SECTION I.--PERPETUITY OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
The rite usually called the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ, to be observed in
his churches till the end of the world.
On the night which preceded the Saviour's crucifixion, he ate the passover with his disciples. At
the close of the meal, the ceremony called the Lord's Supper was instituted. The account of the
institution is thus given by Matthew: "As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and
brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and
gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the new
testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink
henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's
kingdom."(1) Mark's account is in nearly the same words.(2) Luke's narrative differs in several
particulars. He mentions a previous cup, which seems to have concluded the proper paschal
supper. At the distribution of the bread, he adds these words, omitted by the other evangelists:
"This do in remembrance of me." In the giving of the second cup, he -states explicitly that it was
"after supper;" and, by this expression, distinguishes it from the preceding cup, which was a part
of the supper.(3) In the eleventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul gives an account
of the institution, agreeing substantially with the accounts given by the evangelists. At the
distribution of the bread, he adds the words: "This is my body which is broken for you: this do in
remembrance of me." And, at the giving of the cup, he adds: "This cup is the new testament in my
blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." To all this he subjoins, "As often as
ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore
whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the
body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread and
drink of this cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to
himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
From these several accounts taken in connection, we learn that after Jesus had concluded the last
passover with his disciples, he used the bread and cup for a purpose unknown in that supper; and
commanded the disciples to use them in the same manner, in remembrance of him. The time
during which this memorial of Christ was designed to be kept, we might infer from the words of
the evangelist. Jesus directed the minds of the disciples from the feast which he then kept with
them to a future feast, to be enjoyed together in the Father's kingdom. During the interval this new
institution was to be observed as a memorial of the past, and a pledge of the future. But Paul has
drawn the inference for us, "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the
Lord's death till he come." The time for the observance is here definitely marked out as extending
to Christ's second coming. Baptism was instituted to be observed "till the end of the world," and
the supper has the same limit prescribed for its duration.
The institution of the supper described by Paul, he states that he had received from the Lord Jesus,
and had delivered to the Corinthian church. These facts show that Christ designed his apostle to
inculcate the observance; and that the apostle was not negligent in this particular. He praised the
church for keeping the ordinances as he had delivered them; but censured an abuse which had
arisen among them in celebrating the supper. He does not, because of this abuse, dissuade from
the further observance of it, but he labors to correct the abuse; and he renews the command, "Let a
man examine himself, and so let him eat." The proof thus furnished is abundant and decisive, that
the observance was designed to be established and perpetuated in the churches.
We have further proof in the Acts of the Apostles. The church at Jerusalem continued steadfastly
in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers;(4) and the
disciples at Troas assembled on the first day of the week to break bread.(5)
The Scriptural designation of the rite in the passages just cited, is the breaking of bread. The name
Eucharist is often given to it, derived from the Greek word eucharisteo and referring to the
thanksgiving which preceded the distribution of the elements. This name is not used in the
Scriptures. Some remarks have been made in another place (pp. 57, 58) respecting the name
Lord's Supper. It is not clear that we have Scripture authority for using this name to designate the
rite. But, considering the rite as a memorial of our Lord's last supper with his disciples, the name
is significant--like the name passover applied to the rite which kept in memory the fact, that the
destroying angel passed over the habitations of the Israelites. The name may also refer to the
spiritual feast which believers enjoy with their Lord, who graciously sups with them. The name
Trinity, and the name person, applied to the three-fold distinction in the Trinity, are used without
Scripture authority, merely as convenient terms; and the names Eucharist and Lord's Supper, may
be used in the same way, but we must always be careful to found no article of faith on any use of
terms for which we cannot produce divine authority.
The Quakers object to the perpetuity of the supper, as they do to that of baptism. Their chief
objections, we shall proceed to consider.
Objection 1.--The bread and the cup belonged to the passover; and the evangelists state, that it was while
eating this feast that the bread and cup were used, which constitute the supposed new institution. The
breaking of bread is frequently mentioned as customary in ordinary meals. We ought, therefore, to consider
it as a common occurrence at table, and to interpret the words of Christ as a command that in all our eating
and drinking we should remember him, according to what is said elsewhere, "Whether ye eat or drink, or
whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."(6)
The simplicity of the rite, is no valid objection against it; but rather a recommendation. Bread and
the cup were in common use; but they were not, on this account, less adapted to the purpose for
which Christ employed them. Water is a common element, and immersion in it was common
among the Jews; but these facts did not render immersion in water less fit for a Christian
ordinance. The rites are new, not because new elements are used, but because they are used for a
new purpose. The whole of the paschal services commemorated the deliverance from Egypt. The
new institution was designed to commemorate a different deliverance, by the broken body and
shed blood of Christ. No one will maintain, that the breaking of bread in ordinary meals, was
designed for this purpose. So distinctly marked was this new purpose, that Paul says, "He that
eateth and drinketh unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." If he did it, "not
discerning the Lord's body," he overlooked the great design of the institution, and was guilty. This
fault the objection commits, in confounding the bread and wine of the eucharist with ordinary
Objection 2.--The Acts of the Apostles mention only two instances in which the breaking of bread was
observed by the disciples; and both of these manifestly refer to ordinary meals. The church at Jerusalem
continued in the breaking of bread; and this is explained in the words, "Breaking bread from house to
house, did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart."(7) The disciples at Troas met to break
bread; and what is hereby meant, may be learned from what is afterwards said: "When he therefore was
come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he
departed."(8) This is clearly an ordinary meal, preparatory to Paul's departure. We see, therefore, that the Acts
of the Apostles record no instance of the eucharistic observance; and-the silence cannot be accounted for, if
the observance had been customary.
No doubt exists that the phrase, breaking of bread, sometimes describes what occurred at ordinary
meals. Jesus manifested himself to the two disciples at Emmaus, in the breaking of bread, when
they had sat down to an ordinary meal; and Paul broke bread to those who were with him in the
ship, to terminate their long fast. In the second chapter of Acts, the phrase occurs twice. In the first
instance, the connection shows that the eucharistic observance is intended. "They continued in the
apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and breaking bread, and prayers." In the second instance, the
connection shows that ordinary meals are intended. The repetition, instead of proving the same
thing to be intended in both instances, proves rather the contrary. Distinct facts are described.
Did the disciples at Troas meet for an ordinary meal? Was this the meeting which the sacred
historian so particularly mentions? The character of primitive Christianity forbids the supposition.
These disciples were accustomed to meet for the worship of God; and the important design of their
assembling together could not have been forgotten or overlooked on this occasion, when they had
the presence of Paul. It was appropriate to mention the eucharist, as a part of public worship, in
speaking of the purpose for which they assembled; but to describe them as having assembled for
an ordinary meal, is inconsistent with their character, and inconsistent with the occasion. If, as is
most probable, the breaking of bread next morning, at the break of day, was an ordinary meal
preparatory to Paul's departure, it was a different breaking of bread from that which had brought
the disciples together on the preceding day.
These are the only two cases in which the observance of the Lord's supper is mentioned in the
Acts; but they are sufficient to prove the existence of the observance. The church at Jerusalem
continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread. It could have been no commendation of them, that
they continued steadfastly in eating ordinary meals; but their steadfast continuance in the divine
institution, is historical proof that it was observed by the first church as a part of their public
worship. This fact explains what is said about the disciples at Troas, and the two statements make
the historical evidence, in this book, as satisfactory as is necessary. The observance of the rite by
the church at Corinth, makes the historical proof complete.
Objection 3.--The Jewish worship consisted of meats, and drinks, and divers baptisms, and carnal
ordinances; but these are not adapted to the spiritual worship of the Christian dispensation. Paul teaches
that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."(9) The
Lord's supper comes under the denomination of meats and drinks, and is therefore not appropriate to the
new economy. Paul expressly commands, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink;"(10) and urges
believers to leave those things which perish in the using, and set their affections above.
This objection substantially agrees with Objection 5 to the perpetuity of baptism; and what is there
said in reply, is applicable here. The meats and drinks of the former dispensation were shadows of
good things to come; but the body is of Christ. So Paul teaches, in connection with the text last
quoted in the objection; and, in this way, he explains what meat and drink he refers to. The Jewish
ceremonies were typical of Christ to come; but the Lord's supper is a memorial of Christ already
come. It is, therefore, not included in the meat and drink intended by the apostle. The passover
was included in these abrogated meats and drinks; which ceased to be obligatory after Christ, our
passover, was sacrificed for us. At the very time when he was about to put an end to this old
ceremony, he instituted the Lord's supper; and it is, therefore, incredible that he meant this to
expire with the other. Paul says, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink." The abrogated
ceremonies are now without divine authority; and, therefore, he calls these meats and drinks the
commandments of men. But the bread and wine of the supper, are commandments of the Lord;
and therefore Paul says, with reference to these: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat."
The numerous and burdensome rites of the Old Testament would not be adapted to the more
spiritual dispensation which we are under; but it does not follow that the two simple ceremonies,
baptism and the Lord's supper, are incompatible with it. We are yet in the flesh, and need the use
of such memorials. In the proper use of them, believers have found them greatly profitable, and
well adapted to promote spirituality. Besides the benefit which they yield to the individual
believer, these two ceremonies stand, like two monuments, reared up in the time of Christ, and
testifying to the world concerning Christ and his doctrine. Their use, as evidences of Christianity
and its cardinal doctrines, the Trinity and the atonement, is incalculably great, and displays the
wisdom which instituted them.
In addition to the direct arguments which have been adduced, some allusions are found in the
New Testament, showing, in an interesting manner, that baptism and the Lord's supper were
contemplated as parts of Christianity. In the next chapter to that in which Paul corrects the
Corinthian abuse of the supper, he says, "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, and have
all been made to drink into one Spirit."(11) The allusion to both the ordinances, is manifest. In
another part of the same epistle, he speaks of baptism unto Moses, and of their eating and
drinking in the wilderness, in a manner which shows an allusion to the two Christian rites.(12)
Objection 4.--At the same supper in which Christ is supposed to have instituted the eucharist, he washed
his disciples' feet, and commanded them to wash one another's feet. The command is equally as positive, as
that which enjoined the use of bread and wine; yet Christians are generally agreed, that the command does
not require to be obeyed literally. The thing signified by the outward form is what demands regard; and the
same rule of interpretation ought to be applied to the eucharist.
The command ought, in both cases, to be obeyed strictly, according to the design of Christ. If
Christians generally fail to render strict obedience to Christ's command respecting the washing of
feet, we ought to begin a reform, and not make one neglect a precedent and argument for another.
In the next chapter we shall inquire into the obligation to wash one another's feet. In this, we have
ascertained, that Christ designed a literal use of bread and wine, and, this point being ascertained,
our duty is determined; whatever doubt and obscurity may remain respecting any other subject.
The Lord's Supper was designed to be a memorial of Christ, a representation that the
communicant receives spiritual nourishment prom him, and a token of fellowship
among the communicants.
The rite is commemorative. The passover served for a memorial of deliverance from Egypt; and,
year after year, as the pious Israelites partook of it, they were reminded of that marvellous
deliverance, and were required to tell of it to their children. The passover was instituted on the
night of that deliverance. The Lord's supper was instituted on the night when Jesus was betrayed
to be crucified; and serves for a memorial of his sufferings and death. When we remember him,
we are to remember his agonies, his body broken, and his blood shed. In preaching the gospel,
Paul determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. So, in the eucharist, Christ
is presented to view; not as transfigured on Mount Tabor, or as glorified at his Father's right hand,
but as suffering and dying. We delight to keep in memory the honors which they whom we love
have received; but Jesus calls us to remember the humiliation which he endured. To the lowest
point of his humiliation, the supper directs our thoughts.
The simple ceremony is admirably contrived to serve more than a single purpose. While it shows
forth the Lord's death, it represents at the same time the spiritual benefit which the believer derives
from it. He eats the bread, and drinks the wine, in token of receiving his spiritual sustenance from
Christ crucified. The rite preaches the doctrine that Christ died for our sins, and that we live by his
death. He said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in
you."(13) These remarkable words teach the necessity of his atoning sacrifice, and of faith in that
sacrifice. Without these, salvation and eternal life are impossible. When Christ said, "My flesh is
meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,"(14) he did not refer to his flesh and blood, literally
understood. He calls himself the living-bread which came down from heaven.(15) This cannot be
affirmed of his literal flesh. To have eaten this literally, would not have secured everlasting life;
and equally inefficacious is the Romanist ceremony, in which they absurdly imagine that they eat
the real body of Christ. His body is present in the eucharist in no other sense than that in which we
can "discern" it. When he said, "This is my body," the plain meaning is, "This represents my
body." So we point to a picture, and say, "This is Christ on the cross." The eucharist is a picture,
so to speak, in which the bread represents the body of Christ suffering for our sins. Faith discerns
what the picture represents. It discerns the Lord's body in the commemorative representation of it,
and derives spiritual nourishment from the atoning sacrifice made by his broken body and shed
A third purpose which this ceremony serves, and to which it is wisely adapted, is, to signify the
fellowship of the communicants with one another. This is taught in the words of Paul: "The bread
which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one
bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."(16) A communion or joint
participation in the benefits of Christ's death, is signified by the joint partaking of the outward
elements. "What communion," says he, "hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ
with Belial?" "Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."(17) In these
words of Paul, to sit at the same table, and drink of the same cup, are regarded as indications of
communion and concord. Believers meet around the table of the Lord, in one faith on the same
atonement, in one hope of the same inheritance, and with one heart filled with love to the same
A notion has prevailed extensively, that a spiritual efficacy attends the outward performance of the
rite, if duly administered. Some mysterious influence is supposed to accompany the bread and
wine, and render them means of grace to the recipient. But, as the gospel, though it is the power of
God unto salvation, does not profit unless mixed with faith in those who hear it; much less can
mere ceremonies profit without faith. In baptism, we rise with Christ through the faith of the
operation of God; and in the supper, we cannot partake of Christ, and receive him as our spiritual
nourishment, but by faith: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith."(18) The contrary opinion
makes these sacraments as they have been called, saving ordinances, and substitutes outward
ceremony for vital piety.
The Lord's Supper was designed to be celebrated by each church in public assembly.
Intelligence is necessary in order to the proper receiving of the supper. When infant baptism arose,
infant communion arose with it. The superstitious notion that the sacraments possessed a sort of
magical efficacy, prevailed extensively; and parental affection desired for the children the grace of
the supper, as well as that of baptism. The argument was as good for the one as for the other; and
infant communion had as much authority from the apostles as infant baptism. But the practice of
infant communion is now generally laid aside. It is generally conceded, that infants are incapable
of receiving the rite according to its design. They cannot remember Christ, or discern the Lord's
body; and they cannot perform the self-examination which is required previous to the communion.
If the rite conveyed a magical influence, infants might receive it; but correct views have so far
prevailed, as to restrict this ordinance to persons of intelligence.
Faith is also a requisite to the receiving of the supper. If mere intelligence were a sufficient
qualification, men who partake of the table of devils, might partake also of the Lord's table. Paul
decides that this cannot be, and therefore that none can properly partake of the Lord s table but
those who have renounced the devil, and devoted themselves to the Lord. The outward ceremony
cannot, of itself, yield profit to those who receive it. They cannot please God in it, without faith;
and without faith they cannot derive spiritual nourishment from the body and blood of Christ.
The rite was designed to be social. Of the three purposes which it serves, as enumerated in the last
section, the third requires that it be celebrated by a company. It could not serve as a token of
fellowship between the disciples of Christ, if it were performed in solitude. To perpetuate a social
rite, society is necessary; and the disciples of Christ, by his authority, organize the societies, called
churches. As these are the only divinely instituted Christian societies, we might judge beforehand,
that the supper would be committed to these, for its observance and perpetuation. This we find to
be true. Paul says to the church at Corinth, "I praise you that ye keep the ordinances as I delivered
them to you." "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you."(19) He then
proceeds to mention the institution of the supper, and speaks of it as observed by the whole church
assembled. Of some other matters, he says, in this connection, "We have no such custom, neither
the churches of God;"(20) but everything in his account of the Lord's supper, accords with its being a
church rite; and with this, all that is recorded of its observance at Jerusalem and Troas, perfectly
harmonizes. The administration of the rite to a dying individual, as is practiced by some, has no
sanction in the Word of God.
The rite should be celebrated by the church, in public assembly. It is said, "As often as ye eat this
bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come."(21) To show his death, requires
that it be done in public. It should be held forth to the view of the irreligious, who may be willing
to attend in the public assembly. In another part of the same epistle, Paul speaks of the effect
produced on unbelievers who came into the public assembly of the church.(22) As it is right to hold
forth the word of life to them, so it is right to show the Lord's death before them, in the divinely
By the Jews it was held unlawful to eat with the uncircumcised. Paul has taught us, that familiar
intercourse with unconverted persons, is not unlawful to Christians; but he says, "If any man, that
is called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an
extortioner, with such a one, no not to eat."(23) In this prohibition, eating at the Lord's table with
such a wicked person, if not specially intended, is certainly included. Though such an one may
have been called a brother, it was wrong for the church to retain him in fellowship, and continue to
eat with him, in the peculiar manner by which fellowship was indicated. In the words of Christ,
every such wicked person was to be accounted as an heathen man and a publican.
In primitive times, the members of different local churches associated with each other, as
members of the great fraternity. Paul was doubtless welcomed at the Lord's table, by the disciples
at Troas. This transient communion is now practiced. The Lord's supper is properly a church
ordinance; but an individual, duly qualified to be admitted to membership in a church, may be
admitted for the time as a member, and received to transient communion, without any departure
from the design of the institution.
SECTION IV--OPEN COMMUNION
We have seen that the Lord's supper has been committed to the local churches for observance and
perpetuation; and that local churches, if organized according to the Scriptures, contain none but
baptized persons. It follows hence, that baptism is a pre-requisite to communion at the Lord's
table. The position which baptism holds in the commission, determines its priority to the other
commanded observances therein referred to, among which church communion must be included.
This is the doctrine which has been held on the subject by Christians generally, in all ages; and it
is now held by the great mass of Pedobaptists. With them we have no controversy as to the
principle by which approach to the Lord's table should be regulated. We differ from them in
practice, because we account nothing Christian baptism, but immersion on profession of faith, and
we, therefore, exclude very many whom they admit. But there are Baptists, who reject the principle
that baptism is a prerequisite to communion, and maintain that nothing ought to be a condition of
communion, which is not a condition of salvation. They hold that all pious persons, baptized or
unbaptized, have a right to the Lord's supper. Their practice is called open or mixed communion,
and the arguments in defence of it will now claim our attention.
Argument 1.--The Lord's supper, when instituted by Christ, was given to persons who had never received
Christian baptism, and therefore baptism cannot be a prerequisite.
The first supper was administered to the apostles. Some of these had been baptized by John; and,
since the disciples made by Jesus in his personal ministry, were also baptized, we are warranted to
conclude, that all the apostles had been baptized. If it be denied that John's baptism, and the
baptism administered under the immediate direction of Christ during his personal ministry were
Christian baptism, we call for proof. Until the distinction is established, the argument has no
But there is another way in which the argument may be met. We have every certainty, which the
nature of the case admits, that the apostles were not baptized after the institution of the Lord's
supper. From this time to the ensuing Pentecost, when they entered fully on the work assigned
them, their history is so given as to exclude all probability that they were baptized in this interval;
and, if they were qualified to enter fully on their work, without another baptism, another baptism
was unnecessary; and was therefore never afterwards received. Mr. Hall, the ablest advocate of
open communion, says: "My deliberate opinion is, that, in the Christian sense of the term, they
were not baptized at all."(24) When Paul was made an apostle, before he entered on his work he was
commanded to be baptized. From some cause, the other apostles were not under this obligation.
We account for the difference, by the supposition, that they had already received what was
substantially the same as the baptism administered to Paul. But, if we are mistaken on this point,
it is still true that the eleven apostles were not under obligation to receive any other baptism; and
their case, therefore, differed radically from that of persons who are under obligation to be
baptized, and are living in neglect of this duty. The latter may be required, and ought to be
required, to profess Christ according to his commandment, before they are admitted to church-membership and communion; but the eleven apostles, from some cause, whatever it may have
been, were under no such obligation. The cases are not parallel; and, therefore, the argument fails.
Argument 2.--The argument for strict communion, from the position of baptism in the commission,
proves too much. If it proves that we ought not to teach the unbaptized to commune at the Lord's table, it
proves also that we ought not to teach them the moral precepts of Christ included in the words, "all things
whatsoever I have commanded you."
The apostles were commanded to preach the gospel to every creature. In executing their
commission, it became their duty to instruct the ignorant and them that were out of the way. They
adapted their instructions to every man's character and circumstances To the impenitent, they said:
"Repent, and be baptized." To the unbaptized disciple, they said: "Why tarriest thou? Arise, and be
baptized." The baptized disciple they taught, according to the requirement in the commission, to
observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded. The- impenitent were not to be taught to
observe all things which Christ had commanded. The advocates of open communion deny that
they have a right either to baptism, or the Lord's supper; but why? The same moral precepts which
are to be taught to the baptized disciple, may be taught to the impenitent. We may, therefore,
retort, that if they exclude the impenitent from baptism and the Lord's supper, their mode of
reasoning will prove too much, and will equally exclude them from instruction in the moral
precepts of Christ. If it be just to argue from the order prescribed in the commission, that baptism
belongs to those only who have been made disciples; that order equally proves, that the baptized
only ought to be taught to observe all things that Christ had commanded. Some things that Christ
commanded might be taught to the unbaptized, and to the impenitent; but the full observance of
all Christ's commands, was to be enjoined on the baptized disciples. Had the commission read,
"Make disciples of all nations, and teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded
you," baptism and the supper would have been included together among the things commanded,
and no inference could have been drawn from the commission as to the proper order in which they
should be observed. But the separation of baptism from all the other things which Christ had
commanded, gives it a peculiar relation to the other things enjoined in the commission; and the
order in which it is introduced cannot but signify the proper order for our obedience.
Argument 3.--The fact that, in the primitive times, none but baptized persons were admitted to the Lord's
table, is not a rule to us, whose circumstances are widely different. Then, no converted person mistook his
obligation to be baptized. Had he refused baptism, the refusal would have proved him not to be a disciple;
and now nothing ought to exclude from communion, but that which disproves discipleship.
The argument admits that, if all understood their duty, baptism would always precede the
communion, as it did in apostolic times. How far it is our duty to tolerate disobedience to Christ's
commands, and produce a church order unknown in the days of the apostles, in accommodation to
error or weakness of faith, is an inquiry which will come up hereafter.
Argument 4.--The supper commemorates the death of Christ: baptism represents his burial and
resurrection. The order of the things signified is the reverse of that in which they are observed. Hence, the
order of observance ought not to be considered necessary.
Baptism represents the burial of Christ, but not to the exclusion of his death: "Know ye not, that as
many of us as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried
with him by baptism into death." The supper represents the death of Christ; but not to the
exclusion of his burial and resurrection. Without the resurrection, the sacrifice would have been
unaccepted, and the memorial of it useless. Moreover, the supper directs the thoughts to the
second coming of Christ, and therefore supposes his resurrection. The same great facts of
Christianity are represented by both rites, though in aspects somewhat different; and, therefore, no
valid argument can be drawn, from their objective signification, to determine the proper order of
But while both rites direct our faith to the accepted sacrifice of Christ, they do not signify our
relation to it in the same manner. Baptism represents a believer's dying to sin, and rising to walk
in newness of life. It signifies the change by which he becomes a new creature. The supper
represents the believer's continued feeding on Christ; and therefore presupposes the change which
is denoted by baptism. It follows, that the subjective signification of the rites, so far as any valid
argument can be drawn from it, determines the priority of baptism.
If there were anything in the objective signification of the rite furnishing ground for an argument
in favor of its preceding baptism, it would tend to establish that precedence as universally
necessary, rather than occasionally justifiable.
Argument 5.--Communion at the Lord's table is a token of brotherly love. To refuse it to any true disciple
of Christ, is contrary to the spirit of brotherly love, and to the command of Christ which enjoined it.
Christ has commanded us to love every true disciple; but not to give to every one this particular
token of love. Neither the law nor the spirit of brotherly love, can require us to treat our brethren
otherwise than he has enjoined. We give them the love, and withhold from them the token, in
obedience to the same authority, and in the exercise of the same fraternal spirit. If a right
participation of the communion were the appointed means of salvation, and if baptism were
necessary in order to this right participation, it would be the highest manifestation of brotherly
love, to maintain firmly the practice of strict communion. Our firmness might correct an error in
our brethren, which, in the case supposed, would, if persisted in, be ruinous to their eternal
interests. A false tenderness might incline us not to disturb their misplaced confidence; but true
Christian love would direct to a contrary course. Now, we are bound to perform every duty with
the same careful regard to the divine will, as if salvation depended on it; and the true spirit of
Christian love will incline us to guard our brethren against what is sinful, as well as against what
is ruinous. Hence, the argument from brotherly love utterly fails to justify the practice of mixed
communion, if that practice can be shown to be contrary to the mind of Christ.
Further, the argument from this topic must be inconclusive, until it be proved that brotherly love
cannot subsist without a joint participation of the Lord's supper. But there are surely many modes
of testifying and cherishing the warmest affection toward erring brethren, without participating in
their errors. We may be ready, in obedience to Christ, to lay down our lives for our brethren--
though we may choose to die, rather than, in false tenderness to them, violate the least of his
Argument 6.--A particular church differs from the church universal, only as a part differs from the whole;
and, since Pedobaptist Christians are parts of the true church, they ought to be admitted to membership and
communion in the particular churches.
That particular churches differ from the church universal, only as a part differs from the whole, is
assumed by Mr. Hall, in his defence of mixed communion. This assumption, made without proof,
is the fundamental error of his scheme. It begs the question. We call the atmosphere of a place,
that part-of the whole atmosphere which chances to be at the place; and if a local church is, in like
manner, that part of the universal church which chances to be at the place, the question about
communion is virtually decided. We cannot argue that the communion of a church shall be denied
to any who have the full right of membership.
We have seen elsewhere, that the universal church is not the aggregate of the local churches, and
is not strictly homogeneous with them. Hence the assumption which is fundamental to mixed
communion, is erroneous.
Argument 7.--To exclude a Pedobaptist brother from communion, is substantially to inflict on him the
punishment of excommunication, the punishment inflicted on atrocious offenders. Such is not the proper
treatment of a fellow disciple, whose error of judgment the Lord graciously pardons.
When an advocate of open communion excludes from the Lord's table an amiable neighbor, who
does not give evidence of conversion, the exclusion is not regarded as a punishment. Neither ought
our exclusion of the unbaptized; much less is it right to speak of it as the punishment inflicted on
atrocious offenders. The churches have no scale of penalties adjusted to different grades of crime.
When they excommunicate, they withdraw their fellowship, and this may be done for wrongs of
very different magnitude. There is no necessity to class the error of pedobaptism with the most
atrocious of these wrongs. The church which excludes a Pedobaptist from the Lord's table, does
not design to inflict a punishment on him, but merely to do its own duty, as a body to which the
Lord has intrusted one of his ordinances. The simple aim is, to regulate the observance according
to the will of the Lord.
Argument 7.--To reject from communion a Pedobaptist brother whom God receives, is to violate the law
of toleration laid down in Romans xiv. 1-3.
The application of this rule to the question of receiving unbaptized persons to church-membership,
has been considered, p. 96. The result of the examination was unfavorable to the admission of
such persons; and the reasons which exclude them from church-membership, exclude them from
church communion. Regarding the Lord's supper as an ordinance committed to the local churches,
to be observed by them as such, the question, who are entitled to the privilege of communion, is
decided by a simple principle. None are to be admitted but those who can be admitted to the
membership of the church.
The argument does not claim that persons do right in communing while unbaptized, but it pleads
for a toleration of their error. Since this is the plea which open communion Baptists chiefly rely on,
it deserves a full examination.
It is a difficult attainment in religion, to preserve one's purity untarnished, while mingling with the
men of the world, and exercising towards them all that benevolence and forbearance which the
gospel enjoins. Our duty to mankind requires that we should not retire from the world, nor cherish
a morose and misanthropic temper. In avoiding the error on this hand, there is danger of falling
into the opposite one, and becoming too much conformed to the world. Vice is apt to appear less
hateful in those whom we greatly love; and even the frequent sight of it, if we are not on our guard
will make its deformity less in our view. Hence arises a great need of much watchfulness and
prayer, in those who practice that pure and undefiled religion, which requires them, on the one
hand, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to go about doing good to all
men; and, on the other hand, to keep themselves unspotted from the world.
There is a still severer trial of Christian principle. We meet it in our intercourse with Christian
brethren, who love our Lord Jesus Christ, and in general obey his commandments; but walk
disorderly in some matters which are deemed of minor importance. If these brethren are supposed
by us, to have more spiritual knowledge than ourselves, there is much danger, lest, through the
confiding nature of Christian love, and the readiness to esteem others better than ourselves, we be
betrayed into their errors. Had their violations of duty been greater, a suspicion of their piety might
have been awakened, and we might have been put on our guard. The man of God, who prophesied
against the altar at Bethel, could not be induced, by the wicked king of Israel, to eat bread, or
drink water, in the place; yet the old prophet, who came to him in the name of the Lord, found it
easy to prevail. Had even he proposed some deed in itself highly criminal, the truth of his
pretended message from God would have been suspected. But to eat bread and to drink water were
things in themselves lawful; and the man of God too readily yielded to the old prophet, as his
superior in the knowledge of the divine will, and ate and drank in violation of God's prohibition.
If we ought to guard against being led into error by our intercourse with good men, when no
wrong is suspected, much more ought we, when the existence of wrong is known. But toleration
implies wrong; and, if mixed communion be defended on the plea of toleration, the very defence
admits that there is wrong somewhere. It becomes us, therefore, to take good heed, lest we be
implicated in the wrong. The very names, toleration, forbearance, are commended to us by our
sense of God's forbearance and longsuffering toward us; and the motives for their exercise are
irresistible when their object is a brother in Christ. Towards such an one, how can we be
otherwise than tolerant and forbearing? Shall we persecute him? God forbid. We would rather lay
down our lives for him. Shall we indulge in any bitterness, or uncharitableness towards him? We
will love him with pure heart fervently. Shall we, in any manner, prevent him from worshipping
and serving God according to the dictates of his conscience? The very thought be far from us. Even
if he err, to his own Master he standeth or falleth. We, too, are fallible and erring; and we will
fervently pray that the grace which pardons our faults may pardon his also. What more do
toleration and forbearance require?
When a church receives an unbaptized person, something more is done than merely to tolerate his
error. There are two parties concerned. The acts of entering the church and partaking of its
communion are his, and for them he is responsible. The church also acts when it admits him to
membership, and authorizes his participation of the communion. The church, as an organized
body, with power to receive and exclude members according to rules which Christ has laid down,
is responsible for the exercise of this power.
Each individual disciple of Christ is bound, for himself, to obey perfectly the will of his Master.
Whatever tolerance he may exercise towards the errors of others, he should tolerate none in
himself. Though he may see but a single fault in his brother, he ought, while imitating all that
brother's excellencies, carefully to avoid this fault. He may not neglect the tithing of mint, though
he should find an example of such neglect accompanied with a perfect obedience of every moral
In like manner each church is bound, for itself, to conform, in all its order, to the divine will. How
much soever it may respect neighboring churches, which may have made high attainments in
every spiritual excellence, it must not imitate them, if they neglect or corrupt any of Christ's
ordinances. No argument is needed to render this clear.
The members of a church, who understand the law of Christ, are bound to observe it strictly,
whatever may be the ignorance and errors of others. For them to admit unbaptized persons to
membership, is to subvert a known law of Christ. Though there be unbaptized persons surpassing
in every spiritual excellence, and though the candidate for admission excel them all, yet the single
question for the church is, shall its order be established according to the will of God, or shall it
It may be asked, whether the persons whom we admit to membership and communion are not, in
many cases, guilty of omitting duties more important than baptism. It may be so: and if a church
sanctions these criminal neglects, it partakes in the guilt of them. Shall it, to escape the charge of
the greater guilt, voluntarily assume that which is less? If Christ has given a law for the
organization of churches, we have no right to substitute another, because it would be, in our
judgment, more accordant with the proper estimate of moral actions. If the members of the
universal church had been left to congregate into small societies, according to their spiritual
instincts, if I may use the expression, and not according to a revealed law, these societies might be
left to determine, by moral excellence merely, who ought to be admitted. But since it has seemed
good to the Christian lawgiver, to prescribe rules for church organization, these rules should be
observed. Each church should aim, in its church order, to exhibit a model of perfection to the
world, though its several members may be conscious of imperfections in themselves. They should
aim, as individuals, to come up to the full measure of their individual responsibility, and strive,
each one, to exhibit a model of perfect obedience. If the organization and discipline of the church
are not perfect, yet each member should aim to be perfect. If each member is not perfect, this
lessens not the obligation to render the organization and discipline of the church perfect.
But may not each individual be left to his own conscience, and his own responsibility? He may be,
and ought to be, so far as it can be done without implicating the consciences and responsibilities
of others. If each were left wholly to himself, the discipline of the church would be nothing, and
the power to exercise it would be attended with no responsibility. But the church is under an
obligation, which cannot be transferred, to regulate its organization and discipline according to the
word of God, which enjoins, on the one hand, to be tolerant and forbearing towards weak and
erring brethren; and on the other hand, to keep the ordinances of God as they were delivered.
The argument for toleration is founded on the words, "Him that is weak in the faith, receive
ye...For God hath received him." It is a full reply to this argument, that God's receiving of the
weak in faith furnishes the rule, as well as the reason, for our receiving of them. That God receives
a man in one sense, can be no reason that we should receive him in a sense widely different. God
receives an unbaptized weak believer as a member of his spiritual church, and we ought to receive
him in like manner. We ought to regard him as a brother in Christ, and a fellow heir of the same
inheritance. His interests should be near to our hearts, and we should welcome him to all that
spiritual communion which belongs to the members of Christ's body. So, when God has received a
baptized weak believer to local church-membership, we are bound to receive him in like manner,
and allow him to sit with us at the table of the Lord; a privilege which, through the imperfection of
church discipline, the vilest hypocrite may obtain. Unless we keep in view this important
distinction, in applying this rule for toleration, it will indeed admit the unbaptized weak believer to
ceremonial communion, but it will, with equal certainty, admit the hypocrite to that communion
which is spiritual.
Argument 9.--The advocates of close communion are accustomed to invite Pedobaptist ministers to preach
in their pulpits. To hold this pulpit communion with them, and at the same time to deny them a place at the
Lord's table, is a manifest inconsistency.
If we admit the conclusion of this argument, it does not prove close communion to be wrong.
Some Baptists admit the validity of the argument; and avoid the charge of inconsistency by
refusing to invite Pedobaptist ministers into their pulpits. Their views will be examined hereafter,
Chapter X., section 5, and we shall then attempt to show that what has been called pulpit
communion, may be vindicated in perfect consistency with the principles on which strict
communion at the Lord's table is maintained.
Argument 10.--The communion table is the Lord's; and to exclude from it any of the Lord's people, the
children of his family, is an offence against the whole Christian community.
There is a table which the Lord has spread, and to which every child of his family has an
unquestionable right. It is a table richly furnished with spiritual food, a feast of fat things, full of
marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. This table the Lord has spread for all his children, and he
invites them all to come: "Eat, O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved." Any one who
should forbid their approach would offend against the community of God's children. The guests at
this table have spiritual communion with one another; a species of communion which belongs of
right to every member of the church universal.
There is another table which the Lord has commanded his people to spread in each local church. It
is not, like the other, covered with spiritual good things, but with simple bread and wine. It is not,
like the other, designed for the whole family of the Lord, but for the particular body, the local
church, by whom, in obedience to divine command, it has been spread. Though human hands have
set out the food, yet the table is the Lord's, because it is designed for his service, and prepared at
his command; and the will of the Lord must determine who ought to partake. He knows best the
purpose for which he commanded it; and, whatever may be the feelings of the guests, they have no
right to invite to his table any whom the Lord has not invited.
We are aware that the practice of strict communion is considered offensive by a large part of the
Christian community. We lament this fact; and if the arguments which have been adduced in
defence of our practice, have failed to produce a conviction of its propriety, we would still crave
from our brethren the forbearance and toleration for which they plead in behalf of the weak in
faith. We conscientiously believe that we are doing the Lord's will; and we would gladly invite
every child of God to unite in our simple ceremonial observance, if we had the divine approbation.
But we believe that the purpose for which the observance was instituted, and the divine will by
which it ought to be regulated, require the restrictions under which we act.
Does not the offence taken at our course indicate that the offended party estimate ceremonial
communion too highly? To the rich feast of spiritual good which the Lord has spread, we rejoice to
welcome every child of God; and we gladly accept an humble seat with them at the bountiful
board. When with open hearts and hands we give this welcome, why will they be offended, if we
do not also give them a crumb of our ceremonial bread, and a drop of our ceremonial wine? If the
elements possessed some sacramental efficacy, there would be an apparent reason for their
complaint; but regarding them as a token of union in a church organization to which our brethren
object, and into which they are unwilling to enter, the ground and consistency of their complaint
do not appear.
When Pedobaptists complain of our strict communion, we would remind them that they hold the
principle in common with us, and practice on it in their own way. If they have aught to object, let
it be at that in which we differ from them, and not at that in which we agree. The contrary course
is not likely to produce unity of opinion, or to promote that harmony of Christian feeling which
ought to subsist among the followers of our Lord.
When Baptists object to strict communion, we would propose the inquiry, Whether they do not attach undue importance to the eucharist, in comparison with baptism. Mr. Hall calls the eucharist a principal spiritual function.(25) In this view of it, he complains that the privilege of partaking in it should be denied to any. Is it more spiritual than baptism? If not, why should baptism be trodden under foot, to open the way of access to the eucharist? When both ceremonies were supposed to possess a saving efficacy, the proper order of their observance was still maintained; much more should it be maintained, if both are mere ceremonies. If baptism were a mere ceremony, and the eucharist a principal spiritual function, the arguments for open communion would have a force which they do not now possess: but our brethren will not defend this position.
1. Matt. xxvi. 26-29.
2. Mark xiv. 22-24.
3. Luke xxii. 17-20.
4. Acts ii. 42.
5. Acts xx. 7.
6. 1 Cor. x. 31.
7. Acts ii. 46.
8. Acts xx. 11.
9. Rom. xiv. 17.
10. Col. ii. 16.
11. 1 Cor. xii. 13.
12. 1 Cor. x. 2, 3, 4.
13. John vi. 53.
14. John vi. 55.
15. John vi. 51.
16. 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.
17. 1 Cor. x. 21.
18. Eph. iii. 17.
19. 1 Cor. xi. 2, 23.
20. V. 16.
21. 1 Cor. xi. 26.
22. 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25.
23. 1 Cor. v. 11.
24. Hall's Works, Vol. i., p. 303.
25. Vol. i. p. 322.