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* Writers of vour rank,says he, ' should have stronger 4 apprehensions of mischief, from the folly and fury 4 which naturally attend ignorance, bigotry, and pre4 fumed inspiration, than from the spirit and temper of 4 the rationalist. To preserve a sense of religion among 4 mankind, is surely, in some degree, necessary to the 4 peace and welfare of society. And jf we believe the 4 supreme Being hath interposed in this affair, it becometh
* us to suppose, he hath done it in a Wise And Wor4 THY Manner. In all the constructions we make of
* his declared will and pleasure, with regard to our faith 4 and practice, Nothing Evidently Dishonourc Able Is To Be Allowed. Reflections of this 4 kind have engaged good and wise men to ascribe
* righteousness to their maker, and to endeavour to bring
* a good report on Pure And Undefiud Reli
4 You ask, p. 9. "Can a man be baptized into a rational "religion." 4 By commenting on the form of baptism 4 in our church, you endeavour to establish the negative; 4 which you conclude with: yet such is the pleasure and 4 ordinance os God himself in this point.' But such pleasure and ordinance of God respecting infant-baptism, is fully and clearly disowned by our young Gentleman, in these words. 4 All this is said, as if the whole of your 4 account was expressly revealed in the New Testament.' And then he proceeds giving up their church establishments, and 39 aitides also, as savouring too much of human appointments, and therebv deviating from original Christianity, when he adds, 4 The forms and modes of
* worsliip, the manner ot administring the sacraments,
* and definitions and decrees relating to doctrines, as far
* as they arc human appointments, do not belong to our
* consideration.' What! not to the consideration of those .who own and practise them in bar of the pure truths and appointments of Christ? I should rather have thought, that they were under the highest obligation to consider them.
In the next page he affirms, 4 God hath only required 4 what is short, plain, and evidently connected with » our duty.' And here he savs, 4 with original Christia4 nity only is our present concern.' Thus he hath wisely evaded the objection, because perhaps he might find that the principles, and practice of his church in this particular
5 T-ge 4
lar are indesensible; and for the same reason, acknow' Jedgmg the insuperable difficulties thereby brought upon our holy religion, he prudently avoids giving any answer to another objection, by saying, p. 9, 10. ' We have al
* ready observed, that all our preient concern is with
* pure and simple Christianity; and not to account for 4 difficulties added by religious establishments. You are 4 not therefore to expect any remarks on the article con4 cerning good works done before faith, &c. But to your 4 question, fays our Gentleman, p. 5. was there ever in 4 the world a religion which deserved the name of ratio4 nal? Have there not been, in many religions, several
* things very sitting and reasonable, tho' attended with < many and shocking absurdities? Hath not the Christian 4 religion as fair and just a pretence as any other to be 4 deemed rational?' It is no pretence to fay the Christian religion is rational. It is really so in itself, and ought not to be compared with others; for tho' under the church of England, and some other establishments, it may be attended, if I may not be allowed to fay, with many and /hiding absurdities, I think, I may with many things indesensible, inconsistent with reason, and primitive Christianity. Yet, by his own consession, this cannot be true of pure and simple Cbrislianity, which itself hath no difficulties to account for, and such things being only added thereto by human appointments, we have, according to Mr. Mole, nothing further to do, but to dijoiun and disavow them ; as we very well may, what our young Gentleman adds, as follows: 4 Where is the absurdity of 4 the relations and friends of infants dedicating them to 4 the service of God, and engaging to bring them up in 4 the sear and reverence of their maker, and in all the 4 virtues and duties which become us as social beings?'
Tpris it not this very practice of sprinkling infants in the name of the Lord, on which this Infidel's objection is founded? And are not these words of his justly applicable to them? 4 4 It is impossible, surely, when we consider to whom we 4 must ascribe them, that any such absurd schemes can 4 any longer be supposed, that we can ever imagine, that 4 the great author and finisher of our faith should have 4 contrived us an irrational one, to be afterwards supersed4 ed, or even confirmed by a rational one.' Which is the well-known appointment, and practice of our estaD 2 blished
* Christianity not sounded on Argument, p. 10, II.
blished church. Their infants commence Christians and church-members, when they have not the exercise of understanding, and are entirely ignorant of what is done; and this unwarrantable act of their sponsors is afterwards supposed to be superseded, and confirmed by the infants themselves, when they come to years of understanding. For when they come to be confirmed by the bishops, then the sponsors are supposed to be discharged from all the obligations, which they, I can hardly fay, solemnly entered into. But at the very time, when they laid themselves under those engagements, if they had at all considered, they must have been assured, that it was impossible to make them good; and that such promises, in strictness of speech, never were fulfilled by any one infant, for whom they were made, if it lived to years of maturity.
But as our young Gentleman expresses himself, * £ Is it 4 indeed doing honour to God, to suppose we become ac
* ceptable to him, by renouncing our most distinguishing 4 excellency in the most exalted and excellent affair of re
* ligion? Is this the peculiar glory of the gospel revela
* tion, that it teacheth us to cultivate warm affections and
* blind zeal; to have a steady and strong faith, but not to
* presume to inquire why or what we believe? [or pro
* mife.] By children, rdeots, and ignorant pagans, when
* they can once pronounce the words, creeds may be re
* peated. Now, tho* they cannot connect sense with
* their words, do they commence believers, by having 4 an unaccountable liking and affection for these sounds?' But thus accomplished, persons receive Confirmation, and then are accounted rational Christians, and thereby intitled to the holy communion, tho'they may afterwards live in all manner of wickedness; for under some certain circumstances, what pious minister durst refuse it them; but they are not permitted to approach the Lord's table before confirmation, notwithstanding their baptism, and the vows of their sureties for them. First, "That they Jhould renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, That they Jhould believe all the articles of the christian faith. And Thirdly, That they Jhould keep God's boly will and commandments, aud walk in the fame all the days of their lives. In the ministration of the public baptism of infants, the minister addresses the sureties thus;
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4 Dost thou in the name of this child renounce the de4 vil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the 4 world, with all the covetous desires of the fame, and
* the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not fol
* low, nor be led by them? Answer. 4 I renounce them all.
Minister. 4 Dost thou believe in God the Father al
* mighty, maker, &c.
Answer. 4 All this I stedfastly believe.
Minister. 4 Wilt thou then obediently keep God's
* holy will and commandments, and walk in the (ame all
* the days of thy lise? Answer. • I will.
4 Propositions, fays our Gentleman, 6 of an indiffer4 ent nature, and in which the welfare of mankind, 4 neither here nor hereafter, is in any degree concerned,
* we are not bound to apprehend and believe. But when 4 the case is quite different, attention and application are
* proper and necessary. [For] the truth of the gospel [In*stitutiom] is a very material point in question.' But with how little seriousness, piety and devotion, and with what gross ignorance, this established order of the church of England, for making infants Christians and church-members, is frequently accompanied, Dr. Wall freely acknowledges in these very words, where he also presers adult-baptism before it.
i 4 The solemnity of the circumstances in the admini
* stration of baptism, (as also of the other sacrament) 4 does very powerfully strike and affect the mind of any
* devout Christian that sees it administered. The baptism
* of an infant cannot have all the solemnity which that 4 of an adult person may have. The previous fasting and 4 prayer, the penitent confession, the zeal and humility, 4 and deep affection of the receiver may be visible there; 4 which cannot be in the case of an infant. But for that
* very reason we ought not to deprive the administration
* of this sacrament to infants of any solemnity of which
* it is capable.
* The immersion of the person (whether infant or
* adult) in the posture of one that is buried and raised up
4 again, is much more solemn, and expresses the design
* of the sacrament, and the mystery of the spiritual wash4 ing much better, than pouring a small quantity of wa
* ter on the face. And that pouring of water is
* much better than sprinkling, or dropping a drop 4 of water on it. If it be done in the church in, or at 4 the font, and the congregation do join in the prayers
* there used; it is much more solemn than in a bed-cham
* ber, out of a bason, or pipkin, a tea-cup, or a punch
* bowl, and a bed-chamber is perhaps not quite so scandal4 ous as a kitchen or stable ; to which things look as if they 4 would bring it at last.
4 These he calls innovations and alterations for the 4 worse, the vilipendiums of the holy sacrament shewn
* and used in the baptizing of infants.'
And after he has enumerated many of the ill consequences and abuses that attend it, and which he calls absurd and ridiculous, he adds; • The profanation and in4 dignity in general on this sacrament, on occasion of 4 this house-baptism, is so notorious, that I do appeal to
* the experience and conscience of all that use it, if they 4 themselves be not scandalized at the indecent circum4 stances that do almost always attend it. All the regard 4 is commonly given to the preparations for eating and 4 drinking; very little to the sacrament. Very sew
* of the company join in the prayers; but only in the 4 seasting and carnal jollity, which is too often carried on 4 to such excess, as is more likely to bring a curse than 4 a blessing upon the whole undertaking. This is com 4 monly yet worse when it is in an ale-house, or other lewd 4 house. Those, who in such cases are chosen for godfa
* thers and godmothers, are generally persons ignorant of 4 the terms of the baptismal covenant themselves; and 4 when they should make answer in the name- of the 4 child to the holy interrogatories, they neither mind the 4 substance of the thing asked, nor do know what answer is 4 fit to make; but do only in a ridiculous manner give a 4 bow, a curtefy, or a nod; and that often not without
4 apparent signs of mockery; and they frequently shew a 4 very vain, irreverent, and wanton behaviour before, 4 and in, and after the sacred administration. Is not this 4 enough to turn the stomach of any serious Christian 4 that is present? And if they reflect with themselves, 4 and think; Is this the way that I was baptized in? to 4 occasion perhaps their falling into the error we are speak4 ing of, and resolving to be baptized again? Can a mi