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and abused privileges, so far from doing you any good, can only aggravate your final condemnation. Your parents, I am willing to suppose, have endeavored to perform their duty towards you." But they never can repent and believe for you. They cannot have religion in your. stead. Every thing is now depending, under God, upon yourselves. “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”.
Your parents have committed you into the hands of God; · be willing to commit yourselves there. Take hold of the promises for yourselves, and enter personally.into covenant with your. Maker. Nothing short of this can save you ; or can prevent your distinguished privileges from rising up in-the judgment to condemn you.
I shall conclude this discussion with a few words to the churches. I have said that it is not the business of churches to interfere with the government of families, and take the discipline of children out of the hands of parents. The Bible nowbere makes this the duty of churches; it would be an objection to it, if it did.* But the churches are not to infer that there is nothing for them to do. It is their part to watch over covenating parents; and to take notice of the manner in which they perform their duty to their children. If such parents are ignorant, they should be instructed. If they have peculiar difficulties and trials, their hands should be strengthened and their hearts encouraged. Or if they are inex: cusably negligent and unfaithful, they should be admonished and reclaimed, or else excluded.. Their Christian brethren must not suffer sin upon them, and suffer duty to be openly neglected, in regard to this important matter.
The churches should feel a deep and peculiar interest in baptized children, and this interest should be mani
fested in all proper ways. Especially should it be mani.. fested in earnest and persevering prayer, that the God of grace would remember his covenant, have mercy upon them, and save their souls.
: This subject should be one of particular interest to the churches at the present period. They are expecting great things of the rising generation. They are expecting a vast accession of members, to be taken chiefly from those now in the morning of life. It is high time, then,
that the hearts of the fathers were turned to the children; . and that the hearts of all professing Christians were en..
gaged to seek the salvation of the young; that, when those now on the stage are summoned to leave it, a gen- . eration may rise up--not only to call them blessed-but to stand in their lot, and enter into their labors.
Those Christians, who reject infant baptism, and contend for the exclusive validity of immersion in that ordinance, have, for the most part, confined their.communion to persons of their own persuasion, considering those of other denominations as unbaptized. Their practice in this respect has been termed close or strict communion ; while the opposite practice is styled free, open, or mixed communion.
I design, in the following pages, to offer some considerations in opposition to close communion. I would pre.. mise, however, that I entirely agree with the strict or Calvinistic Baptists in the sentiment that none but professed believers in Christ—who give creditable evidence of having been regenerated by the influences of the Holy Spirit—are entitled to communion at the sacred supper. Those only who give evidence of being the children of God are entitled to a seat at their Father's table. Those only who are prepared to enjoy real, spiritual communion with Christ and his people, are entitled to receive the the emblems of such communion. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ?''* .
* Hence, in advocating what is sometimes called open communion, we cannot perceive that we justly expose ourselves to the charge of latitudinarianism ;-a charge usually urged in this connexion.
· But while I am thus confident in the persuasion that the sacrament of the supper is the exclusive property of those who give evidence of having been born of God, I am equally confident that it is the property of all of this character ; and that to withhold it, as many do, from multitudes whom they acknowledge to be true Christians, is a proceeding which, however pure and kind may be their intentions, they are wholly unable to justify.
1. T'he practice of close communion is, in the first place, unscriptural. There were differences of opinion in the apostolical churches, and some of them of as great importance as those now agitated between Baptists and .. Pedobaptists. Such, for instance, was the question respecting the obligation of practising circumcision, and observing the Jewish law. Yet neither party was tolerated in excluding or denouncing the other. So far from this, they were expressly exhorted to receive one another, on the ground of both being supposed to belong to Christ. · " Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God." Rom. xv. 7. “ Him that is weak in faith”-or whom ye esteem weak, he not being able to see things in the same light with yourselves "' receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." Who art thou that judgest another man's servant, in respect to such matters? He is a servant of Christ; he is in the faith ; he is conscientious in his opinion, as you are in yours; and why do you judge him? To his own Master he standeth or falleth. Let us not therefore judge one another any more. See Rom. xiii. 1–13. ·
It will be said, perhaps, that the Apostle is here speaking of things indifferent ; things not to be compared with the modern questions respecting baptism. But what are we to understand by 'things indifferent,' as this phraseology is here used ? Not things of no importance, or about which the Apostle had formed no opinion; but
things which he regarded as unessential to Christian character, and to final salvation ;-as the questions respecting baptism confessedly are. Paul certainly had formed an opinion in regard to the matters referred to in the above quotations, and he did consider them as of very considerable importance—important .enough frequently to occupy his thoughts and his pen; but as he did not think them essential to Christian character, he was decided in affirming that they ought to be no bar in the way of Christian fellowship and communion.
It will be said, again, that those to whom the Apostle wrote were all baptized persons, members of the church ; and consequently his directions to them are no evidence of the manner in which he would decide questions relating to baptism.-It might be difficult to prove, that all those to whom directions are given in the Epistles of Paul had been baptized in any way, and especially, that they had all been immersed. But suppose they had been : it is still true, confessedly so, that the modern questions respecting baptism are unessential to Christian character and a hope of heaven, and consequently that they rest on the same general ground with the questions agitated in the days of Paul. It could not be expected that the directions of the Apostles would meet all the particular cases which might occur in the church, from that period to the end of the world. They laid down general principles, and applied them to cases immediately in hand; but left it to the wisdom of other ages further to use and ap- . ply them, as there might be occasion. .
Nothing is more certain from the New Testament, than that the church of Christ is one body. “As we have mạny members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom. xii. 4, 5. And this is true, not only of the real, spiritual