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One principal design of the baptism of a child, you own, is, “ that some security be given, some « solemn stipulation be made before the church, « for its religious education.” Who, then, I pray, so proper to give this security as the person to whom its education is committed! Whom should the church bring under the engagement of a solemn vow, or covenant, to this purpose ? Strangers who, perhaps, never saw the child, or who, when the ceremony is past, will never see it more, or the parents, in whose family it is to grow up, and under whose eye it is to be formed?
You do not pretend that there is in your baptism of an infant, any explicit stipulation besides what the child itself makes; yet, notwithstanding this, you consider the sureties as accepting it " by standing there, and receiving a solemn ".charge concerning the religious education of “ the child."* But do you not know, Sir, that this is no stipulation, neither explicit nor implicit. A stipulation is a mutual promise. But, though the sponsors stand there, and hear the admoni. tion, no answer, no word, no token, is required of them by which to signify their solemn purpose and engagement to obey it. Accordingly, when they return home, they too generally with great levity shake off the charge again, and throw it over to the parent. And thus the solemnity of the institution dwindles into a mere trifling, if not a ludicrous ceremony, and your boasted double security still remains no real security at all.
Dr. Nichol's account of this apparently absurd and mysterious affair, to which I referred you, is undoubtedly far more defensible, though quite contrary to yours, viz. “Baptizatorum fidem
religiose in se recipiebant, eos sincere omnia “ in evangelio revelata credere, et subsequentes “ vitæ actiones juxta Christi normam directuros That the sureties religtously engaged for the faith of the baptized, that they should sincerely believe all that was revealed in the gospel, and direct the subsequent actions of their lives by the law of Christ. This you call my translation; and tax me before the world “ for having trans"lated it wrong to serve my purpose.”+. It will give you surely some confusion and pain to be told, that this is not mine, but it is the doctor's own translation; or that of his learned friend who publisbed his defence, &c. And I appeal to the public, whether the doctor's or your's, be the proper rendering of the words. Is recipere in se fidem baptizatorum-to make a solemn declaration and profession touching the faith of the bap. tized? Besides, the doctor was too wise a person to represent the sureties, as you would have bim, as making a solemn declaration that the infantdid sincerely believe all that is revealed in the gospel, because this, he well knew, was what no wise or honest man could possible declare concerning any infant upon earth. He knew it absurd to affirm, that the infant did believe at all; much more to affirm, that it sincerely believed ; but more even yet that it sincerely believed all that is revealed in the gospel. In whatever light, therefore, you view it, it appears to be perfectly mysterious. And this business of the sureties, and their answers at the font, after all your pains to clear it up, is still covered with dark and impenetrable clouds, which till some new light shall arise, one may venture to prophesy, will never be dispelled. It turns the ceremony of your baptism into little else than a solemn farce, and furnishes unbelievers with too just an occasion of ridicule and contempt.
* II, Defence, p. 36.
+ Com. to the Temp. p. 126.
Of CONFIRMATION. As to the ceremony of confirmation, you are still so cautious as not to assert any scriptural or apostolic authority for its practice; but yet you ask—" If both the ordinary and extraordinary “ gifts of the spirit were communicated by the
apostles by imposition of hands, why may we “not expect that the ordinary ones will be still “ communicated by the same administration? “ And why should we not continue that adminis“ tration in the church, in hope and expectation “ of them ?”* By these ordinary gifts, as you fully explain yourself, you mean, what are usually called, the graces of the spirit, even the spirit of love and of a sound mind. For you add, " If this « spirit of love and of a sound mind was given to
Timothy by imposition of hands in his ordination, why may it not be done by the same ceremony in confirmation ?”
I am sorry there is a protestant divine in this kingdom capable of asking such a question as this. For, this spirit of love and of a sound mind, which you encourage us to expect from the laying on of the bishop's · hands, is one of the sublimest gifts conferred upon the human race by the gospel of Christ. A gift which far excels an ability to speak with tongues, a faith that can remove mountains, a power to cast out devils, to heal all manner of diseases, or even to raise the dead. The spirit of love and of a sound mind far excels them all; and yet this, it seems, we may now expect by the laying on of the bishop's hands! Blessed episcopacy, indeed, if it carries with it such gifts ! But how foolish and wild is the claim, if neither scripture nor reason lend it the least support!
H, Defence, p. 38.
I must also observe, that though this gift was conferred on Timothy at his ordination, by the laying on of the apostle's hands, it does not follow that the same gifts may be expected in confirmation from the hands of our present bishops. Is there power in their lordships' fingers to con vey so divine a blessing to the head on which they rest? You should know, Sir, that the learned prelates of your church abhor the
church abhor the presumptuous claim. They pretend to no such power. Why then will you officiously presume to claim it for them ? And why amuse ihe world, and give infidels room to scoff, by the use of a solemn ceremony for the conferring these gifts, which no mortal man hath no power to bestow? The age is critical and discerning. For the honour of the Christian name, therefore, and the dignity of Christian bishops, all claims not clearly founded on scripture or reason, and all offices and rites not evidently supported by them, should silently be dropt.
The only rite, after baptism, which I find either instituted or practised by Christ and his apostles, “to make a public recognition of baptismal
engagements in the face of a Christian congre“gation," is the celebrating the Lord's supper. By this, Christians are openly to profess themselves the subjects and followers of Jesus Christ, to recognise the baptismal covenant, to shew forth that death by which he purchased them to himself, and, in the most public and solemn man-ner, to lay themselves under fresh and most sacred obligations to live obedient to his laws. Here then all the ends which can rationally be proposed by the use of confirmation, which is merely a human invention, are better and more effectually answered by coming to the Lord's supper, which is an undoubted institution and command of Jesus Christ. With the emblems. of their Saviour's body and blood in their hands, the recognition they here make of their engagements to a holy life is much more solemn, the motives to obedience more powerful and constraining, and they are certified of God's favour and gracious goodness to them by a token incomparably more important, than the laying on of the bishop's hands. If you ask "What is " this to those who dare not offer themselves to “ the sacrament?"* I answer, such have equal reason not to offer themselves to confirmation : the same faith and sincerity, which are requisite to render a person a proper subject of the one, make him also a worthy communicant in the other.
That this ceremony of confirmation is no part of genuine and primitive Christianity, is, I suppose, well known to all our learned bishops and divines. Tertullian is the most ancient author in which any mention of it is made. But by his time, it is well known a great variety of superstitious and ridiculous and foolish rites were brought into the church. And you are also, I presume, not ignorant that confirmation was then always performed (not as it is with us, but) immediately after baptisen, as it is now also throughout the Greek church, and all the churches of the East. A due regard to this will lead you to the true meaning of that expression in your office, which you are so embarrassed in clearing up. where the bishop declares to God, that he hath douchsafed to regenerate these his seroants by water and the Holy Ghost, and to give them the form giveness of all their sive: an expression taken, probably, from some ancient liturgy, and which was suitable, and well adapted to the practice of those times,
mes, but is utterly incongruous and unsuitable to ours.
For, then, as Dr. Cave observes; t " Though
• II. Defence, p. 89. Prim. Chris. Partoid. p. 194, 208.