A portion of the English Baptists and the Free Will Baptists in America are the only bodies which in their standards of faith accept and maintain the principles of open communion. As to the belief and practice of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, the New York Christian Advocate states the terms of communion as being Discipleship, Baptism and consistent church life, as required in the ?Discipline?; and F. G. Hibbard, Christian Baptism, 174, remarks that, ?in one principle the Baptist and Pedobaptist churches agree. They both agree in rejecting from the communion at the table of the Lord, and denying the rights of church fellowship to all whom have not been baptized. Valid baptism, they consider, is essential to constitute visible church membership. This also we [Methodists] hold. The charge of close communion is no more applicable to the Baptists than to us.?
The Interior states the Presbyterian position as follows: ?The difference between our Baptist brethren and ourselves is an important difference. We agree with them, however, in saying that non-baptized persons should not partake of the Lord?s Supper. Close communion, in our judgment, is a more defensible position than open communion. Dr. John Hall: ?If I believed, with the Baptists, that none are baptized but those who are immersed on profession of faith, I should, with them, refuse to commune with any others.?
As to the views of Congregationalists, we quote from Dwight, Systematic Theology, sermon 160 ? ?It is an indispensable qualification for this ordinance that the candidate for communion be a member in full standing, of the visible church of Christ. By this I intend that he should be a man of piety, that he should have made a public profession of religion and that he should have been baptized.? The Independent: ?We have never been disposed to charge the Baptist church with any special narrowness or bigotry in their rule of admission to the Lord?s table. We do not see how it differs from that commonly admitted and established among Presbyterian churches.?
The Episcopal standards and authorities are equally plain. The Book of Common Prayer, Order of Confirmation, declares: ?There shall none be admitted to the holy communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed? ? confirmation always coming after baptism. Wall, History of Infant Baptism, part 2, chapter 9 ? ?No church ever gave the communion to any persons before they were baptized. Among all the absurdities that ever were held, none ever maintained that any person should partake of the communion before he was baptized.?
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