Illustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 2) online

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But you add, " Under the law, all the sacrifices of that dispensation,
with their sabbaths, were types of that Christ who was the substance of
all those ceremonies. If any of them, then, that professed faith in
the Messias to come, should upon scruples, or want of pretended light,
neglect the whole, or part of that typical worship ; why may not a man
say of them, as this advocate of the practice under debate, They had the
richer and better sacrifice ?

Ans. First, tliat the brethren which refuse to be baptized, as you and I
would have them, refuse it for want of pretended light, becomes you not to
imagine, unless your boldness will lead you to judge, that all men want
sincerity that come not up to our judgment. Their conscience may
be better than either yours or mine ; yet God, for purposes best known to
himself, may forbear to give them conviction of their duty in this par-
ticular.' But what, because they are not baptized, have they not Jesus
Christ? or must we now be afraid to say, Christ is better than water-
baptism ? Yea, God himself, for the sake of this better thing, hath suffered
in his church a suspension of some of his ordinances, yet owned them for
his truly-constituted congiegation. What say you to the church in the
the wilderness ? I touched you with it in my first ; but perceived you
listed not to meddle therewith. That church received members the way
which was not prescribed by, but directly against the revealed mind of
God ; yet stood a true church, their members, true members ; also
that church, in that state, was such before whom, among whom, and to

' The amiable anxiety of the true Christian not harshly to condemn those who may oiffer
from him, is here seen. The position he takeS up is a strong one. Can it be doubted that
the Almighty is free to will at once to accomplish by slow degrees r or gradual approaches ?


whom, God continually made known himself to be their God, and owned
them for his peculiar treasure.

And now I am fallen upon it, let me a little enlarge. This church, ac-
cording to the then instituted worship of God, had circumcision for their
entering ordinance, Gen. xvii. 13, 14 ; without which it was unlawful to
receive any into fellowship with them : yea, he +hat without it was
received, was to be cut off, and cast out again. Farther, as to the pass-
over, the uncircumcised was utterly forbidden to eat it. Exod. xii. Now,
if our brethren had as express prohibition to justify their groundless
opinion, as here is to exclude the uncircumcised from the communion of
the church and the passover? I say, if they could find it written, "No
unbaptized person shall enter, no unbaptized person shall eat of the
supper," what a noise would they make about it ? But yet let the reader
observe, that although circumcision was the entering ordinance, and our
author saith baptism is not ; yea, though this church was expressly
forbidden to receive the uncircumcised (and we have not a syllable now to
forbid the unbaptized), yet this church received members without, and
otherwise than by this entering ordinance. They also admitted them
to the passover; yea, entertained, retained, and held communion with
them, so long as forty years without it. I say again, that the number of
this sort of communicants was not so few as six hundred thousand.
Moreover, to these uncircumcised was the land of Canaan given, yea,
a possession of part thereof, before they were circumcised ; but the old
circumcised ones might not enter therein. I am the larger in this, because
our author hath overlooked my first mention thereof. And now I ask,
What was the reason that God continued his presence with this church,
notwithstanding this transgression ? Was it not because they had that
richer and better thing, the Lord Jesus Christ? " For they did all eat of
that spiritual bread, and drank of that spiritual rock which followed them ;
and that rock was Christ." I confess I find them under rebukes and judg-
ments in the wilderness ; and that they were many times threatened to be
destroyed : but yet I find not so much as one check for their receiving of
members uncircumcised. Further, in the New Testament, where we have
a catalogue of their sins, and also of their punishment for them, we find not
a word about circumcision, nor the smallest intimation of the least rebuke
for neglecting the entering ordinance. I vail therefore say to them, as I
have also said of my brethren, " They had the richer and better thing."


But you object, " This putteth the whole of God's instituted worship,
both under the law and gospel, to the highest uncertainties."

Ans. This putteth our opposers out of their road, and quencheth the
flame of their unwarrantable zeal. For if the entering ordinance, if the
ordinance without which no man might be added to the church, was
laid aside for forty yeai's ; yea, if more than six hundred thousand did
communicate with them without it ; I say again, if they did it, and held
communion with God, that notwithstanding ; yea, and had not, that we
read of, all that time one small check for so doing ; why may not we now
enter communion, hold communion, maintain communion, church-com-
munion, without being judged and condemned by you ; because we cannot
for want of light, be all baptized before : especially considering baptism
makes no man a saint, is not the entering ordinance, is no part of the
worship of God enjoined the church as a church ? To conclude, although
we receive members unbaptized, we leave not God's instituted worship at
uncertainties, especially what he hath commanded us as his church : we
only profess our want of light in some things," but see no word to warrant
the forbearance of our duty in all, for want of persuasion in one.

You object, " I call baptism a circumstance, an outward show, I nick-
name it."

Ans. Deep reproof! But why did you not show me my evil in thus
calling it, when opposed to the substance and the thing signified ? Is it
the substance ? Is it the thing signified ? And why may not I give
it the name of a show, when you call it a symbol, and compare it to a gen-
tleman's livery ?

But you say, I call it an outward show.

Ans. Is it an inward one ? What is it ?

" It is a command."

Ans. But doth that instal it in that place and dignity that was never
intended for it ?

You object further, " They cannot have the doctrine of baptism that
understand not our way of administering it.'

Tiiis is vour mistake, both of the doctrine and thing itself. But if you

"" Waiting for the light to shine upon as, —

" I,et U9 receive fhc word wo hear,
£ach in an honest heart ;
Lay up the precious treasure there,
And nerer from it part." — Montgomtry


will not scorn to talve notice of me, I advise you again to consider, that a
man may find baptism to be commanded, may be informed who ought to
administer it, may also know the proper subject, and that the manner of
baptizing is dipping, and may desire to practise it because it is commanded ;
and yet know nothing of what water-baptism preacheth, or of the mystery
baptism showeth to faith. But that the doctrine of baptism is not the
practice of it ; not the outward act, but the thing signified ; and that
every believer hath that, must argue you more than bold to deny it.

But say you, " Who taught you to divide betwixt Christ and his pre-
cepts, that you word it at such a rate?" That he hath the one, &c.

Ans. To say nothing of faith, and the word, verily reason itself teacheth
it. For if Christ be my righteousness, and not water ; if Christ be
my advocate, and not water ; if there be that good and blessedness in
Christ that is not in water ; then is Jesus Christ better than water, and
also in these to be eternally divided from water, unless we will make
them co-saviours, co-advocates, and such as are equally good and profit-
able to men.

But say you, " I thought that he that hath Christ had an orderly right
to all Christ's promises and precepts, and that the precepts of Christ are
part of the riches that a believer hath in and by Christ."

Ans. A believer hath more in Christ than either promise or precept ;
but all believers know not all things that of God are given to them
by Christ. But must they not use and enjoy that which they know, be-
cause they know not all ? or must they neglect the weightier matters, be-
cause they want mint, anise, and cummin ? Your pretended orderly right
is your fancy : there is not a syllable in the whole bible that bids a
christian to forbear his duty in other things, because he wanteth, as you
term it, the symbol, or water-baptism.

But say you, " He that despiseth his birthright of ordinances, our
church-privileges, will be found to be a profane person, as Esau, in God's

Baptism is not the privilege of a church as such. But what? Aie
they all Esaus indeed ? Must we go to hell, and be damned, for want of
faith in water-baptism ? And take notice, I do not plead for a despising
of baptism, but a bearing with our brother that cannot do it for want of
light. The best of baptism he hath, viz., the signification thereof: he
wanteth only the outward show ; which, if he had, would not prove him


a truly visible saint ; it would not tell me he had the gi-ace of God in his
heart : it is no characteristical note to another of my sonship with God."

But why did you not answer these parts of my argument ? Why did
you only cavil at words ? which if they had been left out, the argument
yet stands good. " He that is not baptized, if yet a true believer, hath
the doctrine of baptism ; yea, he ought to have it before he be convicted
it is his duty to be baptized, or else he playeth the hypocrite. There is
therefore no difference between that believer that is, and he that is not yet
baptized with water, but only his going down into the water, there to per-
form an outward ceremony of the substance which he hath already; which
yet he is not commanded to do with respect to membership with the
church, but to obtain by that further understanding of his privilege
by Christ, which before he made profession of, and that as a visible

But to come to my fourth argument, which you so tenderly touch as if
it burnt your fingers : " I am bold, say I, to have communion with visible
saints as before, because God hath communion, with them whose example
in the case we are commanded to follow :" " Receive ye one another, as
Christ Jesus hath received you to the glory of God." Yea, though they
be saints in opinion contrary to you or I. " We that are strong, ought to
bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves:" infirmities
that are sinful ; for they that are natural are incident to all. Infirmities
therefore they are, that for want of light cause a man to err in cir-
cumstantials. And the reason upon which Paul groundeth this admo-
nition is, "For Christ pleased not himself:" but, as it is written, "The
reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me."

You say to this, " That it is Paul's direction to the church at Rome,
how to receive their brethren church-members."

I answer,

1. What, are not the poor saints now in this city, are not they con-
cerned in these instructions? Or is not the church, by these words, at all
directed how to caiTy it to those that were not yet in fellowship ? A bold

"This is the true spirit of toleration, which many men of eminence have wanted. Yet
those who favour such severity lose sight of Scripture. " For thus saith the Lord God ;
behold I even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh
out hie flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered ; so will I seek out my
sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy
and uark day." — Ezekiel, xxxiv., II, 12.


assertion ! but grounded upon nothing but that you would have
it. so.

2. But how will you prove that there was a church, a right constituted
church at Rome, besides that in Aquila's house ? chap. xvi. Neither doth
this epistle, nor any other in the whole book of God, affirm it. Besides,
since Paul, in this last chapter saluteth the church in this man's house, but
the other only as particular saints, it giveth farther ground of conviction
to you, that those others were not as yet embodied in such a fellowship.

3. But suppose there was another church besides, it doth not therefore
follow, that the apostle exhorteth them only to receive persons already in
fellowship, but him, even every him, that there was weak in faith, but not
to doubtful disputations.

4. Suppose, again, the receiving here exhorted to be such as you would
have it, yet the rule by which they are directed to do it, is that by which
we perceive that Christ hath received them : but Christ did not receive
them by baptism, but as given to him by the Father. Him therefore
concerning whom we are convinced, that he by the Father is given to
Christ, him should we receive.

5. But what need I grant you that which cannot be proved ? Yet if
you could prove it, it availeth nothing at all ; because you may not,
cannot, ought not, to dare to limit the exhortation to receiving of one
another into each other's affections only, and not also receiving saints into

But you object, " To make God's receiving the rule of our receiving, in
all cases will not hold."

Ans. Keep to the thing, man : if it hold in the case in hand, it is
enough ; the which you have not denied. And that it holds thus, is plain,
because commanded. But let the reader know, that your putting in that
way of his receiving which is invisible to us, is but an unhandsome strad-
dling over mv argument, which treateth only of a visible receiving, such
as is manifest to the church. This you knew, but sought, by evading, to
turn the reader from considering the strength of this my argument.
"The receiving then," said I, "because it is set as an example to
the church, is such as must needs be visible unto them, and is best dis-
covered by that word that describeth the visible saint. Whoso then you
can judge a visible saint, one that walketh with God, you may, nay ought
to judge by the same word, God hath received him. Now, him that God

VOL. 1. 4 u


receiveth, him should you receive." But will any object, they cannot
believe that God receiveth the unbaptized saints? I will not suppose you
so much stupified, and therefore shall make no answer. But you seem to
be much offended because I said, " Vain man ! think not by the straight-
ness of thine order in outward and bodily conformity to outward and sha-
dowish circumstances, that thy peace is maintained with God."

But why so much offended at this ?

" Because you intend by this the brethren of the baptized way?"

Ans. If they be vain men, and set up their own order, how straight
soever they make it, they are worthy to be reproved. " If they have re-
jected the word of the Lord, what wisdom is in them?" And as you sug-
gest the first, I affirm the second. But if you would be justified in
excluding those with whom yet you see God hath communion, because
they yet see not a shadow with you, produce the scripture for such order,
that we may believe it is the order of God : but deal fairly, lest we show
your nakedness, and others see your shame.

You tell me of the order of the Colossians, chap. ii. 5. But if you can
prove that that church refused to hold communion with that saint whom
they knew to be received by Christ, and held communion with him ; or
that none but those that are baptized, are received by, and hold com-
munion with him ; then you justify your order. In the meanwhile, the
whole of my ai'gument stands firm against you : " You must have com-
munion with visible saints, because God hath communion with them,
whose example in the case we are strictly commanded to follow.""

But you ask me, " If outward and bodily conformity be become a
crime !"

Jns. I no where said it ; but Icnow that to glorify God with our bodies
respecteth chiefly far higher and more weighty things, than that of water-
baptism : "Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin;" and to set up an ordi-
nance, though an ordinance of God, that by it the church may be pulled
in pieces, or the truly visible saints excluded communion with their bre-
thren ; I sav aL'ain, to make water-baptism a bar and division between

" " spirit of light explore,

And chase our gloom away.
With lustre shining more and more

Unto the perfect day !
Spirit of truth be thou,

In life iiiid dcnth our guide!" — Muntgumtri/


saint and saint, every whit otherwise gracious and holy alike; "this is
like fasting for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness,"
and is not to be found within the whole Bible, but is only an order o!'
your own devising. As to the peace you make an objection about, you
have gi-anted me what 1 intended : and now I add further, that for church -
peace to be founded in baptism, or any other external rite, not having to
do with the church as a church, is poor peace indeed.^ Church-peace is
founded in blood, and love to each other for Jesus' sake ; bearing with,
and forbearing one another, in all things circumstantial, that concern not
church-worship as such. And in my other I have proved that baptism is
not such, and therefore ought not to be urged, to make rents and divisions
among brethren.

But you ask, " Is my peace maintained in a way of disobedience?" and
conclude, if it be, " you fear it is false."

Ans. If the first were true, you need not doubt of the second ; but it
may be thought he hath little to say in the controversy, who is forced to
stuff out his papers with such needless prattles as these.

My fifth argument is, " That a failure in such a circumstance as water-
baptism, doth not unchristian us:" This you are compelled to grant.
And I conclude with your words, persons ought to be christians, before
visible christians, such as any congregation in the land may receive to
communion with themselves, because God hath shewed us that he has
received them: " Receive him to the glory of God." " To the glory of
God" is put in on purpose, to shew what dishonour they bring to him,
who despise to have communion with such whom they know do maintaiii
communion with God. I say again. How- doth this man, or that church,
glorify God, or count the wisdom and holiness of heaven beyond them,
when they refuse communion with them, concerning whom yet they are
convinced that they have communion with God "?

But my argument you have not denied, nor meddled with the con-
clusion at all : which is, "That therefore, even because a failure here
doth not unchristian us, doth not make us insincere, and I add, doth not
lay us open to any revealed judgment or displeasure of God, (if it doth

r The sense of this passage is rendered obscure in several editions of Bunyan's works,
by the word "pure" being erroneously substituted for " poor." It will be seen nothing was
further from bis desire than to oppose pure peace. Poor insecure peace, based on a shadow^
is quite another thing.


shew where); therefore it should not, it ought not to make us obnoxious to
the displeasure of the church of God."

But you say, " I rank gospel-precepts with Old-Testament abrogated

Jns. You should have given your reader my words, that he might have
judged from my own mouth. I said then, (speaking before of Chris-
tianity itself,) " Tliat thousands of thousands that could not consent to
water, as we, are now with the innumerable company of arngels, and the
spirits of just men made perfect." What was said of eating, or the con-
trary, may as to this be said of water-baptism : Neither if I be baptized
am I the better, neither if I be not am I the worse ; not the better before
God, not the worse before men ; still meaning, as Paul, provided I walk
according to my light with God. Otherwise it is false : for if a man that
seeth it to be his duty, shall despisingly neglect it, or if he that hath not
faith about it shall foolishly take it up, both these are for this the worse ;
I mean as to their own sense, being convicted in themselves as trangres-
sors. He therefore that doeth according to this light, doth not ill : for
he approveth his heart to be sincere with God, even by that his forbear-
ance. And I tell you again, it is no where recorded, that this man is
under any revealed threatening of God, for his not being baptized with
water, he not having light therein, but is admitted through his grace to
as many promises as you. If therefore he be not a partaker of that cir-
cumstance, yet he is of that liberty and mercy by which you stand with

But that I practise instituted worship upon the same account as Paul
lid circumcision, and sha\nng, is too bold for you to presume to imagine.
What? because I will not suffer water to cany away the epistles from
the christians ; and because I will not let water-baptism be the rule, the
door, the bolt, the bar, the wall of division between the righteous and the
righteous ; must I therefore be judged to be a man without conscience to
the worship of Jesus Ciirist? the Lord deliver me from superstitious and
idolatrous thoughts about any of the ordinances of Christ and of God.
But my fifth argument standeth against you untouched ; you have not
denied, much less confuted, the least syllable thereof.

' •' The kingdom of God coines not with observation Many merchants thrive by a
secret trade, that make no bustle in the world. It is fit therefore that every man's judgment
should proceed from the Lord, who knaws men's hearts and sees in secret." — Matthew Henry.


You tell me my sixth argument is, " Edification."

Ans. If it be, why is it not embraced ? But my own words are these :
" I am for holding communion thus, because the edification of souls in
the faith and holiness of the gospel, is of greater concern than an agree-
ment in outward things ; I say, it is of greater concern with us, and ot
far more profit to our brother, than our agreeing in, or contesting for
water-baptism; John xvi. 13; 1 Cor. xiv. 12; 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2. Chap,
viii. 1." Now, why did you not take this argument in pieces, and answer
those scriptures, on which the strength thereof depends ? But if to con-
test, and fall out about water-baptism, be better than to edify the house
of God, produce the texts, that we may be informed.

You say, " Edification is the end of all communion, but all things must
be done in order, orderly."

Ans. When you have proved that there is no such thing as an orderly
edifying of the church, without water-baptism precede, then it will be
time enough to think you have said something

You add, " Edification as to church-fellowship being a building up,
doth suppose the being of a church ; but pray you shew us a church
without baptism."

Ans. See here the spirit of these men, who, for the want of water-
baptism, have at once unchurched all such congregations of God in the
world. But against this I have, and do urge. That water-baptism giveth
neither being nor well-being to a church ; neither is any part of that
instituted worship of God, that the church, as such, should be found in
the practice of. Therefore her edification as a church may, yea, ought to
be attained unto, without it.

But you say, " Shew us a New-Testament church without baptism."

Ans. What say you to the church all along the Revelation, quite
through the reign of antichrist? Was that a New-Testament church
or no?

Again, if baptism be without the church, as a church, if it hath nothing
to do in the constituting of a church, if it be not the door of entrance into
the church, if it be no part of church- worship as such ; then although all
the members of that church were baptized, yet the church is a church
without water-baptism. But all the churches in the New-Testament were
such ; therefore, &c.

Again, If baptism respect believers, as particular persons only, if it


respects their own conscience only, if it make a man no visible believer to
me ; then it hath nothing to do with church-membership ; because that
which respects my own person only, my own conscience only, that which
is no character of my visible saintship to the church, cannot be an
argument unto them to receive me into fellowship with themselves. But

Online LibraryUnknownIllustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 78)