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Christ. That such a description of persons should need to be converted by the Apostles, will easily be conceived, if we allow ourselves to reflect on the circumstances of the times. "He was a burning and a shining light," said our Lord, speaking of his forerunner," and ye were willing for a time to rejoice in his light." This implies that their attachment was transient, their repentance superficial, and that the greater part of such as appeared for awhile most determined to press into the kingdom of God, afterwards sunk into a state of apathy. The singular spectacle of a Prophet arising, after a long cessation of prophetical gifts, his severe sanctity, his bold and alarming address, coinciding with the general expectation of the Messiah, made a powerful impression on the spirits of men, and disposed them to pay a profound attention to his ministry; and from their attachment to every thing ritual and ceremonial, they would feel no hesitation in submitting to the ceremony he enjoined. But when the kingdom which they eagerly anticipated, appeared to be altogether of a spiritual nature, divested of secular pomp and grandeur, when the sublimer mysteries of the gospel began to be unfolded, and the necessity inculcated of eating the flesh, and drinking the blood, of the Son of Man, the people were offended, and even of the professed disciples of our Lord, many walked no more with him. A general declension succeeded, so that of the multitudes who once appeared to be much moved by his ministry, and that of his forerunner, the number which persevered was so inconsiderable, that all that could be mustered to witness his resurrection amounted to little more than five hundred, (1 Cor. 15: 6.) a number which may be considered as constituting the whole body of the church, till the day of Pen


The parable of the house forsaken for a time by an evil spirit, swept and garnished, to which he returned with seven more wicked than himself, it is generally admitted, was designed to represent this temporary reformation of the Jewish nation, together with its subsequent apostacy. The day of Pentecost changed the scene, the power of the ascended Saviour began to be developed ; and three thousand were converted at one time. Nor did it cease here; for soon after, we are informed of a great multitude of priests who became obedient to the faith; and at a subsequent period St. James reminds the Apostle of the Gentiles of many myriads of converted Jews, all zealous for the law.

Let me ask again, is it possible to suppose that none of these myriads consisted of such as had been baptized by John? Were they all, without exception, of that impious class which uniformly held his mission in contempt? It is impossible to suppose it; it is contradicted by the express testimony of Scripture, which af

firms two of the Apostles to have been his disciples and companions. (John 1: 35, 36, 37.) But if such as professed their faith in Christ, under the ministry of the Apostles, were baptized on that profession, without any consideration of their having been previously immersed by John, or not, what stronger proof can be desired, that the institutes in question were totally distinct. Were we satisfied with an argumentum ad hominem, with the sort of proof sufficient to silence our opponents, here the matter might safely rest. But independent of their concession, I must add, that it is manifest from the whole tenor of the Acts, that the baptismal rite was universally administered to the converts to Christianity subsequent to the day of Pentecost. Peter said unto them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you" it is added almost immediately, "Then they that gladly received his words were baptized."

It will possibly be asked, if the rite which the forerunner of our Lord administered is not to be considered as a Christian institute, to what dispensation are we to assign it, since it is manifestly no part of the economy of Moses. We reply, that it was the symbol of a peculiar dispensation, which was neither entirely legal or evangelical, but occupied an intermediate station, possessing something of the character and attributes of both; a kind of twilight, equally removed from the obscurity of the first, and the splendor of the last and perfect economy of religion. The law and the prophets were till John; his mission constituted a distinct era, and placed the nation to which he was sent, in circumstances materially different from their preceding or subsequent state. It was the era of preparation; it was a voice which, breaking through a long silence, announced the immediate approach of the desire of all nations, the messenger of the covenant, in whom they delighted. In announcing this event as at hand, and establishing a rite unknown to the law, expressive of that purity of heart, and reformation of life, which were the only suitable preparations for his reception, he stood alone, equally severed from the choir of the Prophets, and the company of the Apostles; and the light which he emitted, though it greatly surpassed every preceding illumination, was of short duration, being soon eclipsed and extinguished by that ineffable effulgence, before which nothing can retain its splendor.

The wisdom of God in the arrangement of successive dispensations, seems averse to sudden and violent innovations, rarely introducing new rites, without incorporating something of the old. As by the introduction of the Mosaic, the simple ritual of the patriarchal dispensation was not so properly abolished, as amplified and extended into a regular system of prefigurations of good things


to come, in which the worship by sacrifices, and the distinction of animals into clean and unclean, re-appeared under a new form; so the era of immediate preparation was distinguished by a ceremony not entirely new, but derived from the purifications of the law, applied to a special purpose. Our Lord incorporated the same rite into his religion, newly modified, and adapted to the peculiar views and objects of the Christian economy, in conjunction with another positive institution, the rudiments of which are perceptible in the passover. It seemed suitable to his wisdom, by such gentle gradations to conduct his church from an infantine state, to a state of maturity and perfection.

Before I dismiss this part of the subject, which has perhaps already detained the reader too long, I must beg leave to hazard one conjecture. Since it is manifest that the baptism of John did not supersede the Christian ordinance, they being perfectly distinct, it is natural to inquire, who baptized the Apostles, and the hundred and twenty disciples assembled with them at the day of Pentecost? My deliberate opinion is, that in the Christian sense of the term, they were not baptized at all. From the total silence of Scripture, and from other circumstances which might be adduced, it is difficult to suppose they submitted to that rite after our Saviour's resurrection; and previous to it, it has been sufficiently proved, that it was not in force. It is almost certain, that some, probably most of them, had been baptized by John, but for reasons which have been already amply assigned, this will not account for their not submitting to the Christian ordinance. The true account seems to be, that the precept of baptism had no retrospective bearing; and that, consequently, its obligation extended only to such as were converted to Christianity subsequently to the time of its promulgation. Such as had professed their faith in Christ from the period of his first manifestation, could not, without palpable incongruity, recommence that profession, which would have been to cancel and annul their former religious pretensions. With what propriety could the Apostles of the Lord, who had continued with him in his temptations, place themselves on a level with that multitude, which however penitent at present, had recently demanded his blood with clamorous importunity? not to insist that they had already received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, of which the sacramental use of water was but a figure. They were not converted to the Christian religion subsequently to their Lord's resurrection, nor did the avowal of their attachment to the Messiah, commence from that period, and therefore, they were not comprehended under the baptismal law, which was propounded for the regulation of the conduct of persons in essentially different circumstances. When St. Paul says, as many of us as

* The principal part of these consisted in bathing the body in water.

were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, his language seems to intimate, that there was a class of Christians, to whom this argument did not apply. (Rom. 6: 3.)

Having proved, I trust, to the satisfaction of the candid reader, that baptism, considered as a Christian institution, had no existence during the personal ministry of our Saviour,* the plea of our opponents, founded on the supposed priority of that ordinance to the Lord's supper, is completely overruled; whatever weight it might possess, supposing it were valid, must be wholly transferred to the opposite side, and it must be acknowledged, either that they have reasoned inconclusively, or have produced a demonstration in our favor. It now appears that the original communicants at the Lord's table, at the time they partook of it, were with respect to the Christian baptism, precisely in the same situation with the persons they exclude.


The argument for strict communion, from the order of words in the apostolic commission considered.

The commission which the Apostles received after our Lord's resurrection, was in the following words :-" All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you." From baptism being mentioned first after teaching, it is urged that it ought invariably to be administered immediately after effectual instruction is imparted, and consequently before an approach to the Lord's table. Whence it is concluded that to communicate with such as are unbaptized, is a violation of divine order.t

* Mr. Hall answers the objection which may be brought against this hypothesis from the fact that the disciples of Christ baptized during his ministry, (John 4: 1) in the postscript at the end of this treatise.-Ed.

"Teach," says Mr. Booth, "is the high commission, and such the express command of him who is Lord of all, when addressing those who are called to preach his word, and administer his institutions. Hence, it is manifest, the commission and command are first of all to teach; what then?-to baptize? or to administer the Lord's supper? I leave common sense to judge, and being persuaded that she will give her verdict in my favor, I will venture to add, a limited commission implies a prohibition of such things as are not contained in it; and positive laws imply their negative.

For instance, when God commanded Abraham to circumcise all his males, he readily concluded that neither circumcision, nor any rite of a similar nature, was to be administered to his females. And as our brethren themselves maintain, when Christ commanded believers should be baptized, without mentioning any others, he tacitly prohibited that ordinance from being administered to in

It may assist the reader to form a judgement of the force of the argument adduced on this occasion, if we reduce it to the following syllogism:

The persons who are to be taught to observe all things given in charge to the Apostle, are the baptized alone.

But the Lord's supper is one of these things.

Therefore, the ordinance of the Lord's supper, ought to be enjoined on the baptized alone.

Here it is obvious, that the conclusion rests entirely upon this principle, that nothing which the Apostles were commissioned to enjoin on believers, is to be recommended to the attention of persons not baptized; since, as far as this argument is concerned, the observation of the Lord's supper is supposed not to belong to them, merely because it forms a part of those precepts. It is obvious, if the reasoning of our opponents be valid, it militates irresistibly against the inculcation of every branch of Christian duty, on persons who in their judgement have not partaken of the baptismal sacrament: it excludes them not merely from the Lord's supper, but from every species of instruction appropriate to Christians; nor can they exhort Pædobaptists to walk worthy of their high calling, to adorn their Christian profession, to cultivate brotherly love, or to the performance of any duty resulting from their actual relation to Christ, without a palpable violation of their own principles. In all such instances, they would be teaching them to observe injunctions which Christ gave in charge to the Apostles for the regulation of Christian conduct, while they deem it necessary to repel them from the sacrament, merely on account of its forming a part of those injunctions. Nor can they avoid the force of this reasoning, by objecting that though it may be their duty to enjoin on unbaptized believers some parts of the mind of Christ respecting the conduct of his mystical members, it will not follow that they are to be admitted to the Lord's table; and that their meaning is, that it is only subsequently to baptism, that all things ought to be enforced on the consciences of Christians. For if it be once admitted that the clause on which so much stress is laid, is not to be interpreted so as absolutely to exclude unbaptized Christians from the whole of its import, to what purpose is it alleged against their admission to the eucharist? or how does it appear that this may not be one of the parts in which they are comprehended?

fants; so by parity of reason, if the same sovereign Lord commanded that believers should be baptized-baptized immediately after they made a profession of faith, then he must intend that the administration of baptism should be prior to a reception of the Lord's supper, and, consequently, tacitly prohibits every unbaptized person having communion at his table."-Booth's Apol. p. 34.

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