Page images

would be a contradiction in terms; for it was in me that the change took place; wbich may be proved, to the satisfaction of any person, by supposing the following case: In going to the church, we had to pass over some very rough country gates and stiles : now, suppose the old nurse's foot bad slipped, and she had tumbled down, and broke my neck, (and had it been after dinner, instead of before, the chances would bave been ten to one against me,) would the priest bave allowed me to be put under the turf wiibin the churcbyard walls, where the sheep and pigs had the bonour to graze ? No, certainly not; that is consecrated ground: and I was then a Jump of flesh and blood and matter a little heathen. I must bave been thrown into the ditcb, or buried in the garden like a dog or a cat.

Again, on the other hand, suppose the accident to have happened on our return, after I bad been regenerated and born again, and made a Christian : what would have been the consequence tben ? Wby, forsooth, I should have had the honour of a coffin ; I should have had the bonour of a grave in consecrated ground, and the very priest himself would have dove me the honour to call me his dear brother.

“ We thank thee, O God, for taking unto thyself the soul of our dear bro ion here departed."

Burial Service. Now, if the change did not, or does not, take place in the infant, but in the sponsors, let me ask, in the name of common sense, how can this be? The child, prior to baptism, is refused admittance iuto cousecrated ground, to lie by the side of its mother, as stated at page 520, but must be buried like a brute; yet the moment it has been baptized, should it die, it will be received, and acknowledged by the priest as his dear brother, and have all the honours and paraphernalia of a Christian funeral; yet it is not the child, but the sponsors! Reason bis stagnant here; argument is dumb; lhe best that can be said of it, is, what Latimer told Edward VI,-a mingle-mangle, hotch-potch, that few ever did or ever will ullderstand.*

• Every body knows Bishop Latimer's homely manner of speaking of the Reformation. At the close of a sermon preached before Edward VI. It was yet, he said, but a mingle

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

As the accident did not happen, either going or coming, we got safe bome, where we found a jovial party ready to give me joy on my being made a Christian. And as soon as the labours of the day were over, the priest himself came, and joined our fireside party. A drop of the best was brought out, my godfathers smoked, my godmothers joked, and the glass went merrily round till mid, night, when they all forgot to renounce the works of the devil; for they all went staggering bome by the light of the moon–

“ The priest himself not a whit behind.” Tbus ended the farce of my baby baptism, or the baptism that I was baptized with, when I was a baby,

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Fit doctrine to indulge the times,
In vice and infamy of crime,

Who shall bis ruin tell ?
When rushing down the deep amain,
Priests, like a comet, drag a train,
Of proselytes to hell.


bare la

o got be * effin; Lei 76098, Ir to calle

The section

He in the


In regard to John is. 5. as stated at page 507, and out of which this notion originated, it may be observed, that bad our Divine Teacher, when he declared it absolutely necessary to be “ bern of water and of the Spirit.” intended the ordinance of baptism by the term water ; then, indeed, the necessity of that institution would bave unavoidably followed, as being placed on a level with the renewing agency of the Holy Spirit. But were that the sense of our Lord, it would inevitably follow, that a positive rite is of equal necessity with the renovating influences of the Holy Spirit; that the salvation of infants, in many cases, is rendered impossible; because numbers of them are no sooner born than they expire;-that the eternal happiness of all who die in their infancy must depend, not only on the devout care of their parents, but also on the presence and pious benevolence of administrators;-that all the dying infants


e child




mangle, hotch-potch, I cannot tell what, partly popery, and partly true religion, mingled together. They say, continues he, in my country, when they call their hogs to the swinetrough, Come to the mingle-mangle; come, purs, come : even so, do they make minglemangle of the Gospel.

Gilpin's Life of Bishop Latimer,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

of Jews, of Mohammedans, and of Pagans, are involved in final
ruin ;~and that multitudes of adults must also perish, merely for
the want of baptism. But who can imagine that the Lord should
place our immortal interests on such a slender footing, as neither
tends to illustrate the grace of God, nor to promote the cornfort of
man-on such a footing, as is quite inimical to the spirit of that
maxim, " By grace ye are saved ;" and has no aptitude to excite
virtuous tempers in the human heart? A sentiment of this kind is
chiefly adapted to enhance the importance of the clerical character,
and to make mankind consider themselves as under infinite obliga-
tions to a professional order of their fellow-mortals, for an interest
in everlasting blessedness. Remarkably strong is the following
language of Mr. Archibald Hall, respecting this particular: "We
might well say, Wo to the earth! if it were in the power of a
selfish and peevish order of men, to dispose of happiness and
damnation according to their humour.”

A cbild is born-'tis born to die :
Make haste- perhaps its end is nigh:

Here comes the curate-well!
The hov'ring gossips round him stand,
When with his high-commission'd hand,
He saves one half from hell.

The Mitre.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

There is a numerous body of dissenters, or non-conformists, in this country, who adopt the practice of sprinkling infants, but who differ as much from the protestant church, as the protestant church does from the church of Rome. Tbey do not profess to regenerale the child, or to ingraft it into the chureh of Christ; they do not use the sign of the cross on the forehead; neither do they consider godfathers and godmothers necessary.

The parents simply bring their infants to the sanctuary on the sabbath-day; the minister taking it into his arms, a small cup of water being provided, he then sprinkles a few drops on the child's face, calling it by vame, and saying, “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This

, they contend, is the essence of baptism. But here the point at issue

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is, What is meant by the word baptism? I have consulted all the authorities that came within my reach, as may be seen at page 466, and they invariably decide, that to baptize, is to immerse or dip into water. This was never disputed in the Catholic church, the Greek church, or the Protestant church, even down to the present day; for all those that practise otherwise, do it as a matter of courtesy, and not as by law established.

den di

be lile


e poor appias.

Now, if they say they baptize the infant, and they do it not, what do they do? Why, it appears to me, as a looker on, that the minister takes the child into his arms in the sanctuary, and in the presence of the congregation, and dedicates it to the Lord with a lie in bis mouth.

But they argue upon this point, that the word baptize (with a little stretching) will bear to be interpreted sprinkling. It may be so; but here I respectfully contend that they are not justified in using any language that is not familiar (in an ordinance of this kind) to the capacity of the most humble individual of their Bock.

Suppose a master should say to his servant,“ You should baptize the gravel walk, before you sweep it;" the servant, desirous of doing his master's will, yet not understanding the term, takes an opportuuity of consulting a dictionary; he there finds bis master ordered bim to dip or plunge the gravel walk in water-which was never meant. But if he had said, “ You should sprinkle the gravel walk, before you sweep it;" the servant would at once have understood him, however ignorant he might liave been.

As many, therefore, as are of opinion that sprinkling is right, I do contend, ought, in justice to their brethren of the opposite opinion, to call it by its proper name, and not stand before the world in false colours, using the words only, but not the ordinance,

The following extracts may perhaps be useful to direct us in the present case, as to how far words ought to be taken in their plain and simple meaning; and are therefore submitted to the reader's consideration.

It is necessary doubtless, that he who desires to be understood when he writes or speaks, should intend to convey only one mean. ing; which if we obtain, we bave the true and genuine sense.



it; there's ilber met

le positie

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

There is but one genuine sense of a text.

Chamier. If it (the Scripture) have not every where one proper determinate sense, it hath none at all.

Dr. Oren. Laws being directed to the unlearned, ought to be construed in their most obvious meaning, and not explained away by subtle distinctions: and no law is to suffer a figurative interpretation, where the proper sense of the words is as commodious, and equally fitted to the subject of the statute. Encyclopædia. Article Law.

When the words of the law are capable of different senses, and reason is for one sense, and the other sense against reason, there it is fit that a plain and necessary reason should expound the law. But when the law is not capable of such different senses, or there is no such reason as makes one sense absurd and the otber necessary; the law must be expounded according to the most plain and obvious signification of the words, though it may condemn that which we think there may be some reason for, or at least no reason against; for otherwise it is an easy matter to expound away all the law of God.

Dr. Sherlock's Preservative against Popery. In all things where the precept is given in the proper style of laws, he that takes the first sense is the likeliest to be well guided. In the interpretation of the laws of Christ, the strict sense is to be followed.

Bishop Taylor. In words wbich are capable of two senses, the natural and proper is the primary; and therefore ought, in the first place and chiefly to be regarded.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Dr. Jonathan Edwards's Preservative against Socinianism. It is a principle with me, that the true sense of any phrase in the New Testament, is what may be called its standing which will be the first to occur to common people of every country and in every age.

Dr. Horsley's Reply to Dr. Priestley. Since words are designed to convey some meaning, if we take the liberty of playing upon words after the meaning is fixed and certaio, there can be no security against equivocation and wile, in any laws, or any engagements whatever. All the ends and uses of speech will hereby be perverted. Dr, Waterland on Arianism.

sense; that

1 de

« PreviousContinue »