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That He who is King in Zion may reign in the hearts and regulate the worship of all his profesing people; that the Spirit of wisdom, of holiness, and of peace, may dwell in all the churches of Christ; and that the fame divine Agent may dire& the reader's inquiries af ter truth, engage his affe&tions in the performance of duty, and enable him to « walk in all the command. ments and ordinances of the Lord blameless ;" is the fincere defire and fervent prayer of his willing serupnt in the gospel of Christ,
2. BOOTH. GOODMAN'S FIELDS,
MARCH 3, 1778. $
. AN Apology for the Baptists.
SECTION I. The Baptists not chargeable with laying an unwarrant
able Stress on the Ordinance of Baptism.
TANY reflections are cast on the Baptists, I I and various charges are laid against them; reflections and charges of such a kind, as greatly impeach the truth of their doctrinal principles, and the candour of their Christian teniper.
They are frequently represented by their Pædobaptist brethren, as uncharitably rigid, as incurrigible bigots to a favourite opinion, and as putting bap. ism in the place of our Lord's,atoning biood and the fan&tifying agency of the divine Spirit.--To give them epithets and load them with charges of this kind, the generality of their opponents agree; whether they be members of our National Efablishment, or in the number of Protestant Dissenters.
But why such unfriendly surmises and bold accusations ? What is there in our principles or conduct that lays a foundation for such hard fuspicions and such severity of cenfure ? As to making baptism a substitute for the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the fun&ifying agency of the Holy Spirit, it is manifestly contrary to our avowed fentiments; so contrary, that all the world, one would have thought, must agree to acquit us of such a charge.* For it is too notorious to admit a plea of ignorance in any of our opponents, that we consider no one as a proper subject of that institution, who does not profess repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; who does not, in other words, appear to be in a state of salvation. Nay, so far from making baptism a saving ordinance, we do not, we cannot consider any one as a proper subject of it, who looks upon it in that light.
Yet were an imputation of this kind as just and pertinent, as it is groundless and ungenerous; did we really ascribe a regenerating efficacy and sav. ing effects to that sacred appointment; we should hardly forbear concluding, that these complaints and charges came with an ill grace from our brethren of the Establishment; especially from the clergy, who have solemnly declared their assent and consent to all that is contained in the book of Common Prayer. For they, immediately after baptizing an infant, address first the people, and then the omniscient God, in the following remarkable words : Seeing, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is REGENERATE and grafted into the body of Christ's church, let us give thanks to Almighty God for these benefits-We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to REGENERATE this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for THINE OWN CHILD
* I speak of the Porticular Baptists. How far any of those who are called General Baptilts, may have given occafion for such imputations, I neither take upon me to affirm nor deny.
by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy church.'—Thus the clergy most folemnly profess to believe, when they administer baptism to in. fants. And, when giving catechetical instructions to children, they inculcate on their tender minds the same things, as truths and facts of great importance. For thus they interrogate each young catechumen, and thus they teach him to answer. . Who gave you this name? My Godfathers and Godmothers in my baptism, WHEREIN I WAS MADE a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. How many sacraments hath Christ ordained in his church? Two only, as GENERALLY NECESSARY TO SALVATION, that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord. What is the inward and spiritual grace ? (i. e. of baptism.) A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; for, being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are HEREBY MADE the children of grace.'* Thus children are
See the Office for Public Baptism of Infants, and the Catechism. Whether the doctrine here advanced be con. sistent with the sentiments of Protestant Pædobaptists in general, or calculated to instruct the ignorant and cdify be. lievers, I muft leave the reader to judge. I will take the liberty, however, of suhjoining a quotation from the celebrated WitGius, and another from the no less excellent Dr. Owen, relating to this point. The former thus expresses himself:--Communio cuni Christo et corpore ipsius myftico in electis infantibus baptismum antecedere videtur; faltem judicio charitatis. Pædobaptifmo enim uti FUNDAMENTUM fubftruitur. Hoc quippe argumento passim pugnatur ab orthodoxis: ad quos pertinet fædus gratiæ, et communio Christi, atque ecclefiæ, et quorum eft regnum cælorum, eos oportet baptizari. Atqui hæc omnia infantibus electis, et fæderatis competunt. - Bodius Romanæ ecclefiæ doctores in gravisimo estore verfari autumat, quum ftatuunt bapti?
taught by the parish minister; and in the firm, persuasion of these things they are confirmed by the bilhop. For, immediately before he lays upon them his episcopal hand, he recognizes, in a fol. emn address to God, the great blessings supposed to be conferred and received by them at the time of their baptism. Thus he prays : Almighty and ever living God, who hast vouchsafed to reGENERATE THESE THY SERVANTS by water and the Holy Ghost, and haft given unto them FORGIVENESS OF ALL THEIR SINS.'-And, after imposition of hands; "We make our humble fupplications ullto thee [the divine Majesty] for these thy servants, upon whom (after the example of thy holy apolles) we have now laid our hands, to CERTIFY THEM (by this sign) OF THY FAVOUR AND GRACIOUS GOODNESS TOWARDS THEM.' Once more ; 'As the church of England suggests a painful doubt, relating to the final happiness of such infants as die without baptism; fo the absol...ely forbids her Burial Service to be read over any who die unbaptized; placing them, in this respect, on a level with those that die under a sentence of excommunication for the most
zandos, priusquam hoc fignaculo obsignentur; Christi mnembra non esse, ad ejus corpus et communionem non pertinere, sed tum demum e poteftate diaboli liberari, inque Christi fa.miliani transire. Miscel. Sac. Tom. II. Exercit. xix. S 21 -The latter chus:--Neque fanè dogma pernitiufius, aut quod peccatorum animis præsentius venenum propinaret, facilè excogitaret ipse mendaciorum pater. Dùm enim mileri homines mortui peccatis sibi adblandiuntur quod in baptifmo renati fuerint, atque in utramque aurem ociosè doriniant ; necessitatem absolutam et indispensabilem fpiritualis totius hominis renovationis fúsque déquie habentes, ffacum suum mila errimum agnoscere, et ad gratium Christi vivificantem .confu. gere negligunt atque ita pernitiofiffima securitate sopiii, Fernùm pereunt. Thcologoum. I. vi. c v p. 477, 478.