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At the close of Mr. Noel's book, we have a brief section on the subject of free communion, which he defends with great earnestness, taking counsel, in this particular, from his natural predilections, and the generous impulses of his heart. He is anxious to embrace all Christian professors in the arms of fraternal affection, and would, therefore, admit them indiscriminately to the fellowship of the church.
In our view, however, the point at issue lies deeper. The real question has reference to church organization, and church order, and not to any fraternal recognition of each other by Christians of different sects. The Baptists of this country are not unwilling to recognize their brethren, even those who differ from them the most ; nay, they are anxious to tender to them the tokens of fraternal regard : but they decline to take the responsibility of inviting to church fellowship, and the enjoyment of all the privileges which this relation involves, those who are not yet baptized on a profes sion of their faith, or who substitute a form of their own for the ordinance of Christ.
But we do not propose to enter upon a discussion of this important point. We make this statement of the Baptist position to show that the question is one which is to be settled, not by an appeal to fraternal feeling, but to the law of Christ in establishing the order of his own house.
We shall pass to a conclusion of this review by giving, in a condensed and comprehensive form, Mr. Noel's reasons for “free communion," and then, as a reply to them, his own reasons for being baptized before joining a Baptist church, and partaking of its communion, and some admissions which he makes in the course of the discussion.
1. “There are many Pædobaptists who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Ought we not to honor them as such; ought we not to recognize them at their Father's table ?'”
2. “ The Word of God enjoins us thus to recognize and honor them.” It commands us, notwithstanding their errors, to " receive them," as Christ has “ received them.” i 3. “ All in primitive times were baptized on a profession of their faith, and on this ground partook of the communion : but we cannot reason from this in favor of excluding unbaptized persons now; for circumstances have changed. In apostolic times a refusal or neglect of baptism, or the substitution of anything for baptism, would have been proof of disobedience ; now it is proof only of mistake or error. The godly Pædobaptist is no more a disobedient unbeliever than the strictest of the Baptists who would exclude him."
4. " The pious Pædobaptist is bound to confess Christ,” and as he cannot “confess him by baptism because he believes it to be wrong," ought he not to confess him in the Lord's Supper, “ especially when he earnestly desires to do so ?”
5. “ If you sanction the error of the Pædobaptist by admitting him to communion, you sanction it no less by all other fraternization with him; on which ground you are bound to exclude from your fellowship all whom you imagine to be in error. If however you ought thus to fraternize with him, by parity of reasoning, you ought to admit him to the Lord's
6. “ Close communion has a tendency to produce injurious effects upon those who practise it. It nourishes a narrow and formal spirit.”
7. “In a word, it is a system of exclusion, inconsistent with the spirit and design of Christianity, while free communion conforms to the genius of the gospel, and binds all disciples together in holy and enduring ties. The one checks free inquiry, and thus injures Baptist sentiments; the other promotes such inquiry, and thence favors the spread of Baptist sentiments.” Pp. 297–313.
The following are Mr. Noel's statements and concessions, which we place in contrast with the above, as supplying the means of an adequate reply :
1. « The mixture of the church and the world has been one of the most fatal evils which have hindered the
progress of the gospel.” (Infant baptism has been one of the principal means of encouraging this “ mixture.") “ Baptism" (the immersion of believers, Mr. N. means,)“ is in some degree a preventive of this evil.” P. 279.
2. “ The first effect of infant baptism is to abolish almost entirely in any church and in any nation the baptism of believers." It has originated, or at least perpetuated the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration, and of national and merely formal Churches.” Pp. 281, 284, 285.
3. i. There is no instance in the New Testament of any person who was converted to Christ after he commissioned his disciples to baptize, coming to the Lord's table unbaptized ; a person who should do so now would place himself in a situation unlike that of all the Christians during the ministry of the apostles.” Pp. 290, 291.
4.“ A person sprinkled in infancy may, indeed, have professed his faith in Christ by coming to the Lord's table, and in other ways; but he has never made a baptismal profession of faith, according to Christ's commands both implied and expressed." P. 291.
5. Being unbaptized such an one ought to be baptized ; for "thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” P. 292. " When the Quaker, on recognizing the doctrine of water baptism, after it may be years of Christian profession, is baptized, he fulfils an act of righteousness after the example of Christ. Exactly in the same degree does each unbaptized disciple of Christ who is baptized fulfil it: in honoring baptism he honors Christ who has instituted it.” P. 294.
6. Our influence upon others ought to be regarded. “Baptism, as a profession of faith in Christ, being of great importance, it should be earnestly commended (by example) to the attention of all unconverted persons,-all such ought to begin their religious profession by being baptized.” “Your neglect of baptism will confirm theirs." P. 295.
7. * The practice of admitting to the Lord's table none who are unbaptized is sanctioned by the usage of nearly all Christian Churches, because nearly all reject unbaptized persons from the Lord's table.” P. 296.
8. “If Pædobaptists claim the admission of the validity of their baptism, we are obliged to refuse their claim, because truth does not allow it." P. 298.
9. “That there is an instituted connection between baptism and the Lord's Supper, I freely admit ; and it is no less clear, that after the institution of baptism by our Lord, no person who refused to be baptized was ever admitted in any Christian church to that supper.” P. 303. “I own that he (the Pædobaptist) is unbaptized.” P. 306. “We must never do evil that good may come.” P. 307.
In taking leave of Mr. Noel's book, we beg to thank him for his valuable contribution to the cause of truth. Though his views of communion will not meet the concurrence of Baptists of the United States, yet, should it be agreeable to Mr. Noel to honor this country with a visit, we have no doubt that a general and cordial welcome would prove to him that they nevertheless appreciate justly his powerful advocacy of the views which lie at the basis of the denomination, and admire the Christian firmness with which he has followed his convictions of duty.
ART. II.-THE ORIGIN, AND POLITICAL LIFE OF THE
The Saxons in England ; a History of the English Com
monwealth till the period of the Norman Conquest. By JOHN MITCHELL KEMBLE. London. 1849.
The work whose title is placed at the head of this article is one of many that have been produced by the lately revived spirit of research into the antiquities of the nations of modern Europe. Hitherto these inquiries have been pursued only by a few antiquaries, and their laborious researches have hardly been thought worthy of attention by the great majority of the learned world; still less have they been thought worthy of the study of politicians, and men engaged in the active pursuits of life. But within the last twenty years a great change has been wrought in the spirit of historical students, while their number has been greatly increased. Indeed it may be said that within this period Modern History has been created. The works of men like Guizot and Augustin Thierry and their worthy compeers in France, and Turner, Thorpe, Bosworth, Palgrave and Kemble in England, have laid open sources of information which have been imperfectly known and studied by former historians. The results of these men's labors have been given to the public in popular form, and a widely extended interest in this class of studies has been excited, and the close relation of such studies to the history of the political, moral and intellectual life of nations, has been clearly seen and fully appreciated.
In this day of revolutions, when a total reconstruction of human society and government is fiercely called for by reformers, who act on the assumption that there has been no God in the past, and that whatever is is necessarily wrong, it may be well for us to turn our attention to those laws of growth by which the Supreme Being indicates his will in the affairs of nations. The experience of the past in history is but the revelation of God's will. Whatever system of polity is constructed in bold disregard of the historical development of the political life of a given nation, contains within itself the germs of disorder and decay.
In studying the life of the English race, the work of Mr. Kemble is an important assistance. His labors in editing the mass of ancient documents, published in six volumes under the name of “Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici,” have prepared him to give exact and curious information on many disputed points in English antiquities, as well as comprehensive views of the infancy of our race.
Mr. Kemble inclines more than any of his predecessors to historical skepticism, looking upon the story of Hengist and Horsa as a mere myth, having no foundation in fact. The reasons for thus doubting the account of Bede and all the succeeding chroniclers, seem to us exceedingly unsatisfactory. No doubt much that is fabulous has in the lapse of ages gathered around the story of the Saxon migrations. It may be that our author is right in thinking with Lappenberg, that Germans have been settled from the time of the Roman invasions on the eastern coasts of Britain; but that there was a special immigration of Germans for a special cause, about the middle of the fifth century, all the chroniclers are unanimous in affirming, and in the absence of proof to the contrary it is reasonable to believe them. Excessive skepticism is as likely to lead the historian astray as excessive credulity. The fashion of resolving every historical fact about which there are exaggerated or doubtful statements into a myth, is as destructive to true historical science as the easy faith that led the older scholars to believe everything true that has come down to us written in Greek or Latin; or that could receive Geoffrey of Monmouth or the Irish chronicles as veritable histories.
Mr. Kemble is very evidently disposed to survey the Anglo-Saxon constitution from the monarchical point of view. While he represents justly the ancient Saxon polity, he seems willing to lose sight of the fact that it continued with much of its life and vigor, so far as it regards the local administration of affairs, till the Conquest. Without following in order the particular statements of Mr. Kemble, we propose to trace out in a cursory way the origin and political life of the English race, making free use of whatever sources of informaation we can command, without encumbering our pages with references.
We belong to a wide-spread and ancient race, and it may be interesting and important for us to ascertain so far as possible our moral and intellectual position in the world's history, Every nation and every race has such a position in the moral geography and chronology of the world, and the importance of this position is the measure of the significance and value of its history. History is not necessarily valuable as describing the actions of beings who have borne the human form, but as it marks the means and the relative rapidity of human development-of human progress.