Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

moderate now: tho' time was,when they would not rantize a child, whose father or mother, or both, were not in their communion; because in such a case they thought the infant could not have faith. But I know a certain minister of theirs, who hath boasted that he was very charitable towards little infants, because he would not refuse to baptize a child; if there was in it but the faith of the great grandfather, or if the great grandfather of it was but a believer, as he chose to express himself to two ministers of our persuasion, who have diverted themselves enough with the folly of it. How all these things are consistent with a child's being regenerated, and clad with purentfs and perfection in baptism, and having a perfect faith wrought in its mind at once; or what proof can be given, that there is the least truth in any of these wild fancies, is beyond my ability to conceive ; and I think the doctor had too much reason to add, 4 I must therefore conclude, that 4 you meant nothing more than to expose this practice, as 4 you elsewhere expose persecution, by intimating that it 4 cannot be desended, unless your doctrine were to be 4 granted; whence you are sure, every thinking man,

* who yields to this part of your argument, will conclude,

* that it cannot be desended at all.'

Such expressions as these, as well as the following passage, might have been becomingly applied and made use of by one of our persuasion; but neither this, nor the following pasiage can appear with a very good grace from the doctor, or any of his party, where he fays, 1 * There

* are many other particulars in your letter, about which 4 I shall have no controversy with you at all, but shall

* willingly leave those deities to plead, whose altars you

* have cast down. The imputation of the faith of sureties 4 to the baptized infant; the necessary connection between « the administration of that rite, and the communication 4 of some extraordinary influences of the spirit:' [to which I may justly add the whole of that unfcriptural practice]

* .... I consess you have rallied with a just severity. And

* I am particularly pleased with the serious air with which

* the raillery on these heads is carried, even to the desence

* of fire and faggot in the cause of religion; from which I

* presume, Sir, you apprehend yourself to be in no dan

* ger.' But to return:

On the other hand, says the doctor, 4 It seems fuffici

* ent for me here to have (hewn, that your notion is not

'connected

1 Second Letter, p. 51.

• connected with Christianity, even allowing infant-bap*

* tism to be a part of it.' And on this hand, it seems sufficient for me to have shewn, as, I think, I have clearly enough done in my supplement, to which I reser my readers; where they will find from a view of all the passages of scripture, which relate to Christ's own institution, that infant-baptism is a mere human invention, no way connect id with Christianity; and that none, who strictly adhere to scripture, as the rule of truth, can ever allow it to be a part os it. And I join most heartily with the doctor in that servent wish, with which he concludes his answer to this objection; 4 May the time at length come, 4 when a zeal for the honour of the gospel shall more ef4 sectually engage all its ministers, to adhere to the purity 4 bo'.h of its doctrines and institutions, and not to over4 load it with those additions of their own, which furnish 4 its adversaries with matter of triumph! In the mean

• time, may those adversaries [and all Padobaptijls of

* every denomination] consider, that they are answerable to 4 God for the impartiality, with which they enquire in4 to the contents of Christianity, and that they are to 4 take their notions of it from the New Testament alone! 'which if you, Sir, had been pleased to have done, you 4 would never have mentioned this argument ; nor from 4 any thing you could have met with there, could you 'ever have thought of it.'

Since therefore the scripture is so great a stranger to infant-baptism, that those, who take, their notions of Christianity from the New Tc/lament alone, could never Live thought of it, nor would ever have mentioned such arguments about it ; why does not Dr. Doddridgc, who is so much elleemed amongst the independent Pædobaptists, and with whom he has so great an influence, in his zeal for the honour of the gospel, imrrfoy his parts and abilities, and exert the utmost of his endeavours, more effectually to engage all his sellow ministers, and'their respective congregations, more strictly to adhere to the purity both of its doctrines and institutions; and not to overload it with those additions of their own, which furnish its adversaries with matter of triumph?

Having thus gone through his whole answer to this objection, I shall take my leave of him with recommending a sew more passages of his, which, if duly attended to, may be very useful to promote those great and desirable ends.

* Reasonably

* 4 Reasonably we may desire, that God would awaken 4 our minds to diligence in searching after truth; that he 4 would present the evidence of it before us in a clear and

* convincing light; that he would guard our hearts from 4 those corrupt prejudices which might obstruct its en4 trance into them; and that he would remind us, from

* time to time, of those great religious truths which we

4 do believe, with such spirit and energy, that our tern-' 4 per of lise may, in a suitable manner, be influenced by 4 the realizing persuasion. In such a prayer, methinks, 4 every virtuous Deist must join; as I firmly believe, that

* would men heartily join in it, and act accordingly, they

* would soon cease to be deists in the negative sense of the

* word. And in proportion to the degree in which we

* see evident reason to believe the truth of Christianity,

* we may reasonably pray, that God, by the influences 4 of his holy spirit on our minds, would give us more 'comprehensive views of its evidence, and would im4 press a more lively sense of its great principles on our 4 hearts; that our faith may not be a cold assent, but 4 powerful in th* production of its genuine fruits.'

'* For lean think of nothing so rational, as diligently to 4 examine the credentials of any thing offered us as a 4 message from God, and then humbly to submit to it

* without cavilling and disputing, when we are satisfied 4 that it wears the stamp of his authority.' * 4 We

* are therefore humbly and quietly to sit down, as it 4 were, at the seet of the divine teacher;- and though 4 several plausible objections rnay arise in our minds, and 4 many things taught may be inconsistent with our pre

* conceived prejudices, and with what through their in

* flue nee we mould have expected, we are to suffer 4 those prejudices to be over-ruled by so high an authority, 4 and to acquiesce in this, that the Lord hath said it:

* And this is as really our duty, when he is speaking to

* us by his Messengers, as it was theirs when he was speak

* ing immediately to them.'

s 4 I am sensible, Sir, the grand objection against all

* these reasonings [mi the light I have placed them] is taken, 4 from the appearance of a virtuous and amiable clispoii4 tion in some who disbelieve the [necessity of obeying this

* injlitution of the] gospel, and from the polsibility that a

K 4 wrong

•Third Letter, p. 53. J Ibid p. 46. * Third Letter, p. 45.'

5 Second Letter, p. 42.

wrong association of ideas in others, leading them to conclude those things to be contained in the christian revelation, which do not indeed belong to it, may engage some to reject the whole from the apparent absurdity, which they see in these spurious, tho' solemn, additions to it; as for instance, in those vast tracts of land, in which transubstantiation and image-worship [and I may aljo add infant-sprinkling] are represented, not merely as consistent with Christianity, but as in a manner essential to it, by those who are its established teachers, and may therefore be presumed best to understand it.' 6 4 But this ignorance of the particular manner [bout and to vibom baptism is to be applied] does not, as one would imagine some apprehended, leave men at liberty to assert, at random, whatever they please about it. We may reasonably conclude, that it is not the stated office of the divine spirit to reveal new doctrines, which the scripture does not teach; for if it were, God would undoubtedly, as when he formerly added to prior reve4 lations given to his church, furnish the persons to whom

* such discoveries were made, with proper credentials to 'authorise their report: and if this cannot be proved, 4 it ought not to be asserted. Nor can we imagine it his 4 office, to reveal, by an immediate suggestion, the doc

* trines already delivered in scripture, to those who may

* have daily opportunities of learning them from thence.' '4 Nay, I apprehend, it must follow from these princi4 pies, that the very supposition of a revelation in genc4 ral implies, on the one hand, sufficiency of evidence to

* every candid enquirer; and on the other, certain di

* vine displeasure against the rejecters of it.'&c. * 4 And

* [therefore] I shall remit you to a repeated perusal of that 4 solid and useful [bool;, The Holy Bible] with only this one 4 further question; "Whether you do not think there is "such a thing in the human heart, as the counter-part of 44 the character you deride, an impious propensity to the ** negative, a soliciting the disscr.t of our own minds, "and an endeavouring to promote our own unbelief?"

* If you think, the will has no remote influence upon the

* unde: standing as to its enquiry into truth, and that cor4 rupt affections never lead a man into error, from which 4 (had his heart been more upright,) he might easily have

4 been

6 Third Letter, p. 20. ?Second Letter, p. 36. s Third Letter, p. 59,

4 been preserved, you contradict not only yourself, but 4 the common sense and experience of mankind; and 4 introduce an universal fatality, that worst of monsters, 4 which will swallow up virtue and religion together, and 4 leave the mind an easy prey to every error, and to every 4 vice, which will owe its cheap victory to the air of ir4 relistibility, with which it makes its appearance.'

SECT. VI.
Remarks on Dr. LelandV Letters.

THO' I had intirely finished my design in these remarks sometime, before I had the pleasure of reading Dr. Lcland's two letters, in answer to Christianity not founded on Argument; yet I thought myself obliged to join him with his brethren, that I might make good my title of Remarks on the several Answers, £3V. because those words may be thought to include the doctor's letters, as well as others. For brevity fake, I shall omit many extracts, which might be urged with some force; and confine myself chiefly to the reply, which he makes to his author's objection concerning infant-baptism, avoiding, as muchas possible, to repeat what I have already urged in answer to Mr. Mole.

In the summary account,which the doctor gives of this writer's Pamphlet, are these words. 9 4 He represents a 4 rational faith, that is, as he himself explains it, an

* alient to revealed truths founded upon the convic4 tion of the understanding, as a false and unwarrantable 4 notion. And therefore sets himself to prove, that in 4 the gospel no appeal to the understanding was ever

* made or intended. He talks as if infants were capable 4 of faith, before they are capable of exerting one act of

* reason; and that the infant's belief answers as effectual

* jy all the demands of the gospel, as that of the first 4 proficient, and highest graduate in divinity. And as he 4 explains the first beginning of truth to be without rea4 son, or any use of the understanding, so he represents 4 the perseverance in the faith required in the gospel, to

K 2 4 be

9 First Letter, p. 9.

« AnteriorContinuar »