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Gospel, runs thus: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," &c. From the letter of this commission, as it stands in our translation, a conclusion has been drawn by some, that a previous acquaintance with the principles of Christianity is a necessary qualification for admission into the Christian Church; and that infants, in consequence of their incapacity to learn, are of course excluded from that privilege. But had the early patrons of this erroneous opinion in this country, been acquainted with the original* language, in which the Apostolic commission was first delivered to the world, they would have been satisfied, that a conelusion, the very opposite to the one drawn by them, is what the passage in question seems designed to point out. In proof of this position, it is to be observed, that the words teach and teaching, which occur in this remarkable passage, are in the original Greek expressed by two words, conveying two different meanings. In conformity with which, the commission in question may with propriety be read thus: "Go ye, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, &c.; and when admitted into the Church by baptism, teach them to observe all things," &c. Children, therefore, are admitted into

The Gospel according to St. Matthew was originally written by him in Hebrew, for the benefit of the Jews at Jerusalem; but afterwards translated by him, or some apostolical person, into Greek, and in that language received into the canon of the New Testament by the whole primitive Church.

a state of discipleship in the Church, or school, of Christ, upon the same 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 Gospel of St. Matthew was read in the Greek language, the erroneous opinion here alluded to, respecting the incapacity of infants for admission into the Church by baptism, never prevailed.

Another text which has been pressed into the same service, by the patrons of this erroneous opihion, 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 spirit, he cannot But in the enter into the kingdom of God."* original it is, "except a person, any one be born,” &c. a term of general import, and applicable, consequently, to all ages and persons, to man, woman, and child. I have thought it necessary to point out these two passages of scripture to notice, with the view of showing the reader the narrow ground upon which the objection to infant baptism originally stood. The arguments since drawn from some 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 espoused, have thought themselves obliged, at all events, to maintain. Whilst, on the other side, is to be placed that momentous consideration respecting the religious education of children, which reason,

→ John iii. 5.

experience, and scripture, uniformly recommend to parental attention.

Reason tells us, that if a plant be disposed 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 disposed to evil. Vicious affections, like noxious weeds, are the natural pro duce of the human soil; which will of course ripen into maturity, if early pains be not taken to eradicate them, and plant in their room those graces of the Christian temper, which as they are exotics in the soil of the human heart, require, in order to their being preserved in health and vigour, early nursing, constant superintendence, and assiduous care. The royal instructor, therefore, in his directions to "train up a child in the way that he should go," spake the language of sound wisdom; of a man acquainted with the actual state of human nature, and solicitous of providing the only remedy, under God, against its prevailing corruption.

The experience of mankind informs us that the welfare, we might say the existence, of civilized society, in a great measure depends upon the proper discharge of the parental duty. And with respect to religious education in particular, the Jewish historian informs us, that there were never less 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 Jerusalem, which obliged all children of

* Prov. xxii. 6.

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 shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."



It seems almost unnecessary to add, that the contrary practice which prevails with many parents, consequence of their having taken up an erroneous opinion respecting infant baptism, of leaving their children as it were to their own training, in expectation of an extraordinary call from the Spirit, when their day of conversion shall arrive; has been the most ruinous to the Christian cause, and the most advantageous to that of its grand enemy, that ever could proceed from the human mind. A practice, which, were it to become general, would prove the most effectual mean, not only of banishing Christianity from the world, but of reducing the inhabitants of it to a wild state of nature, that could possibly be devised. A consideration, which must powerfully enforce itself upon the mind of every parent, who regards the welfare of his own children; who has formed any idea of his own duty; who has remarked (what his Bible teaches him to do) the great attention that was paid to children under the Jewish dispensation; and has, for a moment, considered, that one of the reasons given by God himself for the particular favour with which He

*Deut. vi. 6, 7.

was pleased to distinguish Abraham, is thus expressed, "For I know him," says God, "that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."* There is one point more, upon which it may be proper to add a short word, by way of obviating an objection very commonly made against the service of our Church, by those who are either unpossessed of candour or discrimination.

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When the Church of England first emancipated herself from the shackles of the Romish worship, it was not to be wondered at that some Protestants, with more zeal than judgment, should entertain a jealousy of forms and ceremonies, as tend ing to preserve the vestiges of that idolatry which they had wisely renounced. But had they considered, that the divines, who scrupled not to use those forms and ceremonies which were judged expedient to be retained in our Church, were some of the most powerful advocates the Protestant cause ever had; they would in candour have concluded, that the objection to forms and ceremonies must chiefly depend upon the idea with which they are accompanied in the mind of the party engaged in them; and that, consequently, they may be not only very innocent, but very advantageous assistances to religious worship.

Forms, considered merely in themselves, are but the outside of religion; and if they lead to nothing beyond that, it matters not in what place they are practised, or by whom. Thus far all rational men readily agree. Their disagreement consists in this: *Gen. xviii. 19.

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