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and prejudices on his side, will infallibly secure the victory. To all legitimate argument, however, it is essential for the parties concerned to reason on principles admitted by both; to take their stand upon common ground, and to adopt no medium of proof, of the truth of which, he who suggests it is not satisfied.
How far Mr. Kinghorn's management of the controversy corresponds with these just requisitions, the impartial reader will be at no loss to determine. In his zeal to increase the number of his partizans, he makes frequent and urgent appeals to the pædobaptists, with whom the point at issue can rarely, if ever, become a practical question, and who are, therefore, little interested in its decision. As they admit, without hesitation, the validity of our baptism, the question whether the right administration of that ordinance be an essential requisite to communion, has no immediate relation to the economy of their churches : it interests them only in the case of those individuals who may be desirous of communing with baptist societies. As far as it concerns the necessity of that particular rite by which we are characterized, it is a controversy in which we are the only parties; and, however much we venerate the judgement of the religious public, we cannot forget that their motives to a rigorous examination of the question, bear no proportion to ours. To them it is a theoretical inquiry, to us a practical one of the most
serious moment. If, in appealing to them, however, he had constructed his reasoning on principles common to baptists and pædobaptists, there had been no room for complaint. But, instead of this, he enumerates and marshals, with such anxiety, all the appendages of infant baptism, all it assumes, and all it infers, as so many irrefragable arguments for his hypothesis, that were we to judge of his sentiments from these passages alone, we should suppose him as tremblingly alive to the consistency of pædobaptists, as Eli to the preservation of the ark. He adjures them by every thing which they deem sacred in their system, not to forsake him in the conflict, reminding them that if they do so, they must abandon a multitude of positions which they have been accustomed to maintain against the baptists, (that is, against himself,) and be compelled to relinquish the field. He therefore exhorts them to be faithful unto death, in the defence of error, and to take care that no arts, blandishments, or artifices, seduce them to concessions which would embarrass them in their warfare, and render the cause of infant baptism less tenable. Thus he reminds them that by admitting the principle for which we contend, they must relinquish their plea for baptizing infants, on the ground of its “ giving the seed of believers a partial membership, which is recognised and completed when they profess their faith in maturer years. Thus one leading popular
representation of its utility is given up.” This infant membership, however, he elsewhere exclaims against, as the very precursor of antichrist, the inlet to almost every abomination; and this popular representation, he considers as a most dangerous fiction.* He tells them, that were he a pædobaptist, and disposed to adopt my theory, he should be afraid of being pressed with the question, of what use is infant baptism ? It is unnecessary to remind the reader, that in the opinion of Mr. Kinghorn it is of none whatever, but a most pernicious abuse of a christian ordi
But, what is more lamentable still, he warns them that if "
they enter into the spirit of our representation, they will be in danger of neglecting it altogether, and consequently either abandon the whole institution, or be induced by the examination of scripture, to become baptists;" that they will be “ guilty of a complete deviation from the principles of their predecessors; that they must find new arguments for their infant baptism; and that without attempting to divine what they may be, their cause will be materially injured by the acknowledgement of the necessity of adopting new modes of defence. All this appears very strange from the pen of a zealous baptist, who contemplates every one of the doctrines which he appeals to, with unqualified
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 17. # Ibid. p. 22.
abhorrence; and who must be aware that just in proportion to the degree of their repugnance to the practice of mixed communion, is the presumptive evidence in its favour. To attempt the recommendation of his theory, by insisting on the impossibility of reconciling it with what is, in his opinion, a system of delusion, indicates something nearly resembling the unrestrained impetuosity of a mind so intent upon the end, as to be indifferent about the means, and savours more of the art and sophistry of a pleader, than of the simplicity which characterizes a sober inquirer after truth. My knowledge of the author forbids the slightest suspicion of any deliberate intention to mislead; but in my humble apprehension he has been betrayed by the warmth of debate, and the intemperate sallies of his zeal, into the use, to adopt the mildest expression, of unhallowed weapons; and by courting an alliance with error, degraded his cause.
It is probable he will attempt to justify his proceeding by saying he has merely availed himself of an argumentum ad hominem. But he has greatly exceeded the limits assigned to that species of argument, which may be very properly employed to repel a particular objection of an opponent, by shewing that it recoils upon himself, but should never be laid at the basis of a process of reasoning, because the utmost it can effect is to evince the inconsistency of two opinions, without determining which, or whether either of them, is true.
But it is not merely to acknowledged errors that the author appeals, with a view to discourage our pædobaptist brethren from uniting with us; he also endeavours to rouse into action a feeling, which, whatever name he may think fit to give it, is, in my apprehension, neither more nor less than pride. He remarks, that, in joining with us, they must either “ consider themselves as unbaptized, or satisfied with their own baptism, whatever we may think of it, or as agreeing with the maxim, that baptism, in any form, is of no consequence to communion.” The first of these suppositions he very properly puts aside as impossible. The second, he reminds them, is “ degrading, because they permit themselves to be considered as persons who have not fulfilled the will of the Lord, in the very point in which they believe they have fulfilled it. They, consequently, unite with us on terms of inferiority; and he who refuses to commune with us, because, in so doing, he tacitly allows himself to be considered as not so complete a disciple of Jesus as he thinks he is, acts a part which is justifiable and dignified.”* The amount of this reasoning is, that whenever a christian perceives that his brother entertains a less favourable opinion of his conduct in any
* Baptism a Term of Communion, pp. 115, 116.