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darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but have now obtained mercy.” These and a hundred other addresses to the Christian church are totally inapplicable to any Pedobaptist church composed of a great many members incapable of distinguishing their right hand from the left. When the ques. tion is proposed, What has rendered the Pedobaptist churches unworthy to be addressed in this way? the answer is, Because they have received so many members, very many, that were merely children of the flesh; nay, the nine-tenths of all Pedobaptist churches became members by natural birth; and, as the children of the fiesh, were constituted members. Infant sprinkling has, then, carnalized and secularized the church; and hence all Pedobaptist sects have become national churches when they had it in their power; for their views of the church are carnalized as well as the members: hence Papacy is the established religion of Italy, Spain, France, &c.; Episcopacy of England and Ireland; and Presbyterianism of Scotland. In the United States, the principles of civil polity being better understood than in any other country in the world, not any form of religion has obtained the exclusive patronage of the State; and may it continue so till all sects shall be abolished, and all the children of God, united in faith, and hope, and love, shall know no bond of union but Christ—when party names, party love, and party zeal shall all be buried in one common grave, to rise no more forever!
The second evil I have specified, being sufficiently stated and established, I proceed to mention a third evil resulting from, and inseparably connected with, infant sprinkling-viz.
3d. Infant sprinkling imposes a religion upon the subjects of it before they are aware of it, and thus deprives them of exercising the liberty of conscience in choosing that which they have examined, and in refusing that which they disapprove. It is despotism of the worst kind to impose upon the conscience. It is the most des. potic act in the life of the greatest despot, to impose a religion upon his new-born infant before it is aware; and, as soon as can reason, to tell it that it vowed so and so in baptism, and that it would be a sin of the deepest die if it should not, as soon as possible, attend to the things it had vowed. This is to setter the exercise of reason, to rivet on the conscience a superstition of the worst kind, and, as far as the parent can, forever deprive it of any thing worthy to be called liberty of conscience. Hence it is that all Pedobaptist sects increase more by natural generation than by any other means.
Very few are added to Romanists, Episcopalians, Seceders, &c., in any other way than by ordinary generation.
There is nothing more congenial to civil liberty than to enjoy an unrestrained, an unembargoed liberty of exercising the conscience freely upon all subjects respecting religion. Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all countries, has been, as a body, the constant asserters of the rights of man and of liberty of conscience. They have often been persecuted by Pedobaptists; but they never politically persecuted, though they have had it in their power.
If the conscience becomes once enslaved by any undue or early imposition upon it, it is impossible, or next to impossible, ever to assume or enjoy any thing like that noble independence of mind which our Saviour taught in these words, “Call no man Master or Father upon earth; for one is your Father in heaven; and all ye are brethren.” This was in a conscientious point of view. The dearest liberty on earth is liberty of conscience; and this lost, all other liberty is but a name—"a charm that lulls to sleep.” It is an awful encroachment to encroach on the liberty of conscience; and how awful to encroach upon, yea, to deprive an infant of this liberty before it can appreciate the greatness of the blessing or calculate the magnitude of the loss. Could Pedobaptists but reflect on the cruelty of their practice, and observe what an engine of despotism it is in the hands of some of those sects they despise, how would they blush and forever abandon the tradition! Can they suppose it is the Spirit of God that adds one million annually to the church of Rome? Or that it is the Spirit of God that adds a hundred thousand annually to the church of England! Or can they believe that it is the same Spirit that adds a hundred thousand to the different grades of Presbyterians in the same space of time!-seeing they are all added by natural generation and infant sprinkling! No; if they think as rational beings, they cannot think so. It is this rite, and the vows they are taught to consider themselves under thereby, that is the powerful cause of such extensive additions. Infant sprinker ling is, then, an enthralling, despotic, and cruel rite, destructive of liberty of conscience and injurious to civil liberty. This will be further manifest from the following item:
4th. Infant sprinkling has uniformly inspired a persecuting spirit. This is a heavy charge, and requires to be well supported. I do not, however, mean to say that every Pedobaptist has a persecuting spirit, or that every such church is necessarily a persecuting church. SERIES II.-VOL. V.
No; for I know many honorable exceptions; but I mean to say that infant sprinkling has, as a system, inspired all the parties that have embraced it with a persecuting spirit at 'orie time or other, and they have manifested it as far as the civil authority supported them. Nor do I mean to go back to tell of the persecutions of the church of Rome in old times, which every body knows; nor of the persecutions of countries far remote; but I will support the fact with documents more striking, because more modern, and because more within our country. I shall begin with my own state-the good old state of Virginia.
Anno Domini 1659, 1662, and 1663, several acts of the Assembly of this state made it penal in parents to refuse to have their chil. dren baptized, and prohibited the Quakers from assembling, and made it penal for any master of a ship to bring a Quaker into the state. By the laws passed about this time, every person was compelled to go to church every Sunday, under the penalty of fifty pounds of tobacco. But Quakers and non-conformists were liable to the penalties of the 23d Elizabeth, which was £20 sterling for every month's absence; and, moreover, for every twelve months' absence to give security for their good behaviour. Quakers were farther liable to a fine of two hundred pounds of tobacco for each one found at one of their meetings; and in case of insolvency of any of them, those who were able to pay for the insolvents.* The persecution of the Baptists in Virginia did not extend so far as in some other states-at least I can find no documents to authorize me to say that it extended further than fines, imprisonments, and the unguarded use of the tongue. James Ireland, a Baptist, was imprisoned in Culpepper jail, and treated very ill in other respects, for his tenets. A Mr. Thomas also, an active and useful minister, was much persecuted. The object of the above laws and persecution was to protect the Episcopal church, the salary of whose minister was first settled at sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco in the year 1696, to be levied by the vestry on the titheables of the parish, and so continued to the revolution.
So late as the year 1768, John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Cluilds, and others, were seized by the Sheriff and hauled before three magistrates, who stood in the meeting-house yard, and who bound them in the penalty of one thousand pounds to appear at court two days after. At court they were arraigned as disturbers
* See Henning's Statutes at large, volumes 1 and 2, for the above laws as quoted by Mr. Semple.
of the peace.
On their trial they were vehemently accused by a lawyer who said to the court, “May it please your worships, these men are great disturbers of the peace; they cannot meet a man on the road, but they must ram a text of scripture down his throat.” As they were moving through the streets of Fredericksburg, they sung the hymi), “Broad is the road that leads to death.” Waller and his companions continued in jail forty-three days, and were discharged without any conditions. While in prison they continually preached through the grates; and although the mob prevented the people from hearing as much as possible, yet many heard to their permanent advantage. After their discharge they preached as before. Sometimes their enemies rode into the water to mock them baptizing, and often mocked them when preaching by playing cards and drinking spirits while they were preaching. Two noted sons of Belial, who were notorious for these practices, named Kemp and Davis, both died soon after, ravingly distracted, each accusing the other for having led him into these crimes.”
"In Goochland county these persecutions raged vehemently. On the 10th of August, 1771, while a Mr. Webster was preaching from these words, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works,” a magistrate pushed up and drew back his club to knock him down. Some person caught the club and prevented mischief. Being backed by two Sheriffs, he seized Messrs. Webber, Waller, Greenwood, and Ware. They were committed to prison. They were retained thirty days in close confinement and fed on bread and water. As they preached through the grates and made many converts, they were glad to let them go on their giving bond for good behaviour. À thousand false reports from the pulpit and the press, misrepresenting the doctrines and practices of these holy men, were amongst the means employed to keep up this fiery trial. But the revolution took the power out of the hands of their persecutors, a.id their cause triumphed. This is a small specimen of the Pedobaptist persecutions of the Baptists in Virginia, which will suffice my purpose in the mean time-(see Benedict's History of the Baptists, vol. 2, pp. 63–73.) I shall now quote a few facts from history in support of this item to show that not only the Pedobaptists of the Episcopacy, but those of other Protestant sects, manifested the same spirit. In the good state of Massachusetts, (which I select not as the only state in which persecution raged, but as eminent for the exercise of this zeal,) the Baptists suffered much for many years--in this state, in the year 1644, we are informed by Mr. Hubbard, that a poor man by the name of Painter, suddenly became a Baptist; and having a child born, would not suffer his wife to carry it to be baptized. He was complained of to the court, and was enjoined by it to suffer his chi'd to be baptized. He had the impudence to tell them that infant baptism was an antichristian ordinance; for which he was tied up and whipped!
About this time a law was passed for the suppression of the Baptists. After a long preamble, in which the Baptists were accused of two great crimes--the one, for denying that the civil magistrate could lawfully inspect or punish men for any breach of the laws, in the first table of the law; the other, for saying that infants should not be baptized; it concludes with these words: “It is ordered and agreed, that is any person or persons within this jurisdiction, shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptism of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinance, or shall deny the ordinance of the magistracy, or their lawful right to make war, or to punish the outward breaches of the first lable, and shall appear to the court wilfully and obstinately to continue therein; after due time and means of conviction, every such person or persons shall be sentenced to banishment.” Of this act Mr. 'Hubbard, their own historian, says, “But with what success it is hard to say, all men being naturally inclined to pity them that suffer; and the clergy, doubtless, had a hand in framing this shameful act, as they, at this time, were the secretaries and counsellors of the legislature."
“About this time the Westminster Divines sat in London. A book written by one of the Baptist ministers was dedicated to the Westminster Divines. Soon after the news reached England of the law to banish the Baptists, Mr. Tombes sent a copy of this work to the ministers of New England, and with it an epistle dated from the Temple in London, May 25, 1645, “hoping thereby to put them upon a more exact study of that controversy, and to allay their vehemency against the Baptists.” “But the Westminster Assembly," says Backus, “were more ready to learn severity from this country, than these were to learn lenity from any."
“All letters and remonstrances proved ineffectual with the New England Divines. They held fast their integrity; and in 1651 the Baptists were unmercifully whipped, and not long after the Quakers were murderously hung.* The non causa pro causa, or the assigning of a false cause for a
* Benedict, page 364.