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The present Publication has been undertaken after looking over the works of several eminent theological writers, in which the validity of the rite of Infant Baptism is stated, and warmly defended.
Upon a candid and deliberate view of the subject in all its bearings, and an impartial examination of the arguments by which this doctrine and practice are supported, it appeared to me that the whole was founded on error; and that neither great talents nor literary acquirements were requisite to show this in a clear light.
On a comparison of the arguments used by the different Authors in support of this rite, and for the overthrow of the ordinance maintained by the Baptists (so called), I found that not any two were agreed upon the meaning, or the application, of the Scriptures brought forward in confirmation of their opinions; and that each one not only differed with most of his fellows, but very frequently with himself, in one part or other of the same work. From whence I inferred, that little more was required to show the fallacy of their system than to place their respective arguments and opinions in juxta-position, by which their discrepancies would become apparent. This I thought might be most effectually accomplished by bringing the controversy on the subject of Baptism before the public in the form of a Trial in a court of judicature, which plan I have adopted. I have taken for the foundation of the trial,
the Scripture fact, that the Lord of life and glory has, by his last Will and Testament, which he commanded to be published to all the world, bequeathed unto his children infinitely great and glorious blessings: I have endeavoured to show that none but his true and legitimate offspring can lay any claim to the heavenly treasure ;* — that there is no way of proving our legitimacy, and by consequence establishing our title to this patrimony, but by acquiring a perfect knowledge of the Will—its precepts and requirements, the covenants it contains, and the privileges it confers;—and that this knowledge, to be of any avail, must be of that influential kind which evinces itself by a uniform practical conformity to all its provisions.
I have supposed the two parties, the Pædobaptists and the Baptists, to be claimants under the same Will, each questioning the other's title - each endeavouring to establish an exclusive right. The former, being the most numerous and influential, I have made the Plaintiffs — the latter, the Defendants.
After giving a general view of the controversy, in the assumed capacity of Counsel for the Plaintiffs (the chief of the statements being taken from writers on that side), the several authors whose works I have consulted are introduced in succession, as Witnesses in support of the allegation contained in the speech, each one being supposed to give his evidence in propria persona, as we find the subject treated in his work; the extracts from which are very copious, and are given verbatim, nothing being omitted which in my estimation could in any way affect the argument. This method (though it has much increased the size of my book) I thought desirable, as the reader will find in it an epitome of ALL that has been written in favour of Infant Sprinkling. Although I have not omitted anything of importance that I found in the works mentioned, on this par
# See John iii. 5.
ticular subject, yet it cannot be supposed that I have given every sentence which they contain ; nevertheless, I have not designedly suppressed any thing that made in favour of their cause: and, if my opinion may be taken, I conceive a reader, having gone through the evidence as given on the trial, will arise from the perusal of it with as perfect an understanding of the subject as if he had read every syllable of the works from which the extracts are made; with this advantage, that he will have escaped the labour, and consequent weariness, of wading through a great mass of irrelevant and uninteresting matter, and the subject will be more vividly impressed upon his mind.
The Authors' names, the titles of their works, and the order in which their evidence is given, are as follow:
First Witness, Rev. ADAM CLARKE, LL.D. F. A.S.; Commentary on the New Testament.
Second Witness, Rev. William BURKITT, M.A.; Expository Notes upon
the New Testament. Third Witness, Rev. Richard Mant, D. D., M. R. I. A., Chaplain to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury (now Lord Bishop of Down and Connor); Two Tracts, intended to convey Correct Notions of Regeneration and Conversion,
Fourth Witness, Rev. Thomas Scott; Holy Bible, with explanatory Notes, and his Life, by his Son.
Fifth Witness, Rev. Timothy Dwight, S.T.D., LL.D; System of Theology.
Sixth Witness, Rev. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D.; Dissertation on Infant Baptism, second edition.
Seventh Witness, Rev. GREVILLE EWING; an Essay on Baptism.
Eighth Witness, Rev. Micaian Towgood; Dissertations on Christian Baptism-recommended by the Revds. David BOGUE, D.D., J, CLAYTON, sen., B. CRACKNALL, D.D., J. Dupre, D.D., T. Durant, T. Haweis, LL.B., M.D., J. Hooper, A.M., S. LOWELL, T. RAPPLES, D.D., LL.D., J. P. SMITH, D.D., and W. THORPE.
Ninth Witness, Rev. RICHARD Watson; Theological Institutes.
Tenth WITNESS, Rev. JOHN STEWART, D.D.; A Letter addressed to Mr. Henry Paice.
Every one who will take the trouble to examine the originals, may judge of my impartiality; and should it be found that I have suppressed any thing that would materially have weighed against my views, I trust the candour of the reader will not impute it to design ; but to the weakness of human nature, which makes us blind to our own errors, while we are peculiarly quick-sighted in discovering those of others.
After giving the extracts from these several works (which the reader may pass over, if he please, as they do not affect the argument), I have, in the assumed character of Counsel for the Defendants, recapitulated, and put under distinct heads, the remarks of the several authors upon each passage of Scripture supposed to favour or oppose their particular views; so that in this part of the work there is a repetition of all the arguments which are of any weight, upon which I have taken the liberty to comment freely, and, as will doubtless be thought by some, with too much acrimony. Upon a subject of such infinite importance, however, it would ill become me (being confident that I have the Scriptures on my side) to “speak smooth things," or treat the matter lightly. I am defending the cause of truth against those who would throw a veil over it, and have not been very ceremonious in the use of terms.
Having thus canvassed the arguments of my opponents, I enter upon my defence, in which I state my views of baptism -- its importance and divine origin, deduced wholly from THE BIBLE~the infallible record, in which we find every thing given in such plain, positive, decisive language, that none can (except wilfully) misunderstand it; and I trust the contrast which this presents to the probabilities, the possibilities, the doubts, perplexities, evasions,