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and conceit in which they usually originate. They are rather to be ascribed to a dissatisfaction (which he dares not pretend to conceal) with former apologists; and a determination, if possible, to compass the same object by a different route. The intelligent reader will probably be of opinion, that he has attempted to give an air of originality to what was not susceptible of it; and that, aiming to enrich and support a most meager and barren thesis by new arguments, he is reduced to the same necessity as the Israelites, of "making bricks without straw."
Having already made the porch too large for the building, one additional remark only is submitted to the attention of the reader, previous to his entrance on the following discussion. The little success which has attended our exhibition of the doctrine of baptism, continued now for many generations, deserves the serious consideration of every intelligent Baptist. With all our efforts, with all the advantage of overwhelming evidence (as appears to me) in favour of our sentiments, the prospect of their reception by dissenting communities (to say nothing of established churches, where there are peculiar impediments to be encountered) is as distant as ever: and it may be doubted whether, since the recent revival of religion, our progress is in a fair proportion to that of other denominations. It may be possible to assign the second causes of this remarkable event; but as second causes are always subservient to the intentions of the first, it deserves our serious consideration whether we are not labouring under the sensible frown of the great Head of the church; and is there not a cause?" A visible inferiority to other Christians in zeal and piety will scarcely be imputed; nor have we been left destitute of that competent measure of learning and talent requisite to the support of our doctrines. The cause of our failure, then, is not to be looked for in that quarter. But though we have not "drank with the drunken," if we have unwittingly "beaten our fellow-servants," by assuming a dominion over their conscience; if we have severed ourselves from the members of Christ, and under pretence of preserving the purity of Christian ordinances, violated the Christian spirit; if we have betrayed a lamentable want of that "love which is the fulfilling of the law," by denying a place in our churches to those who belong to the "church of the first-born," and straitening their avenue, till it has become narrower than the way to heaven; we may easily account for all that has followed, and have more occasion to be surprised at the compassionate Redeemer's bearing with our infirmities, than at his not bestowing a signal blessing on our labours.
THE FUNDAMENTAL POSITION; OR, THE SUPPOSED NECESSARY CONNEXION BETWEEN THE TWO POSITIVE INSTITUTES OF CHRISTIANITY EXAMINED.
Remarks on Mr. Kinghorn's Statement of the Controversy.
PERFECTLY Concurring in opinion with Mr. Kinghorn, that it is of importance that the point in debate be fairly stated, a few remarks, designed to show in what respects his statement is inaccurate or defective, will not be deemed irrelevant. He justly observes, that the question, and the only question, is, whether those who are acknowledged to be unbaptized ought to come to the Lord's table. After stating the sentiments of the Pedobaptists, he proceeds to observe that the "Baptists act on a different plan; they think that baptism ought to be administered to those only who profess repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; and that it should be administered to them on such profession by immersion. And then, and not before, they consider such persons properly qualified, according to the New Testament, for the reception of the Lord's Supper." The last position, Mr. Kinghorn is aware, is not maintained by the Baptists as such, but by part of them only it may be doubted whether it be the sentiment of the majority. Why then identify the advocates of strict communion with the body, as though the abetters of a contrary practice were too inconsiderable to be mentioned, or were not entitled to be considered as Baptists?
It is but just, however, to remark, that this disposition to enlarge the number of his partisans is not peculiar to this writer. Mr. Booth, when engaged in defending a thesis about which the Baptists had long been divided, chose, in the same spirit, to denominate his performance An Apology for the Baptists.*
Our author proceeds to observe, "Here arises a controversy between the two parties, not only respecting baptism, but also respecting their conduct to each other on the subject of communion." Where, let me ask, are the traces to be found of this imaginary controversy between Baptists and Pedobaptists on that subject? That they have been often engaged in acrimonious disputes with each other on the point of baptism is certain; but of the history of this strange debate about terms of communion the public are totally ignorant. What are the names of the
* Who would expect to find that a book entitled An Apology for the Baptists chiefly consists of a severe reprehension of the principles and practices of a respectable part of that body? VOL. I.-C c
parties engaged, and to what publications did it give birth? This author had informed us at the distance of a few lines, that the Pedobaptists in general believe that none ought to come to the Lord's table who are not baptized. If this is correct, we may indeed easily conceive of their being offended with us for deeming them unbaptized; but how our refusal to admit them to communion should become the subject of debate is utterly mysterious. Did they, in contradiction to the fundamental laws of reasoning, attempt to persuade us to act in contradiction to the principles agreed upon by both parties? The supposition is impossible. The truth is-nor could the writer be ignorant of it-that the dispute respecting communion existed in our own denomination, and in that only.
An attempt is made to represent the advocates of mixed communion as divided among themselves, and as resting the vindication of their conduct on opposite grounds. In stating their views, Mr. Kinghorn observes, "that as their Pedobaptist brethren think themselves baptized, they are willing to admit them on that ground, since they do not object to baptism itself, but only differ from others in the circumstances of the ordinance."
"Some," he adds, "lay down a still wider principle, that baptism has no connexion with church communion; and that in forming a Christian church, the question ought not to be, Are these Christians who wish to unite in church-fellowship baptized, whatever that term is considered as meaning-but, Are they, as far as we can judge, real Christians ?"*
Of this diversity in the mode of defending our practice the writer of these pages confesses himself totally ignorant: and whatever prejudices our cause may sustain, it has not yet been injured by that which results from intestine dissension. Different modes of expression may have been adopted by different writers, but a perfect accordance of principle, a coincidence in the reasons alleged for our practice, has pervaded our apologies. We have not, like our opponents, professed to take new ground:† we have not constructed defences so totally dissimilar as the publications of a Booth and a Kinghorn, where the argument which is placed in the very front by the former is by the latter abandoned as untenable. It is easy to perceive that the alleged disagreement in our principles is a mere phantom. While we universally maintain the nullity of infant baptism, the persuasion which our Pedobaptist brethren entertain of their being baptized can never be mistaken for baptism, and they, consequently, cannot be received in the character of baptized persons. Our constant practice of administering immersion to such, on a change of sentiment, would on that supposition convict us at once of being Anabaptists. It is not then under any idea that they have really partaken of that ordinance, more than the people called Quakers, that we admit them to our communion; but in the character of sincere, though mistaken Christians, who have evinced, even with respect to the particular in which we deem them erroneous, no disposition to treat a Christian rite with levity or neglect: and if there are those who would
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 11, 12.
"The reader who is acquainted with the Apology for the Baptists, written by the late venerable Abraham Booth, will find that in the following pages I have taken ground somewhat different from... his. I have adopted rather a different mode of defence."-Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 8
refuse to commune with such as reject the ordinance altogether, it is because they suspect them of such a disposition. As there can be no degrees in nothing, they are not so weak as to suppose that one class is in reality more baptized than the other; but one is supposed to mistake the nature of an institute, which the other avowedly neglects. In this case he who is prepared to believe that the omission of Christian baptism from a notion of its not being designed for perpetuity may consist with that deference to divine authority which is essential to a Christian, will receive both without hesitation: he who is incapable of extending his candour so far will make a distinction; he will admit the Pedobaptist, while he rejects the person who purposely omits the ceremony altogether. Whichever measure we adopt, we act on the same principle, and merely apply it with more or less extent, according to the comprehension of our charity. If we supposed there were a necessary, unalterable connexion between the two positive Christian institutes, so that none were qualified for communion who had not been previously baptized, we could not hesitate for a moment respecting the refusal of Pedobaptists, without renouncing the principles of our denomination. On the other hand, if among such as are supposed to be equally unbaptized we admit some and reject others, this difference must be derived, not from the consideration of baptism, but of personal character; in other words, from our supposing ourselves to possess that evidence of the piety of the party accepted which is deficient in the other. Hence it is manifest that nothing can be more simple and intelligible than the principles on which we proceed, which are of such a nature as to preclude every other diversity of opinion, except what regards their application in particular instances.
He who mistakes the nature of a positive institute is in a different predicament of error from him who avowedly rejects it altogether; the imperfection which claims toleration in our Pedobaptist brethren is different in its nature from that which attaches to such as are disposed to set the ordinance aside. It is very possible, therefore, that some may be willing to extend their indulgence to what appears to them the least of two errors, while they refuse toleration to the greater; and, on this ground, admit a Pedobaptist, while they scruple to receive him who does not even profess to be baptized. But in making such a distinction, no intelligent Baptist would be moved by the consideration of one of these parties being baptized and the other not (for this would be admitting the validity of infant baptism), but solely by the different estimate he made of the magnitude of the respective errors. Some would probably consider each of them consistent with a credible profession of Christianity; others might form a less favourable judgment. In this case the parties would act differently, while they maintained the same principle, and adjusted their practice by the same rule.*
*The above remarks may enable the reader to judge of the justice with which Mr. Kinghorn asserts, or insinuates, ou total disagreement respecting the fundamental principle on which we justify our practice. "Among the Baptists," he says, "who plead for mixed communion, I apprehend few will be found who would fairly take Mr. Hall's principle in all its consequences. In general, they palliate, and plead that many good men think themselves baptized, and they are willing to accept them on that footing, leaving it to their own consciences to decide whether they had received such baptism as the word of God required; and they will hardly admit the possibility of any case occurring