Imágenes de páginas

I have been led to make these remarks by an observation of Mr. Maclean, in the introduction of his review, very much fitted to prejudice the mind of his reader,-namely, that he finds my main design to be, to support infant baptism, and that from two chapters, (Rom. iv. and Gal. iii.) where it is never once mentioned, nor does it appear in the least degree to have entered into the mind or view of the sacred writer."-But Mr. Maclean does not accuse me of overlooking the object of the apostle, or of failing to show how that object is made out from his premises :and the sole question with him ought to have been, whether the same premises which authorized the one conclusion, were or were not legitimately applied to the establishment of the other.

The work which is now presented to the public may be considered as a substitute for that part of the former which immediately regarded the subject of the Abrahamic covenant and baptism. It is, however, in almost all respects, a new work. The discussions are cleared from all the foreign matter, with which they were unavoidably associated by the passages on which the lectures were founded. The reasonings are, by this means, reudered more distinct and consecutive. The subject is treated more at large, in all its parts, and especially in some which before were hardly, if at all, touched upon. To the whole train of argument and arrangement has been given, such as, it is hoped, may render it plain and easily followed, and may serve to free the subject of it from some portion at least of the confusion and difficulty in which, to not a few minds, it has always appeared to be involved. Some of the leading objections, moreover, have been met, and, to my own satisfaction at least, exposed-and what is said, in the third section, of the USES of infant baptism, is wholly new.

It may be thought, that the necessity of publishing at all was superceded by the late able work of my esteemed friend and colleague, Mr. Ewing. The larger proportion of his ESSAY, however, as the circumstances which gave rise to it might have led us to anticipate, relates to the MODE of baptism; and, although this is treated with a measure of originality, and of classical and biblical learning, high

[ocr errors]


ly creditable to its author,-there still seemed to be room
left for a fuller and more systematic discussion of the oth-
er great branch of the controversy,-the SUBJECTS of the
ordinance, which is touched in the Essay indeed, and
touched with the same ability, but which is not the pro-
fessed object of the writer to treat extensively. This part
of the field the circumstances I have before stated had
long determined me to occupy anew, previously to the
publication of Mr. Ewing's work; and my determination
was quickened to action by the appearance of an antago-
nist to him, and to the late Dr. Dwight, and to myself. I
refer to the work of the Rev. F. A. Cox, of Hackney, put
forth with the ponderous and appaling title-"Ou Baptism:
chiefly in Reply to the Etymological Positions of the Rev.
Greville Ewing, in his Essay on Baptism: the Poemic
Discussions of the Rev. Timothy Dwight, S. T. D., L.
L. D., in his Work, entitled, 'Theology; and the Infer-
ential Reasonings of the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw, D. D. in
his Lectures on the Abrahamic Covenant."-In some of
the advertisements of this work, the first part of the title,
I observe, has undergone an alteration; and, instead of
the "etymological positions," we have the " etymological
novelties," of Mr. Ewing and it is surely, in the annals of
controversy, a somewhat curious circumstance, that an
opponent should formally announce, in his title-page, a
reply to precisely that part of the work he sets himself to
oppose, which its author had declared to be unconnected
with the course and conclusiveness of his argument: for
thus Mr. Ewing had expressed himself:-"Such is my
attempt to analyze ẞanto and its related words.
shall reject it (I dare say many will); in that case, they
will of course disallow my theory for illustrating the ori-
gin, and the connection of the various meanings of those
words. But they will not be able, thereby, to set aside
the meanings themselves. These must still be tried by
the force of the examples which may be produced in sup-
port of each by itself. Although I shall, in what follows,
refer my theory to the derivation of the terms, for the
sake of showing how well it tallies with the application
of them in the examples in which they occur; I shall, in
no case, use an argument, in support of their meaning,


If any

[ocr errors]

which shall rest on that theory."-To announce a formal reply to what an author has thus previously intimated to be unessential to his argument, a speculation of which entire omission leaves its force untouched ;-to produce upon the reader's mind, by the very phraseology of a titlepage, the impression, that that is the pith and substance of a work, and what chiefly calls for notice and exposure, which the writer himself announces he will not make the basis of a single proof;—and then, to confirm this false impression and prejudice, by applying ridicule, as the test of truth, to what, even were it overturned, would not, by its removal, affect, in the slightest degree, a single conclusion-may be a convenient ruse de guerre,—but it is neither ingenuous nor manly. It is very easy however, and that adds to the convenience. Whatever diversity of opinion may subsist on some unessential points, Mr. Cox's assault has, in my judgment, left the main positions, on which Mr. Ewing's argument rests in their full strength.

Although the appearance of Mr. Cox's strictures hastened the fulfilment of a previous intention, the following pages are not to be considered as a reply to his work. They are not a formal reply to any one. I follow the train of my own argument, and take notice of the objections of others, as they come in my way. And I trust it will be found, I have not shrunk from meeting my opponents (or rather, let me say, the opponents, the conscientious opponents, of the views I advocate)-fully and fairly, in the main points of their strength. I have had occasion, once or twice, to allude to the strictures of the Rev. Mr. Birt, of Birmingham, on a sermon by my excellent friend, the Rev. H. F. Burder, of Hackney, a neighbor and fellow laborer of Mr. Cox ;-and I gladly embrace the opportunity of saying, that although there may be one or two minor statements in that sermon in which I may not thoroughly acquiesce, it appears to me distinguished by the clearness and cogency and comprehensive brevity of its reasonings, as well as by the piety and Christian meekness of its spirit; and to remain little, if at all affected, in its general principles, by the animadversions of his opponent. I have now and then referred

to, and quoted, other publications. But indeed these are now, on both sides, so numerous, that I have found it better not to cumber myself by looking into many, and so exposing myself to the temptation of introducing matter, either quite extraneous, or but remotely connected with my argument.

It has been my endeavor to adhere to the Latin maxim, "Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re," familiarly rendered in English "Soft words and hard arguments." Whether I have succeeded or failed, the reader must judge. If occasionally I may have expressed myself (of which, however, I am not conscious) with becoming asperity, may I find forgiveness of Him, who has said, "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men."To his blessing I humbly commend this part of my labors, in the conviction,-a conviction that has gained strength by every new examination of the subject,—that the cause is his, and that its opponents, however plausible their scheme may be rendered, (and it is admitted, in some of its points, to be susceptible of great plausibility) have not a foot-breadth of solid scriptural ground to stand upon. R. W.

GLASGOW, 13th January, 1825.



SOME are disposed to deprecate all such discussions as the one on which I am now entering, under the common designation of unprofitable controversy. That it is controversy, I admit ;-that it is unprofitable controversy, I deny. If I thought it so, I trust I should have grace to abstain from it. But I think otherwise, for the following


In the first place: As a pædobaptist, I am accustomed, along with my brethren of the persuasion, to administer the ordinance of baptism, as occasions present themselves, both privately and publicly, to the infant children of be lievers; and we are countenanced in so doing by our churches and congregations. Now every thing that we do, as professed subjects of the Lord Jesus, ought to be done, not blindly, or in mere conformity to custom, but from a scriptural and enlightened conviction of duty. To call any institution an, ordinance of God, and persist in adherence to it, without knowing either its import, or the reason of observing it, is unworthy a professor of that religion, which enjoins nothing but what is "reasonable service."


Secondly In consequence of the universality of the practice of infant baptism, and the consequent frequency of the abuse and prostitution of the ordinance, believers themselves are in no small danger of attending to it as a mere matter of course, without due consideration, either of the nature of the rite, the grounds on which the administration of it to their children rests, or the parental obligations, so deep and so solemn, that are inseparably connected with it.


Thirdly I see no reason whatever, why pædobaptists should feel the slightest disposition to evade the question, or the most distant fear,-although on both sides there may be minute points of difficulty,-to meet it fully, fairly, and openly, in all its great general bearings.-There has

« AnteriorContinuar »