« AnteriorContinuar »
have wholly laid aside those egregious follies, abfurditieff and unscriptural practices, because they must otherwise appear manisestly inconsistent with themselves. Besides^ it will give Infidels too much cause to reproach them with being insincere, either in what they do, or in what they say; and whether that will be any credit or service to themselves, or the christian religion, it behoves them seriously to consider. * For, says Mr. Mole, where (hall
* we find in the word of God any mention of deputies,
* or bondsmen, or proxies, in the matters of salvation?' Certainly none at all. No, nor yet of infants being clad with pureness and perfection in baptism, or of their being Chrijlians, and federally holy before baptism, intitling them to baptism. On the contrary, we are therein assured, that even the righteousness of Noah, Daniel, and Job, would avail so little for any besides themselves, that they should deliver neither son nor daughter, so much as from temporal evils, and much less from those which are future; because God affirms, Ezek. xiv. 12—20, they shaft but deliver their own souls by their righteousness. And how then can any Christians so vainly pretend, that the faith, obedience, and holiness of parents, (hall be imputed to their descendants through all generations; so as to justify them in the neglect of the positive appointments of God, as much designed, and according to the nature and reason of their institution, equally as necessary for them all, as for their parents at first? And moreover, what signifies all their pretended federal holiness, and faith derived from parents, constituting them holy Christians, and intitling them to baptism, or that purity and perfection, which they suppose to be conserred in baptism? We have no such ridiculous and absurd notions in scripture; 4 and,
« as Mr. Mole fays, if they are not there, what have we
* to do with them? Or how can they be said to belong
* t* Christianity?' And as this Infidel's objection, designed by him to expose Christianity, is entirely founded upon those opinions and practices amongst Christians, which are no part of the christian religion; so it must afford the Baptist churches no small satisfaction to find, that they are no ways concerned in it. For, as Mr. Molt further observes; * We should be apt to form an advantage4 ous opinion of the beauty of a person, when we find
* that those, who have endeavoured to decry it, have done
* it by keeping us from the sight of the original, and pre
* senting us only with false copies. It may be some de
* crec of credit to the christian religion to observe the
* most wily os its enemies oppose it, by falfly ascribing « to it, what it never taught, and feigning absurdities, « which arc no where to be found in it. Men never more
* shew the weakness, or that themselves seel the weakness 4 of the cause, which they espouse, than when they are 'reduced to the method of misrepresenting what they op4 pose. Our author has gathered a heap of absurdities, « as it is very easy to do, from some modern formula's of 4 religious doctrines, or the modern practice of somereli4 giuus societies, which are for the most part full of them; 4 and falfly charged them upon Christianity. But wbat4 ever he is for looking to, I own, I am for looking to the 4 law and to the testimony, and letting life and practice 4 alone upon this occasion; as knowing it to be a com
* mon thing with thole who look to them, to take the
* precept or practice of man for the pleasure and ordi4 nance of God himself in any point.'
Sad and dismal indeed is the desection from real Christianity, and there is too much truth in this conclusion; for which reason Mr. Mole ought to think, that looking to the law and to the testimony in relation to baptism, without a strict conformity in practice, will avail nothing. And therefore till our Pædobaptist brethren shall think fit to lay aside those human appointments, and reform their practice; they make it absolutely necessary for some to hold out a light of warning, and direction upon every suitable occasion, as I have now once more endeavoured to do, that persons may not mistake the precepts and. practice of men for the pleasure and ordinance of God himself in this point.
. As Mr. Mole's Reply to this Infidel's objection ends here, I shall follow him no farther than just to transcribe some part of his introduction. And if the rules there laid down had always been carefully attended to by Christians, and they had governed themselves accordingly, we should have been so far from having any controversy about infant-baptism, that we should never once have heard the name of it. He begins his answer thus:
'It is much to be wished, that, in all inquiries about 4 the christian religion, that only should be considered as « such, and come into the question, which lies originally 'in the sacred writings of the New Testament. For
* Christianity as it is there laid down, and as it has b§en 4 since established in the various writings and laws of men,
* are different things, and very wide of one another: To interest Christianity, not in what Christ, but in what men have made it, and to direct our inquiries, and determine our sentiments about it from these later 4 glosses, is much the fame thing; as if we were to judge 4 of the nature and meaning of the law of Moses from the
* false interpretations and spurious additions, with which 4 the Pharisees had corrupted it: which, however they 4 went under the name of the Jewijh religion, very wide4 ly differed from it-; as what the systems and formula's of 4 many modern churches set forth for the christian reli4 gion, does differ from what is trulv such.
4 Nothing shews more weakness than to receive things '^so different as one and the fame, or wickedness than
* knowing that difference to represent them as the fame. 4 For whatever is called Christianity, that only is deserv
* edly esteemed so, which lies in the scriptures ; and that
* is a very vain objection against the true doctrine of 4 Christ, which is drawn from it, as it lies in the most
* authorised systems and compositions of men.
* And in stating the doctrine of Christianity, it is
* scarcely consistent with the justice that is due to it, or
* the sincerity with which our inquiries about it ought to
* be conducted, to select a sew scattered sentences from 4 the scriptures, and consider them as intire and inde
* pendent propositions: since so detached they may be
* easily made to express a meaning different from the true
* one, or even quite contrary to it; which can only be 4 learnt by viewing them in the connection with those 4 discourses, from which they are taken, and considering
* the purpose, to which the speaker or writer applies
* Nor is it the likeliest way to give a fair account of
* the doctrine of the scriptures, if leaving the places, in
* which it is most fully and plainly declared, we form
* a system founded on obscure and difficult passages; 4 and presume to determine the sense and meaning of
* them arbitrarily and at pleasure, without any regard to
* the view of the speaker, or to the argument of his dif
* course, or to any other places, wherein his meaning is 4 more plainly expressed by himself, and more easily to be
* discovered by us.
4 In interpreting the words, or representing thesenti
* ments of any other writers, we never make use of such c methods as these; or think, we have any right to use
* them: and if we did, whatever we might esteem our
4 selves, * selves, we should hardly with others pass for fair inter
* preters. And why should such methods be taken, or al4 lowed, in representing the sense os the sacred writings;
* which are esteemed misrepresentations in the case of
* all other writings, and reckoned highly injurious to 4 them?*
Remarks on Dr. DoddridgeV Letters.
IC O M E now to examine Dr. Doddr'ulge's Answer to the same objection, and shall also therein apply many passages of his letters to the subject in debate. He begins after this manner:
9 4 There yet remains to be considered the argument 4 you draw from infant-baptism, which you apprehend 4 would be very absurd, if it were not supposed to be at4 tended with such a communication of the spirit, as that 4 which is now in debate between us,' which he thus expresses as the sense of his author. '4 And finally, that if
* faith were built upon any other foundation, it would 4 beutterly absurd to pray for its increase; (page 10) and 4 that infant baptism, here taken for granted to be a di
* vine institution, would on any other scheme be unjustifi
* ableand unintelligible, (page 69) These, Sir, are (so far f as I can find) the grand foundations, on which you build 4 the doctrine I am now opposing.'
But whether upon the doctor's own, and the common principles of his party, at whose request this third letter was written, there be not too much ground given for the enemies of revelation to make such suppositions, and propound such questions, it behoves them all seriously to consider 5 tho', even without those suppositions, I have clearly enough shewn, that infant-baptism, as their sprinkling is falfly called, is a very absurd thing: and moreover, it is it seems the grand foundation which gives Infidels a handle to scoff and deride it, and to cast the greatest reproach and contempt upon the christian name. And of this, by the following words, the doctor himself appears to be sufficiently sensible. "Can a man, say you, be H 2 "baptized
9 Third Letter, p. 54. 1 Ibid. p. 30.
*4 baptized into a rational religion?" (by which I suppose 4 you mean, can that religion be rational, of which in4 fant-baptism is a part?') This /thought, and the very words also, the doctor seems to have taken from the ingenious Oxford Reply; and they as plainly shew, that in the doctor's apprehension, Infidels may take occasion from thence, to represent Christianity, as a childish irrational thing, which is indeed what the author14 endeav4 ours to evince, by looking a little into lise and practice
* upon the occasion, by tracing this faith to its known 4 original, and pointing directly to'the great root whence,' he fays, 4 all our religious impressions notoriously spring.' And ' 4 will help us to a just and uniform account of its
* whole nature, whilst it points readily back to its source 4 of baptism.' And hence, in agreement with his title, he seems ♦ 4 fully persuaded, that the judging at ail of re4 ligious matters is not the proper province of reason, or
* indeed an affair where she has any concern "Your
* boasted rational faith, fays he, is what I would fain
* shew you to be a false, unwarranted notion of your own, 4 and without the least ground to support it, either in na
* ture or revelation. 1 mean, that your assent to revealed
* truths should be founded upon the conviction of your
* understanding.' And therefore he adds, s 4 It is impos4 lible, surely, when we consider to whom we must al4 cribe them, that any such absurd schemes can any long4 er be supposed, that we can ever imagine, that the great 4 author and finisher of our faith should have contrived 4 us an irrational one, to be afterwards superseded, or
* even confirmed by a rational one.'
The reasoning of this writer in these passages is agreeable to what Dr. Dcddiidge fays, as follows, 6 4 For the il4 lustration of this, you must give me leave to- remind 4 you, that both the mosaic and christian dispensations 4 have been much misrepresented, in consequence of 4 mens taking their notions of them, rather from the
* conduct of their prosessors, than from the institutes of
4 their respective sounders.' And according to our Lord's own metaphors, Mat. vii. 16—20. Da men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thijMci? How can we expect it should be otherwise? But is it not »reatly to be lamented, that the best, most holy, most excellent, and molt persect religion,
z Christianity notfoundiJ,13c. p. 9. 3 Ibid. p. 10. ♦ p. 7.
5 p. Io." 6 Firil Letter, p. 13.