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DURING my ministry in the Establishment, an indefinite fear of the conclusions at which I might arrive led me to avoid the study of the question of baptism; but I felt obliged to examine honestly each passage of Scripture upon the subject which came in my way, and the evidence thus obtained convinced me that repentance and faith ought to precede baptism. The reasons assigned by the Anglican Catechism why an infant should be baptized without repentance and faith, are very unsatisfactory. As soon, then, as I had settled my mind upon the union of the churches with the state, I turned my attention to this question. Aware how many are disposed to attribute any opinion which contradicts their own to such a partial, one-sided investigation as they practice themselves, I determined to form my judgment entirely by the study of the Scriptures, and of such authors as advocate the baptism of infants. To that determination I have adhered. And not having read a single Baptist book or tract,
I publish the following work as an independent testimony to the exclusive right of believers to Christian baptism. Undoubtedly, I might have enriched its pages by an examination of the able and excellent authors who have written on the same side, and, by the use of their reasonings and researches, might have escaped some of the errors of detail, into which it is possible that, in the discussion of a question so extensive and so complicated, I may have fallen; but then I should have lessened its value as an independent testimony. Several of the works with which I have the misfortune to differ are written with ability and with calmness, especially those of Wardlaw and Leonard Woods, of Halley and Godwin. Nothing can be better than the spirit which pervades the volumes of Budd and Bickersteth if I dissent from their conclusions, I gladly express my conviction of their honesty; and, while contending against one of the opinions of pious Pædo-Baptists, I earnestly hope that nothing may ever diminish the cordiality with which we may act together in promoting the cause of the Redeemer.
I assume in the following essay that the word baptism means immersion, and that to baptize is to immerse; the evidence of which fact I hope to adduce in a separate volume.
LIST OF AUTHORS REFERRED TO.
Barnes, Commentary on the New Testament.
Bickersteth, Treatise on Baptism. London, 1840.
Ellesley, Annotations on the Gospels.
Godwin, Christian Baptism. London, 1845.
Halley, The Sacraments. London, 1844.
Archdeacon Hoare, Baptism. London, 1848.
Pool, Annotations on the Bible.
Scott, Commentary on the Bible.
Tracts for the Times, No. 67.
Wardlaw, Dissertation on Infant Baptism. Glasgow, 1846.
Whitby, Commentary on the New Testament.
Woods, Lectures on Infant Baptism. Andover, U. S., 1819.