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the Apostles. They repeatedly and earnestly warn us against resting in external advantages, and of the danger of substituting the outward sign for the inward and spiritual grace; but never give the slightest intimation of the possibility of possessing the first, without being entitled to the last. The assertion of such an opinion, and the practice founded upon it, the reader will at once perceive, is a departure from the precedent and example of the earliest age, which it would be difficult to parallel.
In opposition, however, to all that has been urged to show the obvious disparity between the two cases, our opponents still reiterate the cry, The Apostles did not tolerate the omission of baptism, and therefore we are not justified in tolerating it! But is the omission of a duty to be judged of in relation to its moral quality, without any regard to circumstances, without any consideration whether it be voluntary or involuntary, whether it proceed from perversity of will, or error of judgement, from an erroneous interpretation of our Lord's precepts, or a contempt of his injunctions ; and supposing our Pædobaptist brethren to be sincere and conscientious, is there any resemblance between them and those whom the Apostles, it is allowed, would have repelled, except in the mere circumstance of their being both unbaptized, the one because they despised the apostolic injunctions, the other because they mistake them? The former, (supposing them to have existed at all,) must have been men over whose conscience the word of God had no power; the latter tremble at his word, and are restrained from following our example by deference to his will. If such opposite characters are the natural objects of a contrary state of feeling, they must be equally so of a contrary treatment; nor can any thing be more preposterous than to confound them together, under the pretence of a regard to apostolic precedent. Our treatment of mankind should undoubtedly be the expression of our feelings, and regulated by our estimate of their character. Strict communion prescribes the contrary; it sets the conduct and the feelings at variance, and erects into a duty the mortification of our best and holiest propensities.
The discipline of the church, as prescribed by Christ and his Apostles, is founded on principles applicable to every age, and to every combination of events to which it is liable, in a world replete with change, where new forms of error, new modes of aberration from the paths of rectitude and truth, are destined to follow in rapid and unceasing succession. Among these we are compelled to enumerate the prevailing notions of the Christian world on the subject of baptism-an error, which it is obvious, could have no subsistence during the age of the Apostles. Here then arises a new case, and it becomes a matter of serious inquiry, how it is
to be treated. It plainly cannot be decided by a reference to apostolic precedent, because nothing of this kind then existed, or could exist. The precept which enjoined the baptism of new converts might be resisted, but it could not be mistaken, and therefore no inference can be drawn from the treatment, which it is admitted the Apostles would have assigned to wilful disobedience, that is applicable to the case of involuntary error. The only method of arriving at a satisfactory conclusion, is to consider how they conducted themselves towards sincere, though erring Christians, together with the temper they recommend us to cultivate towards such as labor under mistakes and misconceptions, not inconsistent with piety. Without expecting a specific direction for the regulation of our conduct in this identical particular, which would be to suppose the error in question not new, it is quite sufficient if the general principle of toleration which the New Testament enjoins, is found to comprehend the present instance.
If action be founded on conviction, as it undoubtedly is in all well regulated minds, we are as much obliged to mould our sentiments into an agreement with those of the Apostles, as our conduct; inspired precedents of thought are as authoritative as those of action. The advocates of strict communion are clamorous in their demand that, in relation to church fellowship, we should treat all Pædobaptists exactly in the same manner as the Apostles would have treated unbaptized persons in their day. But must we not, for the same reason, think the same of them? This, however, they disclaim as much as we do; they are perfectly sensible, nor have they the hardihood to deny, that the difference is immense, between a conscientious mistake of the mind of Christ, on a particular subject, and a deliberate contempt or neglect of it. Who can doubt that the Apostles would be the first to feel this distinction; and as they would, undoubtedly, in common with all conscientious persons, regulate their conduct by their sentiments, that, could they be personally consulted, they would recommend a correspondent difference of treatment? To sum up the argument in a few words. Nothing can be more hollow and fallacious than the pretension of our opponents, that they are guided by inspired precedent, for we have no precedent in the case ; in other words, we have no example of the manner in which they conducted themselves towards such as fell into an error on the subject of baptism ; the Scriptures make no allusion to such an error, which attaches at present to many most tenacious of its authority, humbly submissive to its dictates, and deeply imbued with its spirit; to men, in a word, of the most opposite character to those who may be supposed, in consequence of setting light by the authority of inspired teachers, to have neglected baptism in the first ages.
Thus much may suffice for apostolic precedent. There is still one more view of the subject, to which the attention of the reader is requested for a moment. It remains to be considered whether there is any peculiar connexion between the two ordinances, of baptism and the Lord's supper, either in the nature of things, or by divine appointment, so as to render it improper to administer the one without the other. That there is no natural connexion is obvious. They were instituted at different times, and for different purposes ; baptism is a mode of professing our faith in the blessed Trinity,
the Lord's supper as a commemoration of the dying love of the Redeemer : the former is the act of an individual, the latter of a society. The words which contain our warrant for the celebration of the eucharist convey no allusion to baptism whatever : those which prescribe baptism carry no anticipative reference to the eucharist. And as it is demonstrable that John's baptism was a separate institution from that which was enacted after our Lord's resurrection, the Lord's supper is evidently anterior to baptism, and the original communicants consisted entirely of such as had not received that ordinance. To all appearance, the rites in question rest on independent grounds. But perhaps there is a special connexion between the two, arising from divine appointment. If this be the case, it will be easy to point it out. Rarely, if ever, are they mentioned together, and on no occasion is it asserted, or insinuated, that the validity of the sacrament de pends on the previous observation of the baptismal ceremony. That there was such a connexion between circumcision and the passover, we learn from the explicit declaration of Moses, who asserts that “no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." Let a similar prohibition be produced in the present instance, and the controversy is at an end.
The late excellent Mr. Fuller, in a posthumous pamphlet on this subject, labored hard to prove an instituted connexion between the two ordinances, but his conclusion from the premises is so feeble and precarious, that we strongly suspect his own mind was not fully made up on the subject. His reasoning is certainly very little adapted to satisfy an impartial inquirer. The whole performance appears more like an experiment of what might be advanced in favor of a prevailing hypothesis, than the result of deep and deliberate conviction.
On this point our opponents are at variance with each other; Mr. Kinghorn roundly asserts that baptism has no more connexion with the Lord's supper than with every other part of Christianity. Thus what Mr. Fuller attempts to demonstrate as the main pillar of his cause, Mr. Kinghorn abandons without scruple. What a fortunate position is that to which men may arrive, who proceed
in the most opposite directions—a sort of mental antipodes which you will reach with equal certainty, whether you advance by the east or by the west. From the title of Mr. Kinghorn's book, which is, Baptism a Term of Communion, we should be led to expect that it was his principal object to trace some specific relation which these rites bear to each other. No such thing; he denies there is any such relation ; baptism, he declares, is no otherwise connected with the Lord's supper than it is with every other part of Christianity. But on his hypothesis, it is essential to the eucharist, and consequently it is essential to every part of Christianity; so that the omission of it, from whatever cause, is such an error in the first concoction, that it vitiates every branch of religion, disqualifies for all its duties, and incurs the forfeiture of all its privileges. This is the statement of a man who makes loud professions of attachment to our Pædobaptist brethren ; nor can he escape from this strange dilemma but by retracing his steps, and taking his stand with Mr. Fuller on a supposed instituted relation between the two ordinances. Meanwhile, it is instructive to observe, in what inextricable labyrinths the acutest minds are entangled, which desert the high road of common sense, in pursuit of fanciful theories.
Having cleared the way, by showing that Scripture precedent, properly interpreted, affords no countenance or support to strict communion, the remaining task is very easy. For nothing can be more evident, than that the whole genius of Christianity is favorable to the most cordial and affectionate treatment of our fellow Christians. To love them fervently, to bear with their imperfections, and cast the mantle of forgiveness over their infirmities, is to fulfil the law of Christ. A schism in his mystical body is deprecrated as the greatest evil, and whatever tends to promote it is subjected to the severest reprobation. “Now I beseech you, by the name of the Lord Jesus," is the language of St. Paul, “ that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. For it has been declared unto me, by them who are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided ? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" In applying these and innumerable other passages of similar import to the point under discussion, two questions occur. First, Are our Pædobaptist brethren a part of the mystical body of Christ? or, in other words, Do they form a portion of that church, which he has purchased by his precious blood ? If they are not, they are not in a state of salvation, since none can be in that state who are not vitally united to Christ. The Bible acknowledges but two classes into which the whole human race is distributed, the church and the world ; there is no intermediate condition ; whoever is not of the first, necessarily belongs to the last. But the advocates for strict communion are loud in their professions of esteem for pious Pædobaptists, nor is there any thing they would more resent, than a doubt of their sincerity in that particular. The persons whom they exclude from their communion are then, by their own confession, a part of the flock of Christ, a portion of his mystical body, and of that church which he has bought with his blood.
The next question is, whether a formal separation from them on the account of their imputed error amounts to what the Scripture styles schism! Supposing one part of the church at Corinth had formally severed themselves from the other, and established a separate communion, allowing those whom they had forsaken, at the same time, the title of sincere Christians, would this have been considered as a schism ? That it would, is demonstrable from the language of St. Paul, who accuses the Corinthians of having schisms* among them, though they never dreamed of forming a distinct and separate communion. If they are charged with schism, on account of that spirit of contention, and that alienation of their affections from each other, which merely tended to an open rupture, how much more would they have incurred that censure, had they actually proceeded to that extremity. Schism, in its primitive and literal sense, signifies the breaking of a substance into two or more parts, and when figuratively applied to a body of men, it denotes the division of it into parties, and though it may be applied to such a state of contention as consists with the preservation of external union, it is most eminently applicable to a society whose bond of union is dissolved, and where one part rejects the other from its fellowship. If there is any meaning in terms, this is schism in its highest sense. The great Apostle of the Gentiles illustrates the union of the faithful, by that which subsists between the members of the natural body.
“ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” He shows, in a beautiful and impressive manner, that the several members have each his distinct function, and are pervaded by a common sympathy-with the express design that there be no schism in the body.” But when one part of the Christian church avowedly excludes another from their communion, when they refuse to unite in the most distinguishing branch of social worship, and hold themselves in a state of seclusion, they virtually say to the party
* The original word rendered divisions, is oyimpata, schisms.