« 上一頁繼續 »
same thing, if they should happen to exchange places ? On what principle of truth or consistency can any man ascribe to a subdivision of God's church, the privilege of controlling the general laws by which the whole is to be governed, and the more than magic virtue of transmuting the character of individuals and of their worship, by the mere fact of their belonging or noť belonging to such subdivision? So that the question of their honouring the table of the Lord, or their profaning and polluting it, shall turn precisely on this point, Whether they are members of that particular church or not? Hence emerges a dilemma from which the brethren we have to contend with will find it difficult to make their escape. You must either avow or disavow the doctrine which has just been imputed to your practice. Take your choice. If you avow it, you stand self-convicted of corrupting to their core the institutions of your master. If you disavow it, why do you demand more than the evidence of Christian character as a qualification to communion with you? On this side of the dilemma you stand self-convicted of repelling, without reason, your Christian brethren from the table of the Lord. Either way, your condemnation proceeds out of your own mouth.
If any thing be wanting to this general argu
ment, let us inquire at the Chistian sacraments.
They are admitted, by all Protestants, to be but two, Baptism and the Lord's supper. What is their nature? What their use? And to whom are they to be administered ? We may take our answer from an authority unquestioned by the parties to this discussion.
“ Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits; and to. confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of Christ, according to his word.?*
Assuming this account of the sacraments to be . scriptural, they are clearly the common property of all Christians under the whole heaven.
1. “ They are signs and seals of the covenant of grace.” Now, all believers, in all places of Christ's kingdom upon earth, have their share in the mercies of that covenant: therefore, all believers, having the thing signified, have a perfect right to the sign.
2. They “represent Christ and his benefits, and confirm an interest in him." Therefore, all be
* Confession of Faith, ch. xxviii.
lievers, being partakers of Christ and his benefits; in other words, having an interest in him, are the proper recipients of those ordinances whose use is to “ confirm" that interest to their faith.
3." They put a visible difference between those that belong to the church and the rest of the world.". Therefore, they who belong unto the church of God, who are known and recognised as Christians, have a right to this badge of discrimination, and are bound to put it on and wear it, as they shall have opportunity, in whatever part of God's church they may happen to be. Consequently, they who so narrow the use of this badge, as to make it distinguish not merely the church from the world; the follower from the foe of
the follower from the follower, the friend from the friend of Christ Jesus; and thus to exhibit them as having separate Christian interests, corrupt—not the form and circumstances—but the matter, but the substance, of the holy sacraments.
4. They “ solemnly engage believers to the service of Christ according to his word.” Therefore all who have entered into his service, and mean to regulate their lives by his word_and what Christian does not?-have a right to the sacramental encouragement, commensurate with the sacramental oath. Which of them can innocently refuse the oath? To which of them may the encouragement be innocently denied? And who art thou, sinful flesh, escaped by thy master's grace from the damnation of hell, that darestyes-DAREST, to keep back from the vow and the consolations of thy master's table any whom thou acknowledgest to be the objects of his love?.
1. That they who have a right to sacramental communion any where, have a right to it every where; and, conversely, that they who have not a right to it every where, have a right to it no where.
2. That no qualification for such communion inay, by the law of Christ, be exacted from any individual other than visible CHRISTIANITY; i. e. a profession and practice becoming the gospel. without regard to those sectarian differences
which consist with the substance of evangelicak · truth.
In questions concerning social observances, the first and most prevalent presumption is in favour of those under which the existing generation was born and educated. What they have always seen before their own eyes, followed in their own practice, and received by tradition from their fathers, the bulk of men consider as having on its side the double advantage of prescription and right. Without exercising much thought on the matter, they have a sort of quiet hereditary notion that it always was as it is, and is as it ought to be. Whatever, therefore, has, in their eye, the appearance of novelty, is an object of suspicion. New and false-new and hurtful, are with them terms of equal import. The conclusion would be sound were the premises correct. In doctrines of faith and ordinances of worship there can be no room for original discoveries. The divine rule for both remains as it was when the sacred canon was closed. If we date from that period, then, indeed, every thing new, i. e. every thing unknown to the inspired records, if proposed as an article