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It is claimed, too, by our Baptist brethren, that there were many of their sentiments previous to the reformation from Popery, but that they mingled promiscuously with the other pious dissenters, and were closely concealed from the eyes of their persecutors. Thus it is said by Benedict, in his history of the Baptists, that “ before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the doctrine which the Waldenses, Wickliffites, and Hussites had maintained. These concealed Christians," he adds, “we have good reasons for believing, were MOSTLY Baptists.” And Crosby says that, previous to the year 1633, the Baptists in England“ had been intermixed with other Protestant Dissenters without distinction, and shared with the Puritans in the persecutions of those times."* Here are express admissions on the part of learned Baptist historians that, previous to the reformation, their brethren were intermiced with other dissenters,' and of course that close communion was unknown.

3. The practice of close communion necessarily leads those who adopt it into various and palpable inconsistences. It would seem from their principles, that what are commonly called Pedobaptist churches are not, in any proper sense, churches of Christ. Baptism, says the author of the work before us, is “ the divinely appointed mode of entrance into the visible church;" and Pedobaptists have not been baptized. Of course, they have not so much as entered the visible church; and hence their associations in covenant cannot with any propriety be denomipated churches. If the premises are admitted, thio conclusion would seem to be inevitable. And yet most of the close-communionists with whom we are acquainted admit that the Pedobaptist churches are churches of Christ; and that their ministers are ministers of Christ. Indeed, the ministers of the two denominations freely associate as ministers of Christ, in religious meetings, Ecclesiastical councils, an exchange of services, &c.

But then again, if the Pedobaptist churches are churches of Christ, why not commune with them as such? And why not admit their members at least to occasional communion? Why present the strange anomaly of acknowledged church members, who cannot be received to an ordinance of the church; and of those who are admitted to fellowship in every other mode, as members of Christ's church and ministers of his kingdom, who are not admitted to a seat at his table ?

* See Benedict's Hist. of the Baptists, Vol. i. pp. 138, 197.

See an article in the Boston Recorder of May 25, 1822, adopted by an extensive anion of Baptists and Pedobaptists, in which the churches of the two denominations are recognized as Churches of Christ, and their ministers as ministers of Christ, qualified to perform ministerial acts.

In reply to what is here urged, it is insisted by Mr. Fuller in the work before us, (p. 106-110) that the office of a gospel minister does not belong to the church relation, or at least is not peculiar to it, so that a person may consistently be received as a preacher of the gospel, who is not regarded as a church member. But is the gentleman serious in this matter? And if he is, are the Baptists of our own country prepared to adopt his views? It would be doing them great injustice to suppose it. In licensing a man to preach the gospel, and especially in ordaining bim, no people would be more likely than they to inquire into his church relation and standing ; nor can we believe they would admit one, on any account into their pulpits, to declare to them the truth of God, who they did not suppose was a member of the church of Christ.

It has been said by some, that as the Lord's supper is a positive institution, it rests on different ground from that of other religious services, in which unbaptized persons may consistently unite. But we would ask, in reply, whether the gospel ministry is not a positive institution ; and one of as great importance, and demanding as high qualifications, as the Lord's supper ? Indeed, does it not demand much higher qualifications? How many thousands are there in the churches, worthy partakers of the Lord's supper, whom no one would think qualified to preach the gospel ?- We would inquire, too, whether the Apostle did not consider preaching as a more important work, than even administering ordinances ? The latter could be done by ordinary helpers; but “ Christ,” says he, “sent me, not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.1 Cor. i: 17.

The advocates of close communion are willing to admit, that many Pedobaptists are real Christians. But if they are real Christians, they are in the number of God's children and have a right to sit at their Father's table. If they are real Christians, they have spiritual communion with Christ and his people, and ought to be permitted to have visible communion. God communes with them, if they are real Chris:ians; and why should any of the professing people of God be more strict in their communion, than he is? If Pedobaptists are real Christians, they are among those who feed upon Christ by faith ; and why are they not permitted to feed upon the appointed emblems of his body and blood? They are partakers really and spiritually; and why should they not be sacramentally? If Pedobaptists are real Christians, they are heirs of heaven, and will shortly be received to heaven; and why should it be made more difficult to obtain a seat at certain sacramental tables here on earth, than to procure admission to the marriage supper of the Lamb above? Heaven is certainly the great object and end of the Christian's pilgrimage, and earthly ordinances are but the means of obtaining it; and why should it be made more difficult to secure the means than the end? Why should the Lord's table be barred against the approach of those, to whom the gate of heaven is open ?

The advocates of close communion are not a little embarrassed with the question, whether it is right for Pedobaptists to celebrate the Lord's supper in their own churches. As this ordinance is a positive divine institution, it must be the same under all circumstances; so that if it is right for Pedobaptis s to celebrate it in one place, it is right in another; or if it is wrong in one place, it is wrong (other things being equal) in another. Hence, if it is wrong for them to celebrate the supper in connexion with Baptists, it is wrong, and no less a profanation of the ordinance, for them to celebrate it by themselves. Accordingly, when pressed with the argument is this direction, our brethren commonly speak out, and declare it to be 'a departure from the traditions of the Apostles, and a pouring contempt on one of the positive institutions of Christ,' for us to come to the communion in the manner we do.* Yet, on the other hand, they appear to manifest no great uneasiness at the continuance of this alledged profanation; will consent to preach our sacramental lectures; and by their conduct seem to say, that if we will only keep at a distance from them, and celebrate the ordinance by ourselves, they are satisfied. Indeed, the author of the work before us expressly says, that “on their own principles, Pedobaptists do right in partaking of the Lord's supper." p. 32.

It affords us no pleasure to urge these inconsistencies upon our brethren of the strict communion; but as their practice necessarily involves them, and many more, it is important that they should be able to appreciate some of the difficulties with which, in the judgment of others, their system is encumbered.

We object again to the practice of close communion, that it is an interruption of mutual charity, and a hindrance to Christian love. It leads those who adopt it to judge the hearts of their brethren, and impugn their motives, as they would not do, were it not for the difficulties with which they feel themselves pressed in relation to this subject. Although they are willing to admit, as already stated, that many Pedobaptists are pious persons--some of them eminently so-yet when they

Sec Andrews's Strictures, &c. p. 40.

come to apologize for not admitting them to the Lord's table on the ground of their alleged mistakes in regard to baptism, they almost uniformly assail their motives. Thus in the work before us, the excellent Baxter is charged with "avowing his conviction of one system, and acting on another," p. 134; and Pedobaptists generally are said to live in voluntary error, which is to live in allowed sin, p. 126. Even Professor Ripley, with all his candor (and in general he is very candid) cannot help insinuating, that many are prevented from adopting Baptist principles, because they "fear to examine;" or " hastily think themselves incompetent to form an opinion;" or are under the influence of prejudice from various quarters ;” or are deterred by “the inconveniences attending the adoption of such sentiments."


295. Now we are far from saying that no person was ever kept back from becoming a Baptist or a Pedobaptist by considerations like these; but we suppose they are as likely to operate one way as the other, and that it is not very charitable, in either party, to attribute the alleged mistakes of the other to the influence of such motives.

The principles of close communion tend to interrupt charity, as they lead those who embrace them, and have sufficient hardihood of consistency to carry them out, to wage a war of extermination upon other sects. The consistent close-communionist regards the entire mass of the members of Pedobaptist churches as unbaptized, and consequently as disqualified for Christian communion, and he is prompted by what he thinks a zeal for God to do what he can to 'diminish their number. If he can seduce a sheep from the fold of his Pedobaptist neighbor, he thinks it so much gained to the cause of truth; and he will feel strong inducements, under such circumstances, to draw away as many as possible. We do not say that our ministerial brethren of the strict communion actually pursue the course here described ; far from it. A great majority of them at the present day are under the influence of so many counteracting principles, that they would not consent, on any account, to violate the courtesies of Christian intercourse, or entrench upon the duties or the rights of others. But we are endeavoring to exhibit the legitimate tendency of close communion, when carried into full and consistent operation; and it cannot be thought strange that those who practice it should be regarded often with suspicion, and that a sad interruption to the overflowings of Christian love should be the consequence.

The principles of close communion are a hindrance to the exercise of Christian love, as they tend to foster pride in those who embrace them, under the idea of having done more than others, and of possessing superior qualifications; and to wound the feelings of Pedobaptists, under the impression of being set aside as disqualified for the communion of saints. These principles also lead to disputes and separations, which too often terminate in excited feelings, alienation and enmity. Christians forget that they are engaged in a common cause, and have a common interest, and fail to afford each other that sympathy and support which circumstances demand, and the laws of Christ require. They fail to bear one another's burthens, and to co-operate as they ought in prayers and labors to promote the religion of the Saviour.

It is evidence of the truth of what is here stated, that when religion is revived in a community, and Baptists and Pedobaptists are accustomed to meet together, till their love is enkindled and their hearts are warmed, the attachment of the former to close communion almost uniformly diminishes. The hearts of numbers who had previously practised it are pained ; and not a few indignantly reject it. So often have we witnessed scenes of this nature, that we think we cannot be mistaken in regard to them.

It is a remarkable fact, too, that Missionaries, who have left their native country in the belief of the principles of close communion, have not unfrequently renounced them, after laboring for a time among the heathen. This was the case with Mr. Hough, of the American Baptist mission in Burmah. It was the case with the celebrated William Ward, so long a Missionary in Bengal. It was the case too, with the excellent Mr. Chater, of the Baptist mission in Ceylon. Christian Missionaries among the heathen are in a favorable situation to feel the influence of Christian love, and the strength of those ties which ought to bind the hearts of Christians together; and if the principles of close communion are no hindrance to the exercise of love and charity, in what way are the facts on this subject to be accounted for ?

Of the same general bearing is the fact, that close communion is not unfrequently renounced in sickness, and in near views of death.* We are far from attaching an undue impor

* “In S. B. lived a man of the Baptist church, who for many years had not called in question the correctness of that article of the Baptist faith which excludes acknowledged Christians from communion. When sick, as there was no church of the same faith in the place, a minister of the Congregational order was sent for. Aner conver. sation and prayer suited to the sick, the love of God so filled the soul, as to break over all sectarian bounds. The tongue of the sick was loosed, to expatiale upon that charity which limits its complacency only by the want of evidence of genuine piety. After much self-examination and deep regret, for not walking in love with those whon Christ receives to his fellowship, and expressing a lively hope that this and all other sins were forgiven, the eyes were closed in death." See Boston Recorder, March 1, 1823.

In Roxbury, Vl., A. D. 1821, Mr. R., an aged member of the Baptist church, when VOL. VI.-NO. II.


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