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extent of a positive rite, whether it should be confined to adults, or be communicated to infants. Both parties appeal to the scripture, which the baptist interprets (in my humble opinion) correctly, in such a manner as to restrict it to believers ; the pædobaptist, with equal sincerity, supposes it to include infants. While the former in his own practice confines it to the description of persons to whom he judges it to belong, he acts with unexceptionable propriety; but when, not satisfied with this, he insists upon forcing his interpretation on the conscience of his brother, and treats him precisely in the same manner as though he avowedly contradicted Christ and his apostles, what is this but an assumption of infallibility? All that infallibility which the church of Rome pretends to, is the right of placing her interpretation of scripture on a level with the word of God: she professes to promulgate no new revelation, but solely to render her sense of it imperative and binding: and if we presume to treat our fellow-christians, merely because they differ from us in their construction of a positive precept, as unworthy of being recognised as Christ's disciples, (the very words of this writer,) and disqualified for the communion of saints; if we allow them “ faith,” while we deny them“ obedience,” and affirm them not to “revere Christ's authority, submit to his ordinances, or obey the laws of his house,” we defy all the powers of discrimination
to ascertain the difference of the two cases, or to assign a reason why we must ascribe the claim of infallibility to one, and not to the other.
On another occasion Mr. Kinghorn observes, * that the strict baptists shew they understand the distinction between judging for others, and acting on their own responsibility. But in imposing their own sense of scripture on their brethren, and affirming that on account of their differing from them, they do not “revere the authority of Christ,” is either judging for others, in every possible sense of the words, or the writer has made an impossible supposition. He adds, they allow that the pædobaptists, on their own principles, do right in forming themselves into churches, and in commemorating the death of their Lord. And must they not do equally right, on their own principles, in baptizing infants, unless he will assert that the propriety of baptizing infants is not their principle ? If judging for others is supposed to involve a claim of infallibility, and on that account, and that alone, to be shunned, to attempt to vindicate the practice of our opponents from that imputation will baffle the acutest intellect.
2. We have already observed the coincidence of our opponent's system with the doctrine of the opus operatum, or the intrinsic and mechanical efficacy of religious rites, independent of the intention and disposition of the worshipper. The Roman catholic attaches such importance to the rite of baptism, as to believe that when duly administered, it is necessarily accompanied with the pardon of sin, and regenerating grace. The strict baptist maintains that its absence, where all other religious qualifications are possessed in the highest perfection, which human nature admits, deprives the party of “the privileges of faith,”* and renders him an alien from the christian church.
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 67.
Both the church of Rome, and the church of England, have devised terms of communion of their own, and rendered it necessary for the members to comply with innumerable things, besides those which Christ has enjoined as requisite to salvation. The lawfulness and propriety of doing so, is the palmarium argumentum, the main pillar and support of strict communion. Let this principle once be abandoned, and the present controversy is at an end, unless our opponents choose to assume new ground, by affirming the necessary connexion between baptism, as they administer it, and the attainment of eternal life; and that they should not perceive the absolute necessity of proceeding so far, in order to be consistent, seems to approach to a judicial infatuation.
3. The adherents to the papal power claim to themselves the exclusive appellation of the church:
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 30.
the arrogance of which pretension is faithfully copied by the advocates of strict communion. The former, however, by confining salvation within her own pale, avoid the absurdity into which the latter fall, who, while they affirm the great body of the faithful are not entitled to that appellation, are obliged to distinguish between the mystical body of Christ and his church, which the Scriptures expressly affirm to be one and the same.
The Propriety of Appealing in this Controversy to
the peculiar Principles of the Pædobaptists, briefly examined and discussed.
It is due, in my apprehension, to the majesty of truth, that she should be defended only by truth, and that we should on all occasions abstain from attempting to increase her partizans by corrupt suffrages. Such are the suffrages she may accidentally gain, by the influence of error. As she scorns to employ the aid of violence, which is foreign to her nature, so, much less will she condescend to owe any portion of her ascendency to falsehood, which it is her eternal prerogative to confound and to destroy. He who wishes to enlighten the human mind, will disdain to appeal to its prejudices, and will rather hazard the rejection of his opinions, than press them as a necessary corollary from misconceptions and mistakes. If the decision of controverted questions is to be subjected to vote, and a superiority of numbers is to pronounce a verdict, the means by which they are procured is a matter of indifference: he who is most successful in enlisting popular humours