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Mr. Noel then proceeds (pp. 253-4) to show that infant communion was introduced into the church as early as baptism, that it became as general, lasted for centuries, and grew up as silently. He makes his quotations chiefly from Bingham, who fully admits these facts, quoting as authority Cyprian, with the author of “ The Constitutions,” Augustine, and others. He shows, also, that they were introduced and perpetuated for the same reason, namely, that they were deemed indispensable to salvation. A remarkable proof of this, we may add, is found in Cyprian, De Lapsis, who tells us that on one occasion the sacramental wine was forcibly poured down the infant's throat! “Diaconus * * * reluctanti licet de sacramento calicis infundit.” . 3*983
Few persons, unacquainted with the writings of the Greek and Latin fathers, have any idea how early and extensively not only these, but other serious corruptions were introduced into the church. No traces of infant baptism can be found in the writings of what are called “the Apostolical Fathers," including Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Hermas and Barnabas, and covering at least the first century and the half of the second century; in the case of some of the letters of Ignatius, which are spurious, but of an early date, and also of the Epistle of Barnabas, coming down perhaps to the end of the second, and even to the third century. But in several of these writings, particularly the Letters of Ignatius, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Epistle of Barnabas, we have the most decided evidence that baptism had come to be regarded not only as a sign but as a vehicle of grace. See Patres Apostolici, Hefele's edition, pp. 20–24, 250, 267, 329. They speak of it as Sigillum Dei, oppayis Okòv, the Seal of God, and represent the water as “ washing away sin," as communicating “ eternal life.” Thus Pastor Hermæ, Patres Apos. p. 328, says: “Illud autem sigillum aqua, in quam descendunt homines morte obligati, ascendunt vero vitæ assignati; et illis igitur prædicatum est illud sigillum, et usi sunt eo, ut intrarent in regnum Dei.” Here, where the primitive mode of baptism is clearly recognized, the saving character of the ordinance is specifically taught. It is in the same connection that the Pastor is supposed to teach the singular figment, that the righteous dead in Hades, who died before the coming of Christ, had to be baptized, in a spiritual way, in order to their salvation, figured under the symbol of stones, " lapides qui ascenderunt cum illis de profundis.” “Et dixit : Quoniam hi apostoli et doctores, qui predicaverunt nomen Filii Dei quum habentes fidem ejus et potestatem defuncti essent, prædicaverunt illis, qui ante obierunt, et ipsi dederunt eis illud signum. Descenderunt igitur in aquam cum illis, et iterum ascenderunt," etc. Lib. iii. Similit. ix. Patres. Apos. p. 329.* this indirection, to my Christid their childrehristian
190 In the same writings, especially in the Epistles of Ignatius, we have distinct traces of the supremacy which was gradually assumed by the Bishops of the church, and particularly of the Roman Church, and the slavish obedience enjoined upon the people. In Irenæus, and Justin Martyr even, we have traces, as Mr. Newman, in his Theory of Development, has clearly proved, of the real presence in the Eucharist, the worship of angels, and the supremacy of Rome; in Cyprian, Tertullian and Origen, of purgatory, the real presence, the Pope's supremacy, the worship of the Virgin, and many kindred errors. Nearly all the peculiarities of Popery, in their initial state, can be traced at least to the third and fourth centuries; and this is the reason why the Anglo-Catholics, or Puseyites as we call them, regarding the first four centuries, or the Ante-Nicene period of the church, as their model, have fallen, one after another, into the grossest errors of Popery. As early as the latter half of the second century, and certainly in the third, baptism and the Lord's Supper were both regarded as indispensable to salvation, and as possessing, in themselves, a magical virtue to cleanse the soul. This belief became so strong in the third and fourth centuries, that persons who had delayed baptism till their death-bed made haste to have it performed, and pious parents felt uneasy till their children had submitted to the rite, lest, dying unbaptized, they should fall into perdition! Being baptized, of course they were admitted to the Eucharist, were confirmed as members of the church, and, whatever their interior character, heirs of eternal glory. For proof of this see Neander's Church History, vol. I. pp. 314, 315, 333, 646; vol. II. pp. 319, 320.
But not only is the argument from history, but also from apostolic usage, given up, as we have already seen, by some of the most respectable advocates of infant baptism. How then, it may well be asked, do they maintain the practice, and upon what ground especially do they defend its authority?
* The following is a translation of the above :-" He answered, Because those apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, dying after they had received his faith and power, preached to them who were dead before, and gave to them the seal. They went down therefore into the water with them, and again came up. But these went down while they were yet alive, and came up again alive; whereas those who were before dead went down dead and came up alive." Book Third, Similitude 9.
On precisely the same ground that many of the Catholics defend it, that namely of development. The church, say they, was gradually established, and in process of time, by a natural law of evolution or development, various usages, and among the rest, the baptism of infants, grew out of that development. The gospel is, a universal benefit, and as Christian families are constituted to raise up a “ holy seed," and since all need regeneration, and Christ, to use the language of Irenæus, came to regenerate all, “ infants, little ones, youths and elders ;" since, in a word, the church embraces all ages and all conditions within her ample domain, it is proper that infants should be baptized, and thus introduced into the fold of God. Thus Newman, “ Development of Christian Doctrine," p. 51, (Harper's ed.,) says : “ If there was a point on which a rule was desirable from the first, it was concerning the course which Christian parents were bound to pursue towards their children. It would be natural indeed in any Christian father, in the absence of express direction, to bring his children for baptism ; such in this instance would be the practical development of his faith in Christ, and love for his offspring ; still a development it is necessarily required, yet, as far as we know, not provided for his need by the Revelation, as originally given."
On precisely this ground, Neander, who, in general, is remarkably candid as well as accurate in his statements, after saying, (History, vol. I. p. 311,) “We have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic institution, and the recognition of it which followed somewhat later, as an apostolical tradition, serves to confirm this hypothesis," adds: “ Irenæus is the first church teacher in whom we find any allusion to infant baptism, and in his mode of expressing himself on the subject, he leads us at the same time to recognize its connection with the essence of the Christian consciousness; he testifies of the profound Christian idea, out of which infant baptism arose, and which procured for it at length universal recognition. Irenæus is wishing to show that Christ did not interrupt the progressive development of that human nature, which was to be sanctified by him, but sanctified it in accordance with its natural course of development.”
Here then we have the origin of this practice, and the philosophy of the thing, which has already developed itselt into a monstrous form of error, constituting the church not of professed believers, but of families, and thus, in due time, making it national, formal and Papal.
At the close of Mr. Noel's book, we have a brief section on the subject of free communion, which he defends with great earnestness, taking counsel, in this particular, from his natural predilections, and the generous impulses of his heart. He is anxious to embrace all Christian professors in the arms of fraternal affection, and would, therefore, admit them indiscriminately to the fellowship of the church. 320. Hd
In our view, however, the point at issue lies deeper. The real question has reference to church organization, and church order, and not to any fraternal recognition of each other by Christians of different sects. The Baptists of this country are not unwilling to recognize their brethren, even those who differ from them the most; nay, they are anxious to tender to them the tokens of fraternal regard : but they decline to take the responsibility of inviting to church fellowship, and the enjoyment of all the privileges which this relation involves, those who are not yet baptized on a profes sion of their faith, or who substitute a form of their own for the ordinance of Christ.
But we do not propose to enter upon a discussion of this important point. We make this statement of the Baptist position to show that the question is one which is to be settled, not by an appeal to fraternal feeling, but to the law of Christ in establishing the order of his own house.
We shall pass to a conclusion of this review by giving, in a condensed and comprehensive form, Mr. Noel's reasons for “ free communion,” and then, as a reply to them, his own reasons for being baptized before joining a Baptist church, and partaking of its communion, and some admissions which he makes in the course of the discussion.
1. “ There are many Pædobaptists who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Ought we not to honor them as such ; ought we not to recognize them at their Father's table ?' " .
Ž. “ The Word of God enjoins us thus to recognize and honor them.” It commands us, notwithstanding their errors, to " receive them,” as Christ has received them.” i 3. “ All in primitive times were baptized on a profession of their faith, and on this ground partook of the communion : but we cannot reason from this in favor of excluding unbaptized persons now ; for circumstances have changed. In apostolic times a refusal or neglect of baptism, or the substitution of anything for baptism, would have been proof of disobedience ; now it is proof only of mistake or error. The godly Pædobaptist is no more a disobedient unbeliever than the strictest of the Baptists who would exclude him.”
4.“ The pious Pædobaptist is bound to confess Christ,” and as he cannot “confess him by baptism because he believes it to be wrong," ought he not to confess him in the Lord's Supper, “ especially when he earnestly desires to do so ?”
5. “ If you sanction the error of the Pædobaptist by admitting him to communion, you sanction it no less by all other fraternization with him ; on which ground you are bound to exclude from your fellowship all whom you imagine to be in error. If however you ought thus to fraternize with him, by parity of reasoning, you ought to admit him to the Lord's table.”
6. “ Close communion has a tendency to produce injurious effects upon those who practise it. It nourishes a narrow and formal spirit.”
7. “In a word, it is a system of exclusion, inconsistent with the spirit and design of Christianity, while free communion conforms to the genius of the gospel, and binds all disciples together in holy and enduring ties. The one checks free inquiry, and thus injures Baptist sentiments; the other pro motes such inquiry, and thence favors the spread of Baptist sentiments.” Pp. 297–313.
The following are Mr. Noel's statements and concessions, which we place in contrast with the above, as supplying the means of an adequate reply :
1. “ The mixture of the church and the world has been one of the most fatal evils which have hindered the progress of the gospel.” (Infant baptism has been one of the principal means of encouraging this “mixture.”) “ Baptism” (the immersion of believers, Mr. N. means,) “ ís in some degree à preventive of this evil.” P. 279.
2. “ The first effect of infant baptism is to abolish almost entirely in any church and in any nation the baptism of believers.” It has originated, or at least perpetuated the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration, and of national and merely formal Churches.” Pp. 281, 284, 285.
3. -. There is no instance in the New Testament of any person who was converted to Christ after he commissioned his disciples to baptize, coming to the Lord's table unbaptized ; a person who should do so now would place himself in a situation unlike that of all the Christians during the ministry of the apostles.” Pp. 290, 291.
4. “A person sprinkled in infancy may, indeed, have professed his faith in Christ by coming to the Lord's table, and in other ways; but he has never made a baptismal profession of faith, according to Christ's commands both implied and expressed.” P. 291.