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in Thessalonica in Greece, supposed to have continued successively from the Apostles' time, agreeing with the faith of the Waldenses." See B. L. Treatise 3, of the Waldenses. “Two persons were sent from the churches in Thessalonica to find some of the same faith with themselves; and coming into Switzerland, they were taken prisoners and put into the castle of Passaw, who declared to many that they had in their care (at Thessalonica) the original of Paul's epistles, which he sent to them.” Mern., page 739.
Sixteenth Century. It is scarcely necessary to continue the history further down than this century, as almost every person knows that there were myriads of advocates for believer baptism in this century. I shall, however, mention one distinguished advocate of this cause, who flourished in this century. Jacob de Roor, a prisoner in Bridges in Flanders, steadfastly owned and maintained as follows, viz.—"That the baptism which the Apostles taught and practised must needs be after believing, because it is for the burying of sin, the bath or evidence of regeneration, the covenant of a Christian's life, the putting on the body of Christ, and planting into the true olive tree Christ Jesus, and for the right entrance into the spiritual ark, whereof Christ Jesus is the builder.”
From the preceding documents, a mere sample of what may be gleaned from the pages of ecclesiastical history, the observant reader will readily see how much credit is due to the Princeton Professor as a lecturer on ecclesiastical history, when he says, “It is an undoubted fact that the people known in ecclesiastical history under the name of “Anabaptists,” who arose in Germany in the year 1552, were the very first body of people in the whole Christian world who rejected the baptism of infantɛ on the principles now adopted by the Anti-Pedobaptist body.” (page 32.) Unless there be some premeditated oracular ambiguity in this expression, which it would be uncharitable to suppose, one could not easily make an assertion more unjustifiable or insupportable, as the documents I have given sully show, and to which many more might be added.
I have drawn upon my labors and researches some 27 years ago for the above items, which with much toil and more leisure than I can now command, I collected from reliable sources, for a tract of some 70 pages, titled “Strictures on Ihree Letters respecting the Debate at Mount Pleasant, published in the Presbyterian Magazine: Philadelphia, 1821:—by Rev. Dr. Samuel Ralston, D. D.” These Strictures, although before that Rev. Doctor and others of His party now for more than a quarter of a century, have never been responded to, so far as I have learned; and the facts and documents here furnished stand as yet uncontradicted by the Pedobaptist world.
We have just been considering the influence of an inordinate zeal for theories of religion and for favorite points of doctrine, as man. ifested in the abridgment of Christian liberty. But this is, by no means, the only injurious effect that results from it. This furor doctrinalis;—this congenital disease of Protestantism, not only restricts just liberty of thought and action, and enfeebles the power of religion, but misdirects and perverts the most important of all the influences upon which Christianity depends, for its ultimate success, that is to say, the feeling of PERSONAL ATTACHMENT, or love of INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER.
There is nothing, I presume, for which partyism is more distinguished, than for the extreme veneration paid, by each sect, to the memory of its founder, and to those individuals who are, or have been, chiefly instrumental in sustaining it. They are regarded as models of purity and wisdom; as paragons of learning, human and divine; and as exempt from the errors and frailties of common mortals. Their zeal for a particular set of opinions has, like the fabled cestus, invested them with celestial charms, and secured for them the homage and almost the adoration of their followers. Their works, well bound and gilt, occupy a larger space, and a more conspicuous position, in the library, than the writings of the Apostles; and the biography of each is more familiar to his party, than the testimony of the Evangelists concerniug Jesus the Nazarene. To
or Peter, James or John, may be pardoned; but whoever shall speak a word against McLain or Sanderman; Gill or Fuller; Knox or Calvin; Wesley or Luther, in the ears of one of their followers, commits an offence which is not to be forgiven him. To express, on the other hand, an unfeigned admiration for their great men; to boast of their talents, and to speak of their writings as the only true exposition of the Christian doctrine, and the
bulwark of truth, is to win"at once their favor, and secure their confidence. They regard their peculiar tenets as the concentration of all revealed knowledge;—the very focus of all divine illumination; and, if they love one another, it is for the sake of these doctrines, and in proportion to the zeal displayed in their behalf. Nay, it is to be feared that the love they profess for Christ himself, is founded chiefly upon their persuasion that, in all his teachings, he agrees with them in opinion. Such, at least, is every where the character of the true sectary; though, doubtless, there are some, in every communion, who are too well acquainted with the nature of Christianity, and too SERIES III.-VOL. V.
deeply imbued with its spirit, to answer this description. Nevertheless, it is unhappily true of multitudes, and especially of those, who, from their activity and zeal, acquire conspicuity and influence, and give character to this age of partyism.
We are, however, by no means to be understood as deprecating personal attachment in religion. A religion which did not make provision for the influence of personal regards, would be quite unsuited to man, who is himself a person, and who, from his very constitution and habits, requires to be thus guided. No mere principles, however acceptable and just, will ever suffice for his government and direction. His tendency to place reliance upon some select and favorite individual, is not to be repressed. From the earliest dawn of perception and of reason, he has found it to be his safety and his happiness to repose upon the bosom of affection; to be led by the hand of trustful power, or to receive, with ready confidence, the instructions of experienced wisdom. Without this dependence upon others, and this acquiescence in the dictates of authority, no human being could be either reared or educated. Every one is trained to reverence, and schooled in submission to superiors by an inexorable necessity, arising at once from the helplessness and the ignorance of early life. Nor is any one, at maturity, released from the influence of the habits thus impressed, or from the inherent tendencies of his nature in this respect. He still leans upon others for support; he still yields submission to authority; he still learns by the experience of those around him; confides in their judgment; considers often more the person who speaks, than what is spoken, and is governed and directed, far more than is commonly imagined, by men rather than by principles.
It is in spiritual relations, especially, that this striking characteristic of human nature is most conspicuous. Here, from the very nature of the subject, he is unable to make any original discoveries, and is wholly dependent upon foreign aid. Here he must receive every thing upon trust, and yield in every thing to authority; for faith is but the confidence of hope, and the evidence of invisible things. From the depths of an unseen spiritual universe he must hear the voice of revelation; he must sit at the feet of divine wisdom; he must listen, with reverence, to the accredited ambassadors of heaven; he must believe mysteries too deep for reason to fathom, and obey an authority which he is unable or unwilling to dispute. Hence he yields himself, with an unreserved submission, to those spiritual guides, of whose powers he has become assured; and every where on earth, and in every stage of civilization, is found to en.
trust his dearest interests to their care, and render an implicit obedience to their requirements. Consequently, there is, among men, no influence, so extended and so powerful, as that of religious teachers; and no principle so controlling as a personal, or individual regard for a favorite leader.
When we come, now, to contemplate Christianity, we find that it is, in this respect, precisely adapted to human nature. It not only makes abundant provision for the free exercise of the sentiments of respect, veneration, and love for individual character, but even rests its power to save and reform the world, upon a personal attachment to its Author. It is not a mere voice from heaven; nor does it consist in a system of abstract principles; or in a code of well digested laws, which should so commend themselves to human reason, as to secure observance. Neither is it presented to the world as an ingenious theory of spiritual life, nor as a complete and consistent formula of religious doctrine. On the contrary, it is to us the history of a PERSON—the life; the death; the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It has to tellus of his conception and birth; his growth and progress; his temptation and obedience; his travels and his travelling companions; his work of wisdom and his deeds of power; his sorrows and his fortitude; his poverty and beneficence; his courage and his patience; his gentleness and benignity; his prudence and moderation; his compassion and magnanimity; his purity and devotion of soul; his firmness and consistency of purpose; his meekness and condescension; his faithfulness and truth. It has to detail to us his resignation to the Divine will; his self-possession when, in the hour of danger, he is betrayed and forsaken; his noble demeanor before an unjust and prejudiced tribunal; his silent submission to contumely and reproach; his calm and unshrinking fortitude amidst the terrible scenes of the crucifixion; his burial and his tomb; his resurrection and his unfailing love; his consolations to his disciples, and his glorious ascension to the throne of the universe; his promise of return, and his proclamation of forgiveness. It has to state to us the names of places of towns and cities, because he dwelt in them; of districts, because he traversed them; of lakes, because he sailed upon them, and walked upon their waves, and still. ed, by a word, their raging storms. It has to record the names of men, because they were his companions; and to relate to us incidents, because they reveal his character and perfections. It has to speak of geography, because he was upon earth; and of the celestial mansions, because he went to heaven. In a word, Christ is to Christianity, what he must ever be to the Christian, “ALL AND IN
ALL.” He is the theme unvaried; the beginning and the end; th. first and the last. He is presented as the object of regard, admira tion and love-as the model for imitation, the “leader,” the “mas ter," the “captain,” the "king.” The gospel itself, which saves, is, as stated by Paul, but the facts of his history; and what is the great central truth of Christianity—that rock on which the church securely rests, but simply a declaration of what is? To have faith, then, is to believe in him; to have hope, is to trust in him; and to have eternal life, is to know him, and the God that he has revealed.
How different, however, is the religion which partyism presents to us! The question here is not“What think you of Christ?” but what think you of the founder of our religious society of Calvin? of Wesley? of Swedenborg? What think you of our doctrine of our liturgy? of our mode of worship? Instead of a personal attachment to Jesus, we have extravagant admiration for some zealous partizan. Instead of belief in gospel facts, we have a passion for a particular set of doctrinal opinions; for history we have substituted philosophy; for things divine, things human; an erring mortal for Immanuel, and earth for heaven. Where is now the abandonment of self and of the world, for the“excellency of the knowledge of Christ,” that we inay be “found in him," and "know the power of His resurrection," and the “fellowship of his sufferings?" Where now the love of John, who leaned upon his bosom, or stood beside His cross? Where that personal interest in CHRIST; that indissoluble and intimate union and cominunion with him, that opened the heavens to Stephen, that he might "see Jesus standing on the right hand of God?” How cold and distant is now an intercourse once so dear and intimate; so social and so personal! How weak and transient now, an individual attachment, once stronger than death, and more enduring than the grave! How disparaged now, a Christian union, once dearer than life, and more precious than all the treasures and honors of the world!
Nothing can be more evident than that the true genius of Christianity has been lost sight of by the greater part of its professors; and that an undue zeal, for special doctrines, has led away the minds of men from the contemplation of the character of Christ, and created an attachment to human leaders, which is due to him alone. This is the great evil of partyism, and the besetting sin of Protestantism. Men love one another no longer for Christ's s ake, but for opinion's sake; and labor no longer in the service of Christ, but in that of a party. They have mistaken the proper object of