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pretensions. With what propriety could the apostles of the Lord, who had continued with him in his temptations, place themselves on a level with that multitude which, however penitent at present, had recently demanded his blood with clamorous importunity ? not to insist that they had already received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, of which the sacramental use of water was but a figure. They were not converted to the Christian religion subsequently to their Lord's resurrection, nor did the avowal of their attachment to the Messiah commence from that period; and therefore they were not comprehended under the baptismal law, which was propounded for the regulation of the conduct of persons in essentially different circumstances. When St. Paul says, “ As many of us as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” his language seems to intimate that there were a class of Christians to whom this argument did not apply.*
Having proved, I trust, to the satisfaction of the candid reader, that baptism, considered as a Christian institution, had no existence during the personal ministry of our Saviour, the plea of our opponents, founded on the supposed priority of that ordinance to the Lord's Supper, is completely overruled; whatever weight it might possess, supposing it were valid, must be wholly transferred to the opposite side, and it must be acknowledged, either that they have reasoned inconclusively, or have produced a demonstration in our favour. It now appears that the original communicants at the Lord's table, at the time they partook of it, were, with respect to the Christian baptism, precisely in the same situation with the persons they exclude.
The Argument for strict Communion, from the Order of Words in the
Apostolic Commission, considered. The commission which the apostles received after our Lord's resurrection was in the following words :—“All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you." From baptism being mentioned first after teaching, it is urged that it ought invariably to be administered immediately after effectual instruction is imparted, and consequently before an approach to the Lord's table. Whence it is concluded, that to communicate with such as are unbaptized is a violation of Divine order.t
It may assist the reader to form a judgment of the force of the * Rom. vi. 3.
† “ Teach," says Mr. Booth, “is the high commission, and such the express command of him who is Lord of all, when addressing those who are called to preach his word, and administer his institutions. Hence it is manifest the commission and command are first of all to teach : what then ?-10 baptize, or to administer the Lord's Supper? I leave common sense to judge ; and being persuaded that she will give her verdict in my favour, I will venture to add, a limited commission implies prohibition of such things as are not contained in it; and positive laws imply their negative.
“ For instance, when God commanded Abraham to circumcise all his males, he readily concluded that neither
circumcision, nor any rite of a similar nature, was to be administered to his females.
argument adduced on this occasion, if we reduce it to the following syllogism:
The persons who are to be taught to observe all things given in charge to the apostle, are the baptized alone.
But the Lord's Supper is one of these things.
Therefore the ordinance of the Lord's Supper ought to be enjoined on the baptized alone.
Here it is obvious that the conclusion rests entirely upon this principle, that nothing which the apostles were commissioned to enjoin on believers is to be recommended to the attention of persons not baptized ; since, as far as this argument is concerned, the observation of the Lord's Supper is supposed not to belong to them, merely because it forms a part of those precepts. It is obvious, if the reasoning of our opponents be valid, it militates irresistibly against the inculcation of every branch of Christian duty, on persons who in their judgment have not partaken of the baptismal sacrament: it excludes them, not merely from the Lord's Supper, but from every species of instruction appropriate to Christians; nor can they exhort Pedobaptists to walk worthy of their high calling, to adorn their Christian profession, to cultivate brotherly love, or to the performance of any duty resulting from their actual relation to Christ, without a palpable violation of their own principles. In all such instances they would be teaching them to observe injunctions which Christ gave in charge to the apostles for the regulation of Christian conduct, while they deem it necessary to repel them from the sacrament, merely on account of its forming a part of those injunctions. Nor can they avoid the force of this reasoning, by objecting, that though it may be their duty to enjoin on unbaptized believers some parts of the mind of Christ respecting the conduct of his mystical members, it will not follow that they are to be admitted to the Lord's table; and that their meaning is, that it is only subsequently to baptism that all things ought to be enforced on the consciences of Christians. For if it be once admitted that the clause on which so much stress is laid is not to be interpreted so as absolutely to exclude unbaptized Christians from the whole of its import, to what purpose is it alleged against their admission to the Eucharist? or how does it appear that this may not be one of the parts in which they are comprehended ?
When the advocates for strict communion remind us of the order in which the two positive institutions of Christianity are enjoined, they appear to assume it for granted that we are desirous of inverting that order, and that we are contending for the celebration of the Eucharist previous to baptism, in the case of a clear comprehension of the nature and obligation of each. We plead for nothing of the kind. Supposing a convert to Christianity convinced of the ordinance of baptism,
And as our brethren themselves maintain, when Christ commanded believers should be baptized, without mentioning any others, he tacitly prohibited that ordinance from being administered to infants ; so, by parity of reason, if the same sovereign Lord commanded that believers should be baptized baptized immediately after they made a profession of faith, then he must intend that the administra. tion or baptism should be prior to a reception of the Lord's Supper, and consequently, tacitly prohibits every unbaptized person having communion at his table."'--Booth's Apology, p. 34.
in the light in which we contemplate it, we should urge his obligation to comply with it, previous to his reception of the sacrament, with as little hesitation as the most rigid of our opponents ; nor should we be more disposed than themselves to countenance a neglect of known duty, or a wanton inversion of the order of Christian appointments. Whether in such circumstances the attention of a candidate for Christian communion should first be directed to baptism, is not the question at issue ; but what conduct ought to be maintained towards sincere Christians, who, after serious examination, profess their conviction of being baptized already, or who, in any manner whatever, are withheld by motives purely conscientious from complying with what we conceive to be a Christian ordinance. To justify the exclusion of such from the Lord's table, it is not sufficient to allege the prescribed order of the institutions; it is necessary also to evince such a dependence of one upon the other, that a neglect of the first from involuntary mistake annuls the obligation of the second. Let this dependence be once clearly pointed out, and we give up the cause. It has been asserted, indeed, with much confidence, that we have the same authority for confining our communion to baptized persons, as the ancient Jews for admitting none but such as had been circumcised to the passover: a simple recital, however, of the words of the law, with respect to that ancient rite, will be sufficient to demonstrate the contrary : “When a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep his passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come and keep it, and he shall be as one that is born in the land; for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." But where, let me ask, is it asserted in the New Testament that no unbaptized person shall partake of the Eucharist ?* So far from this, it has been, I trust, satisfactorily shown, that of the original communicants at its first institution, not one was thus qualified.
I presume it will be acknowledged that the Jewish law was so clear and express in insisting on circumcision as a necessary preparation for partaking of the paschal lamb, that none could mistake it, or approach that feast in an uncircumcised state, without being guilty of wilful impiety; and if it is intended to insinuate the same charge against Pedobaptists, let it be alleged without disguise, that it may be fairly met and refuted. But if it be acknowledged that nothing but such involuntary mistakes, such unintentional errors as are incident to some of the wisest and best of men, are imputable in the present instance, we are at a loss to conceive upon what principle they are compared to wilful prevarication and rebellion. The degree of blame which attaches to the conduct of those who mistake the will of Christ with respect to the sacramental use of water we shall not pretend to determine; but we feel no hesitation in affirming, that the practice of comparing it to a presumptuous violation and contempt of divine law is equally repugnant to the dictates of propriety and of candour. Among the innume
*"Was it the duty, think you, of an ancient Israelite to worship at the sanctuary, or to partake of the paschal feast, before he was circumcised? Or was it the duty of the Jewish priests to burn incense in the holy place, before they offered the morning or evening service? The appointments of God must be administered in his own way, and in that order which he has fixed."-Boolh's Apology, p. 143.
rable descendants of Abraham, it is impossible to find one since their departure from Egypt who has doubted of the obligation of circumcision, of the proper subjects of that rite, or of its being an indispensable prerequisite to the privileges of the Mosaic covenant. Among Christians, on the contrary, of unexceptionable character and exalted piety, it cannot be denied that the subject, the mode, and the perpetuity of baptism have each supplied occasion for controversy; which can only be ascribed to the minute particularity with which the ceremonies of the law were enjoined, compared to the concise brevity which characterizes the history of evangelical institutes. We are far, however, from insinuating a doubt on the obligation of believers to submit to the ordinance of baptism, or of its being exclusively appropriated to such; but we affirm that in no part of Scripture is it calculated as a preparative to the Lord's Supper, and that this view of it is a mere fiction of the imagination.
When duties are enjoined in a certain series, each of them, on the authority in which they originate, become obligatory; nor are we excused from performing those which stand later in the series, on account of our having, from misconception of their meaning, or from any other cause, omitted the first. To exemplify this by a familiar instance :- It will be admitted that the law of nature enforces the following duties, resulting from the relation of children to their parents : first, to yield implicit obedience in the state of nonage; next, in maturer age, to pay respectful deference to their advice, and a prompt attention to their wants ; lastly, after they are deceased, affectionately to cherish their memory, and defend their good name. None will deny that each of these branches of conduct is obligatory, and that this is the order in which they are recommended to our attention. But will it be contended that he who has neglected the first ought not to perform the second ; or that he who has failed in the second ought to omit the third ? To such an absurd pretence we should immediately reply that they are all independently obligatory, as respective dictates of the Divine will; and that for him who has violated one of them to urge his past delinquencies as an apology for the present, would only prove an aggravation of his guilt. It is true that some duties are so situated, as parts or appendages of preceding ones, that their obligation may be said to result from them; as, for example, the duty of confessing Christ before men arises from the previous duty of believing on him; and that of joining a Christian society presupposes the obligation of becoming a Christian. In such cases, however, as the connexion between the respective branches of practice is founded on the nature of things, it is easily perceived, and rarely, if ever, the subject of controversy. In a series of positive precepts, this principle has no place; as they originate merely in arbitrary appointment, their mutual relation can only be the result of clear and express command ; and as reason could never have discovered their obligation, so it is as little able to ascertain their intrinsic connexion and dependence, which, wherever it subsists, must be the effects of the same positive prescription which gave them birth. It cannot be pretended that an unbaptized believer is
intrinsically disqualified for a suitable attendance at the Lord's table, or that it is so essentially connected with baptism as to render the act of communion, in itself, absurd or improper. The communion has no retrospective reference to baptism, nor is baptism an anticipation of communion. Enjoined at different times, and appointed for different purposes, they are capable, without the least inconvenience, of being contemplated apart ; and on no occasion are they mentioned in such a connexion as to imply, much less to assert, that the one is enjoined with a view to the other. Such a connexion, we acknowledge, subsisted between the rites of circumcision and the passover; and all we demand of the advocates of strict communion is, that instead of amusing us with fanciful analogies drawn from an antiquated law, they would point us to some clause in the New Testament which asserts a similar relation between baptism and the Lord's Supper. But here, where the very hinge of the controversy turns, the Scriptures are silent. They direct us to be baptized, and they direct us to commemorate the Saviour's death; but not a syllable do they utter to inform us of the inseparable connexion between these two ordinances. This deficiency is ill supplied by fervid declamation on the perspicuity of our Lord's commission, and the inexcusable inattention or prejudice which has led to a misconception of its meaning ; for let the persons whom these charges may concern be as guilty as they may, since they are still acknowledged to be Christians, the questions return, why are they debarred from the communion of saints, and, while entitled to all other spiritual privileges, supposed to be incapacitated from partaking of the symbols of a crucified Saviour ? How came the deteriorating effects of their error respecting baptism to affect them but in one point, that of their eligibility as candidates for communion, without spreading further ? That it just amounts to a forfeiture of this privilege, and of no other, is a conclusion to which, as it is certain it cannot be established by reason, we ask to be conducted by revelation ; and we entreat our opponents for information on that head again and again, but entreat in vain.
Were we to judge from the ardent attachment which the abetters of strict communion, on all occasions, profess to the positive institutes of the gospel, we should suppose that the object of their efforts was to raise them to their just estimation, and to rescue them from desuetude and neglect. We should conjecture that they arose from a solicitude to revive certain practices which had prevailed in the purest ages of the church, but were afterward laid aside, just as the ordinance of preaching was, during the triumph of the papacy, almost consigned to oblivion; and that the consequence of complying with their suggestions would be a more complete exhibition of Christianity in all its parts. But their zeal operates in quite a contrary direction. The success of their scheme tends not to extend the practice of baptism, no, not in a single instance, but merely to exclude the Lord's Supper. Leaving the former appointment unaltered and untouched, it merely proposes to abolish the latter ; and, as far as it is practicable, to lay the Christian world under an interdict. The real state of the case is