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Thip, as the Lord's fupper undoubtedly is ; and leave it entirely to the discretion of men, to whom it should be administered. Free--for whom? For every one that will? This they do not pretend. For all who imagine themselves believers and qualified for it? This they dare not affert. For, notwithstanding all their candour and all their catholicism, they do not consider every one that thinks himself a believer and desires communion, as fit for it. Hence it is, they ask a reason of the candidate's hope, and take the liberty of judging for themselves; what his hope and the ground of it are. They think it their duty to inquire, in what light he views himfelf, and whai he believes concerning the Son of God. · And if, in their judgment, he be not converted to Jesus Christ, they put a negative on his request ; even though they feel an affection for him, as a moral, a fincere, a well-meaning man. Here then, is another and great limitation ; a boundary which it would not be lawful to fet, if a positive institution were not concerned, and if such limitation were not fixed by the divine Institutor. By parity of rea. fon, therefore, if our Lord has given any other direction relating to the fame ordinance, it should be regarded with equal reverence and equal punctuality.
What, then, is the freedom for which they plead ? Why, that Baptist churches should admit Pædobaptilts into communion with them. · In other words, that they should admit believers to the Lord's table, whom they consider as unbaptized. A very extraordinary position this! Such, however, is free communion : in defence of which, several pamphlets have, of late, been published. And, who can tell, but some of our brethren may so im. prove on the doctrine of liberty, in regard to divine institutions of a positive nature, as to favour us, ere long, with a Plea for free Baptism?-With a dissertation, intended to prove the lawfulness, and, in some cases, the necessity, of administering baptifm to such whom we consider as unbelievers ? especially, if the candidates for that ordinance be firmly persuaded in their own mind, that they are believers in Jesus Christ. At the same time declaring, that it will be at the peril of greatly dishonouring real religion, and not a little contributing to the cause of infidelity,' if we refuse...But let us now briefly consider what they say, in defence of their hypothesis. They argue, from several pafsages of fcripture; from the temper required of real Christians, in their behaviour one towards another; and object against us our own conduæ, in another respect.
The principal passages adduced from holy writ, and here to be considered, are the following: “ Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations--for God hath received him-Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us: and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith-I am made all things to all nien, that I might by all means save some."* On which paffages we may observe in general; Whatever their meaning may be, except our op
. * Rom. xiv. I, 3. and xv. 7. Ads xv. 8, 9, 1 Cor. ix,
ponents can make it appear, that they contain the grant of a difpenfing power to gospel ministers and churches; that is, unless these divine declarations authorize the ininisters and churches of Christ, to Let aside an ordinance of his, or to invert the order of its administration, as they may think proper ; they are far from answering the exigencies of their cale, or serving the purpose for which they are cited.
Again : The texts produced do not fo much as. mention communion at the Lord's table, nor appear to have the least reference to it. No; the Holy Ghost has other objects in view, in each of the contexts. And as these are the principal parfages to which our brethren appeal in proof of their point, we may take it for granted, that betier are not to be found ; and, consequently, as a tacit acknowledgment, that positive proof is wanting. But if it be allowed, that there is no positive evidence in favour of their practice, it amounts to a concession that there is no proof at all. Because nothing of a positive and ritual nalure can be proved a duty, or agreeable to the will of God, merely by our own reasonings ; nor by arguments formed on moral precepts and general rules of conduct. For if once we admit any thing in the worship of God, as a duty; that is grounded, either on far-fetched inferences from particular declarations of fcripture, in which the holy penmen do not appear to have had the least thought of the matter in question ; or on our own ideas of expediency and usefulness, we shall not know where to stop. On this principle, a great number of ceremonies were brought into the church of Ronie, and might be introduced by us,
though not one of them could stand that divine query, “ Who hath required this at your hand »» As it cannot be proved, by the deductions of reason, that it is the duty of any man to eat bread and to drink wine, as a branch of divine worship, but only from the testimony of God, fo what he has revealed in regard to that matter, is our only rule in all that relates to the Lord's fupper.* Consequently, as these passages say nothing at all about baptism, nor about communion at the Lord's table, either siriči, or free; they have little pertinency of application, or force of argument in them.
Our brethren maintain, when difputing with Pædobaptists, that the New Testament knows no more of infant baptism, than it does of infant communion : and that many of the arguments adduced in defence of the former, will equally apply to the latter.t Here they seem quite confident that they have truth on their fide. But might noc Dr. Priestley, for instance, who maintains both, retort;
That sacred code of Christian worship to which you appeal, knows as much of our sentiments and practice as it does of your's? Produce your war.
* Plain account of Bap. Course of Lett. 1o Br. Mcadly, page 127, 128.
t Dr. Priestley is also of the same opinion. For he says, * No objection can be made to this custom, (i. c. of giving chc Lord's supper to infants) but what may, with egual force, be made to the custom of baptizing infants.' And he informs us, that infant communion is to this day the practice of the Greek churches, of the Rullians, the Armenians, the Maronites, che Cupts, the Assyrians, and probably all other oriental churches.' 'Addrels to Protestant Diflenters on giving the Lord's Supper tu Children, p. 28, 31.
Tant from those heavenly institutes contained in The New Testament, for admitting a believer to ibe Lord's table, in a church of Christ, while that very church considers him as unbaptized : and you shall not wait long for equally authentic evidence, that infant baptism and infant communiou have the fanction of divine authority. You frequently assert, that our arguments formed on the covenant made with Abraham ; on the rite of circumcifion ; on the holiness attributed, by Paul, to the children of believers; and several other passages of scripture, in defence of an infant's right to baptism, are inconclusive; not only because that sacred inititution is not expressly mentioned in any of those places ; but also because, in your opinion, nothing short of an express command, or a plain, apoltolic example, can suffice to direct our practice, in the adminiftration of ordinances that are of a positive kiud. Yet, when pleading for free communion, you adopt this very method of arguing, and think it quite conclusive: otherwise you never would appeal with such confidence as many of you do, to the paTages now produced.'*--But let us take a more particular view of the passages now before us.
The converted Romans were commanded by Paul, to “ receive them that were weak in faith, as
* : la chings of external appointment,' says Dr. Samuel Clarke, 'and mere positive institution, where we cannot, as in matters of natural and moral duty, argue concerning the natural reason and ground of the obligation, and the original r.cceflity of the thing itself; we have nothing to do but to obey the positive command. God is infinitely better able than we, to judge of the propriety and usefulness of the things he - institutes; and it becomes us to obey with humility and rover
cnce,' Expof. of Church Catech. p. 305, 306. Edition 2.