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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 3

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.

     This  is  the  third time we arise to  address  you  on  the communion question, and, as I have previously remarked, I say now that  I do not wish to be understood to intentionally  wound  the feelings  of  any,  for I regard the feelings  of  all  religious people, no matter how much they may differ from me on the subject of religion. What  I say on the subject now before us is purely  in  self defense. We have been assailed by our opponents on the  communion question,  which  we  think makes it  necessary,  in  justice  to ourselves, to try to give our reasons for our practice.

     I  do not undertake the work simply because I  think  myself able to champion the issue, neither do I wish to be understood as a  schismatic.  I should have been better pleased to  have  heard the  other side represented, so the people could have heard  both sides,  but I could not have it so, and so I am here to  give  my own side as well as I am capable of doing. I  entertain  no opinions or sentiments on  the  subject  of religion that I am ashamed of or that I am afraid to tell. As we have seen that baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper, and that immersion is the only mode, and that adults on a public profession of their faith, the only gospel subjects, I now wish to notice the design of baptism for a moment. The intention for which we are baptized may be as  important to the validity of our baptism as anything else. As  Dr. Owen observes:  "There is nothing in  religion  that has any efficacy for compassing an end, but it hath it from God's appointment  of  it for that purpose.  God may,  in  his  wisdom, appoint  and accept ordinances and duties unto one end, which  he will  refuse and reject when applied to another.  To do  anything appointed  unto one end, without aiming at the end, is no  better than not doing it at all, and in some cases much worse."

     The  design  of  baptism, therefore, as taught  in  the  New Testament, ought to be thoroughly investigated by both  ministers and  people,  in  order that they may know and  comply  with  the revealed intention of God in its appointment. The  Primitive  Baptists  do not  believe  that  baptism  is essential  to  regeneration, and, if that is  its  appointed  and scriptural  intention, then we baptize for another  purpose  than that  intended by the Lord in its appointment, and in  that  case our baptism is invalid.  Even if we were immersed, and that on  a profession  of our faith, we have still missed a gospel  baptism, for our intention was not what God appointed the ordinance for.

     But  if we are correct as to the design, then those who  are baptized  in order to be born of God are not correct,  and  their baptism  is not valid.  The object we have in view certainly  has something to do with the acceptability of our action. As  there is much said on the subject of infant  baptism,  I wish,  first,  to  pay some attention to that  subject.   I  have already  argued,  and  I  think  proved,  that  it  was  not   an apostolical practice; but, as our Pedobaptist brethren think that  notice their arguments to some extent.

     I will notice a Methodist writer or two - not because I have a great antipathy to the Methodist people, but because I have the authors  present,  and  quote  them  as  representatives  of  the Pedobaptists. In  order  to learn how they prove that infant  baptism  was practiced by the apostles, I will read the following:  Infant  baptism has been practiced in the church from  the apostles to the present time.  If so, then baptism must have taken the  place  of the old Jewish token of the covenant.  To  see  the truth  of  what  is  here alleged, we  have  but  to  examine  the commission given to the disciples in Matthew 28: 19.  Here baptism takes the place of circumcision by the express appointment of God. The  disciples were, therefore, authorized to extend the right  of baptism  to  all who believe in Christ, everywhere,  and  also  to their children.


     "Jesus, kind inviting Lord,

     We with joy obey Thy word,

     And in earliest infancy,

     Bring our little ones to Thee."


     But to see the truth of our proposition, in the light of  the history  of  the  church, we consult the testimony  of  the  early christian  fathers.  The first that we shall name is  Origen,  who flourished  about A. D. 300.  He says:  "Infants are baptized  for the  remission  of sins," and, again, he says,  "The  church  hath received the tradition from the apostles, that baptism ought to be administered to infants."

     Cyprian,  Bishop  of  Carthage,  who  was  contemporary  with Origen,   says   that  "sixty-six  bishops   being   convened   in Carthage  in  a  council, having the question  referred  to  them, 'Whether  infants  might be baptized before they were  eight  days old,'  unanimously decided that no infant is to be forbidden  from the benefit of baptism, although just newly born." Mark the testimony of sixty-six bishops.  It ought to go very far  in settling the question of the right of infants to  baptism, and,  especially, when it was given in so short a time  after  the apostles,  and  when every practice in the church  was  proved  by  Apostolic useage.

     Gregory  Nazianzen, who died in A. D. 389, testified  in  his discourse on baptism:  "That infants are to be baptized." In  the  fifth  council of Carthage, held A. D.  401,  it  is declared  in  canon 72 that children ought to  be  baptized,  when there  is  no  proof  or testimony that  they  have  been  already  baptized."

     And Saint Augustine, who flourished A. D. 410, says:  "Infant baptism  the  whole  world practices; it  was  not  instituted  by councils, but was ever in use." Thus  we see that certainly four hundred years  after  Christ there  was  a  universal consent that  infant  baptism  should  be practiced. "True,  Tertullian advises the delay of infant  baptism,  but  

     And there was one Gregory who practiced such delay in the  baptism of  his own children; but there was no society of men  nor  church that entertained any doubt as to the propriety of infant baptism." - Jimeson's notes on the 25 articles, pp. 180-182.

      Now if the witnesses quoted by this writer do not  establish the  apostolic  authority for infant baptism,  then  they  cannot prove it at all.  All Pedobaptist authors prove infant baptism by the  early  Christian fathers, as this one has  done,  and  argue that,  if  the apostles had not practiced it, it would  not  have been so universally practiced so soon afterwards. But  to show you that this is their method of proving it,  I wish to quote another one or two.  Listen:

     "'Testimony of the early Christian fathers.' We allude not  to their  testimony for the purpose of proving a point  of  doctrine, but for the purpose of showing what was the practice of the  early Christians  in  regard  to infant baptism, and  we  consider  this testimony  valuable, so far only as it proves that infant  baptism was  the  practice of the Christian church from the  time  of  the apostles, and, if so, it is morally impossible that it should  not have   been   practiced   during  the  time   of   the   apostles. 'Tertullian,  born A. D. 150 - but a few years after the death  of the apostle John - speaks of infant baptism as being the  practice of  the church.  Justin Martyr, born near the close of  the  first century,  speaks  of those who were members of the  church,  sixty years  old,  who were made disciples to Christ in  their  infancy. Iraeneus,  Origen,  Cyprian, and others, in  their  writings,  all prove  the practice of infant baptism in the earliest age  of  the church;  and can it be supposed that a practice should  become  so general in the course of a single century after the apostles?   If so,   it  was  something  entirely  new  and   unscriptural.   The supposition  is  perfectly  unreasonable.  From  these  and  other considerations  it  appears that the 'baptism  of  young  children ought to be retained in the church,' according to the article."  - History M. E. Church, by Douglas Gorrie, pp. 175-176. 

     You  see how satisfactory he convinces himself  that  infant baptism  was  the practice of the apostles, by quoting,  not  the apostles, but the early Christian fathers.  But, to show you that they  all prove the practice in the same manner, I will give  you one more witness.  Listen to Mr. Wesley:  

     What  I  apprehend very much strengthens the truth  of  infant baptism,  that  it is of a divine original, is  this:   About  one hundred  and  fifty  years  after the death  of  Saint  John,  the apostle,  there  was an assembly of sixty-bishops,  who  spoke  of infant  baptism as a known, established and uncontested  practice. One  Fidus questioned whether infants were to be baptized so  soon as  two or three days after their birth, and whether it would  not be better to defer their baptism till they were eight days old, as was  observed in circumcision, which scruples he proposed to  this assembly,  and  in which he desired their resolution,  which  they sent  in  a  letter  to him, part of  which  I  shall  transcribe.

      Council,  sixty-six  in number, to Fidus, our  brother,  greeting: 'We  read  your letter, most dear brother, but as to the  case  of infants,  whereas you judge that they must not be baptized  within two  or  three  days after they are born, and  that  the  rule  of circumcision  is to be observed, so that none should  be  baptized and sanctified before the eighth day after he is born, we were all in our assembly of the contrary opinion.'" We judge that no person is to be hindered from obtaining the grace  of  God  by the law that is now  appointed,  and  that  the spiritual   circumcision  ought  not  to  be  restrained  by   the circumcision that was according to the flesh; but that all are  to be  admitted to the grace of Christ, since Peter, speaking of  the acts of the apostles, says: 'The Lord has shown me that no  person is  to  be  called  common or  unclean.'   This,  therefore,  dear brother,  was our opinion in the assembly:  that it is not for  us to  hinder  any person from baptism and the grace of God,  who  is merciful  and benign, and affectionate to all; which rule,  as  it holds  for  all,  so  we  think  it  is  more  especially  to   be observed in reference to infants newly born, to whom our help  and the  divine mercy is rather to be granted, because by their  cries and  tears at their first entrance into the world they do  imitate nothing  so  much as that they implore  compassion."  -  Doctrinal Tracts, pp. 279-280. 

     I  have  now  given  you  three  distinguished  authors  who advocate infant baptism, and by this time I presume you are  able to  see the sort of evidence they rely on for the proof of  their position, that infant baptism was practiced by the apostles.  All of them make the same point, by the same course of reasoning, and from the same early Christian fathers.

     I have taken the pains to quote all of them, so you can  see how infant baptism is sustained by them. As  regards those sixty-six bishops, they, according to  Mr. Wesley,  not  only taught that infants were to be  baptized,  but that  their  baptism  was  essential  to  their  salvation.   The doctrine  of  baptismal regeneration is as easily proved  by  the same  early Christian fathers as the practice of  infant  baptism is.

     About  the same account of the council of Carthage is  given by  Wesley  as  is given by Neander, vol. 1, p. 313,  and  it  is unmistakably  true that the fathers quoted by our authors  taught baptismal regeneration. Mr. Campbell, in his Christianity Restored, quotes the  very same early Christian fathers to prove his design of baptism,  and he argues that for four hundred years after the apostles, baptism was  taught as he teaches it, and that it must,  therefore,  have been taught by the apostles.

     Pedobaptists  say  now  that Mr. Campbell is  wrong  in  his notion that baptism is essential to salvation, but yet he  proves it by the same witnesses that you prove infant baptism by, and if you  will  tell me how to get around his argument  for  baptismal regeneration, I will tell how I will get around your argument for infant baptism.  I tell you the very same witnesses and arguments that  are used to establish one will establish the other just  as  if those witnesses do not prove that baptism is essential to salvation,  neither do they prove infant baptism, and if they  do prove baptismal regeneration, as Mr. Campbell says they do,  then they also prove infant baptism. Mr. Campbell says Pedobaptists are wrong on infant  baptism, and they say he is wrong on his design of baptism, and I say  you are both wrong, for if one is wrong so is the other. They  both go together, and were always understood so  until recently; let us see what Mr. Wesley says baptism is for:

      "As  to the grounds of it:  If infants are guilty of  original sin,  then  they are proper subjects of baptism,  seeing,  in  the ordinary  way, they cannot be saved unless this be washed away  by baptism.   It  has been already proved that  this  original  stain cleaves  to every child of man, and that hereby they are  children of  wrath and liable to eternal damnation.  It is true the  second Adam has found a remedy for the disease which came upon all by the offense  of the first.  But the benefit of this is to be  received through  the  means which he hath appointed;  through  baptism  in particular, which is the ordinary means he hath appointed for that purpose; and to which he hath tied us, though he may not have tied himself.   Indeed, where it cannot be had, the case is  different, but  extraordinary  cases  do  not  make  void  a  standing  rule. This,  therefore, is our first ground.  Infants need to be  washed from original sin, therefore they are proper subjects of baptism." - Doctrinal Tracts, p. 251.

      This  was  the original design of infant  baptism,  and  the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is older than the practice  of infant baptism.  The North African churches first began to  teach that  baptism  is  essential to salvation, and  soon  after  that infant baptism began to be practiced. But  our  Pedobaptist brethren now say they do  not  believe that baptism is essential to the salvation of infants.  Then  why baptize  them?   I want to hear some good  reason  for  baptizing infants if it does nothing for them.  If it does not effect their salvation, nor change their nature, nor make them any better, and they  would be saved as well without it as with it,  why  baptize them at all? I say infant baptism is an evil.  Only a few days ago I  was in  conversation with a young man and he told me he was  baptized in  infancy.   I  asked  him if he felt like  he  had  ever  been baptized,  and  he said he did not.  I said to him,  you  do  not feel,  then, that you have obeyed the command of the Savior  that says  "be baptized."  He said he did not.  I will say to you,  my friends, this young man is not a Baptist, and he is not  inclined to  be  a  Baptist  that I know of.  If  he  ever  satisfied  his conscience  on the subject of baptism, he will have to leave  his church  and join some other, or else his church must violate  her rules.   I find many such cases in my travels over  the  country, and  I  set it down, on that ground, that infant  baptism  is  an evil.  It is not necessary to their salvation, so it does them no good,  and  yet  it  deprives  them  the  liberty  of  their  own conscience when they become adults.

      Suppose  a stranger would come into  this  country  and begin  to  preach,  and you did not  know  what  denomination  he belonged to and he would say, "By baptism we, who were by  nature the children of wrath, are made the children of God."  What would you  call  him?   Do  you not think he  would  be  branded  as  a Campbellite?   I  will say to you this doctrine was  taught  long before Mr. Campbell was born.  He was not the originator of  that doctrine; it is too old for that. It was Mr. Wesley that said;

      "By baptism we, who were by nature the children of wrath,  are made  the  children  of  God.  And  this  regeneration  which  our (Episcopal) church, in so many places ascribes to baptism, is more than  barely  being  admitted into  the  church,  though  commonly connected  therewith,  being  grafted into the  body  of  Christ's church,  we  are made the children of God by adoption  and  grace. This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord, "Except a man  be born  again of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter  into  the kingdom of God." - John 3: 5.

By  water  then  as a means, the water of  baptism,  we  are regenerated  or  born  again,  whence it is  also  called  by  the apostle,  "the washing of regeneration."  Our  church,  therefore, ascribes  no  greater virtue to baptism than  Christ  himself  has done.  Nor does she ascribe it to the outward washing, but to  the inward grace, which, added thereto, makes it a sacrament.   Herein a  principle of grace is infused, which will not be  wholly  taken away,  unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God by  long  continued wickedness.   In  consequence of our being made children  of  God, we  are  heirs  of the kingdom of heaven.   If  children,  as  the apostle  observes, then heirs, heirs of God and joint  heirs  with Christ.   Herein  we  receive a title to, and  an  earnest  of,  a kingdom  which cannot be moved.  Baptism doth now save us,  if  we live  answerable  thereto,  if we repent,  believe  and  obey  the gospel,  supposing this, as it admits us into the church here,  so into glory hereafter." - Doctrinal Tracts, pp. 248, 249.

      While  this  book  was published by  order  of  the  General Conference, it is due to the Methodists that I should state  that I  see  a  foot-note here exonerating them  from  the  charge  of endorsing  Mr.  Wesley in the foregoing quotation.  It  reads  as follows:   "That  Mr.  Wesley, as a clergyman of  the  Church  of England,  was originally a high churchman, in the fullest  sense, is  well known.  When he wrote this treatise in the year 1756  he seems to have used some expressions, in relation to the  doctrine of  baptismal  regeneration, which we, at this  day,  should  not prefer.   Some such, in the judgment of the reader, may be  found under this second head.  This last sentence, however, contains  a guarded  corrective.   It  explains also the sense  in  which  we believe  Mr.  Wesley  intended much of what  goes  before  to  be understood."

       I  leave  you to judge, from what I have now read  from  Mr. Wesley and others, what they understood baptism to be for.  It is a  plain  case that they understood baptism to  be  essential  to salvation, and that this was their grounds for infant baptism.

       "The Council of Carthage, A. D. 418, finally condemned, in its second  canon, the doctrine concerning such an intermediate  state for  children,  that none could enter into the kingdom  of  heaven without  baptism;  that unbaptized infants would  be  exempt  from punishment  on  the  ground that nothing  could  be  conceived  as existing  between  the Kingdom of God and perdition.   But,  then, too,  according  to  the doctrine of  this  council,  the  eternal perdition  of  all unbaptized infants was  expressly  affirmed,  a consistency  of  error  revolting to  the  natural  sentiments  of humanity." - Neander, vol. 2, p. 669.

      We now have proved that the design of baptism, as  essential to  eternal salvation, has been advocated by Pedobaptists  -  not only  in the case of adults, but infants as well; and, while  our Pedobaptist  brethren say they do not endorse that doctrine  now, we  say  they  cannot give an intelligent  reason  for  baptizing infants.    

     Mr. Campbell and his brethren still teach the same design of baptism,  but deny the doctrine of infant baptism.  I claim  that he has the same proof for his design of baptism that Pedobaptists have  for  infant  baptism, for he proves it  by  the  very  same witnesses.

     I repeat, that if that is the design of baptism, then I  and my  brethren  have not the right baptism, and, if we  have,  then they  who  baptize in order to be born of God have not,  even  if they have been immersed on a public profession of faith. To  have a gospel baptism we must be baptized for  the  same purpose for which the Lord appointed baptism. It  will  not  do to say that our intention in  the  act  of baptism has nothing to do with its validity, for, if it has  not, then  a  man may be baptized with no intention, and  his  baptism would be just as good.

       So  while we teach that gospel baptism is a prerequisite  to the  Lord's Supper, we cannot receive to our communion those  who have  been baptized in order to the remission of sins, for we  do not believe such baptism to be valid. Now,  as we have seen that baptism is a prerequisite to  the communion,  and that the mode of baptism is immersion,  we  claim that  all  unimmersed people are unbaptized, and,  therefore,  we cannot commune with them.

      We  have  also seen that no person is a  gospel  subject  of baptism  but  adult  believers,  so if  persons  have  been  even immersed in their infancy, we do not regard it as gospel baptism, and therefore we could not commune with them. We  have also seen that there are more intentions  than  one for  which persons are baptized, and we hold that the  design  of baptism has to do with the validity of baptism. But  there  is one thing more essential to the  validity  of baptism,   and   that  I  wish  to  notice  next.   It   is   the administrator.

     Who has a right to administer the ordinance of baptism?   In answer to this question I will call on a good Methodist  brother, simply because I have him before me, and he gives the answer just   of the Lord's Supper are duly administered, not by any and  every person  choosing  to administer the same, but by  those  who  are called by God and His church to the sacred work of the ministry." - History M. E. Church, p. 164.

     I  presume this to be the position of all churches  in  this age  of  the world, and it is just what we Baptists  claim,  that baptism is to be administered by those who are called of God, and ordained  by  the  church to perform the functions  of  a  gospel minister.   To  this  point let us pay some  respect  for  a  few moments.

     I  wish,  first,  to notice the General  Baptists  on  their authority to baptize.  I hold in my hand a book, entitled  General Baptist History , by D. B. Montgomery, of Owensville, Indiana, and I presume you all know him.  I do not, but I presume this book is good  General  Baptist authority.  Let us read:

      "They  evidently  fail  to present the object  of  Crosby  in making  this statement.  Thomas Wall had charged John  Smith  with having baptized himself, and that he afterwards baptized Mr.  John Spillsbury,  the first minister of the Particular Baptist  Church, and  that  he (Spillsbury) transmitted this same  baptism  to  the English  Baptists  by  succession of  baptism.   This  Crosby  was endeavoring  to show was false, and that the English Baptists  did not receive their baptism by succession from any minister,  either General  or Particular, from John Smith or John Spillsbury.   That while most or all of John Spillsbury's church had received baptism from a church in the Netherlands, through Mr. Richard Blount,  the greatest  number  and  the more  judicious  English  Baptists  had received  their  baptism  just as John  Smith  had  received  his, received it through an unbaptized person." (pp. 45, 46.)

      Had  received  it how?  Through an unbaptized  person,  this writer says.  But who was this John Smith?  He was the founder of the  General  Baptist Church, that is so overly anxious  that  we should commune with her. John Smith had been an Episcopalian minister in England, but he laid down his salary in that church and went over into Holland among  the Brownists, and began to preach among them and  divided them,  and with his party of them he started the General  Baptist Church.  As he had never been baptized, he received baptism by an unbaptized  person.   This is the origin of the  General  Baptist church, and this is their authority for baptizing.  What is their authority for baptizing?  Simply none at all.  Hence they are not entitled  to the communion.  It is the case, sometimes, that  men will  make  a greater noise about what they are not  entitled  to than they would if it really belonged to them. But let us read again:

      "Now, as Ivemy and Crosby, who were members of the Particular Baptist  churches, and were unprejudiced and faithful  historians, they,  as  English Baptists, are as well qualified to  tell  their origin as any others.  We will let them speak.  We will  hereafter see,  from  Crosby, particularly, that while most or  all  of  the members of the first Particular Baptist church, which came out  of   the more judicious of the English Baptists received their  baptism just as John Smith and his church, the Baptists in Leicestershire, the Tunkers or German Baptists, and Roger Williams and his  church did,  by  an  unbaptized  person  baptizing  and  so  beginning  a reformation." (p. 48.)

      It  is  very  common when people are in  trouble,  and  feel unable  to  show good reasons for it, to  console  themselves  by saying  others are just as bad.  This historian, having to  admit that the founder of the General Baptist church was not  regularly baptized,  would  have us believe that we are also  in  the  same predicament.   This,  however, we deny, but he admits it  in  the case of the General Baptists, and tries to argue that baptism  is valid  when administered by an unbaptized person, and  undertakes to  prove that that is the doctrine of the Baptists,  by  showing that  such was Benedict's opinion.  The Baptist doctrine  is  not simply the opinion of any one man - it is not the opinion of  men at  all.  Even if it was the opinion of Benedict, he is  not  the Baptist church.  It is evident that the General Baptists, and the Tunkers,  and  Roger  Williams'  church  all  originated  by   an unbaptized  person  administering the ordinance of  baptism,  and Benedict thinks Williams' church would have been classed with the General Baptists of England.

          We  deny  the right of an unbaptized  person  to  administer baptism,  and,  while we do, we claim that the  General  Baptists have no valid baptism.  If baptism is valid when administered  by an unbaptized person, why ordain a minister to do that work?  Why call  on a number of presbyters, and arraign a  candidate  before them, and require him to give them an evidence of his call to the ministry,  and  then  lay hands on him and  solemnly  invoke  the blessing of God upon him, if, when it is all done, he has no more authority than a man who has never been baptized. We cannot commune with the General Baptists because they are not baptized, and we claim that baptism precedes the communion. We  now  wish to notice the Freewill Baptists and  see  what sort  of  baptism they have.

      "The founder of this denomination (Freewill Baptists) was the Rev.  Benjamin  Randall.  He was originally a  preacher  connected with  the Calvinistic Baptists.  Having embraced  Arminian  views, and being disowned by his brethren as being unsound in the  faith, he  organized  a church in New Durham, N. H., on the 30th  day  of June 1780.  Soon after this other churches were formed on the same plan,  and these churches united together and constituted the  New Durham quarterly meeting." - Religious Denominations of the World, p. 144.

      Thus we see that the Freewill Baptists were founded by a man that we had excluded from us.  If he had ever been authorized  to administer  baptism,  that authority was taken from him  when  we excluded him.  So the Freewill Baptists have no baptism. We excluded him from us for heresy, and in obedience to  the apostles'  advice, and we certainly did right to exclude him  for heresy,  for  Paul says:  "The man that is an heretic  after  the   open communion would force us to commune with him, and  recognize his  baptism, after we had excluded him and taken  his  authority from him.  I charge that open communionists cannot be consistent, for  they will exclude their members for heresy and then  commune with them afterwards. If I was a member of Brother Yates' church, and would preach as  I  do, and fight him on the "Foreign Mission"  question,  and oppose  his  infant baptism, and his sprinkling and  pouring  for baptism, he would exclude me for heresy. Mr. Yates, "Yes, sir, I would exclude you for heresy."  (Mr. Yates  is  the  Cumberland Presbyterian  minister  in  charge  at Owensville,  Indiana.)  But then after you had excluded  me,  you would  commune with me if I would join some other church, or  get up one of my own, as Randall did.

     If that is the order of God's house, I see no consistency in the whole thing. But  as we have quoted from a Methodist and found that  they do not believe that the ordinances are to be administered  except by those who are called of God and His church to the work of  the ministry, let us take a view of the Methodist church, and see  if they  have  any authority, according to their  own  doctrine,  to administer the ordinances.

     It  is said, I believe, that Wesley ordained Coke, and  Coke ordained  Asbury; but who ordained Wesley?  If he was not  called by  God and His church to the work of the ministry, he could  not administer the ordinances.  If he was ordained, he must have been ordained  by the Episcopalians; but where did  the  Episcopalians get  their authority?  If they had any authority, they must  have gotten  it from the Roman Catholics.  The Roman Catholics,  then, is  a  church of Christ, or the Methodists have no  authority  to administer the ordinances, according to their own doctrine.

     The Presbyterians, Lutherans, and all other Pedobaptists are in  the same predicament.  What right had Calvin, or  Luther,  or Henry  VIII, or Wesley, to start up a church?  Who ever  read  of Jesus  Christ giving any man authority to start a church?   If  I were  to  leave the Baptist church, and they were to  exclude  me from their fellowship, would I not be out of the church? Suppose, then,  I  go  out and begin a new enterprise,  and  soon  have  a congregation  organized,  and call it a church, would  I  have  a right to claim to be recognized as a church?  Deny me that right, and  then tell me what is the Methodist church, or the  Lutheran, Presbyterian, or any other that asks us to commune with them? I tell you it is a body that feels as if their claim to  the name of a church of Christ is somewhat doubtful, that, as a rule, makes so much ado about the communion question.  They wish to  be recognized as a church is about what the trouble is. I  am  aware of the fact that Regular  Baptists  are  called selfish,  and bigoted, because we do not commune and mingle  with others,  but we have made our character here, and I feel it is  a credit  to me to be called an old Baptist, for I have never  seen the time, and I presume these old fathers in the ministry, Elders Hume and Strickland, can say as much, that the Old Baptists  were so  low  down in the estimation of the religious world  that  all others  would  not have gladly married us if we  would  have  had . 

     But,  after they court us awhile, and find that we will  not marry, then they seem to get angry with us, and want to kill  us, and,  being unable to do that, they do not know what to  do  with us. But now let us look for a people that have existed from  the apostles  to  the present.  It cannot be expected that in  a  few minutes we could do justice to such a subject, but let us try for a few moments.  Let us read:

      "There  was  no difference in point of doctrine  between  the Novatianists and other Christians.  What peculiarly  distinguished them was their refusing to readmit to the communion of the  church those  who,  after  baptism, had fallen  into  the  commission  of heinous  crimes, though they did not pretend that even  such  were excluded  from  all  possibility  or  hopes  of  salvation.   They consider  the  Christian  church as a  society  where  virtue  and innocence  reigned  universally, and none of whose  members,  from their  entrance into it, had defiled themselves with any  enormous crime;  and, of consequence, they looked upon every society  which readmitted  heinous offenders to its communion as unworthy of  the title  of a true Christian church.  It was from hence, also,  that they  assumed  the title of Cathari, that is, the pure;  and  what showed  still a more extravagant degree of vanity  and  arrogance, they  obliged such as come over to them from the general  body  of Christians to submit to be baptized a second time, as a  necessary preparation for entering into their society." Mosheim, century  3, part 2, chapter 5, sec. 18.

      The  people mentioned in this quotation separated  from  the Catholic  party  A.  D.  251, and while  Novatian  was  the  most conspicuous  among  their ministers, and the people  were  called after  his name, it is often the case that he is said to  be  the founder  of his sect, and that it started up at the  time  before mentioned, but the fact that when he withdrew there were churches and ministers scattered over the whole country at the same  time, it  is  evident that he was not the founder of  the  sect  called Novatianists,  but  these  these  churches  which  had  kept  the ordinances and the doctrine pure from the apostles until the time of  the separation, simply refused to follow the  Catholic  party into  the  thousand  and  one new things  she  was  beginning  to indulge.   We  are  not dependent on Novatian or  any  other  one minister  for  a succession of baptism, for, at the time  of  the separation, there were many ministers and churches for baptism to have come through to us. But  let us hear the same historian again, who, by the  way, is not a Baptist, but a Lutheran.  He says:

      "Among  the sects that troubled the Latin church during  this (12th) century, the principal place is due to the Catharists, whom we  already  had occasion to mention.  (Then he refers us  to  the same  we  have just read.)  This numerous faction,  leaving  their first   residence,  which  was  in  Bulgaria,  spread   themselves throughout   almost  all  the  European  provinces,   where   they occasioned  much tumult and disorder; but their fate was  unhappy,   most unrelenting cruelty." Mosheim, century 12, part 2, sec. 4.   He says these were the same people he had already mentioned, and  then refers us back to the quotation we first made, so  that we  cannot  be mistaken if we say they have come  down  from  the third  to the twelfth century, and are known by our historian  as the  same people.  Their doctrine was that no persons,  whatever, were to be admitted to baptism before they were come to the  full use of their reason. We also find them in the eleventh century under the name  of Paulicians.  They reject infant baptism. But again:

      "The  true  origin of that sect which acquired  the  name  of Anabaptists,  by their administering anew the rite of  baptism  to those  who  came  over to their communion,  and  derived  that  of Mennonites from the famous man, to whom they owe the greatest part of  their  present  felicity,  is hid  in  the  remote  depths  of antiquity,  and  is,  of consequence, extremely  difficult  to  be ascertained.  This uncertainty will not appear surprising, when it is  considered  that this sect started up all of a  sudden,  under leaders of different talents and different intentions, and at  the very  period  when the first contests of the  Reformers  with  the Roman  pontiffs drew the attention of the world and  employed  the pens  of  the  learned in such a manner as  to  render  all  other objects and incidents almost matters of indifference.  The  modern Mennonites not only consider themselves as the descendants of  the Waldenses, who were so grievously oppressed and persecuted by  the despotic  heads of the Roman church, but pretend, moreover, to  be the purest offspring of these respectable sufferers, being equally averse  to  all principles of rebellion on the one hand,  and  all suggestions  of  fanaticism on the other."  Mosheim,  century  16, part 2, chapter 3, sec. 1.

      If this witness was a Baptist, he might be accused of  being partial; but as he is not, he is not very likely to be anxious to show that the Baptists have existed ever since the apostles. I  wish  to  hear  him again and will  read  from  the  same chapter.

      "For  it  must be carefully observed that, though  all  those projectors   of  a  new,  unspotted  and  perfect   church,   were comprehended under the general name of Anabaptists, on account  of their opposing the baptism of infants, and their rebaptizing  such as  had  received the sacrament in a state of childhood  in  other churches,  yet they were, from their very origin, subdivided  into various  sects,  which differed from each other in  points  of  no small moment."      

     From this we are to learn that there were other sects during the  dark  ages  that  opposed the  Roman  Catholic  church  that differed   very  materially  from  our  people,  yet  they   were frequently  classed with them on account of their  opposition  to the  Catholic  church.   It is in this way, no  doubt,  that  our   doctrines  and  practices  that  were  entertained  during  their history, when, as Dr. Mosheim observes, they differed from others on those points.

     I  now  introduce  another witness, who is  by  no  means  a Baptist,  and his testimony must be good.  It is  Bishop  Newton, and he, in his work, is not writing a history, but is proving the authenticity  of  the  scriptures  by  the  fulfillment  of   the prophesies.  He says:

      "But   the  true  witnesses,  and,  as  I  may  say,   the Protestants of this age  (12th century)  were  the  Waldenses  and Albigenses,  who  began  to be famous at  this  time,  and,  being dispersed  into  various  places, were  distinguished  by  various appellations. Their   first   and  proper  name  seemeth   to   have   been Vallenses, or inhabitants of the valleys; and so one of the oldest writers,  Ebrad,  of Bethune, who wrote in the year  1212:   "They call  themselves  Vallenses, because they abide in the  valley  of tears,  alluding  to their situation in the valleys  of  Piedmont. They were called Albigenses from Alby, a city in the southern part of  France, where also great numbers of them were situated.   They were  afterwards denominated Valdenses, or Waldenses,  from  Peter Valdo  or  Waldo,   a rich citizen of Lyons,  and  a  considerable leader  of the sect.  From Lyons, too, they were called  Leonists, and Cathari from the professed purity of their life and  doctrine, as  others since have had the name of Puritans.  As there  were  a variety  of  names, so there might be some  diversity  of  opinion among them; but that they were not guilty of Manicheism and  other abominable heresies, which have been charged upon them, is certain and evident from all the remains of their creeds, confessions  and writings."  (pp. 513-514.)

      I  am  glad Bishop Newton said this, for if he  had  been  a Baptist, he might have been partial, but, being a Pedobaptist, he cannot be accused of being prejudiced in favor of the  Waldenses. It is sometimes said by our opponents that the Waldenses were not free  from some very grievous errors, but this writer  exonerates them. But let us read from him again:

      "Much  hath been written in censure and condemnation  of  this sect, both by enemies and friends, by Papists and Protestants.  If they  have been grossly misrepresented and vilified on  one  side, they have been amply justified and vindicated on the other; but  I will  only  produce the testimony of  three  witnesses  concerning them,   whom  both  sides  must  allow  to   be   unexceptionable, Reinerious, Thuanus, and Mezeray.  Reinerious flourished about the year  1254, and his testimony is the more remarkable, as he was  a Dominician,  and inquisitor general.  "Among all the sects,  which still  are or ever have been, there is not any more pernicious  to the church than that of the Leonists.  And this for three reasons. The  first  is,  because it is older, for some say  that  it  hath endured  from the time of Pope Sylvester; others from the time  of the  apostles.  The second, because it is more general, for  there   because  when all other sects beget horror in the hearers  by  the outrageousness  of  their  blasphemies against God,  this  of  the Leonists  hath  a great show of piety, because  they  live  justly before men, and believe all things rightly concerning God, and all the articles which are contained in the creed; only they blaspheme the church of Rome and the clergy, whom the multitude of the laity is easy to believe."  (pp. 515-516.)

      The witness just quoted was once a member of the  Waldensian church,  and  apostasized from it, and became one of  their  most violent  persecutors.  His testimony is good, as he is an  enemy, and from what he says, no doubt this people have existed from the apostles  to  the present time, and that they were  what  is  now denominated "Hardshell" Baptists. If  this be true, then we have had no founder of our  church but  Christ  and the apostles, and we have had a  connection  of baptism all through the dark ages until now. They  have been known by many different names, at  different times  and in different localities, but it is very  evident  that they  were the same people all the time.  Let us see  if  history will bear us out in that idea.

     "These  Puritans,  being  exposed to  severe  and  sanguinary persecutions  for  dissent,  from age to age,  were  compelled  to shelter  themselves from the desolating storm in  retirement;  and when  at  intervals  they reappear on  the  page  of  contemporary history, and their principles are propagated with new boldness and success,  they  are  styled a new sect, and receive  a  new  name, though   in  reality  they  are  the  same   people."    Religious Encyclopedia, p. 1147.

      This is, no doubt, a correct statement concerning them,  and it corroborates other historians on the same subject. But I wish to read again from this same writer.  On the next page he says:  

     "Hence  it  is hardly to be wondered at that  the  Waldenses, like  the  scriptures,  have been resorted to by  all  parties  of Protestants in defense of their peculiar sentiments.  The  Papists accused the Protestants of being a new sect, whose principles  had no  existence  till  the days of Luther.   This  charge  they  all denied, and each party sought to find predecessors, and to trace a line of succession up to the apostles.  The perversions of  heresy on the one hand, and the corruptions of popery on the other,  left no alternative but to find that succession among the Waldenses."

      It  seems  from this statement that all  Protestants,  until recently, claimed that the Waldenses were their predecessors, and were  willing  to  claim  that they had  an  existence  from  the apostles.   I now wish to introduce Bishop Newton again  on  this subject.  He says:  

     "Here only some of the principle instances are selected;  but this   deduction,  short  and  defective  as  it   is,   evidently   union and harmony which the members of the church of Rome  pretend to boast to have been before the Reformation, and at the same time it  plainly evinces that they betray great ignorance, as  well  as impertinence,  in  asking the question, 'Where was  your  religion before Luther?'  Our religion, we see, was in the hearts and lives of many faithful witnesses; but it is sufficient if it was nowhere else, that it was always in the Bible."  (p. 526.)

      You see how the Bishop agrees with our former witness,  that Protestants claimed that their religion, before Luther, was among the  Waldenses.   And he says the members of the church  of  Rome betray  great ignorance and impertinence when they ask where  our religion  was  before  Luther.  It is very  evident  that  Bishop Newton,  although a High Churchman, believed that  the  Waldenses have existed from the apostles.

     But  we are often told that those people were not  Baptists, for  among all the names they had, they were not called  Baptists before the Reformation. Let us see if that is true.  Listen at us read:

     "But  here  again  it was a  Roman  Bishop,  Stephanus,  who, instigated  by the spirit of ecclesiastical arrogance,  domination and  zeal without knowledge, attached to this point of  dispute  a paramount importance.  Hence, toward the close of the year 253, he issued  a sentence of excommunication against the bishops of  Asia Minor,  Cappadocia,  Galatia, and Cilicia,  stigmatizing  them  as Anabaptists, a name, however, which they could justly affirm  they did not deserve by their principles, for it was not their wish  to administer  a  second  baptism  to  those  who  had  already  been baptized,  but they contended that the previous baptism, given  by heretics,  could not be recognized as a true one."  Neander,  vol. 1, p. 318.

     You see, then, that they were called Anabaptists long before the Reformation. Now, from the sketches I have quoted to you, and many others that  I might refer to, I claim that there has been a people  all along,  from the apostles, that have preserved the ordinances  of the  church.   I claim that they are our people, and that  it  is easy to trace them through the dark ages by their blood.  I  know the Lord did set up a church on earth, and I know, if his word is true,  it still exists, for the prophet said it should  never  be destroyed, but it should stand forever. They have always baptized those who came to them from  other sects.  We do the same yet, for the same reasons that they did. I  have  now  shown you that baptism, in the  order  of  the gospel, must precede the Lord's Supper; and that immersion is the only  gospel  mode of baptism; and that believers  are  the  only gospel  subjects; and that, having all these, it is necessary  to valid  baptism  that we have the gospel design; and that  we  may have  all these and yet, for want of a proper  administrator,  we may not have gospel baptism.

     I  believe that Christ has a church in the world, but  I  do not  believe  he has forty-seven different churches.   I  do  not   the  church of Christ.  If he has not, then, if he should set  up an  institution  and call it a church, it is not, and, if  it  is not, it has no right to administer baptism.  Therefore we do  not receive the baptism of any.  If any other church on earth has the right to baptize, we have not, for Christ only has one church. As no other has the right to baptize, we cannot commune with others, while we think none but baptized persons have a right  to the communion.