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duct is obligatory, and that this is the order in which they are recommended to our attention. But will it be contended, that he who has neglected the first, ought not to perform the second; or, that he who has failed in the second, ought to omit the third? To such an absurd pretence we should immediately reply that they are all independently obligatory, as respective dictates of the divine will; and that for him who has violated one of them, to urge his past delinquencies as an apology for the present, would only prove an aggravation of his guilt. It is true, that some duties are so situated, as parts or appendages of preceding ones, that their obligation may be said to result from them; as for example, the duty of confessing Christ before men arises from the previous duty of believing on him, and that of joining a Christian society presupposes the obligation of becoming a Christian. In such cases, however, as the connexion betwixt the respective branches of practice is founded on the nature of things, it is easily perceived, and rarely, if ever, the subject of controversy. In a series of positive precepts, this principle has no place; as they originate merely in arbitrary appointment, their mutual relation can only be the result of clear and express command, and as reason could never have discovered their obligation, so it is as little able to ascertain their intrinsic connexion and dependance, which, wherever it subsists, must be the effect of the same positive prescription which gave them birth. It cannot be pretended, that an unbaptized believer is intrinsically disqualified for a suitable attendance at the Lord's table, or that it is so essentially connected with baptism, as to render the act of communion, in itself, absurd or improper. The communion has no retrospective reference to baptism, nor is baptism an anticipation of communion. Enjoined at different times, and appointed for different purposes, they are capable, without the least inconvenience, of being contemplated apart; and on no occasion are they mentioned in such a connexion, as to imply, much less to assert, that the one is enjoined with a view to the other. Such a connexion, we acknowledge, subsisted between the rites of circumcision and the passover; and all we demand of the advocates of strict communion is, that instead of amusing us with fanciful analogies drawn from an antiquated law, they would point us to some clause in the New Testament, which asserts a similar relation betwixt baptism and the Lord's supper. But here, where the very hinge of the controversy turns, the Scriptures are silent. They direct us to be baptized, and they direct us to commemorate the Saviour's death, but not a syllable do they utter to inform us of the inseparable connexion betwixt these two ordinances. This deficiency is ill supplied by fervid declamation on the perspicuity of our Lord's commission, and the inexcusable inattention or pre

judice which has led to a misconception of its meaning; for let the persons whom these charges may concern be as guilty as they may, since they are still acknowledged to be Christians, the question returns, why are they debarred from the communion of saints, and while entitled to all other spiritual privileges, supposed to be incapacitated from partaking of the symbols of a crucified Saviour. How came the deteriorating effects of their error respecting baptism, to affect them but in one point, that of their eligibility as candidates for communion, without spreading farther? That it just amounts to a forfeiture of this privilege, and of no other, is a conclusion to which, as it is certain it cannot be established by reason, we ask to be conducted by revelation; and we intreat our opponents for information on that head again and again, but intreat in vain.

Were we to judge from the ardent attachment which the abettors of strict communion, on all occasions, profess to the positive institutes of the gospel, we should suppose, that the object of their efforts was to raise them to their just estimation, and to rescue them from desuetude and neglect. We should conjecture that they arose from a solicitude to revive certain practices which had prevailed in the purest ages of the church, but were afterwards laid aside, just as the ordinance of preaching was, during the triumph of the Papacy, almost consigned to oblivion; and that the consequence of complying with their suggestions, would be a more complete exhibition of Christianity in all its parts. But their zeal operates in quite a contrary direction. The success of their scheme tends not to extend the practice of baptism, no, not in a single instance, but merely to exclude the Lord's supper. Leaving the former appointment unaltered and untouched, it merely proposes to abolish the latter; and as far as it is practicable, to lay the Christian world under an interdict. The real state of the case is as follows:-On the subject of baptism, and particularly whether it is applicable to infants, opinions are divided, and the majority have come, as we conceive, to an erroneous conclusion. How do they propose to remedy this evil? By throwing all manner of obstacles in the way of an approach to the Lord's table, and as far as their power extends, rendering it impracticable, by clogging it with a condition at which conscience revolts. They propose to punish men for the involuntary neglect of one ordinance, by compelling them to abandon the other; and because they are uneasy at perceiving them perform but one half of their duty, oblige them, as far as lies in their power, to omit the whole. I must confess, I feel no partiality for those violent remedies, which under the pretence of reforming, destroy; or for that passion for order which would rather witness the entire desolation of

the sanctuary, than a defalcation of its rites; and in spite of all the efforts of sophistry, I must be permitted to believe, that our Lord's express injunction on his followers, "Do this in remembrance of me," is a better reason for the celebration of the communion than can be adduced for its neglect.


The argument from apostolical precedent, and from the different significations of the two institutions, considered.

In vindication of their practice, our opponents are wont to urge the order of administration in the primitive and apostolic practice. They remind us that the members of the primitive church were universally baptized; that if we acknowledge its constitution in that respect to be expressive of the mind of Christ, we are bound to follow that precedent, and that to deviate from it in this particular is virtually to impeach either the wisdom of our Lord, or the fidelity of his Apostles.*

With respect to the universality of the practice of Christian baptism, having already stated our views, it is not necessary to repeat what has already been advanced, or to recapitulate the reasons on which we found our opinion, that it was not extended to such as were converted previous to our Lord's resurrection. Subsequently to that period, we admit, without hesitation, that the converts to the Christian faith submitted to that ordinance, prior to their reception into the Christian church. As little are we disposed to deny, that it is at present the duty of the sincere believer to follow their example, and that, supposing him to be clearly convinced of the nature and import of baptism, he would be guilty of a criminal irregularity who neglected to attend to it, previous to his entering into Christian fellowship. On the obligation of both the positive rites enjoined in the New Testament, and the prior claim of baptism to the attention of such as are properly enlightened on the subject, we have no dispute. All we contend for is, that they do not so depend one upon the other, that the conscientious omission

"The order of administration," says Mr. Booth, "in the primitive and apostolic practice, now demands our notice. That the Apostles, when endued with power from on high, understood our Lord in the sense for which we plead, and practised accordingly, is quite evident. Then they that gladly received his word were, what? admitted to the Lord's table? No, but baptized :-And the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls; and they continued stedfast in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer. If our brethren do not look upon the apostolic precedent as expressive of the mind of Christ, and as a pattern for future imitation, to the end of the world, they must consider the Apostles as either ignorant of our Lord's will, or as unfaithful in the performance of it."--Booth's Apol. pp. 47, 48.

of the first, forfeits the privilege, or cancels the duty, of observing the second; nor are we able to perceive, that what in the present instance is styled apostolic precedent, at all decides the question. To attempt to determine under what circumstances the highest precedent possesses the form of law, involves a difficult and delicate inquiry; for while it is acknowledged that much deference is due to primitive example, there were certain usages in apostolical times, which few would attempt to revive. There is one general rule, however, applicable to the subject, which is, that no matter of fact is entitled to be considered as an authoritative precedent, which necessarily arose out of existing circumstances, so that in the then present state of things, it could not fail to have occurred. The foundation of this rule is obvious. Nothing is of the nature of law, but what emanates from the will of the legislator; but when a particular fact, recorded in an historical narration, is so situated, that the contrary would have appeared incongruous or absurd; in other words, when it could not fail to be the result of previous occurrences, such a fact is destitute of the essential characteristic of a law; it has no apparent dependance upon a superior will.

Hence many practices occur in the history of the apostolic transactions, which it is universally admitted we are not obliged to imitate. It is an unquestionable fact, that the eucharist was first celebrated with unleavened bread, on the evening, in an upper room, and to the Jews only; but as we distinctly perceive, that these particulars originated in the peculiar circumstances of the time, we are far from considering them as binding. On the same principle we account for the members of the primitive church consisting only of such as were baptized, without erecting that circumstance into an invariable rule of action. When we recollect, that no error or mistake subsisted, or could subsist, among Christians at that period, we are compelled to regard it as the necessary consequence of the state of opinions then prevalent. While all the faithful concurred in their interpretation of the law which enjoins it, how is it possible to suppose it neglected? or whence could rebaptized communicants have been drawn? Is this circumstance, to which so much importance is attached, of such a nature, that no account can be given of it, but upon the principle of our opponents? or is it the necessary consequence of the then actual situation of the church? If the latter be admitted, it ceases for the reason already alleged, to be a precedent, or a rule for the direction of future times.

We are willing to go a step further, and to acknowledge that he who, convinced of the divine origin of Christianity by the ministry of the Apostles, had refused to be baptized, would at that period

have been justly debarred from receiving the sacramental elements. While the Apostles were yet living, and daily exemplifying the import of their commission before the eyes of the people, it would have been impossible to pretend ignorance, nor could that sincerity fail to be suspected, which was not accompanied with an implicit submission to their authority.

"He that receiveth you," said our Lord, "receiveth me; he that rejecteth you, rejecteth me." Agreeably to which, we find that the disciple whom Jesus loved, did not scruple to use the following language; "By this ye know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error; he that is of God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us." Such a conduct was perfectly proper. As there can be but two guides in religion, reason and authority, and every man must form his belief, either by following the light of his own mind, or the information and instruction he derives from others, so it is equally evident it is only by the last of these methods, that the benefit of a new revelation can be diffused. Either we must suppose an infinite multitude of miracles performed on the minds of individuals to convey the knowledge of supernatural truths, or that one or more are thus preternaturally enlightened, and invested with a commission to speak in the name of God to others; endowed at the same time with such peculiar powers, such a control over nature, or such a foresight of future contingencies, as shall be sufficient to accredit or establish his mission.

He who refuses to submit to the guidance of persons thus attested and accredited, must be considered as virtually renouncing the revelation imparted, and as the necessary consequence, forfeiting his interest in its blessings. On these grounds, it is not difficult to perceive, that a primitive convert, or rather pretended convert, who without doubting, that baptism, in the way in which we practise it, formed a part of the apostolic commission, had refused compliance, would have been deemed unworthy Christian communion, not on account of any specific connexion betwixt the two ordinances, but on account of his evincing a spirit totally repugnant to the mind of Christ. By rejecting the only authority established upon earth for the direction of conscience, and the termination of doubts and controversies, he would, undoubtedly, have been repelled as a contumacious schismatic. But what imaginable resemblance is there betwixt such a mode of procedure, and the conduct of our Pædobaptist brethren, who oppose no legitimate authority, impeach no part of the apostolic testimony, but mistaking (in our judgement at least) its import in one particular, decline a practice, which many of them would be the first to comply with, were they once convinced it was the dictate of duty, and the will of heaven. In the one case, we perceive open rebellion, in the

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