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of Scripture on their brethren, and affirming that on account of their differing from them, they do not "revere the authority of Christ," is either judging for others, in every possible sense of the words, or the writer has made an impossible supposition. He adds, they allow that the Pedobaptists, on their own principles, do right in forming themselves into churches, and in commemorating the death of their Lord. And must they not do equally right, on their own principles, in baptizing infants, unless he will assert that the propriety of baptizing infants is not their principle? If judging for others is supposed to involve a claim of infallibility, and on that account, and that alone, to be shunned, to attempt to vindicate the practice of our opponents from that imputation will baffle the acutest intellect.
2. We have already observed the coincidence of our opponent's system with the doctrine of the opus operatum, or the intrinsic and mechanical efficacy of religious rites, independent of the intention and disposition of the worshipper. The Roman Catholic attaches such importance to the rite of baptism, as to believe that when duly administered it is necessarily accompanied with the pardon of sin, and regenerating grace. The strict Baptist maintains that its absence, where all other religious qualifications are possessed in the highest perfection which human nature admits, deprives the party of "the privileges of faith,"* and renders him an alien from the Christian church.
Both the Church of Rome and the Church of England have devised terms of communion of their own, and rendered it necessary for the members to comply with innumerable things besides those which Christ has enjoined as requisite to salvation. The lawfulness and propriety of doing so is the palmarium argumentum, the main pillar and support of strict communion. Let this principle once be abandoned, and the present controversy is at an end, unless our opponents choose to assume new ground, by affirming the necessary connexion between baptism, as they administer it, and the attainment of eternal life; and that they should not perceive the absolute necessity of proceeding so far, in order to be consistent, seems to approach to a judicial infatuation.
3. The adherents to the papal power claim to themselves the exclusive appellation of the church: the arrogance of which pretension is faithfully copied by the advocates of strict communion. The former, however, by confining salvation within her own pale, avoid the absurdity into which the latter fall, who, while they affirm the great body of the faithful are not entitled to that appellation, are obliged to distinguish between the mystical body of Christ and his church, which the Scriptures expressly affirm to be one and the same.
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 30,
The Propriety of Appealing in this Controversy to the peculiar Principles of the Pedobaptists-briefly examined and discussed.
Ir is due, in my apprehension, to the majesty of truth, that she should be defended only by truth, and that we should on all occasions abstain from attempting to increase her partisans by corrupt suffrages. Such are the suffrages she may accidentally gain by the influence of error. As she scorns to employ the aid of violence, which is foreign to her nature, so much less will she condescend to owe any portion of her ascendency to falsehood, which it is her eternal prerogative to confound and to destroy. He who wishes to enlighten the human mind will disdain to appeal to its prejudices, and will rather hazard the rejection of his opinions, than press them as a necessary corollary from misconceptions and mistakes. If the decision of controverted questions is to be subjected to vote, and a superiority of numbers is to pronounce a verdict, the means by which they are procured is a matter of indifference: he who is most successful in enlisting popular humours and prejudices on his side will infallibly secure the victory. To all legitimate argument, however, it is essential for the parties concerned to reason on principles admitted by both; to take their stand upon common ground, and to adopt no medium of proof of the truth of which he who suggests it is not satisfied.
How far Mr. Kinghorn's management of the controversy corresponds with these just requisitions the impartial reader will be at no loss to determine. In his zeal to increase the number of his partisans, he makes frequent and urgent appeals to the Pedobaptists, with whom the point at issue can rarely if ever become a practical question, and who are therefore little interested in its decision. As they admit without hesitation the validity of our baptism, the question whether the right administration of that ordinance be an essential requisite to communion, has no immediate relation to the economy of their churches: it interests them only in the case of those individuals who may be desirous of communing with Baptist societies. As far as it concerns the necessity of that particular rite by which we are characterized, it is a controversy in which we are the only parties; and, however much we venerate the judgment of the religious public, we cannot forget that their motives to a rigorous examination of the question bear no proportion to ours. To them it is a theoretical inquiry, to us a practical one of the most serious moment. If in appealing to them, however, he had constructed his reasoning on principles common to Baptists and Pedobaptists, there had been no room for complaint. But instead of this, he enumerates and marshals with such anxiety all the appen
dages of infant baptism, all it assumes and all it infers, as so many irrefragable arguments for his hypothesis, that were we to judge of his sentiments from these passages alone, we should suppose him as tremblingly alive to the consistency of Pedobaptists, as Eli to the preservation of the ark. He adjures them, by every thing which they deem sacred in their system, not to forsake him in the conflict, reminding them that if they do so they must abandon a multitude of positions which they have been accustomed to maintain against the Baptists (that is, against himself), and be compelled to relinquish the field. He therefore exhorts them to be faithful unto death in the defence of error, and to take care that no arts, blandishments, or artifices seduce them to concessions which would embarrass them in their warfare, and render the cause of infant baptism less tenable. Thus he reminds them that by admitting the principle for which we contend, they must relinquish their plea for baptizing infants, on the ground of its "giving the seed of believers a partial membership, which is recognised and completed when they profess their faith in maturer years. Thus one leading popular representation of its utility is given up." This infant membership, however, he elsewhere exclaims against, as the very precursor of antichrist, the inlet to almost every abomination; and this popular representation he considers as a most dangerous fiction.* He tells them, that were he a Pedobaptist, and disposed to adopt my theory, he should be afraid of being pressed with the question, Of what use is infant baptism? It is unnecessary to remind the reader that in the opinion of Mr. Kinghorn it is of none whatever, but a most pernicious abuse of a Christian ordinance. But what is more lamentable still, he warns them that if "they enter into the spirit of our representation, they will be in danger of neglecting it altogether, and consequently either abandon the whole institution, or be induced by the examination of Scripture to become Baptists;" that they will "be guilty of a complete deviation from the principles of their predecessors; that they must find new arguments for their infant baptism; and that, without attempting to divine what they may be, their cause will be materially injured by the acknowledgment of the necessity of adopting new modes of defence." All this appears very strange from the pen of a zealous Baptist, who contemplates every one of the doctrines which he appeals to with unqualified abhorrence, and who must be aware that just in proportion to the degree of their repugnance to the practice of mixed communion is the presumptive evidence in its favour. To attempt the recommendation of his theory by insisting on the impossibility of reconciling it with what is in his opinion a system of delusion, indicates something nearly resembling the unrestrained impetuosity of a mind so intent upon the end as to be indifferent about the means, and savours more of the art and sophistry of a pleader than of the simplicity which characterizes a sober inquirer after truth. My knowledge of the author forbids the slightest suspicion of any deliberate intention to mislead; but in my humble apprehension he has been betrayed by the warmth of debate and the intemperate sallies of his zeal, into the use, to adopt the mildest † Ibid. p. 22.
Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 17.
expression, of unhallowed weapons, and, by courting an alliance with error, degraded his cause.
It is probable he will attempt to justify his proceeding by saying he has merely availed himself of an argumentum ad hominem. But he has greatly exceeded the limits assigned to that species of argument, which may be very properly employed to repel a particular objection of an opponent, by showing that it recoils upon himself, but should never be laid at the basis of a process of reasoning, because the utmost it can effect is to evince the inconsistency of two opinions, without determining which, or whether either of them, is true.
But it is not merely to acknowledge errors that the author appeals, with a view to discourage our Pedobaptist brethren from uniting with us; he also endeavours to rouse into action a feeling which, whatever name he may think fit to give it, is, in my apprehension, neither more nor less than pride. He remarks, that in joining with us they must either "consider themselves as unbaptized, or satisfied with their own baptism, whatever we may think of it, or as agreeing with the maxim that baptism, in any form, is of no consequence to communion." The first of these suppositions he very properly puts aside as impossible. The second he reminds them is "degrading, because they permit themselves to be considered as persons who have not fulfilled the will of the Lord, in the very point in which they believe they have fulfilled it. They consequently unite with us on terms of inferiority; and he who refuses to commune with us, because, in so doing, he tacitly allows himself to be considered as not so complete a disciple of Jesus as he thinks he is, acts a part which is justifiable and dignified."* The amount of this reasoning is, that whenever a Christian perceives that his brother entertains a less favourable opinion of his conduct in any particular than he himself does, he is bound to renounce his communion; because, in every such instance, he must be considered as not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is, and to allow himself to be so considered is a meanness. And from hence another consequence infallibly results, that no two Christians ought to continue in communion between whom there subsists the smallest diversity of judgment respecting any point of practical religion; for since each of them, supposing them sincere, must believe his own practice more agreeable to the will of Christ than his brother's, that brother must be aware that he is considered as not so complete a disciple as he judges himself to be, to which it seems it is degrading to submit. The author may be fairly challenged to produce a single example of a disagreement among Christians to which this reasoning will not apply; and, therefore, admitting it to be just, he has established a canon which prohibits communion wherever there is not a perfect unanimity in interpreting the precepts of Christ; which he who reflects on the incurable diversity of human opinions will acknowledge is equivalent to rendering communion impossible.
Although the instance under immediate consideration respects a point of practice, the conclusion will hold equally strong in relation to doctrinal subjects. For, not to remind the reader that different opinions on
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 115, 116.
practical points are in effect different doctrines, and that the whole disagreement with our Pedobaptist brethren originates in these, it is undoubtedly true of points of simple belief, as well as of Christian duties, that whoever adopts a sentiment different from that of his fellow-christians must, by the latter, be regarded as in an error; and, since revelation claims faith as well as obedience, "not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is," to which, if it is degrading for him to submit, his only remedy is to depart and quit the communion. A fine engine truly for dissolving every Christian society into atoms, and for rendering the church of Christ the most proud, turbulent, and contentious of all human associations!
If it be alleged that Mr. Kinghorn's reasoning was not designed to apply to the smaller differences which may arise, but only to grave and weighty matters, such as the nature of a Christian ordinance, the obvious answer is, that it is of no consequence to us for what it was designed, but whether it be sound and valid; in other words, whether it be a sufficient reason for a Pedobaptist's refusing to join with us, that in "so doing he allows himself to be considered as not so complete a disciple as he thinks he is." If it be, the consequences we have deduced will inevitably follow.
Not satisfied, however, with denouncing the union of Pedobaptists with us as 66 undignified," and as placing themselves on terms of "inferiority," he begs them to consider whether it is not a "surrender of their principles in a manner altogether inconsistent with their views of the law of Christ." This surrender, he proceeds to inform us, consists in their "agreeing to be considered as unbaptized, which is contrary to the opinion which they entertain of themselves." We certainly make no scruple of informing a Pedobaptist candidate that we consider him as unbaptized, and disdain all concealment upon the subject; but how his consent to join us on these terms involves an unworthy surrender of his principles is very mysterious. His principle is, that infant baptism is a part of the will of Christ, which we believe to be a human invention. Now, how his allowing us to believe this, without breaking with us on that account, amounts to a dereliction of it, is a riddle which it would require an Edipus to solve. May he not retain his sentiments and believe us in an error? and is not his continuing unbaptized a demonstrative proof that he does so? And while this is the case, and he manifests his opinion, both by words and actions, is he still guilty of this fearful surrender?
Besides, what will it avail him to leave our communion, since our opinion still pursues him; and though he should retire to the ends of the earth we shall still continue to think "he has not fulfilled the law of Christ in the very point in which he believes himself to have fulfilled it." There is no conceivable remedy; he must digest the affront as he can; but why he should feel it so insupportable only in the case of our proposing to "receive" him is passing strange, except the author supposes him to be of so canine a temper as to be the most dangerous when most caressed.
It is amusing to see the happy versatility of the author, and with what