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Set the Baptists an example of gospel, open, liberal communion, they will doubtless follow.
Moreover, almost all the Pædobaptifts condemn your theory of open communion with unbaptized believers.
The Pædobaptists are nearly, if not altogether, as much clofe communionists as are the Baprifts; yes, if I mistake not, they are more universally so, for some Baptists will commune with professed believers who are not baptized, but I recollect not of so much as one instance, in which a Pædobaptist consented to commune with one not baptized.
You will further observe, it is totally inconsistert with the Pædobaptist sentiments to commune at the Lord's table before the ordi. nance of baptism be administered. No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof,'* is a text which they consider of no small weight in this matter.
It is at once granted, that some of your denomination, and men of literature, talents and piety too, are so desirous of union at the Lord's table, that they would difpenfe with the law of Moses, which the Pædobaptifts, in this particular, stand upon, and the law of Christ, to which the Baptists adhere.
I confess, my dear Sir, you appear to me somewhat out of order, whilft you stand, as you suppose, upon the Pædobaptist ground, when you can show no title to it, and there fomewhat earnestly contend with the Baptifts for practising as the Pædobaptifts have, if I mistake not, generally, if not univerfally done.
* Exodi xii. 48.
doors to you.
The Pædobaptists err, in that they adinit to baptism improper subjects, as readily as they do those who have gospel qualifications. But your denomination have rejected baptism itself. You have, to speak plain truth, nothing left of it, fave the name.
You must, Sir, change your practice before your arguments, supposing them conclufive for the Pædobaptists, can have the force you wish them, in drawing the Baptists to open their
The Baptists do not, to my knowledge, claim infallibility, as you intimate; but they consider the Scriptures to be fo. From which they have this information, that the period hath arrived, in which the way of holiness should be so plain, that the way-faring man, though a fool, unlearned, should not err therein; yet
the man of learning, talents and piety, and all who follow him, may err ; and do, fo far as they think to mend the fimplicity of the gospel, by substituting the inventions of men for the commandments of the Lord,
In this letter we have introduced the subject somewhat abruptly, and not quite, explicitly enough for every capacity; but you, Sir, can understand it; and in the following letters, we hope to handle the fubject with so much candour, clearness, precision and evidence, that the weakest mind may understand, and receive conviction of what is truth. Should
be amongst the convinced, the triumph of truth will be to you more precious than rubies
, ; and very grateful to him, who is
Your's with alfection,
Open Communion with all who keep the Ordinances
as Christ delivered them to the Saints.
SINCE I have taken in hand to set in order some things, you will give me liberty to rectify mistakes, and to define matters minutely.
It gives me pain to rectify you, where the rectification will give you one unpleafant feel. ing. But every thing which obstructs the progress of truth must give way. You fuppose, dear Sir, that the Baptists were very little heard of till after Luther arose. Here you mistake, for they were, according to the hiftory of the Church, the principal, if not the only ones, who, for time immemorial, or up to the apoftolic age, held and defended the great and foundation doctrines of grace. Befides, Sir, you have made a mistake in whole, in another particular. The Baptists, as to the article of baptism, which is the principal, or one principal thing, which occasions what is termed close communion, have been as general and universal, all over Christendom, as you have represented them scarce and fingular. I do not find one profefling Christian, for eleven hundred years after Christ, if not fifteen hun. dred, but was a Baptist in sentiment, and fo in practice, fome extreme cases excepted.
Luther, Melancthon and Calvin, if not all the great reformers, were, from the most correct information obtained, sentimentally Baptists, as to the administration of that previous, distinguishing, significant ordinance. They disagreed with the primitive Baptists, as to the subjects. They were also too much for accommodating, as to the primitive and scripture practice.
On account of their disagreement as to the subjects, they and a multitude before them and since, took the name of Pædobaptists. Now, Sir, were you and others, who, in the present day, say so many hard things against the Baptists, Pædobaptists ; that is, Did you baptize, or were you baptized at all, you would have a more plausible ground on which to meet the Baptists in this controversy.
I must now, to clear the ground, that we may have a field view of the subject, do what I would not, did not the cause manifestly require, it. I must define your denomination, and trace its rise. If my definition be juft, be clear, be accurate, comprehending neither too much nor too little, if it have not one unkind word in it, you cannot in reason take umbrage at it, and I desire you would not.
The definition which belongs to your denomination, and which gives its peculiar distinction from all others, and by which you ought willingly to be known, in the close communion controversy, is Pædorantists.
The rise of your denomination was among the Clinicks, or fick people, of ancient date. These were judged unable to receive baptisin, and yet the erring administrators, supposing baptism essential to salvation, concluded, to save the souls of sick persons, to change immersion into sprinkling, and still (in violation of Scripture, and of language, if not of common sense) to call it baptism. This practice was in its infancy, as you suppose the Baptifts to have been, till after the reformation under Luther, Calvin, and others.
Years after the Reformation commenced, some societies began to think sprinkling not a substitute, but Scripture baptism.* Now your denomination, strictly speaking, took its rise. Instead of sprinkling from necessity, you now began to sprinkle sentimentally. Yet, the most learned, if not the most pious, of your denomi. nation, have in every age confessed, that your practice was not apoftolical, or that the practice of the apostles was immersion. My dear Sir, you see the strait to which I am driven ; I am compelled to expose your anti-evangelical practice, in order to justify the innocent, whom
Now, should I grant you all which you
claim in your second letter, for the Pædobaptists, yet you have little pretensions to the honour which you there attribute to them.
For you are not of thát denomination, nor do I know of many in America who are. The Greek Church are, the Church of England are profelfedly so, but not practically. Some, if not all the old reformers in Europe, of whom you say so many good things, were. These, there
* There might be some among the Papists who were of this opinion before,