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nied the doctrine of orisinal sin, "whicii naturally leads to a denial of infant baptism, (for, if children have no sm, the sign of the taking away of sin ought not to be applied to them,) complained of it as a grievance, that he was even suspected of denying the propriety of infant baptism; and declared, that, although he had visited almost every part of Christendom, hc had never so much as heard of one who denied to infants the right to baptism.
Such was the primitive faith and practice. Such also was the faith and practice of the Waldenses,* and other followers of the Lamb, shortly before the Reformation. I will transcribe an extract from their journal, or, as they called it, spiritual almunack.. “ Neither the time, nor the place is appointed, for those who must be baptized. But we do bring our children to be baptized, which they ought to do, to whom they are nearest related: The parents, or those whom God has inspired with such charity.”
Another historical fact of importance, which I beg leave to mention, has but lately come to light. Buchanan, the late zealous missionary of the East, in exploring the interior of Hindostan, discovered thousands of Christians, descended from parents, who, in the fourth century, had passed from Antioch into India, and who have retained the faith and practice of the primitive church among them. These are pedobaptists; and when informed by the missionary of the existence of a sect in England, who denied the propriety of infant baptism, they expressed the
* With the exception of the Petrobrussians.
Weatest surprise and astonishment, it being a doc- · trine of which they had never heard.*
Such, reader, is the information afforded by history on this subject. We can trace infant baptism, as the general and uniform practice of the church, until the time of the reformation. Then, when the very state of things seemed to favour error in speculation, and disorder in practice—then, and not till then, did the Antipedobaptists make their appearance, so as to attract any degree of attention.
In the notes to Ridgley's body of divinity, t I find the following extract taken from “ Reed's apology," which is certainly worthy of your attention. “ Dr. Wall, who enjoyed the best advantages for being acquainted with the history of infant baptism, and who made this the principal subject of his studies and enquiries, briefly sums up the evidence on both sides, in the following words : Lastly; for the first four hundred years [of the Christian Church,] there appears only one man, Tertullian, who advised the delay of infant baptism, in some cases ; and one Gregory, who did perhaps practise such delay, in the case of his own children: but no society of men so thinking, or so practising, or any one man saying it
* Some are of opinion, that these St. Thome Christians migrated to the mountains of Malayala, as early as the second century. “Eusebius informs us, there were Christians in India as early as the year 189, who had the Gospel of St. Mat. thew in Hebrew, which they declared was received from St. Bartholomew.. See Buchanan's Researches, also appendix to his “ Star in the East.”
+ Vol. iv. p. 215. Phil. 1815.
was unlawful to baptize infants. So, in the next geven hundred years, there is not so much as one man to be found, who either spoke for, or practised such delay; but all the contrary. And when about the year 1130, one sect among the Waldenses or Albigenses declared against the baptizing of infants, as being incapable of salvation, the main body of that people rejected their opinion; and they of them whe held that opinion, quickly dwindled away and disappeared; there being no more persons heard of holding that tenet, until the rising of the German Antipedobaptists in the year 1522.”
Such are the arguments to prove the propriety of infant baptism; and such is the evidence, that Antipedobaptism is a modern aberration, from the good
Objections against Infant Baptism considered, and
SOLOMON tells us,*. « He that is first in his own cause, seemeth just ; but his neighbour cometh, and searcheth him.” Self-love, imperceptibly, leads men to make the best, not only of their character and conduct; but also of their peculiar sentiments, and favourite systems. Nothing however can be more reasonable, than that we should suspend our judgment, in relation to both actions and sentiments, until we have heard the evidence on both sides until his neighbour has come to search him, that was first in his own cause. To this we have no objection. To this ordeal we cheerfully subject our system, in relation to infant baptism.
Professing to love the truth, and praying to be lead into all truth, ex-parte statements must be judged unsatisfactory; and every subject which presents itself for consideration, must be examined on every side, and in all its bearings and relations. It is only by ingenuous, laborious, and prayerful inyestigation, that we can expect to be established in the truth; and escape the dreadful liability of being tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind
* Prov. xvii. 7.
of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.*
Suffer me then, in this paper, to place the doctrine of infant baptism more fully before you; and to screen myself from the charge of injustice, by giving you a candid view of the leading objections which are generally urged against it.
1. It is asserted, by the opposers of this doctrinė, that the want of a positive command, or, at least, of a plain example to baptize children, renders it improper to do so. If you have attentively considered what has already been advanced, in support of our doctrine, you cannot be surprised to have me remark, that this objection rests entirely on a gratuitous assumption. It is assumed, that there is no positive precept, por example to warrant the practice of baptizing children. Whereas, in examining the New Testament, both may plainly be discovered. The commission, given by Christ to the Apostles te teach or disciple, and then to baptize all nations, is (as has been justly remarked) positive and express authority for the baptism of the infants of such as are themselves discipled.
Here we have positive precept. Infants are a part, a numerous and important part of nations; and the Apostles were by their divine Master directed to baptize all nations, having previously instructed such among them as were capable of receiving instruction.
* Eph. iv. 14.