« السابقةمتابعة »
certain limits, then accusing us of repealing it, and lastly, of finding us guilty of transgressing the prescribed bounds, on the ground of that repeal. He who repeals a rule of action, reduces the system of duty to exactly the same state as though it had never existed. Whenever we are convicted of doing this, whenever we teach the nullity of baptism, or inculcate a habit of indifference, respecting either the mode, or the subject of that ordinance, we will bow to the justice of the charge ; but till then, we feel justified in treating it with the neglect due to an attempt to convince without logic, and to criminate without guilt.
The apôtov preudos, the radical fallacy, of the whole proceeding, consists in confounding an interpretation of the law, however just, with the law itself; in affirming of the first, whatever is true of the last; and of subverting, under that pretext, the right of private judgement. The interpretation of a rule is, to him who adopts it, equally binding with the rule itself, because every one must act on his own responsibility; but he has no authority whatever to bind it on the conscience of his brother, and to treat him who receives it not, as though he were at direct issue with the legislator. "It is this presumptuous claim of infallibility, this assumption of the prerogative of Christ, this disposition to identify ourselves with him, and to place our conclusions on a footing with his
mandates, that is the secret spring of all that intolerance which has so long bewitched the world with her sorceries, from the elevation of papal Rome, where she thunders and lightens from the Vatican, down to baptist societies, where “she whispers feebly from the dust.”
This writer has, with the best intentions, I doubt not, dragged from its obscurity a principle whose thorough application and developement would doom, not our societies alone, but every church in the universe, to a confusion of minds and of tongues, a state of discord and anarchy, the healing of which, would soon find him other employ than that of attempting to defend the petty and repulsive peculiarity to which he has devoted his labours.
Before I close this chapter, it is proper to observe, in order to obviate misconception, that nothing is more remote from my intention than to plead for a wilful omission of any part of the will of Christ. His honour, I trust, is as dear, his prerogative as sacred, in the eyes of the advocates of christian, as it is in those of sectarian communion. Let each, in the regulation of his own conduct, pay the most scrupulous attention to His orders; and wherever he distinctly perceives that a professor of religion indulges himself in a known and habitual violation of them, let him, after seasonable and repeated admonition, “withdraw from the brother that walketh disorderly.”
But let him not presume to control the sentiments and conduct of others by his standard, and treat as an enemy or an alien, that humble follower of Christ, who is as sincerely devoted to his will as himself; and who, however he may mistake it in some particulars, would shudder at the thought of setting voluntary bounds to obedience. If, to tolerate such, must subject us to the reproach of repealing the law of Christ, let us remember we are not the first who have been condemned for undervaluing the ritual part of religion, and for preferring mercy to sacrifice. As “ we must all appear before the judgement-seat of Christ," we await, with much composure and confidence, his decision ; without indulging the smallest apprehension that we shall meet with less compassion for having shewn it, or that we shall incur his displeasure for refusing to “ beat our fellow servants."
An Inquiry how far the Practice of mixed Communion
affects the Grounds of Dissent from the Church of England, and from the Church of Rome.
MR. KINGHORN expresses his surprise that the champions of the hierarchy have neglected in their controversy with dissenters, to avail themselves of the practice of strict communion. For my part, I am only surprised at his surprise. For supposing (what is most contrary to fact) that it had furnished them with some advantage against a part of the baptists, what mighty triumph would it be to have proved, that a branch only of a denomination, by no means considerable in their eyes, had been betrayed into an inconsistency? The abettors of a splendid hierarchy were little likely to descend to a petty altercation with the members of one division of dissent, respecting a point which could merely supply an argumentum ad hominem, and about which their opponents are far from being agreed.
To us, however, it is of importance to consider whether the doctrine we have attempted to
establish, is justly chargeable with infringing on the legitimate principles of dissent. With this view, we shall briefly examine the substance of our author's arguments on this subject.
We are accused of inconsistency in arraigning the church of England “for introducing rites and ceremonies which have indeed no scriptural authority, but which are pleaded for, merely as decent and venerable customs; while we ourselves tolerate in the church, the neglect of an institution which we are convinced was universally obeyed in the apostolic times, and which was appointed by the highest authority.” To this we reply, that the cases are not parallel ; that they differ in the most essential particulars.
It is one thing to tolerate, and another to practise. The law of God invariably and absolutely forbids the latter; that is, it uniformly prohibits the performance of a single action which we esteem contrary to his will, but to say it in all cases forbids the former, is to insist on an absolute agreement respecting every branch of practice. The objection is brought against us who neither practise nor sanction infant baptism, that we are chargeable with the same criminality which is supposed to attach to the introducers of human rites and ceremonies in religion, ceremonies which they unquestionably both practise and approve.
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 123.