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they pursuing carnal objects? Is it for this the Society claims to itself above all others the definite article, The Mission, The London Mission, and The Evangelical Society? Truly the Church, the Wesleyan) the Moravian, and the Baptist Missions, will lift their hands to heaven and say, let them be in each of these particulars—The Society. Is it, Sir, for this we dissent from national establishments? For this that our British ladies arc planning in their closets, their parlours, and their kitchens? For this they collect the pence of the poor? and for this we send out Missionaries? Surely it is for this, that the British press already teems with its invective. These things demand an explanation, and if no satisfactory explanation can be given, as an individual, and as the Pastor of a church in a populous town, I must decline my little exeitions for the Society, and turn them to objects more substantial.
Should you deem these strictures worthy of the public eye, 1 beg you will allow them a place in your Magazine, and permit me to subscribe myself,
ON MIXED COMMUNION.
Some time ago the subject of mixed communion excited the general attention of the christian world, by means of its eloquent advocate Mr. II—. Since then we have heard little about it, except now and then a faint and indistinct sound, implying a disposition to let the thing sleep; and I have no wish to awake it. But, Sir, with your permission, I beg leave to offer a few remarks on the sentiment through the medium of your Magazine. It has often engaged my thoughts, and occupied my attention to enter into its merits, if merit "it possesses; but I am still as much as ever at a loss to understand it. If it had been a regulation of Jesus Christ, one might have tried to find it in the New Testament; but it is in vain to expect to meet with any thin» resembling it there. We may, therefore, ask, what claim has it to the attention of Christians more than any other human invention? If its claims cannot be supported by Scripture, it bad much better be entirely left alone. The
friends of mixed communion will have it, that it would tend to closer union among Christians, and consequently render their operations more effective, and the churches more prosperous. Butwhat reason have we to suppose,. that any church setting up an order of admission to membership different to that used by the apostoljp churches, can be either more united or more flourishing on that account? The very nature of the case proves the contrary to be a fact. For if the question be put, how can two walk together except they are agreed? we may with more propriety ask, how can twenty or perhaps two hundred walk together if not agreed? If there be not union of views respecting an ordinance positively commanded in. the New Testament, there can neither be union of design or union of operation in such a body of people. They may, indeed, profess to have but one object ultimately as the end for which they unite; but as they set out upon professedly opposite principles, it is utterly impossible they can act in concert without a compromise of those principles. How can a man believe his obligation to be baptized, in obedience to the command of Jesus Christ, in order to be united with his church, when, after being united, he can sit down and say, any one else is at liberty to be united with it, who he believes has never been baptized? In such a case, a man must either consider his own baptism as a mere matter of opinion, and not an obligation, or he must deny the practice of the apostles which required baptism of all who believed. Therefore mixed, communion is inconsistent with itself, and destroys its own object.
The strict baptists have been charged with bigotry, straitlacedn.ess, and even with persecution by their opponents. But what will not human nature in its present state do to gain a point? And what will not some good and eminent men write in order to establish a favourite opinion? To call a church of Christ bigots and persecutors, because they keep the ordinances as they were delivered by the apostles, their opponents themselves being judges, is as strong a proof of their want ofgoodWgument to support mixed communion as one can desire. For if such a charge was just, it would equally apply to the apostles of Christ; the strictcommunionjsts merely copying their example in this point, But if the laws of Christ were binding ou the churches in the primitive times, tlicy must be so now; if they were not binding then, they cannot be now; and therefore we are at liberty to reject or retain what we think proper.
ON MIXED COMMUNION.
So far indeed are the strict Baptists from persecuting others, that they are the only sect upon earth who never did persecute, and who understand and practise civil and religious liberty as well, if not better, than any other body of Christians. Suppose a Paedobaptist brother applies for admission into a Baptist church, and they refuse him on the ground of his not being baptized; is such a decision an act of persecution? No unprejudiced mind would deem it so. But yet such conduct has been represented as unchristian by the advocates of mixed communion, although it is- a well known fact, that among all the Independent churches no one is admitted a member but by a vote of the majority; and if twenty-nine vote for a candidate and thirty against him, he would not be received; nor would any just blame attach to the church on that account. But if a single individual of that persuasion applies to a Baptist (although he knows beforehand their peculiar sentiments) and is rejected, it becomes a serious charge against them, and they must think themselves well treated if they escape with being termed narrow-minded, &c. &c. So then civil and religious liberty maybe well enough among others, but the Baptists ought not to presume to exercise a similar privilege. I know that mixed communionists object to this mode of reasoning on the subject, and tell us, that the person rejected is confessedly a pious and godly Christian, one for "whom Christ died," and therefore he cannot be refused without blame attaching to the church. But this objection is weak as groundless, when we know, that the Tide of admission into the church is not optional with any church, but plainly laid down in the oracles of God; and therefore absolutely binding on all bodies of Christians. Consequently a church in receiving members merely perform a part of Christ's commandment, which act of theirs is regulated by the express word of God: their abstract authority having no more to do with it, than it has to do with making the Bible itself. it is said by mixed cummunionists,
that there is no necessary or instituted connection between baptism and the Lord's Supper. What they mean by this I know not, except we are to understand by it, that baptism may be attended to or omitted, just as suits an individual who may happen to apply for church fellowship. Be that as it may, it is clear that the church which sets aside baptism to accommodate an individual, has an equal right to dispense with the Lord's Supper to suit the same person should he require it; since it appears, that not the command of Jesus Christ,' but the opinion of that toeak brother is the rule by which such a church acts. < But I think the Scriptures will bear us out in asserting, that there is a direct connection between the two positive institutions. For in the 2nd of Acts we are told, that the persons who were baptized were the same day added to the church. Here then we have a plain ■ matter of fact recorded quite in point; and from this fact there can be no lawful appeal. It is obvious that one reason for their attending to baptism ■ was, with a direct view to the union with the church and admittance to the Lord's Supper. For it is said, they continued in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Our business then as followers of Christ should be, not to enquire how far we may deviate from the first church with seeming impunity, but how we may purge the corruptions of the present day from our churches, by a more steady and undeviating attachment to the pattern set us by the first church of Jerusalem. As we are called to obey the laws of Christ, and not to enact them, so that obedienco can never be genuine which is not regulated by the testimony of Scripture alone.
Another argument used by our opponents is, that as we are all imperfect and liable to err, we should overlook the mistakes of our brethren; and if in the whole, they are truly pious, receive them, although they have not been baptized, except in their own view of the subject. That both Baptists and Pasdobaptists are imperfect, and therefore should bear and forbear with each other, • must be fully granted. But will that imperfection be less apparent by a departure from the rule of right laid down in the Scriptures of truth? Because a man is imperfect, must he do that which the word of God and his own
conscience condemn, lest he should hurt the mind of a brother? While it is readily admitted that we ought to forbear with a brother whose conscience is hurt by an act of ours, which, though not absolutely sinful, yet may neither !>e commanded nor forbidden in the Scriptures; yet this forbearance would be sinful when an express command of Jesus Christ is the question. The argument, that my brother does not see the command in the same light that I do, is not valid. It is not the light in which a man views a command that is the rule whether human or divine, but the plain letter of the statute expressed in the book, and which cannot be misunderstood; otherwise it is no law at all, and can never be binding on any one. Now the friends to strict communion, feeling no hesitation about this command to be baptized by immersion on a profession of their faith alone, and in obedience to express Scripture, must renounce their own baptism before they' can receive into the church and commune with unbaplized persons. And therefore whatever may be included in Christian forbearance, it is evident a departure from the command of Jesus Christ with regard lo Baptism cannot be included. The evils of mixed communion are not few; but they are the natural consequences of holding the pure ordinances of Christ with a loose hand. What an awkward situation a church is placed in, which, for instance, has a Padobaptist pastor, when there are some to be immersed; they have to apply to another minister to perform the ordinance, while at the same time they look on themselves as a completely organized church of Christ. And supposing the pastor to be a Baptist, then the Paedobaptist members have to apply to some other minister to sprinkle their infants. And in both cases there must necessarily be something said, which at least must imply a disapprobation of the opposite sentiments of their brethren; this must frequently beget unpleasant disputes,-or at all events, unpleasant feelings; and render the following apostolic admonition impossible to be complied with :—" Now, I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment," see 1 Cor. i. 10. I
Many more disadvantages might be named connected with mixed communion, but not wishing to occupy your pages too long on the subject, these must suffice. I am glad to find from your number this mouth, that there are so few churches in England and Scotland of this sort, and that the error has made no progress in Wales or America, although in the latter country the Baptists are by far the most numerous body of Christians on that Continent.
On the whole it seems to -me that mixed communion has not theshadow of reason for its adoption—that it has not a single benefit to confer, nor does it ward off a single evil—that it is a mere human contrivance, the effect of a misguided charity, founded in a misconception of the nature of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, or else in an unreasonable attachment to a favourite hypothesis. I am, Sir, Your obedient humble Servant, F.H.
Dec. SO, 1893.
EXTRACT FROM MR. HALL'S
We have had many occasions in the course of our labours as Journalists, to enter our protest against a practice which has, unhappily, become but too prevalent among the Dissenters in England; we refer to that of allowing persons who are not members to interfere in the management of the concerns of that particular church with which they give their attendance at public worship. On this subject, it gave us inexpressible pleasure to meet with the following pointed remarks from the pen of Mr. Hall, and we entreat the particular attention of our readers to them.
The congregation at Kettering who attended on the ministry of Mr. Toller, had occasion to express their decided attachment to him, and their unwillingness to part with him. The consequence was, that three separate addresses were drawn up, viz. from the young people-from the Members of the Benevolent Society—and from the congregation at large; but no address from the church! It is on this strange procedure that Mr. Hall animadverts as follows :—
"The reader will naturally be surprised to find that on this occasion no address was presented by the church.
EXTRACT FROM MR. IIAM,'s MRMOIU OP TOLLER.
As this omission cannot with a shadow of probability be ascribed to indifference on their part, it must be imputed to the church .not occupying that rank in the esteem of the auditory to which it is justly entitled. In every Christian congregation the church ought to be regarded as the principal object, to which the auditory are but an appendage, and for a union with which it should be their highest ambition to become qualified. Congregations are the creatures of circumstances, churches the institution of God; and if we adhere to the maxims and examples of scripture, and of primitive antiquity, in all religious proceedings their judgment will first be consulted, and their official character recognized. But here we meet.with a transaction of great moment, in which three classes of persons to which no function is assigned in the New Testament, act a conspicuous part, while the church is wholly overlooked. My reason for animadverting on this procedure is, that in the economy of modern dissenters, a growing tendency may be perceived to merge the church in the congregation, and to commit the management of the most weighty matters to a body of subscribers in preference to the members; an innovation, should it generally prevail, productive of incalculable evils. Many of those who compose the auditors in distinction from the church, may possess genuine piety; but while they persist in declining to make a public profession of Christ, it is scarcely possible for them to give proof of it: the greater part, it is no breach of candour to suppose, are men of the world; and surely it requires little penetration to perceive the danger which religion must sustain by transferring the management of its concerns from persons decidedly religious, to those whose pretensions to interfere are founded solely on pecuniary considerations. The presumptuous intermeddling of worldly, unsanctified spirits with ecclesiastical concerns, has been the source of almost every error in doctrine, and enormity in practice, that has deformed the profession of Christianity from the time of Constantine to the present day; nor is dissent of much importance except as far as it affords an antidote to this evil. The system which confounds the distinction between the church and the congregation, has long since been carried to perfection in the
Presbyterian denomination; and we all know what preceded and what has followed that innovation,—the decay of piety, the destruction of discipline, a most melancholy departure, in a word, both in principle and in practice from genuine Christianity."
To the Editor of the New Evan. Magazine.
Many of the remarks of your correspondent in his Essay on the dangers to which christian churches of the present day are exposed, were seasonable and interesting; though the greater part of his Essay was occupied in pointing out the dangers incident to ministers, rather than to churches. The subject is too copious to be exhausted by any remarks of mine; but if you deem the. following worthy of a place in your excellent Magazine, by inserting them you will much oblige
Your sincere well-wisher,
In describing the dangers to which churches of the present day are exposed, our views may be influenced by several local circumstances, the existence of which, is not general. But there are in the present day few churches that are not in danger,
I. Of forming their characters from the conduct of others, rather than from the principles of the Gospel.
The New Testament contains all the religious principles essential to the constitution of a Christian, and his excellence consists in combining these in his heart, and embodying them in his conduct. We are eminent in the sight of God no further than we are actuated by the principles of the Gospel; and in forming an estimation of our christian character, we may deduct the merit of those actions which spring from selfinterest or external circumstances.— "Your fear of me is taught by the precepts of men," is a charge from which few of us can plead exemption; and to call this christian excellence, or to expect the Divine approbation for its cultivation, would be preposterous and absurd. The Apostle Peter describes the principles which must form our characters in order to our possessing real excellence—" And besides these, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to know- I ledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 5—8. These are some of the principles and virtues of Christianity, the lowest sanctions of which should ever come over the mind of a Christian, with a solemn coercion exclusively their own, since they are sanctioned by authority, and exalted so far above all competition with human interests.
But is it a fact, that the characters of Christians in the present day are generally formed on such principles? Suppose them to be obliterated, and that many professing Christians had their Bibles: replaced by the maxims and mysteries of a barbarous and pagan mythology, how many religious principles would be erased; and what striking transformation, of character should we discover? It is probable tnat the effect would be very striking in those who never looked into their Bibles, but with such a hasty, jealous glance, as though awed by the terrors of a papal inquisition! Would not their actions still be controlled by human opinions? and still "measuring themselves by themselves," would they not make, the character of others the model of their own, and think it a work of supererogation to cultivate the Christian virtues, any farther than was necessary to keep in with the course of the religious world. i
A character constituted of christian principles will be excellent in every situation. As it is not formed by external circumstances, itcannotbe destroyed by their removal. The person who possesses it, feels a solidity and dignity, which makes him independent of the casualties of life. His character is not formed by those circumstances which influence only one particular grace; but of those principles which equally influence all his graces. His springs of action are fed l)y that holy heavenly influence, which stimulates him. to persevere alike through evil and good report. He is "rooted and grounded in the faith," and whether zephyrs fan, or tempests rage, he stands firm and unshaken. The case is widely different
with him, whose character is formed merely by the conduct and opinions of others. He is nothing more than what they please to make him—a m>re passive substance, that yields to any plastic influence. He possesses no stamina; and when those external circumstances which stimulate to action are withdrawn, like Samson his strength is departed.
•To see the former character in its beauty, we must look back to the days of our forefathers, or to those of their children, who, like them, love to think, to study their Bibles, and embody its principles. The manners of the present day are evidently unfavourable to its cultivation. Public judgment generally awards its favours to actions and offices inimical to mental cultivation, or the improvement of our christian character. It is by improperly attempting to secure these favours, that many Christians sacrifice their honour, and present to us such fitful flimsy characters; and in contrasting what they are, with what they might be, we see the importance of guarding against this danger.
II. Churches arein danger of neglecting to sympathize with the afflicted.
To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, is such an imperious duty, that the Apostle James considered it one important part of religion; and if this duty be neglected, whatever pretensions we make to Christianity, we want one indispensable proof of its genuineness. Attachment to Christ must produce attachment to his people; and thus their sufferings become a test of the sincerity of our love to him. The professor of religion must know that all real Christians are members of Christ; and that consequently to neglect them in affliction, is to neglect him who is their head. ■ When one member of a body suffers, all the other members by a natural sympathy suffer with it; and therefore insensibility to the sufferings of Christians, is a proof of our disunion from Christ. If we regulate our practice by the conduct of others, we shall certainly discover this criminal insensibility; but the conduct of others will not extenuate our guilt; and he is under a fatal delusion who fancies that his profession of religion will indemnify him against the consequences of that charge, to be preferred at no distant day, by him who is scrutinizing our actions:' "I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." .