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zealous attachment. In such a state, opinions are no otherwise regarded, than as they affect the interest of a party; whatever conduces to augment its members, or its credit, must be supported at all events; whatever is of a contrary tendency, discountenanced and suppressed. How often do we find much zeal expended in the defence of sentiments, recommended neither by their evidence nor their importance, which, could their incorporation with an established creed be forgotton, would be quietly consigned to oblivion. Thus the waters of life, instead of that unobstructed circulation which would diffuse health, fertility, and beauty, are diverted from their channels, and drawn into pools and reservoirs, where, from their stagnant state, they acquire feculence and pollution.
The inference we would deduce from these facts is, that if we wish to revive an exploded truth, or to restore an obsolete practice, it is of the greatest moment to present it to the public, in a manner least likely to produce the collision of party. But this is equivalent to saying, in other words, that it ought not to be made the basis of a sect; for the prejudices of party are always reciprocal, and in no instance is that great law of motion more applicable, that re-action is always equal to action, and contrary thereto. While it is maintained as a private opinion, by which I mean one not characteristic of a sect, it stands upon its proper merits, mingles with facility in different societies, and in proportion to its evidence, and the attention it excites, insinuates itself like leaven, till the whole is leavened.
Such, it should seem, was the conduct of the Baptists before the time of Luther. It appears, from the testimony of ecclesiastical historians, that their sentiments prevailed to a considerable extent among the Waldenses and Albigenses, the precursors of the Reformation, to whom the crime of anabaptism is frequently ascribed, among other heresies; it is probable, however, that it did not prevail universally; nor is there the smallest trace to be discovered of its being made a term of communion. When the same opinions on this subject were publicly revived in the sixteenth century, under the most unfavorable auspices, and allied with turbulence, anarchy, and blood, no wonder they met with an unwelcome reception, and that, contemplated through such a medium, they incurred the reprobation of the wise and good. Whether the English Baptists held at first any part of the wild and seditious sentiments of the German fanatics, it is difficult to say; supposing they did, (of which I am not aware there is the smallest evidence) it is certain they soon abandoned them, and adopted the same system of religion with other non-conformists, except on the article of baptism. But it is much to be lamented, that they con
tinued to insist on that article as a term of communion, by which they excited the resentment of other denominations, and facilitated the means of confounding them with the German Anabaptists, with whom they possessed nothing in common, besides an opinion on one particular rite. One feature of resemblance, however, joined to an identity of name, was sufficient to surmount, in the public feeling, the impression of all the points of discrepancy or of contrast, and to subject them to a portion of the infamy attached to the ferocious insurgents of Munster. From that period, the success of the Baptist sentiments became identified with the growth of a sect, which, rising under the most unfavorable auspices, was entirely destitute of the resources of worldly influence, and the means of popular attraction; and an opinion which, by its native simplicity and evidence, is entitled to command the suffrages of the world, was pent up and confined within the narrow precincts of a party, where it laboured under an insupportable weight of prejudice. It was seldom examined by an impartial appeal to the sacred oracles, or regarded in any other light, than as the whimsical appendage of a sect, who disgraced themselves at the outset, by the most criminal excesses, and were, at no subsequent period, sufficiently distinguished by talents or numbers, to command general attention.
Nothing is more common, than for zeal to overshoot its mark. If a determined enemy of the Baptists had been consulted on the most effectual method of rendering their principles unpopular, there is little doubt but that he would have recommended the very measures we have pursued; the first and most obvious effect of which has been to generate an inconceivable mass of prejudice in other denominations. To proclaim to the world our determination, to treat as "heathen-men and publicans," all who are not immediately prepared to concur with our views of baptism, what is it less, than the language of hostility and defiance, admirably adapted to discredit the party which exhibits, and the principles which have occasioned such a conduct? By thus investing these principles with an importance which does not belong to them, by making them co-extensive with the existence of a church, they have indisposed men to listen to the evidence by which they are supported; and attempting to establish by authority, the unanimity which should be the fruit of conviction, have deprived themselves of the most effectual means of producing it. To say, that such a mode of proceeding is not adapted to convince, that refusing Pædobaptists the right of communion has no tendency to produce a change of views, is to employ most inadequate language; it has a powerful tendency to the contrary; it can scarcely fail to produce impressions most unfavorable to the system
with which it is connected, impressions which the gentlest minds find it difficult to distinguish from the effects of insult and degradation.
It is not, however, merely by this sort of re-action, that prejudice is excited, unfavorable to the extension of our principles; but by the instinctive feelings of self-defence. Upon the system of strict communion, the moment a member of a Pædobaptist church becomes convinced of the invalidity of his infant baptism, he must deem it obligatory upon him to relinquish his station, and dissolve his connexion with the church; and as superiority of ministerial talents and character is a mere matter of preference, but duty a matter of necessity, he must at all events connect himself with a Baptist congregration, whatever sacrifice it may cost him, and whatever loss he may incur. Though his pastor should possess the profundity and unction of an Edwards, or the eloquence of a Spencer, he must quit him for the most superficial declaimer, rather than be guilty of spiritual fornication. How is it possible for principles fraught with such a corollary, not to be contemplated with anxiety by our Pædobaptist brethren, who, however they might be disposed to exercise candor towards our sentiments, considered in themselves, cannot fail to perceive the most disorganizing tendency in this their usual appendage. Viewed in such a connexion, their prevalence is a blow at the very root of Pædobaptist societies, since the moment we succeed in making a convert, we disqualify him for continuing a member. We deposit a seed of alienation and discord, which threatens their dissolution; so that we need not be surprised if other denominations should be tempted to compare us to the Euphratean horsemen in the Apocalypse, who are described as "having tails like scorpions, and with them they did hurt."
To these causes we must undoubtedly impute the superior degree of prejudice displayed by that class of Christians, to whom we make the nearest approach, compared to such as are separated from us by a wider interval. A disposition to fair and liberal concession on the points at issue, is almost confined to the members of established churches; and while the most celebrated Episcopal divines, both Popish and Protestant, as well as those of the Scotch church, feel no hesitation in acknowledging the import of the word baptize is to immerse, that such was the primitive mode of baptism, and that the right of infants to that ordinance is rather to be sustained on the ground of ancient usage than the authority of Scripture, our dissenting brethren are displeased with these concessions, deny there is any proof that immersion was ever used in primitive times, and speak of the extension of baptism to infants
with as much confidence, as though it were amongst the plainest and most undeniable dictates of revelation.*
To such a height has this animosity been carried, that there are not wanting persons, who seem anxious to revive the recolleclection of Munster, and by republishing the narrative of the enormities perpetrated there, under the title of the History of the Baptists, to implicate us in the infamy and guilt of those transactions. While we must reprobate such a spirit, we are compelled to acknowledge that the practice of exclusive communion is admirably adapted to excite it, in minds of a certain order.
That practice is not less objectionable on another ground. By discouraging Pædobaptists from frequenting our assemblies, it militates against the most effectual means of diffusing the sentiments which we consider most consonant to the sacred oracles. It cannot be expected, that pious worshippers will attend, except from absolute necessity, where they are detained, if we may so speak, in the courts of the Gentiles, and denied access to the interior privileges of the sanctuary.
The congregations accordingly, where this practice prevails, are almost entirely composed of persons of our own persuasion, who are so far from requiring an additional stimulus, that it is much oftener necessary to restrain than to excite their ardor; while the
Campbell, speaking of the authors of the vulgate version, observes"Some words they have transferred from the original into their language; others they have translated. But it would not be always easy to find their reason for making this difference. Thus the word лQTour they have translated circumcisio, which exactly corresponds in etymology; but the word Sanrioua they have retained, changing only the letters from Greek to Roman. Yet the latter was just as susceptible of a literal version into Latin as the former. Immersio, tinctio, answers as exactly in one case, as circumcisio in the other." A little after he observes-"I should think the word immersion (which though of Latin origin, is an English noun, regularly formed from the word to immerse,) a better English name than baptism, were we now at liberty to make a choice; but we are not."-Preliminary Dissertations to the Translation of the Gospels, pp. 354, 355, 4to ed.He elsewhere mentions it as one of the strongest instances of prejudice, that he has known some persons of piety who have denied, that the word baptize signifies to immerse.
With respect to the subject, it is worthy of observation, that the authors of the celebrated scheme of Popish doctrine and discipline called the Interim, enumerate the baptism of infants among traditions, and that in the most emphatic manner. For having stated that the church has two rules of faith, Scripture and tradition, they observe, after treating of the first, "ecclesta habet quoque traditiones, inter alia baptismus parvulorum," &c. They mention, however, no other, from whence it is natural to infer, that they considered this as the strongest instance of that species of rules. The total silence of Scripture has induced not a few of the most illustrious scholars to consider infant baptism not of divine right; amongst whom, were we disposed to boast of great names, we might mention Salmasius, Suicer, and, above all, Sir Isaac Newton, who, if we may believe the honest Whiston, frequently declared to him his conviction that the Baptists were the only Christians who had not symbolized with the church of Rome.-See Whiston's Memoirs of his own Life.
only description of persons who could be possibly benefitted by instruction, are out of its reach; compelled by this intolerable practice to join societies, where they will hear nothing but what is adapted to confirm them in their ancient prejudices. Thus an impassable barrier is erected betwixt the Baptists and other denominations, in consequence of which, few opportunities are afforded of trying the effect of calm and serious argumentation, in situations where alone it could prove effectual. In those Baptist churches in which an opposite plan has been adopted, the attendance of such as are not of our sentiments meeting with no discouragement, is often extensive; Baptists and Pædobaptists, by participating in the same privileges, become closely united in the ties of friendship; of which the effect is uniformly found to be a perpetual increase in the number of the former, compared to the latter,-till in some societies the opposite sentiments have nearly subsided and disappeared.
Nor is this more than might be expected from the nature of things, supposing us to have truth on our side. For admitting this to be the case, what can give permanence to the sentiments to which we are opposed, except a recumbent indolence, or an active prejudice; and is it not evident, that the practice of exclusive communion has the strongest tendency to foster both these evils, the former by withdrawing, I might say repelling, the erroneous from the best means of instruction, the latter by the apparent harshness and severity of such a proceeding. It is not by keeping at a distance from mankind, that we must expect to acquire an ascendancy over them, but by approaching, by conciliating them, and securing a passage to their understanding through the medium of their hearts. Truth will glide into the mind through the channel of the affections, which, were it to approach in the naked majesty of evidence, would meet with a certain repulse.
Betraying a total ignorance or forgetfulness of these indubitable facts, what is the conduct of our opponents? They assume a menacing aspect, proclaim themselves the only true church, and assert, that they alone are entitled to the Christian sacraments. None are alarmed at this language, none are induced to submit, but turning with a smile or a frown to gentler leaders, they leave us to triumph without a combat, and to dispute without an opponent.
If we consider the way in which men are led to form just conclusions on the principal subjects of controversy, we shall not often find, that it is the fruit of an independent effort of mind, determined to search for truth in her most hidden recesses, and discover her under every disguise. The number of such elevated spirits is small; and though evidence is the only source of ration