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Baptism the Scriptural and Indispensable Qualification fin- communion at the Lord's table: or Considerations designed to expose the erroneous practice of departing from the original constitution of' the Christian Church, by forming Open Communion Baptist Churches, especially in those neighbourhoods tchere evangelical Congregational Churches already exist. Including anunadversions on the Preface of the Rev. Robert HalCs Reply to the Rev. Joseph Kinghorn's Work on " Baptism a Term of Communion." By Joseph Itihey. Offor, Newgate-st. pp. 105.
The above ample title fairly informs the reader what he is to expect. The Preface intimates, that the publication of this work arose from a circumstance in the immediate circle of the author's acquaintance. This indeed is frequently the occasion of a book being written. There is a secret history to every public transaction. But the point to which we would direct the reader's attention in our observations, is not the occasion of the pamphlet, but the subject which it discusses. It is clear that there is a manner of reasoning and of^acting adopted by many excellent men^that is fraught with pernicious consequences. We sive them full credit for not designing to do evil; but this does not prevent the natural tendency, either of their principles or conduct. In some cases we fear they are symptomatic of a spirit of laxity, which will lead to carelessness in the most important things; not so much a mistake in reasoning, as a tendency to adopt a moile of thinking and acting indifferent and latitudinarian; moving gradually their encampment nearer and nearer the men of the world, till at length the boundary will be crossed, and the parties which once appeared distinct will be blended together in one society.
This change may not be completed in the lifetime of an individual; but there is an inheritance of sentiments and maxims as well as property, and those who enter into the plans ot their predecessors do not always stop where they stopt; they often carry their principles to their full extent. Hence it
follows, that if the principles arc good, their tendency is displayed by new instances and various illustrations, till they become established; but if the contrary, the proof soon, is rendered visible that they are not what they were supposed to be. Perhaps those who first rendered them popular may be gone off the stage; but still the tendency of the principles themselves goes forward to its proper issue.
These observations in our opinion apply forcibly to the subject which Mr. Ivimey has taken up in the work before us. We give to many who plead for mixed communion full credit for their intentions. We doubt not they think it right that persons who are unbaptized should be admitted to communion, and that they bound their admission by the consideration that the parties are piouj persons; and though the law of Christ is somewhat stretched, yet that he intended it should, at least in extreme cases, give way so far as to include the characters described. But it is with astonishment that we see them so blind to the tendency of their own mode of reasoning. The unavoidable consequence is, that /.ie church has no business M baptism in any shape whatever! It is in vain to say, baptism ought to be required as a general rule, but we ought not to insist upon it as essential to communion in every case; for then the question arises—have you got a dispensing potcri In spite of all Mr. Hall's violence on this subject, it cumes to this enquiry; and the manner in which the patrons of mixed communion argue, shews itTheir reply is, in reality—Yes, xe *««.s dispensing power, and it is contained in the nth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Here then, it lies on them to shew, that the apostle's advice to receive those to their affectionate attention, o"*" wane already members of the church both by their profession arid their baptism, is the same thing with receiving those into the church who have never been i baptiied at all! But if so, how can it I be acknowledged that baptism is of per| manent obligation? If it be binding at I all, it is on account of its being require" i as an expression of a visible profession 141
REVIEW OF IVIMEY ON COMMUNION.
of subjection to Christ; but if this is not needful, if tiie whole depends on the opinion of the party who asks for idmission without it, it is Rot binding: fur no law intended to be operative was ever enacted with this sanction, you ought to obey it, but if you do not think that necessary, you can be admitted to every advantage you desire without it! In such a state of things, if the body of religious professors should think baptism commanded, it would be attended to; but if not, the principle that it should be regarded as one of the positive commands of Christ would be given up, and then it might with complete consistency be insisted upon—that baptism should never be mentioned at the church meetings—thatnoenquiry should be made on the subject—that it should be left altogether with the party himself as a private concern — that the church has nothing to do with it—because baptism is not a term ofcommunion! Such is the natural, proper issue of the arguments of the day in favour of mixed communion; and we hold it up in this distinct point of view, that our readers may see it, and ask themselves the question, whether they wish to see our "lurches reduced to this situation. should any one reply, there is no fear °'such an issue; we answer, there is nothing in the principle of mixed communion to prevent it; and in case the parties of wtiich a mixt church is cornPosed are nearly balanced, nothing to fender it improbable, if any circumstance should arise, that should make the anti-baptist party desirous of throwing baptism into the shade: and what could 'be Baptists reply? They had acknowledged that baptism was not a term of communion, they therefore could not consistently bring it forward in any prominent manner; and if the minister was sufficiently a baptist to protest against this extent of the principle, he would be considered as actingan illiberal Part, and this scheme of liberality and charity would end in contention.
We are aware it will be said, that is 'he view taken by bigotted Baptists, but n°t applicable beyond a very narrow circle. This, however, is far more than ** think correct. For the principle of mi*ed communion does not concern baptists only; it concerns all who admit ">e permanency of baptism in any mode, and administered to any class of subjects, and strikes at the constitution of every
religious body in the world, the Society of Friends only excepted. If baptism in any way was intended to be a permanent injunction, nothing is clearer than that it is the duty of those who profess their faith in Christ to be baptized persons. But, say the patrons of mixed communion, whatever is their duty, it is not our duty to make their obedience to his command a term of communion. In plain terms, we are not bound to follow the plan the Saviour laid down, nor the examples by which it is illustrated, Let such a principle be admitted, and it will ultimately ruin any church that adopts it. It is by no means a contest concerning one rite, or one opinion; for by reasoning of the same kind all the extravagancies of Popery were introduced and defended.
Mr. Ivimey in the course of his pamphlet addresses those young ministers who are favourable to mixed communion, and urges them, very properly, to consider their situation and responsibility. They cannot have had the advantages of extensive observation, but there are many things they might anticipate, which others have found true. They might easily discern, that should they adopt the plan of mixed communion, it would neutralize their efforts; that if their design succeeded, and they were surrounded by paedobaptists, it would fetter them in stating their opinions, with freedom; it would lay them open to the constant temptation of holding back what they thought truth, and not of bringing it forward when they ought. Or if, determined not to be restrained, they should speak all their mind, they would be told they were as bad as strict Baptists.' Thus they would have to bear the blame cast on those they oppose, without enjoying their consistency. They must e.xpect that the subject will often occasion discussion, and frequently be followed by dissension; that it is not at all likely the plan should much increase their numbers, still less that it should promote their peace; that there is no reason to suppose their utility, or the bestowment of the blessing of the Lord, depends on their practically passing over one of his ordinances; and if they should be secretly excited by the hope of popularity and worldly advantage, we would entreat them to consider how they can justify themselves before God, if motives of this kind operate in their minds, and lead them away from the plan exhibited in the Gospel.
It deserves consideration also, whether the system of mixed communion does not open the door so wide, that more go out than come in by it. We do not here refer only to those who would leave the church of which they had long been members, when such an infraction was made in its constitution; but to those who have admitted the system, and act upon it without hesitation; they are prepared by the sentiment itself for connecting themselves with any other congregation of any denomination, if their inclination or any cause of displeasure excites them; though they profess to believe that the Baptists are on the point of baptism exclusively right, yet since baptism and communion have (in their esteem) no connection, all parties to them are alike—if only the preaching, the society, or any thing that may be an inducement, strikes their attention. If they remove, it is no necessary part of their design to strive to strengthen the hands of their own brethren, they can do quite as well elsewhere; and. perhaps have not so broadly to meet with difficulties for being Baptists. Many act this part, and some see their error when it is difficult to repair it. Besides, the same thing which throws open all denominations of Dissenters to the mixed communion Baptist, and makes him at home wherever he may choose to go, paves the way to the Establishment, whenever he finds it convenient or desirable to go to Church. For what is to hinder him? That many things in the Establishment are in his view not derived from Scripture is no obstacle; for he that can set aside the considerations urged in favour of baptism, as an ordinance which the church ought to preserve and support, can easily overcome any of his scruples about other things, whenever the bias of his inclination leads him in a new direction.
We are aware that the strict Baptists have much censure to bear for what is called their want of liberality; but we doubt, notwithstanding all that is said against them, whether Psedobaptists, as a body, really wish the Baptists to throw open their doors and invite them to enter. For why should they wish to increase the number of competitors, or to see any of their body and their families exposed to the contaminating influence of a Baptist atmosphere? We have strong
reason to believe that this has been sometimes deprecated; and from the common operations of human nature, it is not at all surprising that it should have been the case.
We earnestly wish that Baptist churches may follow the things which will make for their peace, and things whereby they may edify each other. The peace of the church is too little considered by many, who would go great lengths, if they could only break the constitution of the churches with which they are connected, and bring in mixed communion. What end they expect to see answered by this conduct it may not be easy to say; because those who would act together in such a plan would be influenced by different motives: some for the purpose of introducing relatives, others from the hope of increasing their numbers, especially il by that means they could increase their funds, others from a desire of being thought liberal; but none from the force of a plain direction or example in the New Testament, warranting the introduction of those whom they deemed unbaptized; for they acknowledge no such thing existed in the primitive church. The attempt, however, to press such a measure must be productive of mischief. The parties engaged in it act on a plan which in the first step they take, is marked with impropriety. They had solicited the members of the church to which they belong to' receive tliem as brethren, and they knew the principles on which they were united together; but as soon as opportunity serves, they combine against the very persons with whom they earnestly sought a union, and by whose suffrage they were admitted. If the elder members will submit to the younger, it is well; but if not, if either they or any other of their brethren who entered the church believing its constitutional principles to be scriptural, do not choose to submit toi a change of system, contention must be the consequence, and then, who knows where it will end ?" The beginning ot strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave oft' contention before it be meddledjwith," Prov. xvii. 14. In the expectation of success such admonitions and reflections may be disregarded, and it will be thought a small matter to offend and wound those who are considered narrow-minded, illiberal, and bigotted. But if the attempt is
AGAINST FORCING OPEN COMMUNION CHURCHES.
made, and the point is carried, those who cannot submit their views to the new order of things, are in fact turned out of their own home, and obliged to go elsewhere! This is the first effect of this liberal system; and in addition to this, they must bear all the ridicule and hard names which it has been the fashion to throw on the strict Baptists. The consequences of such conduct cannot be forgotten; the excluded party will feel that it arose from an attachment to the plan of the New Testament; and though this will be their consolation, yet their exclusion must and will lower the christian character of their opponents in their estimation. It is true, those who expect to exult in their success may set against this the applause of others, who may congratulate them for raising their church to so liberal a condition. But who are these? Examine them: we shall be told they include some of the best friends of the Baptist denomination: that is, some df those who though sincerely Baptists, and who do wish well to the denomination, yet act with those who do not. But they include also, those who are careless and negligent, eitheraboutthedenomination, or the ordinance of baptism itself; and those, who from family connections, conveniency, attachment to a minister, or any accidental circumstance, may wish to enter, though they may be enemies to the denomination, and adverse to what will promote its real interests. The consequence of this will be, in numerous instances, that the church will be ruined. We know that many will ridicule such an idea: but we state it on calm conviction, and are satisfied that ultimately it will be proved correct. There will necessarily be introduced and 8vowed a laxity of principle which may extend beyond present foresight; for when such progress has been made, that the directions of our Saviour, and the examples set by the primitive church, and recorded for our instruction, are overruled by maxims of expediency, there is nothing that on the same principle may not be brought into complete subjection. If an acknowledged ordinance of Christ can be practically set aside, nothing can be considered secure. That some churches may be in a better state than others, notwithstanding the tendency of such sentiments, may be true. Scylla and Charibdis were objects of fear, not because no vessels escaped
who had to sail near them, but because so many were wrecked that the danger was acknowledged.
These observations, which have extended to a greater length than was expected when we began, are, we think, not foreign from the design of Mr. Ivimey's work. He divides his book into seven chapters. The titles are so full, that the reader knows what to expect before he begins to read them. The first is, "The right of private judgment; the principle on which dissenting churches are avowedly founded. Persons who object to the Established Church, compelled to dissent from it in order to satisfy conscience, and to serve God with sincerity." The title of the second is, "Nothing will justify the forming of a separate community in a neighbourhood where the Gospel is preached, but the necessity felt by those who promote it of maintaining the purity of divine ordinances. Those Baptists who do not consider baptism by immersion a term of communion upon a profession of faith, are under no such necessity. Baptists when about to form a church, because they cannot unite with an evangelical Congregational Pasdobaptist community, ought to form it upon such a basis, as will not encourage schism in that community." The title of the third is, "Baptism an indispensable term of communion in the apostolic churches. The connection between the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper inherent and inseparable." Of the fourth, "Baptism is a term of communion not to be dispensed with from considerations of expediency, or christian forbearance." Of the fifth, "Baptism as a term of communion essential to christian obedience—to preserve the true Protestant principle—to promote the purity and perpetuity of the Baptist churches." Of the sixth, "An appeal to Baptists tQ support their own denomination, including a remonstrance witl) those who are members of Pxdobaptist communions; and an expostulation with those who encourage mixed communion." Of the seventh, "An address to young ministers, not to attempt to alter the constitution of the Baptist churches; and to deacons, and other members of the churches, not to suffer such attempts if made, to be carried into effect."
We earnestly wish our author success, we hope his pamphlet will be extensively are noted in the errata, and the candid reader will consider what the author intended, and not what has escaped Ids observation, or that of his corrector, while his work was passing through the press.
read, and seriously considered. There is too much apathy in the minds of many to the subject on which it is written1; they think it of very little consequence, and they treat it with neglect. But, in our opinion, the members of our churches ought to give it a full investigation; we are glad their attention is turned to it by the present publication, and we hope it will produce a good effect.. Truth always gains by investigation. Every writer brings forward the subject on which he treats in the light in which it strikes his own mind, and thus adds to the common stock of our information. In the present case, Mr. Ivimey shews us how the arguments in favour of strict conmunion bear on his mind, and the shades of different representation between him and those on the same side who have gone before him, tend to shew their strength. We confidently say, none of the bearing points in favour of strict communion have been touched by any thing yet brought against them. The opponents of that system have felt themselves compelled to change their ground, and the position they have chosen is less tenable than that which they have deserted. Besides the sound argument brought forward by Mr. Ivimey, he has given us many illustrations of the tendency of mixed communion from observation and fact: sometimes in the direct form of anecdotes; at other times, suppressing names and private particulars, he has detailed only so much as was necessary to make the point of the case understood; and we doubt not, were it'proper, he could have furnished us with a larger body of circumstances. In his address to young ministers, and to the members of our churches, he calls on them to consider their responsibility to the great Head of the church, and to the church itself; for if by their means its peace is broken by an attempt to alter that constitution which is so clearly agreeable to the New Testament, what atonement can they make for so great an evil f
In the course of Mr. Ivimey's work he has noticed many passages which have occurred in Mr. Hall's controversial pieces on communion, and he has successfully exposed the unfairness of his representations. One thing we regret, which is, that there are a few typographical mistakes, which alter the meaning of the sentences where they1 occur; we believe the principal of them
Dissertations Introductory to the Study ot 'the Apocalypse, Sfc. By Albx. TilLoch, LL.D.
(Continued from page 177.)
In the third Dissertation, Dr.Tilloch enquires into "the language and structure of the Apocalypse." The Septuagint version of the Old Testament Scriptures, it is well known, is often referred to in the New; and a considerable portion of the phraseology of the latter is derived from it. Hence, as Dr. T. observes, arises the importance of an acquaintance with, what has been called, Hellenistic Greek, but more properly the Greek of the Synagogue, in the study of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and the want of which no degree of acquaintance with the language of the Greek classics can supply. In considering the influence of the idiom introduced by the Greek version of the Old Testament in forming the style of the New,. in its several books, it would appear a natural supposition that those portions of the New, in which there is a more especial reference to the law and the prophets, should be those wherein the traces of the Hellenistic Greek, are to be foundHence, frequently in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the.Epistles to the Romans, and the Hebrews, it js very discoverable. If, however, we can take Dr. T.'s word for it, this feature is more prominent in the Apocalypse than in any other book of the Greek Scriptures. In what respects it is so, the Doctor does not explain: not, we presume, u the frequency of occurrence (were an accurate comparison instituted); hut that in some respects it is so, our learned author thinks indisputable, he "having shewn in his preceding dissertations that it was the first written book of the New Testament 1" The Doctor adds,
"The dispersion of the Jews throughout the Greek Empire, the Septuagint translation, and the public addresses ot the Elders to the Greek Jews in their Synagogues, had, as intimated, alreaay effected certain . idiomatic changes on U« Greek employed in teaching .the: law. o