Слике страница

For a more explicit refutation of this argument, let the following facts be duly confidered. 1. For the fifteen first centuries of the Chrif tian era, there was not, to our knowledge, one fociety of baptized Christians, but held to clofe communion, in the very particular in which the Baptifts now do, with respect to your denomination; that none fhould be admitted to communion before baptifm.

2. The general, if not the univerfal, fentiment of the church, including Baptifts and Pædobaptifts, from the earliest age of the Chrif tian era, to the prefent, hath been, that clofe communion is a doctrine of the Scriptures.

3. Your own denomination, from its beginning, hath been, fentimentally, close communionifts. Their sentiment hath been, that the ordinance of baptism should be first administered. It is true, they have not understood what baptifm is, or have refused to practise it, and have fet afide the baptifm which was from heaven, for an ordinance of men; but even this ordinance they confider as having a prior claim to that of the fupper."

You do not, Sir, nor do your denomination, appear to advantage, whilft oppofing the clofe communion of the Baptifts, for in this you oppofe the general fentiment and practice of the church, and the general fentiment and profeffed practice of your own denomination. Your general fentiment and fuppofed practice are, that the doors of the communion fhould be closed against the unbaptized. Your denomination are of this description; they are not

[ocr errors]

baptized; they can produce no evidence that you are, and fo can make out no claim, upon your own principles, to the communion.

If you be not pleased with the above statement of your argument, I will, if agreeable to you, ftate it thus:

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.

Your denomination is the church, and holds to open communion. Therefore,

'The clofe communion of the Baptifts is in oppofition to the church, and ought to be oppofed by all good Chriftians.'

Your argument, in this form, may receive the following fhort answer.

Your major propofition is true, but your minor is not, for you are not the church, as will appear in fome of the fubfequent pages, nor do you, as a denomination, hold to open communion; therefore, the clofe communion of the Baptifts should be oppofed by no good Chriftian.

2. Your next argument is, profeffedly, founded upon the defcriptive word of God in favour of the church.

To a fuperficial obferver, you might appear to fet out well. You begin thus: "I proved, (say you) upon the evidence of facts, that for at least three hundred years paft, the greater part of real believers have been baptized by fprinkling, and have remained without the limits of the Baptist churches; and, if these be the only churches of Chrift, they have remained without the limits of the true vifible

church. Such is our forlorn fituation, if the Baptist description of it be just."*

Should your fuppofed facts be proved not to be facts, your argument would fall of itself. Should they be merely doubtful, your argument would be a dubious one.

Your fuppofed facts are three.

1. For at least three hundred years past, the greater part of real believers have been baptized by fprinkling.

2. For at least three hundred years paft, the greater part of real believers have remained without the limits of the Baptist church.

3. If the Baptift churches be the only churches of Chrift, the greater part of real believers have, for at least three hundred years, remained without the limits of the true visible church.

As to your firft fuppofed fact, it hath no foundation in truth; for it is an abuse of language to say, that any person, or fociety of men, was ever baptized by Sprinkling. To sprinkle an handful of water upon a perfon is no more baptism, than to fprinkle the fame quantity of duft upon a perfon is burying him.

Your fecond and third fuppofed facts are not intuitively certain. Perhaps you might be less pofitive, were you more largely acquainted with the number and hearts of all the Baptifts, in the various corners and hiding-places of the earth; and had you, at the fame time, a perfect view of the genuine characters of all the profeffors of all other denominations.

* Page 17.

But fuppofe we grant you, that there are more real Chriftians of your denomination, than are to be found among the Baptifts, yet your facts and arguments from them, prove nothing to your point.

Your argument from the fuppofed facts is this.

'God makes your denomination greatly inftrumental of the awakening and falvation of finners, and thus hath enlarged you abundantly. God would not have done thus, were not you and your brethren in the vifible church of Chrift; therefore you and they are visible church members; and hence it is contrary from Scripture to refuse communion with at the Lord's table.'*


Now we will grant all that you afk, as to God's bleffing you to the awakening and falvation of finners, and that the providence of God hath, for more than two hundred years

* If in the statement of the above argument, or in the flatement of any other of your arguments, you fhould confider me not to have comprehended you fully, or not to have flated your arguments with accuracy, I have but one apology and one requeft to make.

My apology is this. Your arguments were not, generally, brought to a point fo clearly as I could have wifhed; but I have collected your principal ideas as juftly, and stated them with as much precifion, as I could.

My requeft is, Should you, or any of your denomination, in future publifh on the prefent fubject, be kind enough to let us have your arguments numbered, and each brought to a focus.

If we muft contend, we wifh to do it whilft each fide fhall poffefs a field view of the fubje&t. We defire to understand you completely, and with you to have a comprehenfive view our defence.

Our with is, to meet you in the open field, in broad day-light. Chriflians fhould avoid every work of difguife, and every argument which is in its own nature fophiftical or delufory.

If you have no arguments which can fairly convict us, let the controverly ceafe; if you have, fet them before us in all their fimplicity, for we truft we have a good confcience, willing to admit conviction

paft, greatly enlarged your denomination; but that God would not thus blefs you, were you not in the visible church of Chrift, is the very thing for you to prove, which you can no more do, than you can prove that God never bleffes storms, thunder, peftilence, earthquakes, natural darkness, or the zeal of young converts, to the production of the fame good effects.

Your third argument is from the promiffory part of the word in favour of the church.

Dear Sir, this argument hath, no doubt, to very many of your readers, a very plausible appearance, and a majority of them will probably fet it down as conclufive.

Not one of your arguments hath a more decent appearance, nor one of them, at first view, bids fairer to prove your fubject, and fo to fettle the controverfy. Here is, I confefs, to a fuperficial reader, an handfome fhow of evidence. You have ftated this argument clearly, and with a good degree of precision. It shall be now fet before the reader in your own words.

On page 21 you thus exprefs it:

"The promise being made to Zion only, the fulfilment of it in our churches proves them to be Zion, the church of the living God."

We will, that you may have a fhort yet full anfwer to this argument, grant, for the prefent, without defining any thing, that the promise that men fhall be born of God, is made to Zion only. We will further grant, that this promife hath been largely fulfilled in your denomination; but that the fulfilment of this promife

« ПретходнаНастави »