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His churches, joins baptism with the discipling of all nations: as though the first thing is to make disciples; the next, is to baptize them. So Peter, in his Pentecostal sermon, makes baptism the next duty after repentance. Believers, indeed, are designated as the baptized.* Examples, too, are given in the Acts, showing that baptism in practice, followed as the next duty after belief. So clear has this relation of baptism to belief been made by the Scriptures that “Christians of every name, from the apostolic age to the present, with hardly a dissentient voice, have declared baptism to be a prerequisite to the Eucharist.” “Uniting with a local church is, therefore, the immediate sequence and, as it were, the natural counterpart of a baptismal vow.” “In no case is the Lord's Supper put before baptism ; in no case does the narrative recognize any interval between faith and baptism, to be filled by the Lord's Supper; in no case are believers brought into the church, and afterwards baptized.”+
If exceptions should ever be necessary, the rule that only baptized believers are permitted by the Scriptures to come to the Lord's Table, stands firm. To found a rule on exceptions, is preposterous; to override the divine order that those who neglect or refuse to join the church may enjoy church privileges, is to abet disobedience in fact, if not in intention. To invite to the Lord's Table non-church members, even though they may believe and we may hope they are the followers of Christ, mistaken as to duty, runs counter to the word and will of God as interpreted by the almost universal practice of the churches in all ages. Instead of fostering the disobedience of such, the Church should say, as God has said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." So long as they neglect this duty, we can not admit them to the Lord's Table without confirming, extending, and perpetuating their sin. If they have been baptized in infancy, then they must ratify the act of their parents by a public confession of Christ. Even the dying can
* Rom. vi. 3; 1. Cor. xii. 13; Gal. iii. 27. + 1 Bib. Sacra., vol. xix., pp. 145, 151, 153.
receive baptism before the bread and the wine. The possible exceptions are, therefore, rare, and can not invalidate the rule. No wrong is done by this rule to believers outside the local church, for such believers have no business to be out of the Church of Christ. Their place is in the visible Church, where all its blessings and burdens are theirs.
There are, however, organizations calling themselves Christian churches, whose members we must also exclude from our invitation to the Lord's Table, even though some of them may, in the eye of charity, be regarded as born of the Spirit. That there are bodies professing to be Christian which deny the Lord Jesus, reject whatever they please of the Scriptures, obliterate the distinction between saint and sinner, is painfully evident. One, not in full sympathy, but yet in fellowship with them, has recently said, “There are many amongst us who would say, 'I had rather go to hell with Emerson and Abbot than to heaven with any who would shut them out; because theirs is the better spirit.' Can we invite such to the table of Him who said, “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him," on the ground that they believe themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, or on any other grounds? They claim most loudly to be Christians, though Abbot has renounced the name, they are members of so-called Christian churches; but can we recog. nize them as such by our invitation of them to the Lord's Table? It is healthful, in these days of fading distinctions; to revert to a more wholesome course. Errorists threatened the foundations and the peace of the primitive churches, and the apostles have taught us how to treat them. To churches troubled by them, Paul wrote, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” † And, to give it emphasis, the solemn adjuration is repeated. To another church he wrote, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maran-atha," I i.e., “ let him be
* Rev. James W. Thompson, D.D., in Monthly Revier and Religious Magazine. + Gal. i. 8, 9.
11 Cor. xvi. 22.
accursed when the Lord cometh." To another, “Now we command you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us. After describing those “having the form of godliness, but denying the form thereof,” he said to a minister of the gospel, “ From such turn away." + To another minister, “A man that is an heretic, after a first and second adınonition, shun; knowing that he that is such is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned.” † John, writing to the “elect lady,” is still more specific, saying, “Whosoever transgresseth (progresseth), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto yon, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” S
These surely are not the words of men who saw no practical difference between truth and error, the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of anti-Christ. The claims of errorists to be the followers of Christ are stoutly denied ; and they are to be judged or tested not only by the churches, but also by the ministers, and not only by the ministers, but also by the membership, by believing women; and the criterion by which these are to judge them, is the gospel, the doctrine of Christ. After these pointed and specific admonitions, did the primitive churches invite errorists to the Lord's Table? But, it may be asserted that the churches have advanced to more liberal views and call for more liberal measures than were necessary then. John had these progressionists in prophetic view when he wrote; for he said, according to the best established reading, “Every one that progresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine (of Christ), hath not God.” “ The doctrine is that which Christ himself brought and taught, and caused to be propagated by His apostles.” The word “ progresseth "indicates just such a progress beyond the truth, a reaching after something beyond the limits of Christian doctrine, as has been witnessed in these days of progress. But, in religious things, “true progress is only possible in the maintenance and on the foundation of Christian truth."
* 2 Thes. jii. 6. See also vs. 14, 15. + 2 Tim. iii. 5.
1 Titus iii. iv. xi. (Ellicott.) § 2 John, ix, xi.
But who shall decide what is progress in the truth, and what progress is a departure from the truth? As shown, the apostles laid the responsibility on the churches, on ministers, and on individual believers; but upon them severally in their respective modes of fellowship. We have the same doctrines by which to judge that they had ; the light in which we live is greater than theirs; science does not obliterate the distinction between truth and error, right and wrong. We are, therefore, able to judge, as well as they were; yea, better; for, in the lapse of time, we reach a clearer argument from the witness of the Spirit than was possible in the first century. We must, then, in obedience to our only infallible rule of faith and practice, draw the line firmly between those who hold the doctrine of Christ which the Scriptures teach, and those who accept and reject what they please of it; between those who progress in the truth, and those who go beyond it; between those who preach Christ's gospel, and those who proclaim another gospel. This duty, however painful it may be, the churches can not neglect, without denying the Lord that bought them. Now those churches which abide in the doctrine of Christ receive, as we believe, the witness of the Spirit, and are called evangelical ; while those who reject th doctrine do not, as we believe, receive the witness of the Spirit, and are called unevangelical. If, therefore, the former be invited to the Lord's Table, and the latter be excluded, the line will be drawn just where the Scriptures draw it, just where the Holy Spirit draws it, and must be in accordance with the Divine will. We can not invite unevangelical churches to our holy communion without bidding them God speed, and becoming partakers of their evil deeds. If this be illiberality, it is, we believe, no more illiberal than the truth. “True liberality in any sense of the word which makes it a
virtue, is not that easy, good nature which is equally hospitable to truth and error, to faith and the negation of faith. Such hospitality can not co-exist with intensity of conviction; and, instead of indicating advanced thought, as is its boast, is evidence of a backward movement towards that amiable Pyrrhonism which holds nothing settled but its own tranquillity, or that Roman politeness which assigns a niche or a pedestal to any god whom any people may wish to set up in its Pantheon." *
We truly sympathize with that brave hand who are trying, despite discouragements, to find protection for their churches “against the crowd of skeptical, disorganizing, and otherwise unworthy teachers, that is now drifting towards (them) from all sects and all forms of belief and unbelief”; but we can not suggest a better way than that of the apostles, rigidly enforced. For if we depart from our fundamental law in one point, who can prevent our mounting at last a "platform of feeble neutrality between Christianity and its opponents,” or even of downright hostility to the gospel ?
MARY LYON: HER FAITH AND HER WORKS.
Amid all the varying estimates in this world of incongruitie in which each man and woman claims the right to judge from his or her own particular stand-point, it is consoling to know that there are acts which belong with the eternal verities; having a far-reaching, a holy influence, not only away on into
a generations to come, but into that existence which is yet to be. We call that influence moral power.
Such was Mary Lyon's. One woman, without wealth, influential family, or social advantages of any kind, made herself felt not only over New England but in the far West and in
* Rev. James W. Thompson, D.D., in Mon. Rev, ani Relig. Mag.