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particular than he himself does, he is bound to renounce his communion ; because, in every such instance, he must be considered as not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is, and to allow himself to be so considered, is a meanness. And from hence, another consequence infallibly results, that no two christians ought to continue in communion, between whom there subsists the smallest diversity of judgement, respecting any point of practical religion; for since each of them, supposing them sincere, must believe his own practice more agreeable to the will of Christ than his brother's, that brother must be aware that he is considered as not so complete a disciple as he judges himself to be, to which, it seems, it is degrading to submit. The author may be fairly challenged to produce a single example of a disagreement amongst christians, to which this reasoning will not apply; and, therefore, admitting it to be just, he has established a canon which prohibits communion wherever there is not a perfect unanimity in interpreting the precepts of Christ; which he who reflects on the incurable diversity of human opinions, will acknowledge is equivalent to rendering communion impossible.
Although the instance under immediate consideration respects a point of practice, the conclusion will hold equally strong in relation to doctrinal subjects. For, not to remind the reader that different opinions, on practical points, are, in effect,
different doctrines, and that the whole disagreement with our pædobaptist brethren originates in these, it is undoubtedly true of points of simple belief, as well as of christian duties, that, whoever adopts a sentiment different from that of his fellow-christians, must, by the latter, be regarded as in an error; and, since revelation claims faith, as well as obedience, “not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is,” to which, if it is degrading for him to submit, his only remedy is to depart, and quit the communion. A fine engine truly for dissolving every christian society into atoms, and for rendering the church of Christ the most proud, turbulent, and contentious of all human associations !
If it be alleged that Mr. Kinghorn's reasoning was not designed to apply to the smaller differences which may arise, but only to grave and weighty matters, such as the nature of a christian ordinance, the obvious answer is, that it is of no consequence to us for what it was designed, but whether it be sound and valid; in other words, whether it be a sufficient reason for a pædobaptist's refusing to join with us, that in “ so doing he allows himself to be considered as not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is.” If it be, the consequences we have deduced will inevitably follow.
Not satisfied, however, with denouncing the union of pædobaptists with us as “ undignified,”
and as placing themselves on terms of “inferiority,” he begs them to consider whether it is not
“ surrender of their principles in a manner altogether inconsistent with their views of the law of Christ.” This surrender, he proceeds to inform us, consists in their “ agreeing to be considered as unbaptized, which is contrary to the opinion which they entertain of themselves.” We certainly make no scruple of informing a pædobaptist candidate, that we consider him as unbaptized, and disdain all concealment upon the subject; but how his consent to join us on these terms involves an unworthy surrender of his principles, is very mysterious. His principle is, that infant baptism is a part of the will of Christ, which we believe to be a human invention. Now how his allowing us to believe this, without breaking with us on that account, amounts to a dereliction of it, is a riddle which it would require an Edipus to solve. May he not retain his sentiments, and believe us in an error; and is not his continuing unbaptized a demonstrative proof that he does so ? And while this is the case, and he manifests his opinion, both by words and actions, is he still guilty of this fearful surrender ?
Besides, what will it avail him to leave our communion, since our opinion still pursues him; and though he should retire to the ends of the earth, we shall still continue to think “ he has not fulfilled the law of Christ in the very point
in which he believes himself to have fulfilled it." There is no conceivable remedy; he must digest the affront as he can ; but why he should feel it so insupportable, only in the case of our proposing to “receive” him, is passing strange, except the author supposes him to be of so canine a temperas to be the most dangerous when most caressed.
It is amusing to see the happy versatility of the author, and with what 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 betwixt their conduct and ours. We, he tells us, are “ more to blame than the pædobaptists 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 pædobaptists, he feels no scruple in awarding them the same measure. inquiry,” he says, “ will irresistibly 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, sider 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 pædobaptist brethren does, or does not, involve a surrender of principle, in the judgement 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 pædobaptists, 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 judgement, repeat an ordinance which ought to be performed but once ; nullify a christian institute, and deprive
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 114.