Images de page

pists can give, why they have not numbered it among their sacraments, except merely 'voluntas Ecclesiæ et traditio Patrum ;' that is, the tradition of the Fathers and the will of the Church."

The reader will see by this time, that on subjects which have given rise to such controversies as Baptism and the Lord's Supper have now been described to have done, people may be readily excused, if they should entertain their own opinions about them, though these may be different from those which are generally received by the world. The difficulties indeed, which have occurred with respect to these ordinances, should make us tender of casting reproach upon others who should differ from ourselves concerning them. For, when we consider that there is no one point, connected with these ordinances, about which there has not been some dispute; that those who have engaged in these disputes have been men of equal learning and piety; that all of them have pleaded primitive usage, in almost all cases, in behalf of their own opinions; and that these disputes are not even now, all of



them, settled; who will take upon him to censure his brother, either for the omission or the observance of one or the other rite ? And let the Quakers, among others, find indulgence from their countrymen for their opinions on these subjects. This indulgence they have a right to claim, from the consideration that they themselves never censure others of other denominations on account of their religion. With respect to those who belong to the Society, as the rejection of these ceremonies is one of the fundamentals of Quakerism, it is expected that they should be consistent with what they are considered to profess. But with respect to others, they have no unpleasant feelings towards those who observe them. If a man believes that Baptism is an essential rite of the Christian church, the Quakers would not judge him, if he were to go himself, or if he were to carry his children to receive it. And if, at the communion table, he should find his devotion to be so spiritualized, that in the taking of the bread and wine he really and spiritually discerned the body and blood of Christ, and was sure that his own, conduct would be influenced morally by it, they would not censure him for becoming an attendant at the altar. In short, the Quakers do not condemn others for their attendances on these occasions. They only hope that, as they do not see these ordinances in the same light as others, they may escape censure if they refuse to admit them

that among





Baptism —Two Baptisms that of John and of

Christ-That of John was by water, a Jewish ordinance, and used preparatory to religious conversion and worship-hence John used it as preparatory to conversion to Christianity-Jesus submitted to it to fulfil all righteousnessothers as to a baptism to repentancebut it was not initiative into the Christian church, but le. longed to the Old Testament-Nor was John

under the Gospel, but under the Law. I come now to the arguments which the Quakers have to offer for the rejection of the use of Baptism, and of the sacrament of the Supper; and first for that of the use of the former rite.

Two baptisms are recorded in Scripture, the baptism of John, and the baptism of Christ.

The baptism of John was by water, and a Jewish ordinance. The washing of garments and of the body, which were called Baptisms by the Ellenistic Jews, were enjoined to the Jewish nation as modes of purification from legal pollutions, symbolical of that inward cleansing of the heart which was necessary to persons before they could hold sacred offices, or pay their religious homage in the temple, or become the true worshippers of God. The Jews therefore, in after times, when they made proselytes from the Heathen-nàtions, enjoined these the same customs as they observed themselves. They generally circumcised, at least, the proselytes of the covenant, as a mark of their incorporation into the Jewish church, and they afterwards washed them with water, or baptized them; which was to be a sign to them of their having been cleansed from the filth of idolatry, and an emblem of their fitness, in case of a real cleansing, to receive the purer precepts of the Jewish religion, and to walk in newness of life.


Baptism therefore was a Jewish ordinance, used on religious occasions; and therefore John, when he endeavoured by means of his preaching to prepare the Jews for the

« PrécédentContinuer »