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Now supposing our bretliren in the course of their reading to meet with such an account, what would they think of it? What would they say? They would, undoubtedly, suspect the truth of the whole. They would consider it as a Rabbinical fable. But how would their indignation rise, were the fabulous narrator to proceed and allert; • That Mofes and Joshua, warmly efpouling this latter opinion, added much to its credit!' This, they would say, is absolutely incredible, and a vile asperfion on the characters of those illustrioussaints. Had Nadab and Abihu been mentioned as the abettors of this unfcriptural practice, there. would have Seen less reason to deny the truth of the whole Telation ; because they were guilty of innovating in the worship of God, and were awfully punished for it. But thus to represent the most pious, exemplary, and excellent men in all the Ifraelitish camp, is beyond the bounds, not only of credi. bility, but also of decency. Reflections of this kind, I am persuaded, they would readily make, were they to find such a narration in the Talmud, or in any Rabbinical author. And now give me leave again to remind them; That, according to the judgment of the Christian world in general, circumcision was not more neceffary for all the males, who desired communion at the paschal supper and in the folemn services of the tabernacle, than baptism is to fellowship in the Christian church, and a feat at the Lord's table That there is, on their own principles, a wider and a more material difference between baptisrn,', as now administered to infants, and baptism, as appointed by Jesus Christ ; than there would have , been, between cutting off the foreikia and circum
cising a finger: because the latter would have been circumcifion, and the circumcision of a proper fubje&t also, though not of the part required ; but Sprinkling, whether infants or adults, is no more baptism, in their account, than it is immer hon--And that, had any members of the ancient fynagogue introduced, or admitted, such an alteration as that supposed; they might have defended it on the fame general grounds, and with much greater plausibility, in several refpects at least, than our brethren can the practice of free communion. For I appeal to my reader, whether the Pentateuch of Moses and the scriptures of the prophets do not say as much of the one, as the evangelical history and the writings of the apostles do of the other?
Paul, when meeting with certain disciples at Ephesus, desired to know, whether they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. To whom they answered, “ We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” On which the apostle put the following question : “Unto what then were ye baptized 21 And they faid, “ Unto John's baptism. From which it plainly appears, that as these persons professed to be disciples of Jesus Christ, Paul took it for granted they had been baptized. For his query is not, Have you been baptized? But, “ Unto, or into, what then were ye baptized ?” He inferred their baptism from their profession: and he had reason fo to do. For he well knew, that the first administrator of the ordinance required a submission to it, of all that brought " forth fruits meet for repentance;" that the apostolic ministry demanded the same act of obedience, from all that believed in Jesus Christ;
and the administration of baptism is a part of the ministerial office, being strictly connected with teaching the disciples of Christ, “to observe all. things which he has commanded.” And, as an author before quoted, justly remarks; • We find that the preachers of the gospel always did it, and the people who gladly received the word, desired it. How indifferent soever it appears to some in our days, yet the grace of God never failed to ftir up an early regard to it in times of old.'*_But though the great apostle, when meeting with those disciples at Ephesus, made no doubt of their having been baptized, even before they informed him of it ; yet our brethren's conduct forbids us forming the same conclusion with equal ease and certainty, concerning all that are in communion with them. Nay, Pacificus himself, for instance, cloes not consider all that belong to his community as baptized persons. So that were the apostle's query addressed to him, with a little alteration ; Into what were the Pædobaptist members of your church baptized ? His answer as a Baptist, must be ; Into-nothing : for I do not consider them as baptized at all.-Paul, as before observed, when correcting fome irregularities in the church at Co.
• Mr Bradbury's Duty and Doctrine of Baptism, p. 70.-In a preceding page of the same Creatise, he says; "I hear there are several who suppose that baptism is only the work of those that are grown up, and yet neglect it themselves. My brethren, whoever is in the right in doce trine, you are quite wrong in practice. Do not despise riie advice of one who has more value for your happiness, than he has for his own opinion. I will give it you in the words of Ananias ; " Why tarrieft thou? Arise and be baptized, walling away thy fins, and calling on the name of the Lorchill See, as above p. 16.
rinth, fays: “We have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” From which we may safely conclude, thạt whatever is now practised in the worship of God, which has not a precedent in the conduct of the apostles and the primitive churchos, is unwarrantable. And as our opponents believe that Paul knew of no such custom as infant fprinkling; as it also appears from his language to his disciples at Ephesus, thạt he knew of no such custom, among believers, as deferring a submission to baptism for months and years; so we have reason to infer, that he was equally ignorant of any such custom, as admitting unbaptized believers to the Lord's table. Nay, our brethren do not pretend that he knew of any such thing. But, however it was in the apostolic age, which is now hoary with great antiquity, that bold pervester of gospel truth, Socinus, introduced the custom of receiving unbaptized persons to communion ; many of his pupils adopted it; and our brethren continue it: which reminds us of the old saying, The times are changed, and we are changed in them.
Once more : Either Jesus Christ has informed us in the New Testament what baptism is, and what is requisite to communion at his table, or he has not. If the former, we cannot admit any thing as baptism, which we believe is not so; nor receive any to communion, but those whom we conlider as qualified according to his directions, without violating our allegiance to him as the King Messiah, and rebelling against his government. If the latter, there is no judge in Israel, and every one may do that which is right in his own eyes, in regard to these institutions. Yes, if our Lord instituted baptism, and left it undetermined how and to whom it should be administered ; if he appointed the facred supper, without charaderizing those who are to partake of it ; his miniltering fervants have a discretional power to administer them how and to whom they please. And if so, our brethren may sprinkle or immerse, infants or adults, just as their own conveniency and the dispositions of their people require. Nay, they may proceed a flep further, and admit the infant offspring of their Pædobaptist friends to the Lord's table; which was the general custom for several ages, in the apostate state of the Chriftian church, and, as a learned author informs us, is yet the practice of very near half the Christians in the world."* Then their communion would be free indeed, entirely free from the shackles of divine commands, and from the untoward influence of apoftolic precedent.
SECTION IV. Several Passages of Scripiure considered, which our
Brethren produce in favour of their Sentiments. THE cause which our brethren undertake to
1 defend, is denominated by them, Free Commu. nion. That communion, then, for which they plead, is free. But here I beg leave to ask, From what? The restraints of men ? that is a laudable freedom. From the laws of Heaven ? that were a licentious liberty. Absurd, in theory ; impossible, in fact. It never was, it never can be the case, that God should institute a positive ordinance of divine wor
* Dr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism. Part II. c. ix.