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They attempt to justify themselves in this particular on two grounds; first, that they “ do nothing more than their opponents ;” and “ where their conduct is deemed the most exceptionable, they only copy the example which the pædobaptists set before them, and support by preeminent talents.”* They do nothing more than their oppo
" nents. What then? we hold no principle inconsistent with our practice; we have not confined the profession of christianity to ourselves; much less are we accustomed to make a practical distinction betwixt the participation of the eucharist, and other duties and privileges, after stating, in so many words, that the Scripture authorises no such distinction. The plea derived from the disposition of pædobaptists to cultivate a religious intercourse, we leave to be answered by himself, who has told us that “we meet on unequal terms.' “ The latter (pædobaptists) surrender no principle, they do not unite with those whom they deem unbaptized.”+ Their other pretence is, that “prayer and praise
, are not exclusive ordinances of the church; that they were in being before it was formed, and have been parts of true religion under every dispensation.” I But is it not the peculiar prerogative of the faithful to offer acceptable devotion? Is
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 173. † P. 64.
I P. 175.
not prayer in the name of Jesus a peculiarity of the new dispensation, and is not the requesting a pædobaptist to present it on our behalf, as clear an acknowledgement of his christianity, as admitting him to communion, and, consequently, as incompatible with his own maxim, that the “ church of Christ, acting upon the rule he has laid down, cannot recognise any person as his disciple, who is not baptized in his name?”
Mr. Kinghorn is bound, by his own declaration, in his treatment of other denominations, to abstain from every action which will imply an explicit acknowledgement of their being christians; so that, as far as he is concerned, it is of no consequence whatever, whether prayer or praise belong to natural or revealed religion, or whether they are or are not exclusive ordinances of the church: the only question is, whether the reciprocation of such services, with other denominations, be not a recognition of their christianity. If it be, he is, by his acknowledgement, as much obliged to abandon it, as the practice of mixed communion, and exactly for the same reason; since he informs us that his objections to that practice are not founded on any peculiar connexion betwixt communion and baptism, but on the common relation which the latter bears to “ all the duties of christianity."
The preceding remarks are more than sufficient to evince his inconsistency with himself; which, however glaring, is not more so than his deviation
from ancient precedent. That the first christians did not interchange religious services with those with whom they refused to communicate ; that they did not countenance, in the exercise of their ministry, men whom they refused to acknowledge as members of the church, it would be ridiculous to attempt to prove; the fact will be instantly admitted. Let it be also remembered, that this deviation is of far greater magnitude than that with which we are accused. Who, that remembers that the kingdom of God is not meats or drinks, that its nature is spiritual, not ritual, can doubt that the moral duties of religion, the love of the brethren, with its diversified fruits and effects, taken in their whole extent, form a more important object than the single observation of the eucharist?
Mr. Kinghorn himself deprecates the very suspicion of placing even baptism, in point of importance, on a level with the least of the moral precepts of Christ. But with respect to the whole of these, they allow themselves to depart as far from scriptural precedent, in its literal interpretation, as ourselves. In the affair of communion, they boast of adhering to “ that plain rule of conduct (to adopt my opponent's words,) so did the apostles, and, therefore, so do we.”* But here their conformity stops; in every other branch of social
Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 98.
religion, in whatever respects the interior of the kingdom, they claim the liberty of treating the unbaptized in precisely the same manner with members of their own denomination, wherein they pronounce their own condemnation; for what should prevent us from retorting, “ so did not the apostles, but so do ye ?”
The distress and embarrassment which the consciousness of this glaring inconsistency occasioned the venerable Booth, are sufficiently depicted in his Apology. The sturdy saint perfectly reels and staggers under its insupportable weight; which, to use the language of Archbishop Tillotson, is a millstone round the neck of strict communion, which will inevitably sink it into perdition; an incongruity which the most obtuse understanding perceives, and no degree of acumen can defend; and which so totally annuls the plea of original precedent, which is their sheet-anchor, as to leave it doubtful whether its advocates are most at variance with the apostles, or with themselves. The venerable apologist has recourse to the same distinctions with the present writer, but with so little success, and, apparently, with so little satisfaction to himself, that if the spirit of controversy did not blunt our sensibility, we should sincerely sympathise with his distress. It is humiliating to see the manly and majestic mind of a Booth stooping to such miserable logomachies.
The advocates of the restrictive system must change their ground; they must either go forwards or backwards. They have already conceded so much to the members of other denominations, that, if they would preserve the least shew of consistency, they must either concede more, or withdraw what they have granted. They have most unreasonably and capriciously stopped, and fixed their encampment where no mortal before ever thought of staying for a moment. They have already made such near approaches to the great body of those whom we deem unbaptized, as places them at an unmeasurable distance from the letter of the apostolic precedent, though in perfect harmony with its spirit; while they preposterously cling to that letter, as the reason for refusing to go an inch farther. They remain immovable (to change the figure, not because they rest on any solid basis, but because they are suspended betwixt the love of the brethren, and the remains of intolerance; just as Mahomets tomb is said to hang betwixt two magnets of equal powers, placed in opposite directions.
The Scottish baptists (as I have been informed) act consistently. Conceiving, with Mr. Kinghorn, that immersion, on a profession of faith, is a necessary introduction to the christian profession, they uniformly abstain from a participation in sacred offices with the members of other societies, and, without pretending to judge of their final state, treat them on every occasion as men, whose