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SECT. X. All prudent persons ought to partake of the sacrament with those who require nothing else of Christians but what every one finds in the books of the New Testament.

SINCE Christ has appointed two signs or symbols of Christianity, baptism and the Lord’s supper, it was not, indeed, in our power to receive baptism where we judged the Christian religion to be most pure, because we were baptized very young: but since we do not come to the other sacrament till we are of riper age, we may distinguish that society of Christians, in which we are willing to be partakers of it; which if we have not already done, we ought to do it now.

There are some who make the sacrament (which according to Christ’s institution, is a token of that peace and love which is between Christians) a mark of distinction;894894   See 1 Cor. x. 16, 17. where mentioning the sacramental cup and bread, of which many are partakers, the apostle adds, “For we being many are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Which words shew, that by the sacrament is signified the mutual agreement of Christians; and so the best interpreters understand it. and exclude from it all those who do not think it safe to submit 270to any yoke but what Christ has laid upon them; or to receive any things as necessary to be believed, practised, or hoped for, but those which they are verily persuaded are contained in the books of the New Testament; and who are therefore very cautious of admitting any other forms of faith besides that which we have mentioned. It is but just and reasonable, indeed, that we should maintain peace with such men as these; but for receiving the sacrament upon this condition, that we should embrace any other rule of faith and practice, beside the books of the New Testament, and think all those excluded the church who will not admit them; this a religious and prudent man will think very wicked.895895   And this was the opinion of Grotius, as appears from the little book of his, Whether we ought always to join in receiving the sacrament; where he speaks of the reasons of forbearing the communion. Tom. iv. of his theological works, page 511. But all they who are true lovers of the Gospel, safely may and ought to approach the sacramental table of them who know no other laws of obtaining eternal salvation, but those laid down by Christ and his apostles in the books of the Gospel covenant, as every one can understand them. For whoever acknowledges the books of the New Testament for the only rule of faith and practice; who sincerely conform their lives to that rule; in a word, who allow of no idolatry, nor treat others ill, that they may profess they believe certain doctrines which they do not believe; all such are received by these, and also invited to this table. It is manifest, indeed, that communion cannot be maintained with him who makes use of force to impose his opinions upon others; who worships other gods, besides the true God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; or who by his conversation shews that he makes light of the precepts of the Gospel; or who owns any other laws of salvation, than those wrote in the books of the eternal covenant: but he who behaves himself the direct contrary, is worthy to have all Christians maintain communion with him, and to be preferred to all the rest who are of a different opinion. No mortal man, nay, no angel, can impose any new Gospel 271upon Christians, to be believed by them:896896   See the note on sect. i. now according to this Gospel, he is a true disciple of Christ, who from his heart believes his doctrines, and his only, so as to obey it the best he is able, according to the infirmity of this life; who worships one God, loves his neighbour as himself, and lives temperately in respect to all things. If any thing be diminished from this the laws of the covenant, which none but God can abate any thing of, are maimed: and if any thing be added, it is an useless yoke, which none ought to impose on Christians. Such laws can be received from God only, who alone is the determiner of eternal salvation.

Perhaps some may here ask me by what name these Christian societies, which I have now described, may be distinguished? But it signifies nothing what denomination they go under: the reader may conceive all churches to be meant in which what I have said is to be found. Wheresoever that only rule of faith, and that liberty which I have described, is, there they may be assured true Christianity is, and they need not enquire for a name, which makes nothing to the purpose. I believe there are many such societies; and I pray the good and great God that there may be more and more every day; that at length his kingdom may come into all the earth, and that mankind may obey it only.

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