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relevant for this end, ought to be either omitted entirely, or very sparingly introduced;-if touched, not dwelt upon. The reason why this principle was departed from in the lectures, was one which I then thought, and still think, sufficient to justify the deviation. It is obvious, that the same principles, which a writer lays down, as the foundation of the conclusions which it is his object to establish, may often, with equal fairness, be made the basis of other conclusions, besides those which are at the time in his view; and principles settled by Divine authority it is, on this account, as well as for the sake of the inferences actually deduced from them, of the highest consequence to ascertain. We then have at least determinate premises; and have only to show how they bear us out in our deductions. Now, it may happen, that at the very time when a minister, in the regular course of exposition, arrives at a particular passage, the minds of fellow-christians, in his own religious connections, or more extensively, may be occupied and agitated by subjects which, though not immediately connected with the doctine which it is the writer's direct object to establish, may yet have a very intimate connection with the facts and principles brought forward by him for its confirmation. In such circumstances, it is surely warrantable for that minister, whilst he shows how these principles bear upon the writer's immediate object, to lay hold of them for a separate purpose, and, even, at some length, to dwell on the particular subject respecting which he feels it to be of consequence to settle the minds of his hearers. The only proper question, in such a case, would be, whether the principles were fairly stated, and whether the conclusions from them were legitimately deduced. Such was precisely the state of things, when the lectures in question were delivered. But I am sensible, that the same reason which justified, the introduction, at the time, of discussions on the Abrahamic covenant and infant baptism, to a length so disproportionate in illustrating the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, would hardly justify the republication of the lectures at a distant period, when the principles can be taken by themselves, and the argument separated entirely from that of the Epistle.
I have been led to make these remarks by an observation of Mr. Maclean, in the introduction of his review, very much fitted to prejudice the mind of his reader,—namely, that "he finds my main design to be, to support infant baptism, and that from two chapters, (Rom. iv. and Gal. iii.) where it is never once mentioned, nor does it appear in the least degree to have entered into the mind or view of the sacred writer."-But Mr. Maclean does not accuse me of overlooking the object of the apostle, or of failing to show how that object is made out from his premises :and the sole question with him ought to have been, whether the same premises which authorized the one conclusion, were or were not legitimately applied to the establishment of the other.
The work which is now presented to the public may be considered as a substitute for that part of the former which immediately regarded the subject of the Abrahamic covenant and baptism. It is, however, in almost all respects, a new work. The discussions are cleared from all the foreign matter, with which they were una navoidably associated by the passages on which the lectures were founded. The reasonings are, by this means, rendered more distinct and consecutive. The subject is treated more at large, in all its parts, and especially in some which before were hardly, if at all, touched upon. To the whole train of argument and arrangement has been given, such as, it is hoped, may render it plain and easily followed, and may serve to free the subject of it from some portion at least of the confusion and difficulty in which, to not a few minds, it has always appeared to be involved. Some of the leading objections, moreover, have been met, and, to my own satisfaction at least, exposed-and what is said, in the third section, of the USES of infant baptism, is wholly new.
It may be thought, that the necessity of publishing at all was superceded by the late able work of my esteemed friend and colleague, Mr. Ewing. The larger proportion of his ESSAY, however, as the circumstances which gave rise to it might have led us to anticipate, relates to the MODE of baptism; and, although this is treated with a measure of originality, and of classical and biblical learning, high
ly creditable to its author,-there still seemed to be room left for a fuller and more systematic discussion of the other great branch of the controversy,-the SUBJECTS of the ordinance, which is touched in the Essay indeed, and touched with the same ability, but which is not the professed object of the writer to treat extensively. This part of the field the circumstances I have before stated had long determined me to occupy anew, previously to the publication of Mr. Ewing's work; and my determination was quickened to action by the appearance of an antago nist to him, and to the late Dr. Dwight, and to myself. I refer to the work of the Rev. F. A. Cox, of Hackney, put forth with the ponderous and appaling title-"On Baptism: chiefly in Reply to the Etymological Positions of the Rev. Greville Ewing, in his Essay on Baptism: the Po emic Discussions of the Rev. Timothy Dwight, S. T. D., L. L. D., in his Work, entitled, 'Theology; and the Inferential Reasonings of the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw, D. D. in his Lectures on the Abrahamic Covenant."-In some of the advertisements of this work, the first part of the title, I observe, has undergone an alteration; and, instead of the "etymological positions," we have the " etymological novelties," of Mr. Ewing and it is surely, in the annals of controversy, a somewhat curious circumstance, that an opponent should formally announce, in his title-page, a reply to precisely that part of the work he sets himself to oppose, which its author had declared to be unconnected with the course and conclusiveness of his argument: for thus Mr. Ewing had expressed himself:-" Such is my attempt to analyze fanto and its related words. If any shall reject it (I dare say many will); in that case, they will of course disallow my theory for illustrating the origin, and the connection of the various meanings of those words. But they will not be able, thereby, to set aside the meanings themselves. These must still be tried by the force of the examples which may be produced in support of each by itself. Although I shall, in what follows, refer my theory to the derivation of the terms, for the sake of showing how well it tallies with the application of them in the examples in which they occur ur; I shall, in no case, use an argument, in support of their meaning,
which shall rest on that theory."-To announce a formal reply to what an author has thus previously intimated to be unessential to his argument, a speculation of which entire omission leaves its force untouched ;-to produce upon the reader's mind, by the very phraseology of a titlepage, the impression, that that is the pith and substance of a work, and what chiefly calls for notice and exposure, which the writer himself announces he will not make the basis of a single proof;—and then, to confirm this false impression and prejudice, by applying ridicule, as the test of truth, to what, even were it overturned, would not, by its removal, affect, in the slightest degree, a single conclusion-may be a convenient ruse de guerre,—but it is neither ingenuous nor manly. It is very easy however, and that adds to the convenience.- Whatever diversity of opinion may subsist on some unessential points, Mr. Cox's assault has, in my judgment, left the main positions, on which Mr. Ewing's argument rests in their full strength.
Although the appearance of Mr. Cox's strictures hastened the fulfilment of a previous intention, the following pages are not to be considered as a reply to his work. They are not a formal reply to any one. I follow the train of my own argument, and take notice of the objections of others, as they come in my way. And I trust it will be found, I have not shrunk from meeting my opponents (or rather, let me say, the opponents, the conscientious opponents, of the views I advocate)-fully and fairly, in the main points of their strength. I have had occasion, once or twice, to allude to the strictures of the Rev. Mr. Birt, of Birmingham, on a sermon by my excellent friend, the Rev. H. F. Burder, of Hackney, a neighbor and fellow laborer of Mr. Cox ;-and I gladly embrace the opportunity of saying, that although there may be one or two minor statements in that sermon in which I may not thoroughly acquiesce, it appears to me distinguished by the clearness and cogency and comprehensive brevity of its reasonings, as well as by the piety and Christian meekness of its spirit; and to remain little, if at all affected, in its general principles, by the animadversions of his opponent.-I have now and then referred
to, and quoted, other publications. But indeed these are now, on both sides, so numerous, that I have found it better not to cumber myself by looking into many, and so exposing myself to the temptation of introducing matter, either quite extraneous, or but remotely connected with my argument.
It has been my endeavor to adhere to the Latin maxim, "Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re," familiarly rendered in English Soft words and hard arguments." Whether I
have succeeded or failed, the reader must judge. If occasionally I may have expressed myself (of which, however, I am not conscious) with becoming asperity, may I find forgiveness of Him, who has said, "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men." To his blessing I humbly commend this part of my labors, in the conviction,—a conviction that has gained strength by every new examination of the subject,-that the cause is his, and that its opponents, however plausible their scheme may be rendered, (and it is admitted, in some of its points, to be susceptible of great plausibility) have not a foot-breadth of solid scriptural ground to stand upon. R. W.
13th January, 1825. f