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Τ Ο Τ Η Ε
R E A D ER
HE Doctrine of Baptisms hath been dark
Primitive Times, and hath had more of Humage Notion than of Divine Truth in it; and therefore Zuinglius writing touching this point, speaks thus in the beginning of bis Book, Mud mihi ingenue Zuing!. circa libri initium dicendum est, fere omnes eos, Baptif quotquot ab ipsis Apostolorum temporibus, de com. 2. fol. Baptismo fcribere instituerunt, non in paucis 57. (quod pace omninum hominum, dictum esse velim) a scopo aberraville: That is, In the beginning of my Book (faith be ) I must ingeniously profess, that almost all those that have undertaken to write of Baptism, even from the very times of the Apostles, have (which I desire may be spoken with ihe favour of all) not in a few things erred from the scope. Anp as be affirms, that almost all before him had erred in many things touching Baptism, so did he himself also err as well as they, not in a few; and it is as free for me, or any body else, to differ from him and other late Writers, as for them to differ from former Writers, especially if that be true which Godly and Learned Chemnitius affirms out of Augustine, Cheranit. that these things are not tanquam articuli fidei, á Examen quibus diversum sentire piaculum fit Anathemate Trident. Io dignum.
And therefore, Reader, i acquaint thee beforehand, that in this point I shall speak much otherwise, than all former or later Writers whatever that I have met with; and though I do not without fornie fear and trembling, diffent from so many worthy and gracious men, that
have been and are otherwise minded, yet it is the less grievous to me, because I differ from them, (1 can say it in truth before the Lord) not out of any desire to be singular, or for any worldly or carnal end whatever, but only that I might cleave to the clear and evident Word of God alone, even there where I see the very. faithful to leave it ; seeing I am rather to joyn to the Word dirbout men, than to joyn to men without the Word; and where I find the holiest men in the world and the Word parting, I am there to leave them, and to go along with the Word.
And so in all love and meekness I tender this Difcourse to thee, desiring that if thou canst not at ths present agree to what is therein contained, yet that thex wouldst not rashly judge and reproach it, seeing through God's goodness, it may come to pass, ibat what thou knowest not now, thou mayst koow afterwards.
But because I see this present Generation fo rooted and built up in the Doĉtrines of men, I have the less hope that this truth will prevail with them, and therefore I appeal to the next Generation, which will be farther removed from those evils, and will be brought nearer to the Word; but efpecially to that People whom God hath and shall form by his Spirit for himself, for these only will be able to make just and righteous judgment in this matter, seeing they bave the Anointing to be their Teacher, and the Lamb to be their Light.
HE Lord foreseeing how great an Evil it
either to their own or to other Mens
And thus have the very Elect themselves been drawn into much error, though they have still had Christ for their foundation, and were built on him fo firmly by Faith, that the gates of bel could
not prevail against them. The way to Now to free the faithful from the former miError
, is to Itake, (and consequently from all error) there is cleave clofe no other way than this, wholly to forsake the Doto the Word.
Etrines of men, and to lay by all those Opinions that we have sucked in from our very Cradles, and which are now become even a natural Religion to us. I say, utterly to lay by and wholly to forget all thefe things, and to come immediately to the pure and unerring word of God, and to the voice of Jesus Christ himself by his Spirit, wherein all things are true, sincere and perfe&t; and not to bring Hearts to the Word, that are preposrest with Doctrines and Opinions learned of men; but to come thither with Hearts and Confciences free and uningaged, and in all meekness, uprightness, and fimplicity of heart, to hear what Jesus Christ, the faithful and true Witness, will say to his Spirit, which also is the Spirit of truth; and to receive and believe that alone, though never fo differing from the Opinions and Doctrines of this present
Age, as well as of the former ; and though perhaps the whole Nation would be of
fended with it. The course And this is the course that I have observ'd, to took to find come to some clear and certain knowledge in the out the Do£trine of Baptism; for having read much, and fruth, in This point. discourfed with rany, touching this point; and
having seriously consider'd what they say, as one that searched after the truth, for it self only, and for the fatisfa&tion of my own Soul; i do profess I could not find any thing almost spoken, for my Spirit boldly and safely to lean on, as perceiving most of what they said, to be but the apprehen
tilts own Do&rine
fions and thoughts of men, and that they spake
Now in this inquiry from the Word, I met Inquiry
As the People were in expeltation (saith he) and all men mused in their hearis of John, whether he were the Chrift or not: John answered, saying, &c. the People it seems had great and high thoughts of John, because he was the Son of the High Priest, conceived after an extraordinary manner, bis Parents being both well stricken in Age, and past Children by the course of Nature; and then the manner of his life was strange, for he lived in the Wilderness, out of the ordinary converse of the World; and his apparel and Diet were unusual; being raiment of Camels hair, and a leathern