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Having quoted Chillingworth, we will transcribe two other passages of his on the character of Luther, which appear to us to be at once just, candid and spirited :
"And then for Luther's opposing your church upon mere passion, it is a thing I will not dery. because I know not his heart, and for the same reason you should not have affirmed it. Sure I am whether he opposed your church upon reason or no, he had reason enough to oppose it. And therefore if he did it upon passion we will follow him only in his action, and not in his passion; in his opposition, not in the manner of it: And then I presume you will have no reason to condemn us; unless you will say that a good action cannot be done with reason, because somebody before us hath done it upon passion."
"As for Luther's speeches I told you not long since, that we follow no private man, and regard not much what he says either against the church of Rome or for it; but what he proves. He was a man of a vehement spirit, and very of. ten what he took in hand, he did not do it, but overdo it.He that will justify all his speeches, especially such as he wrote in the heat of opposition, I believe will have work enough. Yet in these sentences, though he overreach in the particulars, yet what he says in general we confess true; and confess with himThat in the Papacy are many good things, which have come.
from them to us; but withal we say there are many bad; neither do we think ourselves bound in prudence to resist the good with the bad, or to retain the bad with the good, but rather conceive it a high point of wisdom to separate between the precious and the vile, to sever the good from the bad, and to put the good into vessels to be kept, and to cast the bad away; to try all things and to hold that which is good."
Luther, confident in his abilities and his cause, styled himself Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher; for, says he, "it is not fitting that I should be without a title, having received the work of the ministry not from man or by man, but the gift of God and the revelation of Jesus Christ." In another place he calls himself "Luther the second Elias, and the Chariot of Israel."
This extravagant self-estimation which cannot be justified, was perhaps necessary to enable him to stand almost singly against the world.
His strong passions operated to his disadvantage in pri vate as well as in public life. We have disgusting pictures of them in anecdotes and conversations indiscreetly published by his friends. Much however, as the Catholics have exclaimed against Luther's imperfections, they would have readily pardoned these if he had spared them the mortification of his virtues, it is not the indiscreet and intemperate man, but the Reformer that they hate.
The enmity of the Roman Catholics was not extinguish ed in Luther's grave; they invented and propagated a thousand fables concerning his death. Some said that he died suddenly as by a judgment of God; others that he perished in a debauch; others that the devil strangled him; and others that the stench of his corpse was so intolerable that the bearers were obliged to run from it, and to leave it on the road, as they were carrying it to interment. All those are known to be gross falsehoods. They are worthy of recital, however, as an example of the spirit of orthodoxy, which is always the same; it never suffers a heretic to go out of the world without pursuing him with some invention to the discredit of his dying moments. Indignities were offered to
I send you a copy of a let ter from a much respected Clergyman, formerly of this vicinity, to his friend in this town, which was found among his papers after his decease. The importance of the subject treated, and the opinions contained in it, induced sever al gentlemen here to think it would be a useful article if published in the Christian Disciple. If your opinion is the same, after perusal, it
the Reformer's tomb; whilst
A LETTER FROM ONE CLERGYMAN TO ANOTHER.
To the Editor of the Christian would be gratifying to have it
Aug. 21, 1818.
THE questions you have proposed to me, and to which you desire an answer, merit particular attention as they bear a direct aspect on the honour of religion and the prosperity of the church of Christ. In matters of such importance every friend of true religion must feel himself bound to proceed on the best information he can obtain, and a clear conviction of what is right and agreeable to the will of God, lest he should through an erroneous judge.
ment injure that cause which it was his aim to promote. Before I proceed to answer the questions, I would beg leave to mention the following preliminaries on which I presume we are entirely agreed.
1. That the Scriptures contain the only infallible rule to direct christians in the way of duty; and all things essential to religion, are therein clearly revealed, or so plainly implied, by just and necessary consequence, that churches are not left in suspense or uncertainty about any thing essential; and therefore that this, and not the opinions and traditions of men, however great or good, is to be regarded as the only rule in determining questions of a practical nature.
2. That the rules and directions given by the inspired Apostles respecting the out ward form, order and discipline of the church of Christ, and their own correspondent practice, are the only unerring directory in this matter and nothing different from this rule should ever be made a term of admission to christian privileges.
3. That in many instances the mode or manner of doing commanded duty, and the customs and usages of particular churches, in things merely circumstantial, are left to the wisdom of christians, and may be various in different churches, suitable to their peculiar circumstances, consistently with a conscientious regard to the general laws of christianity such as performing bap
may be admitted to the privilege of baptism for their children."
our only rule in determining questions which relate to such matters. But here, in the question before us, a difficulty occurs at the first step of our enquiry, which is, that there is neither precept nor example in the New Testament, that I can recollect, for our direction in the case the question proposes, viz. the admission of persons who have themselves been baptised &c. to the privilege of baptism for their children when they do not come, nor propose to come to the Lord's table. The Apostles preached the Gospel to those only, who were capable of understanding it and when they were struck with a conviction of its truth, upon their public profession of faith and repentance, were baptized, in token of their discipleship and dedication to the service of Christ, were added to the church, admitted at the same time to all christian privileges, and manifested their faith by walking in a stedfast observ. ance of all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord Jesus.
I freely acknowledge, I cannot find any thing in the New Testament to justify the practice of admittung persons to the privilege of baptism for their children, who are not viewed, in a judgement of charity, as having a right at the same time to all christian privileges, and being bound to observe all the commands of Christ; or that gives the least countenance to the distinction made in our churches between a public profession
Ans. I take it for granted, agreeable to what has been premised, that the terms of admission to privileges in the visible church of Christ should not be different from what he hath made them. That the door should not be made wider or narrower than he hath left it in his word. The deviating from this rule, and setting up the opinions of men, and traditions of the Fathers, human forms, modes and ceremonies of worship, as terms of communion, have been the great occasion of the divisions, separations, discord and confusions which for ages have rent the seamless garment of our divine Redeemer, and 'broken the unity of the spirit which should ever be the distinguishing characteristic of his disciples. Had it not been for this, the two grand divisions of Papists and Protestants, and among the latter, those of Calvinists and Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbytcrians, Baptists, and the numerous sects and parties which have divided the christian church into separate communions, would never have had existence. If therefore we would avoid the evil consequences of unchristian divisions, and manage our ecclésiastical affairs according to the christian plan, it is necessary we should make the instructions of Christ in his word, and the example of those who acted under the immediate guidance of his spirit,
for admission to the privilege of baptism, and a second profession for admission to the Lord's Table. It appears to one that all who were admit ted by Apostles to baptism were considered by them as having an equal right to the Lord's supper, and to all other christian privileges I will readily allow that persons who haye been baptised in their infancy, and, after they have arrived to mature age have not renounced their baptism by vicious immoral lives, but, on the contrary give evidence of their regard to religion by their diligent attention on public worship, &c have an undoubted right to baptism for their children, and may claim it as their privilege; for if their being baptised themselves constitutes them mem bers of the visible kingdom of Christ, and they have not renounced their baptism, of consequence they must have a right to the privileges which belong to the subjects of this kingdom; and as the children of believing baptised persons are born in the church, and it appears from diverse instances recorded in the New Testament, as Lydia, and the Jailor, that when the heads of families believed, their households, all who were under their immediate care and charge, were also baptised with them, it hence follows that parents who believe, and are baptised, have a right to the privilege of baptism for their children, and no church has any authority to refuse their claim.
The qualified subjects of
every kingdom have an undoubted right to the privileges secured to them by the constitution they are under, so long as they demean themsclves loyal subjects; yet there are some privileges which subjects cannot claim nor enjoy unless they are qualified for them as the con stitution requires, and admitted to the actual possession of them in the manner it prescribes. The sovereign power in every worldly kingdom prescribes the terms and qualifications on which subjects shall be admitted to certain privileges in such kingdoms; certainly Jesus Christ has no less authority to prescribe the terms on which persons shall be admitted to special privileges in his kingdom. Now it appears to me that the term of admission to the privilege of baptism, for themselves and their children, required of persons in the primitive apostolic churches, not only of believing Gentiles, but also of believing Jews, who were by birth subjects of the peculiar kingdom of God, and had been baptised of John, was an open profession of faith in Christ as the Son of God and promised Saviour of mankind, and of subjection to his authority.
I acknowledge that a sober regular life, and a constant attendance on public worship, and the duties of the christian sabbath, is a better evidence of the influence of religion on the heart, and a more satisfactory ground of charity, than the warmest profession without this; yet as it appears