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opposing, by divine appointment. In the last prayer our Saviour uttered, in which he expressly includes all who should hereafter believe, he earnestly intreats that they may be all one, even as he and his father were one, that the world might be furnished with a convincing evidence of his mission. For some ages the object of that prayer was realized, in the harmony which prevailed amongst christians, whose religion was a bond of union more strict and tender than the ties of consanguinity; and with the appellation of brethren, they associated all the sentiments of endearment that relation implied. To see men of the most contrary character and habits, the learned and the rude, the most polished and the most uncultivated, the inhabitants of countries alienated from each other by institutions the most repugnant, and by contests the most violent, forgetting their ancient animosity, and blending into one mass, at the command of a person whom they had never seen, and who had ceased to be an inhabitant of this world, was an astonishing spectacle. Such a sudden assimilation of the most discordant materials, such love issuing from hearts naturally selfish, and giving birth to a new race and progeny, could be ascribed to nothing but a divine interposition: it was an experimental proof of the commencement of that kingdom of God, that celestial economy, by which the powers of the future world are imparted to the present. When we turn from contemplating this, to the practice under consideration, we see an opposite phenomenon; a sect of christians coming to an open rupture and separation in point of communion with the whole christian world; and we ask whether it be possible to reconcile such a conduct with the import of our Saviour's prayer. If it is not, it must be condemned as anti-christian, unless we hesitate to affirm, that whatever is. repugnant to the mind of Christ, merits that appellation. Let it be remembered, too, that though the prayer we have adduced was uttered by Him who possessed a perfect knowledge of futurity, and was thoroughly apprized of the diversities of sentiment which would arise among his followers, he was not deterred by that consideration from comprehending in this his desire of union, all who should hereafter believe on his name.
Whatever attachment our opponents may profess to those whom they exclude, their behaviour, it must be acknowledged, is so ill adapted to accredit their professions, that in the eyes of the world, who judge by sensible appearances, and are strangers to subtle distinctions, such a proceeding will inevitably be considered as a practical declaration that the persons from whom they separate, are not christians. There is no reason to doubt that the precepts of the gospel on this, as well as every other branch of morals, are to be interpreted on a liberal scale; and that when they enjoin any particular disposition in general terms, we must consider the injunction as comprehending
all its natural demonstrations, all its genuine expressions. But to refuse the communion of sincere christians, is not a natural expression of christian love, but so diametrically opposite, that we may fairly put it to the conscience of those who contend for such a measure, whether they find it possible to carry it into execution without an inward struggle, without feeling emotions of sorrow and concern. It is to inflict a wound on the very heart of charity, for no fault, for none at least of which the offender is conscious, for none which such treatment has the remotest tendency to correct; and if this is not being guilty of “ beating our fellow-servant,” we must despair of ascertaining the meaning of terms.
Were the children of the same parent, in consequence of the different construction they put on a disputed clause in their father's will, to refuse to eat at the same table, or to drink out of the same cup, it would be ridiculous for them to pretend that their attachment to each other remained undiminished; nor is it less so for christians to assert that their withdrawing from communion with their brethren, is no interruption to their mutual harmony and affection. It is a serious and awful interruption, and will ever be considered in that light as long as the interior sentiments of the mind continue to be interpreted by their natural signs. I have known more instances than one of good men complaining of the uneasiness, I might say the anguish,
they felt on those occasions, when they witnessed some of their most intimate friends, persons of exalted piety, compelled, after joining in the other branches of worship, to withdraw from the Lord's table, as though “ they had no part or lot in the matter.” We have been accustomed to conceive that the dictates of the Holy Ghost were always in harmony with his operations, the precepts of the gospel with its spirit; and that nothing was enjoined as matter of duty on christians, which offered violence to the best feelings of the renewed heart. We have always supposed that by the law of Christ we were called to mortify the old man only with his affections and lusts ; but if the doctrine of our opponents be true, we shall be frequently summoned to the strange discipline of repressing the movements of christian charity; and the practice of quenching the Spirit, instead of being regarded with horror, will become on many occasions an indispensable duty. For this new and unheard-of conflict, in which the injunctions of Christ, and the dictates of his Spirit, propel us in opposite directions, we acknowledge ourselves unprepared.
In order to place this part of our subject in its strongest light, it is necessary to recur to what we have suggested before, respecting the two-fold import of the eucharist, that it is first a feast upon a sacrifice, in which we are actual partakers by faith of the body and blood of the Redeemer offered upon the cross. Considered in this view,
it is a federal rite, in which we receive the pledge of reconciliation, while we avouch the Lord to be our God, and surround his table as a part of his family. In its secondary import, it is intended as a solemn recognition of each other as members of Christ, and consequently, in the language of St. Paul, “as one body, and one bread.” Now we either acknowledge pædobaptists to be christians, or we do not.
If not, let us speak out without reserve, and justify their exclusion at once, upon a broad and consistent basis. But if we reject a sentiment so illiberal, why refuse to unite with them in an appointment, which, as far as its social import is concerned, has no other object than to express that fraternal attachment which we actually feel? Why select as the line of demarcation, the signal of disunion, that particular branch of worship, which, if we credit the inspired writers, was ordained in preference to every other, to be the symbol of christian unity? That they are equally capable with ourselves of deriving the spiritual edification and improvement attached to this ordinance, is implied in the acknowledgment of their being christians ; while with respect to its import as a social act, or an act of communion, it implies neither more nor less than a recognition of their claim to that title. It neither implies that they are baptized, nor the contrary ; it has no retrospective view to that ordinance whatever; it implies neither more nor less than that they are members of Christ, and the objects