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THERE would have been no need to tell the reader that the following letters were written in the years 1705, 1706a; but that, there having been two editions of Mr. Wall's History, he might see the reason why the first of these is made use of, and constantly referred to.
And as these letters were originally designed for the private perusal of a friend, so it is not to be thought strange that they were not published sooner, but rather that they are published at all; for the author, though he was urged to it pretty early, had no thought nor inclination, in the least, to have given the public this trouble. He hoped a more learned advocate would have been engaged in this controversy; but it seems that gentleman did not think it necessary, since Mr. Wall had not pretended to reply to his 'Answer to Mr. Russen;' and had also been convinced by him in private conversation, that he was mistaken in charging him with a misrepresentation of a passage out of Dr.
[Probably Mr. Gale ought to have added 1707: since, in the beginning of letter VI, he makes mention of the union with Scotland as completed, a transaction which did not take place till that year.]
b[The first edition appeared in 1705: the second, in 1707: the third, in 1720. Mr. Gale could not have seen this last, as his work was published in the year 1711.]
[Mr. J. Stennet seems to be the person intended; his Answer 'to Russen' was published in 1704. The Bodleian Library contains a copy of it, formerly belonging to Dr. Wall, and filled with his MS. remarks, the substance of which appears to have been afterwards incorporated into his 'History.']
Allix's Remarks on the Ancient Church of Piedmont,' which he promised to rectify, together with some other inadvertencies, in his second edition.
It not being known therefore that a direct answer to Mr. Wall's book was designed by any other hand, the author's friends represented to him how much the pædobaptists on all occasions boasted of that supposed unanswerable performance, which has indeed been highly recommended and extolled by the most learned among them, and by some in print.
Mr. Reeves, speaking of the history of Pelagius, says, 'It ' is treated of by Dr. Forbes, Dupin, and especially by the 'learned Mr. Wall, in his excellent account of infant-bap'tism; which last I particularly recommend to the English 'reader c.'
Dr. Stanhope, speaking of the pretended Jewish baptism, says, 'It is set in a very clear light by the late excellent ' labours of a worthy and learned divined,' referring to Mr. Wall of infant-baptism, in the margin.
And above all, the whole clergy in Convocation have in a particular manner approved and commended the book, in the following vote passed soon after the publication of it, to shew how very acceptable it was to them.
Feb. 9, 1705-6. Ordered, That the thanks of this House ' be given to Mr. Wall, vicar of Shoreham in Kent, for the 'learned and excellent book he hath lately written concern'ing infant-baptism; and that Dr. B. and Mr. R. e do 'acquaint him with the same.'
Nay, Dr. Atterbury, the reputed author of The Proceedings in the Convocation, A. D. 1705, faithfully repre'sented,' says, 'The history of infant-baptism was a book
c Apologies, vol. ii. p. 357, note.
d Paraphrase, &c. on the Epistles, &c. vol. iv. p. 340.
• The two proctors for the diocese [of Rochester, viz. Dr. Fr. Durant de Breval, and Mr. Samuel Rhodes.]
'for which the author deserved the thanks, not of the
English clergy alone, but of all Christian churches"
These things, together with the importunity of the author's friends, did at length prevail with him to suffer the publication of the following reflections: to inform the public, that the anabaptists, as they are called, notwithstanding the noise Mr. Wall's history has made, and the reputation it has gained, are still safe and untouched by him; and likewise to let these learned gentlemen know, that they have been much too hasty in their judgment, and that this history is not by far what they take it to be.
The Catalogue of Authors added at the end of these letters, was drawn up with a design to have set down what editions are made use of, in order to prevent any mistake that might otherwise happen; which is done with regard to the authors of greatest consequence in the dispute; but all the books could not be conveniently come at just when the last sheet was to be printed; and therefore the editions are not always noted, which the reader is desired to excuse. The author however promises to be answerable for all his citations, which are none of them taken at second-hand; and if any are sought for in one edition, and not found, they may be met with in another.
f Page 35. [4°. London, 1708.]