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to display it to advantage in fragments, as to give a just idea of a noble and majestic structure, by exhibiting a single brick.
What is the consequence which must be expected from teaching an illiterate assembly, that the principal design of their union is to extend the practice of a particular ceremony, but to invest it with an undue importance in their eyes, and by tempting them to look upon themselves as christians of a higher order, to foster an overweening self-conceit, to generate selfish passions, and encourage ambitious projects ? Accustomed to give themselves a decided preference above others, to treat with practical contempt the religious pretensions of the best and wisest of men, and to live in an element of separation and exclusion, it would be astonishing, indeed, if their humility were not impaired, and the more delicate sympathies of christian affection almost extinguished. In the situation in which they have placed themselves, they are reduced to a necessity of performing continually those operations which other denominations reserve for the last extremity; they are familiarised to the infliction of the most formidable sentence that the church is empowered to pass, and to that excision of the members of Christ from the body, to which others proceed with fear and trembling.
It is freely admitted that there are seasons when it is the duty of a christian society to bend its
particular attention to the exhibition and defence of a neglected branch of truth, in order to supply an antidote to the errors by which it may be attempted to be corrupted. There is no fundamental doctrine which we may not be called upon, in an especial manner, to maintain and fortify in its turn. But to make this the specific object of the constitution of a church, is totally different; it is to contract its views, and limit its efforts, in a manner utterly inconsistent with the design of its institution, which is to exhibit both the theory and practice of christianity, in all its plenitude and extent.
An exception, however, must be made, where the truth, which is said to be neglected, is fundamental. The assertion and vindication of such a truth is equivalent to the maintenance of christianity itself, which, in common with every other system, is incapable of surviving the destruction of its vital parts. Hence the reformers were justified in laying the doctrine of justification by faith as the basis of the reformed religion, because the formal denial of that truth is incompatible with the existence of a church. But, where religious communities have been founded on refined speculations, or on some particular mode of explaining and interpreting disputable tenets, the most mischievous consequences have resulted. The people usually denominated Quakers, set out with the professed design of exhibiting the doctrine of the Spirit, which they chose to consider as a neglected truth, and the consequence has been such a distortion of that momentous doctrine as has, probably, 'contributed not à little to subject it to contempt. The Sandemanians profess to constitute their societies with 'an express view to the revival of certain neglected truths; and the effect, as far as their efforts have succeeded, has been the extinction of vital piety. The high calvinists, or, to speak more properly, the antinomians, are loud and clamorous in professing their solicitude to revive a certain class of neglected truths, and the result of their labour has been to corrupt the few truths they possess, and to consign others, of equal importance, to contempt and oblivion. In each of these instances, by detaching particular portions from the system to which it belongs, the continuity of truth has been broken, and the vital communication between its respective parts,' on which its life and vigour depend, interrupted.
It was reserved for our opponents to pursue the same system, under a new form, by selecting the ceremony of baptism as their distinguishing symbol, and to degrade the christian profession, in our apprehension, by placing it in the due administration of the element of water.
Where, it is natural to ask, (though it is an inferior consideration,) where is the policy of such a proceeding? What tendency has it to recommend' and to propagate the rite, about which
such zeal is exerted, and such solicitude expressed ? Will the insisting on it as a term of communion, give it any additional evidence, or invest it with supernumerary charms ? Will it be better relished and received, for its approaching in the form of an exaction, than if it was entrusted to the force of argument and persuasion ? Were it permitted to have recourse to intimidation in the concerns of religion, where are our means and resources ? where shall we look for that splendour of reputation, that command of emolument and power, which shall render a state of separation from baptist societies, an intolerable grieyance ? Let us learn to think soberly of ourselves, and not endeavour to enforce the justest principles by means foreign to their nature, nor, by substituting an impotent menace instead of argument, subject them to reprobation and ridicule.
Mr. Kinghorn gives it as his decided opinion, that, for a pædobaptist statedly to attend the ministry of a baptist, is a dereliction of principle. A great gulf ought, in his apprehension, to be fixed between the two denominations. But how is it possible, on this system, to indulge the hope of effecting a revolution in the public mind, when all the usual channels of communication are cut off, and the means of rational conviction laid under an interdict? If the hearers of both denominations are bound to confine their attendance to teachers who will esteem it their duty to
confirm them in their respective persuasions, the transition to an opposite system may be deemed almost a miracle. It were more natural to suppose that, in this instance, as well as others of greater moment, "faith cometh by hearing,” than that a crop should spring up, where no seed, or none but what is of an opposite kind, has been sown.
It is not a little curious to find it objected to the principles we are attempting to defend, that they are adapted to an imperfect, rather than a perfect, state of things., when the utility of the entire system of christianity, results entirely from such an, adaptation, and is nothing more than a sublime and mysterious condescension to human weakness and imperfection.. What is the gospel but a proposed alliance, in which infinite purity comes into contact with pollution; infinite justice, with human demerits; and ineffable riches, with hopeless penury ? “ Mixed communion,” Mr. Kinghorn observes, “ displays another genuine feature of error. It is only to be found (even on the concession of its warmest supporters) in thạt mingled state of things, which takes place between the first purity of the church, and the ultimate display of gospel light. In the times of the apostles it had no place; nor do we expect it will be found, when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God."* Specious as this proposition
* Baptism a Term of Communion, p. 77.