Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wayland on Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Wayland explains why Baptists practice "restricted communion," not allowing pedopbaptists to partake in the Lord's Supper:
We baptize by immersion, because we believe it was so commanded. We do not baptize infants, because we find for such an ordinance neither example nor command in the New Testament. And still further in the case of infants, as neither the manner of the act, nor the spiritual exercises essential to the act, as we understand it, are present, we do not perceive how we can recognize such an act as the baptism of the New Testament.

For this reason we were formerly designated Anabaptists. We baptize those who have been sprinkled in infancy, because we do not consider them to have been baptized. We consider ourselves not to baptize again, but to baptize those who have never yet submitted themselves to this ordinance. So with respect to restricted communion, the doctrine held by most Baptists in this country. We, with most other denomination, believe that a person must be baptized before he is admitted to the ordinance of the Supper. If, then, we do not admit to the table of the Lord those whom we do not believe to be baptized, we do precisely the same as our brethren who differ from us. The question may yet be raised among us all, whether this is the true limit to communion; but as we hold it in common with our brethren of other Christian denominations, it is a general question, in which we are no more interested than others.

These remarks are not made in the spirit of controversy. Inasmuch as inquiry is frequently made respecting our view on these subjects, it has seemed proper, in a plain manner, thus to set forth what we believe is commonly received among us. As we differ from the greater part of the Christian world in these respects, it is well that the reasons of this difference should be distinctly seen. We believe that we act conscientiously. We freely concede that same belief to others. We will cooperate with them in all that does not compromise fidelity to the Master. We can go no further, nor should they require it of us. We are by no means particularly anxious to propagate our sentiments. We freely and frankly bear our testimony to what we believe to be the truth, referring those who differ from us to the teachings of Christ and his apostles for our justification. We believe the points of difference to be important in themselves, but vastly more important on account of the principles which they involve. To us they seem to hold a place among the corner-stones of Protestantism.

Source: Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857): pp. 98-99.

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