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1 one preliminary; which is, that the question we are

4 3 debating, is not by any means to be decided by human

4 authority. I am very sensible, Sir, says the do£ior, that

* some eminent divines of the Reman communion, and

* the established church at home, as well as among our 'Nonconformists, have, in the zeal and humility of

* their hearts, expressed themselves in a manner which

* cannot be desended, and thereby have given too plausi4 b!e an occasion for [this Insiders'} dangerous and fatal

* law, and with the testimony; and where these holy 4 and excellent men have not spoken according to that

* rule, I cannot believe that celestial light to have been 4 in them, or suppose their minds under the guidance of

* that spirit, whom, tho' by ill-judged methods, it was 4 undoubtedly their sincere and affectionate desire to glo

* rify. Talcing the matter therefore, as the scripture

* represents it, it will be very easy to shew,' that there is not the least foundation there for the practice of infantbaptism, to which this passage of the doctor's may be justly applied ; the truth of which is, I think, evident enough from his answering this writer in the manner he has done. For he hath no where quoted a single text of scripture for it, but wheresoever he mentions it, or in the least glances at it, he always, with the infidel whom he opposes, takes it for granted, as a common principle, a thing general acknowledged; which, as I before observed, is a mere begging the question. He must know, it hath always been opposed by those of our persuasion, as a practice concerning which the scripture is totally silent, and therefore, this his neglect, if he knows there is scripture for it; or else his practice, if he knows there is not, must be absolutely inexcusable. And,

As to the many writings, which have been published in hehalf of this unscriptural practice, I may very justly say of them, as the doctor does of those for infidelity.

* 4 Sad indeed is the drudgery our brethren must go thro' 4 in reading such authors, . . .but the confirmation which 4 their faith may receive, by the very efforts made to

* overthrow it, [our prac7ice,andto ejlablijh their nun] will,

* I hope, in many instances, be a sufficient reward. And

* as these pieces, especially in the hand of second rate 4 writers, contain little more than a confident and un

4 misrepresentations

[graphic]

4 wearied

> Third Letter, p. o, ro. « First Letter, p. 46, 47.

c wearied repetition of the same objections, [and argu4 merits,'] which have been answered perhaps many scores 4 and hundreds of times, without taking any notice of 4 those replies j (which, whether it be owing to the

* learning, or modesty of the authors, I will not under4 take to fay;) one who is acquainted with these contro

* versies wjU be able to dispatch large volumes in a little 4 time, and will see that many of them need no new

* answers. * All which will be circumstances of some

* consolation under so tedious a task.' And as he fays elsewhere, * 4 Answers will be suggested, with those 4 objections; and he will soon be weary of hearing such 4 poor unsatisfactory things, as most of the cavils of In

* fidels [orPœdobaptiJ}s'\ are. And here again, the good ha

* bits, and dispositions formed in his mind, will be of 4 great service. He will perceive, that Christianity [with 4 adult-baptism] wears so favourable an aspect, and opens

* upon him so fine a prospect, that he will not hunt after

* objections against it ; as a man is not studious to find a 4 flaw in writings, by which he stands intitled to the re

* version of some noble estate: and when they accident

* ally start up in his way, he will soon see, that many of 4 them are grounded on notorious falshood, and are in 4 themselves despicably mean; especially when set against 4 the great arguments for it, of which he is already pos4 sessed.'

But to return to the doctor's answer, 4 all these valuable 4 purposes, and many more, says he, may be answered 4 by infant-baptism/ And because the doctor is a little sparing here, I will take the liberty to enumerate them in his own words elsewhere. 6 4 Nevertheless, for the far

* ther illustration of the subject, I shall freely tell you, 4 how I apprehend the case to stand, with regard to the

* generality of the common people, who are in good ear

* nest in the prosession of religion; readily acknowledg4 ing, tho' with great grief, that there are thousands and 4"ten thousands, who wear the name of Christians as by 4 meer accident, without at all considering its meaning, 4 reason, or obligation; a case very consistent with the

* possibility of their being better informed, and rationally

* convinced.' i4 That this is the case of so many,

4 I very readily acknowledge, that, thro' a negligence, 4 for which 1 sear a multitude of parents and ministers

I 2 4 have

5 Ibid. p. 21, 22. J First Letter, p. 12. 7 Ibid. p. 23.

4 have a terrible account to render before God By

4 far the greater part of prosessing Christians have proba

* bly no better reason to give for their religion, than that

* they were early baptized [be jhould have Jaid rantized] 4 into it, and have been trained up in some of its exter

* nal forms. Far from being instructed in its evidences, 4 they are hardly taught its doctrines, or its precepts; or 4 superficially learn them from those, who do^pot them

* selves seem to be in good earnest concerned about the one

* or the other. The fatal consequence is too plain. The 4 corruptions of nature, abetted by the force of evil ex4 amples, prevail against them; and they are early plung

* ed into such licentious practices, that if they ever reflect 4 on the most evident and express declarations of the word •4 of God, they must immediately fee, that they are con

* demned by it.

• Now there is no reason to wonder, if many of this 4 fort of Christians are easy proselytes to infidelity. It

* is no surprising thing, if a bold jest thrown upon scrip4 ture, or a confident senseless assertion of its falshood, « (perhaps from a person, on whose word hardly any thing 4 else would be believed,) have with them all the weight

* of a demonstration. They will be little concerned to

* ask information, or consider how objections may be 4 answered. Those magical words, priestcraft, and the

* prejudice of education, stun and terrify them. They 4 submit as [his Infidel] gravely expresses it, (page 75.) "in the impotency and impuberty of a dutiful understand"ing, in the tractable simplicity of unpractised reason: "with the obsequious and humble acquiescence of a babe, "they sit down to learn their lesson" too ;4 and their un4 belief, after they have attained the stature of men,

* is just as blind and implicit, as the faith of their child

* hood was.

4 This, Sir, is undoubtedly the case with many : and you

* cannot but have observed, what large companies in the

* free-thinking army are raised and enlisted from a'mong these vagabonds. But the generality of men among 4 us, as in every nation, go on thoughtlessly in the re

* ligion in which they were educated : hearing the truth

* of it often asserted, and perhaps never hearing it con4 tradicted, they entertain no doubts on the subject, but 4 grow old in a mere speculative and inefsectual assent to

* Christianity. And if their heart at any time smite 'them, with the contrariety of their temper and con

4duct 4 duct to the rules which they acknowledge to be divine, 4 they seek their shelter in the hope of making their peace

* with God, (as they commonly express it,) before they

* go out of the world ; and perhaps abuse some of the 4 noblest discoveries which the gospel mukes, as an en4 couragtment to continue in those fins and follies, from

* which it was expressly designed to reclaim them.'

The doctor hath here given us a dismal, melancholy train of evils indeed, and they are such by his limitation of them, as we nviy reasonably suppose, would not have so frequently existed, had it not been for infant-baptism; because according to him, they arise from amongst those infants, to whom that is supposed to be administered; and the numbers of them it seems are so very great, that far the greater part os professing Christians have probably no better reason to give for their religion, than that they were early baptized, or rather rantized into it. And such as these are they, who are easily led into infidelity; and whose unbelief, he says, after they have attained the Jlature of men, is jufl as blind and implicit, as the faith of their childhood was. And therefore, if there was a posiibilitv of giving them faith, and making them Christians in that way, it would have been much better for such unhappy creatures to have had nothing at all done to them, because, as the apostle assures us, it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 2 Pet. ii. 21. compared with Heb. vi. 4. and ch. x. 26—31. Besides it would be wisest, and safest, and best for their parents and ministers themselves, not only because God hath no where required it, and consequently no law of his can be broken; but also because they would not be in quite so much danger of having a terrible account to render before God for this, as the doctor sears they will for their education.

But to proceed: the doctor in many parts of those answers, as well as in the following words, seems not only to contradict himself, but the common principles of his party also; and has given us a most substantial reason, why neither baptism, nor any thing else instead of it, should ever be administered to infants, because he says,

* It will by no means follow from hence, that this rite

* affects the eternal state of the child ; or that, if it did

* affect it, there must be such an extraordinary communi4 cation of the spirit to it, as you suppose. You allow,

• in 4 in express terms, that there is no act of the child at all, c and that it believes nothing. How this consists with its 4 having a persect faith wrought in its mind at once, is not 4 possible for me to conceive.' The purport of this third letter, and the manner, in which those sentences are introduced, seems to evince, that thedoctor allows the negatives; and therefore I shall be glad to know for what ends, and upon what grounds, he would pretend to baptize a child. It cannot be lo confer grace, or thereby to infuse that pureness and perfection, with which the kirk of Scotland imagines a child is clad in baptism, for this sudden and irreststablc agency of the spirit, 8 4 by which the most finished

* conviction becomes theirs;' as 4 by the baptismal cere

* mony they commence true believers at once, and are

* made heirs of heaven, and millions actually saved upon

* the strength of the mere ceremony;' and what else this infidel writer fays about the spirit's agency, the doctor warmly opposes, and calls 9 4 a scheme so apparently con4 trary to fact ; and in theory so wild [as no man can easily] 4 believe, it could be seriously proposed by any man, who

* enjoyed the use of his reason: or that [bis author] meant 4 any thing by it, unless it were to expose Christianity.' And he confidently asserts, that the scripture teaches nothing of this kind; and is extremely sorry that any form of baptism in the christian world, justifies such inferences, and such a manner of speaking. It cannot be, because the child is a believer, and federally holy, as it derives faith from its parents; because, as he pleads and urgeth the Infidel's own words, he seems also with him to allow, that it believes nothing; or if he thinks it docs, I am sure he can give no proof of it. It cannot be to deliver the infant from eternal damnation, because he fays, This rite will by no means affeel the eternalslate of the child. But he must know, that these have been some of the common pretences of his party, who have often asserted, that infants dying unbaptized are damned, that there are such in hell a span long: and that God cuts them off, as men destroy young foxes; because from their ravenous nature, they are assured that they will become hurtful, if suffered to grow up. Such horrid things as these have been urged by some, and have appeared in print formerly; but I believe the ministers of his denomination, as well as others, are grown more

moderate

9 Christianity not founded, tssc. p, 9. and 69. 9 Second Letter, p. 49.

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