Imágenes de páginas

dexterity he can adapt his viands to the taste and palate of every guest. When it was his object to load with all possible odium the conduct of the Baptists in admitting the members of other denominations, he professes to discern an essential disparity between their conduct and ours. We (he tells us) are more to blame than the Pedobaptists that join with us: they surrender no principle; they do not unite with those whom they deem unbaptized."* He was then all intent on reproaching us; when he has to deal with the Pedobaptists he feels no scruple in awarding them the same measure. “ The inquiry,” he says, “ will irre. sistibly arise, if they really and heartily believe that infant baptism is an institution of Christ, Why do they wish to unite with people by whom one of his institutions is, in their view, so manifestly opposed ? How can they, in justice to their families, unite with Baptists?" " Let them,” he says on another occasion, " consider whether they act wisely or consistently if they join with Baptists who receive them on these grounds. If, on their part, it is connected with a sacrifice of principle, they will confess that it is indefensible.”! By these grounds he means, on the supposition that baptism is not an essential prerequisite to communion, which, he is aware, is the principle on which we rest our vindication, and which is certainly perfectly consistent with their conviction of our being baptized; the very circumstance he urged before as a proof that they sacrificed no principle.

From a writer who so palpably contradicts himself it were vain to expect any information on this branch of the subject, since it is impossible to conjecture whether the union of our Pedobaptist brethren does or does not involve a surrender of principle, in the judgment of him who affirms both. On impartial inquiry it will probably be found, that though no principle is violated on either side, as much candour is evinced on the part of Pedobaptists in consenting to a union as on ours. If we join with those whom we are obliged to consider as unbaptized, they unite with persons who, in their judgment, repeat an ordinance which ought to be performed but once, nullify a Christian institute, and deprive their children of the benefit of a salutary rite. And since the subjects of baptism are far more numerous on their system than on ours, why should they be less offended at our neglect of these than we are at their ex. tending the ordinance too far? Whoever attaches importance to the covenant into which God is supposed to enter with the seed of believers must highly disapprove the conduct of the parent who withholds from his offspring its instituted seed; nor is it possible for him to cherish the esteem due to him as a Christian but by imputing his conduci to involuntary error. The supposed cruelty also of refusing to insert an innocent babe into the Abrahamic stock-ihe impiety of profaning a Christian sacrament by rebaptizing might be made the subject of tragic declamation with as much propriety as their want of " reverence to the authority of Christ, and disobedience to the laws of his house." If we must tolerate none who are guilty of omitting a divine law (which is the doctrine of Mr. Kinghorn), how is it possible for a Pedobaptist to bear with us,

• Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 68.

† Ibid. p. 114

who live in the perpetual neglect of what his principles compel him to consider in that light.

In the judgment of all other denominations, while we neglect to dedicate our offspring to God in the solemnization of a federal rite, however conscientious we may be, we can but very imperfectly imitate the example of Abraham, of whom the Omniscient iestified that he “would command his children, and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord;" or that of Zechariah and Elizabeth, “ who walked in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless." On a fair comparison, it is difficult to determine which party is most entitled to the praise of candour; where both evince a noble oblivion of minor partialities and attachments, made to yield to the force of Christian charity, and disappear before the grandeur of the common salvation.




His Reply to the Argument deduced from the Scriptural Injunction of

Mutual Forbearance and Brotherly Love considered. Reluctant as the author is to prolong the present controversy to a tedious length, he can neither do justice to his cause nor to himself unless he notices the attempt which his opponent has made to enervate the force of his arguments : and here he will be under the necessity of recurring to the principal topics insisted upon in the former treatise.

That dissensions in the Christian church were not unknown in the earliest period of Christianity is evident from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul, who employed himself much in attempting to compose them; and the principal method he adopted was, to enjoin mutual forbearance, to inculcate the duty of putting the most favourable construction on each other's sentiments, and not suffer these differences to alienate their affections from each other, “whom Christ had received,” who were his accepted servants, and would be permitted to share in his glory.* From these premises we argue thus : Since St. Paul assigned as a reason for the mutual forbearance of Christians, that they were equally accepted of Christ, it was undoubtedly a sufficient one, and, admitting it to be such, it must extend to all who are in the same predicament (who are in the same state of acceptance); and as it is allowed on both sides that Pedobaptists are in a state of salva

• Rom. xiv. 1-0

tion, and consequently accepted of Christ; the same reason which dictated the measure of toleration at that period must apply with equal force to the debate which at present subsists between us and other denominations. In this argument the conclusion seems so nearly identified with the premises, that we might suppose the most artful sophistry would despair of confuting it, and that the only objection it were liable to would be its attempting to prove what is self-evident.

Let us now turu 10 Mr. Kinghorn. It was observed in my former treatise, that the question is not, What were the individual errors we are commanded to tolerate ? but, What is the ground on which that measure is enforced, and whether it be sufficiently comprehensive to include the Pedobaptists ? After quoting this passage, he subjoins, “this is the question at issue, and the decision of this will determine whether the spirit of the precepts of the gospel will sanction us in departing from apostolical precedents, especially when such precedents arose from obedience to a Divine command."* He then proceeds to investigate the precise nature of the dissensions which prevailed in the primitive churches ; from whence he infers, that the disparity between them and our controversy with the Pedobaptists is such, that the principle on which the apostles enforced toleration is not applicable.” The expression he here employs is somewhat equivocal. It may either mean, that the phrase “God hath received him," does not apply to the Pedobaptists, or that, supposing it does, it is not sufficient io sustain the inference we deduce, which is their right to fellowship. To interpret his meaning in the latter sense, however, would be 10 suppose him guilty of impeaching the validity of St. Paul's argument, who rests the obligation of forbearance with the party whose cause he advocates precisely on that ground. “ For God hath received him." It is also inconsistent with his own statement, as given in the following passage, where he paraphrases the words just quoted in the following manner:“ There is nothing in the gospel but what the Jews can believe and obey, though they retain their national partialities to the law; and, therefore, since God does not reject them, but receives them into the Christian dispensation, you should receive them also. But then, he adds, he receives them on their believing and obeying the gospel; and it is neither stated nor supposed that he receives them, notwithstanding they disobey it. And unless this be proved, the cause of mixed communion is not promoted.”+ We have here an explicit avowal that he considers none besides the Baptists as received of Christ, in the sense the apostle intends, accompanied with a concession, that to prove they were would furnish an irrefragable argument for our practice.

It was certainly not without reason that he apologized for taking different ground from Mr. Booth; for here he is directly at issue with the venerable apologist. He frankly acknowledges the fact which Mr. Kingnorn challenges us to prove ; but attempts to evade the conclusion by reinarking, “ that it is not every one is received of Jesus Christ who is enti:led to communion at his table, but such, and such only, as revere his authority, "I &c. Amid the contradictory statements of such formi

Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 40. 1 Ibid. p. 45. Ibid. p. 62

dable champions, who can only agree in their censures of us, while they are at variance among themselves respecting the most fundamental points ; where one tells us we are not to commune with other denominations, though they are received by Christ, and the other because they are not received, what course mus: he who looks up with profound veneration to these great authorities take? Where both propose to conduct him to the same place, but one directs him to the east, the other to the west, my humble advice is, to believe neither, but to exercise that liberty of thinking for himself to which he is strongly invited by the perplexity and confusion of his guides.

Our present concern, however, is with Mr. Kinghorn, who denies that Pedobaptists are received by Christ in the sense which St. Paul intended in the passage under consideration; while he agrees with us that it is upon that principle that primitive toleration rested.

Let it be remembered, that while Mr. Booth interprets the word received as signifying received into the Divine favour, Mr. Kinghorn contends for its meaning admitted into the church. But since many things must of necessity precede the act of external communion, and every believer must be supposed, in some important sense, to be previously received of Christ, he qualifies, or explains, his former language by adding, “ he receives them into the Christian dispensation."

Let me crave the indulgence of the reader, while we endeavour to sist this matter to the bottom.

1. Whatever disparity may be contended for between the ancient dissensions and the modern dispute with the Pedobaptists, it can by no means amount to a proof that the latter are not comprehended under the clause in question (God hath received him). To reason thus, there were certain errors among the primitive professors which did not bar their admission into the church, but the error of the Pedobaptist is of a very different kind, and therefore it must have that effect, would be to reason most inconclusively, since all that can be justly inferred is, that it possibly may have that effect, though the former had not. The utmost point to which the argument, from the dissimilarity of the two cases, is capable of being carried is, that the latter may possibly not be comprehended under the same rule ; but whether our author has not disqualified himself from urging it will be the subject of future inquiry.

2. The medium by which he attempts to establish his conclusion is manifestly untenable, unless he chooses to retract a large portion of his treatise. His argument is this, that God receives “such, and only such, as believe and obey the gospel;" but other denominations disobey

* For the satisfaction of the reader who may not possess Mr. Kingborn's book, it may be proper to give the whole passage to whichi my reply is directed.

“Besides, the expression, God hath received him, ver. 8, deserves consideration. It cltarly applies, as it is slated by the apostle, to the reception of the gentiles; and is an argument with the Jewish Christians, not to reject those brethren who eat all things. And suppose is to be granted that the expression applies to both parties (which appears intended in chap. xv. 7), the sense, then, is evidently this, God receives not gentiles only, but also Jews into the Christian church, though they are encumbered with their Jewish prejudices. There is nothing in the gospel hut what Jews can believe and oney, though they retain their national partialities to the law; and, therefore, since God does not reject them, but receives them into the Christian dispensation, you should receive them alsn. But then he receives them on their believing and obeying the gospel, and it is neither stated nor supposed that he receives them notwithstanding they disobey it. And unless this be proved, the cause of mixed communion is not promoted."-Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 45.

it, and are therefore not entitled to that privilege. Here, however, he is at issue with a greater than Booth-with the apostles themselves, one of whom declares that Christ " will appear in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel ;" and another classes such as obey it not among the “ ungodly and sinners,” whom he solemnly warns of their fearful end. Either, then, the apostles were wrong in denouncing destruction on such as do not obey the gospel, or Mr. Kinghorn in loading the Pedobaptists with that charge, while he expresses a confidence of their salvation. Nor will it avail him in the least to say they do not obey it perfectly; for we should feel no hesitation in retorting the charge, and affirming that had he done so he would not have penned this passage.

3. As he must, on his system, distinguish between being in a state of salvation and “ being received into the Christian dispensation," there are a few questions to which we should be glad to receive an explicit answer. He will acknowledge, we presume, that every believer is first united to Christ, and received by him, before he is entitled to the external communion of his church; that his right to the latter is founded on the credible evidence he gives of his interest in the first of these privileges. If this be admitted, it must hold equally true respecting the Jewish and geniile converts, whose mutual toleration is enjoined in the passage under dispute. Now I ask, according to what dispensation were these primitive believers united to Christ, and accepted of him, previous to their external communion? Was it according to the Christian dispensation, or some other? If the reply is, the Christian; I ask again, are our Pedobaptist brethren in possession of the same privileges as were enjoyed by the primitive converts before their external cornmunion with the church? If they are not, they are not entitled to the appellation of Christians in any sense, and consequently could not be admitted to communion, even though they were baptized. If, on the other hand, it is acknowledged that they are possessed of the same privileges, the question returns, by what dispensation are they held ? If he denies it to be by the Christian, I ask once more, how he acquired this persuasion of their possessing the privileges in question? He surely will not pretend to have obtained it in any other way than by an attentive

rusal of the New Testament, by comparing the character of pious Pedobaptists with that of the primitive Christians, as well as with the marks and criterions by which it has directed us to judge of a state of salvation ; so that the favourable opinion he prosesses to entertain must rest on the evidence which the principles of the Christian dispensation supply. But to say that the maxims of that dispensation oblige him believe that a class of persons are interested in its promises, whom that very dispensation does not comprehend, althongh they live under it, is a contradiction in terms. It is equivalent to asserting that the gospel economy passes opposite sentences on the same persons, and affords evidence for their seclusion and admission, at one and the same moment. It seems evident to a demonstration, then, that agreeable to his own concessions, other denominations, as well as our own, are received into the Christian dispensation; that by virtue of its essential principles

« AnteriorContinuar »