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It is somewhat extraordinary, that after stating the principle on which my treatise on Communion was founded, Mr. Kinghorn makes his first appeal to the Pedobaptists, and asks whether they are prepared to acknowledge that baptism and the Lord's Supper have no connexion. To what purpose is a question referred to a class of persons who as far as concerns the interior regulation of their churches, have no interest in the inquiry, on whose practice it can have no influence, and who are supposed by both the parties concerned to be in an error respecting the institution itself, which has given occasion to the discussion? The confidence with which he anticipates their favourable suffrage appears however to be ill founded; and if the Evangelical Magazine for 1803 is supposed to have insinuated sentiments congenial with his own, the author of the review of the present controversy, in the same publication, distinctly and explicitly expressed his approbation of the treatise on Terms of Communion. I have no doubt the result of an accurate and extensive inquiry into the prevailing sentiments of such as adhere to infant baptism would be found opposed to his doctrine ; and that such of them as might object to the admission of a member avowedly unbaptized would be actuated by the consideration of the magnitude of the error, and not by the conviction of a specific and essential connexion between the two ordinances in question. In other words, they would decide on the case upon principles common to the advocates of mixed communion.
His pretence for calling in such a host of disputants is that he may “clear the field,” which, in my humble opinion, will be best accomplished by confining the debate within its proper limits ; regarding it, agreeably to its true nature, as a controversy which concerns our own denomination alone, without attempting to extort a verdict from persons who have not been placed in a situation to invite their attention to the subject. Fortunately for them, they are under no temptation to treat their fellow-christians with indignity; whether they would have maintained the stern inflexibility which is prepared to sacrifice the communion of saints to an unfounded hypothesis must be left to conjecture. We indulge a hope that they would have hesitated long ere they admitted a doctrine which draws after it such consequences; that they would have judged of the tree by its fruits, and have discovered some better mode of signalizing their allegiance to Christ than by the excision of his members. The tenet to which we are opposed produces an effect so contrary to what the genius of the gospel teaches us to anticipate, and so repugnant to the noblest feeling of the heart, as to form
which should require their acting on a wider principle. And here also, as far as my knowledge and observation have extended, I believe the cases are very few in which the position would be fairly and boldly adopted, that Christian communion ought to be held with those who deny altogether the obligation to attend to Christian baptism.”—p. 15. My opportunities of knowing the sentiments of the liberal part of the Baptists must be supposed to be at least equal to Mr. Kinghorn's; yet I have not heard a single objection from them against the general principle. Exceptions have been made (as might be expected) to particular parts, but none whatever to the fundamental position of the treatise. The reason he assigns for supposing that many would not adopt the general principle in its full extent is inconclusive. To refuse the communion of such as denied the obligation of baptism
altogether, providing that error was deemed of such magnitude as to induce a suspicion of the piety of the party, would not be to contradict the principle in the smallest degree; and I am persuaded that among the advocates of mixed communion the refusal would proceed on no other ground. It is one thing to reject & general principle, and another to differ about the application of it to particular cases.
a presumption against it which nothing can surmount but the utmost force and splendour of evidence. How far it is from possessing such support, or even that preponderation in the scale of argument which would produce conviction on the most trivial subject, it is the business of the following sheets to inquire.
In deciding the question, whether persons whom we deem unbaptized are entitled to approach the Lord's table, we must examine the connexion subsisting between the two positive ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Our opponents contend that there is such a connexion between these as renders them inseparable; so that he who is deemed unbaptized is, ipso facto, apart from any consideration whatever of the cause of that omission, disqualified for approaching the sacred elements. We contend that the absence of baptism may disqualify, and that it does disqualify, wherever it appears to proceed from a criminal motive; that is, wherever its neglect is accompanied with a conviction of its divine authority. In this case we consider the piety of such a person at least as doubtful; but when the omission proceeds from involuntary prejudice or mistake, when the party evinces his conscientious adherence to known duty by the general tenor of his conduct, we do not consider the mere absence of baptism as a sufficient bar to communion. On this ground we cheerfully receive pious Pedobaptists, not from the supposition that the ceremony which they underwent in their infancy possesses the smallest validity, but as sincere followers of Christ: and for my own part, I should feel as little hesitation in admitting such as deny the perpetuity of baptism, whenever the evidence of their piety is equally clear and decisive.
It is apparent that the whole controversy turns on the connexion between the two positive institutes ; and that in order to justify the conduct of our opponents, it is not sufficient to evince the authority or perpetuity of each, and the consequent obligation of attending to both : it is necessary to show the dependence of one upon the other; not merely that they are both clearly and unequivocally enjoined, but that the one is prescribed with a view to the other.
There are two methods by which we may suppose this to be effected; either by showing their inherent and intrinsic dependence, or by making it appear that they are connected by positive law. Between ritual observances it is seldom if ever possible to discover an inherent connexion; in the present case it will probably not be attempted. If the advocates of exclusive communion succeed, it must be in the last of these methods ; it must be by proving, from express declarations of Scripture, that baptism is an invariable and essential prerequisite to communion. A Jew would have found no difficulty in establishing this fact respecting circumcision and the passover: he would have immediately pointed to the book of Exodus, where we find an express prohibition of an uncircumcised person from partaking of the paschal lamb. Let some similar evidence be adduced on the present subject-let some declaration from Scripture be exhibited which distinctly prohibits the celebration of the Lord's Supper by any person who, from a misconception of its nature,
has omitted the baptismal ceremony, and the controversy will be at rest. The reader can scarcely be too often reminded that this is the very hinge of the present debate, which (as appears from the title of his pamphlet) Mr. Fuller clearly perceived, however unsuccessful he may have been in establishing that fundamental position. Much that Mr. Kinghorn has advanced will be found to be totally irrelevant to the inquiry in hand; and in more instances than one the intelligent reader will perceive him to have made concessions which are destructive of his cause.
But let us proceed to a careful investigation of the arguments by which he attempts to establish the aforesaid connexion.
His Attempt to establish the Connexion contended for, from the Apostolic
Commission and Primitive Precedent.
My respectable opponent commences this branch of the argument by quoting the apostolic commission, justly remarking, that whatever may be thought of John's baptism, the ceremony enjoined in that commission must belong, in the strictest sense, to the Christian dispensation. The commission is as follows:-“Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Or, as it is recorded in Luke—“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.”
“ This," Mr. Kinghorn observes, “is the law; the Acts of the Apostles are a commentary on that law; not leaving us to collect from mere precedents what ought to be done, but showing us how the law was practically explained by those who perfectly understood it." He reminds us," that in every instance where the history descends to particulars, we find they constantly adhered to this rule ; and that when they taught, and men believed, the apostles baptized them, and then further instructed them in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
We are as ready to allow as Mr. Kinghorn that baptism was enjoined by the apostolic commission: we are perfectly agreed with him respecting the law of baptism, and are accustomed to explain its nature, and enforce its authority, by the same arguments as he himself would employ. We have no controversy with him, or with his party, on the subject of baptism, considered apart from the Lord's Supper; and were he disputing with such as deny its original appointment, or its perpetuity, the passages he quotes would be fully to his purpose. But where the inquiry turns, not on the nature or obligation of baptism, but on the necessary dependence of another institution upon it, we are at a loss to perceive in what manner the quotation applies to the question before us. To us it is inconceivable how any thing more is deducible from the law of baptism than its present and perpetual obligation The
existence of a law establishes the obligation of a correspondent duty, and nothing more. The utmost efforts of ingenuity can extort no other inference from it, than that a portion of blame attaches to such as have neglected to comply with it, variable in its degree by an infinity of circumstances too subtle to be ascertained, and too numerous to be recited. We feel no hesitation in avowing our belief that Pedobaptists of all denominations have failed in a certain part of their duty; for this is a legitimate inference from the perpetuity of the baptismal ordinance, joined with our persuasion that we have interpreted it correctly. But if we are immediately to conclude from thence that they are disqualified for Christian communion, we must seek a church which consists of members who have failed in no branch of obedience; and must consequently despair of finding fit communicants apart from the spirits of just men made perfect. Examine the idea of law with the utmost rigour, turn it on all sides, and it will present nothing beyond the obligation to a certain species of conduct, so that if Pedobaptists are really disqualified for the Lord's Supper, it must be for some other reason than their non-compliance with a law, or otherwise we must insist upon the refusal of every individual who has not discharged all his obligations. To expatiate on the distinctness and solemnity with which the baptismal ceremony was enjoined is little less than trifling, in a debate with persons who fully accede to every part of the statement, and who wish to be informed, not whether our Pedobaptist brethren are in an error, but whether its moral amount, its specific nature, is such as to annul their claims to Christian communion. On this point the passages adduced maintain a profound silence.
If the practice of strict communion derives no support from the law of baptism, it is impossible it should derive it from apostolical precedent ; since the apostles, as this author observes, adhered constantly to the rule. They did neither more nor less than its letter enjoined: consequently, we must be mistaken if we imagine we can infer any thing from their practice beyond what a just and fair interpretation of its terms would suggest. If the Acts of the Apostles are, as Mr. Kinghorn asserts, a commentary on the law, showing us how it was practically explained,” it is impossible it should contain a tittle more than is found in the text. Let us see how the apostles acted. “ When they taught and men believed," says our author, " the apostles baptized them.” Whom did they baptize? Undoubtedly such, and such only, as were convinced, not merely of the truth of Christianity, but of the obligation of the particular rite to which they attended. This is precisely what we do. When we have reason to believe that any part of our hearers have received the truth in the love of it, we proceed to explain the nature and to enforce the duty of baptism; and upon their expressing their conviction of its divine authority, we baptize them. Such a previous conviction is necessary to render it a reasonable service. We administer that rite to every description of persons whom our opponents themselves deem qualified, and withhold it under no circumstances in which the apostles would have practised it. Wherein then, as far as that institution is concerned, does our practice differ from that of the
apostles! Our opponents will reply, that though in the administration of that rite our conduct corresponds with the primitive pattern, yet it differs in this, that we receive the unbaptized to our communion, which was not done in the apostolic age. To this we reply, that at that period no good men entertained a doubt respecting its nature that it was impossible they should, while it was exemplified before their eyes in the practice of the apostles and the evangelists—that he who refused io abide by the decision of inspired men would necessarily have forfeited his claim to be considered as a Christian—that a new state of things has arisen, in which, from a variety of causes, the doctrine of baptism has been involved in obscurity—ihat some of the best of men put a different interpretation on the language of Scripture on this subject from ourselves—and that it is great presumption to claim the same deference with the apostles, and to treat those who differ from us on the sense of Scripture as though they avowedly opposed themselves to apostolic authority. To misinterpret is surely not the same thing as wilfully to contradict; and however confident we may be of the correctness of our own interpretation, to place such as are incapable of receiving it on the same level with those who withstood the apostles differs little, if at all, from the claim of infallibility.
We reason, as we conceive conclusively, in favour of adult, in opposition to infant baptism : our Pedobaptist brethren avow their inability to discern the justice of our conclusion: and are they on that account to be viewed in the same light as though they intentionally rejected the decision of inspired men? What is this but to set up a claim to inspiration, or, at least, to such an infallible guidance in the explanation of Scripture as is equally exempt from the danger of error or mistake? If we examine it accurately, it amounts to more than a claim to infallibility: it implies in the Pedobaptists a knowledge of this extraordinary fact. The apostles were not only inspired, and consequently infallible teachers, but were known and acknowledged to be such by the primitive Christians: and before we presume to demand an implicit acquiescence in our conclusions, and to consider ourselves entitled to treat dissentients as we suppose the opponents of the apostles would have been treated, it behooves us to evince our possession of infallibility by similar evidence. As I have not heard of our opponents making such an attempt, I cannot sufficiently express my surprise at the loftiness of their pretensions, and the arrogance of their language. In their dialect, all Christians besides themselves are "opposed to a divine command,"* “ refuse subjection to Christ, and violate the laws of his house.”+
The justice of their proceeding, founded on the pretension of apostolical precedent, is perfectly congenial with its modesty. Upon the supposition that a professor of Christianity, in the times of the apostles, had scrupled the admission of adult baptism, could he, we would ask, in the circumstances then existing, have been considered as a good man, or a genuine convert? The reply will unquestionably be, No. "He," said St. John, “who is of God heareth us: he who heareth not us is