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and the doctrine of its necessity, to Austin's, Innocent's &, and Cyprian's 6 days; but even to the time of the Apostles themselves i.
But this notion is only mere conjecture, without any thing like a positive proof. He does not pretend any mention of such practice before the time of Cyprian. All his reasons, upon which he would carry it higher, are nothing more than doubtful inferences, drawn from principles which by no means necessarily infer what he would bave themk.
I have thus represented the opinions of the learned concerning the antiquity of the practice of Infant Communion, and the doctrine of its necessity. It has been the common opinion, that the custom was begun as high as Cyprian's time, about the middle of the third century; and practised in the fifth century, on an opinion of its necessity to salvation, as taught by Austin and Innocent.
The design of the tract now published is to sbew that this common opinion is a mistake : that the early ages never gave the Communion to mere infants, (unless we except the instance mentioned by Cyprian,) but to children of ten, or perhaps seven years old : and that not upon any notion of its strict necessity to the salvation of such baptized children ; but upon prudential reasons only, or general reasons of edification pursuant to Christian principles ; such as move us to bring them to church, training them up in the way they should go : or, if founded upon stronger motives, they were such as resolved into the then present expediency, or superabundant caution.
The necessity of Infant Communion hath been so commonly believed to be the doctrine of St. Austin, in many (as they are supposed) plain passages of his writings, that it may seem strange for any one to attempt to prove the contrary : and yet an impartial and considerate reader will, I believe, be satisfied, upon the perusal of the tract now published, that the learned author hath given reasons sufficient to make it appear, first, that St. Austin could not, consistently with his constant and standing doctrine of the sufficiency of Baptism to the salvation of infants, teach the necessity of the Communion over and above to baptized infants ; and, secondly, that he did not really teach any such doctrine ; but that the opinion of his having so done is owing only to a misunderstanding of his principles and writings.
& Essay, &c. part i. sect. 3, 4. p. 8–31.
h Ibid. sect. 6. p. 35.
1 Wall's Hist. of Infant Baptism, part ii. c. 9. sect. 15. vol. ii. p. 441. Dallæi de Usu Patrum &c. lib. i. c. 8. p. 175. Bingham's Orig. Eccles. book xv. c. 4. sect. 7. vol. i. p. 775, 776.
Having dispatched St. Austin, the principal man, he proceeds to consider what may be urged likewise from Innocent I., Marius Mercator, Faustus Reiensis, Gelasius, and particularly Fulgentius ; all within less than eighty years of St. Austin : and these, he shews, are all to be interpreted by the same rules by which he interprets St. Austin, and to stand or fall with him.
Our author having traced this matter down from the beginning of the fifth century to the beginning of the sixth, and shewn, that the necessity of the Eucharist to baptized infants was never taught by any of those ancients who have been produced for it in those ages ; he observes, that so the matter rested till the close of the eighth, or beginning of the nintb century. From that time he dates the first rise of the doctrine of the strict necessity of Infant Communion. This is the substance of what the reader is to expect in the tract now published on this subject ; where he will see the whole drawn out in a full and clear method, the arguments enforced, and the reasons supported, all along, by proper authorities.
As the author's manuscripts were, by his desire, committed to my care, in order for selecting and revising for the press such of them as should be thought most useful, and proper for the public view; I have endeavoured to discharge the trust reposed in me to the best of my judgment and abilities, and with all the care which an affair of that consequence required—a work I undertook with pleasure, not only in obedience to the author's request, but as having an opportunity of paying thereby a small tribute of gratitude to that great and good man now in his grave; at whose feet I had the honour to be educated; from whose Works, in common with the rest of the world, I have received so much pleasure and instruction; and from that frequent and improving conversation in particular, to which (and I esteem it one of the happiest advantages of my life) he was pleased to admit me, and to let himself down to one so much his inferior in age, as well as in every other respect. He was never ostentatious of displaying his learning unasked ; but ever willing to afford instruction to all who inquired of him ; and as ready to communicate his store of knowledge, as he was indefatigable in collecting it. His whole life was spent (I might say worn out) in the service and advancement of religion and learning. He hath bliged the world with many valuable effects of it; and had he lived --! But he is now at rest from his labours-gune, to receive the crown reserved for those who have fought the good fight, have finished their course, and with fidelity discharged their trust-gone, to enter into that joy, which every good and faithful servant is promised, who improves and well employs the talents
committed to his charge: while the best way for us, whom he hath left behind, to supply the loss we suffer by his death, will be to copy the pattern of his life.
I have nothing more to acquaint the public with ; but only to · assure them, that the works now published are printed from the author's own manuscripts, without any other alteration than what the learned know to be necessary in papers which, at the time of their being written, were not designed, nor afterwards fitted by the author,
for the press.
MARCH 4th, 1741–2.
The Nature of Peaceableness, with the Foundation and
Extent of its Obligations.
Rom. xi. 18.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with
THE 'HE words I have now read making a distinct and entire
sentence of themselves, I need not observe any thing of their connection or coherence with what goes before or after.
They are an exhortation from the mouth of an Apostle, to live peaceably with all men, of whatever nation or religion, sector profession, quality or condition: none are excepted. We are to live peaceably with all, on the score of humanity and Christian charity. But then this is to be so only upon supposition, that it is possible in the nature of the thing, and also reasonable: that is, that we be not under any either natural or moral incapacity of doing it: for then the obligation must of course cease ; not wholly and entirely, but in part, for we are still to endeavour to the utmost of our power to live peaceably. “ If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with u all men."
The subject which this leads me to treat of, will not, I hope, be thought foreign or unsuitable to the time, the place, or the occasion. The time; when having peace with our enemies abroad, we have need of the strictest caution to be united in affections at home: the place; the honour and prosperity whereof are very nearly concerned in the offices of peace and love: the occasion; the design of which is, for the promoting of