Page images

our practice is one, our aim is one. The love of Christ constrains us both; both are borne away by its impelling influence. Here, then, we occupy common ground: there is a oneness of feeling, of interest, and of object. Here, we are emphatically ONE. But there is another duty which is equally imperative with that of publishing the gospel, and which, in the New Testament, immediately follows, and never precedes, the belief of the gospel-Christian baptism -a duty which all believers should not only personally obey, but inculcate on those believers who have not obeyed it. But Baptists and Pedobaptists are of two minds respecting this ordinance; the latter, indeed, (with a few modern exceptions,) agreeing with us, that baptism is the appointed, and the only appointed mode of entrance into visible church fellowship, but opposed to us, both respecting its subjects, and the mode of administration. In church fellowship, then, Baptists and Pedobaptists cannot consistently unite. Here, they cannot be one; for, whichever is right, one party obeys the command, and the other party does not obey it; and by consequence, one party inculcates Christian obedience, and the other inculcates a deviation from Christian law. Here, then, we divide, and here we must divide, each acting agreeably to the dictates of his own conscience. While Pedobaptists persist, for whatever reason, in declining a compliance with what we believe to be Christian baptism, our union with them in church fellow. ship would be an anomaly equally opposed to reason, to their own sentiments, and to Christian principle-a union, which cannot plead the least shadow of scriptural authority. What is Christian church fellowship, but a union of Christians in keeping the ordinances as they were delivered? Christian union commends itself to the heart of every true child of God: but let us be disunited to the end of time, rather than form an unscriptural alliance. If our Pedo

baptist brethren cannot see it their duty to be baptized— rather than compromise the principle, which they, for the most part, equally with the Strict Baptists, profess to derive from the New Testament-that baptism is essential to church fellowship-let us form our churches, each on the plan which he believes to be the mind of Christ; and unite with each other in every Christian feeling, and in every Christian pursuit, to which baptism has not a special relation. This, assuredly, will be a much happier exemplification of Christian communion,' and of the union which our Lord prayed might subsist among all his disciples, than a connection, which, on the part of Baptists at least, involves the occasional sacrifice of a Christian ordinance.

Finally. You Do unite with Pedobaptists in various Christian exercises; in prayer, and praise, and preaching the gospel; and in a variety of benevolent institutions.

Undoubtedly we do; but what then? None of these exercises are peculiar to church fellowship. They are incumbent upon us as in our individual capacity, whether we are connected with a Christian church or not. It is a mistake, to suppose that we consider the absence of baptism as a disqualification for the Lord's Supper only. Baptism being the divinely appointed mode of entrance into the visi ble church, we consider the absence of it (as far as our concurrence is concerned) as a disqualification for all the offices and exercises peculiar to churches. We decline a union with Pedobaptists in the celebration of the Lord's supper, because it is a church ordinance: and to unite with those as church-members, who, in our opinion, have not entered the church by the door of Christ's appointing, would be, we conceive, a most unworthy reflection on his wisdom, and disregard of his just authority. Since he has appointed baptism as the mode in which all believers shall be admit

ted to visible church fellowship, who are we, that we should presume to receive them without baptism, to any of the exercises peculiar to Christian churches, as such? We should not elect a Pedobaptist to the office of either pastor or deacon; for they are church offices; and, on the same principle, we decline a joint-participation of the Lord's Supper. But prayer, and praise, and preaching the gospel, and Christian benevolence, are not acts peculiar to churches. They were duties before the formation of a single Christian church, and would have been duties to the end of time, had no such institution existed. A union with Pedobaptists, therefore, in these exercises, is not a deviation from our principle. In such a co-operation, we should unite with them, not as church-members, in the celebration of an ordinance peculiar to churches; but as Christians, in the pursuit of objects in which all good men should engage, whether united to a church or not. We unite with Pedobaptists in prayer, and praise, and Christian benevolence, because they are universal duties. We unite with them in preaching the gospel, because it is the duty of all who know the joyful sound,' to publish it. We love the brethren, because we are commanded to love them, and because there is that in Christianity with which the heart of every Christian beats in unison. And, inasmuch as we are commanded to love them for the truth's sake that dwelleth in them,' we entertain the highest regard for those who appear to live most under the influence of Divine truth in general, irrespective of their sentiments on any one point of truth whatBut when we are required to unite with Pedobap. tists in an ordinance peculiar to Christian churches, our thoughts naturally revert to the Christian commission-the peremptory and perpetual law of the Christian church, no less in its order than in its requirements; and while we



should rejoice to receive our brethren in the way which Christ has appointed, we do not feel at liberty to receive them in any other way.


1. THE simplicity of the Christian rites, and their adaptation to the ends they are designed to promote, afford an admirable display of the wisdom and goodness of the Divine Lawgiver. Under the ancient dispensation, the people were taught more by types and shadows, than by a living ministry. Almost every truth had its appointed and appropriate symbol; consequently their ritual services were exceedingly numerous and cumbersome. Under the New economy, the symbolical ordinances are but two in number, and those perfectly simple in their nature, and of easy observance; suited to every class in society, and adapted to set forth in a striking and impressive manner, the most important and essential truths of Christianity.

Baptism, as a symbol of death and resurrection, represents the subject as ceasing from the service of sin, and commencing a new life of devotion to God: and while it thus points to what the believer has actually experienced, it conveys an admonitory lesson, wherever Christianity comes, proclaiming to all, the absolute necessity of being 'born again.' In the Lord's Supper, the bread and wine which we jointly participate, symbolize the body and blood of Christ, and set forth his sufferings and death as the ground of our acceptance with God, and the means of eternal life. These ordinances, then, while they tend to promote the individual and mutual edification of Christians, serve, at the same time, a higher and more important end. Both together constitute the appointed method of confessing Christ,

and hold forth perpetually to view, as fundamental principles in Christianity, the absolute necessity of the new birth, in order to a meetness for the kingdom of heaven; and the death of Christ, as the only ground of hope to a guilty world. And often have these symbols been made to speak with solemn emphasis to the conscience, and set home with irresistible conviction, these all-important truths, when the voice of the living preacher had failed to produce any lasting impression. Baptism and the Lord's Supper, therefore, are important duties, not only as Divine institutions, but as being the appointed method of honoring the Saviour, and an essential means of promoting his cause. Every Christian is required to confess Christ publicly; to yield his body as a living sacrifice; and to cause his light to shine before the world, that others may be led, by his example of piety, to glorify God; and these ordinances constitute the most prominent, and most important duties of visible Christianity. Consequently, no Christian can voluntarily neglect them, and be guiltless..

2. We see, in the history of these rites, the dangerous tendency of error, when once introduced into the ordinances of religion, however trivial it may be at first. Probably the ancients, when they introduced the custom of pouring water upon the naked body of the subject, from head to foot, in cases of sickness, and immediate danger of death, had no idea of carrying the matter any further; but after pouring was once introduced, they proceeded, by an easy transition, to sprinkling; and then, from sprinkling in cases of necessity, to sprinkling in all cases. Thus a Christian ordinance, when once suffered to undergo a modification, dwindles by degrees into a ceremony bearing not even the remotest resemblance to the original institution; and what was at first intended to be confined to particular cases, obtains, a length, an unrestricted currency. Nor is this all. The

« PreviousContinue »