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with the order given them, that the greatest part both of the people and substance of Amalek was destroyed; but he stopped short, and knowingly left unfinished what had been enjoined him by the fame authority.'*
When a Pædobaptist applies for, communion with Baptists, he acts upon a persuasion that he has been rightly and truly baptized : for there is reason to believe, that the generality of cur Pædobaptist brethren would start at the thought of partaking at the Lord's table, while they consider themselves as unbaptized. Consequently, when our opponents admit one of them to communion, they confirm him in what they consider as a false preiumption, and practically approve of what, at other times, they boldly pronounce a human invention, a tradition of men, and will worship ; for such infant sprinkling must be, if not a divine appointment. Nor can they exculpate themselves, in this.respect, unleis they were professed!y to receive him, as unbaptized. Because he confiders himself as baptized, he desires communion as baptized; nor has he any idea of sitting down at the Lord's table, as unbaptized; well knowing, that such an attempt would be contrary to the apostolic pattern, and to the sense of the Christian church in general.
That circumcifion was, by divine command, an indispensable qualification, in every male, for a participation of the Jewish passover, and commu. nion in the fanctuary worship, is generally allow. ed. And though I am far from thinking that baptism care in the place of circumcision, as many of our Pædobaptist brethren suppose ; yet that the
* Dr. Witherspoon's Practical Discourses, Vol. I. p. 375, 336.
• former is equally necessary to communion at the
Lord's table, under the Chriftian economy, as the latter was to every male, in order to partake of the paschal feast, and to unite in the tabernacle service, I am fully persuaded. Nor is my opinion fingular. It has been the sense of the Christian church in every age ; and, excepting those Bap. tists who plead for free communion, it is the voice of the Christian world in general at this day.--I do not find that the necessity of circumcision, for the purposes just mentioned, was ever controvert. ed, either by the ancient or modern Jews. We will suppose, however, for the sake of argument, that it was disputed in the Jewish church ; and that, amidst a great variety of interesting intelligence, which the Rabbinical writers pretend to give, concerning ancient customs and ancient disputes, they are found to speak as follows: In the days of our master, Moses, disputes arose about the nature and necefsity of circumcision : that is, whether the ancient rite was to be performed on the foreskin, or on a finger ; and, whether it was an indispensably requisite qualification, in every male, for a seat at the paschal feast, and admiffion to the fanctuary worship. The generality of our fathers maintained, that no male, though a son of Abraham ; that no Gentile, though he might acknowledge and serve Abraham's God ; had any claim to communion in those joyful and folemn services, if he was not circumcised according to the divine command Others contended with no less assurance, that circumcision being only an outward sign of what is internal and spiritual; eveTy male, whether a descendant from the loins of our father Abraham, or one of the Gentile race, who knew and feared the God of Israel, had an undeniable claim to fellowship, though it were not the foreskin of his flesh, but a finger that was circumcised. The latter asserted, with great confidence, that the holy blessed God having accepted such, (as plainly appeared by their having the internal and spiritual circumcifion) it would be absurd and uncharitable to refule them communion. And when disputing with their opponents, they would with an air of superior confidence demand ; Will you reject from fellowship those whom God has received ? --Absolutely reject those who have the thing signified, barely because, in your opinion, they want the external sign ?-Those who possess the substance, perhaps, to a much greater degree than yourselves, merely because they want the Thadow? What, will you refuse communion to a brother Ifraelite, or a pious Gentile, in the tabernacle here below, with whom you hope to enjoy everlasting fellowship in the temple above ? Strange attachment to the manner of performing an external rite ! Befides, great allowances mult be made for the prejudices of education. These our brethren whom you reject, as if they were heathens, as if they were absolutely unclean ; have been educated in the strongest prejudices against what we think the true circumcision. They have been taught from their earliest infancy, tliat though our fathers, for a few centuries after the rite was estab- * lished, generally circumcised the foreskin ; yet that the part on which the ceremony was first performed, is by no means effential to the ordinance. And, therefore, as various inconveniencies were found to attend the mode of administration then generally practised; instead of cutting off the pre
putium, many began to circumcise a finger ; which has been the custom in some of our tribes ever fince, and which, they strenuously plead, is not for. bidden by any divine revelation. This, we read. ily acknowledge, is a mistake ; nor dare we, on any account, imitate their proceedings in that respect : because, with us, there is no doubt, that the God of our fathers ordained it otherwise. But yet, as all have not the same opportunities of information, nor an equal measure of light ; and as our brethren are verily persuaded that they have been circumcised according to the divine command ; (for if they were not, they would readily comply with our mode of proceeding) it is our indispensable duty to receive them in love, and not harass their minds with “doubtful disputations" about a matter that is not essential. For we all worship the same God; and, so far as his moral worship is concerned, in the same way ; though we happen to differ about an external rite, that is by no means essential, either to fpiritual worship here, or to the salvation of our fouls hereafter.- Besides, though it be admitted that the divinely appointed mode of administering the facred rite is of fome importance ; yet it must be ad. mitted, that the edification of such as truly fear God is of infinitely greater importance. But, if you exclude them from the folemn fanctuary worship, you debar them from a capital mean of their fpiritual benefit. You should also consider, who is to be the judge of what is, or is not, the true circumcision. Every man, most certainly, must judge for himself, and not one for another ; else you destroy the right of private judgment; you invade the sacred prerogative of conicience; and tacitly advance a claim to infallibility. If your brethren, who circumcife a finger instead of the part appointed, be satisfied in their own minds, they are circumcised to themselves ; and while the answer of a good conscience attends it, God will and does own them in it, to all the ends designed by it ; so that while they consider it as laying them under the same obligations to holiness of heart and life, as we consider our circumcision to do us, why should you not have fellowship with them? Nor are you sufficiently aware, how much you injure the cause of real religion, and promote the baneful interests of infidelity, by being so strict and rigid. Were you to be more candid and charitable, in re. gard to this matter, it might be expected that numbers of our brethren, who, it must be allowed, administer this rite in a very improper manner; would cordially unite with us, and, in time, utterly renounce their mistake. We should also have reafon to hope, that many of our Gentile neighbours, who detes circumcifion, as performed by us, might become proselytes to the Jewish religion, and worship the most high God in fellowship with us. But so long as you insist, not only on the rite it. self (for that we ourselves are not willing to give up entirely) hut on that mode of administration which is so obnoxious to them as indispensably necessary to cornmunion with you ; it will be, not only a wall of partition between us and them, but a bone of contention among the chosen tribes themselves. Consequently it must impede, greatly impede, the exercise of that love to God, and that affection for man, which are of much greater importance than the most accurate performance of a merely external rite.'