord God of Israel; something in a man’s heart. This appears by all the names that it goes by in Scripture. Sometimes it is called the inward man: I delight in the law of God, after the inward man, says the apostle. {Ro 7:22} The inward man renewed day by day. {2Co 4:16} The hidden man of the heart; {1Pe 3:4} or that which is out of sight, For he is not a Jew that is one outwardly. Circumcision is not that of the flesh, but of the heart. It is sometimes called spirit; not only from the author of it, the Spirit of God, (whatsoever is born of the Spirit of God, is Spirit) {Joh 3:6} but from the seat of it, the spirit or heart of man. He is renewed in he spirit of his mind. {Eph 4:23} It is sometimes called seed, which lies under ground; and is not to be seen: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible: {1Pe 1:23} the seed of the word; the seed of divine grace, which remains. Hence the apostle John says, such cannot sin, (that is, live in a course of sin) because their seed remains in them: that is, an inward principle of grace, which forbids them so to act. It is sometimes called a root. The root of the matter is found in me, says Job. {Job 19:28} The root of the righteous, which is a hidden principle of grace in them, and brings forth much fruit. The reason why the stony ground hearers relinquished their profession, was, because there was no root. {Mt 13:6} Sometimes it is called oil in a vessel. {Mt 25:4} The lamp is an outward profession; the oil is an internal principle of grace in the heart. Sometimes it is signified by an epistle. Ye are our epistle, says the apostle. {2Co 3:2} God inscribes, upon the hearts of his people, his laws and his word. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. {Jer 31:33} All which shews, that this good thing is within a man.

 

This also is clear from the several parts of which this good thing consists. It includes in it, the illumination of the understanding, raising the affections to things above, where Jesus is; renewing of a man in the spirit of his mind: making of him willing, in the day of God’s power, to submit unto his way of salvation, through the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ; sprinkling the heart from an evil conscience, and the like; all which shews it to be an internal work.

 

III. This is but some good thing; not every good thing; or, however, not every good thing complete. There is a great deal, indeed, bestowed upon God’s people, and wrought in them in their regeneration, and first conversion; for where sin abounded, grace does much more abound. The grace of God is exceeding abundant, with faith, and love, and every other grace. For as before observed, where one grace is, there is every grace. Where there is hope, there is faith; and where there is love, there are faith and hope. These always go together. Yet this good thing is imperfect in the best of saints. The good work of grace is but a begun work. It is, however, carrying on gradually, and will be performed till the day of Christ. Faith has its deficiency; hope is defective; love is imperfect; and we know but in part. {1Co 13:9} In some this good thing is very little, as at first conversion. It is a day of small things with newly regenerate persons: little knowledge, faith, hope, and the like; and therefore compared to the bruised reed and smoking flax: and yet, by these appearances, it is clear there is some good thing. In the bruised reed there is a moistness which shews it to be alive; in the smoking flax there are fire and heat. So in the lowest believer, in the exercise of grace in the weakest manner, there appears some good thing in him (though it is but little) towards the Lord God of Israel. Some light in him, though it is but small: a little knowledge of himself, and the corruptions of his nature: a little knowledge of the person, offices, and excellencies of Christ: a little light in the doctrines of the everlasting gospel. It is as much as he can say, One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, I now see. {Joh 9:25} He has sight, but it is glimmering, in comparison of the light he afterwards has; for the path of the just is as a shining light, which shines more and more to the perfect day.

 

There is affection evident, and more affection, perhaps, than judgment; and more zeal than knowledge; which is generally the case with young converts; yet for all this, there is some good thing. There is hope, though it is but in a small degree. Under all his discouragements, such an one can say, I will put my mouth in the dust; if so be, there may be hope. "I do not know whether there is any foundation for hope or no; but I will put my mouth in the dust, I will he in an humble manner at the feet of God. I am told there is hope in Israel concerning this thing; and therefore, I will encourage myself as much as I can, that there will he favour shewn to me, a wicked, miserable creature." Now, in these humble expressions, there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. And yet, indeed, he does not abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost: he has not arrived to the full assurance of hope; but there is some good hope through grace, though it is but small. So faith, at first, is like a grain of mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds. There is but little faith, as our Lord says, in his address to his disciples, O ye of little faith; {Mt 6:30} and to Peter in particular, O thou of little faith. {Mt 14:31} Faith is but mere peradventure at first. The language of such a soul is, "I cannot say he will receive me; but I will venture upon him. If I perish, I perish." Now in this language there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. But,

 

IV. Wherever this good thing is, it will be found; for in him (says my text) is found some good thing. God has found it there: and there is very good reason why he finds it; because it was he himself who put it there.

 

The Lord knows the good thing he hath put into the hearts of his people, and he finds it. He sees not as man sees: he knows the heart, and sees what is in the heart. As it is said of our Lord, he knows what is in man. He knew what good was in the heart of Peter; he knew how he loved him. Though there was but very little seen of it when he had so lately, and so basely denied him; yet he knew himself, he had love in his heart to Christ, and he knew that Christ was acquainted with it. Lord (says he) thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. So wherever there is any good, ever so small, towards the God of Israel, God will find it out, because he put it there. This also will be found by the person himself, sooner or later. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: Know ye not, that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?; {2Co 13:5} except ye be void of judgment, as the word more properly signifies. It is not so well rendered reprobates; it being a word somewhat startling to the minds of men. "If ye are not spiritual persons, ye cannot know whether Christ is in you, or not; but if you have any spiritual knowledge, judgment, or feeling; then, upon reflection and self-examination, you will find Christ is in you. You will experience, if you observe it, some outgoings of your souls to Christ, and acts of faith and hope upon him." Thus this good thing in the hearts of God’s people may be found by themselves.

 

So it is also by others, that converse with them. Such as fear the Lord, often speak one to another; and as they are speaking one to another, they find what good thing is in each other. Thus the apostle Paul, though in his former life he was an enemy to the Christian religion, when he came before Peter, James, and John, and they conversed with him, they perceived the grace of God in him. They found there was some good thing in him towards the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he had persecuted; and then they gave him the right hand of fellowship. And where there is some good thing in the heart, it will shew itself in the life and conversation; and it will be found at the great day of account. The apostle says of faith, That it might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. {1Pe 1:7} And I am persuaded, that there is in many persons some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel, that does not appear now; and it may be, may never appear to satisfaction in this world: and yet will be found at the great day of accounts, when God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the secrets of every heart; what he had wrought there.

 

V. This good thing is sometimes to be found in a Jeroboam’s house; or in a wicked man’s family; and is sometimes, as I observed, to he found in a youth. Jeroboam’s son is, in this chapter, called a child: how old he was is not certain; but God works this good thing betimes in the hearts of some persons. Obadiah knew the Lord from his youth; and Timothy, from a child, knew the holy Scriptures. Those that seek the Lord early shall find him.

 

Sometimes this is found in one of princely birth, as this child was, the son of Jeroboam king of Israel, though it is a rare thing. For not many mighty, not many noble, not many wise men after the flesh, are called: {1Co 1:26} but some there are; some in the family of a king. All the saints salute you; chiefly they of Caesar’s household. {Php 4:22} Sometimes this good thing is found in one of a bad family. Jeroboam’s family was a bad one. He was an idolater, and set up the calves of Dan and Bethel. It is often said of him, to his disgrace, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that made Israel to sin: and yet there was some good thing in his family; which shews grace does not run in a line. Good men are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. {Joh 1:13} How many good men have had bad children? Eli’s sons, and Samuel’s sons, did not walk in their father’s steps. And so it is, that some in the family of bad men are chosen by God. The Lord takes one of a family, and two of a tribe: takes one, and leaves another. Those who are instances of this kind, have abundant reason to admire distinguishing grace.

 

VI. This good thing, found in the heart of every regenerate person, always acts towards the Lord God of Israel. The bias of it is towards him sin inclines the mind to that which is evil: hence the imaginations of the thoughts of men’s hearts are only evil, and that continually. There is an aversion to God, and all that is good. The language of an unregenerate man is, Depart from me, I desire not the knowledge of thy ways; but where grace is, where this good thing is, it biases the mind towards God and Heaven. Wherever that exists, the language is, My soul thirsteth after God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? As all grace comes from God, so it returns to him in its acts and exercises. Repentance is towards God. Faith, hope, and love are towards God. Every grace acts towards God; it is exercised upon him, and upon the Lord Jesus Christ: whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. {1Pe 1:8} Christ is the object of faith, of love, of joy, and of every other grace.

 

Where this good thing is, the thoughts will be employed about God, and the affections, like pillars of smoke, perfumed with frankincense, will ascend towards him. The desires of the soul will be to his name, and to the remembrance of him. This good thing in the heart will operate and shew itself in thankfulness to God for all the good things bestowed. A man that has some good thing in him towards the Lord God of Israel, will call upon his soul, and all that is within him, to bless the name of the Lord. He will bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ; especially, for Christ, the unspeakable gift of his love. This good thing will cause a man to manifest his concern for the honour of God; for his cause and interest in the world. Such in whom this good thing is, love the habitation of his house, the place where his honour dwells. His tabernacles are amiable, and a day in his courts, is better than a thousand elsewhere. They cannot give themselves the liberty of being absent from the house and worship of God; but must attend upon them. They will exhort and stir up one another to love and good works. They will not only attend the worship of God themselves, but endeavour to bring others with them; saying, Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord; for he will