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other supposition, instead of the inspired writings at large, being regarded as the universal rule of faith and practice, each church would have possessed a distinct code. Hence it follows that the seven churches of Asia, as well as those who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia, supposing them acquainted with the Epistle to the Romans, would have been under the same obligation of observing its injunctions, with the Christians at Rome. But among the various precepts, intended to regulate the conduct of Christians, comprised in the code of inspiration, such as enjoin mutual forbearance with each other's imperfections and infirmities, hold a conspicuous place, and the rule propounded on that occasion, we perceive to have been universally obligatory on believers of that generation.
When we propose to extend the same method of proceeding to our Pædobaptist brethren, in the present day, we are repelled; and my opponent reminds us that we are not authorized to assign, in the present case, the reason for forbearance which was urged by St. Paul, because they are not received in the sense which he intended. The reason itself, he acknowledges, would be a sufficient justification, could the fact on which it proceeds be established; but he denies the fact.
Their error, it is asserted, is of such a nature, that it places them totally out of the question, and whatever is said on the subject of mutual forbearance in the New Testament is, in the present state of things, to be considered as applicable merely to the conduct of Baptists toward each other; from which it necessarily follows, that no part of the precepts or promises of Scripture can be proved to apply to the great body of believers, at present, not even to such as appear preeminent in piety; for all these precepts and promises were originally addressed precisely to the same description of persons, with the injunctions in question; and as it is contended that these belong at present only to Baptists, by parity of reason the former must be restricted to the same limits. On this principle, there is not a syllable in the New Testament, from which a Pædobaptist can derive either consolation or direction as a Christian; not a single promise which he can claim, nor a single duty resulting from the Christian calling, with which he is concerned; for the class of persons to whom these were originally addressed, was one and the same with those on whom the duty of mutual forbearance was inculcated.
The inscription of the Epistle to the Romans is of the same extent with the injunctions contained in the 14th and 15th chapters, and no greater; the same description of persons are evidently addressed throughout; it was the saints, the beloved of God, mentioned in the beginning of the letter, who on account of their com
mon relation to the Lord, were commanded to bear with each other's infirmities. Now if it be asserted that infant baptism is an error so different from those which were contemplated by the author, in that injunction; that its abettors stand excluded from its benefit, how will it be possible to prove that they are saints, that they are beloved of God, or that any of the attributes ascribed to Christians in that epistle, belongs to them. Mr. Kinghorn may affirm, if he pleases, that the characteristic descriptions are applicable, while the injunctions under discussion are not. He may affirm, but how will he prove it, since both are addressed to the same persons, and the injunction of forbearance enjoined alike on them all.
From a letter, consisting partly of affectionate congratulations, and partly of serious advice, both intended for the comfort and direction of the same persons, to infer that the congratulations apply to Christians of all denominations, and the advice to one only, is capricious and unreasonable. The same conclusion holds good, respecting the whole of the New Testament. Whatever is affirmed in any part of it, respecting the privilege of primitive believers, was asserted primarily of such only as were baptized, because there were no others originally in the church; all the reciprocal duties of Christians were in the first instance enjoined on these; among which we find precepts enforcing without a shadow of limitation the duty of cultivating Christian fellowship. But the last, our opponents contend, are to be restricted to Baptists; whence it necessarily follows, unless we had some independent evidence on the subject, that the former must be restricted in the same manner; and that consequently all other denominations, however excellent in other respects, are left without any scriptural proof of their interest in the divine favor, or any directions for that part of their conduct which concerns their Christian obligations. Were there indeed any other medium of proof, besides the writings of the Apostles, of equal authority, by which it were possible to supply their deficiency, the case would be different; from this independent source, we might possibly learn the fact, that other denominations also were included within the promise of eternal life; but while our knowledge on the subject is derived from one book, whose precepts for the regulation of the conduct of believers towards each other universally, are affirmed not to extend to our intercourse with Pædobaptists, it is impossible to establish that conclusion; for to attempt to limit the application of Scripture in one part, and to make it universal in another, where both were originally intended to be taken in the same extent, is plainly unreasonable.
On the argument for mixed communion, founded on the Pædobaptists being a part of the true church.
THE author of "Terms of Communion" founded an argument for the admission of sincere Christians of every denomination, to the Lord's table, on their being a part of the true church. He remarked that whenever that term occurs in Scripture, in relation to spiritual matters, it constantly denotes, either members of a particular community, accustomed to meet in one place; or the whole body of real believers, dispersed throughout the world, but considered as united to one head; that this body, is expressly affirmed to be the body of Christ, of which every genuine believer is a member; that we are seriously warned against whatever tends to promote a schism in it; and that these admonitions are directly repugnant to the practice, under any pretext whatever, of repelling a sincere Christian from communion. If we allow the identity of the church of Christ with his body, which St. Paul expressly affirms, and which he assumes as the basis of his whole train of reasoning, the conclusion we have drawn, results from it so immediately, that the attempt to place it in a clearer light, seems a waste of words. If the alienation of affection which prevailed in the church at Corinth, was sufficient to constitute a schism, much more a rupture of communion. But a schism or division in the body, the Apostle deprecates as one of the greatest evils, as tending immediately to its destruction, as well as most repugnant to the scope and genius of Christianity. "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?" (1 Cor. 1: 12, 13.) "As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." Here the unity of the church is most clearly affirmed; and whatever tends to divide it, is stigmatized under the notion of an attempt to divide Christ himself.
The reader will probably feel some curiosity to know, how Mr. Kinghorn will reconcile his hypothesis, with these statements; whether he is prepared, in contradiction to the Apostle, to deny the identity of the Church of Christ with his body, or whether acknowledging this, he will yet contend for the necessity of dividing it, in opposition to his solemn injunctions. He will be a little sur
prised at finding that he makes no reply whatever, that he is speechless, and without attempting to rebut the argument, turns aside to other subjects, on which he contents himself with repeating what he has already asserted, times without number. For what purpose he announced his intention to discuss this topic, it is not easy to conjecture; unless he flattered himself with the hope of finding some good natured readers, who would give him credit for having done, what he avowed his intention of performing. Be this as it may, not a word escapes him throughout the chapter, from which it is possible to learn, whether he considers Pædobaptists as a part of the church, or not; the affirmation, or denial of which, is essentially involved in the discussion.
The only answer he attempts to the preceding reasoning is included in an assertion, the fallacy of which, has already been amply exposed. "Once take away the obligation," saith he, "of conforming to the will of Christ, and the Reformation is declared a mischievous insurrection, in which all parties are involved, in aiding and abetting a needless and schismatical project. But if it be right to leave good men, because they have left Jesus Christ, it is right not to admit them till they come to his terms." (Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 55.) To which it is sufficient to reply, that to leave good men, that is, to refuse to join with them in those particulars, in which we suppose them to have deviated from the will of Christ, is the necessary dictate of allegiance; but to refuse to walk with them as far as we are agreed, to repel them from our communion, on account of errors and corruptions, in which we are under no necessity of participating, is a very different affair; it is an assumption of infallibility, and a deliberate invasion of the rights of conscience.
The logical force of Mr. Kinghorn's reasoning, is exactly on a footing with that of the following argument. If it be right to leave my friend when he repairs to the gaming table, it is right not to admit him into my house, till he has relinquished the practice of gaming. If I must not go with him to the theatre, I must renounce all sort of intercourse with him, until he has abandoned theatrical amusements; a conclusion to which a stern moralist may easily be supposed to arrive, but which no correct reasoner will attempt to deduce from these premises.
That the mystical body of Christ is one and one only, and that all sincere believers are members of that body, is so clearly and unequivocally asserted in the sacred Scriptures, that it would be trifling with the reader to enter into a formal proof of a proposition, so obvious and so undeniable. The wildest heretical extravagance has never proceeded so far, as to ascribe two or more mystical bodies to the same Head, or to deny that Christ is in that charac
ter really and virtually united to all the faithful. It is equally certain that the term church, whenever it is applied to denote the whole number of believers diffused over the face of the earth, is identified in Scripture with the body of Christ. The church is in more passages than one affirmed to be his body. "He is the head of the body, the Church." "Who now rejoice," saith St. Paul, "in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church." (Colos. 1: 10, 24. Eph. 5: 23, 30, 32. 1 John 3: 19, 20.)
In the language of Scripture, two classes of men only are recognized, believers and unbelievers, the church and the world; nor is it possible to conceive, in consistency with the dictates of inspiration, of a third. All who are in Christ are in a state of salvation; all who belong to the world, in a state of spiritual death and condemnation. "The former are in him that is true, even in his son Jesus Christ; the latter, the whole world, lieth in the wicked one." If we allow ourselves to imagine a description of persons, who though truly sanctified in Christ and united to him as their Head, are yet no parts of his church, we adopt a Utopian theory, as unfounded and extravagant as the boldest fictions of romance. It is the church, and that only, if we believe the inspired writers, which "Christ so loved as to give himself for it, that he might sanctify it and cleanse it; it is that alone, which he will present to himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle." (Eph. 5: 27.)
It is strange that Mr. Kinghorn should not explicitly inform us, whether Pædobaptists are, or are not, to be considered as a part of this universal Church. This he ought certainly to have done, or have declined entering on a branch of the controversy, which he must be aware, hinges entirely on that point. If they are admitted to be a part of his church, and he still contends for their exclusion, this is formally to plead for a schism in the body; it is to justify the forcible separation of one member from another, and to destroy the very idea of its unity. On this principle, the pathetic exhortations to perfect cooperation, and concord, drawn from the beautiful analogy betwixt the mystical and natural body, insisted upon in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, are completely superseded; and one member instead of being prohibited from saying to another, "I have no need of thee," is taught to shrink from its contact, as a contamination. Whenever we are invited to concur in practices, which we esteem erroneous, or corrupt, our refusal to comply is justified by a principle the most obvious, and the most urgent, the previous obligation of obeying God, rather than man; but if we object to a transient act of communion, with a member of the body of Christ, on account of those er