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rity to excuse him from such an cable circumstances; and least of all extent of obedience as is evidently is this severity to be commended within his power of performance. when exercised towards human na
To illustrate this matter farther, ture in its last stage of sorrow, and C has two sons, M and N, to whom, weakness, and pain. The moral inwhen dying, he leaves injunctions fluence of such a course must be which become inapplicable to their against our principle, I would here future circumstances. M, seeing he illustrate by a fact communicated to cannot carry out his father's inten- me by a Baptist minister some time tions to their entire extent, does not ago. concern himself at all about obeying A female, who had attended, for them. N carefully fulfils the inten- some time, the ministry of a highly tions of his parent to the fullest respected pastor of that denomination, extent that his circumstances will was taken ill, and during her illness admit. Which of the two did the was regularly visited by the minister, will of the father ?
who professed the most perfect conIt will not be difficult to perceive viction of the reality of her repentance the application of these principles to and faith in Christ Her weakness the subject before us, and they show was such as to render her immersion how a rigorous interpretation of the impracticable ; consequently she was divine will often defeats its own in- not baptized—was not received into tention, and produces even a more the church-received not the symbols deficient and dubious obedience than of the Lord's body and blood. She would have resulted from a more died an alien, cut off from the society lenient and merciful view of the of the faithful. Such an event would matter.
not have taken place, under the cirWhile I would, without hesitation, cumstances, during the first three affirm the position taken by the an centuries, in any Christian church cient church in this particular, I under heaven. Never did David, would not, however, be considered as the king, evince a more profound disdoing it merely upon authority, but cretion than when he said, “Let me because there appears to exist on that fall into the hand of the Lord, (for side a decided preponderance of scrip- his mercies are great) but not into tural fact, principle, and evidence. the hand of man.”
Yet, if this was a question that could In conclusion, I would briefly nobe settled in this manner, I should | tice an objection likely to be taken consider that authority as superior in against the views here advocated, value to any human source of sanc- | viz. that it is necessary to guard in tion now existing. Yet I would not the strictest manner the divine instihesitate to affirm, even with respect tutions from innovations, and to to the earliest manifestations of transmit them to succeeding ages, in Christian practice subsequent to the the same degree of purity that we Apostolic age, “If they speak not have received them. On this we according to this word, it is because remarkthere is no light in them.”
1. That the greatest danger of the I would found another argument church has not been the tendency to in favour of the position here assumed depreciate external rites. Immersion on the merciful, considerate, and continued the practice of the whole benevolent nature of Christianity. Christian world for 1300 years ; in Nothing can be more opposed to its England, and in some other places to nature and teaching than a rigorous the end of the sixteenth century, and severity of proceeding, exerted in in the East to the present day. utter disregard of nature and appli-! 2. It may be doubted whether the
claim put forth to a superior and considered a hard and cruel master, more exact obedience can be main- requiring that from his creatures tained. In every case where nature which they had no power to perform. and circumstances admitted a full But this is not the case, either with compliance with the divine command- respect to angels or men. Positive ment, the ancient church did so com- | institutions have not only been simple ply with it. The modern Baptist in their nature, but also imperative does no more. In cases where cir- | in their obligation, and not to be discumstances would not admit of a full pensed with or altered by the caprice compliance, the ancient church still or will of man, for the perfecting of yielded obedience so far as circum- whose character they were given. stances would allow it. The modern The fealty of our first parents was Baptist, in this case, yields no obe- suspended upon a simple prohibition, dience whatever.
The day thou eatest thereof thoư 3. The means here taken are not shalt surely die.” The same may be the most likely to obtain the object said of the institution of worship, we seek. If we assume an extreme given immediately after the one sin position by that act—or, to speak more had been committed. The offeringproperly, by the reaction of that act up of a lamb for sacrifice must have -we either originate or maintain the been commanded. It was a positive opposite extreme: for it is a law of institution. “By faith Abel offered mind as well as of matter, “ That to God a better sacrifice than Cain, action and reaction are equal and in on account of which he was comopposite directions.” And, indeed, mended as righteous, God testifying the position that Baptists themselves in favor of his oblation ; and so, by hold on this question has been, in it, though dead, he still speaks.” The some clearly perceptible degree, the same may be said of all the Jewish effect of that fierce contest carried on institutions—they were simple, pracfor ages with infants themselves—the ticable, and imperative. It is true reaction of an opposite extreme. that the Apostle, when referring to
J. H. their number and magnitude, and the
bondage which they engendered com
pared with gospel institutions and NOTE ON POSITIVE INSTITUTIONS.
liberty, styles them a yoke which neiThe Divine Being, in his govern-ther they nor their fathers were able ment of moral agents, whether angels to bear, and from which the disciples or men, has seen fit to exercise his of Christ are now happily freed. authority by means of commands and The brother who wrote the precepositive institutions. These have ding article on the nature of positive ever been, and are still the tests of institutions, has not duly considered fealty to him and his truth. It is said the subject--as appears, at least, to of the angels who excel in strength, us. Indeed, in the particular investhat they do his commandments, tigation of the position pleaded for, hearkening to the voice of his word. we are informed that the New TesBless the Lord all ye his hosts; yetament affords no means for the sumministers of his who do his pleasure. mary settlement of the question proPositive institutions given to man in pounded, viz, that positive institutions every dispensation, have been of the are not equally binding under all cirmost simple character, so that perfect cumstances - deviations may take obedience lay within the capacity of place when suffering humanity calls all to whom they were given. Had it for it! This more particularly refers been otherwise, the Divine Being might to baptism or immersion. -indeed, with propriety–have been' That our Heavenly Father does not require impossibilities, will be an hungered, went into the house of freely admitted by all who love and God, and eat the shewbread, which fear him ; but that he will approve of was not lawful except for the priest our substituting something in the only, &c. For the information of place of that which he has appointed some of our younger brethren, we for a particular purpose, we do not may observe, that the shew-bread believe. “God is not mocked.” As consisted of twelve distinct loaves—a to the practice in the primitive church, loaf for each tribe in Israel, to stand as far back as the days of the Apostles, upon the table before the mercy-seat if it be not found in the New Testa- continually : these were to be rement it cannot be received; for sys- removed every Sabbath, each loaf setems of iniquity were even then in parately, and the vacant place immeexistence, there being many false diately supplied, that there might be prophets both in the church and in twelve loaves constantly before the the world. The Saviour, when on Lord. Five loaves of this bread, on earth, was Lord of the Jewish Sab- being thus removed, were presented bath. He did not come to restore a by the priests to David, who, although dispensation, the rites of which had a prophet, was then in destitute cirall been sinned away-so much so, cumstances : these loaves he took and that when he appeared among his eat, as did the men who were with own people, “there was none right-him. It was an act of humanity on eous, no, not one.” John the Baptist the part of the priests; and David, had the honor of preparing a people by the Saviour, is pronounced blamefor the Lord.
less. Now in this transaction, there In the quotation referred to, Luke is no substitution of that which is huxiii. 10-17, xiv. 1-11, Jesus is not al- | man in place of that which is divine. luding to the law regulating the Sab- Whether the priest Abimelech were bath, but to the hypocrisy of those entirely innocent on this occasion, we who kept not the law, (John vii. 19) shall not determine. He and his asbut who sought to kill Jesus because sociates appear to have been unworthy he had mercifully delivered poor suf- of their office, or the Lord would fering humanity from affliction and not have permitted eighty-five priests, disease on the Sabbath day. " Be- with their wives, children, sucklings, ware,” said he,“ of the leaven of the and oxen, asses, and sheep, all to Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” It is have been slain with the edge of the lawful to do good works, although sword. The end of this tragedy was not lawful to labour for the promotion appalling. Had David and his men of self-interest on the Sabbath day. taken the shew-bread and the sword
We are, in the next place, referred of Goliath without the consent of the to the conduct of David and those priests, no doubt he would then have that were with him, 1 Saml. xxi. 3-6, been guilty and the priests innocent. Matt. xii. 1-8, Mark ii. 26. Our God is a jealous God, nor will he readers should ever remember, that give his glory to another. Should neither angels nor men, nor the Son parties, under the gospel dispensation, of God himself, could either act or reject the Lord's one immersion in speak so as to please a Pharisee, un- water, in the name of the Father, less, indeed, it were to praise his de- Son, and Holy Spirit, until by reason ceit and hypocrisy, concealed beneath of affliction they are unable to attend the garb of superior sanctity and be- to it, we should be sorry to hear of nevolence. We are informed that any of the brethren sprinkling or David—who was a man after God's pouring water upon them in the name own heart, especially in reference to of the Lord, and designating it by the positive institutions—when he was application of the Lord's one baptism.
Better leave them to God and his let us hear from him again at his
at the same time only £20 | IDENTITY OF COVENANTS. wherewith to pay, we are of opinion Paul informs us, in speaking of that this proves him to be a defaulter, the union that should exist between and, to say the least, very indiscreet, the members of the church, that the if not dishonest, in the management most weak and “ feeble” members of of his affairs, unless, indeed, it can be the body are necessary(1 Cor. 12–22), shown that he has been visited with and that each member, whether weak unusual and afflictive occurrences in or strong, has his appropriate work the providences of God. Nothing to perform, and sphere in which to can relax the obligation of positive act. institutions, when clearly apprehend- Now, permit me to ask, most ed by the mind of man--much less courteously, what work is there to justify the substitution of human in- perform in the Church of Christ that stitutions in place of them.
makes infants “necessary ?” Will The next illustration presented to some pedo-baptist answer this quesus is that of a father, when dying, tion ? But the Apostle does not drop making a will, or giving instructions, the subject here. Ile goes so far as which his two sons could not carry to show positively that such a thing out. One of the sons disregards alto- as infant church-membership, under gether the injunctions of his father, the new covenant, had not been while the other fiulfils them to the thought of. He adds, “ that there best of his ability. Now in this case should be no schism in the body, but. the blame does not rest with the sons, that the members should have the but with the ignorance, or want of same care one for another. And explicitness on the part of the father. whether one member suffer, all the This illustration, then, cannot be ap- members suffer with it; or one memplied to any of the injunctions of our ber be honoured, all the members Father who is in heaven, who is in- rejoice with it (v. 26.) finitely wise and perfect in all his Could infants of a few weeks old commands to the children of men. weep with those that weep, and re
As to death-bed repentances, of joice with those that rejoice? If which so much is said and written in they could, they certainly must have the present day—and the prevalent been a more intelligent race of infants belief of which is a great source of than we are in the habit of raising in disobedience and infidelity—there is this country! not to be found in the New Testament Let us now turn to the Acts of the a single reference to them from the Apostles, where churches were formed day of Pentecost to the death of John and established, and see if infants the beloved Apostle. There is the were included as members. At the most profound silence regarding death- death of Ananias and Sapphira, we bed repentance. The Apostles were are informed that " great fear came commanded to preach the obedience upon all the church,” (Acts v. 11.) of faith among all nations : not to pro- What! Infants alarmed on account claim faith, but facts—a perception of of this retribution ? They must have which called faith into being, and the been, were they members of the obedience of which brought peace church. But the more reasonable and pardon to the guilty.
view of the subject, doubtless, is, that Our friend J. H. will, we doubt they had not yet been introduced, as not, excuse these observations, and ! it was so near the commencement of
this new order of things. Let us, can never be successfully disposed of. therefore, follow the Apostles on till Peter decides that circumcision was they get fairly into operation. (Read a yoke grievous to be borne ; and if Acts xv. 22.) “ Then pleased it the baptism came in the room of circumApostles and Elders, with the WHOLE cision, to fill the same office, and CHURCH, to send chosen men of their effect the same object, as pedo-bapown company to Antioch, with Paul tists contend, then it is precisely the and Barnabas."
same “ yoke of bondage which neither From this we learn that there are we nor our fathers were able to bear,” no infants in the church yet, notwith-|(Acts xv. 10.) Paul warns us against standing the Apostles had been ac- being “ entangled in the yoke of tively engaged introducing members bondage” (Gal. v. 1); and yet pedofor about nineteen years !
baptists, heedless of the admonition, Let us now return, and examine are running themselves into serious still farther the doctrine of baptism difficulties. From the foregoing aras a substitute for circumcision. And guments, they must see that they are first we would beg permission to ask, becoming seriously “ entangled.” is it not a most remarkable circum- If circumcision and baptism are stance, if the Apostles believed and both seals of the same covenant, then taught that baptism came in the room why were the Jews, who had been of circumcision, that in all their con- | legally circumcised, called upon to troversies about the propriety of be baptized before they could be adcontinuing the rite of circumcision, mitted into the same covenant to they never once thought of adducing which they were justly entitled by this most overwhelming argument- circumcision ? an argument, by the bye, which must, If they were both seals of the same in the very nature of the case, have covenant, both answering the same settled that much-disputed question purpose, and both appointed for the for ever! When that committee was same design, then where would be sent up to Jerusalem to deliberate the illegality of baptizing twice, since upon the important question whether it was legal to baptize those who had it was necessary for the Gentile con- received precisely the same thing in verts to be circumcised, as some circumcision? Those, then, who persons had been teaching; and have the least scruple relative to when all the Apostles had met in their infant baptism, and would, as solemn council to investigate and numbers have said, be baptized again decide that very question, why did were it not for that, need not hesitate they not settle the controversy by a moment, as the doctrine of baptism, informing the committee that baptism being an exact substitute for circumfilled the place of circumcision, and cision, justifies them, and clearly answered precisely the same purpose, proves it to be legal for a person to if they believed such to be the fact, be baptized in infancy, and re-bapwithout so much argumentation as tized again as soon as he gets old we are informed they had on that enough to believe and choose for occasion ? The fact that they did himself. not thus decide (which could have But why is it that pedo-baptists go been done at a single sentence), is to the law of Moses and to circumthe most incontrovertible proof that cision to learn who are suitable memthe Apostles knew nothing about this bers of the Christian church ? Supdoctrine of baptism coming in the pose a question should arise, whether room of circumcision, and hence that an Indian had a right to vote at our it must be a discovery of later date! presidential election, and I affirm This one difficulty, as we consider, that he has. Well, to prove my