Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 101 nature and society; and if they had not seen me do something rea- sonable for a regular separation of the notorious, obstinate sinners from the rest, they would irregularly have withdrawn themselves; and it had not been in my power with bare words to satisfy them, when they saw we had liberty to do what we would. "It was my greatest care and contrivance so to order this work, that we might neither make a mere mock-show of discipline, nor, with Independents,unchurch the parish church, and gather, a church out of them anew. Therefore all the ministers associate agreed together, to practice so much discipline as the Episcopal, Presby- terians, and Independents, were agreed on that presbyters might and must do. And we told the people that we were not about to gather a new church, but, taking the parish for die church, unless they were unwilling to own their membership, we resolved to ex- ercise that discipline with all : only, because there are some Pa- pists and familists or infidels among us, and because, in these times of liberty, we cannot, nor desire to, compel any against their wills, we desired all that did own their membership in this, parishchurch,. and take us for their pastors, to give in their names, or any other way signify that they do so ; and those that are not willing to be members, and rather choose to withdraw themselves than live under discipline, to be silent. "And so, for fear of discipline, all the parish kept off, except about six hundred, when there were in all above sixteen hundred at age to be communicants. Yet because it was their own doing, and they knew they might come in when they would, they were quiet in their separation ; for we took them for the Separatists. Those that scrupled our gesture at the sacrament, I openly told that they should have it in their own. Yet did I baptize all their children, but made them first, as I would have done by strangers, give me privately, or publicly if they had rather,' an account of their faith ; and ifany father was a scandalous sinner; I made him confess his sin openly, with seeming penitence, before I would baptize his child. Ifhe refused it, I forbore till the mother came' to present it; for I rarely, ifever, found both father`arid mother so destitute of knowledge and faith, as, in a church sense, to be inca- pable htreof." "26. Another advantage which I found to my success, was, by ordering my doctrine to them in a suitableness to the main end, and yet so as might suit their dispositions and diseases. The things which I daily opened to them, and with greatest importuni- ty labored to imprint upon their minds, were the great fundamen- tal principles of Christianity contained in their baptismal covenant, even a right knowledge and belief of, and subjection and loie to, God the`Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; love to all men,