« AnteriorContinuar »
jitry, were endued with miraculous gifts immediately upon their believing and before they were baptized ; for they spake with tongues and glorified God. (A&s x. 44.) Nor is it improbable but some of them then received gifts for the ministry; and if so, in the fulness of their hearts and the transport of their joy, they also gave the first specimen of their future ministrations, to the pleaiing astonishment of Peter and those that were with him. But can our brethren suppose, that the great apostle would have taken equal pleasure in hearing them requeit a place at the Lord's table, before they were baptized ? No; his own conduct opposes the thought. For, having beheld with astonishment the gifts they received, and hearing with rapture the truths they delivered, “ he commanderi them to be baptized in the name of the Lord;" to be baptized immediately in the name of that Lord, who requires a submission to the ordinance from all that believe.
Once more: A very competent judge of all that pertains to the ministerial character, and of all that belongs to a Christian profession, has left his opinion on record concerning the miniltry of certain persons, whom he considered as quite unworthy of his intimate friendship. Yes, Paul, that most excellent man, when acting as amanuensis to the Spirit of wisdom, and when speaking of some who preached the gosp informs us, that envy and strife were the principles on which they acted, and the increase of his afflictions the end which they had in view. How carnal and base the principles ! How detestable the end at which they aimed !But was the apostle offended or gricved, so as to wish they were silenced? Or, did he charge his beloved Philippians, and all the fin. cere followers of Christ, never to hear them? Let his own declaration answer the queries. “What then ? notwithstanding every way, whether in pre. tence, or in truth, Christ is preached ; and therein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” (Philip. i. 15--18.) When a corrupted gospel is preached, he aflerts his apostolic authority, and thunders out anathemas against the propagators of it. (Gal. i. 6–3.) Because, as God will not set the feal of his blessing to a falsehood, or fanctify a lie, it can do no good; it is pregnant with mischief. But when the pure gospel is preached, though on perverse principles, as it is the truth, God frequently owns and renders it useful, whoever may publish it. Hence the apostle's joy in the text before us.--Now, as we are far from impeaching the sincerity of our Pædobaptist brethren, when preaching the gospel of our afçended Lord; and as Paul rejoiced that Christ was prcached, though by persons who acted on the hasest principles ; we cannot imagine that he would have taken less pleasure in the thought of Pædobaptist ministers publishing the glorious gofpel of the blessed God, had there been any such in those days, even though he might have confidered them as under a great mistake, in regard to baptism : for our opponents do not believe, any more than we, that Paul knew any thing of infant sprinkling. And if so, we may safely conclude, that there is nothing inconsistent with our hypothesis, in occasionally admitting Pædobaptist ministers into our pulpits, and hearing them with pleasure:But will our opponents assert, or can they suppose, ihat the great apostle of the Gentiles would have encouraged with equal delight such persons as those of whom he speaks, to approach the holy ta: ble and have communion with him in all the ordi. nances of God's house? Persons, who made the glo, rious gospel of the blessed God the vehicle of their own pride, and envy, and malice ; and in whose conduct those infernal temperş reigned, and had for their immediate object one of the most excel, Jent and useful men that ever lived ? Certainly, if on any occasion, we may here adopt the old prov, erb ; Credat Judaus appella.
“ Christ is preached, and therein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Disinterested, noble saying ! Worthy of a first rate minister in the Messiah's kingdom ; worthy of Paul; who cared not who opposed him, nor what he suffered, if Christ were but glorified in the conversion of finners, But though that man of God thus expreises himself, in reference to gospel preaching, I cannot imagine, nor will our brethren affirm, that he would with the fame pleasure have admitted any of the Jewish converts to communion, because they supposed themselves to have been baptized, merely on ac. count of their having been washed according to the traditions of the elders. To a request of this kind, his mildest answer, we have reason to think, would have been, “ We have no such custom, nor the churches of God.” Yet, as Baptists, our op. ponents must consider infant sprinkling, as having nothing more to recommend it, than buman authority and general pradice ; which were the grand recommendations of those Jewish washings, and the very basis on which they stood.-Suppose our brethren, in the course of their reading, were to find it asserted by some ancient author, . That Paul frequently admitted persons to communion, on such a pretence to baptism ;' what would they say? They would, I presume, consider the assertion as a libel on his character. Tliey would exe. crate the pen which transmitted such a falsehood to posterity; and look on the writer, either as a weak and credulous man, or as a forger of lies. And ex. cept a predilection for free communion biassed their judgment, their opinion and censure would be much the same, were they to find it recorded ; He frequently admitted believers to the Lord's table, before they were baptized.' The utter silence of the New Testament, relating to a conduct of this kind; the many passages, in that infallible code of divine worship, inconsistent with such a practice; and their veneration for the character of the great apostle, would oblige them fo to do. Yet, amaz. ing to think! for such a procedure they plead ; such a conduct they adopt; and look upon us as greatly injuring the honour and interests of real religion, and not a little contributing to the cause of infidelity, merely because we cannot consider them as the followers of Paul in this particular, nor become their humble imitators!
But why should our brethren so earnestly plead for believers receiving the Lord's fupper, while they treat baptism as if it were a mere trifle ; an appointment of Christ that might very well have been spared ? What is there of obligation, of solemnity, of importance, in the former, that is not in the latter ? Have they not the same divine in. stitutor, and the same general end? Were they not intended for the same persons, and are they not equally permanent in the church of God? And as. :> baptism, was not the administration of it by John, one of the first characteristics of the Messiah's appearance, and of the gospel dispensation commenc, ing? Did not the King Messiah submit to it, as an example of obedience to all his followers; and most strongly recommend it to their judgment and conscience, their affections and practice, when he said ; “Thus it becometh ys to fulfil all righteoufnefs ?!? Which, by the way, is more than can be asserted concerning the sacred supper ; for though he instituted it with great solemnity, yet we do not read that he partook of it.* Was not the admin, istration of baptism so honoured at the river Jordan, when the great Immanuel submitted to it; when the eternal Father, by an audible voice, declared his approbation of it ; and when the Divine Spirit descended on the head of Jesus, just emerged from the water, as no other instituțion ever was? And does not the divinely prescribed form of words that is used in its administration shew, that there is a peculiar solemnity, an excellence, an importance in it? while, at the same time, it suggests arguments of unanswerable force against those Antitrinitarian errors which now so much abound. For no man who has been baptized at his own request, “ in the name of the Father, and of the Song and of the Holy Ghoft;" can deny that fundamental doctrine of the Trinity, without giving the lie to his baptism.