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with as much confidence, as though it were amongst the plainest and most undeniable dictates of revelation.*

To such a height has this animosity been carried, that there are not wanting persons, who seem anxious to revive the recolleclection of Munster, and by republishing the narrative of the enormities perpetrated there, under the title of the History of the Baptists, to implicate us in the infamy and guilt of those transactions. While we must reprobate such a spirit, we are compelled to acknowledge that the practice of exclusive communion is admirably adapted to excite it, in minds of a certain order.

That practice is not less objectionable on another ground. By discouraging Pædobaptists from frequenting our assemblies, it militates against the most effectual means of diffusing the sentiments which we consider most consonant to the sacred oracles. It cannot be expected, that pious worshippers will attend, except from absolute necessity, where they are detained, if we may so speak, in the courts of the Gentiles, and denied access to the interior privileges of the sanctuary.

The congregations accordingly, where this practice prevails, are almost entirely composed of persons of our own persuasion, who are so far from requiring an additional stimulus, that it is much oftener necessary to restrain than to excite their ardor; while the

Campbell, speaking of the authors of the vulgate version, observes"Some words they have transferred from the original into their language; others they have translated. But it would not be always easy to find their reason for making this difference. Thus the word лqitoun they have translated circumcisio, which exactly corresponds in etymology; but the word Banrioua they have retained, changing only the letters from Greek to Roman. Yet the latter was just as susceptible of a literal version into Latin as the former. Immersio, tinctio, answers as exactly in one case, as circumcisio in the other." A little after he observes-"I should think the word immersion (which though of Latin origin, is an English noun, regularly formed from the word to immerse,) a better English name than baptism, were we now at liberty to make a choice; but we are not."-Preliminary Dissertations to the Translation of the Gospels, pp. 354, 355, 4to ed.- -He elsewhere mentions it as one of the strongest instances of prejudice, that he has known some persons of piety who have denied, that the word baptize signifies to immerse.

With respect to the subject, it is worthy of observation, that the authors of the celebrated scheme of Popish doctrine and discipline called the Interim, enumerate the baptism of infants among traditions, and that in the most emphatic manner. For having stated that the church has two rules of faith, Scripture and tradition, they observe, after treating of the first, "ecclesia habet quoque traditiones, inter alia baptismus parvulorum," &c. They mention, however, no other, from whence it is natural to infer, that they considered this as the strongest instance of that species of rules. The total silence of Scripture has induced not a few of the most illustrious scholars to consider infant baptism not of divine right; amongst whom, were we disposed to boast of great names, we might mention Salmasius, Suicer, and, above all, Sir Isaac Newton, who, if we may believe the honest Whiston, frequently declared to him his conviction that the Baptists were the only Christians who had not symbolized with the church of Rome.-See Whiston's Memoirs of his own Life.

only description of persons who could be possibly benefitted by instruction, are out of its reach; compelled by this intolerable practice to join societies, where they will hear nothing but what is adapted to confirm them in their ancient prejudices. Thus an impassable barrier is erected betwixt the Baptists and other denominations, in consequence of which, few opportunities are afforded of trying the effect of calm and serious argumentation, in situations where alone it could prove effectual. In those Baptist churches in which an opposite plan has been adopted, the attendance of such as are not of our sentiments meeting with no discour agement, is often extensive; Baptists and Pædobaptists, by participating in the same privileges, become closely united in the ties of friendship; of which the effect is uniformly found to be a perpetual increase in the number of the former, compared to the latter, till in some societies the opposite sentiments have nearly subsided and disappeared.

Nor is this more than might be expected from the nature of things, supposing us to have truth on our side. For admitting this to be the case, what can give permanence to the sentiments to which we are opposed, except a recumbent indolence, or an active prejudice; and is it not evident, that the practice of exclusive communion has the strongest tendency to foster both these evils, the former by withdrawing, I might say repelling, the erroneous from the best means of instruction, the latter by the apparent harshness and severity of such a proceeding. It is not by keeping at a distance from mankind, that we must expect to acquire an ascendancy over them, but by approaching, by conciliating them, and securing a passage to their understanding through the medium of their hearts. Truth will glide into the mind through the channel of the affections, which, were it to approach in the naked majesty of evidence, would meet with a certain repulse.

Betraying a total ignorance or forgetfulness of these indubitable facts, what is the conduct of our opponents? They assume a menacing aspect, proclaim themselves the only true church, and assert, that they alone are entitled to the Christian sacraments. None are alarmed at this language, none are induced to submit, but turning with a smile or a frown to gentler leaders, they leave us to triumph without a combat, and to dispute without an


If we consider the way in which men are led to form just conclusions on the principal subjects of controversy, we shall not often find, that it is the fruit of an independent effort of mind, determined to search for truth in her most hidden recesses, and discover her under every disguise. The number of such elevated spirits is small; and though evidence is the only source of ration

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al conviction, a variety of favorable circumstances usually contribute to bring it into contact with the mind, such as frequent intercourse, a favorable disposition towards the party which maintains it, habits of deference and respect, and gratitude for benefits received. The practice of confining the communion to our own denomination, seems studiously contrived to preclude us from these advantages, and to transfer them to the opposite side.

The policy of intolerance is exactly proportioned to the capacity of inspiring fear. The Church of Rome for many ages practised it, with infinite advantage, because she possessed ample means of intimidation. Her pride grew with her success, her intolerance with her pride; and she did not aspire to the lofty pretension of being the only true church till she saw monarchs at her feet, and held kingdoms in chains; till she was flushed with victory, giddy with her elevation, and drunk with the blood of the saints. But what was policy in her, would be the height of infatuation in us, who are neither entitled by our situation, nor by our crimes, to aspire to this guilty preeminence. I am fully persuaded, that few of our brethren have duly reflected on the strong resemblance which subsists betwixt the pretensions of the Church of Rome, and the principles implied in strict communion; both equally intolerant, the one armed with pains and penalties, the other, I trust, disdaining such aid; the one the intolerance of power, the other of weakness.

From a full conviction that our views, as a denomination, correspond with the dictates of Scripture, it is impossible for me to entertain a doubt of their ultimate prevalence; but unless we retrace our steps, and cultivate a cordial union with our fellowChristians, I greatly question whether their success will in any degree be ascribable to our efforts. It is much more probable, that the light will arise in another quarter, from persons by whom we are unknown, but who, in consequence of an unction from the Holy One, are led to examine the Scripture with perfect impartiality, and in the ardor of their pursuit after truth, alike to overlook the misconduct of those who have opposed, and of those who have maintained it.

Happily, the final triumph of truth is not dependent on human modes of exhibition. Man is the recipient, not the author of it; it partakes of the nature of the Deity; it is His offspring, its indissoluble relation to whom is a surer pledge of its perpetuity and support, than finite power or policy. While we are at a certainty respecting the final issue, "the times and the seasons God hath put in his own power;" nor are we ever more liable to err, than when in surveying the purposes of God, we descend from the elevation of general views, to a minute specification of times and in

struments. How long the ordinance of baptism, in its purity and simplicity, may be doomed to neglect, it is not for us to conjecture; but of this we are fully persuaded, it will never be generally restored to the church through the medium of a party. This mode of procedure has been already sufficiently tried, and is found utterly ineffectual.

The labor bestowed upon these sheets has not arisen from an indifference to the interests of truth, but from a sincere wish to promote them, by disengaging it from the unnatural confinement in which it has been detained by the injudicious conduct of its advocates. How far the reasoning adduced, or the spirit displayed on this subject, is entitled to approbation, must be left to the judgement of the religious public. If any offence has been given by the appearance of unbecoming severity, it will give me real concern; and the more so, because there are not a few amongst our professed opponents in this controversy, to whom I look up with undissembled esteem and veneration.

Having omitted nothing which appeared essentially connected with the subject, I hasten to close this disquisition; previously to which, it may not be improper briefly to recall the attention to the principal topics of argument. We have endeavored to shew that the practice of strict communion derives no support from the supposed priority of baptism to the Lord's supper in the order of institution, which order is exactly the reverse; that it is not countenanced by the tenor of the Apostle's commission, nor by apostolic precedent, the spirit of which is in our favor, proceeding on principles totally dissimilar to the case under discussion; that the opposite practice is enforced by the obligations of Christian charity; that it is indubitably comprehended within the canon which enjoins forbearance towards mistaken brethren; that the system of our opponents unchurches every Pædobaptist community; that it rests on no general principle; that it attempts to establish an impossible medium; that it inflicts a punishment which is capricious and unjust; and finally, that by fomenting prejudice, and precluding the most effectual means of conviction, it defeats its own purpose.

Should the reasoning under any one of these heads be found to be conclusive, however it may fail in others, it will go far towards establishing our leading position, that no church has a right to establish terms of communion, which are not terms of salvation. With high consideration for the talents of many of my brethren who differ from me, I have yet no apprehension that the sum total of the argument admits a satisfactory reply.

A tender consideration of human imperfection is not merely the dictate of revelation, but the law of nature, exemplified in the most

striking manner, in the conduct of Him whom we all profess to follow. How wide the interval which separated His religious knowledge and attainments from that of His disciples; He, the fountain of illumination, they encompassed with infirmities. But did He recede from them on that account? No; He drew the bond of union closer, imparted successive streams of effulgence, till He incorporated His spirit with theirs, and elevated them into a nearer resemblance of himself. In imitating by our conduct towards our mistaken brethren this great exemplar, we cannot err. By walking together with them as far as we are agreed, our agreement will extend, our differences lessen, and love, which rejoiceth in the truth, will gradually open our hearts to higher and nobler inspirations.

Might we indulge a hope, that not only our denomination, but every other description of Christians, would act upon these principles, we should hail the dawn of a brighter day, and consider it as a nearer approach to the ultimate triumph of the church, than the annals of time have yet recorded. In the accomplishment of our Saviour's prayer, we should behold a demonstration of the divinity of His mission, which the most impious could not resist; we should behold in the church a peaceful haven, inviting us to retire from the tossings and perils of this unquiet ocean, to a sacred inclosure, a sequestered spot, which the storms and tempests of the world were not permitted to invade.

"Intus aquæ dulces, vivoque sedilia saxo;
Nympharum domus; hic fessas non vincula naves
Ulla tenent, unco non alligat anchora morsu."


The genius of the gospel, let it once for all be remembered, is not ceremonial, but spiritual, consisting not in meats or drinks, or outward observances, but in the cultivation of such interior graces, as compose the essence of virtue, perfect the character, and purify the heart. These form the soul of religion; all the rest are but her terrestrial attire, which she will lay aside when she passes the threshold of eternity. When, therefore, the obligations of humility and love come into competition with a punctual observance of external rites, the genius of religion will easily determine to which we should incline; but when the question is not, whether we shall attend to them ourselves, but whether we shall enforce them on others, the answer is still more ready. All attempts to urge men forward even in the right path, beyond the measure of their light, are impracticable in our situation, if they were lawful; and unlawful, if they were practicable. Augment their light, conciliate their affections, and they will follow of their own accord.

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