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approach of that period, so ardently desired by every enlightened christian, when genuine believers will again be of “ one heart and of one mind.” Let us hope that America, the land of freedom, where our pious ancestors found an asylum from the oppression of intolerance, will exert, under the auspices of such men as Dr. Mason, a powerful reaction on the parent state, and aid her emancipation from the relics of that pestilential evil, still cherished and retained in too many British churches.
Independent of other considerations, that invaluable person possesses one obvious advantage over the author of the following performance. Disengaged from the spurious refinements and perplexing subtleties which arise from the subject of baptism, by which our opponents attempt to evade the application of his general principle, his movements are in consequence more free and unfettered, and his force operates in a more simple direction than is compatible with the state of the question, as it respects the views of the baptist denomination. He fearlessly spreads his sails to the winds, and triumphs on the element which is congenial to the amplitude and grandeur of his mind. Mine is a coasting voyage, in which the author feels himself necessitated to creep along the shore, and to comply with all its irregularities, in the midst of flats and shoals, and exposed to perpetual annoyance from the innumerable small craft which infest these shallow waters. The
effect of the different situations in which we are placed, is to give a luminous simplicity to his mode of conducting the argument, which forms a striking contrast, not only to the tedious logomachies which I have been compelled to encounter,* but the manner in which I have attempted to confute them. It belongs to a Pascal, and perhaps to a few others of the same order of genius, to invest the severest logic with the charms of the most beautiful composition, and to render the most profound argumentation as entertaining as a romance. The author makes no such pretension : having confined his endeavours to an attempt to establish his assertions by sufficient proof, and to expose the sophistry of his opponent, he must be allowed to remind his readers that no quality will be found more necessary than patience. Truth, as far as he knows himself, is his sole object; and if they are actuated by the same disposition, though they will find little to amuse, it is possible they may meet with something to instruct them.
It is surprising how little attention an inquiry into the principles which ought to regulate our intercourse with other denominations, (a question of considerable moment, in whatever light it be
Though Dr. Mason was not led by the course of his argument to treat of the question of mixed communion, in the usual import of that phrase, his general principle not only necessarily infers it, but I have the satisfaction of learning from his own lips his entire approbation of the doctrine advanced in Terms of Communion.
viewed,) has excited. Though it has given birth to a few publications, at very distant intervals, none, as far as my information extends, have produced any deep impression, or any extensive and permanent effects. On this subject, a spirit of slumber seems to have oppressed our faculties, from which we have hardly ever completely awoke. From the appearance of Mr. Bunyan's treatise, entitled Water Baptism no Bar to Communion, to the publication of the celebrated Mr. Robinson, a whole century elapsed, with few or no efforts to check the progress of the prevailing system, which had gained so firm a footing previous to Mr. Booth’s writing, that he felt no scruple in entitling his defence of that practice, An Apology for the Baptists. The majority appear to have carried it with so high a hand, that the few churches who ventured to depart from the established usage were very equivocally acknowledged to belong to the general body, and seem to have been content to purchase peace at the price of silence and submission. The most virulent reproaches were cast upon the admirable Bunyan, during his own time, for presuming to break the yoke ; and whoever impartially examines the spirit of Mr. Booth's Apology, will perceive that its venerable author regards him, together with his coadjutors and successors, much in the light of rebels and insurgents; or, to use the mildest terms, as contumacious despisers of legitimate authority. Mr. Kinghorn, in the same spirit,
evinces an eagerness, at every turn, to dispute our title to be considered as complete baptists. In short, whether it is to be ascribed to intimidation, or to some other cause, the fact is notorious, that the zeal evinced on the side of free communion, has hitherto borne no proportion to that which impels the advocates of the opposite system, whose treatment of their opponents, in most instances, bears no very remote resemblance to that which moderate churchmen are accustomed to receive at the hands of their high church brethren.
Another cause has probably cooperated towards the production of the same result. Some, whose character commands the deepest respect, are known to deprecate the agitation of the present controversy, from an apprehension of the injury the denomination may sustain, by the exposure of its intestine dissensions. For my own part, I am at a loss to conceive the grounds on which such a policy can be justified. Could the fact, that we are at variance among ourselves on the subject under discussion, be concealed, something might be urged in favour of the prudence of such a measure, nothing certainly for its magnanimity. But since that is impossible, and whoever is acquainted with the state of the denomination is aware of the diversity which subsists in the constitution of our churches in this particular, the true state of the question is, whether that article of the Apostles' Creed which asserts the communion of saints, is to be merged in an exclusive zeal for
baptism, and its systematic violation, in our judgement at least, to remain unnoticed and unchecked, in deference to party feelings and interests. We are at a loss to conceive how the association of truth with error is capable of benefiting the former; or how it can be eventually injured by an attempt (conducted in a christian spirit) to dissolve an alliance which resembles the junction of the living with the dead. While the preservation of peace is dear to us, the interests of truth are still more so; and we would fix our eyes on the order in which the attributes of that celestial wisdom are enumerated, which is “
first pure, then peaceable.”
Before closing this Preface, I must be allowed to advert to a circumstance intimately connected with the eventual success of the cause in which I am embarked. It is the general practice of our churches, whatever may be the sentiments of the majority, to continue the practice of strict. communion, in almost every instance where the opposite system is incapable of being introduced with a perfect unanimity; in consequence of which, it frequently happens that the constitution of the church continues to sanction strict communion, while the sentiments of a vast majority of its members are decidedly in favour of a contrary system; and in opposition to the usage which obtains on other occasions, the private sentiments of the few, are made to regulate and control the conduct of the many. Where, it may be asked,