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152.) But why did he insist upon it? He tells us himself, it was because "they had received nothing; they were baptized by the dead;" they wanted "that holy water peculiar to the church, which alone can vivify;" and their pretended baptism, or, to use his own words, "their profane dipping," was necessarily unaccompanied with the remission of sins. In short, however well they might be disposed, and prepared on the application of due means, for the reception of the highest benefits, they were, as yet, in his estimation, in a state of unregeneracy. Hence the reader may judge of the pertinence and correctness of the subsequent remark :-"Their interest in the blessings of the Christian covenant," says Mr. Kinghorn, "was not doubted, yet their right to the Lord's supper was doubted, because the validity of their baptism was questioned." (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 154.) “Their interest in the blessings of the covenant was not doubted," although Cyprian declares his conviction "that they had received nothing, that their baptism was a nullity, that they wanted the only water which could quicken, and that, instead of it, they had received only a "sordid and profane dipping, which could not be accompanied with the remission of sins."
The reader will be at no loss to determine which of us is justly chargeable with "taking the present state of opinion, and of applying it to former ages;" when he perceives that my opponent is so possessed with these ideas, as to be utterly incapable of contemplating the sentiments of Cyprian through the right medium. He entirely forgets the importance he attached to baptism as a regenerating ordinance; and his denial that the persons of whom he was treating, had received it; which, combined together, must necessarily have placed them, in his estimation, at the utmost remove from the situation in which pious Pædobaptists are at present considered.
His opponent, Stephen, contended for the propriety of receiving them without a repetition of that rite, because he already conceived it had been truly and solidly performed; this Cyprian denied; and the only question in debate, respected the validity of a ceremony, which both equally esteemed to be the necessary means of regeneration. Upon the principles common to both, the African Father reasoned with most consistency; for how could heretics and schismatics, who were acknowledged to be spiritually dead, communicate life by the performance of a ceremony; and how totally incongruous to suppose every part of their religious service devoid of vitality and force, except their baptism, by which, as Cyprian continually urges, they were supposed to confer that renovating spirit, which in every other instance they were denied to possess. But whatever judgement may be formed of
the merits of this controversy, nothing can be more impertinent to the question at issue betwixt my opponent and myself, which is simply, whether the refusal to admit persons of unquestioned piety into the church, was the doctrine of the Ancient Fathers. In proof of this, he alleges the example of Cyprian, who contended for the necessity of rebaptizing such as had been already reclaimed from heresy and schism. Now if Cyprian's ideas on the subject of baptism had been the same, or in any degree similar to those which are at present entertained, the objection would have been forcible; but when we learn from his own mouth, that his demand was founded on their not having been "quickened," on their wanting" the water of life," on their not having approached the fountain of renovation and pardon; in a word, on their still remaining unregenerate; what can be conceived more futile than to adduce his authority for refusing a class of persons, to whom, it is acknowledged, none of these objections apply? Let us first insist on the admission of those, whom we believe to be destitute of regeneration and pardon, and we must dispose of the authority of Cyprian as we can; but till that is the case, however we differ from him in its application, we act on one and the same principle.
Mr. Kinghorn is very anxious to prevent his readers from being led to suppose, from certain passages I had quoted, that he was a friend to mixed communion. If he means by this, that he was not disposed to admit into the church, such as were on all hands acknowledged to be unbaptized, his opinion is undoubtedly correct; nothing was more remote from my intention, than to insinuate the contrary. But if it is his intention to affirm, that Cyprian was averse to the mixture of Baptists and Pædobaptists at the Lord's table, he must be supposed to assert, that there were none in his communion who adhered to what we conceive the primitive institute; and considering the extensive influence which he derived from his station as Metropolitan of Africa, and the celebrity of his character, this is equivalent to an admission, that it had totally disappeared from that province as early as the middle of the third century; a dangerous concession, as well as a most improbable supposition. It is to suppose that a corruption (as we must necessarily deem it) of a Christian ordinance, the explicit mention of which, first occurs but fifty years before, had already spread with such rapidity through Africa, as to efface every trace and relic of the primitive practice. It is unnecessary to observe the important advantage which such a concession would yield in the controversy with Pædobaptists. The truth is, that unless we are disposed to admit that the baptism of infants had already totally supplanted the original ordinance, throughout the Catholic church, Cyprian
must be allowed to have patronized mixed communion in precisely the same sense, in which it is countenanced at present by our Pædobaptist brethren.
This may suffice to rescue me from the charge of misrepresenting the sentiments of Cyprian; an accusation which excited so much surprise, that I determined to re-peruse the epistles of that celebrated writer; but after carefully reading every line, I most solemnly declare, that I feel at a loss to discover a shadow of ground for this imputation.
It is not however the sentiments of Cyprian only that I am charged with misrepresenting; the Donatists, it is affirmed, proceeded on the same views, when they insisted on the necessity of re-baptizing the members of the Catholic church. "They acted," he says, "exactly on the same principles which Mr. Hall reprobates." That principle, it is unnecessary to repeat, is the propriety, not of baptizing such as have been induced through misconception, to neglect the valid performance of that rite, which is our uniform practice; but the exclusion of those, against whom nothing is alleged, besides the invalidity of their baptism. But nothing can be more remote from the ground on which the Donatists proceeded. They conceived the whole Christian world contaminated by their communion with the African traditors;* that they had fallen into a state of deep and deadly corruption, and so far were they from founding the separation on the insufficiency of their baptism, that they inferred its invalidity solely from the mortal contagion they were deemed to have contracted, and from the abominations they were supposed to tolerate. They considered the church of Christ, as far as the Catholic societies were concerned, as extinct; and on that account were vehemently urged by St. Austin to reconcile their hypothesis with the promise made to Abraham, "that in his seed all nations of the earth should be blessed." But will any Pædobaptist be found so absurd, as to press the advocates of strict communion with a similar argument? And will it after this be contended, that the conduct of the Donatists, in refusing to admit the baptism of men, whom they viewed as plunged in a state of hopeless degeneracy, bears any resemblance to the conduct of those, who repel such as they affect to regard as the most excellent of the earth?
This writer is highly offended with my presuming to express a conviction, that the advocates of strict communion have violated
Those who delivered up the sacred writings.
+ Dicit enim Parmenianus, hinc probari consceleratum fuisse orbem terrarum criminibus traditionis, et aliorum sacrilegiorum: quia cum multa alia fuerint tempore persecutionis admissa, nulla propterea facta est in ipsis provinciis separatio populorum.”—Contra Epistolam Parmeniani, Augustini, Lib. 1.
more maxims of antiquity, than any other sect upon record. The extent to which they have carried their deviation in one particular is already sufficiently obvious. Mr. Kinghorn was challenged to produce an instance of an ancient Father, who contended for the right of repelling a genuine Christian from the eucharist. He adduced the example of Cyprian, and of the Donatists; and by this time we presume the intelligent reader is at no loss to perceive how completely these instances have failed.
A writer of his undisputed learning, would doubtless select the strongest case; we may therefore, until he fortifies his positions better, venture without hesitation to enumerate among other deviations, the pretended right of excluding such as are acknowledged to be genuine Christians. In ancient times, the limits of communion were supposed to be co-extensive with those of visible Christianity, and none excluded from the Catholic church, but those whom that church deemed heretics or schismatics. Our opponents proceed on an opposite principle; they exclude myriads whom they would not dare to stigmatize with either appellation. In ancient times, the necessity of baptism, as a qualification for communion, was avowedly and uniformly founded on its supposed essential connexion with salvation; our opponents have totally relinquished that ground, yet still assert with equal vehemence the same necessity, and absurdly urge the shadow, or rather the skeleton of ancient precedent, after they had disembowelled it, and divested it of its very soul and spirit. In ancient times, the whole mass of human population was distributed into two classes, the church and the world; all who were deemed incapable of admission to the first, were considered as belonging to the last.
The advocates of strict communion have invented a new classification, a division of mankind into the world, the church, by which they mean themselves, and an immense body of pious Pædobaptists, who are comprised in neither of the preceding classes, their charity forbidding them to place them with the former, and their peculiar principles with the latter. Were they to assign them to the world, they would at once declare them out of the pale of salvation; were they to acknowledge them a part of the church, they would convict themselves of the crime of schism, in repelling them from communion. In attempting to designate this class of Christians, compared to which their numbers dwindle into impalpable insignificance, they are reduced to the utmost perplexity. On the one hand, they contend that they are not entitled to be considered as disciples; on the other, they loudly proclaim the confidence they entertain of their ready admission into heaven. They are acknowledged to possess faith in an eminent degree, yet it is denied that they have afforded any legitimate evidence of
it; and though out of the church, it is confessed it would be the height of bigotry to pretend to invalidate their religious pretensions; to recognize their validity in it, would be an equal impropriety. It is unnecessary to say how far these maxims deviate from Christian antiquity; nor is it easy to conceive the astonishment their avowal would have excited in the breast of the Cyprians and the Austins-I might add, of the Apostles and Evangelists of a former age. Guided by the simple dictates of inspiration, accustomed to contemplate the world under two divisions only, that of believers and of unbelievers, they would doubtless have felt themselves at an utter loss to comprehend the possibility of the existence of an equivocal race, who are to be treated as heathens in the church, and as Christians out of it; and while they possess whatever is necessary for an instant translation to glory, are disqualified for the possession of the most ordinary privileges of the church.
As it is the province of poetry to give to "airy nothings a local habitation and a name," if we cannot eulogize the reason of our opponents, we willingly allow them all the praise of a creative fancy, due to the invention of so bold a fiction.
The unity of the church is not merely a tenet of antiquity, but a doctrine of Scripture, to which great importance is attached by the inspired writers. Wherever the word occurs, without being applied to a particular society, the idea of unity is strictly preserved, by the invariable use of the singular number; the great community denoted by it, is styled the body of Christ, of which every believer is declared to be a particular member; (1 Eph. 22: 23. Col. 1: 24;) and the perfect oneness of the whole is solemnly and repeatedly attested. "The bread which we break," says St. Paul," is it not the communion of the body of Christ? for we being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread." (1 Cor. 10: 16, 17.) "Now ye," says he in the same Epistle," are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
This grand and elevating conception of the unity which characterizes the Christian church, was ever present to the minds of the Fathers, and never do they rise to a higher strain of manly and impressive eloquence than when they are expatiating on this theme. Thus we find Irenæus celebrating that "church which was disseminated throughout the whole world, to the very ends of the earth, which carefully preserved the preaching and the faith she had once received, as though she resided in one house; and proclaimed, and taught, and delivered the same doctrine, as though she possessed but one soul, one heart, and one mouth." (Irenæus, Lib. i. c. 2, 3.) "Every kind," says Tertullian,