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im of a celebrated author; "The appointment of God, is the highest law, the supreme necesity; which we ought rather to obey than indulge popular igno. rance and weakness.'*_From the manner of rea. soning sometimes used by our opponents, and by those three authors to whom I have just referred, one would imagine, that Socinians, Quakers, and those Baptists who plead for free communion, were almost the only persons in the Christian world, that exercise a proper degree of candour towards professors of other denominations, or have a due regard for peace among the people of God: buc whether this be a fact the reader will judge.
But is it poffible for our opponents to imagine, that Paul intended to place baptism on the fame footing with certain meats and days ; the former of which were forbidden, the latter enjoined, by the God of Israel, under the Jewish economy ? What, baptism become an article of “ doubtful disputa. tion” in fo early a day! If, on the other hand, that inspired writer had no thought of baptism when he mentioned “ doubtful disputations ;'' if what he there says about matters then in dispute, regard things that belonged to an antiquated ritual ; what authority have our brethren to put baptism on a level with them? Or where is the force of their ar. gument from this passage ? : « Receive ye one another, as Christ also hath re. ceived us." These words have been understood in a larger sense than that for which our brethren plead. For some Pædobaptists have concluded
* Dei ordinatio nobis summa lex, suprema ncceflitas, cui potius parendum quam populari ignorantiæ et infirmitati indulgendum. Turretini Inst, Theolog. Tom. II]. Luc. XIX. Quæft. XIV. Ś 14.
from hence, that it is the indispensable duty of a particular church to allow communion to all that desire it : taking it for granted, no doubt, that none would request the privilege but those who were baptized. This, the reader will certainly think is free communion. And, indeed, if this text warrant our brethren's practice, I fee but little objection against its being understood in such a latitude of fignification. But, in opposition to such a sense of the passage, a Pædobaptist writer observes; • This inference is glaringly forced and wide, discovering their ignorance of the true meaning and design of the text who make it. The apostle is Tot here speaking of admission to church-member. Abip at all ;- nor does he consider those to whom he writes in the precise light of members of the church universal, but as members of a particular church, or body; among whom there was some chifference of opinion about meats, &c. which was like to break their communion together, as is plain from the preceding chapter. The apostle sets himfelf to prevent this, and to accomplish a reconi. ciliation. And, after a number of healing things, he concludes with these words; Receive ye one another, That is, ye who are faints at Rome, who have agreed to walk together in the command. ments and ordinances of the Lord Jesus ; ye who are professedly united in church communion, receive ye one another in love, as becometh faints, united in one body for mutual benefit. Bear ye ope another's burdens : watch over and admonith one another in love, notwithstanding of some dif ference in sentiment among you: as to the eating certain meats and regarding certain days, let not that difference make any breach in your commu
nion together as a church of Christ. But let the strong bear with those that are weak, and the weak not be offended with the liberty of the strong.-Judge not one another uncharitably, but let brotherly love continue. This is precisely the apostle's meaning; as will appear to those who look impartially into the connexion of his argu. ment; and by no means ferves the purpose for which the objectors bring it.'*
And supposing our brethren to argue from this passage only by way of analogy, their inference is equally weak, and their conclufion palpably forced: there being a great, an essential difference, between eating or not eating of certain meats, in the apostolic times; and our being baptized, or not baptized, prior to communion at the Lord's table. For though while the ceremonial law was in force, the Jews were obliged to abstain from prohibited meats ; yet our opponents will not affirm, that their obfervance of a negative precept was intended by the Eternal Sovereign, to answer similar purposes with the ordinance of baptism, as appointed by Jesus Christ. The latter is a folemn institu. țion of divine worship : but can this be asserted of the former ? Baptism was instituted prior to the sacred supper ; was commanded to be administered to professing believers, before they approached the holy table; and, in the apostolic age, for aught appears to the contrary, was constantly administered to believers previous to their having communion in the Christian church. But can similar things be affirmed concerning that abstinence from
• Smith's Compendious Account of the Form and Order of the Church, p. 109, 110.
certain meats, which were forbidden under the Jewish economy
To conclude my remarks on the text before us, and to illustrate the passage. Candidus, we will suppose, is the pastor of a Baptist church, and that a dispute arises among his people, about the lawfulness of eating blood, or any thing strangled. The controversy rises high, and is carried on with too much heat of temper. Each party is blamed by the other; the one, as judaizing; the other, as via olating a plain, apostolic precept.--A report of this comes to Irenæus. Concerned and grieved at such contentions and such a breach of brotherly love, in a once fourishing and happy church, he writes a friendly letter ; in which he bewails their hurtful contests: gives them his best advice, and, among other things, he says: “ Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful dispu. tations. For one believeth that he may eat all things : another who is weak eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not : and let not him which eateth not, judge him that eateth ; for God hath received him. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”--In a while after this heala ing epiltle is published, and read by many. In the perusal of which, some suspect, and others conclude that the persons exhorted to mutual forbearance, had not communion one with another, under the paltoral care of Candidus, and that they who are styl. ed, “ weak in faith,” had never been baptized. Nay, some assert, that the mere want of baptism, in
the opinion of Irenæus, ought never to be objected · against any that are candidates for communion at
the Lord's table ; nor ever be made a bar to fela lowship in a church of Christ. Yet Irenæus was never known, in any instance, to give the least cause for such a suspicion. The application is easy : | Thall therefore only ask, Whether, in the supposed case, such inferences would be genuine and just, or forced and unnatural ? and, whether they who drew them might not be suspected of being, either very fanciful and weak, or as acting under the power of fome prejudice? The reader will pardon iny prolixity on this passage, wlien he confiders that our opponents lay a very great stress upon it.
By tlie text produced from the Acts of the apostles we learn, that “God is no reipecter of perfons ;"> that he, as an absolute fevereign, bestows his favours on Jews and Gentiles without any difference. But will our bretliren infer from hence, that they whose honour and happiness it is to be his obedient servants, are entirely at liberty to receive to com. munion at the Lord's table all that believe, without any difference? Can they justly conclude; that because Jehovah dispenses his blessings as he pleases, they may administer, or omit, his positive institutions as they please ?
Once more : They produce, as much in tlieir favour, the declarations of Paul to the church at Corinth,* relating to his own conduct. And what do we learn in general from this paffage, but that hie out of his great concern for the good of mankind, and his abundant zeal for the glory of God, was willing to do, or forbear, any thing that was lawful, in order to gain an impartial hearing from both Jews and Gentiles wlierever he came? I said, any thing that was lawful; the rule of which is
* 2 Cor. is. 19