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and more mischief to mankind, than almost any principle that has ever actuated the human mind. And it is from a want of a proper diftinction having been made between the effects of the Holy Spirit, which were peculiar to the Apoftolic age, and those which a change of circumftances render still neceffary to be continued in the church, that all the mistakes upon this subject have arisen.


A confideration, which speaks a language fufficiently intelligible to every difcriminating mind, in favour of that rational and edifying form of worship established in our church, as best calculated to form that temper of fober piety and folid virtue, which never fails to produce correfpondent effects upon the practice of all who fincerely use it. Especially when it is observed, as in truth and juftice it ought to be, that most of the errors which have crept into the church are to be traced up to the ignorance and incapacity of thofe, who from time to time have deemed themselves qualified to be interpreters of holy writ.

In proof of the foregoing pofition, it may be fufficient for our present purpose to produce one inftance. The original commiffion delivered to the Apostles, as it ftands recorded in St. Matthew's Gofpel, runs thus: "Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing

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them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghoft; teaching them to obferve all things whatfoever I have commanded you," &c. From the letter of this commiffion, as it ftands in our translation, a conclufion has been drawn by fome, that a previous acquaintance with the principles of Christianity is a neceffary qualification for admiffion into the Christian church; and that infants, in confequence of their incapacity to learn, are of courfe excluded from that privilege. But had the early patrons of this erroneous opinion in this country been acquainted with the original* language, in which this Apoftolic commiffion was firft delivered to the world, they would have been fatisfied, that a conclufion, the very opposite to the one drawn by them, is what the paffage in question feems defigned to point out. In proof of this pofition, it is to be obferved, that the words teach and teaching, which occur in this remarkable paffage, are in the original Greek expreffed by two words, conveying two different meanings. In conformity with which, the commiffion in question


*The Gospel according to St. Matthew was originally written by him in Hebrew, for the benefit of the Jews at Jerufalem; but afterwards tranflated by him, or fome apoftolical perfon, into Greek, and in that language received into the canon of the New Teftament by the whole primitive church.

may with propriety be read thus: "Go ye, and make difciples of all nations, baptizing them, &c.; and when admitted into the church by baptifm, teach them to obferve all things," &c. Children, therefore, are admitted into a state of discipleship in the church, or school, of. CHRIST, upon the fame idea that they are admitted into that state in any other school; not because they have been already taught, but in order that they may learn. In confirmation of the foregoing remark, it may be observed, that in the Eastern churches, where the Gofpel of St. MATTHEW was read in the Greek language, the erroneous opinion here alluded to, refpecting the incapacity of infants for admiffion into the church by baptifm, never prevailed.

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Another text which has been preffed into the fame fervice, by the patrons of this erroneous opinion, will also be found unequal to the weight that has been attempted to be laid upon it. Except a man be born of water and of the fpirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of GOD." John iii. 5. But in the original it is, " except a perfon, any one be born," &c. a term of general import, and applicable, confequently, to all ages and perfons, to man, woman,


and child. I have thought it neceffary to point out

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these two paffages of fcripture to notice, with the view of fhewing the reader the narrow ground upon which the objection to infant baptism originally stood. The arguments fince drawn from fome other circumstances recorded in holy writ in support of it, have been brought forward to prop up a feeble cause, which its zealous advocates having once efpoufed have thought themselves obliged, at all events, to maintain. Whilft, on the other fide, is to be placed that momentous confideration respecting the religious education of children, which reafon, experience, and fcripture, uniformly recommend to parental attention.

Reafon tells us, that if a plant be difpofed in its infant state to take an untoward growth, early training is the only mode calculated to correct the natural tendency. What this plant is in the physical, man is in the moral world; a being who, from the corruption of his nature, is difpofed to evil. Vicious affections, like noxious weeds, are the natural produce of the human foil; which will of course ripen into maturity, if early pains be not taken to eradicate them, and plant in their room thofe graces of the Christian temper, which as they are exotics in the foil of the human heart, require, in order to their being preferved in health and vigour, early nurfing, conftant.

fuperintendance, and affiduous care. The royal inftructor, therefore, in his directions to "train up a child in the way that he should go," fpake the language of found wifdom; of a man acquainted with the actual state of human nature, and folicitous of providing the only remedy, under GOD, against its prevailing corruption.

The experience of mankind informs us, that the welfare, we might fay the existence, of civilized fociety, in a great measure depends upon the proper discharge of the parental duty. And with refpect to religious education in particular, the Jewish historian informs us, that there were never lefs among the Jews than four hundred houses of catechizing, where the law and the Talmud were regularly expounded: and, moreover, that there was an act made at Jerufalem, which obliged all children of a certain age to attend, in conformity with that positive injunction which accompanied the delivery of the law, and is thus recorded for our admonition: "The words which I command thee this day fhall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and fhalt talk of them when thou fittest in thine house, and when thou walkeft by the way, and when thou lieft down, and when thou rifeft up.

* DEUT. xi. 19.


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