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under heavy trials, and wished to know what to do. I informe them that if they could be united in forming into a church upоE the old plan of the Baptist denomination, I was willing to break bread to them at present, and open the door to no others, unless the Church should become established in my belief. Soon af ter this, I found that my sentiment had raised a considerable tria in the minds of my brethren at home and abroad. We had several church-meetings, and conversed upon the subject. I have kept a record of them all, and how the subject has been managed; but it is too long to insert here, nor do I think it best to publish the whole matter to the world. But the trial became so serious in the Church, that I advised my brethren to seek for counsel in our sister churches. This was agreed upon: two brethren in the ministry were requested to come and advise with us, in a church-meeting; but for certain reasons they advis ed us to defer it until the first ministerial conference. This advice was accepted, and a request was laid before the conference by the Church, after an adjournment, asking their advice whether it was duty for the Church to employ me as an administrator at the Lord's table. There were between twenty and thirty ministering brethren present: they deliberated some time upon it. Some asked me if I could not practice as I had done at the table, and say nothing about my sentiment of open communion. I replied that I could at present; and that as I had seen how my sentiment hurt the feelings of my brethren, I had thought for some time, that if they could fellowship me, I should think it duty to wait still longer in so weighty a matter, before I reduced my sentiment to practice; hoping that they would see as I did; or, that if I was in an error, that I should be convinced of it. But others thought, if I was firm in my belief, I ought to preach and practice as I believed. I quoted the words of the Apostle, that "if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” 1st Cor. viii. 13. I informed them that I did not often feel it my duty to preach on the subject of baptism, and did not wish to preach on this subject to hurt my brethren's feelings, before I was fully convinced that I ought to preach the sentiment to the
orld. But when the brethren were called upon to give their advice one by one, the majority answered that they thought it was not duty for the Church to invite me to administer the Lord's Supper to them, with my present opinion. Some, however, replied, that their judgment was not yet made up; and one or more, I think, replied that they were of a different opinion.
June 13. The Church at Goshen met and came to a decision on the subject, and gave me a letter as follows:
"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.
"This may certify, That Elder Charles Brooks is a member "of the Baptist Church of Christ, in Goshen, in regular stand"ing with us, except his embracing the sentiment of open com"munion; and we recommend him as a faithful preacher of the "Gospel, with the above exception. Signed by order and in be-"half of the Church.
"EZEKIEL TANDY, Church Clerk. "Goshen, June 13, 1822."
When I have taken a retrospective view of the trials through which I have passed, since I first became convinced of the impropriety of limiting the commemoration of the death of Christ to the Baptist denomination of christians only, as I progressed towards the decision of my brethren upon the matter before referred to, and heard the arguments that have been made use of by my opponents, and the various methods that have been taken for the defence of their sentiments, and the exertions that have been made for their support, I have been more and more convinced, that it is the will of God that christians should unite in commemorating the death of their Redeemer. But it is remarkably strange, that many of our dear brethren and sisters, and even some of those who have just commenced their pilgrimage, do not hesitate to inform the ambassadors of Christ, who differ with them in terms of communion, that they are certainly wrong; and implicitly judge them as unworthy to have a standing with them in the Church of Christ: when a few questions put to them will put them to the nonplus, and make it evident that they are not well acquainted with the sacred Scriptures, and they are under the painful necessity of renouncing what they have stated as facts. It affords matter of regret, my dear brethren and sisters, that a professed follower of the Saviour should hastily, before he has received true light in his own mind, condemn his brother without considering that our blessed "Saviour hath said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."*
* Matt, vii. É
AN ESSAY ON TERMS OF COMMUNION.
Communion of Males and Females considered.
THE practice of limiting communion to the Baptist denomination of christians only, when there are numbers of other churches standing by, who give evidence of a work of grace in the heart, and of their regular standing in their own churches, makes a serious impression, not only on their minds, but often on the minds of many who sit down at the Lord's table. This being the case, and so many serious consequences following, it appears highly necessary to obtain true light on the subject. Let us, then, have recourse to the scriptures, in which we find a positive command of our Lord to some, to do this in remembrance of him.* But who were they? they appear to be his twelve apostles only, verse 14, 21. We conclude, however, that after the resurrection of our Saviour, others besides the apostles partook of the sacrament, and also females; but we find no command or example for this practice, as we do for female baptism;f but the decision must be made from the light that the nature of the case requires: from that light it is natural to decide in favour of female communion.
Necessary qualifications of Communicants.
Thus having arrived, as we conclude, to a sufficient degree of light to warrant the practice of administering the Lord's Supper both to males and females, who have the necessary qualifications, let us in the next place inquire what those qualifications And, 1st. It appears highly necessary that we possess the object, or substance of the thing expressed by the symbols made use of at the Lord's table: that is to say, that we have Christ formed in our hearts, and feed on him by faith, who is the bread of life. 2d. We believe it to be our duty to make a publick profession of our faith, to be buried with Christ in Baptism, and unite with his Church; and that such persons are fit subjects for communion. But are these the only fit subjects? At the present day we find churches of different denominations that we fellowship as christians; but we think they are not baptised according to gospel requisitions. They, however, consider themselves to be baptized churches, and wish to commemorate with us, the death of their Lord. What shall we do in such a case?
* Luke xxii. 19. Acts xvi, 15.
Shall we reject them, or admit them? In so weighty a matter wisdom is profitable to direct. Let us, therefore, look to God and his word, in which we find a general rule of faith and practice. But the scriptures being arranged on a scale to bring into view the duty of man in general, do not descend to such partic ulars, as to afford us a direct command in this case. They furnish us with commands for believers to be baptized, but they do not particularize of what privileges a mistake in this matter shall deprive us. When they speak relative to the change of heart or moral character, they are express on the point, and tell us, that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven," &c.: and they inform us, when speaking of the Passover, that "no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." But the scriptures do not inform us, that unbaptized persons shall not eat of the Lord's Supper; if they did, the case in our view would appear different. But as the scriptures do not furnish us with explicit instruction on this point, we must expect to receive our light from their general course, and the nature and design of the sacrament in view. This being the case, let us in the 3d place, view the subject in its design. And here we do not find at its first institution, that the Institutor says this do in remembrance of your baptismal day, or that you have subscribed to such and such articles of faith, that are not fundamental'-but "this do in remembrance of me." "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew"-what? not that all who are partakers are united in every point of faith and practice that are not essential to salvation: no, the apostle had higher views of the subject; he had in view one of the greatest events that ever took place in our world, viz. the death of the Son of God. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.'' And again: our Lord does not say it is baptism, or that it stands connected with it; but "this is my body"--and of the cup he says "drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."‡
If it be objected that some of the candidates have not been baptized; yet if they have acted according to the light which they had of the ordinances, "who are we, that we should judge another man's servant; to his own master he standeth or falleth.§ If some are under a mistake concerning their baptism, yet if they are united to Christ, they have got the principal thing; and if we reject them, as our Lord said to some, "whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?|| So he may
*Exod. xii. 48, 49. †1 Cor. xi. 26.
Matt xxvi. 26, 27, 28. § Rom, xiv. 4. Matt.xxiii. 16, 17.
say to us, Whether is greater, baptism, or a work of grace in th heart, that gives sanction to baptism? Baptism is an ador ment to our profession, as the gold was to the temple: for it i the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrec tion of Jesus Christ. But it is not the putting away of the filt of the flesh.* The temple would have been a temple without the gold as an ornament. So a christian is a christian, without baptism as an adornment, and if we reject christians at communion, we may be virtually saying like Peter, Not so, Lord; for have never eaten any thing common or unclean; while the voice of scripture is saying, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Acts, x. 14, 15. And our prejudice may be as great against our brethren of other denominations, as was Peter's against the Gentiles, which could not be removed, till the voice had informed him three times, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.† Or, we may be endeavouring to pull out the mote out of our brother's eye, while we do not be hold the beam that is in our own eye. Mat. vii. 4, 5.
According to the practice of our baptist denomination, we are the only christians on earth that have a right to commemorate the death of our Saviour at his table; for we have not permitted any others to unite with us, and if it is wrong for others to unite with us, it is also wrong for them to do it by themselves. But, can we suppose that a mistake about baptism, in christians, will unfit them forever for commemorating the death of their Redeemer? Have we not reason to believe, that there were, and still are, christians in the world besides ourselves, that gather together around the table of their Lord, in his name? And he says, When two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them; and if he is with them, on what principle can we separate ourselves from them? Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.§
*1 Pet. ii. 21. After this vision Peter was so convinced in his own con. science, that he said "What was 1, that I could withstand God?" Acts xi. 17. Now if God had cleansed these Gentiles, how did he cleanse them' Was it by an external application of water? No; baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Pet. iii. 21. The putting away of the filtu of the flesh must be effected by the blood and Spirit of Christ. And it seems that an internal work of grace upon the heart is of so much more consequence than any external ordinance, that the Apostle could say, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" 1 Cor. i. 17. And again he says, "I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius: and I haptized also the household of Stephanas; besides, I know not whether I baptized any." Verses 14, 16. Matt xviii. 20. Rom. xiv. 10.