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On Mr * Belshams " Plea for Infant Baptism " ( Continued from Vol . XIII . p . 571 . ) Sir , FTT 1 HE interloquium , like other in-1 truders , has , I perceive , been too prattling and prolix ; and your readers ,
like the person intruded oh , have a right to complain . They might , indeed , have been forewarned , that they would always have the remedy in their oWn hands ; that when the letters grew tedious , they might readily pass to the ii&fct article in your Repository . Thus the door may be effectually barred against any intruder .
But this interlocutory part , though entered upon somewhat indiscreetly , must not be left too abruptly . For , though , on one side , the probabilities in favour of Adult Baptism , to the exclusion of I nfant , are accompanied with
so much evidence , as to amount , in my judgment , to almost a moral certainty , yet , oh the other , there occur some objections , which may seem to require a little adjustment . Before , then , we resume the subject of Mr . BelshanVs Censure of Mr . Robinson , I beg leave to submit two or thtfefe moi * e ideas to thq iitttulgence of yoiW freadfettk
It may , then , and has been , aske % unless we admit Apostolical authority , how can we account for n practice that was so common ? And how for the obscurity in which its origin is involved ?
There are several previous questions which might be here proposed , but they shall be reserved for a sort of postscript . In the mean time , with the evidence already before us , we must be permitted to consider Infant Baptism not as a divine * but human
institution ; and since the civil magistrate has adopted it for state purposes , it may be considered as other civil ordinances , and as other doctrines which have derived much support from the civil authority , so as to have become
very popular . And it may , then , be asked , has any strange thing happened to Infant Baptism ? Any thing more extraordinary than what has occurred to other affairs , which have been mere human contrivances , which have been involved in the vicissitudes of the
world , depending on causes which are latent , and which , perhaps , never can be known , and liable to human contingences ?—For example : Universities are the great luminaries of modern Europe . Like the sun in the firmament , they spread their
influence , and , as objects of vision , are contemplated to a very remote distance . They are appealed to as the oracles of literature ; their practices have thfe force of laws ; and their authority is founded on ancient prescriptions and immemorial usages . But will any one say , at what precise period these
magical institutions took their rise ? They sprung up in various points of the political horizon , ( the most ancient in the most obscure , ) and in an atmosphere full of mists . The fact is , at whatever period we first consider them , we are obliged to consider them , not as being then first created , but as being previously in-existence . * Prior to the vervr
* II n ' est pas possible de fixer par des dates—precises les conmienceniens soil de P university de Paris en general , soit des parties qui la component , des magistrats , qui la g'ouverneut , des priucipaux attribute qui la caracteriseut . Les recherches snr tons
les points lie wetient en aiicitti facon a Unc origine claire et determinee : et les premieres mentions que Port fencarilre danfe les liiontimens histoiiques , ri * eiUdonti ^ O Jjetit point 1 ft creation , et P eta"biifi « &tmftt 7 Wi * eti soli-
$ 2 On Mr . Bel shanks Plea for Infant Baptism "
extensive establishment to their opinions in France , by amalgamating the Protestaftts and the Jews under anew Unitarian priesthood , combined by the same Presbyterian discipline . This bold innovation , for which Villers and
others were employed to propitiate the public mind , though suspended , is probably not abandoned , and may yvt be realized by the representatives of the French nation . It is felt that the people of France cannot be drilled ascain i"to Roman Catholic opinions ;
that an order of public instructors and a system of social religion are necessary to regularity , to probity , to domestic comfort , to convenient education , to piety , and to the decorous consecration of burials , marriages and deaths ; and it has been thought that the form of Christianity- least exposed
to the shafts of ridicule ^ which in that cotintry have been so often directed against the absurdities of Catholic superstition , is that which was revived by Mariano Socini . *' Appendix to the 86 th Vol . of the Monthly Review , from May to August , 18 IS , p . 528 .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1819, page 32, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1768/page/32/