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given a very just anJ weighty reason, + where he says, 4 It 4 mult be granted, that the prejudices of education have 4 great force upon our minds in favour of the opinions 4 we have imbibed in our younger years.'
if to examine and judge for ourselves in the great affair of religion be of all others the mofl weighty and important, so that we are not therein to take things upon trujl; surely it must highly become our Oxonian Gentleman, and every other Pædobaptift, most seriously to weigh and consider, whether another person's doing any thing to them, as an act of religion, without their knowledge and consent, and without any command from God, can be at all acceptable to him j or is sufficient to exempt them afterwards from a personal and voluntary submission and obedience to the institution of Christ, when they come to years of understanding, and are capable of the qualifications, which the scriptures direct to, and accordingly in the judgment of our established church, are therein required of persons to be baptized. This leads me to consider his answer to the objection against a rational faith, arising from the practice of infant-baptism, which begins thus:
s 4You ask, p. 9. Can a man be baptized into a rational
* religion? Which question, in the terms in which it is
* conceived, is a very extraordinary one. Can a man be 4 baptized, £sV ? Why not, Sir ? Will you give me leave to « ask in my turn: Can a man believe a rational religion, 4 and make prosession of it? I hope he may. And what 4 does being baptized imply more than this?'
If being baptized imply the believing and making profejftin of a rational religion, or in the terms of their church catechism,4 Repentance, whereby they forsake stn ; and faith, whereby they Jledfajlly believe the promises of God made to them in that sacrament;' then infants cannot possibly be the subjects of it, and this he has most frankly and honestly acknowledged in these words. 6 4 But by what follows 4 I guess you would have said, Can that be a reasonable re4 ligion, into which infants are baptized? For you pre4 sently ask again, Where is reason concerned when 4 babes accept the terms of salvation by deputy f To which be thus replies, 4 The reason of the infants them4 selves is no ways concerned in it. They have no rea
* son, nor are they therefore capable of religion.' Is it not therefore a very great reproach upon their church, to
enact such things for them, and in the fame book publicly declare to all the world: That baptism is only the outward and visible sign os the inward and spiritual grace in the person baptized, signifying his death unto fin, and new birth unto righteousness; and that infants, by reason os their tender age, are unable to perform the neceflary requisites for their admission to it ? Would it not be much wiser and better for our established church to wait, till they are capable os religion; till the inward and spiritual grace, and all the neceifery qualifications for that sacred ordinance appear in them; till they can confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in (heir heart that God hath raised him from the dead? Rom. x. 8—15. But to establish a method of procedure diametrically opposite to all this, and at the fame time acknowledge it to be so, as, I think, their words sufficiently declare, are indeed such shocking contradictions, and such a glaring reproach to their church, that our Oxonian, in contending with an Infidel, could not pretend to vindicate, and only seems willing to palliate, by adding in very modest and cautious terms. 4 But they [that is infants,] may, so far as I can
* judge at present, by the mercies of God be capable of 4 being admitted to the benefits of his covenant.' That is, I well hope, to salvation by the mercies of God; for as he asserts elsewhere, ^ 4 Before the use of reason, it 4 [faith] is not necessary at all; /. e. ( ....) necessary to 4 (ave us from the penalties of the law; nor is it neces
* sary, in this sense, at any time afterwards, but accord4 ing to circumstances.' Agreeable to which he fays, 8 4 Faith is necessary to all who may be convinced by the
* evidence offered; but I do not know that it is necef4 sary to those, who having done their utmost cannot 4 free themselves from scruples ; neceflary, I fay, to save 4 them from the penalties which the gospel threatens to 4 unbelievers.' And I wish, that Pædobaptists in our controversy would but carefully regard the same advice and caution, which this Oxonian here directs his author to, namely 4 Say honestly what the gospel is, and [Infidels 4 may] do [their] worst. But it is not fair to load it with
* absurdities of [rA«V] own inventions.' Such things only make them inconsistent, and give Infidels advantage; and therefore, if in the passage I was upon, our young Gentleman means any thing concerning baptism, as I fear he does, tho' the scriptures are entirely silent about
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any covenant for their admission to it, it is given up again in the very next words directed to his author. * You, per4 haps, may be of another opinion;' [namely that infants cannot be saved without baptism, as too many weak Christians have pretended.] * But what has this question to
* do with the truth of religion?' [What indeed, as infants are incapable of religion, and the New Testament fays nothing of their being baptized ?] 4 But' he goes on plainly denying what the Deifl alledged, as J besore observed xfc Cambridge letter had done, * You lay it down peremptorily, 4 that it is the pleasure and ordinance of God that in4 fants should be baptized; because, I suppose, it best 4 suited your purpose. For you know very well, that all
* Christians are not of a mind in this matter; and it
* shews you are hard put to it for arguments against Chrif4 tianity, to lay hold of a disputed practice, and build 4 upon it as a plain, express law of Christ.' After this follows a more free and ingenuous consession, than is often met with from any Pædobaptists, but those of our established church. * I do not remember any passage in 4 the New Testament, which fays expressly, that infants
* should be baptized j and as I am informed by better
* judges, the evidences for this practice from antiquity,
* tho' very early, do not fully come up to the times of the 4 apostles.'
Here is scripture and the best antiquity given up at once by this learned member of our University, as containing nothing in them expressly for the practice of infant-baptism; and from this conviction therefore, he very modestly and very wisely subjoins: 4 So that if I did believe the
* receiving children into covenant by baptism to be so ab4 surd a thing as you seem to think it; I should judge it
* to be more reasonable to question the agreeabseness of
* this practice, (how general soever,) to the institution of
* Christ, than to reject the gospel on that account.' This being the whole of our Oxford young Gentleman's
Reply to this objection, I shall only ask him further, how far the continuing a practice, the agreeableness of which to the institution of Christ, he questions, can be justified by St. Paufo rule of conduct, Rcm. xiv. 22—23. as himself explains it, p. 31, 32: where, as his brother at Cambridge had done, he also gives up the validity of their chrurch articles, with her definitions and determinations in matters of religion? The whole passage runs thus. 4 But how do 4 you prove, that natural religion will stand a man in
• no * no stead? Why, by appealing to an article of the » church of England, which says, that works done before
* the grace of Christ, are not pleasant to God, nor do
* they make men meet to receive grace.' [Of what use
* can infant-baptism be then ?] 4 I am not divine enough, » Sir, to settle the precise meaning of this article. It f may possibly be this, that our best and most persect natu4 ral state is lo desective, that we cannot plead acceptance
* with God, without his free, undeserved mercy in the 4 pardon of our sins; which I think is true. But sup4 posing the doctrine of the article to be as you would re
* present it, what would be the consequence? Are you
* of those who think it reasonable to set down the deci4 fions of a particular church as the standard of the chris4 tian doctrine? For decency you do indeed quote a text
* of scripture; Whatsoever is not offaith, is fin. But you 4 cannot, I appTchend, lay any real stress upon this, 4 which even I (unskilled in the scriptures as I am) can see 4 is nothing to the purpose. The Apostle was speaking 4 of eating certain meats, concerning which the ques
* tion was, whether they might lawfully be eaten or not. 4 In these cases he directs, that every man should take care
* to satisfy his own judgment, and not do any thing un
* persuaded of the lawfulness of it. I know and am per4 fuaded that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him
* that eflecmeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is un4 clean: Rom. xiv. 14. To eat, whilst I doubt whether
* I may lawfully eat or not, is not of faith* and ffhatfo4 ever is not of faith, is fin, ver. 23. What tendency
* has this to (new that God will damn men for their
* most innocent mistakes; or that the best faith they 4 can get, the best lise they can lead, will be of no
* account, if in all points a man believes not aright?
* If you know of any other text that fays this, 'produce it, and it shall be admitted. But to fay 4 that the church of England teaches this is saying
* nothing. For if it were true that this is the sense of
* the article ("which I verily believe it is not) I would an4 swer as I have already answered in another case: It Is
4 MORE REASONABLE TO GIVE UP THE ARTI
* CLE THAN THE GOSPEL.'
The just sentiments, which these young members of our Universities have told us, they entertain concerning church authority, and decisions in matters of religion, are much fuller expressed by Mr. Mole, so as to extend to all Pædobaptist churches, in his answer to the sarne argument from the article of the church of England, in these words. '«Our author indeed has an ex
* preflion of his church, which may be of some ser
* vice with those, who will be concluded by such kind of
* authority: but what matters it how his church, or any
* other such church, has expressed this, or any other mat
* ter whatever? Could the decisions of ever so many
* churches, and ever so well constituted, be produced to
* the contrary; what is there, that the nature of any such
* human assurances can possibly afford us, that has not 4 more than a ballance in such an authority as that of
* God? The authority our author quotes is of a piece 4 with his assertion, falshood and absurdity are upheld by
* such authority; but the doctrine of Christ, as it is of a
* different nature, stands upon a very different ground.' But the author of Christianity not founded on Argument
hath dropped a suggestion, of which neither the Cambridge Letter, nor the Oxford Reply, had reason to take any notice, because to be sure they believe it is true. Yet Mr. Mole hath taken occasion from thence to cast some reflections upon our established church, tho', in my apprehension, it does not appear with a very good grace, unless there was more difference between hers, and the Presbyterian establishment, respecting the commencement of Christianity and church membership in the infants of each, by bringing them to what they both falfly call baptism, tho' they are equally unqualified for it.
Remarks on the office of baptism in the kirk of
assembly of dktines.
TH AT the infants, which commence Christians and church-members in the kirk of Scotland, are equally unqualified with those in our established church, the practice there as unseriptural, and founded as intirely upon human authority) is manifest. The kirk of Scotland in
S E C T. III.
9 Grounds of the Christian Faith rational, p. 80.