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ANOTHER instance of Mr. Wall's unfairness-The dispute between the English pædobaptists and us cast under two headsIt is strange, things so clear should be capable of so much dispute So far as the Scriptures are clear, our practice is allowed to be exactly agreeable therewith-Therefore if we err, we are, however, on the safer side-GOD has revealed his will with sufficient clearness, in all material points-And he has not left it doubtful in what manner, or to what subjects, baptism should be administered-A trifling remark of Mr. Wall's noted-It is better not to pretend to baptize persons, than not to do it as CHRIST requires it should be done-The Greek word for baptize always signifies to dip only in any manner of thing-So Lycophron-And Sophocles-But more commonly it is used for dipping into liquids-So HomerMetaphors include and borrow their beauties from the thing from whence they are taken-Pindar and his scholiast-Euripides and his scholiasts-Aristophanes in many places-The words in dispute frequently applied to the dyer's art and they colour things by dipping them-Several passages wherein the word alludes to the art of dying, considered-The improper use of words in metaphorical passages cannot be supposed to alter their signification-Figurative forms of speech are only abbreviated similes-It is no objection to say, if words are always literally understood, authors will be made to speak nonsense-Figurative sentences not literally true, as they stand; but being defective, the sense must be supplied-We should distinguish between the sense of a phrase, as it includes some words not expressed; and the sense of the particular words singly considered, just as they stand-Words have no more than one signification-Words are always to be taken in their literal sense-The use of these observations in the present dispute-More instances from AristophanesIλúvw is to wash by dipping-More instances from Aristotle— from Heraclides Ponticus-from Herodotus Halicarnassæusfrom Theocritus-from Moschus-from Aratus-from Callimachus-from Dionysius Halicarnassæus-from Strabofrom Plutarch-from Lucian-from the emperor Marcus
Antoninus-The metaphorical use of the word in dispute, when applied to the mind, considered and explained-Other instances from Pollux-From Themistius-That lexicographers and critics render the word by lavo is no argument they ever understood it to mean less than to dip.
By Mr. Wall's character, which I have given you at large in my former, you may judge of his temper and design: but there is one remarkable instance of his disingenuity not yet taken notice of, which must by no means be omitted: I mean his unfair pretences, and false assertions, concerning the word Barw. I designed to have mentioned this before, but considering it is a branch of our main dispute, and requires a particular examination, I deferred it, and will enter on it now.
As the controversy stands between us and the English pædobaptists, it may be cast under two heads one relating to the mode of baptism, whether it is to be administered only by dipping; and the other, (which must be handled more fully,) is, who are the true subjects of it, whether adult persons alone, or infants also.
One would wonder a thing of this nature should be capable of so much dispute: for if it is not instituted, it ought not to be practised; and if it be instituted, it should seem impossible for any not to see it. But if there is indeed reasonable ground for these doubts, and a matter of such importance is involved in such inextricable difficulties, as some pretend; I think it reflects highly on the legislator's conduct, who has ordained laws, on the performance of
which our eternal salvation depends, and yet left the sense and construction of them so perplexed and hard to be known. But we are well assured it is not so; and are more concerned for the honour and goodness of God, than to imagine, with our author and his party, that our blessed SAVIOUR has not plainly enough told us what he expects from us: no, we are confident he has declared his will to us, in this and all other articles of like consequence, with all necessary evidence; and what he has not taught us with a sufficient clearness, he never designed for the object of obedience.
Our enemies allow, that as far as the Scriptures are clear in the present case, our practice exactly agrees with them; and they must confess too their own is very different from what the text declares to have been done in the ancient times. Thus they allow, nothing is more clearly set down in Holy Writ, than that those who believed were to be, and actually were baptized, by being immersed or dipped into the water on the profession of their faith: and that our practice thus far punctually answers, is beyond contradiction: whence it follows, that the practice of the pædobaptists, where it differs from ours, is not conformable to something delivered in Scripture and therefore on the whole, we do what the Scriptures expressly teach; while they, at best, do but what is very obscurely, and perhaps not at all taught in them. That the apostles and the primitive church did dip when they baptized, is plain; but that they used sprinkling or affusion likewise, is not and that they baptized adult persons who declared their faith in our REDEEMER, is clear; but
that ever any infant was baptized by them, is again confessed on all hands not to be so evident.
As far as we go, then, we have the Scriptures undoubtedly justifying us; but where they leave us, we stop, not daring to venture beyond their direction, as thinking it safer to walk by their light, than to wander in unknown paths. If this be a fault, (as I cannot tell how to think it one,) it is a fault however on the safer hand: for what can poor fallible mankind do better, than where two things seem to clash, to follow that which is clear, rather than uncertain conjectures, or even the fairest probabilities? which (to suppose more than is true) is the most that can be urged for our adversaries.
These considerations alone, if nothing else could be added, would render our case secure, and far the more eligible. But we have infinitely more to say in our behalf: for GOD has truly revealed his will with clearness, and not couched it in ambiguous terms and mysterious forms of speech, like the oracles of the heathens; he designed to be obeyed, and has spoke so as to be understood: and we cannot but think, to deduce a sense from the words which was not intended, is very difficult, and requires artifice and violence; whereas the genuine meaning wants no such labour, but is natural and easy and whatever sense, therefore, appears constrained, ought at least to be suspected as foreign from the true.
For these as well as other reasons, sir, which I shall lay before you in the prosecution of this discourse, we cannot believe it is so doubtful in Scripture as many pretend, whether dipping only be baptism, and whether believers alone may lawfully
be baptized. These are the chief questions in debate between the pædobaptists and us; which, if they can be amicably determined, will go far towards putting an end to the separation. But Mr. Wall's management is not likely to have so good success; the point must be treated with more temper and modesty, as well as stronger argument, if it be really intended to gain us; but neither his arguments, nor any other, which yet have been produced, will prove what they are brought for, as I will now endeavour to shew and I will begin with the words Barrio and Bánтw, for they are synonymous, as Mr. Wall himself likewise seems to allow; and therefore I shall promiscuously cite the instances wherein one or the other word occurs.
Our author, to make us look very inflexible and cruel, begins what he says upon this head, with this frightful remark, That we are possessed with an opinion of the absolute necessity of dipping the baptized person over head and ears into the water, 'so far, as to let any man, though ever so sick, die unbaptized, rather than baptize him by affusion,' &c. Which you are to imagine is a great piece of barbarity, because in so doing it is supposed we choose to expose a person to the hazard of being damned, rather than recede from our fixed method. But Mr. Wall might have spared the reflection, since himself allows the desire of baptism is sufficient, where baptism itself cannot be had; so that the consequence of our refusing to administer that ordinance in such a manner is not so terrible as he insinuates.
Besides, we think it better to do thus, than to delude dying men with false performances, and let