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The Office further considered by comparison with
It may perhaps be said, that the interpretation we have given of the baptismal office, cannot be justified, unless the scriptures afford it some counte
To this we might observe, that a comparison, and likeness in this, with the rest of the church offices, will amply justify our interpretation of that office, in its correspondence with the whole ; but the scriptures are the only warrant which the church can have for constructing her services in so general, and charitable a form.
It may, perhaps, be also said that the church is inconsistent, in admitting regeneration generally in her office, and restricting it iu her articles to the worthy receiver.
I might here observe, (as I am not opposing persons who make objections against the church's manner of instructing her members) that it does not belong to me, to justify her mode of doing this. But I would just remark, that she states her doctrines, generally, in the articles with great precision, where she requires purity of heart in her sons, in order' to any good effect in the use of the sacraments, and restricts the benefit to such as possess that purity. In the office of baptism, she does much the same thing, but in a different form. There, she requires repentance, faith, and a pledge of obedience. The very requisition implies a restriction of the blessings to those only who possess them. The requiring qualificatiou at all, cannot possibly
be accounted for in any other way, or on any other supposition. She does the same in her office of the Lord's Supper, where she warns the wicked of the fate of Judas : having done this, however, she hopes well of the communicants; and presumes (as we have particularly shewn) that they have “ duly received these holy mysteries," and are “ heirs through hope, of everlasting life. If any have not duly received the “ holy mysteries,” which is certainly too often the case, they have no authority from the church to expect any thing but to “ eat and drink their own damnation."
Is it asked, why then does she, after baptism, acknowledge regeneration to have taken place ? To this we have already replied: she does it upon their profession. As she has only the evidence of profession, she must either admit, or reject it :--she instructs them, examines them, and claims their pledge. When she has received this, (unless evidence could prove insincerity,) what can she do more? It would be indecorous, it would be absurd, to state particular suspicions in a general service; because every one, however upright and sincere, would be obliged to hear these insinuations against himself. How improper such a service would be to edify the church of God, let the reader be the judge. She therefore supposes she allows them to be sincere,
But still if it be said she should not allow the same to all professors, as all do not prove to have come with the same mind; and that, as many prove subsequently to have been insincere, she ought in all reason to treat the subject with a view to these.
To this I would reply, that had the church fore
seen the great misimprovement which has been made of her language, separated from her true ideas, and genuine meaning, she would, I have no doubt, have used a greater degree of caution in the formation of the words of this important, but greviously neglected and abused office.
But we may be permitted to observe, in defence of our interpretation of this service, that the scriptures do much the same thing. They make general acknowledgements, and even assertions of the piety of the whole body of professors, though there were, and the Apostles knew it at the time, many exceptions. I would observe here, that I know of no objection to the church imitating the scriptures upon this as well as other points. The only difficulty appears to arise from the comparative state of purity between the first Christian churches respect to adults who are adınitted, I perceive no difference but this, which can affect its propriety. And I am much inclined to think, with respect to the baptisin of “persons of riper years," that had the church been now in a state of great purity, and of course, that few persons would be baptise i who, did not possess“ repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” that there would have been little advantage taken, and little objection made to this office, whether it may be considered literally correct in every sentence or not.
When devout minds observe the levity and awful disregard with which the church offices are frequently attended, they may we cry out, “it is no better than a soiemn mockery to use such language in application to such characters." But here let me ask, does the fault lie with the service, which was
made for a “ pure heart and humble voice;" or with the persons who, like Jeroboam of old, bring unhallowed hands to these sacred altars?
Would not every communion, (which did not exist in a time of great purity for sanctity of principles and morality) let it secede and dissent as often as it would, be liable to the same objection ? Nay, are not even the scriptures themselves in a measure liable to the same imputation ?
On Dr. M.'s interpretation of all Laptised persons being regenerate, because the office makes a general adinission, the scriptures would be inconsistent with themselves. For they, precisely in the same manner, make a general acknowledgment of the integrity of the whole collective body, yet they know, at the time, that their language does not apply to all individuully, Nay, in some cases, the divine writers make very large and numerous receptions.
We shall now make a few references to the scriptures, with this view :--
I. Our Saviour's conduct to his disciples is much to our purpose. At various times he addresses the twelve Apostles, sends them to teach in the villages and towns, and even speaks of their occupying “twelves thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” without reference to any exception,* Yet we know that Judas was not amongst the number of his faithful followers. And at another time they are addressed thus: “I speak not of you all, I kuom whom I have chosca." And again,
so there are some of you tliai believe noi:" With this refiection made upon these words by the Evangilist;" For
Jesiis “knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him."*
II. St. Paul likewise deals largely in this charitable mode of address to the churches. He speaks of them frequently, as if all were truly pious characters, and even declares: it is meet for him to think his of them all. Yet in the very same Epistles, he blames, warns, and makes exceptions.
The commencement of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, is remarkable for this mode of address. He speaks of them generally “as sanctified, called to be saints, as calling upon the name of Jesus | Christ:" “ I thank my God,” he adds, fer the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ: that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all ulterance, and in all knowledge ; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that ye come behina in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." Even the office of baptism, cannot be more general and full of charity to all professors, than these addresses are. Yet in this very church, there
“ schism :" (1, 12, 13) "carnality;" (31) “fornication;" (6, 1)“ litigiousness ;” (6, 1) “ uncharitableness ;" (8, 1) and above all, as it respects the point in hand : profanation of the Lord's Supper." (11, 23.)
Another address to the Philipians, is still stronger if possible. 1. 3--7. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every
John yi. 64. + 1 Cor. i. 2-9.