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II. This LAW IS OBLIGATORY ON THE CHURCH. The church is responsible for the maintenance of this law of the Supper, and is the judge of the scriptural qualifications of those seeking admission to the table.
For, 1. The administration of the ordinances is entrusted to the church and the ministry, and in the Scriptures they are held accountable for their due observance. For in the commission and at the institution of the Supper the ordinances are committed to the ministry; and throughout the sacred records, as in 1 Cor. xi., the church is distinctly held responsible for their proper administration. The right of the church to judge of qualification for baptism is everywhere conceded-no one would allow the candidate to be the sole judge of his qualifications for that ordinance—but evidently equal reason exists for this rule in the Supper. 2. The Lord's Supper is the symbol not only of Christian, but also of church-fellowship; all the reasons, therefore, which require the church to decide in regard to church-fellowship also require it to decide in regard to admission to the symbol of churchfellowship. For Paul, in giving injunction to the Christian church concerning the exclusion of offenders, commands them not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor. v. 9–13), where the injunction “not to eat" seems clearly, from the whole connection, to refer to the Lord's Supper, which is thus made a symbol of church-fellowship. Thus, also, the apostle, in warning the same church against partaking in idolfeasts, declares that in so doing they would express fellowship with idols and idol-worshippers, and illustrates this fact in the Lord's Supper. He says: “The cup of bless
ing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread ” (1. Cor. x. 16, 17). The last verse has been variously rendered. Calvin, Beza, and Bengel render it: “Because there is one bread, we being many are one body; for we are all partakers of that. one bread.” Alford : Because we, the, (assembled) many, are one bread, one body; for the whole of us partake of that one bread.” Thus also Conant, Meyer, and others. However translated, the thought emphasized in the passage is that because all partake of the one bread the assembled many are symbolically presented as one body, and the Lord's Supper is thus plainly the symbol of church-fellowship. Now, as the duty of deciding on qualification for admission to church-fellowship belongs to the church, it seems evident that it must have also the duty of deciding on qualification for admission to this symbol of churchfellowship. 3. If the candidate were the sole judge of his qualification, it would follow that all who deem themselves qualified must be admitted, whatever their belief or character. But this would destroy the whole significance of the ordinance as a symbol of truth and a profession of faith. Plainly, a church might as consistently invite all to come without examination to its baptism and membership as to extend such an invitation to them to come to the Lord's Supper. This divine law of the Supper, therefore, a church may not disregard : it is bound to require the scriptural qualifications in those approaching the table. A candidate may have piety; but if, through error cherished, he is not in other respects qualified, the church may not set aside the law of God in deference to the error of the man. Loyalty to Christ and fidelity to the man in error alike require it to maintain the divinely-instituted rule for those who come to the Supper. For it is the LORD's Supper, not man's. An invitation, therefore, to those whom he has not invited is not catholicity or Christian liberality; it is presumption. It is the guest arrogantly presuming, in disregard of the express will of the Host, to call to the feast those whom he has not called.
III. RESTRICTION AT THE LORD'S TABLE ALMOST
UNIVERSAL. Restriction at the Lord's Table is not peculiar to the Baptist churches : it is the position of nearly all Christendom.
The Christian communities, as already seen, have in all ages been nearly unanimous in regarding this as an ordinance within the church, and in restricting its observance to those belonging to the church. Good men have, indeed, differed as to what is the proper comprehension of the term church-whether it shall include only the churches of their own denomination, or also those of some of the many other denominations claiming to be churches. They have differed, also, as to what is baptism, the rite initiatory to the church-whether it has only one form and its proper subjects are only personal believers, or whether it has three forms and children are also proper subjects of it. Within these limits there have been, and there are, differences; but in the restriction of the Lord's Supper to those regarded as baptized members of a church there has been, and there is little difference. All the historic creeds of Christendom recognize this restriction either in formal statement or by plain implication, and all the historic churches have conformed to this in their practice. This was the doctrine of Luther and Calvin, of Knox and Cranmer. Doddridge, author of the Rise and Progress, re
marks: “It is certain that, as far as our knowledge of primitive antiquity reaches, no unbaptized person received the Lord's Supper.” President Dwight, in his Theology, says: “It is an indispensable qualification for this ordinance that the candidate for communion be a member of the visible church of Christ in good standing. By this I intend that he should be a person of piety, that he should have made a public profession of religion, and that he should have been baptized." The eloquent Dr. Griffin, in his Letter on Communion, said: "We ought not to commune with those who are not baptized, and of course are not church members, even if we regard them as Christians. Should a pious Quaker so far depart from his principles as to wish to commune with me at the Lord's Table I could not receive him, because there is such a relationship established between the two ordinances that I have no right to separate them; in other words, I have no right
1 to send the sacred elements out of the church."
Nor is this testimony restricted to men of the past generation: equally explicit is the language of eminent Pædobaptists in this generation. Dr. A. A. Hodge, now professor of theology at Princeton, says: “The faith and practice of all the evangelical churches is that the communion is designed only for believers, and therefore that a credible profession of faith and obedience should be required of every applicant."* Dr. John Hall, of New
” York, as quoted approvingly by Rev. T. H. Beecher, of Elmira, said: "If I believed, with the Baptists, that none are baptized but those who are immersed on profession of faith, I should, with them, refuse to commune with any others.” The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, at a recent session, resolved" that it is not in accordance with the spirit and usage of the church to invite
* Outlines of Theology, p. 514.
persons, believers, not members of any evangelical church, to partake of the Lord's Supper.” In the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Prayer Book, under the head of Confirmation, says: “There shall none be admitted to the communion until such time as he be confirmed or be ready and desirous to be confirmed;" in practice, however, this rule is not enforced in the case of strangers who may be present. The Lutheran Church in this country has recently adopted a rule which is popularly stated: “Lutheran pulpits for Lutheran ministers only; Lutheran altars for Lutheran communicants only.” The Reformed Presbyterian Church has always held to restriction of the Supper. Rev. John N. McLeod, D.D., in defining its views, says: “On the subject of sacramental communion, the principles of the church are that such communion is the most solemn, intimate, and perfect fellowship that Christians can enjoy with God and with one another; that when Christians are associated together in a church state, under a definite creed, communion in the sacraments involves an approbation of that creed; and that, as the church is invested with authority which she is bound to exercise to keep the ordinances pure and entire, sacramental communion is not to be extended to those who do not approve the principles of the particular church or submit themselves to her authority. .. . . She does not feel at liberty to allow every man to be the judge of his own qualifications for sealing ordinances, or to dispense those ordinances to such as do not assent to her religious principles, or whom she could not submit to her discipline were they found violating their Christian obligations."
These examples, which might be greatly multiplied, clearly show that the restriction of the Lord's Supper to those regarded as baptized members of a church is recognized in principle and practice by the great body of