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RELATIVE ORDER OF THE RITE.
LET us pass now from the manner and importance of the baptismal rite, to consider, finally, the order in which it should be observed. Both Baptism and the Communion were enjoined as permanent institutions, to be observed to the end of time. The Saviour in the commission, (Matt. 28: 19, 20. Mark 16: 15, 16,) authorizes his ministers to go into all nations and preach the gospel, baptizing those who believe, with the promise that he will be with them to aid and bless them in their ministry, till the end of the world. As long then as it is the duty of ministers to preach, and of sinners to believe, so long it will be the duty of be. lievers to be baptized. In other words, while the economy of grace is continued, that is, to the end of the world, baptism must be retained as the appropriate badge of the Christian profession. So likewise the Communion is enjoined on the church till the second coming of Christ. • For I have received of the Lord,' says the apostle, 'that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death TILL HE COME,' I Cor. 11: 23-26. But we are not only required to observe
ese institutions, but to observe them in certain order. This order is prescribed in the commission, and confirmed and enforced by apostolic example, as well as by the nature and design of the two institutions.
First, then, let us look at the apostolic commission: Mark 16: 15, 16, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' Matt. 28: 19, 20, 'Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' This is THE LAW OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH-a law, in which the distinct laws of faith, and baptism, and visible church fellowship, are introduced as parts, or sections, of one complete whole, each part occupying its appointed, and therefore unchangeable place. It is one law, and requires the performance of certain duties in a certain order. The order in which these duties were first enjoined, is of comparatively inferior importance; but the order in which they are here commanded to be observed, is the order in which they must be observed, or the law is violated. By this law we are required in the first place, to teach, or preach the gospel; secondly, to baptize them that believe; and thirdly, to instruct such baptized believers to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded ; and the order in which these several duties are here stated, is as imperative as the duties themselves. It is just as obvious that we are restricted, in the administration of baptism, to a certain class of subjects, as that we are authorized to baptize at all; for on no rational principle of interpretation, can the commission be supposed to warrant the bap
*I have here, and in two or three other instances, drawn from 'Conversations on Communion,' by J. G. Fuller. This is an incomparable treatise, and ought to be in every Christian's library. It is written in an attractive style, and contains a most triumphant refutation of the arguments of the celebrated Robert Hall, one of the ablest advocates of free communion that has ever written.
tism of any but disciples, or such as profess to believe the gospel.
But if the commission authorizes us to require faith as an indispensable prerequisite to baptism, it is equally clear that it authorizes us to require baptism as an indispensable prerequisite to church fellowship. Is not the latter part of our Lord's commission as authoritative as the former? Or, is the order of it binding in one particular, and discretional in another? May it not be as conclusively maintained that the second duty must precede the third; as that the first must precede the second? Surely, if teaching and faith be intentionally enjoined as the first duty, baptism is intentionally enjoined as the second duty, and visible church fellowship as the third duty; and we are no more at liberty to invert the order in one case, than in another. We have precisely the same authority, then, for maintaining that baptism should precede visible churchfellowship, as we have for insisting that faith should precede baptism. The two positions must stand or fall together. Therefore, to administer the Lord's Supper to unbaptized persons, would be a manifest violation of the LAW which Christ gave for the regulation of his churches, and which The designed should be obligatory as long as the promise attached to it remains in force, that is, always, to the end of the world.
Secondly, let us examine the conduct of the apostles. The commission authorized them ultimately to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; but for the present they were to wait at Jerusalem for the gift of the Spirit, to qualify them for the great work of setting up the kingdom of Christ in the world. Accordingly, just fifty days after Christ's resurrection, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, it being the first day of the week, the apostles and disciples being assembled together with one
accord, 'there came suddenly a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.' A flood of light now broke in upon their minds, by which they were led into a clear understanding of the prophetic Scriptures, as well as of the doctrine they had received from the lips of the Saviour himself, and into just views of the spiritual and heavenly nature of their Lord's kingdom. A report of these occurrences went out, and a numerous crowd was soon collected. The apostles proceeded to address them concerning the mission, the character, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and the indispensable necessity of faith in his name, and the awful consequences of despising and rejecting his gospel. The word was carried with overwhelming conviction to the consciences of the auditors; and they cried out in the anguish of their hearts, Men and brethren, what shall we do?' Peter replied, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.' The penitents, to the number of three thousand, received this divine declaration of mercy with unspeakable joy, and immediately came forward and avowed themselves as converts to the Christian faith. Now how did the apostles proceed with these individuals? Precisely according to the order of the commission.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the
apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers,' Acts 2: 41, 42.
Such was the first Christian church. The Saviour himself drew the model; and it was carried into execution by his apostles, under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. Its organization was of course faultless, and designed as a pattern for all succeeding churches to the end of time. Accordingly the essential features in the constitution of the church at Jerusalem, were uniformly preserved in all the churches that were gathered by the apostles at subsequent periods of time, and in different parts of the world. Always and every where they required faith as a prerequisite to baptism, and as invariably insisted upon baptism as a prerequisite to church fellowship and communion. The order in every church was the same. The apostles did not countermand in one church, what they had taught in another. Says Paul to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 4: 17,) For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my WAYS which be in Christ, as I teach every where, in every church.' The conduct of the apostles therefore was uniform. The order they established in one church, was the order of every church. And not a solitary instance can be found recorded in the New Testament, where a person was received into church fellowship, or admitted to the Lord's Supper, unless he had previously been baptized. Baptism was required as the very first act of public obedience after believing. When Peter's hearers anxiously inquired what they should do, he replied, Repent and be baptized-clearly intimating that these were immediate duties, and of prior obligation to all others. When the people of Samaria believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, they were not re