« AnteriorContinuar »
he has quitted the sober path of his predecessors.
In some of the leading points of the argument, he has totally abandoned what Mr. Booth iconsidered as forming his strong hold. - Thus, though he evinces an extreme reluctance to appear to coincide with the writer of these sheets in any thing, he in fact concedes all that he contended for, respecting the essential difference betwixt the baptism of John and that of Christ, and entertains no doubt that the twelve disciples at Ephesus were rebaptized... Thus the palmarium argumentum of his venerable predecessor is relinquished. Mr. Booth contended, that though the pædobaptists are received in the sense the apostle intended in that expression, their right to the Lord's supper cannot be inferred; Mr. Kinghorn denies that they are ; and thus the two champions are at variance, toto cælo, on the interpretation of the passages chiefly concerned in this controversy. As these passages* form a principal part of the gist of the debate, the intelligent reader is requested carefully to examine Mr. Kinghorn's mode of interpretation; and should it appear to be loaded with insuperable difficulties, it may with confidence be inferred, that the cause of strict communion, were it liable to no other objection, is untenable. He had too much acumen to reject Mr. Booth's solution of the
difficulty, could it have been plausibly supported. Conscious it could not, he has attempted to substitute another, which is accompanied with still greater, though perhaps not quite such obvious, inconveniences.
Dextrum Scylla latus, lævum implacata Charybdis
Obsidet . . . . . . The writer is far from anticipating a speedy or sudden revolution in the sentiments of his brethren, as the consequence of his efforts in this controversy. He is contented to await the slow operation of time, in extinguishing the prejudices which time alone has produced; conscious that bodies of men are peculiarly tenacious of their habits of thinking, and that it is wisely ordained, that the conquest achieved by just and enlightened principles should be firm and durable, in proportion to the tardiness of their progress. Another generation must probably rise up, before the rust of prejudice is sufficiently worn off to leave room for the operation of reason, and the exercise of free inquiry on this subject. Our opponents, aware that a current has already set in, which threatens, at no very distant period, to sweep away their narrow and contracted system, are exerting every effort to stop it, but in vain :
Labitur, et labetur, in omne volubilis ævum.
Mr. Kinghorn, while he acknowledges, with extreme regret, that the younger part of our
ministers are generally disposed unfavourably to the cause he has attempted to advocate, expresses his conviction, that further reflection and inquiry will correct the aberrations of their youth, and recall them to the ancient path. But when was it rever known that an extension of knowledge produced a contraction of feeling, or that the effect of a more extended survey of the vast sphere of philosophical and religious speculation, was to magnify the importance of sectarian peculiarities? He anticipates this, effect chiefly from the perusal of ecclesiastical history na profound acquaintance with which is to put them in possession of the marvellous secret, that mixed communion was unknown in the ages which succeeded the universal prevalence of infant baptism. The general agreement to consider that rite as an indispensable prerequisite to communion, during those ages, is to be received, it seems, as, an oracle ; while the baptism which they practised is discarded as a nullity, the sole ground on which it was supposed to be necessary deemed a most dangerous error, and innumerable other opinions and usages, of equal notoriety and extent, consigned to the moles and to the bats. He must have a wonderful faculty of sanguine, anticipation, who supposes that an unfettered mind will reject the authority of antiquity in every particular, except that which suits his own humour; and after considering whatever distinguishes the ecclesiastical, economy of these
ages, from that of dissenting societies, as a striking instance of human weakness, stop short in the career of reprobation just at the point he is pleased to prescribe. Such a procedure would be (as Cicero observes on another occasion) not to argue, but to divine ; and it would be just as reasonable, after making a collection of all the peculiar opinions and practices of christian antiquity, to determine by lot which of them should be received.
Far from indulging the apprehension of a retrograde-motion from enlarged and liberal, to narrow and contracted principles, we have every reason to conclude, that the polar ice once broken, they will circulate to a much wider extent; and the revolution which has already commenced amongst those who are destined to guide the public mind, shortly produce a powerful effect on the people, who never fail, sooner or later, to follow the impulse of their public teachers. As it is this which gave rise to the present practice, so it is still by a sort of incantation, by mustering the shades of the mighty dead, of Booth and Faller especially, who are supposed to cast a dark and frowning aspect on the petulance of modern innovation, that it is chiefly supported; and, with all due respect to the talents of Mr. Kinghorn, it may be confidently affirmed, that, but for the authority of these worthies, his weapons would produce 'as little execution as the dart of Priam. .
Deference to great names is a sentiment which
it would be base to attempt to eradicate, and impossible, were it attempted. But, like other offsprings of the mind, it is at first rude and illshapen. It makes no selection, no discrimination it retains the impress of its original, entire, just as it was made: it is a vague undistinguishing admiration, which consecrates in a mass all the errors and deformities, along with the real excellencies, of its object. Time only, the justest of all critics, gives it correctness and proportion, and converts what is at first merely the action of a great upon an inferior mind, into an enlightened and impartial estimate of distinguished worth. The effect produced by coming into an intimate contact with a commanding intellect, is of a mixed nature; it subdues and enslaves the very persons whom it enlightens, and almost invariably leaves a portion of its sediment, where it deposits its wealth. It must be placed at a certain distance before we derive from it all the pure defecated good it is capable of imparting; and with all my admiration of the inestimable men already mentioned, and my conviction of the value of their services, I am persuaded many years must elapse before we entirely surmount the effects of a longcontinued dictatorship.
When the views of baptism, by which we are distinguished as a denomination, are once exonerated from the odium arising from the practice we have been opposing, and the prejudices which