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faith. But if the scriptures had hcen strictly attended to, and made by them the sole rule and ground of proceeding,' the kirk of Scotland would never have denied the one, nor our established church have practised the other. But to return:' The doctor proceeds thus: 4 So among the sews, no 4 adult person was allowed to be circumcised, without
* prosessing his belief and adherence to the law of Moses;
* and his being circumcised, was to be regarded as an open'
* declaration of it. This was no proof at all, that he 4 did not embrace that law upon a rational conviction, but' 4 rather supposed that he did so. But when he was him4 self circumcised and openly prosesied that law, his 4 children, if he had any, were to be circumcised too' [by the express appointment of God the doctor might have said: and as no such command can be produced for infant-baptism, his parallel is quite destroyed in the mojl essential part of it. And because the command os God for the circumcision of infants'] 4 was not understood as a declaration that they 4 also believed, of which they were not yet capable;' so no moral qualifications were required, nor is it any where said, that they were dedicated to God by it; but, on the contrary, in the institution of circumcision, Gen. xvii. II. it is only declared to be for a perpetual, or ever/a/ling token of the covenant then made betwixt God and Abraham, to be fulfilled in the family of Isaac then unborn. And when' God commanded them by Moses, Exodus xiii. 2. n—16. to dedicate or sanctify all their frjl-born unto him, as a' constant token and memorial of their deliverance from the last plague, for their fakes, inflicted upon the Egyptians; it was neither to be done by circumcision, nor at the time when the child was circumcised, but at the end of the time appointed for the mother's purification ; which was thirty three days after for a male, and eighty days after the birth ofa semale. SeeLevit. xii. And in conformity tothoso laws, with respect to our blessed Saviour and his Virgin Mother, we read Luke ii. 21-^24. And when eight days were accomplishedfor the circumcising os the child, his name was called Jesus And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, (as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that optneththe womb Jhall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice, &c. 4 But [here is not one syllable of the doctor's notion] 4 that they were dedicated to God' [by circumcifieni tho' to be sure they were looked upon] 4 as the children of
L 4 his 4 his prosessed people, and to be trained as they grew up,
* in the belies and acknowledgment of the living and 4 true God, and the practice of his law. The doctor proceeds:
♦ And Supposing it was the will of God,' Ttbis need not have been Supposed, nor ought it to be admitted without the like command in scripture] 4 that in like manner in
* the christian church not only adult persons, who them4 selves believed, but the children of such should be bap4 tized; all that could be justly concluded from it would
* be, not that the christian faith is not a reasonable thing,
* but that the God of truth and purity well knew the doc4 trines of Christianity to be highly important, and agree
* able to truth and reason; and therefore would have
* children betimes instructed in those doctrines; and that 4 he knew the duties there prescribed to be of great con
* sequence to our happiness, and therefore would have 4 children early trained up to the knowledge and practice 4 of those duties. And this' [is done among the Baptists, who never pretend to bring their infant! to baptism, because they have no command from God to do so. And yet their children are under full as high, and as strong an obligation, to regard such instructions without what the dotlor soyi\ 4 does not hinder, but rather obliges the person, who was
* thus early baptized, to consider those sacred truths when 4 he grows up; and then he is not tp believe them bc4 cause he was taught them in'his childhood, but because *. he himself conliders the evidence brought for them, 4 and finds it reasonable and convincing; and in like
manner, it'does not hinder him from examining into 4 the nature and importance of the duties required of
* him, but rather obliges him todoso, that he may per4 form those duties from a full conviction of their rea4 fonablcness and excellency.' This we think the best qualification, and the fittest time, for their being baptized y not only as they are thereby more worthy subjects of it, but also as more glory must redound to God and Christ, and much more satisfaction, comfort, and joy, to their own fouls, in the answer of a good conscience: and to the church of Christ also, in not departing from the divine rule, than can possibly arise from the contrary practice of pur Pædobaptist brethren in sprinkling their infants. And in this view, the doctor might very consistently have proceeded thus. * To his question therefore, Can a manhQ 4 baptized into a rational religion? lanlwcryes. A man that 4, is convinced of the truu, of such a religion, and believe} it * tipon good evidence, may be reasonably baptized into if: 'he may solemnly, by that outward sacred rite, prosess
* his belief of that religion, and oblige himself to the
* duties it prescribes; which is the design of baptism with"
* regard to the adult. And' [the dotJor can never prove from scripture, that it Wat designed for any others, notwithstanding he fays] 4 with regard to infants, it may be' 4 very reasonable for a man that himself believes it upon
* rational grounds, to baptize his child, /'. e. solemnly
* by that sacred rite to devote his child to God,' [whert God commands it indeed, but not before, and yet nevertheless it is his duty to teach'] 4 and to bring him, as far as in?
* him lies, under engagements to embrace and practise'
* that excellent religion, as fooii as he is capabTe of doing 4 so; at the fame time solemnly obliging himself [or ts think himself already obliged] 4 to take care that the child
* be betimes seasoned with the knowledge of sacred impof
* tant truth, and formed to the practice of piety and vis*'
* tue. And there is nothing improper, in supposing that 4 it is the will and appointment of God, that children4 should betimes be brought under such engagernents,when"
* he knows the"m to be in themselves fit and reasonable, 4 and of such a nature, that it will be their duty and their 4 great advantage, when they come to years of discreffibn, 4 personally to approve arid to fulfil them. Jf this be lay
* ing prejudices and prepossessions in their Way, it is pre4 possessing them in favour of truth and virtue: and it is
* every way agreeable to the divine wisdom and goodness,
* to lay them under such a preposiession, and what the au
* thor of our beings'haS a right to do. And therefore his
* doing that, can never be justly brought as an objection
* against the reasonableness of a revelation.' Arid for the' doing of all this, there' is not the least occasion to sprinkle them, and falfly term it baptism; by which multitudes are kept from a rational obedience to that sacred institution 6f Chfist Jesus.
I haVe' here transcribed all the answer, which d'octots Leland hath any where given to this Infidel's objection against the christian religion, from the practice of infantbaptism, in favour of which he is-so far from alledging onesirigle tex-tof scripture, that, on the contrary, he himself seems to found it Wholly upon mere human suppositions: which therefore, in the judgment of the church of England, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought necessary-'or requisite
L 2 to to salvation. And how the practice thereof can be justified, or desended by those, who heartily and sincerely believe the vi article of our established church, is not very easy to discern; for her vi article says expressly, that 4 Holy scripture containeth all things necessary to falva4 tion: so that whatsoever is not read therein^ nor may be
* proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that 4 it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be
* thought requisite or necessary to salvation, &c.'
This truly protestant article is what one of her ministers publicly declared to be the glory of the church of England, and then he heartily wished, that no ether article had ever been made. And I as heartily wist], that our established church, and the kirk of Scotland also, were thus reformed, and constituted upon this foundation only; for then the Baptist churches would have no occasion to dispute with, or separate from, them. But we might then hold the unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace together. And, as Dr. Lelandexpresses himself, 6 4 When 4 once people are made sensible of the tendency of such a 4 scheme, it is to be hoped, that it will in a great mea4 sure prove an antidote to the poison of [infidelity] and 4 that piety and good sense is not so far lost in the world, 4 that men will lightly suffer themselves to be bantered
* out of their religion and reason too. Such attempts, 4 one would be apt to think, should, with persons that 4 will allow themselves time for reflection, turn to the
* advantage of Christianity.' 6
Remarks on Mr. Benson's Dialogue, intitled, The Reasonableness of the Christian Religion.
IRESERVED Mr. Benson's answer to this infidel's objection, concerning infant-baptism, to be last considered, because it is so very full, that he hath almost prevented my making any remarks upon it; and his frank, open concessions have given me a suitable opportunity freely to expostulate with him, and his brethren, upon their unscriptural practice of infant-sprinkling; which for a
6 First Letter, p. 6.
long; time has furnished Papists with a considerable ad van' tage in their disputes with Protestants, and has now given Infidels an occasion to ridicule our holy religion. . To which Mr. Benson replies, p. 95, 96.
4 The objection was founded on a mistaken notion of
* baptism; and therefore had no force in it. Your au4 thor, Pyrrho, knows very well that some Christians
* deny infant-baptism; and he had much better have done
* so, than have given up his understanding, and rational
* Christianity, all at once.'
The objection of this unbeliever against infant-baptism is plainly founded on that notion of it, which is contained in the forms and catechism of the church of England; and this Mr. Benson is pleased to call a mistaken notion of baptism. He might have said with equal truth, that infant-baptism in general, as well as the practice of it in our established church, is sounded on a mijlaken notion. For how can it be otherwise, if it has no foundation in the word of God, as he manisestly allows, when he fays; this author had much better have denied and given it up, than have given up his under/landing and rational Christianity? For if he did not acknowledge this, but was really persuaded, that there is scripture authority for it, he Would not have advised his author to give it up, but only to correct his mistaken notions about it. And if this be the case, if there is no scripture for it, if the consequence of admitting infant-baptism be to any man the occasion of giving up his understanding and rational Christianity., as Mr. Benson's words seem plainly to imply; why does he not openly renounce the practice, and no longer countenance it in his people, and build them up in any mistaken notion of baptism?
After this he proceeds to give us some hints, and some account of the various pretences, opinions, customs, and forms made use of by Presbyterians, Independents, and others, as well as our established church, as follows: 4 But 4 others, who are for infant-baptism, do not suppose any
* faith to be required in a child : tho' they would require it
* in a Jew, Heathen or Mahometan, upon their coming 4 over to Christianity in riper years. The fame ceremony 4 may answer different ends upon different subjects, or in
* the case of different persons. Those in general, whom
* John baptized, consessed their fins, and were baptized,
* as penitents, for the remission of sins. And yet our
* Saviour, who had no lin to confess, nor any need for