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But it is time to return to Mr. Kinghorn, with whose management of the subject we are at present more immediately concerned. As bold a polemic as Mr. Fuller was generally considered, he was pusillanimity itself compared to my present antagonist ; who, in the ardor of combat, has not scrupled to remove landmarks which he, I am well persuaded, would have considered as sacred. It cannot be denied that he has infused by these means some novelty into the discussion, and that many of his arguments bear an original stamp; but whether that novelty is combined with truth, or that originality is such as will ultimately secure many imitators or admirers, is another question.
Having already shewn that no inherent connexion subsists betwixt the two rites under discussion, it remains to be considered, as we have already remarked, whether they are connected by positive law. Is there a single word in the New Testament, which, fairly interpreted, can be regarded as a prohibition of the admission of unbaptized persons to the Lord's supper?
Let Mr. Kinghorn answer this question for us : « The New Testament,” he tells us, “ does not prohibit the unbaptized from receiving the Lord's supper, because no circumstance arose which rendered such prohibition necessary.” (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 32.) Whether a prohibition was necessary, or not, involves a distinct inquiry ; we request the reader's attention to the important concession, that it does not exist.
The reason he assigns, however, for its not being necessary, is, that “it is acknowledged the law of baptism was clearly understood, and that the unbaptized could not be received into the church.” “There was therefore," he adds, “no reason why a prohibitory declaration should exist.” We fully agree with him, that at the period of which he is speaking, the law of baptism was fully understood ; and on that account, we say, such as refused to obey it, could not be received into the church. We also admit that while there was this clear understanding, no such prohibition, as we demand, was requisite. But if it was rendered unnecessary because of this clear understanding, as this writer informs us, must it not by his own allowance become necessary, when that understanding ceases? If the presence of one thing makes another unnecessary, must not the absence of the same thing restore the necessity ?
In the present instance the only reason he assigns for an express prohibition not being then necessary, is, that the ordinance of baptism was perfectly understood ; surely if this be the only reason, the necessity must return when that reason ceases; in other words, there will be a necessity for an express prohibition of the unbaptized, whenever the precept respecting baptism, ceases to be understood. Has it, or has it not, ceased in our apprehen
sion) to be understood by modern Pædobaptists? If it be admitted that it has, then, on his own principle, an express prohibition of the unbaptized to receive the Lord's supper has become necessary. But he acknowledges none exists; whence the only conclusion to be deduced, is, either that the word of God has omitted what is necessary in itself
, or (which is rather more probable) what is necessary to support his hypothesis. The word of God, it should be remembered, makes adequate provision for the direction of the faithful in every age, being written under the guidance of that Spirit, to whom the remotest futurity was present ; and though it was by no means requisite to specify the errors, which were foreseen to arise, it is not a sufficient rule, unless it enables us to discover which of these are, and which are not, to be tolerated in the church. The doctrine which asserts that baptism is an indispensable requisite to communion, this writer expressly informs us was not promulgated to the primitive Christians, because they did not need it: their clear understanding of the nature of the ceremony, was sufficient of itself to secure an attention to it, in the absence of that doctrine. This is equivalent to an acknowledgement, if there be any meaning in terms, that if they had not had the clear comprehension of the ordinance which he ascribes to them, they would have needed that truth to be propounded, which in their situation was safely suppressed. But if the primitive Christians would have found such information necessary, how is it that the modern Pædobaptists, who are, according to our principles, precisely in the situation here supposed, can dispense with it? What should prevent them from turning upon Mr. Kinghorn, and saying, “We judge ourselves baptized; but supposing we are not, you assert that there is no scriptural prohibition of the unbaptized approaching the Lord's table, which you yet acknowledge would have been necessary to justify the repelling of primitive Christians from that privilege, had it not been for their perfect knowledge of the nature of baptism. But as you will not assert that we possess that knowledge, how will you defend yourself in treating us in a manner which, by your own concession, the Apostles would not have been justified in treating their immediate converts."
It was generally supposed that the abettors of strict communion imagined some peculiar connexion betwixt baptism and the Lord's supper beyond what subsists betwixt that ceremony, and other parts of Christianity. Our present opponent disclaims that notion. “ If the above evidence,” he says, “ be justly stated, there is a real instituted connexion between baptism and the whole of the succeeding Christian profession. So that there is no reason why the connexion between baptism and the Lord's supper should
be more distinctly marked, than between baptism and any other duty or privilege.” (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 30.) But if this be the case, why do they confine their restriction to the mere act of communion at the Lord's table ? In every other respect they feel no scruple in acknowledging the members of other denominations as Christians; they join with them in the most sacred duties; they interchange devotional services; they profess to value, and not unfrequently condescend to intreat, an interest in their prayers. In a word, no one who had not witnessed their commemoration of the Lord's supper, would suspect they made any distinction. There are a thousand acts which they perform towards such as practise infant sprinkling, which would be criminal and absurd on any other supposition, than that of their being members of Christ, and coheirs of eternal life. By the mouth of our author, whom they are proud of considering as their organ, they inform us that every other duty and privilege is as much dependent on baptism, as the celebration of the Eucharist; yet it is this duty and this privilege alone, in which they refuse to participate with Christians of other persuasions. How will they reconcile their practice and their theory; or rather, how escape the ridicule attached to such a glaring contradiction? The Sandemanian Baptists have taken care to shelter themselves from such animadversions, by a stern and consistent process of intolerance; but the English Baptists appear to resemble Ephraim, who mixed himself with the nations, and was a cake half turned. Is there no duty, is there no privilege, characteristic of a Christian, but what is included in receiving the sacrament? How is it that they have presumed to break down the sacred fence, to throw all open, and make all things common, with the exception of one narrow inclosure? What in the mean time becomes of apostolic practice, and ancient precedent? How admirably are these ilhustrated by their judicious selection of the Lord's table, as the spot over which to suspend the ensigns of party!
When we read of Priscilla and Aquila taking Apollos home, and instructing him in the way of the Lord more perfectly, we give full credit to the narrative; but had we been informed that these excellent persons, after hearing him with great delight, refused his admission to the supper of the Lord, on account of some diversity of opinion, or of practice; the consent of all the manuscripts and versions in the world, would have been insufficient to overcome the incredulity arising from an instantaneous conviction of its total repugnance to the maxims and principles of primitive Christianity. Yet this would have been nothing more than an anticipation of the practice of our opponents.
They attempt to justify themselves in this particular, on two grounds; first, that they do nothing more than their opponents;" and “where their conduct is deemed the most exceptionable, they only copy the example which the Pædobaptists set before them, and support by pre-eminent talents.” (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 173.) They do nothing more than their opponents. What then? We hold no principle inconsistent with our practice; we have not confined the profession of Christianity to ourselves; much less are we accustomed to make a practical distinction betwixt the participation of the Eucharist, and other duties and privileges, after stating in so many words, that the Scripture authorizes no such distinction. The plea derived from the disposition of Pædobaptists to cultivate a religious intercourse, we leave to be answered by himself, who has told us that “we meet on unequal terms.” “ The latter (Pædobaptists) surrender no principle, they do not unite with those whom they deem unbaptized.” (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 64.)
Their other pretence is, that “prayer and praise are not exclusive ordinances of the church; that they were in being before it was formed, and have been parts of true religion under every dispensation.” (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 175.) But is it not the peculiar prerogative of the faithful to offer acceptable devotion ? Is not prayer in the name of Jesus a peculiarity of the new dispensation, and is not the requesting a Pædobaptist to present it on our behalf, as clear an acknowledgement of his Christianity, as admitting him to communion ; and consequently as incompatible with his own maxim, that the church of Christ acting upon the rule he has laid down, cannot recognize any person as his disciple, who is not baptized in his name?"
Mr. Kinghorn is bound by his own declaration in his treatment of other denominations, to abstain from every action which will imply an explicit acknowledgement of their being Christians; so that as far as he is concerned, it is of no consequence whatever, whether prayer or praise belong to natural, or revealed religion, or whether they are, or are not, exclusive ordinances of the church; the only question is, whether the reciprocation of such services with other denominations, be not a recognition of their Coristianity. If it be, he is by his acknowledgement as much obliged to abandon it, as the practice of open communion, and exactly for the same reason ; since he informs us that his objections to that practice are not founded on any peculiar connexion betwixt communion and baptism, but on the common relation which the latter bears to “all the duties of Christianity.”
The preceding remarks are more than sufficient to evince his inconsistency with himself ; which however glaring, is not more 80 than his deviation from ancient precedent. That the first Christians did not interchange religious services, with those, with whom they refused to communicate ; that they did not countenance in the exercise of their ministry, men whom they refused to acknowledge as members of the church, it would be ridiculous to attempt to prove; the fact will be instantly admitted. Let it be also remembered, that this deviation is of far greater magnitude, than that with which we are accused. Who that remembers that the Kingdom of God is not meats or drinks, that its nature is spiritual, not ritual, can doubt that the moral duties of religion, the love of the brethren, with its diversified fruits and effects, taken in their whole extent, form a more important object than the single observation of the Eucharist.
Mr. Kinghorn himself deprecates the very suspicion of placing even baptism, in point of importance, on a level with the least of the moral precepts of Christ. But with respect to the whole of these, they allow themselves to depart as far from scriptural precedent, in its literal interpretation, as ourselves. In the affair of communion, they boast of adhering to that plain rule of conduct (to adopt my opponent's words) so did the Apostles, and therefore so do we.” (Baptism à Term of Communion, p. 98.) But here their conformity stops ; in every other branch of social religion, in whatever respects the interior of the kingdom, they claim the liberty of treating the unbaptized in precisely the same manner with members of their own denomination ; wherein they pronounce their own condemnation; for what should prevent us from retorting, “80 did not the Apostles, but so do ye ?"
The distress and embarrassment which the consciousness of this glaring inconsistency occasioned the venerable Booth, are sufficiently depicted in his Apology. The sturdy saint perfectly reels and staggers under its insupportable weight; which, to use the language of Archbishop Tillotson, is a millstone round the neck of strict communion, which will inevitably sink it into perdition ; an incongruity which the most obtuse understanding perceives, and no degree of acumen can defend ; and which so totally annuls the plea of original precedent, which is their sheet anchor, as to leave it doubtful whether its advocates are most at variance with the Apostles, or with themselves. The venerable apologist has recourse to the same distinctions with the present writer ; but with so little success, and apparently with so little satisfaction to himself, that if the spirit of controversy did not blunt our sensibility, we should sincerely sympathize with his distress. It is humiliating to see the manly and majestic mind of a Booth stooping to such miserable logomachies.
The advocates of the restrictive system must change their ground; they must either go forwards, or backwards. They have