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man master upon the earth ; and although my own father has been a diligent student, and teacher of the Christian religion since his youth, and, in my opinion, understands this book as well as any person with whom I am acquainted, yet there is no man with whom I have debated more, and reasoned more, on all subjects of this kind, than he. I have been so long disciplined in the school of free inquiry, that, if I know my own mind, there is not a man upon the earth whose authority can influence me, any farther than he comes with the authority of evidence, reason, and truth. To arrive at this state of mind is the result of many experiments and efforts—and to me has been arduous beyond expression. I have endeavoured to read the Scriptures as though no one had read them before me—and I am as much on my guard against reading them today through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, authority, or system whatever.
“ You say that those people have many excellent things among them—things you would gladly see among us. So say
I. You think they are very defective in forbearance. This may be still true for any thing I know ; but one thing I do know, that several congregations in this connexion are far more • forbearing' than the Baptists in Virginia—for several of them receive unbaptized persons to the Lord's table, on the ground of forbearance. The congregation in Edinburgh, in connexion with James Haldane, and that in Tubermore, in connexion with Alexander Carson, two of the most prominent congregations in the connexion, do actually dispense with baptism on the ground of forbearance. I believe there are some others who carry forbearance' thus far. These people have been much slandered, at home and abroad, by an interested priesthood-and I do know that many things reported of them in this country are false. They say that when a Paido-Baptist gives evidence that. he is a Christian, and cannot be convinced that infant baptism is a human tradition, he ought to be received into a Christian congregation as a brother, if he desires it, irrespective of this weakness. They were once more tenacious of their peculiar views than at present.
“ But on the subject of forbearance I have to remark, that there is no greater misapplication of a word in our language, that I know of, than this one. In strict propriety, it does not apply all to the subject in relation to which it is commonly used. No man can be said to forbear with another, except in such cases as he has done him an injury. Now when Christians differ in opinion upon any subject, unless it can be made appear that the opinion of A is injurious to B, the latter cannot forbear with the former. There is no room nor occasion for forbear
ance; for B is not injured by the opinion of A. To say that Christians must exercise forbearance with one another because of difference of opinion, is admitting that they have a right to consider themselves injured, or that one Christian has a right to consider himself injured because another differs in opinion from him. It is precisely the same mistake which is committed by those who ask the civil authorities to tolerate all or any religious opinions. The mere asking for toleration recognizes a right which no civil government possesses, and establishes a principle of calamitous consequences — viz., that opinions contrary to the majority, or the national creed, are a public injury, which it is in the power of Government to punish or tolerate, according to their intelligence and forbearance. Civil rulers have no right to tolerate nor punish men on account of their opinions in matters of religion. Neither have Christians a right to condemn their brethren for differences of opinion, nor even to talk of forbearing with one another in matters of opinion. The Scriptures speak of the forbearance of God, and teach that Christians, in certain cases, should forbear with one another in cases of injury sustained—but never, that I can see, on account of matters of opinion. A person might as well be said to bear with his natural brother because he was only ten years old, or five feet high-or because he had grey eyes, as to forbear with his Christian brother because he differed from him in some opinions. I know that we all use the term forbearance in a very unwarrantable sense, and that it is difficult to find a term every way appropriate to communicate correct ideas on this subject. To bear with, or allow a brother to exercise his own judgment, is, no doubt, all that you intend by the term-and this is certainly inculcated in the apostolic writings. And I am willing to carry this principle to its greatest possible extent—though, as you say, there is and must be a stopping place. So long as any man, woman, or child declares his confidence in Jesus of Nazareth as God's own Son, that he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification—or, in other words, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour of men—
-and so long as he exhibits a willingness to obey him in all things, according to his knowledge, so long will I receive him as a Christian brother, and treat him as such.
“ What say you of The Christian Baptist,' as being deficient in one important point-'a New 'estament spirit' — next merits my attention. This may be true; and I am thankful to you for your kind remarks upon this topic. One thing, however, I can say, that I am conscious of the most benevolent intentions and kind feelings towards the persons of those very men on whose conduct and measures I have animadverted with the most apparent severity. But I will not say that what I have written exhibits this spirit to the best advantage. I can, I acknowledge, with the utmost good nature and benevolence, say and write many things that may appear, and that to strangers do appear, to be dictated by a very different spirit. I know that what you say of the general spirit of the New Testament is true ; but there is one thing on which I have thought a good deal, which I think escapes the observation of manyviz., that if the Apostles were on earth now, and were to write upon the present state of things in Christendom, their writings would appear to be very different in spirit from those which they wrote when first declaring God's philanthropy in the gift of his Son. They then spoke and wrote in the full spirit of this benevolence. But when a defection began to appear, and apostacy began to show its face, the Apostle began to change his voice, and to exhort others to carry on a good warfare against those seducing spirits, and to reprove, rebuke, and that with sharpness too. Judging from what they said when false teachers began to appear, both of them and to others concerning them, I am of the opinion that the same spirit of benevolence which appears in their public annunciation of the Gospel, would lead them now to speak in a style similar to that in which the epistle of Jude and the second epistle of Peter was written. These things I do not advance as an excuse for myself in all respects, for I know that few will apprehend that
The Christian Baptist' is written in the spirit in which I am conscious it is. But I think that the New Testament spirit is a spirit of meekness, of mildness, of benevolence, and of decided hostility to all and every corruption of the Gospel. The physician is not less benevolent when, as a surgeon, he amputates a limb, than when he administers an anodyne. Yet there would be a manifest difference in his spirit and temper, in the judgment of a spectator, who did not enter into his views and motives in these two actions. There are many topics which would lead to the exhibition of what would appear, in the fullest sense, and in your own sense of the word, “a New Testament spirit, which I would have gladly introduced into this work; but owing to its circumscribed dimensions and the force of opposition, I have had to withhold, or to cause them to yield, to those topics which are the least conducive to what, in the estimation of the majority, is the spirit you would wish to see more strikingly exhibited. Hence so much of one species of composition gives a general character, both to the matter and manner of the work. So much for • a New Testament spirit.' I will conclude this item by observing that I hope to profit from your remarks on this subject.
“ On my casting off the Old Testament, and exploding ex. perimental religion, in its common acceptation - denying the existence of gifts in the present day, commonly believed to exist among all spiritual Christians, such as preaching,' which you think
are dangerous, unless I am misunderstood, I have not room to say much at present. On the subject of experimental religion, some remarks will appear in the next number under another head ; and with reference to casting off the Old Testament,' I will just observe, that I know not of one sentence in • The Christian Baptist' that holds out such an idea. As to divine authority, I have at all times viewed it and represented it as equal to the New. But that Christians are not under it, but under the New, I have contended, and still must contend. And as to the present existence of spiritual gifts’ in the Church, in the New Testament sense of these words, I do not believe that any such exist. But if you mean to call preaching, teaching, praying, praising, exhorting, and ruling spiritual gifts, I do believe that such gifts do exist, and that there is sufficient room for a very liberal exhibition of them in the present day. I have thought that my Essays on the work and office of the Holy Spirit had sufficiently exhibited my views on this subject, so as to preclude misapprehension. Any objections, candid or uncandid, against the views exhibited in these Essays, I will minutely consider whenever presented to me in an intelligible form.
“ But I hasten to your remark on ministerial support. You say, * Your views of ministerial support, directed against abuses on that head, would be useful--but levelled against all support to ministers, (unless by way of alms,) is so palpably contrary to Scripture and common justice, that I persuade myself that there must be some misunderstanding. Now, my dear Sir, the words • ministerial support are so vague and so latitudinarian, that I do not believe that I could be understood by any person who uses them in the common acceptation, if I speak in the style of the New Testament. On this subject I have said but little, except by way of allusion to existing customs, and have generally condemned, and must condemn the popular course. I have said something on the word minister, which I believe to be of importance in this question. But I have not arrived, in my course of Essays on the Restoration, to that place which would lead me to exhibit what I deem the views of the New Testament on the bishop's office, call
, ordination, and support. That any man is to be paid at all for preaching, i.e. making sermons and pronouncing them-or that any man is to be hired for a stipulated sum to preach and pray, and expound Scripture, by the day, month, or year, I believe to be a relic of popery.
“ The difference between a hireling 'minister' and a bishop, I will endeavour to illustrate in my next Essay on the ‘ Ancient Order of Things,' to which I would refer you for the present. I do know, for I inquired when in your vicinity, that you have never esteemed gain to be godliness, and that although you have laboured much as a bishop and as a preacher, you have never made it, sought it, or found it to be a lucrative calling. And I am sure that you do not object to any thing you have seen in · The Christian Baptist' on this subject, because it either has operated, or was feared to operate against you. In the words of the Apostle, 'You have not thus spoken that it should be so done unto you. I say I am convinced of this, and that you speak in behalf of others, and for the sake of consistent views of the Christian religion.
“ Your last observations in your table of corrections I come now to notice. It is this :--- In short, your views are generally so contrary to those of the Baptists in general, that if a party was to go fully into the practice of your principles, I should say a new sect had sprung up,' &c. This is neither a commendation nor a reprobation of The Christian Baptist,' until one or two questions are answered.
“ In the first place, are the Baptists generally now following in the steps of the primitive church? Are they up to the model of the New Testament? Upon the answer given to this query, your last remark conveys praise or blame. If they are in the millennial state, or in the primitive state of the Church, then every thing that would change their order and practice is to be reprobated and discountenanced by every Christian. But if not, every well meant effort to bring them up to that state, as far as Scripture and reason approbate, ought to be countenanced, aided, and abetted by every one that loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
Again it may be asked, for the sake of variety, would not a congregation of saints, built exactly upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly appear like a new sect arising amongst the Baptists, or any other sect in this country?
And, in the third place, ought not every Christian who prays for the millennial state, or a restoration of the ancient order of things, to labour to promote so desirable an event by all the means in his power?
“ On the view taken of these questions, and the answer given to them, depends the import and weight of your last remark. In the mean time I must come to a close, referring you, on this last topic, to my reply to · An Independent Baptist' in the next number, for a more luminous expose of the