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their conduct is deemed the most exceptionable, they only copy the example which the Pedobaptists set before them, and support by preeminent talents."* They do nothing more than their opponents. What then ? we hold no principle inconsistent with our practice; we have not confined the profession of Christianity to ourselves; much less are we accustomed to make a practical distinction between the participation of the Eucharist and other duties and privileges, after stating, in so many words, that the Scripture authorizes no such distinction. derived from the disposition of Pedobaptists to cultivate a religious intercourse we leave to be answered by himself, who has told us that " we meet on unequal terms." " The latter (Pedobaptists) surrender no principle, they do not unite with those whoni they deem unbaptized.”+
Their other pretence is, that " prayer and praise are not exclusive ordinances of the church; that they were in being before it was formed, and have been parts of true religion under every dispensation.”! But is it not the peculiar prerogative of the faithful to offer acceptable devotion? Is not prayer in the name of Jesus a peculiarity of the new dispensation, and is not the requesting a Pedobaptist to present it on our behalf as clear an acknowledgment of his Christianity as admitting him to communion, and, consequently, as incompatible with his own maxim, that the “church of Christ, acting upon the rule he has laid down, cannot recognise any person as his disciple who is not baptized in his name ?"
Mr. Kinghorn is bound, by his own declaration, in his treatment of other denominations, to abstain from every action which will imply an explicit acknowledgment of their being Christians ; so that, as far as he is concerned, it is of no consequence whatever whether prayer or praise belong to natural or revealed religion, or whether they are or are not exclusive ordinances of the church: the only question is, whether the reciprocation of such services with other denominations be not a recognition of their Christianity. If it be, he is, by his acknowledgment, as much obliged to abandon it as the practice of mixed communion, and exactly for the same reason; since he informs us that his objections to that practice are not founded on any peculiar connexion between communion and baptism, but on the common relation which the latter bears to “ all the duties of Christianity.”
The preceding remarks are more than sufficient to evince his inconsistency with himself; which, however glaring, is not more so than his deviation from ancient precedent. That the first Christians did not interchange religious services with those with whom they resused to communicate,—that they did not countenance, in the exercise of their ministry, men whom they refused to acknowledge as members of the church, it would be ridiculous to attempt to prove; the fact will be instantly admitted. Let it be also remembered that this deviation is of far greater magnitude than that with which we are accused. Who that remembers that the kingdom of God is not meats nor drinks, that its nature is spiritual, not ritual, can doubt that the moral duties of religion, the love of the brethren, with its diversified fruits and effects,
Baptism a Terro of Communion, p. 173. Ibid. p. 64. | Ibid. p. 175.
Such as violate the abstinence in question will not pretend that they observe the prohibition: they satisfy themselves with asserting their conviction (a conviction not sustained by a syllable of Scripture) that it is only of temporary obligation; and as Pedobaptists profess their conscientious adherence to the baptismal precept, which they merely demand the right of interpreting for themselves, upon what principle is it that a mistake in the meaning of a positive injunction is deemed more criminal than its avowed neglect; or why should an error of judgment, which equally affects the practice in both cases, be tolerated in one, and made the ground of exclusion in the other? This reasoning, it is acknowledged, bears with the greatest weight on such as conceive the prohibition of blood to be still in force ; who, if they adopt the principle of Mr. Kinghorn, ought, to be consistent, immediately to separate themselves from such as are of a contrary judgment. The same argument equally applies to laying on of hands after ordination and baptism. It is acknowledged that this rite was universally practised in the primitive times, that it claims the sanction of apostolic example, and it is enumerated by St. Paul among the first principles of Christian doctrine. Wherever that practice is laid aside, it may with equal truth be affirmed that the church consists of different materials from those admitted by the apostles ; and it may be asked with an air of triumph, in the words of this writer, by what authority we presume “to make a Scriptural rite of less consequence in the church of Christ than it was once?"*
Thus much may suffice for the vindication of our pretended departure from ancient usage and apostolic precedent. But as this topic is supposed to include the very pith and marrow of my opponent's cause, the reader must excuse my replying to some other parts of his reasoning. Confident of the soundness of our principles, it is my anxious wish that nothing may pass unnoticed that wears the shadow of argument; and that no suspicion be afforded of a desire to shrink from any part of the contest.
“If an obedience to a rite," says our author, “ be not a term of salvation (which no one supposes), yet it was ordered by the highest authority, as an evidence of subjection to the Author of salvation."! He repeatedly assorts that it was prescribed as an evidence of faith in him. In another place he styles it the appointed evidence of our putting on Jesus Christ,” and affirms that “the church of Christ acting upon the rule he has laid down, cannot recognise any person as his disciple who is not baptized in his name.”I
Let us first ascertain the precise meaning of these remarkable passages. He cannot be supposed to assert that baptism is of itself a sufficient evidence of saving faith : Simon Magus was baptized, who had * no part or lot in the matter.” His meaning must be, that the ordinance in question forms a necessary part of the evidence of faith, insomuch that in the absence of it our Lord intended no other should be deemed valid. That this was the case in the primitive age we feel no hesitation in affirming; we have also shown at large the reason on
* Baptism a Term or Communion, p. 92.
1 Ibid. p. 18.
1 Ibid. p 140.
which that conclusion is founded. But in no part of Scripture is there the slightest intimation that it was more specifically intended as the test of faith, than compliance with any other part of the mind of Christ; or that it was in any other sense an evidence of the existence of that attainment, than as it was necessary to evince the possession of Christian sincerity. Thus much we are most willing to concede, but are at a loss to know what is gained by it, unless our opponent could demonstrate that it occupies the same place at present, and that it is still necessary to constitute a valid evidence of faith in the Redeemer. If this is what he means to assert (and nothing besides has the least relation to his argument), how will he reconcile it with the confidence he so often expresses of the piety of the Pedobaptists? His objection to their communion, he elsewhere informs us, “ does not arise from suspicions attaching to their Christian character,"* to which he trusts he is always willing to render ample justice. He has no suspicion of the piety of those who are destitute of that which Jesus Christ prescribed as the evidence of faith, and whom he affirms “it is impossible for the church, acting on the rule which he has laid down, to recognise as his disciples." I am at a loss to conceive of a more palpable contradiction.
If there be any meaning in terms, the word evidence means that by which the truth of a fact or a proposition is made manifest, and the absence of which induces either hesitation or denial. Its place in the intellectual world corresponds to light in the natural ; and it is just as conceivable how an object can be beheld without light, as how a fact can be ascertained without evidence. Mr. Kinghorn, it seems, however, has contrived to solve the problem; for while he affirms that the patrons of infant baptism are destitute of that which Infinite Wisdom has prescribed as the evidence of faith, and by which we are to recognise his disciples, he expresses as firm a conviction of their piety as though they possessed it in the utmost perfection. Let me ask on what is his conviction founded—will he say upon evidence? But he assigns as a reason for refusing their fellowship, that they are destitute of that which Christ prescribed for that purpose. Will he distinguish between that private evidence which satisfies his own mind, and the sort of evidence which Christ has demanded and enjoined? But what unheard, of presumption to oppose his private judgment to the dictates of Heaven; and, while the Head of the church has appointed the performance of a certain ceremony to be the invariable criterion of discipleship, to pretend, in its absence, to ascertain it by another medium ! To attempt to prove that every thing really is what God has appointed it, and that Infinite Wisdom, where figurative language is excluded, calls things by their proper names, would be to insult the understanding of the reader. If compliance with adult baptism is, in every age, the appointed evidence of faith in Christ, it undoubtedly is what it pretends to be; and to ascribe faith to such as are destitute of it is a sort of impiety.
“No church,” he assures us, “acting agreeably to the rules of Christ, can recognise them as his disciples.”+ What strange magie
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, " 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 ?"| 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. lii. 1; iv. 14; X. 13. 1 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 coinmunion 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 pro
sio 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.
1 Ibid. p. 18.