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• 4 Mr. Locke, in his excellent treatise, of the reason 4 ableness of the christian religion, tie. -has shewn
* that. ..." the one single proposition, which Christ « and his Apostles made essential to being a Christian, is, "that Jesus is the Christ, otherwise called the Messiah, "the Son of God, or Saviour of men. Whoever, upon "attending to the evidence, was convinced of this truth, •4 acknowledged the belief of it, and took upon him the "prosession of this faith by baptism, was supposed sufsici"ently to have acknowledged Christ's authority, and 44 thereupon to be intitled to communion with any •4 church, or Christian, upon the face of the earth. He •4 had a title to all the privileges of being within the pale, « and was looked upon as one that belonged to that one "flock and one fold, which are united under Christ Je44 fus their common head and Lord." And then he adds still further;
» 4 But it is fundamental to the salvation of every man,
* that he be a sincere, honest, upright man, and that he 4 inquire, and readily receive whatever he finds to be
* true, whether by reason or revelation. In acknowledg4 ing Jesus to be the Christ, he in effect takes him for
* Head and Lord, and thereby lays himself under obliga4 tion to receive whatever truths he can find that Christ 4 has any way revealed, as weir as to practise every duty 4 which he has injoined. And it would be so far renounc
* ing his allegiance to Christ, and disowning his divine 4 mission and authority, to reject any doctrine or precept,
* that is stamped with Christ's authority. For that would,
* in all just construction, be to deny him to be the Christ,
* or a prophet and teacher sent from God.'
This is very justly expressed, and 1 heartily wish Mr. Benson, and all his Paedobaptist brethren, would for their own fakes uniformly act according to this sentiment of his, that we might no longer have occasion to retort their own words upon them, as a just rebuke for their not (hewing that fame regard and readiness to obey Christ's authority in the great duty of baptism, which they so forcibly press upon their hearers and readers upon many other occasions: and which they can scarcely avoid giving room for, in almost every sermon they preach, and every book
» Mr. Benson'/ Reasonableness os the Christian Religion, p. 84. * ibid. p. 85.
they publish, either in desence of Christianity in general, or the several doctrines thereof in particular, against the various abuses and corruptions of them. And can they ever think, how justly their own arguments may be turned against them, and then seriously consider, Rom; ii. i, 2, 3, 11, 17,—21. Matt. xv. 3, 6, 9. and Mark vii. 7, 8, 9, 13. without secretly wishing, with some concern, that we had no room, nor any occahon given for it. For are they not in this particular the very persons Mr. Benson speaks of? + Who, * overlooking the evidences already 4 afforded, are always cavilling and demanding new, or
* other fort of evidence: they catch at every specious ap4 pearance of an argument, or objedtion, tomakethem4 selves easy in rejecting truths of such importance; but
* are afraid of examining things to the bottom, lest they
* should be thereby condemned. Such are the reasons,
* which our Saviour has assigned, of mens want of faith 4 in him and his gospel.' Or, s As the Oxford young Gentleman expresses himself, 4Canyou not discern a mani4 sest difference between the behaviour of one son who ac
* cepts, and readily executes his father's commands, con
* veyed to him by the instruments usual in such cases, 4 and from which he can have no more than amoral cer
* tainty; and another who would believe neither his scr4 vant, nor his own hand-writing, unless he came to him
* himself in person to acquaint him with his will and plea4 sure. The difference is visible; and the reason of it is this.
* One case (hews a will to obey; the other, a disposition < to catch hold of every handle to excuse himself; which 4 is the true essential distinction between a moral and an
* immoral man.' And as Dr.Doddridgeobserves, 6 4There 4 might indeed be a third fort of persons, whose state was 4f a medium between that of these, and of the scorners
* we mentioned before: I mean, such as were indolent 4 about the matter; neither positively persuaded that 4 Christianity* [and is applied to many Chrisiians ; that adult baptism] 4 was false, nor quite convinced that it 4 was true, nor solicitous to bring their doubts to an is4 sue; but concluding, that whether it were true or false, 4 they might find out a path to happiness without it. This
* was probably the case of many [ formerly], as it undoubt
* edly is the case of many in our days. Now such as these
* were not to be looked upon as fair enquirers, but as
C 4 triflers 4 triflers in the most serious of all affairs; and as acting
* the most absurd and inconsistent part: for as Christia4 nity pretended to be a matter of the utmost importance,' [and promises the pardon of Jin, with the gift if the Holy Ghoji, to the adultfubjecls of baptism. Mark xvi. 16. Acts ii. 38. and xxii 16] 4 in neglecting it they acted as if it 4 were assuredly false, while yet they confessed they knew
* not but it might be true. A conduct, which was ren4 dered especially inexcusable by that grand apparatus, 4 with which providence interposed to introduce it, which
* if it proved any thing at all concerning it, must prove 4 it to be of infinite moment.'
For, 4 It is not reasonable, Jays Mr. Mole, ^ to think,
* that God will oblige any man to be resolved, when he 4 knows him to be destitute of the necessary means; but 4 if a man provided with those means, which an honest 4 use of is sufficient to bring him to a clear determination, 4 and he shall postpone all examination in a case, where 4 the importance of the matter is inviting, and the autho4 rity requiring it is competent; and go on fluctuating in 4 doubt all his days: what reason can we have to think 4 hardly of God, if condemnation be the consequence of 4 such a conduct, and the man was before informed of it 4 as a motive of dissuasion'?
And in this view therefore, his description of the nature of true faith is worthy to be here introduced. 4 Having considered, fays he, * the causes, I proceed to 4 consider the nature of faith. And by faith I mean such 4 a belief of the mission and doctrine of Jesus Christ, as 4 stands connected in a way of moral operation, with 4 the exercise of repentance, and the subsequent practice 4 of sincere virtue; and leads into a compliance with 4 every qualification, which Christ required for remission
* and salvation.' [Mark xvi. 16. ABs ii. 38. and ch. ix. 17—20 compared with ch. xxii. 14^—16.] 4 Repentance 4 and virtue [or obedience] were the great lessons, which he 4 was sent to be a teacher of, and which faith was requir4 ed as preparatory to their learning; and for this reason, 4 that it was, and so far forth as it was, the moral cause
* or instrument of leading men to the practice of those 4 duties, was it in God's appointment made the condition 4 of his bestowing the blessings of remission and salvation 4 on them. A faith, which is no way connected with
7 Grounds of the Christian Faith rational, p. 73.
4 these things,' [viz. Such a faith as Infants are supposed to derive from their parents, or to have in their sponsors; or thatfederal holiness which many of our Ptedcbapttjis think necessary for their being sprinkled.] 4 When the use and ex
* cellence of that, which is required, consists in its being 4 a mean of them, it can be of no service to any to have, 4 or detriment to be without, and is not indeed worth
* disputing about[andtherefore 1 hope Infant-sprinkling, falfy called baptism, will no longer be contended for by them.] 4 But true faith is that principle, in virtue of which men 4 enter into the practice of every moral duty, and into a 4 right of inheritance to eternal selicity.' [See supplement, p. 67,68.]4 That faith stands thus connected, with virtue [or
* obedience] appears from almost every thing, that is said 4 of it in the scriptures. It is sometimes called the holy 4 faithj^W* xx. At other times we read of the obedience, 4 and righteousness of faith; Rom. xvi. 26. and ch. iv. 13. 4 and also of faith being reckoned for righteousness, Rom. 4 iv. 5. And that it bares this relation to eternal lise, our 4 Saviour declares: John vi. 47. iii. 36. Verily, verily, I c say unto you, he, who believeth in me, hath everlajling
I will leave this subject to my readers most serious consideration in the very words, with which Mr. Benson concludes his foregoing passage. 9 4 Less evidence would do, in 4 many cases, if truth was more grateful. But, when 4 men dislike the things to be proved, they are very un4 willing to attend to, or allow the force of those argu4 ments which are to convince them. It is evident mens 4 wills, appetites, passions and inclinations, have great in4 fluence upon their faith. However, men ought to re4 member that things are obstinate, and will not alter 4 with their wishes. And every wise man sees that the 4 right way is cooly and carefully to consider what is pro4 posed, however it may affect him; and to receive the 4 truth according to the importance and evidence of it. 4 These are the things, which are previous to the assent 4 of the mind, and are included in the scriptural notion 4 of faith.'
My own short notes or explanations, in two of these passages, are distinguished by Italic, placed in hooks [.. .]. And as several other quotations from these answers may have occasion for some such short additions, or amendments j so by the like marks, without any other notice, Ca my
? Page 10.
my readers may know, when I have added to, or altered any words in them. Rut to return:
This opinion, that persons unbaptized may be admitted to christian communion, appears to me quite contrary to the nature of the Christian institution, which was to gather a church out of the world, John xv. 9, and to all the rules of society, as well as the known practice of the primitive church, in the purest ages of it; and would cf course be destructive of all discipline, an inlet to disorder and confusion, and some encouragement to, licentiousness
And herein I think Mr. Benson fully agrees with me, sof he must believe in the perpetuity of baptism, and that it was designed for every Christian, in order to his becoming a member of Christ's visible church; or I know not what he can mean, where he says, 1 4 But, besides the mo4 ral duties, which are of eternal, unchangeable obliga
* tion, the positive ordinances of the christian religion 4 were instituted as means and assistances to preserve men » stedfast in the practice of those moral duties, which arc
* unquestionably the weightier matters of the Law ; and, 4 even these positive institutions are so free from all ap
* pearance of superstition and vanity, and so wisely fitted
* to the end for which they were designed, that no man
* can justly, or with any reason, object against the things 4 themselves, tho' Against The Corruptions
4 AND ABUSES OF THEM THERE HAS BEEN A
* BUNDANT REASON TO OBJECT. For what COn
4 siderateand thinking man can pretend to fay, that it is
* any way unreasonable or superstitious, for every
* member of any particular society, to be solemnly ad
* mitted into that society, by a plain and significant 4 rite, intitling him to all the privileges, and charging
* him with all the obligations, which belong to the mem
* bers of that society, as such; which is the design of one 4 of the christian sacraments? Or that it is unreasonable 4 and superstitious, frequently and with thankfulness to
* commemorate the love of their greatest benefactor,
* who condescended even to lay down his lise for them; 4 and thereupon humbly and solemnly to renew their
* obligations to him; which is the design of the other.' I have formerly shewn in my supplement, p. 67, 68,
what the true nature, use and design of baptism is; and having therein set forth the advantages, which Pædobaptist Protestants give the Papists, by departing from the
»Ibid. p. 25, 26.