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and pressing are my engagements—could I have persuaded myself that the circulation of any one of the excellent tracts that have been written by others would have met our peculiar circumstances in relation to this subject.
With a district two hundred miles in length; containing six or seven thousand church members; with fifty-two large meetings to attend in about forty-eight weeks, and a travel of about two thousand five hundred miles to perform in the same time; I considered that I had no time to devote to writing on this subject, without oppressing myself, or neglecting matters having a prior claim upon me, and possessing a paramount importance. The former I have done, in view of the necessity laid upon me, in order to avoid the latter. At different times and in several places, at the instance of my friends, I have been led to make remarks on the obligation, mode, and subjects of baptism; and lave administered the ordinance to hundreds of adults of all ages, from the sire of seventy, down to the youth; as well as to infants. With the Baptists, as a people, we have had no quarrel, and for
many of them we have had, and do still entertain, more than mere respect; and if our views, as expressed in the following pages, should be thought to be expressed in language
too severe, we have only to say, thạt where we have seemed in the least caustic, it was because we considered the case required it.
We have no interests that we have not laid at the feet of truth; and none that we are not willing to peril in its defence. And we wish it distinctly understood, that we take the whole responsibility of the views herein expressed.:
We have not sought to make proselytes. to a party; nor have we even interfered with any who have been awakened at Baptist meetings; we have acted soleiy on the defensive, in order to save our people from perplexity, and prevent others from “ bereaving us of our children."
Some eighteen months ago, I found a pamphlet circulating in the community, written by Elder W. F. Broaddus, entitled, “ Strictures, on Mr. Dieffenbacher's doctrine of water baptism, infant baptism,” &c.
I read it, and found a good deal of ridicule and sophistry employed against those who hold infant baptism, and baptism by sprinkling or pouring. I took no public notice of it, until the tenth day of last November, when at Upperville, Va., by request, I delivered an argument on baptism, in which I replied to all the matter contained in the strictures which I thought entitled to notice; but, lest any offence should be
taken, I purposely avoided the mention of Mr. B.'s name.
After I had administered the ordinance to twenty-three adults and some infants, as I preferred to discuss the subject publicly, I made a general offer to debate the matter with any gentleman, minister or layman, within the bounds of my district, at any time and place which might be appointed for that purpose. A Baptist minister present declined the offer publicly, in the presence of about one thousand persons. Mr. Broaddus knew of what had passed, but did not see proper to accept the offer.
He, however, preached a sermon on the same subject in the same village about three weeks afterward, which sermon he published after the lapse of about four or five months. I accidentally heard of his intention to preach, two days before the time, and that a rumour, or report, was in circulation through the neighbourhood by his friends, that I was expected to be present on the occasion. I wrote immediately to Upperville, informing my friends that I had received no notice of the appointment from Mr. B., and in the letter renewed the offer to debate the matter, which letter was handed him, by a friend of mine, before he preached.
About three days after he delivered that ser
mon, I received a letter from him, requesting me to publish my sermon, and very kindly offering to review it, in case I should publish ; and offered as an inducement to me, the following language: “Controversies, when properly conducted, must always do good.”
I took no notice of the letter, because I considered it a fair decline of my offer; and because I have always believed that the subject could be brought home to those who are least informed on the subject, (and of consequence most liable to be misled,) better by an oral than a written argument, and at less expense to the community. In his " Note to the reader," and in the commencement of his sermon, he has used my name, and informs the reader that his discourse was occasioned 46 by the excitement" which my sermon "produced in the village and neighbourhood," and that I had made "an attempt to prove that infant sprinkling was an ordinance of the New Testament."
The candid reader will be able to judge how far I have succeeded in the "attempt,” in the following pages. I think it very likely that the fifty-nine adults baptized by pouring in that place and its vicinity, within the few weeks previous, gave that gentleman more uneasiness than the
attempt” at proving "infant sprinkling."
He takes for granted that he is right in his “understanding and practice” of the ordinance
--and that I am wrong; and he sets out to “counteract the wrong impressions” that I may have made. This looks a little like begging the question.
As Mr. B. was so kind as to offer to be reviewer. for me, and was so kind as to write “strictures” for Mr. D., I suppose he, least of all, will complain of my performing the like kind office for him; as, one "good turn deserves another”—and I accept on his part the will for the deed.
If he should think proper to write again, and should produce any arguments that I have not replied to in these pages, I shall answer him in some way. But I give the reader notice that I shall not write again, to answer arguments, or sophistry, that I have already replied to.
In the discussion I have (so far as I knew them) taken up all the arguments used by the Baptists, and have not confined myself to Mr. B.'s " sermon” and “strictures" alone.
While I am fully convinced that the Baptists, as a denomination, had their rise in Germany in 1521 or 1522, under Nicholas Stork, Muntzer, John of Leyden, Knipperdoling, and others, I have forborne giving an account of them, as