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turies after such divisions existed. At length it came tardily to light, sternly requiring each denomination to exclude the membership of all other denominations from the table commemorative of atoning blood, a principle intensifying sectarian zeal and embittering sectarian animosities, and thus driving sections of brethren in Christ farther and farther asunder. Can it be that the requisitions of the memorial of the Saviour's love wraps up such a divisive and exacerbating element? Besides, the fact that it is confessedly the discovery of a partizan spirit throws around it the suspicion that it is the offspring of that spirit.

c. How great a difference of views and feelings in his body did Christ intend should justify a denominational division? Who shall decide this point? Is it replied, Christians are to decide? But conscientious and devoted Christians would decide differently. They would equally vary in judgment as to the character of those whom they might justly “admit to permanent church fellowship." The concession thus makes the line of demarcation between Christian and sacramental communion exceedingly ill-defined and tortuous.

Principle V. is, that the distinction between the invisible church and the visible demands the alleged distinction in communion which we are considering (Curtis, pp. 179, 253). The distinction between the invisible church and the visible is very distinctly drawn by Dr. Dick. He says (Vol. ii. p. 457): "I consider the invisible church to be the congregation of those who have been called by divine grace into the fellowship of the gospel and sanctified by the truth. . This church is said to be invisible, because it cannot be discovered by the eye. It is not separated from the world in respect of place, but of state. It lies hidden in the visible church, from which it cannot certainly be distinguished. The qualifications of its members are internal. Their faith and love are not the objects of sense. ... It is unseen by every eye but that which searches the heart and tries the reins of the children of men.'"


We admit the distinction, but deny, on the following

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grounds, the inferences deduced from it relative to sacramental recognition. But before entering on the discussion, two or three points must be premised.

1. The communion we are advocating in these pages is spiritual — sympathy of spirit with spirit, whether it be denominated Christian or church communion. It is the outgoing of holy souls towards each other. 2. But while thus spiritual, it is manifested. It comes forth in reciprocal action. This is recognized by Professor Curtis (p. 21). 3. It is manifested by required action-by laws (Curtis, p. 45).

These points being premised, we reject the inferences of our opponents drawn from the distinction of the church visible and invisible, touching communion.

1. Because required manifested communion with the invisible church is an absurdity. The invisible church is unseen; its members are personally unknown. Its fellowship is invisible, subsisting in unseen sympathies. It sustains no visible relations. It has neither sign nor token by which it is visibly or tangibly recognized. But law regulating human conduct implies visibility. Again, law implies organization a law demanding visible action, a visible organization, å governmental constitution, in which the law inheres. Not a law, civil or ecclesiastical can be named not thus adhering. The very idea is an absurdity. Again, a law of fellowship must be reciprocal. If I am required to commune with another, because he is one with Christ, he is required to commune with me for the same reason. But such a law in the invisible church or in relation to it, obeyed or realized in action, at once brings the church into a state of visibility, or transforms the invisible church into the visible.


This effect of supposable law in the invisible church is virtually admitted by the advocates of this theory (Professor Curtis, p. 39; Denison, p. 107). Laws of fellowship are as impossible as ordinances. The author of Theodosia says: "The ordinances of this kingdom were visible ordinances, symbolizing to the eye as well as the heart. The laws of the kingdom were visible laws." Indeed, the invisible church is

just what Dr. Arnold argues that the visible would become should Robert Hall's principles universally obtain (p. 33). "When we attempt to carry out this theory of the visible church, we find that it is utterly impracticable. Nothing but a 'poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,' can 'glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,' with sufficient rapidity to catch this unsubstantial vision; nothing but a poet's imagination can body forth the form of' this thing unknown'; and not even the poet's pen' can 'give' to this 6 airy nothing a local habitation.' The visible church has all at once become invisible. To speak soberly, no church ever did, or ever could, manage its affairs, or even exist as a church, on this theory."




Thus there are no commands or persuasions to commune with the invisible church; no exhortations to strengthen the bonds uniting her members, nor admonitions against weakening those bonds. It is indeed a body composed of men, but placed far above the influence of man: it was not made by man, nor can it be destroyed by man: it can neither be divided, nor drawn closer together by man. Fellowship with the invisible church is a mere spontaneity: it is the mutual sympathy of holy souls: it would exist, whether commanded. or not. It is not so much a creature of authority as of life.

2. Our opponents seem not quite satisfied with this sharply defined distinction between the church visible and invisible. They therefore sometimes draw the line of difference as above, and sometimes make the invisible church synonymous with the universal (Curtis, p. 37): "He [Robert Hall] takes for granted, as a matter of course, rather than attempts to prove that the universal church (which is an invisible body) 'difers from a particular assembly of Christians (which is a visible body) only as the whole differs from a part.' ..... The invisible or universal church is entirely a spiritual body." In agreement with this wavering distinction they sometimes speak of spiritual communion, and sometimes of Christian communion.

This view of the invisible church furnishes as little ground

VOL. XXIV. No. 95.


for the distinction in communion which we are considering as the one already discussed. This universal church is still, in the sense of our opponents, invisible "invisible" and "universal" being convertible designations of it. It is unorganized. It contains organized parts or societies, but is not, as a whole, an organized church. It has no organism in which law can inhere. It is the same invisible church, composed indeed of visible as well as invisible Christians, but taken in its entireness is the same as that of which our Baptist friends affirm the impossibility of ordinances, and consequently of laws.

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3. Agreeably to the above decisions of reason relative to the impossibility of laws of fellowship in the invisible or unorganized church, the scriptures nowhere inculcate such fellowship. All fellowship enjoined in the New Testament on the disciples of Christ is enjoined on his professed disciples or on the visible church. Professor Curtis, who has labored this point ably, has utterly failed to find in the New Testament a single precept commanding Christian communion or fellowship with the invisible or unorganized church, though he has devoted an entire chapter to its elucidation and proof. The texts he adduces as proving Christian communion, or communion with the invisible church, are John xiii. 34, 35; xv. 12, 13. But according to the Professor, and those agreeing with him, the twelve disciples, to whom these precepts were primarily addressed, had already been organized into a particular visible church at the institution of the supper. On the principle of these distinguished advocates of restricted communion, therefore, these precepts were given to an organized visible church; and consequently demand, not Christian communion, but church communion.

4. In the nature of the visible and invisible churches there is no intrinsic difference, which may serve as a basis of the two kinds of spiritual communion. A difference in kind of communion enjoyed with different bodies of Christians implies a difference in their intrinsic character, not in their extrinsic circumstances. Our opponents affirm that the visi

ble and invisible churches are utterly unlike, "as unlike as possible in everything but name." But this is expressed too strongly. Their difference is entirely objective. They are subjectively the same. In all that determines the character of communion they are the same. There is not even an objective difference between the Baptist and Orthodox Congregational Pedobaptist churches. Both have made a public profession, and made it solemnly by baptism in the form they conscientiously believe to be scriptural- one by immersion, the other by sprinkling. Can this slight difference lay a foundation for two kinds of holy communion? Has baptism by immersion power to bring Christians into a state of visibility, while baptism by sprinkling, though performed with equal publicity, with equal consecration and joy in Christ as Redeemer, and is followed by the same earnest efforts to spread the savor of his name, has no such power? the Christians who have submitted to it still left enveloped in the same invisibility as before? Hence,

5. It is an absurdity to regard evangelical Pedobaptist churches as belonging to the invisible church; Christians, as they are by profession and covenant, who have for centuries. been doing the peculiar work of Christian churches, and whose light is to-day streaming over every ocean, and illuminating every benighted shore.

6. It cannot be proved that Christ does not own the evangelical Pedobaptist churches as visible churches.

This may be denied; it may be asserted with great positiveness that nothing but immersion can raise Christians into the state of visible church relations. But can it be demonstrated that Christ, who will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax; who always looks at the heart and judges of character by the intention; who is far more ready to receive an erring brother to favor than we are, does not regard evangelical Pedobaptists as members of his visible body? Yet on this demonstration depends the entire force of the argument of restricted communion as based on the distinction between the visible and invisible' church. We who have

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