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page 136, I have followed the common opinion of learned Protestants, (Mr. Bingham, Dr. Wall, &c.) in relation to Infant Communion, as prevailing in the fifth century, under a notion of its strict necessity, built upon John vi. 53. Though I had some scruple about it; as may appear by my manner of expressing myself, and by the reference to Thorndike in notek.
Having since looked somewhat deeper into that question, I think it now just to my readers to advertise them, that I apprehend that common opinion to be a mistake ; and that though the practice of giving Communion to children at ten or at seven years of age (or somewhat sooner) was ancient, and perhaps general, yet the practice of communicating mere infants, under a notion of its necessity, and as built upon John vi. came not in before the eighth or ninth century, never was general; or however lasted not long in the West, where it first began. My reasons for this persuasion are too long to give here: but I thought this short hint might be proper, to prevent misconceptions as to that Article.
AS LAID DOWN IN
SCRIPTURE AND ANTIQUITY.
Ut autem literam sequi, et signa pro
quæ iis significantur accipere, servilis infirmitatis est; ita inutiliter signa interpretari, male vagantis erroris est.
Augustin. de Doctrin. Christian. lib. iii. cap. 9. p. 49.
My design in this work is to treat of the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, according to the light which Scripture and right reason afford, making use of such helps and means for the interpreting Scripture, as God's good providence, in former or later ages, has furnished us with. The subject is of very great weight in itself, and of near concern to every Christian ; and “therefore ought to be “ studied with a care proportioned to the importance of “it : that so we may govern both ourselves and our
people aright, in a matter of such consequence; avoid
ing with great caution the extremes on both hands, “ both of excessive superstition on one hand, and of pro" fane neglect on the other. We are now visibly under “ the extreme of neglect ; and therefore we ought to study “ by all means possible to inspire our people with a just
respect for this holy institution, and to animate them to “ desire earnestly to partake often of it; and in order to " that, to prepare themselves seriously, to set about it “ with reverence and devotion, and with those holy purposes, and solemn vows, that ought to accompany
ita." But before I enter upon the main subject, it may not be improper here to throw in some previous considerations, in order to prepare my readers for what they will find in this treatise, that they may the more easily form a true and sound judgment of the subject-matter of it.
I. The first consideration is, that Scripture alone is our complete rule of faith and manners, “ containing all things
necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read