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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
I am unwilling to enlarge a work, which has already extended beyond the limits originally contemplated, by adding here anything more than a very few prefatory remarks explanatory of its object; which is, to point out what doctrine the Church of England requires to be held by her ministers on the subject of the effects of Baptism in the case of Infants. And the first question that occurs in such an investigation is, whether, among all the various shades of view that have been entertained on this point, she has selected one, to the exclu. sion of all others, to which she requires their assent; or, whether she has only adopted one class of views within which their doctrine is to be found. It will appear, on a careful examination of the authorities on which the determination of this question rests, that the latter is the case. And this is what we might, à priori, have expected.
That different shades of doctrine on this point, within certain limits, should be left open to us, is to my mind creditable to her character as a Scriptural Church not seeking to bind her ministers to certain exact and precise determinations on such points, going beyond the declarations of Holy. Scripture. The contrary course she leaves to the Church of the Council of Trent, and an infallible Pope. They who are willing to take their faith from the dicta of one or more Italian Bishops, may be satisfied to swear by any particular view which their oracle offers them : and if the last contradict the first, and the middle are consistent with neither ; and the divines respectively contemporary with the first,