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us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."—Heb. x. 23. It is to the faithful, considered as such, without distinction of sects and parties, that St. Paul addresses the following exhortation : "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High-priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.”—Heb. iii. 1. In the Epistle to the Hebrews alone, the phrase our profession occurs three times, and in each instance in such a connexion as demonstrates it to be an attribute common to all Christians.*
It would be trifling with the reader's patience to multiply proofs of a position so evident from Scripture as the inseparable connexion between a genuine profession of Christ and future salvation. But if this be admitted, what becomes of the principal argument urged by Mr. Kinghorn for strict communion, which turns on the principle that “ baptism is the term of Christian profession?" Who can fail to perceive that if this proposition is true, the Pedobaptists are, on our principles, cut off from the hope of eternal life, and salvation is confined to ourselves? The language of our Saviour and his apostles is decisive respecting the necessity of a profession in order to eternal life: this writer affirms that baptism, as we practise it, is an essential term of profession. By comparing these propositions together, a child will perceive that the necessary inference is the restriction of the hope of future happiness to members of our own denomination. This in truth is the conclusion to which all his reasoning tends; it meets the intelligent reader at every turn; but when he expects the writer to advance forward and press the fearful consequence, he turns aside, and is afraid to push his argument to its proper issue. He travails in birth, but dares not bring forth; he shrinks from the sight of his own progeny. Sometimes he seems at the very point of disclosing the full tendency of his speculations, and more than once suggests hints in the form of questions which possess no meaning, but on the supposition of that dismal conclusion to which his hypothesis conducts him. Let the reader pause, and meditate on the following extraordinary passage :—“ If baptism,” he says, necessary to communion, either it was then essential to salvation, or that which was not essential to salvation was necessary to communion. If it was then essential to salvation, how can it be proved not to be essential now ?"| Again he asks, “What is the meaning of the term condition? In whatever sense the term can apply to the commission of our Lord, or to the declarations of the apostles respecting repentance, faith, and baptism,-is not baptism a condition either of communion or of salvation, or of both ? Do the conditions either of salvation or of communion change by time? Are they annulled by being misunderstood ?"
Whatever of argument these passages may be supposed to contain, will be examined hereafter; the design of producing them at present is to show the tendency of the principle; and the reader is requested to consider whether they are susceptible of any other sense than that the terms of salvation and of communion are commensurate with each other; that whatever was once essential to salvation is so still; and that bap
* Heb. iii. 1; iv. 14; 1. 13. | Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 19. Ibid. p. 20.
tism is as much a condition of salvation as faith and repentance. But if these are his real sentiments, why not speak plainly, instead of " " uttering parables ?" and why mingle in the same publication representations totally repugnant, in which he speaks of such as dissent from him on the subject of baptism as persons of the most distinguished character
-persons whom God will undoubtedly bring to his kingdom and glory ?* The only solution this problem admits is to suppose (what my knowledge of his character confirms) that to the first part of these statements he was impelled by the current of his arguments, to the latter by the dictates of his heart. But however that heart may rebel, he must learn either to subdue its contumacy, or consent to relinquish the principal points of his defence. He has stated that the limits of communion must be the same with those of profession; that the Pedobaptists have none, or, at least, none that is valid; and that, on this account and for this reason, they are precluded from a title to Christian fellowship. But the word of God, as we have seen, repeatedly insists on men's professing Christ as an indispensable requisite to salvation. How is it possible, then, if Mr. Kinghorn's position is just, to evade the consequence, that those whom he would exclude from communion are excluded from salvation?
“If obedience to a rite,” he observes, “ be not a term of salvation (which no one supposes), yet it was ordered by the highest authority, as an evidence of our subjection to the Author of salvation ; and a Christian profession is not made in Christ's own way without it.”+ If the open acknowledgment of Christ by the Pedobaptists is not to be esteemed a real and valid profession, the inevitable consequence is, for reasons sufficiently explained, that they cannot be saved; but if it is valid (however imperfect in one particular), it is so far made in Christ's own way. The expression which he employs to depreciate it has either no meaning or none that is relative to the object of the writer. The scope of his argument obliged him to prove that adult baptism is essential to a Christian profession; he now contents himself with saying, that without that ordinance it is not made in the right way, which may, with equal propriety, be affirmed of every deviation from the doctring and precepts of the gospel. Just as far as we suppose a person to depart from these, we must judge his profession not to be made in Christ's own way; nor will any thing short of a perfect profession, or, in other words, a perfect comprehension and exhibition of the will of Christ, exempt him from such an imputation; so that in this sense, which is the only one applicable to the case before us, to make a profession of the Christian religion in Christ's own way is not the lot of a mortal. But though this is the only interpretation consistent with truth, we cannot for a moment suppose that such was the meaning of the writer. He must have intended to assert that the parties to whom they are applied fail to make what Christ himself would deem a profession. This supposition is forced upon us by the scope of his reasoning, which went to prove that baptism
is necessary to communion, because it is necessary to a profession. This supposed necessity must * Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 21, 36.
Ibid. p. 18.
consequently relate, not to its completeness, or perfection, but to its essence: he must be understood to affirm, that they have not exhibited what Christ will consider as a profession. But as he has solemnly affirmed his det nation to reject such as are destitute of it, we ask again, how Mr. Kinghorn will reconcile this with the salvability of Pedobaptists?
Whatever it seems good to infinite wisdom to prescribe as an indispensable condition of future happiness, we must suppose that it exactly corresponds to its name: it is true and genuine in its kind, and wants nothing which constitutes the essence. If an open acknowledgment of Christ is the prerequisite demanded under the title of a profession, it would seem strange to assert that something less than what is correctly denoted by that expression is, after all, sufficient to satisfy the condition. This, however, is what Mr. Kinghorn must assert, to be consistent with himself; for he will not deny that the advocates of infant-sprinkling have exhibited something like a profession; but as they have not made it in Christ's own way, it is not, strictly speaking, entitled to that appellation, and, consequently, cannot claim the privileges it secures. But if the case is as he states it, he must either confine the hope of salvation to his own party, or admit that, in the solemn denunciations before recited, it is not really a profession of Christ which is required, but merely something which resembles it. Whether the use of language so replete with ambiguity, or collusion, is consistent with the character of the “true and faithful witness," we leave to the decision of the reader. According to Mr. Kinghorn, while there are two modes of avowing our Christianity, one so essentially defective as not to deserve the name of a profession, the other sound and valid; when the Supreme Legislator thought fit to enjoin the profession of his name, under the sanction of eternal death, he intended to insist on the first, in distinction from the last of these methods. Let him who is able digest these absurdities ; from which whoever would escape must either abandon the ground which Mr. Kinghorn has taken, or consign the Pedobaptists to destruction.
It is time, however, to recur to the questions with which he has urged his opponents, and which he supposes it impossible to solve on my principles. “If baptism,” he observes, “was once necessary to communion, either it was then essential to salvation, or that which was not essential to salvation was necessary to communion. If it was then essential to salvation, how can it be proved not to be essential now? If it be argued that it was not essential to salvation then, it must either be proved that communion was held without it, or Mr. Hall's position inust fall."*
Of the preceding dilemma I embrace without hesitation the affirmative side, and assert that in the apostolic age baptism was necessary to salvation. To the
which follows,“ how then can it be proved that it is not essential now,” I reply that it is unnecessary to attempt it, because it is admitted by Mr. Kinghorn himself; and it is preposterous to attempt the proof of what is acknowledged by both parties.
• Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 19.
It is very astonishing, after he had so clearly avowed his conviction of the exalted character and unquestionable piety of many Pedobaptists, he should ask the question: but he was probably so dazzled with the seeming subtlety and acumen of these pointed interrogatories, as not to perceive their total irrelevance. If he feels any hesitation in affirming that baptism was essential to salvation in primitive times, he entertains a lower idea of its importance than his opponents; but on the contrary supposition, unless he totally retracts his liberal concessions, he must acknowledge that which was once necessary to salvation is not so now. The difficulty attending the supposition of a change in the terms of salvation is urged with little propriety by one to whose hypothesis they apply in their full force; nor are they, when fairly examined, at all formidable. Owing to the incurable ambiguity of language, many truths founded on the clearest evidence assume an appearance of paradox; and of this nature is the proposition which affirms that the terms of salvation are not unalterable; which may, with equal propriety, be affirmed or denied, in different senses. Since the fundamental laws of the kingdom of God are of equal and invariable obligation, a cordial compliance with which is essential to eternal felicity,--since faith and repentance are at all times, and in all places, indispensable prerequisites to a justified state, in popular language, there would be no impropriety in asserting that the conditions of salvation, under the gospel, remain the same from age to age.
But if this proposition is taken in its utmost rigour, and applied to every particular connected with the faith and practice of Christians, it is manifestly false. There are certain parts of Christianity which, as they exhibit the basis, and propound the conditions of the new covenant, belong to its essence; certain doctrines which are revealed because they are necessary; and others, which are necessary only because they are revealed: the absence of which impairs its beauty, without destroying its being. Of this nature are its few and simple ceremonies. But while this distinction is admitted, it will not be denied that the wilful perversion of the least of Christ's precepts, or the deliberate and voluntary rejection of his instructions in the smallest instance, would betray an insincerity utterly inconsistent with the Christian character. “ He who shall break the least of these my commandments, and teach men so, he shall be of no esteem in the kingdom of Heaven." The truth or precept in question may be of such an order, that a simple ignorance of it may not be fatal; yet to resist it, knowing it to be of divine authority, would be pregnant with the highest danger. The great Head of the church will not permit us to set voluntary limits to our obedience: we must consent to receive all his sayings or none. But it must be manifest, on reflection, that on its first publication the visible appendages of Christianity were exhibited with a lustre of evidence which no honest mind could withstand ; and that no pretence for their neglect could subsist among such as professed religious integrity. Such was eminently the case with the two institutions which have occasioned the present controversy. The constant practice of the apostles
See Campbell's Translation, Matt. v. 19 Vol. 1.-Dd
appealing to the senses of men, and illustrating the import of their ord instruction, made the point of duty so plain, that its omission, in such circumstances could be ascribed only to voluntary corruption.
Nor is this the only example which might be adduced. By orthodox Christians the explicit belief of the doctrine of the atonement is now considered as indispensably necessary to salvation ; but that the immediate followers of Christ were, during his personal ministry, so far from embracing this truth that they could not endure the mention of his death without expressing the utmost impatience, and that they knew not what was intended by his resurrection, are undeniable facts. The full developinent of the gospel scheme, made at a subsequent period, has in this instance rendered that essential to salvation which could previously subsist without it.
It may also be observed, that a diversity of sentiment has arisen among Christians from different modes of interpreting the word of God, which has given birth to various sects and parties, unknown in primitive times.
On many of these points, it is impossible to suppose but that the sentiments of the inspired writers were expressed with sufficient perspicuity to be perfectly understood by the parties to whom they were originally communicated; and who, having repeatedly attended their ministry, had heard those particulars more fully illustrated and confirmed which are briefly touched upon in their writings. Who can doubt that the true idea of election, whether it intends, as the Arminians assert, the distinction conferred on some, above others, in the collation of external benefits, or the preordination of individuals to eternal life, was clearly ascertained by the primitive Christians, so as to exclude the possibility of controversy and debate? The Arminian will contend that the first Christians entertained his notion of election and grace; the Calvinist, with equal confidence, will maintain that the true and primitive interpretation of Scripture is in favour of his hypothesis ; and neither of them can consistently admit that the members of the primitive church adopted a different system from that which they respectively embrace. One of the parties will contend that the apostolic church consisted entirely of Arminians; the other that it included none but Calvinists.
Were it allowed that some variety of opinion on this mysterious topic might subsist even among the earliest converts, it is impossible to suppose there were none at that period who understood the doctrine of St. Paul: it would be most injurious to the reputation of that great writer to suppose he expressed himself with an obscurity which uniformly baffled the power of comprehension. Let his meaning, for argument's sake, be supposed to agree with the Arminian system; the adoption of that hypothesis was, on this supposition, essential to the salvation of him who was acquainted with that circumstance. For such a person to have einbraced the Calvinistic sentiments would have been to pour contempt on the apostolic doctrine, and to oppose his private judgment to the dictates of inspiration. If we invert the supposition, the result is a similar conclusion in favour of the Calvinist. Were these parties to exclude each other from communion, under pretence that the primitive