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thus repelled, "We have no need of thee;" they cut themselves off from the body, and are guilty of a schism so open and conspicuous, that none can fail to perceive it. How is it possible for them to evade the conclusion to which this reasoning conducts us, unless they are prepared to deny the claim of the Pædobaptists to be regarded as the members of Christ, or place them in some intermediate station betwixt the world and the church. But the language of the New Testament, which uniformly identifies the objects of the divine favor with the members of Christ's church, is directly opposed to such a fiction. "He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, by the washing of water through the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
It deserves the serious consideration of our opponents, that they are contending for that schism in the body of Christ, against which he so fervently prayed, so anxiously guarded, and which his Apostles represent as its greatest calamity and reproach. "The glory," said our Lord, "which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." Here it cannot be doubted that our Pædobaptist brethren are comprehended in this prayer, because our Lord declares it was preferred, not merely for the disciples then existing, but for those also who should hereafter believe through their word, adding, "that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." In these words, we find him praying for a visible union among his disciples, such a union as the world might easily perceive, and this he intreats in behalf of them all, that they all may be one. The advocates of strict communion plead for a visible disunion; nor will it avail them to reply, that they cultivate a fraternal affection towards Christians of other denominations, while they insist on such a visible separation, as must make it apparent to the world that they are not one. Internal sentiments of esteem are cognizable only by the Searcher of hearts; external indications are all that the world has to judge by ; and so far are they from exhibiting these, that they value themselves in maintaining such a position towards their fellow Christians as confounds them, in a very important point, with infidels and heathens. If a rent and division in the body is pregnant with so much scandal and offence as the Scriptures represent it; if the spirit of love and concord is the distinguishing badge of the Christian profession; it is surprising it has never occurred to them,
that by insisting on such a separation, as was unheard of in the primitive times, every approach to which is denounced in Scripture as a most serious evil; they are acting in direct opposition to the genius of the gospel, and the solemn injunctions of its inspired teachers. What degree of criminality may attach to such a procedure it is not for us to determine; but we have no hesitation in affirming, that it is most abhorrent from the intention of the Head of the church, and miserably compensated by that more correct view of the ordinance of baptism, which is alleged in its support. "Charity is the end of the commandment," "the fulfilling of the law;" and since the religion of Christ is not ceremonial, but vital, and consists less in correct opinions and ritual observances, than in these graces of the Spirit, which are the "hidden man of the heart," it deserves serious consideration, whether so palpable a violation of the unity of the church is not more offensive in the eyes of Him who "tries the hearts and the reins," than an involuntary mistake of a ceremonial precept.
Here we must be allowed once more to recur to the vain boast of a scrupulous adherence to the example of the Apostles, (the futility of which has, I trust, been sufficiently demonstrated,) and request our opponents to reflect for a moment on their essential deviation in this particular. Say, did the Apostles refuse the communion of good men? Did they set the example of dividing them into two classes, a qualified and a disqualified class; and while they acknowledged the latter were objects of the divine favor, equally with themselves, enjoin on their converts the duty of disowning them at the Lord's table? Are any traces to be discovered in the New Testament, of a society of Purists, who, under the pretence of superior illumination on one subject, kept themselves aloof from the Christian world, excluding from their communion myriads of those whom they believed to be heirs of salvation? Did they narrow their views of church fellowship, as Mr. Kinghorn avows is the case of the modern Baptists, to the purpose of holding up to view one neglected truth? On this plan, as many separate communions will be witnessed, as there are varieties of religious taste and predilection, while each fancies it perceives some neglected duty, or some truth not rendered sufficiently prominent, till almost every inquiry will give birth to some solitary and anti-social sect. The direct tendency of such a principle is not merely to annihilate the unity of the church, but to contract the heart, to narrow the understanding, and in the room of "holding forth the word of life," to invest every petty speculation and minute opinion with the dignity of a fundamental truth.
The revival or propagation of some one particular truth, being
the avowed object of their union, the members of such a society will almost inevitably attach to it an undue importance; and, as their attention will be chiefly directed towards that in which they differ from others, and in which they are conceived to excel, it will be a miracle if they escape a censorious, conceited, disputatious spirit. While their constitution is founded, not so much on a separation from the world, as from the church, they will be almost irresistibly tempted to transfer to the latter a large portion of the associations and feelings, of which the former is the proper object.
How refreshing is it to turn from these rigid and repulsive principles, to the contemplation of the generous maxims of the New Testament!"Him that is weak in the faith," says St. Paul, "receive ye, not to doubtful disputations;" (Rom. 14: 1;) and after illustrating his meaning, by adducing examples of various diversities of sentiment amongst his converts, he proceeds to inculcate the most perfect mutual toleration. It is observable, that the differences of opinion which he specifies related to the obligation of certain positive institutes, to which, though abrogated by the new dispensation, part of the church adhered, while its more enlightened members understood and embraced the liberty with which Christ had made them free. "We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.' A moment's attention to the connexion will convince the reader, that the term weak, in both these passages, denotes persons whose conceptions are erroneous; for the inspired writer is not adverting to the different degrees of conviction with which the same truths are embraced, but to a palpable difference of judgement. Thus far the case here decided, is precisely similar to that under present discussion our difference from the Pædobaptists turns on the nature and obligation of a positive institute. The error, of which St. Paul enjoined the toleration, consisted in adhering to certain ceremonies which had been abrogated; the error, with which we are concerned, consists in mistaking a ceremony which is still in force. Neither of the ancient, nor of the modern error is it pretended that they are fundamental, or that they endanger the salvation of those who hold them. Thus far they stand on the same footing, and the presumption is that they ought to be treated in the same manner. Before we come to this conclusion, however, it behooves us to examine the principle on which the Apostle enjoins toleration, and if this is applicable in its full extent to the case of our Pædobaptist brethren, no room is left for doubt. The principle plainly is, that the error in question was not of such magnitude as to preclude him who maintained it from the favor of God. "Let not him who eateth, despise him who eateth not; and let
not him who eateth not, judge him who eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand." In the same manner, in the next chapter of the same Epistle, after reminding the strong that it is their duty to bear the infirmities of the weak, he adds, "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also hath received us to the glory of the Father." If such is the reason assigned for mutual toleration, and it is acknowledged to be a sufficient one, which none can deny without impeaching the inspiration of the writer, it is as conclusive respecting the obligation of tolerating every error which is consistent with a state of salvation, as if that error had been mentioned by name; and as few, if any, are to be met with who doubt the piety of many Pædobaptists, it not only justifies their reception, but renders it an indispensable duty. Nothing can be more futile than the attempt to turn aside the edge of this reasoning, by remarking that there is no mention of baptism, and that this is not the subject of which St. Paul is treating, as though the Bible contained no general principles, no maxims of universal application, but that precise directions must be found for every possible emergence that in the lapse of ages may occur. Were it constructed upon this plan, the Bible must be infinitely more voluminous that the statutes at large. It is composed on one widely different: it gives general rules of action, broad principles, leaving them to be applied under the guidance of sound discretion; and wherever it has decided a doubtful question, accompanied with an express statement of the principle on which the decision is founded, such explanation has all the force of an apostolic canon, by which we are bound to regulate our conduct in all the variety of cases to which it applies. Hence we have only one alternative, either to deny that those who differ from us on the subject of baptism are accepted of God, or to receive them into fellowship, on exactly the same ground, and on the same principle, that Paul enjoined the toleration of sincere Christians.
Before I dismiss this part of the subject, on which the patience of the reader has been severely tasked, I must beg leave to notice a striking inconsistence in the advocates of strict communion. Nothing is more certain than that the communion of saints, is by no means confined to one particular occasion, or limited to one transaction, such as that of assembling around the Lord's table; it extends to all the modes by which believers recognize each other, as the members of a common head. Every expression of fraternal regard, every participation in the enjoyments of social worship, every instance of the unity of the Spirit exerted in prayer and supplication, or in acts of Christian sympathy and friendship,
as truly belongs to the communion of saints, as the celebration of the eucharist. In truth, if we are strangers to communion with our fellow Christians on other occasions, it is impossible for us to enjoy it there; for the mind is not a piece of mechanism which can be set agoing at pleasure, whose movements are obedient to the call of time and place. Nothing short of an habitual sympathy of spirit, springing from the cultivation of benevolent feeling, and the interchange of kind offices, will secure that reciprocal delight, that social pleasure, which is the soul of Christian communion. Its richest fruits are frequently reserved for private conference, like that in which the two disciples were engaged, in their way to Emmaus, when their hearts burned within them, while the Lord opened to them the Scriptures. When they take sweet counsel together, as they go to the house of God in company, when they bear each other's burdens, weep with those that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice; say, have Christians no mutual fellowship? Is it not surprising that, losing sight of such obvious facts, our opponents always reason on the subject of communion as though it related merely to the sacrament? In every other particular they act just as we do.
However our opponents may deviate from Scripture, let them at least be consistent with themselves, and either follow out their own principles to their just consequence, by withholding from the members of other denominations every token of fraternal regard, or freely admit them to the Lord's table. As the case stands at present, their mode of proceeding is utterly untenable. In a variety of instances, they indulge themselves in those acts of communion with Pædobaptists which are peculiar to Christians; they frequently make them their mouth in addressing the Deity; they exchange pulpits; and even engage their assistance in exercises intended as a preparation for the eucharist; and after lighting the flame of devotion at their torch, they most preposterously turn round to inform them, that they are not worthy to participate. It would be difficult to convince a stranger to our practice, that it were possible to be guilty of such an absurdity. Is the observance of an external rite, let me ask, a more solemn part of religion than addressing the Majesty of heaven and of earth? And shall we depute him to present our prayers at his footstool, who would defile a sacrament by his presence? Suppose them to relax from their rigor, and to admit pious Pædobaptists to their fellowship, to what would it amount? To nothing more than a public acknowledgement of their union to Christ, and their interest in his benefits; and as they fully acknowledge both, why scruple to do it at the table of their common Lord? Why select an ordinance designed for the commemoration of the dying love of the Redeem