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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Communion Lecture 1

Elder Lemuel Potter

Note; During the scanning and editing process some of the text is missing or appears out of order. This is minimal, throughout the document. I apologize for this inconvenience.

      A S Y N O P S I S O F  F O U R L E C T U R E S  O N  T H E   C O M M U N I O N

         DELIVERED AT THE Regular Baptist Church,Owensville, Indiana, on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days

of April, A.D., 1886. 

By

ELDER LEMUEL POTTER

Of Cynthiana, Posey County, Indiana

P R E F A C E

     I  hope, dear reader, you will not think me to be  egotistic in  putting  this little work before the public, for I  am  truly sensible of my inability to do anything like justice to so  grave a subject.

     As  there  has  been  a  great  deal  said  in  and   around Owensville,  on the subject of the communion, that made  it  seem necessary  to  lecture there on the question, and as  there  were likely  to  be remarks made about the lectures  after  they  were delivered,  I  concluded  to give the  public  the  privilege  of reading, for themselves, the arguments used.

     I  know  this is a very imperfect synopsis of  the  speeches made,  but the substance of the whole thing will be  found  here. It  has  been my aim not to defend close communion  for  all  who practice it, but for the Regular Baptists.  If it should meet the approbation  of others, I have no objection whatever, but I  have given  our  reasons, some of them at least, for our  practice  of close communion.

     I  hope that it will be a blessing to the church,  and  that the  reader will be his own judge as to whether our  reasons  are good or not for the course of our church.

 

                                     ELDER LEMUEL POTTER.

 

 

L E C T U R E   1 .

                          I  wish to state that it is not my intention, in the  course of  these lectures, to be understood to be simply  gratifying  an ambition  to  spite  some one, neither do I  wish  to  wound  the feelings of any.

     But  as  we feel we have been assailed, we simply  wish  the people, if they will hear us, to know whether we have any  reason for  our practice of strict communion or not; or, if we think  we have any reasons, to know if they are  good ones .  We do not  wish to be understood as bigots, or egotists, or schismatic's, or  that we are not sincere in our pretensions, religiously.

     Neither  do I undertake it simply because I feel able to  do justice  to  the  subject,  or  that  I  am  better  capable   of investigating this matter than others.

     Neither do I undertake it voluntarily, but at the request of my  brethren here, who feel they are assailed in this  community, both  in  conversation  on the subject and  through  the   General Baptist Messenger , published in this town.  I will read:

         "Listen to the following.  A brother close communion Baptist asks his editor this question: "What should be done with a  deacon  who  intentionally  passes  the  bread and  wine  to  a  Methodist  preacher,  said preacher dipping in the dish?"  Answer: "A  deacon   should  have great boldness in faith.  He did that either  through   cowardice  or  heretical  notions.  If  the  latter,  he   usurped authority over the church and forced the church against her  will, and  deserves  prompt  attention.  If he did  it through  lack  of courage, then excuse him from further service in that line. In any  event  let  the  church diligently inquire  into  the  matter  and  ascertain  whether his treachery was from weakness or heresy,  and  punish him accordingly.  In any event let him never serve in  that capacity again.  Let the church keep the ordinances as delivered .

       His is not service, as the name deacon implies, but it  is treachery  and usurpation.  He despises the church of  God,  which has  control of the ordinances instead of himself.  If the  church submits to such prostitution of the holy ordinances by one of  her servants, then is she unworthy of the high trust committed to  her by  her  glorified Head.  Let her see to it  that  repentance  and confession,  and fruits meet for repentance, are brought forth  by  the  erring  servant;  and let her see to it  also  that  for  the present, at least, he be no longer deacon."

      "Another  Baptist editor comments as follows: "Had  that church  observed  the  supper as a  church  ordinance,  which  all Baptists  admit  it  is,  and requested  her  membership  to  come together  in  one place, as the middle seats of  the  house,  this cowardly,  treasonous act of that deacon would not have  occurred.

       The  deacons of a prominent church of our association  refused  to serve  unless the church did this; and they refused to  offer  the emblems to any scattered over the house.  They rightly refused  to take  the responsibility of deciding who might and who  might  not eat the supper.  Will not all deacons follow their example?"

       Self-imposed  rule  with  such dogmatism as  to  call  forth  such language on the head of a good deacon, whom the church has  chosen to  serve her?  Peter denied his Lord, and cursed and  swore,  yet for that awful offense Jesus had only a tender look of compassion.

       Yet  here  is  a  leader  and  teacher  of  the  people  speaking,doubtless, by authority of what claims to be a church of the  same  Jesus, using the words Treason, Coward, Heresy and Usurpation, and finally expelling one of Christ's servants--all for what?  Denying his  Lord?  No.  Cursing and swearing?  No.  Getting  drunk?   No. Living in adultery?  No.  Why, then, have they disgraced this good man?  For the grave and unpardonable offense of passing the  bread and wine of communion to a Methodist preacher!  Is that the spirit of Christ, brethren?"

       "We  repeat:   before we allow a rule to control  us  in which  there can be no possible good, and which may lead  to  such awful wrongs--would it not be wise to let it go?" 

        Who those editors were this editor has left us to guess, and I  am such a poor guesser that I shall not undertake it.   It  is generally common for editors, when they quote from another  paper anything  of  importance, to give the name of the  paper,  and  I think  that it is about as easy for a man to know the name  of  a paper  as for him to know what is in it.  But I do not know  what paper this was in.

        I  think if a brother deacon should be guilty of an  offense of  the  sort mentioned in this paper, the brethren  should  have some  forbearance  with  him, and try to  inform  him  what  they require  him  to do in cases of that kind, and not  be  quite  so unmerciful  as  is  represented  in this  paper.   I  think  such treatment  too  severe for offenses, as it is not  brotherly  nor Christian-like.  Whoever is, or has been guilty of such, would by no means have my approval.

         "What  is the difference in authority assumed by  a  Baptist  church  that  forbids other Christians the Lord's Supper  and  the Roman  Catholic  church  that excommunicates  its   members  as  a punishment for some disobedience?

         "The former is a penalty imposed on a Christian for  not being a Baptist; the latter is a penalty imposed for violation  of the discipline of the church.

         "The  one  is denying Christ's people a  right  he  gave them.   The  other  is enforcing  church  discipline.  Judge  ye."

         ( General Baptist Messenger , March 20, 1886.)

      I confess I do not see the force of this article, though  it may be very convincing to those who do see it.  So far as denying the  people  of God a right He gave them,  I do not  know of  any rights  they  are entitled to, only such as they enjoy.   If  God gave his people a right to commune with us, it must have been  on the gospel terms of communion, and when they come to us that  way we will receive them.

         But let us read another in the same paper of March 20, 1886:

        "I   know  full  well  what  the  failure  to  produce   a religious tradition can cost a conscientious Christian.

        "The   failure  of  my  religious  teacher  to  find   a  precept  in  God's  word for infant sprinkling once  cost  me  the  severance,  religiously,  from the mother that bear me,  from  the  dearest,  tenderest  of all earthly ties, and made me  a  Baptist, who,  I  was  assured,  rejected from  their  faith  and  practice everything  for  which they could not produce a precept  in  God's word." Now if this brother is as conscientious now as he was then,  why  does he not again sever the ties that bind him, for  we  most candidly  assure him there is no precept in God's word  for  close communion. It is exactly the same kind of argument used by them to sustain their practices in communion that is used by  Pedobaptists to  prove  infant sprinkling, viz:  The most  remote,  far-fetched  inference; and there is fully as much scripture for the one as for the other.

       He  further says to Pedobaptists:  "Show me one  precept for infant sprinkling and I will offer myself to my family  church next Sabbath, and carry my children to the sacred font, and by the holy sacrament secure and seal their eternal salvation."

       And  so we say to our close communion friends.  Show  us one  precept  in  God's word for your practices  in  this  sacred ordinance,  and it will be more convincing than all  your  tracts, books and articles that have ever been written in advocacy of your  practices."

       We  take  all  these,  as well as  remarks  that  have  been frequently made in this community, to be thrust at us, as we  are the only people here that practice close communion.

     So  we will see if we have any scriptural authority for  our practice.

 

TERMS OF COMMUNION - BAPTISM IS A PREREQUISITE

 

      Argument  1.    I argue, first, that the Lord's Supper  is  a commemorative rite.  The apostle says:

     "For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto  you.  That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which  He  was betrayed,  took bread.  And when he had given thanks He brake  it and  said, take, eat.  This is My body which is broken  for  you. This  do in remembrance of Me.  After the same manner,  also,  he took  the cup, when he had supped, saying:  This cup is  the  New Testament in My blood.  This do ye, as oft as ye drink of it,  in remembrance of Me." I. Cor. 11: 23-25.

     "And he took bread and gave thanks, and broke it and gave it unto  them,  saying:  This is my body, which is  given  for  you. This do in remembrance of Me." Luke 12: 19.

      Argument  2.    My  second  argument  is  that,  while   this ordinance  is  to  be observed in remembrance of  our  Lord,  the particular thing that it is commemorative of is His death.

     "For  as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup,  ye do show the Lord's death till he come." I. Cor. 11: 26.

     This  commemorative  rite  is the solemn act  by  which  the disciples call to mind the fact that Christ died for them.

     This ordinance, then, is to be observed by such only as  can other words, have faith to discern the Lord's body.

      Argument 3.   It is an ordinance of Jesus Christ appointed in the  church.  This argument is so universally agreed to  that  it seems unnecessary to spend time to prove it.

     I  do  not  mean by the term church in  this  argument,  the entire body of all the saved, as in Ephesians 5: 22-23: "And hath put  all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over  all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him  that filleth all in all."

     The  term church in this text must mean all the  saved,  and cannot apply simply to any one congregation of Christians in  any one  place, nor living in any one age, for it could not be  truly said that such is the fullness of Christ.

     Again: Ephesians 5: 25 - "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ  also  loved the church, and gave Himself  for  it,"  etc. This  text, and others like it, must mean all that will  ever  be congregated  in heaven, from Abel down to the last one that  will ever be regenerated and saved.

     To  the  church  taken in this sense  there  can  belong  no ordinances,  because,  as  a congregation, it will  never  be  in existence until the great day.  So it is not the church taken  in this sense that has ordinances, but we find the church frequently used in the New Testament to designate a congregation of  visible disciples,  baptized  believers,  meeting in one  place  for  the worship of God, the observance of the ordinances of Jesus and the execution of his laws.  For instance,

     "Likewise  greet the church that is in their house."  Romans 16: 5.

     "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth." I. Cor. 1: 2.

     "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with  the church that is in their house." I. Cor. 16: 19.

     "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth." II. Cor. 1: 1.

     "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicia and Nymphas,  and the church which is in his house." Col. 4: 15.

     "And  when this epistle is read among you, cause that it  be read also in the church of the Laodicians."  Col. 4: 15.

     "Paul  and  Sylvanus and Timotheus unto the  church  of  the Thessalonians." I. Thess. 1: 1.

     "And the church in thy house." Philemon 2.

     "To the angel of the church of the Ephesians." Rev. 2: 1.

     "Then had the churches rest throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified."  Acts 9: 31.

     "And  he  went  through Syria  and  Cilicia  confirming  the churches."  Acts 15: 41.

     "And  so  were the churches established in  the  faith,  and increased in number daily."  Acts 16: 5.

      Argument   4.    As  it  is  appointed  in  the  church,   it necessarily  follows that it belongs to the church  collectively, and not to members individually.

     Acts  20: 7 - "And upon the first day of the week, when  the disciples came together to break bread," etc.

     I. Cor. 11: 17 - In this connection the church is spoken  of as coming together to partake of the Lord's Supper.

     Now, as I have shown that it is a church ordinance, I  shall communion.

      Argument  5.   I argue that as it is a church  ordinance,  it necessarily  follows that baptism is as truly a  prerequisite  to the  Lord's Supper as that the ordinance of baptism is  essential to a gospel church.

      Argument 6.   I argue that from the design, nature and use of baptism,  and the scriptural use of baptism, it is necessarily  a prerequisite to the communion.

     A learned writer has said:

          "The  principal  and  most  comprehensive  design  of   this     ordinance appears, from the scriptures, to be a solemn public  and     practical  profession  of  Christianity.  Thus Paul  sums  up  the baptism  of  John,  Acts 19: 4 - "John verily  baptized  with  the baptism  of  repentance, saying unto the people that  they  should believe  on  Him which should come after him, that  is,  on  Jesus Christ!"   And thus he describes his own (Galatians 3: 27)  -  "As many  of  you  as  have been baptized into  Christ,  have  put  on Christ."  To the same purpose are the words of Peter on the day of  Pentecost:  "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name     of  Jesus  Christ."  Hence also a rejection of baptism is  by  our Lord  called  a  rejection  of the counsel of  God,  that  is,  of Christianity.  Luke  7:  30.   And the  reception  of  baptism  is represented  as  the  act  by  which  we  justify  God;  that  is, practically  approve  his  method of salvation  by  faith  in  the Messiah.   Luke 7: 29.  Hence, whatever may be said of baptism  as it is now generally understood and practiced, and of the  personal     religion  of  those  who practice it, it is certain  that  it  was originally appointed to be the boundary of visible christianity."

         "But   this  general  design  of  baptism  comprehends   many particulars.   Christianity  consists  partly  of  truths  to   be believed,  partly of precepts to be obeyed and partly of  promises to  be hoped for, and this, its initiatory ordinance, is  rich  in significance in relation to them all.  We are taught to regard it:

    1.   As  a  solemn profession of our faith  in  the  Trinity,  and particularly  of our adoption by the Father, of our union  to  the Son, of our sanctification by the spirit.  2.  As a public  pledge of the renunciation of sins.  3.  As the expression of our hope of a  future  and glorious resurrection.  4.  As a  visible  bond  of union among Christians."

     Baptism,  therefore, is designed to give a sort  of  visible epitome to Christianity.

     I  will  then begin with the statement  that  no  unbaptized person  is, according to the order of the gospel, to be  admitted to  the Lord's table.  The reason I begin with this  argument  is because  I  have already seen a challenge for the proof  of  that position,  and how well I shall succeed in the  establishment  of this point you will be left to judge.

      The  first  text  that I will introduce  in  support  of  my position  is  the commission, as recorded by  Matthew:   "Go  ye, therefore,  and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name  of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo,  I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen."

 

       Second,  to  baptize, and afterwards teach them to do  all  other things  that Jesus had commanded them.  If he had commanded  them to  observe the communion at all, which will not be denied,  then it  is  plain  that  the communion is  embraced  in  "all  things whatsoever  I  have commanded you," and, if so, then  baptism  is given  by the Lord, himself, before the communion.  The best  way for Christians to prove their loyalty and fidelity to the  Savior and His word is to obey him.

       If  He,  in  the commission, gave the  order  in  which  the ordinances are to be observed, it seems tome it would be bold and defiant  presumption  on the part of His people to  reverse  that order.   If  you say it makes no difference, we have a  right  to invite  unbaptized  persons  to  the  Lord's  table,  instead  of submitting to the authority of Christ, you rebel against it, and,  instead of obeying his law, you set it aside and legislate a  law of  your own and obey it.  If this is your course, do not ask  us to  recognize you as a true servant of Christ and complain at  us if we do not commune with you.  If you do not reverse the  order, then   baptism  is  before  the  communion,  as  taught  in   the commission.

       The Savior taught the disciples about this:  "After you have taught  and baptized them, then you are to teach them to  observe all  things, communion among others, whatsoever I have  commanded you during the three years of My ministry with you."  If this  is not  the teaching of Jesus in the commission, then I do not  know the meaning of His language.

        On the day of Pentecost Peter commanded the people to repent and  be  baptized.   There can be no doubt that  Peter,  on  this memorable  occasion,  was  laboring under the  authority  of  the commission that I have already quoted, and the first thing he did was  to  teach, and then require them to be  baptized.   He  said nothing about the communion to them at that time, and, as he  did not, it is very evident he followed the order of the  commission, teaching  that the gospel requires baptism before the  communion.

       That  is  the way he understood and taught  the  commission.   We might as well reverse the order of teaching and baptizing, so  as to  have baptism go before teaching, as to reverse the  order  of baptism and communion and have communion before baptism.

       There  is not a single instance given in the New  Testament, that  I have ever seen, where the bread and wine were offered  to an unbaptized person.  With this glaring fact before us, what are we to conclude, only that the apostles taught that baptism was  a prerequisite  to  the Lord's Supper?  We read:  "Then  they  that gladly  received his word were baptized, and the same  day  there were  added  unto  them about three  thousand  souls.   And  they continued  steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and  fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers."  Acts 2: 41, 42.

       We  learn  from this text that they were first  taught,  and then  baptized, and then followed the other things that the  Lord had commanded, and among them was the breaking of the bread.   It seems  strange  that  the apostles were with  Jesus  three  years during his ministry, and then, after his resurrection, they would hear him utter the words of the commission and fail to understand it, and in the very introduction of their work make a wrong start before the communion.

      Why  so much stress on the arrangement of the commission  by the  Savior,  and  then in its fulfillment by  the  apostles,  if persons may be admitted to the communion without being baptized?

      It  is  by  baptism  that  the  believer  puts  on   Christ, practically, and I insist that no man that has not put on  Christ is  entitled to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  While it  is evident  that  believers  are the children of  God,  it  is  also evident  that  God's children are required to put  Christ  on  in baptism, and, until they do so, they disobey, and I cannot  agree that disobedient children are entitled to the supper.

     "For  ye  are  all the children of God by  faith  in  Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."  Galatians 3: 26, 27.

     If,  as  Mr. Campbell and others have taught, none  are  the children of God until they are baptized, which I deny, then  they certainly  are  not  entitled to communion before  they  are  the children of God; but if believers are his children, but have  not put   on  Christ  by  baptism,  then  they  are  not  in   Christ practically.  What right have they to the communion?  Whatever is meant  in this text by being baptized into Christ, in that  sense none are in Him until they are baptized, and, if they are not  in Him,  they  are  out of Him, that is all, and  so  they  are  not entitled  to  the  Lord's Supper while they  are  out  of  Christ practically.   We are, in some way, baptized into Christ, and  in that  sense we are not in Him without baptism, but we  should  be before  we claim to be entitled to His supper.  It is by  baptism and  not by communion that we get into Him in the sense  of  this text.

     I take the meaning of the text to be that the believer  puts on  Christ, practically, by baptism.  If I am correct,  then  the unbaptized person has not put Him on practically.  If not, he  is not entitled to the communion, unless a person is entitled to the communion  who is not a practical Christian.  Audience,  what  do you  say?  Is a man entitled to partake of the sacrament  of  the Lord's Supper who refuses, or fails, or neglects to put on Christ by baptism?  The plea that he may not have the opportunity to  be baptized will not do in this case, for no one has the opportunity to the communion that has no opportunity to be baptized.

      Baptism  is  the first step of the saint in  the  new  life. "Therefore  we  are buried with him by baptism into  death;  that like  as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory  of  the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."   Romans 6: 4.

      Is it right to admit persons to the Lord's table before they begin the new life?  Have they any claim upon the church for  the communion while they still refuse to walk in newness of life?

      It  is by the action of baptism that they pledge  themselves to  renounce  sin, and to obey the Lord, and to be his  enemy  no longer.  "And now why tarriest thou?  Arise and be baptized,  and wash  away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."  Acts  22: 16.

      In some sense we are taught by this text that in the act  of baptism  sins are washed away.  I know of none, except those  who itself, literally and physically, washes away sin, but to say the least of it, it is a solemn pledge, on the part of the candidate, to renounce sin, and this he does not, in the sense of this text, only  by  being baptized.  The text calls it washing  away  sins. Sins  are  not washed away, in the sense of this  text,  only  in baptism; so a person cannot rightly and justly be admitted to the Lord's  Supper until his sins are washed away.  Then  baptism  is required before the communion is admissible.

      To  reject baptism is to reject the counsel of God, and  the man  that  rejects the counsel of God rejects  Christianity,  and that  such a man is not worthy of the communion, it seems to  me, needs  no argument.  "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected  the counsel  of God against themselves, being not baptized  of  him." Luke 8: 30.

       In conclusion of this part of the subject I charge those who say that baptism is not an essential qualification for the Lord's table,  with  the  crime of encouraging persons  to  disobey  the gospel  and to think they can do as well without baptism as  with it.  If they are to be entitled to the communion without baptism, what other privileges may they not enjoy without being baptized?

       If  they  can be admitted to the most sacred  and  the  most important without baptism, then we might get along very well  and dispense with baptism entirely.

     We  have  as  much  authority for  repealing  the  laws  and ordinances  of Christ as we have for making new ones.  Either  is treason against his government.  I think we should be careful.  I am  not in favor of communing with those who are willing  to  set aside the Savior's laws.

      Argument  7.  I argue that baptism is a prerequisite  to  the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, from the fact that it has been so universally understood by all churches to be so.

      Mosheim,  in his ecclesiastical history, London edition,  p. 78, century 3, says:

 

        "Those, also, who had not received the  sacrament of  baptism  were not admitted to this holy supper."        Again, on page 110, century 4, he says:

        "The institution of catechumens, and this  discipline through  which  they  passed, suffered no  variation in this  century,  but continued still upon the ancient footing."

 

        Mr. Hall, the great advocate for open communion, says:

       "The  apostles,  it is acknowledged, admitted  none  to  the  Lord's Supper but such as were  previously baptized." (Works, vol. 2, p. 213, 214, quoted by Howell, p. 77).

 

        Neander's  History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, p.  327,says:

 

       "At this celebration (the Lord's Supper), as  may be easily concluded,  no one could be present  who was not a member  of  the baptism."

 

        Abraham Booth says:

 

       "Before the grand Romish apostasy, in the  very depths  of  that  apostasy,  and  since the  reformation, both  at  home  and  abroad,  the  general   practice  has been  to  receive  none  but baptized  persons to communion at the Lord's table." (Booth  wrote in the seventeenth century.  Howell, pp. 51,  52.)

 

        Justin  Martyr  wrote about A. D. 150, not more  than  fifty years after the death of John the apostle.  He says:

 

       "This  food is called by us the eucharist, of  which  it  is  not  lawful  for any to partake, but such  as believe  the  things that are taught by us to be  true, and have been baptized."   (2nd Apology, p. 162, Howell, p. 52.)

 

       Jerome, who wrote about A. D. 400, says:

 

       "Catechumens cannot communicate at the Lord's  table,  being  unbaptized." (Howell, p. 58.)

 

       Austin,  who  wrote  about A. D. 500,  on  the  question  of administering the Lord's Supper to infants, says:

 

       "Of  which  certainly they cannot partake,  unless  they  are  baptized." (Howell, p. 53.)

 

        Theophylact,  in a work published A. D. 1100,  remarks,  "No unbaptized  person partakes of the Lord's Supper."   (Howell,  p. 53.)

        Bonaventure,  who wrote about A. D. 1200, observes:  "Faith, indeed  is  necessary to all sacraments, but  especially  to  the reception  of  baptism, because baptism is the  first  among  the sacraments and the door to the sacraments." (Howell.)

        Spanheim,  who flourished about A. D. 1600, says: "None  but baptized persons are admitted to the Lord's table." (Howell.)

        Lord  Chancellor  King  wrote about A. D.  1700.   He  says:

       "Baptism was always precedent to the Lord's Supper, and none were admitted to receive the eucharist till they were baptized.   This is so obvious to every man that it needs no proof."  (Howell.)

        Dr.  Wall avers: "No church ever gave the communion  to  any persons  before  they were baptized.  Among all  the  absurdities that were ever held, none ever maintained that any person  should partake  of  the communion before they were  baptized."  (History Infant Baptism, part 2, chapter 9, Howell.)

        Dr.  Doddridge  says:   "It is certain  that  Christians  in general  have always been spoken of as baptized persons.  And  it is  also  certain  that, as far as  our  knowledge  of  primitive antiquity  extends,  no  unbaptized person  received  the  Lord's Supper." (Lectures, page 410, Howell.)

        Dr. Dwight says:

 

       "It  is an indispensable qualification for   this  ordinance     that  the  candidate  for communion be  a member  of  the  visible     church  of  Christ, in full  standing.  By this I intend  that  he  should  be a  person of piety; that he should have made  a  public  profession  of religion, and that he should have  been  baptized."

       (Systematic Theology, Serm. 160,  Howell.)

 

       Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, page  35, says:

 

      "The general opinion and practice in all ages  has been  that something  more  than  conversion  and   Christian  character  was necessary  to this  ordinance; that baptism, soundness  in  faith, and  a   regular  walk  of holy  obedience,  were  scriptural  and indispensable terms of communion."

 

       Even  Robert  Hall,  who denied that  baptism  should  be  a prerequisite to communion, says:

 

        "It has been inferred, too hastily in my opinion, that we are bound to abstain from their communion--that of unbaptized persons- -whatever  judgment  we may form of their  sincerity  and  piety. Baptism,  it is alleged, is, under all possible circumstances,  an indispensable term of communion; and, however highly we may esteem  many of our Pedobaptist brethren, yet, as we cannot but deem  them unbaptized, we must of necessity consider them as unqualified  for an  approach  to  the  Lord's table.   It  is  evident  that  this reasoning  rests  entirely  on  the  assumption  that  baptism  is invariably  a necessary condition of communion--an opinion  which, it is not surprising, the Baptists should have embraced, since  it has  long passed current in the Christian world and been  received    by  nearly  all denominations of Christians." (Works, vol.  2,  p. 212.)

 

     I  wish  to add to this long list of witnesses  a  Methodist writer.  A. A. Jimeson, in his note on the twenty-five  articles, p. 297, says:

 

       "The  nature  of these two ordinances teaches  most   clearly that baptism must necessarily precede the Lord's Supper." 

     But  I must notice one argument that has been urged  against the doctrine that baptism must precede the Lord's Supper.  It has been  argued that John's baptism was not Christian  baptism,  and therefore the disciples of Jesus, when he instituted the  supper, had  not received the rite of Christian baptism, and, if  it  was first given to those who had not been baptized, why make  baptism precede the communion now?

     If  John's  baptism  was  not  Christian  baptism,  and  the apostles had not received baptism, in the Christian sense of  the word, when the supper was instituted, then they never did receive Christian baptism at all, for they evidently did not perform that duty afterward.

     Not  only this, but the great mass of the  first  Christians baptized  by John were in precisely the same predicament.  

      If   John's  baptism  was  not  Christian,  it   should   be distinguished  by some mark, phrase or epithet, so that we  might know  the  two  baptisms apart.  Is  one  baptism  styled  John's baptism, and the other Christian baptism, in the New Testament?

     No  such distinctions are known in the New  Testament,  and, therefore, I do not feel willing to recognize such a  distinction until I have better authority for it.

     John  does contrast his baptism with one that is  different; that  is,  the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but if  afterwards  the baptism of Christians was to be different from his baptism, it is singular that he said nothing about it.

 

     Bunyan says:

 

        "The  Lord's  Supper, not baptism, is for the   church  as  a     church;  therefore,  as we will maintain  the  church's  edifying,  that  must be maintained in  it; yea, used oft to show the  Lord's death till he  come."  (Complete Works, p. 856.) 

     What is a church?  Is it an assembly of unbaptized  persons? Is  there any people, who believe in baptism at all,  that  would recognize  anything  as a church without baptism?  Then,  if  the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is for the church as a church,  it must  necessarily be for baptized persons, unless the  church  is made up in part, or in whole, of unbaptized persons.

     As  it  is  a church ordinance, therefore  it  must  be  for baptized persons.

     The  reason I have taken such pains to establish  the  point that baptism is a condition of the communion, is that Rev. W.  P. Hale,  Pastor  of the General Baptist Church in  this  town,  and editor of the  General Baptist Messenger , said he would be obliged to  the  man  that would show him one thus saith  the  Lord  that taught that baptism is required before the communion.  I think  I have established that fact by the plain unmistakable teachings of the scriptures, and also by the history of the opinion of men  on the terms of communion in all ages of the church.

     Mr.  Hale also stated to me, in conversation on the  subject that  if  I could prove that point, he would admit  that  we  are correct in our practice of strict communion.

     It is sometimes said that we set a Baptist table instead  of the  Lord's table.  To such a saying as this I ask then, why  are you so anxious to eat at it?  Another answer:  If it was our  own table  we could invite whom we chose to eat at it, but, if it  is the Lord's table, He has not only given it to us, but with it  he has  given us the laws by which it shall be governed, and for  us to  set  aside  those laws would be for us to  betray  the  trust committed to us.

     Again, we are often accused of selfishness because we refuse to  invite others to our communion, and that it is the  cause  of our not working with them in other services.  To this we ask  why does  not  the  same thing keep other  close  communionists  from working with you?

     It  is not our views of the communion that hinders  us  from working  with  other denominations in their  effort  meetings  to efforts, measures and means employed at these effort meetings.

     The  Missionary  Baptists do believe in such  efforts,  and, although  they  are  close communionists,  they  mix  with  other denominations  in  their  revival meetings.  So  it  is  not  the communion that keeps us apart.

     But  it is sometimes said that if we were friendly we  would certainly commune with other denominations.  I do not  understand that  the  sacramental  communion is a  test  of  friendship.  

     I understand it to be an ordinance of the Lord, and, if it is,  for us  to make it a test of friendship is to misuse it, which  would be  worse  than  not to take the sacrament at  all.   Besides,  I expect,  as  a  general rule, there is about  as  good  state  of feeling  between us and other denominations as there  is  between those denominations that commune together.

     If  there is not, we think we had better incur the  ill-will of  our religious neighbors than to sin.  We prefer to  have  the approbation of God, above the approbation of even good men.

     This thing of setting aside the law of the church, in  order to look well in the eyes of others, does not honor God much.

     If the church is not to care for and preserve the ordinances that God has given to it, who will do it better?  If it should be said by any that we are not the church, or a church, then, if  we are not, we have no right to the ordinances of the church.  If we are, we are under obligation to God to observe the ordinances  in His  appointed way, and for us to deviate from that way would  be treason.

     But  are  there  no inconsistencies  about  open  communion? Mosheim,  in  speaking of the General Baptists in  the  sixteenth century,  says:  "There  is  much latitude  in  their  system  of religious  doctrine,  which consists in such  vague  and  general principles, as render their communion accessible to Christians of almost  all  denominations.  And accordingly  they  tolerate,  in fact,  and  receive  among  them  persons  of  every  sect,  even Socinians  and  Arians:   nor  do  they  reject  any  from  their communion,  who  profess themselves Christians, and  receive  the Holy  Scriptures as the source of truth and the rule  of  faith."

(p.  528.)  Note 4, at the bottom of the same page,  says:  "This appears evidently from their confession of faith, which  appeared first  in  the year 1660, was republished by Mr. Whiston  in  the memoirs  of his life, vol. 2, p. 561, and is drawn up  with  such latitude  that, with the removal and alteration of a few  points, it  may  be  adopted by Christians  of  all  denominations.   Mr. Whiston,  though  an  Arian,  became a  member  of  this  Baptist community,  which, as he thought, came nearest to the  simplicity of  the primitive and apostolic age.  The famous Mr.  Emlyn,  who was  persecuted  on account of his  Socinian  principles,  joined himself also to this society, and died in their communion.

     It  seems, then,  that  for us to commune  with  the  General Baptists is to also commune with Arians and Socinians.

     Indeed,  what  would  we not commune with if  we  were  open communionists?

     The  Apostle  Paul said: "He that is an  heretic  after  the first and second admonition, reject."  But how are we to do that? Are we to deprive him of all the privileges except  the  supper?

      "The  doctrine of the Socinians respecting the atonement  is that  God requires no consideration or condition of  pardon,  but the repentance of the offender; and that, consequently, the death of  Christ was no real sacrifice for sin; and, though, it  be  so called in scripture, it is merely, in a figurative sense, by  way of  allusion to the Jewish sin offering, just as our praises  and other  good  works  are  called  sacrifices,  because  they   are something offered up to God." (Religious Encyclopedia, p. 1081.)

     Suppose there is an organization of Socinians in the town of Owensville, and we were to attend the sacramental services of the General  Baptist  church and commune with them, would we  not  be likely to have to sit at the Lord's table with a people who  deny that the death of Christ was a sacrifice for sin?

     We  certainly  would have no right to  request  the  General Baptists  to debar them from their table.  They should have  full control of that themselves.

     The way for us not to commune with those with whom we  would prefer  not  to  affiliate, is for us not  to  commune  with  the General Baptists.  We may be ever so willing to commune with  our General  Baptist  brethren, but their liberality  to  Arians  and Socinians would shut us out.

     But  let us notice the Methodist discipline a  moment.   Our Methodist  brethren are close communionists, if they live  up  to their  discipline, and they cannot invite me to  their  communion unless they violate their discipline.  Listen:  "No person  shall be  admitted to the Lord's Supper among us who is guilty  of  any practice  for which we would exclude a member from  our  church." (Discipline, p. 37, sec. 42.)

     Now,  if  I am guilty of any practice for which  they  would exclude  one  of their own members, I am not to  be  admitted  to their  communion.   That  is our rule, only we  do  not  have  it written out.

     We  would not commune with a man if he is guilty of what  we would exclude one of our own members for.

      But  let  us  see what the Methodists  would  exclude  their members  for,  and  see  whether or not I am  guilty  of  such  a practice.  If I am, I am debarred from their table.

     "If  a member of our church shall be accused of  endeavoring to  sow dissension in any of our societies by inveighing  against either  our doctrines or our discipline, the person so  offending shall  first  be reproved by the preacher in charge, and,  if  he persists  in  such pernicious practice, he shall  be  brought  to trial, and, if found guilty, expelled." (Dis. p. 136, sec. 341.)

      I  speak out against the Methodist doctrine and  discipline, and I presume if I was a member of that church, and would  preach as  I do and oppose infant baptism and sprinkling and pouring  as the mode of baptism, general atonement and conditional salvation, they would exclude me.  Would you not, Brother Clippinger?

      Brother  Clippinger  (Methodist minister,  the  preacher  in charge at Owensville):  "Yes, we would turn you out."

      I  thought so, and I am guilty of a practice for  which  you would  exclude  a  member,  then.  So  I  am  debarred  from  the fellowship.

      They are close communionists, as well as we, yet they do not practice  it,  and,  although they would exclude  me  from  their church,  yet, if I would go and join the General  Baptists,  they would  invite  me  to  their  communion.   That  is  one  of  the inconsistencies  of open communion.  The apostle tells  us:  "The man  that is an heretic, after the first and  second  admonition, reject."

     How are we to reject a heretic?  Exclude him from our church and  let him go to some other church and join, and then,  because he is a member in good standing, invite him to our communion?  Is that  the  way to reject a heretic?  Is that the order  of  God's house?  We do not wish to commune with heretics.  We exclude  men from  us  for heresy, and, when we do, we do not wish  to  invite them to our communion the next meeting we have.  Is there  heresy in  this country under the name of Christianity?  All will  admit there  is.   We do not have to go to the Jews or pagans  to  find heresy, for it may be found among Christians.  If there is heresy among Christians, and we all practice free communion, how are  we going  to  reject heretics?  There is no way to do  it,  only  to refuse to commune with others.

     The  apostle said to the Galatians:  "Though we or an  angel from  heaven  preach any other gospel to you than  that  we  have preached, let him be accursed."  Not commune with him.

     The apostle instructs us to let him be accursed, instead  of to  think  that  a little difference in  doctrine  will  make  no difference, we will commune with him, let him come to the  Lord's table.  I think it is heresy to say that the death of Christ  was not  a sacrifice for sin, but, if we commune with  Socinians,  we must commune with heretics who believe that doctrine.

      I do not wish to sit down at the Lord's table, side by  side with  a man to commemorate the death of Christ, and that man  say the  death of Christ is not a sacrifice for sin, but I am  liable to  have  it  to  do if I  commune  with  the  General  Baptists, according to their history.

     Now  here is Brother Clippinger, a Methodist  minister.   He and I often meet and strike hands, and I love him, and,  perhaps, we could preach in the same community for years and have no  hard feelings,  for I am one of the most willing men you ever saw  for people to do as they please religiously, so they do not interfere with  my rights.  If I should be at your meeting and you  invited me  to commune with you, I would not think hard of you,  and,  if you  did  not, I would not feel slighted, so long as I  have  the liberty to accept or reject the invitation, as I chose to do.

     I do not care whom other denominations commune with.  It  is none  of my business to dictate to them, neither do I wish to  be dictated to by them.