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upon these subjects, great indulgence is due to the latter on this occasion. People have received the ordinances in question from their ancestors. They have been brought up to the use of them.
They have seen them sanctioned by the world. Finding their authority disputed by a body of men, who are insignificant as to numbers when compared with others, they have let loose their censure upon them, and this without any inquiry concerning the grounds of their dissent. They know perhaps nothing of the obstinate contentions, nothing of the difficulties that have occurred, and nothing of those which may still be started on these subjects. I shall state therefore a few considerations by way of preface; during which the reader will see, that objections both fair and forcible may be raised by the best disposed Christians on the other side of the question ; that the path is not so plain and
; easy as he may have imagined it to be; and that, if the Quakers have taken a road different from himself on this occasion, they are entitled to à fair hearing of all they have to say in their defence, and to expect the same candour and indulgence which he
himself would have claimed, if, with the best intentions, he had not been able to come to the same conclusion, on any given point of importance, as had been adopted by others.
Let me then ask, in the first place, What is the great characteristic of the religion we profess?
If we look to divines for an answer to this question, we may easily obtain it. We shall find some of them, in their sermons, speaking of circumcision, baptismal washings and purifications, new moons, feasts of the
passover and unleavened bread, sacrifices and other rites: we shall find them dwelling on these, as constituent parts of the religion of the Jews. We shall find them immediately passing from thence to the religion of Jesus Christ. Here all is considered by them to be spiritual. Devotion of the heart is insisted upon as that alone which is acceptable to God. If God is to be worshipped, it is laid down as a position, that he is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. We shall find them also, in other of their sermons, but particularly in those preached after the Reformation, stating the advantages obtained
by that event.
The Roman Catholic system is here considered by them to be as ceremonial as that of the Jews. The Protestant is held out as of a more spiritual nature, and as more congenial therefore with the spirit of the Gospel. But what is this but a confession, in each case, that in proportion as men give up ceremonies, and become spiritual in their worship, their religion is the best; or that spirituality is the grand characteristic of the religion of Jesus Christ? Now there immediately arises a presumption, if spirituality of feeling had been intended as the characteristic of any religion, that no ceremonious ordinances would have been introduced into it.
If, again, I were to make an assertion to divines, that Jesus Christ came to put an end to the ceremonious part of the Jewish Law, and to the types and shadows belonging to the Jewish dispensation, they would not deny it. But Baptism and the Supper were both of them outward Jewish ceremonies, connected with the Jewish religion. They were both of them types and shadows, of which the antitypes and substances had been realized at the death of Christ. And
therefore a presumption arises again, that these were not intended to be continued.
And that they were not intended to be continued, may be presumed again from another consideration. For, what was baptism to any but a Jew? What could a Gentile have understood by it? What notion could he have formed, by means of it, of the necessity of the baptism of Christ? Unacquainted with purifications by water, as symbols of purification of heart, he could never have entered, like a Jew, into the spiritual life of such an ordinance. And similar observations may be made with respect to the Passover-supper. ' A Gentile could have known nothing, like a Jew, of the meaning of this ceremony. He could never have seen in the paschal lamb any type of Christ, or in the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage any type of his own deliverance from sin, so clearly and feelingly as if the facts and customs had related to his own history, or as if he had been trained to the connection by a long series of prophecies. In short, the Passover could have had but little meaning to him. From these circumstances, therefore, there
would be reason to conclude that these ceremonies were not to be continued, at least to any but Jews, because they were not fitted to the knowledge, the genius, or the condition of the Gentile world.
But independently of these difficulties, which arise from a general view of these ordinances as annexed to a religion which is confessed to be spiritual, others arise from a particular view of each. On the subject of Baptism, there is ground for argument as to the meaning of the word “ baptize.” This word, in consequence of its representation of a watery ceremony, is usually connected with water in our minds. But it may
also very consistently be connected even with fire. Its general meaning is to purify. In this sense many understand it: and those who do, and who apply it to the great command of Jesus to his disciples, think they give a better interpretation of it than those who connect it with water; for they think it more reasonable that the Apostles should have been enjoined to go into all nations, and to endeavour to purify the hearts of individuals, by the spirit and power of their preaching, from the dross of heathen-no