Imágenes de páginas

reason of the case, we should not for a moment suspect that the obligation of commemorating the Saviour's death depended upon baptism : we should ascribe it at once to the injunction, “Do this in remembrance of me." Since positive duties arise (to human apprehension at least) from the mere will of the legislator, and not from immutable relations, their nature forbids the attempt to establish their inherent and essential connexion. In the present case, it is sufficient for us to know that whatever God has thought fit to enjoin must be matter of duty; and it little becomes weak and finite mortals to limit its sphere, or explain away its obligation, by refined and subtle distinctions.

It remains to be considered whether the necessary connexion we are seeking can be found in positive prescription. We again and again call upon our opponents to show us the passage of Scripture which asserts that dependence of the Lord's Supper on baptism which their theory supposes ; and here, when we ask for bread, they give us a stone. They quote Christ's commission to his apostles, where there is not a word upon the subject, and which is so remote from establishing the essential connexion of the two ceremonies, that the mention of one of them only is included. They urge the conduct of the apostles, though it is not only sufficiently accounted for on our principles, but is such as those very principles would, in their circumstances, have absolutely compelled us to adopt ; and surely that must be a very cogent proof that the apostles were of their sentiments which is derived from a matter of fact, which would undeniably have been just what it is on the contrary supposition. They baptized, because they were commanded to do so; they administered the Lord's Supper, because our Saviour enjoined it on his disciples ; and both these duties were prescribed to the societies they formed, because the nature and obligation of each were equally and perfectly understood. What is there in this, we ask, which our hypothesis forbids us to imitate, or which, had we been in their place, our views would not have obliged us to adopt ?

The late excellent Mr. Fuller, whose memory commands profound veneration, attempts in his posthumous tract on this subject to establish the connexion between the two rites, by the joint allusion made to them in the epistles of St. Paul. From their being connected together in his mind, on those occasions, he infers an inherent and essential connexion. With this view, he adduces the tenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, which asserts that the ancient Israelites had a figurative baptism in the cloud, and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ.” “If the apostle,” he remarks, “had not connected baptism and the Lord's Supper together in his mind, how came he so pointedly to allude to them both in this passage?" He brings forward also another text to the same purpose, where St. Paul affirms we are all “ baptized into one body, and are all made to drink into the same spirit.” It is freely admitted that these, and perhaps other texts which might be adduced, afford examples of an allusion to the two ordinances at the same time, whence we may be certain that they were present together in the mind

of the writer. But whoever considers the laws of association must be aware how trivial a circumstance is sufficient to unite together in the mind ideas of objects among which no essential relation subsists. The mere coincidence of time and place is abundantly sufficient for that purpose. In addressing a class of persons distinguished by the possession of peculiar privileges, what more natural than to combine them in a joint allusion, without intending to assert their relation or dependence; just as in addressing a British audience on a political occasion, the speaker may easily be supposed to remind them at the same time of their popular representation, of the liberty of the press, and the trial by jury, without meaning to affirm that they are incapable of being possessed apart. In fact, the warmest advocates of our practice would feel no sort of difficulty in adopting the same style, in an epistle to a church which consisted only of Baptists; consequently, nothing more can be inferred, than that the societies which St. Paul addressed were universally of that description; a fact we have already fully conceded. The only light in which it bears upon the subject is that which makes it perfectly coincide with the argument from primitive precedent, the futility of which has been sufficiently demonstrated.

The unities which the apostle enumerates as belonging to Christians, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, are also set in opposition to us. “ There is," saith he, “ one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ; one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” That this text is irrelevant to the present argument will appear from the following considerations : Since no mention is made of the Lord's Supper, it cannot be intended to confirm or illustrate the relation which baptism bears to that ordinance, which is the only point in dispute. Next, it is very uncertain whether the apostle refers to water baptism or to the baptism of the Spirit ; but admitting that he intends the former, he asserts no more than we firmly believe, that there are not two or more valid baptisms under the Christian dispensation, but one only; a deviation from which, either with respect to the subject or the mode, reduces it to a nullity. Lastly, since his avowed object in insisting upon these unities, was to persuade his reader to maintain inviolate that unity of the spirit to which they were all subservient, it is extremely unreasonable to adduce this passage in defence of a practice which involves its subversion. “ The same fountain,” St. James tells us, “cannot send forth sweet waters and bitter:" but here we see an attempt to deduce discord from harmony; and to find an apology for dividing the mystical body of Christ, in the most pathetic persuasive to unity. The celebrated Whitby, a Pedobaptist and an Episcopalian, appears to have felt the full force of this admirable passage, when he deduces from it the three following propositions : " 1st. That sincere Christians only are truly members of that church catholic of which Christ is the head. 2dly. That nothing can join any professor of Christianity to this one body, but the participation of the spirit of Christ. 3dly. That no error in judgment, or mistake in practice, which doth not tend to deprive a Christian of the spirit of Christ, can separate him from the church of

Christ.”* Thus it is that this learned commentator conceives himself to have discovered a demonstration of the principles we are abetting, in the very words our opponents urge for their overthrow.

Such is the substance of Mr. Fuller's argumentation on the subject; and on a basis so slight did he attempt to rear the edifice of strict communion. In how different a light will he be viewed by posterity, as the victorious impugner of socinian and deistical impiety! and who, on looking back on his achievements in that field, and comparing them with his feeble efforts in the present, but must exclaim with regret quantum mutatus ab illo! Whether he felt some distrust of the ground he was treading, which for several reasons I strongly suspect, or whether it is to be ascribed to the infelicity of the subject, it is not easy to say; but his posthumous pamphlet on communion will unquestionably be considered as the feeblest of all his productions. The worthy editor probably calculated on great effects to arise from the dying suffrage of a man so highly esteemed; but before he ventured on a step so injurious to his fame, he should have remembered, that we live in an age not remarkably disposed to implicit faith, even in the greatest names.

But it is time to return to Mr. Kinghorn, with whose management of the subject we are at present more immediately concerned. As bold a polemic as Mr. Fuller was generally considered, he was pusillanimity itself compared to my present antagonist; who, in the ardour of combat, has not scrupled to remove landmarks which he, I am well persuaded, would have considered as sacred. It cannot be denied that he has infused by these means some novelty into the discussion, and that many of his arguments bear an original stamp; but whether that novelty is combined with truth, or that originality is such as will ultimately secure many imitators or admirers, is another question.

Having already shown that no inherent connexion subsists between the two rites under discussion, it remains to be considered, as we have already remarked, whether they are connected by positive law. Is there a single word in the New Testament which, fairly interpreted, can be regarded as a prohibition of the admission of unbaptized persons to the Lord's Supper?

Let Mr. Kinghorn answer this question for us : The New Testament,” he tells us, “ does not prohibit the unbaptized from receiving the Lord's Supper, because no circumstance arose which rendered such prohibition necessary.”+ Whether a prohibition was necessary or not involves a distinct inquiry; we request the reader's attention to the important concession, that it does not exist. The reason he assigns, however, for its not being necessary is, that “it is acknowledged the law of baptism was clearly understood, and that the unbaptized could not be received into the church." “ There was, therefore,” he adds,

no reason why a prohibitory declaration should exist." We fully agree with him, that at the period of which he is speaking, the law of baptism was fully understood; and on that account, we say, such

• Whitby in loco.

Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 32.

as refused to obey it could not be received into the church. We also admit, that while there was this clear understanding, no such prohibition as we demand was requisite. But if it was rendered unnecessary because of this clear understanding, as this writer informs us, must it not by his own allowance become necessary, when that understanding ceases ? If the presence of one thing makes another unnecessary, must not the absence of the same thing restore the necessity ?

In the present instance, the only reason he assigns for an express prohibition not being then necessary is, that the ordinance of baptism was perfectly understood ; surely if this be the only reason, the necessity must return when that reason ceases; in other words, there will be a necessity for an express prohibition of the unbaptized whenever the precept respecting baptism ceases to be understood. Has it, or has it not, ceased in our apprehension) to be understood by modern Pedobaptists? If it be admitted that it has, then, on his own principle, an express prohibition of the unbaptized to receive the Lord's Supper has become necessary. But he acknowledges none exists; whence the only conclusion to be deduced is, either that the word of God has omitted what is necessary in itself, or (which is rather more probable) what is necessary to support his hypothesis. The word of God, it should be remembered, makes adequate provision for the direction of the faithful in every age, being written under the guidance of that Spirit to whom the remotest futurity was present; and though it was by no means requisite to specify the errors which were foreseen to arise, it is not a sufficient rule, unless it enables us to discover which of these are, and which are not, to be tolerated in the church. The doctrine which asserts that baptism is an indispensable requisite to communion this writer expressly informs us was not promulgated to the primitive Christians, because they did not need it: their clear understanding of the nature of the ceremony was sufficient of itself to secure an attention to it, in the absence of that doctrine. This is equivalent to an acknowledgment, if there be any meaning in terms, that if they had not had the clear comprehension of the ordinance which he ascribes to them, they would have needed that truth to be propounded, which in their situation was safely suppressed. But if the primitive Christians would have found such information necessary, how is it that the modern Pedobaptists, who are, according to our principles, precisely in the situation here supposed, can dispense with it? What should prevent them from turning upon Mr. Kinghorn, and saying, We judge ourselves baptized; but supposing we are not, you assert that there is no scriptural prohibition of the unbaptized approaching the Lord's table, which you yet acknowledge would have been necessary to justify the repelling of primitive Christians from that privilege, had it not been for their perfect knowledge of the nature of baptism. But as you will not assert that we possess that knowledge, how will you defend yourself in treating us in a manner hich, by your own concession, the apostles would not have been justified in treating their immediate converts ?

It was generally supposed that the abetters of strict communion

imagined some peculiar connexion between baptism and the Lord's Supper beyond what subsists between that ceremony and other parts of Christianity. Our present opponent disclaims that notion. “If the above evidence,” he says, " be justly stated, there is a real instituted connexion between baptism and the whole of the succeeding Christian profession. So that there is no reason why the connexion between baptism and the Lord's Supper should be more distinctly marked, than between baptism and any other duty or privilege."* But if this be the case, why do they confine their restriction to the mere act of communion at the Lord's table? In every other respect they feel no scruple in acknowledging the members of other denominations as Christians : they join with them in the most sacred duties; they interchange devotional services; they profess to value, and not unfrequently condescend to entreat, an interest in their prayers. In a word, no one who had not witnessed their commemoration of the Lord's Supper would suspect they made any distinction. There are a thousand acts which they perform towards such as practise infant-sprinkling, which would be criminal and absurd on any other supposition than that of their being members of Christ, and co-heirs of eternal life. By the mouth of our author, whom they are proud of considering as their organ, they inform us that every other duty and privilege is as much dependent on baptism as the celebration of the Eucharist; yet it is this duty and this privilege alone in which they refuse to participate with Christians of other persuasions. How will they reconcile their practice and their theory; or rather, how escape the ridicule attached to such a glaring contradiction? The Sandemanian Baptists have taken care to shelter themselves from such animadversions, by a stern and consistent process of intolerance; but the English Baptists appear to resemble Ephraim, who mixed himself with the nations, and was a “cake half-turned.” Is there no duty, is there no privilege, characteristic of a Christian, but what is included in receiving the sacrament? How is it that they have presumed to break down the sacred fence, to throw all open, and make all things common, with the exception of one narrow enclosure? What in the mean time becomes of apostolic practice and ancient precedent? How admirably are these illustrated by their judicious selection of the Lord's table as the spot over which to suspend the ensigns of party!

When we read of Priscilla and Aquila taking Apollos home, and instructing him in the way of the Lord more perfectly, we give full credit to the narrative; but had we been informed that these excellent persons, after hearing him with great delight, refused his admission to the supper of the Lord, on account of some diversity of opinion or of practice, the consent of all the manuscripts and versions in the world would have been insufficient to overcome the incredulity arising from an instantaneous conviction of its total repugnance to the maxiins and principles of primitive Christianity. Yet this would have been nothing more than an anticipation of the practice of our opponents.

They attempt to justify themselves in this particular on two grounds ; first, that they “ do nothing more than their opponents ;" and " where

* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 20.

« AnteriorContinuar »