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tance or authority to what is said or done on beds of sickness; but Christian love often flows purer and rises higher at such times than before--so high as to break over sectarian barriers, and embrace with full affection all who bear the image of the Saviour.
5. We object to the principles of close communion that, under the consistent operation of them, there will often occur cases of real hardship.- Those who have been born of God and truly love him, usually set a high value upon their seasons of sacramental communion. They love to sit down with their fellow disciples at the table of their Lord, lean upon his breast at supper, and feed upon the memorials of his body and blood. But circumstances may be supposed, and are likely often to occur, in which individuals may be deprived of this privilege for years, perhaps during the greater part of their lives, unless they are admitted to communion in the Baptist churches. Here is a pious, devoted mother, a member of a Pedobaptist church, whose lot divine Providence has cast where she can have Christian intercourse only with Baptists. And her intercourse with them is in general pleasant. She listens to their preachers, and is instructed and edified. She meets with them in the praying circle, and her heart is warmed. She co-operates with them in works of faith and labors of love, and in promoting various objects of Christian benevolence. Her affections mingle with theirs, and theirs with hers, and they are spiritually of one heart and soul. But when the table of the Lord is spread, and she asks permission to approach, she is grieved to find herself excluded. Finl why, she asks, ' Am I excluded? Do I not give And '
I you satisfactory evidence of being a child of God--of being one with you in spirit-of being one with whom the Saviour com nunes? And why can I not have communion with you ?" - Why, dear sister,' it is replied, ' you hare not been baptized.'_ But I have been baptized,' she rejoins. I have given myself up to God in baptism, according to his appointment, and in that manner which I think most agreeable to his will.'
- Ab, but you are mistaken on that subject; we know you are; you must renounce your pretended baptism, and go with
on his death-bed, sent for a member of the Congregational church to visit him. He had been decideilly against communing with Pedlobaptists; but after a liule conversation, when his neighbor was about to return, he told him that he had something more
le tarried; and the sick man told him that he had a desire to commme with him and his brethren before he left the world. There was no minister in the place, and to appearance he could not live till they could obtain one. His anxiety, however was so great, that a part of the Congregational church was collected, one of the deacons consecrated the elements, he parlook with them, and snon afier died. It is easier for Christians to reject each other in life, than when they are entering into the im nediate presence of God, and going to join the general assembly above." (Brooks's Reply, p. 58.
us into the water, and then we can receive you.'Renounce my baptism,' she exclaims! 'I can never do that. It was the most sacred action of my life. I might almost as well renounce my Saviour.'-'Well
, sister, we are sorry for you ; but unless you can comply with our terms, we cannot receive you.' And so this child of God, because she will not do violence lo her conscience, and renounce what she deems the most sacred act of her life, is driven away from her Father's table; and this, too, under circumstances in which it is known that she can have communion with no other church, but must pass her life, and perhaps end her days, and never more have the privilege of coming to the sacramental board. And is there no hardship in all this? Is there nothing revolting to the pious heart ?* And let it not be thought that this is wholly an imaginary case. It is drawn from the life. There are many such instances now in existence. And if the principles of close communion were more widely ditlused, they would be proportionally multiplied. Can these principles, then, be in accordance with the gospel? Can they be a part of that religion which says expressly to its professors, when differing on points not essential to salvation, “ Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant ?"
But instances like that above described are not the only cases of hardship growing out of close communion. There are others of a different character. It is a fact, that no inconsiderable proportion of the members of the Baptist churches are opposed to close communion; their consciences are pained with it, and their souls are in bondage on account of it. Mr. Hall
, says, “ It frequently happens that the constitution of a church continues to sanction strict communion, while the sentiments of a vast majority of its members are decidedly in lavor of a contrary system.” In another place he expresses the opinion that a majority of the present Baptists are in favor of open communion. Works, Vol. i. pp. 396, 401. A Baptist minister of our own country also says, “ It is not known by the close communion Baptists how many there are of their own denomination who believe, in their hearts, in open communion. I was surprised, after divulging my sentiments, to find so many who entertained the same belief-some of them for years.” Brooks's
. There is reason to believe, that the operation of the principles of close communion is often as paintul to those who exclude, as to those who are excluded. A brother in the ministry (not a Baptist) wbo had acted upon these principles, and had excluded a female under circumstances not altogether unlike those above detailed, writes, “ She put her kerchief to her eyes, and turned away, struggling withi anguish, and the tears streaming down her cheeks. How did my heart smite me! I went home exclaiming to myself, Can this be right? Is it possible that such is the law of the Redeemero house ?' »' Mason's Plea &c. p. 7.
Essay, p. 22. This testimony is in accordance with our own observations. We are ourselves acquainted with not a few individuals, members of Baptist churches, who freely acknowledge that they are not satisfied with close communion—that they believe it unscriptural—and that they would abandon it at once, were it not for displeasing some of their brethren.—But is it no hardship for a Christian to live in this way-habitually trifling with his conscience, and conniving at that which he thinks is wrong, from a fear of giving offence to his brethren? Is such a state of mind favorable to Christian enjoyment ? Is this the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free?
6. We object to the practice of close communion, that it is upheld and continued, in part at least, from sectarian motives. We should not feel warranted in making this assertion, however clearly facts might seem to justify it, were it not that the truth of it is acknowledged. In the work before us, Mr. F. says, " The tendency of mixed communion is to annihilate, as such, all the Baptist churches in Christendom.” And he asks, “Do you wish to promote the dissolution and ruin of the Baptist denomination, as such ? If you do not, take heed to your ways.” pp. 24, 25. Thus close communion is confessedly to be retained, because its continuarce is deemed necessary to the existence of a sect. One of the lines of separation between the members of Christ's mystical body would be gradually worn out and disappear, were it not for close communion; and therefore the practice must be vigorously maintained.
In reply to this we have only to say, that we have no fears for the denomination to which we belong, in consequence of a free and fraternal intercourse with other denominations of real Christians. If we cannot mingle freely with brethren of other names, who agree with us in holding the Head, and look candidly and closely into their peculiarities, and suffer them to look into ours, without losing our existence as a sect, then we desire to lose it. The sooner we incur the loss, the better.—The time has come, when Christians must think less about their particular sects, their denominations "as such," and more about the general interests of truth and the kingdom of Christ. And it is objection enough to any practice in the church, that it requires to be sustained by fomenting a sectarian spirit.
7. We object again to close communion, that it is opposed to the spirit of the age, and operates in various ways to retard the progress of Christ's kingdom. The age in wbich we live is one of peculiar interest. The Christian world is awaking from its slumbers to unwonted efforts ; and Satan is coming out in great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. The people of God are beginning to move and operate together; and the enemies of truth and righteousness are doing the same. On every hand, lines are drawing, and sides are taking, preparatory to the conflict of the last days. The aspect of the times obviously demands the utmost practicable union among Christians, and that every thing tending to obstruct this union should be speedily taken out of the way. One of these obstrnctions, unquestionably, is close communion. This tends, as we have seen, to break the unity of the church, to interrupt mutual charity, to hinder the exercise of Christian love. It divides the affections, and insulates and weakens the efforts of those, who ought to love as brethren, and to go hand in hand to their appropriate work. It leads those often to waste their strength upon each other, whose united strength ought to be directed against a common enemy. It causes those to interfere and contend with each other, between whom there should be no strife, except who shall be most fervent in love, and most zealous in efforts for promoting the Redeemer's kingdom.
An incalculable amount of time, labor, and money, which is now expended for sectarian purposes, might be directed to the common interests of Christianity, were it not for close communion. In how many places in the United States, where there are now two or three societies, all feeble, struggling for existence, and aided perhaps by public charity, might there be one strong, efficient society, able to support itself and to assist others, if those who regard each other as real Christians could only consent to commune together at the table of the Lord ? We wish our brethren of the close communion to take this subject into serious consideration, and inquire whether--wherever there are now two or three societies and meeting houses where, but for their principles, there need be but one--the whole of this needless expense is not justly chargeable to their account;-and whether-wherever ihere are now two or three ministers stationed where, but for close communion, there need be but onenearly the whole of this superfluous labor, which might be expended in building up the wastes of Zion, is not now lost to the general cause of Christ?
On the whole, we have no doubt that the principles of close communion are wrong ;--that they are contrary to the Scriplures, and to the practice of the church in the purest times ;
Evangelical Bantists and Pedobaptists have found already that they can worship together with mutual satisfaction; and if they could but commune together at the table of the Lord, they might be associated, wherever there should be occasion, in the same congregation; the Pastor might be of either denomination, according to the wishes of the majority; and nothing would be wanting in such an establishment, but a spirit of forbearance, accommodation and love-a zeal for God, and not for a sect--io promole iis prosperity and peace.
that they tend to involve those who hold them in great inconsistencies; and are, in various ways, of injurious influence to the cause of Christ. We say this, not to reproach any of our Baptist brethren or to give them pain; but to bring them, if possible, to consideration, and to devising ways and means by which the evil in question may be removed. There can be no doubt that many of them are conscientious and sincere. They are those with whom, so far as permitted, we can take sweet counsel now; and with whom, were it not for close communion, our fellowship might be complete. The olivious tendency of things, at present, is to remove this difficulty; and we have no doubt that, previous to the Millennium, it will be taken entirely out of the way; but how shall this be done? How shall the grand obstacle in the way of free and open communion be removed ?
It will be seen that this is a point on which it does not become us to dictate-perhaps not to advise ; and yet (if we may be permitted) we should like to offer a few remarks.
[To be continued.)
CALMETS' DICTIONARY OF THE HOLY BIBLE. Revised
with large additions. By EDWARD ROBINSON, Professor Extraordinary in the Theological Seminary, Andoter. Boston : Crocker & Brewster. 1832. pp. 1003.
Within a few years past the labors of learned and pious men have been employed to a wonderful degree in the elucidation of the sacred volume. Their zeal and industry have been such that one would think we were just emerging from another bondage of the conscience and of free inquiry under the Papal yoke. The Reformers hardly did more in comparison of the necessities of the time in which they lived to diffuse a knowledge of the Bible, than has been done within a short period to explain and illustrate its contents. Standing in a public theological library and considering how small a portion of the volumes which have been written to illustrate the Bible are gathered together even in such a collection, we are filled with amazement at the single Book which has employed so many minds, and called forth so vast an amount of thought and research. At the same time we are made to feel that after all which has been written, no expositor, commentator, or even