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IN sending this work abroad, the author is aware that it is a contested subject. He is also sensible that in this age, controversy is, with many, rather unfashionable. It is particularly so he regretted that defence of ancient truth, principle and order seems to be especially decreed.
The religious world has been, for a long time in a revolutionary state, and although factions multiply, animosities do, in some measure seem to subside. This must' certainly be pleasing to all the lovers of peace. It is, however, very natural for society to oscillate between extremes.
The social orb has been for a considerable time in the cold regions of the north. Scepticism and indifference about principle have succeeded to blind zeal and bloody persecution..
Those who used, while power was in their hands, to be most active in such work are now the most poisy advocates of forbearance, moderation and charity. This they need not do, to dull the edge of the sword, or quench the violence of the fame, which they used to wield and kindle, but they wish to ward off, thereby, the spiritual weapons which the advocates of truth and scriptural order use against their crazy systems.
This is improper, unfair and cowardly. The best time to adjust differences among parties is a
time of peace. We do not need, however, to charge the Baptist brethren with these extremes. They have never persecuted; they have never becn remiss. They have generally manifested a Zeal worthy of a good cause in promoting the interest of their society and in propagating the peEiliar tenets of their sect. For this they deserve credit. Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind; and whatever any man's hand finds to do, let him do it with all his might. If they are wrong, I do not justify them for that ; but if they are right, they ought to be zealous against all @thers who must on that supposition be radically as fundamentally wrong.
If they are mistaken, and yet think themselves exclusively cerrect, they are consistent in using all their zeal and stren, th in vindicating the supposed truth and order which they defend. At all events it must be considered a matter of suffscient magnitude to engage the attention of all the friends of truth, propriety and peace.
li is the importance of the subject, christian and candid reader, that justifies my appearance at your bar. The cause which I plead is the cause of the poor defenceless children of credible believers. They come into the world naked as well as others, and need as well as others, regeneration. Natural descent from christian parents does not communicate to them sanctifying grace. Still if the great Redeemer's Rule of the Church has ordained that they shall be covered with the skirt of parental representation, and be dandled on the knees of the church in infancy, you will not count me a disturber of your repose while I plead their cause.
In pleading this too, if it appears that the covenant charter.really makes such provision for the infants of such as are members of the visible church that they are to be baptised: then I shall be pleading the cause pot only of babes, but also of God. If he really has ordained that children be members of the visibie church by the represen.. tation of their parents ; it is certainly indignant treatment of Him to say that they shall not.
The advocates upon the other side of the con. troversy must give me credit for hunesty of intention--for vindicating ancient claims-and the cause of mercy. They cannot say that I have undertaken this suit by the misrepresentation of high fees of my infant clients. No, poor things, they are mute, and if concerned, it is about some, thing else than their great birth-right. To this it is true they have no right upon the footing of the covenant of works. By this, op the, contrary, misery and death have devolved upon all the apostate family. Hence we see those who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgres-sion, i. e..who have not actually sinned are liable to death. We do, however humbly presume that our great Saviour, has in his clemency and mercy
: revealed a covenant, whereby he may yet have a holy nation; a godly seed. The baptism of infants is not regeneration : nor does it avail to the Quejfying of the flesh. Yet we hope, by divine
aid, to prove that it may be to well informed parents the answer of a good conscience towards God. It is particularly to be desired that this. controversy should be fairly settled, in order that one great obstacle may be removed which stands in the way of a general union among professors. There are several causes of present existing divisa ions, which it is casy to sce, may vanish without any particular determination, which of the parties is now correct. Some view in the general diffu. sion of evangelical light may be so clear, absorba. ing and effulgent, that the parties may readily and: amicably drop the dispute about those which were previously peculiar. Like mariners and wander.. ers, who in the dark night dispute about stars. glimmering through the clouds, or lights occasionally gleaming through the hazy way, when the rolling sun arises in his purple majesty in the east, the controversy ends.
But this cannot be the case in this dispute. Either the infants of professors must be consider. ed as having, or not having, a right to membership in the Church, or there can be no Millenial union. As the members of the church of Christ are all not only made of, but also redeemed by one blood, inhabited by one Spirit, and travelling to one heavenly country, it would certainly be agrec... ble to all of that community that they should see eye to eye in the great doctrines and duties of religion, and speak with the voice together in a harmopious, holy and united profession.
Thert is really but ene Lord, one faith and onebaptism. Why then are professors not visibly and formally united ? Why do the subjects of one Lord quarrel? Why do the heirs of like precious faith disagree about forms ? Bodily exer... cise profitteth little : Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life chat oow is and of that which is to come. Still it must be admitted hat the best way to obtain unity in priaciple and uniformity in practice is to adhere closely and strictly to divine institution. To the law. and to the testimony. If they speak not according to the word it-is because there is no light in them.” Isa. viii. 20. Can two walk together except they be agreed. Amos iii. 3. What Christ has cone. sidered of sufficient importance to reveal, we should not rashly call indifferent to believe and profess-what he has commanded, we ought unquestionably to observe and do., If Episcopali-, ans, Congregationalists and Presbyterians have no . authority for baptising infants, they ought candid. ly. to confess their error and desist from their : unauthorised practice. Better to reform than be always wrong, and the sooner reformation is ef... fected the more honorable and the more advan, tageous. If they have authority, it is certainly. due to the Baptist brethren that these other denominations should exhibit their authority, and rcoder a reason for their hope. i. e. If children: are included in the new covenant charter, of which baptism is the visible initiatory seal, let the cvidence thereof be produced, and let all concernod give unprejudiced attention.