Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

BAPTISTS, GENERAL AND PARTICULAR. THE Baptists are distinguished from other de nominations respecting the mode and subject of baptism. They contend that this ordinance should be administered by immersion only, which indeed is enjoined, though not practised, by the church of England. They also assert, that it should be adıninistered to those alone who profess their belief in the Christian religion, and avow their determination of regulating their lives by its precepts. Some of the learned, liowever, suppose that the controversy is not so properly whether infants or adults should be baptized, as whether the rite should be administered on the profession of our own faith, or on that of another's faith. See Letters addressed to Bishop Hoadley, by the late Mr. Foot, a General Baptist at Bristol.

The Baptists are divided into the General, who are Arminians, and into the Particular, who are Calvinists. Some of both classes allow mixed communion, by which is understood, that those who have not been baptized by immersion on the profession of their faith (but in their infancy, which they themselves deem valid) may sit down at the Lord's table along with those who have been thus baptized. This has given rise to some

little controversy on the subject. Mr. Killingworth and Mr. Abraham Booth have written against free communion ; but John Bunyan, Dr. James Foster, Mr. Charles Bulkely, Mr. John Wiche, for many years a respectable General Baptist minister at Maidstone, and Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, have contended for it. It is to be regretted that such disputes should ever have arisen, since they have contributed in no small degree to injure the repose, and retard the prosperity of the Christian Church. An Address to the Opposers of Free Communion, written by the late venerable Micaijah Towgood, will be found at the end of his Life, by Mr. James Manning, well worth attention*.

The General Baptists have, in some of their churches, three distinct orders separately ordained— Messengers, Elders, and Deacons ; and their General Assembly (when a minister preaches, and the affairs of the churches are taken into consis

* It is a circumstance worthy of being recorded, and the truth of which was lately confirmed to me by the Rev. Thomas Dunscombe, late of Coates, near Oxford, that a gentleman of Clapham left a sum to be distributed among several Baptist churches, who should not forbid a Pædobaptist from sitting down with then at the Lord's table. This singular legacy displays, in a striking point of view, the liberality of the deceased, and reflects an honour on his memory. The circumstance has but recently come to my knowledge, otherwise it should have been recorded in former edi. tions.

deration) is held annually in Worship-street, London, on the Tuesday in the Whitsun week; it used to be on the Wednesday, but is changed for the convenience of ministers who attend it from the country. They have thus met together for upwards of a century. Dr. John Gale, a learned General Baptist, had a famous controversy, in the beginning of the last century, with Dr. Wall, who defended the practice of baptizing infants. But there has been a more recent controversy on the subject, between Mr. Abraham Booth and Dr. Williams. The appellation Anabaptist, which comes from two Greek words, and signifies to re-baptize, is sometimes applied to this denomination of Christians. But this is an unjust accusation brought against them by their adversaries, and being deemed a term of reproach, ought to be wholly laid aside. The late Mr. Robinson published a valuable work, entitled The History: of Baptism.

ADULT BAPTISM. THE administration of baptism to adults by immersion, has been the subject of so much ridicule and arisrepresentation, that an account of it, taken from Mr. Robinson's History of Baptism, shall be inserted for the information of the serious reader. And as it is for this reason alone that

the account is introduced, the author cannot with truth be suspected of partiality. “ The English, and most foreign Baptists, consider a personal profession of faith, and an immersion in water, essential to baptism. The profession of faith is generally made before the church at a church meeting. Some have a creed, and expect the candidate to assent to it, and to give a circumstantial account of his conversion. Others only require a person to profess himself a Christian. The former generally consider baptism as an ordinance, which initiates persons into a particular church; and they say, without breach of Christian liberty, they have a right to expect an agreement in articles of faith in their own societies. The latter only think baptism initiates into a profession of the Christian religion in general, and therefore say they have no right to require an assent to our creed of such as do not purpose to join our churches. They quote the baptism of the eunuch, in the 8th of Acts, in proof. There are some who have no public faith, and who both administer baptism and admit to church membership any who profess themselves Christians. They administer baptism in their own baptisteries, and in public waters. '

“ Not many years ago, at Whittlesford, seven miles from Cambridge, forty-eight persons were baptized in that ford of the river from which the village takes its name. At ten o'clock of a very fine morning in May, about 1500 people of different ranks assembled together. At half past ten in the forenoon, the late Dr. Andrew Gifford, fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, sub-librarian of the British Museum, and teacher of a Baptist congregation in Eagle-street, London, ascended a movable pulpit in a large open courtyard, near the river, and adjoining to the house of the lord of the manor. Round him stood the congregation; people on horseback, in coaches, and in carts, formed the outside semicircle; many other persons sitting in the rooms of the house, the sashes being open: all were uncovered, and there was a profound silence. The doctor first gave out a hymn, which the congregation sung. Then he prayed. Prayer ended, he took out a New Testament, and read his text-I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. He observed, that the force of the preposition had escaped the notice of the translators, and that the true reading was I indeed baptize or dip you in water at or upon repentance ; which sense he confirmed by the 41st verse of the 12th of Matthew, and other passages. Then he spoke, as most Baptists do on these occasions, concerning the nature, subject, mode, and end of this ordinance. He closed, by contrasting the doctrine of infant sprinkling with that of believers

« ZurückWeiter »