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The People Called Baptists

By George F. McDaniel, 1919



      The record of the institution of the Lord's Supper is found in four places in the Bible. That we may have these Scriptures before us, I quote them. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said. Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28.)

      "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was be- trayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said. Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same man- ner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in

remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come." (1 Corinthians 11:23-26.)

      "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying. This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:19, 20.)

      "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said. Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many." (Mark 14:22-24.)

      This is the second of two ordinances which Christ gave to his church. In the preceding chapter we considered the first — baptism — and saw that immersion was unquestionably the practice in New Testament times, and was the command of Jesus to every believer. The world is coming back to New Testament

practice in its admission of immersion only as baptism, and Baptists have practically won their fight for the mode and meaning of this ordinance. The best scholarship of the world is with the Baptists. One of the handsomest new Episcopal churches in Virginia is provided with a pool. The rector is reported as saying: "The world is returning to the original mode of baptism."

      We cannot say as much for our position regarding the Lord's Supper. That position is not so well understood as is our position on baptism, and there is an erroneous sentiment, in the minds of many, concerning the Lord's Supper, which makes it difficult to explain just what we believe about this ordinance, and our reasons for that belief.

The Baptist Position Stated.

      The Christian world is divided into at least four divisions upon the Lord's Supper. The Catholics believe in transubstantiation, that is, the bread and wine are changed into the actual body and blood of Christ, and when you partake of these elements you do actually eat of the body and drink of the blood of

Christ. This conversion of the elements into the flesh and blood of Christ is under the consecration of the priest. The Lutherans and some others hold to what is called consubstantiation, that is, "the body and blood of Christ are truly present and are there communicated to those that eat in the Lord's Supper," but this presence is by virtue of Christ's word rather than the priest's consecration. The Calvinists hold "that the body and blood are present in efficacy through the working of the Holy Spirit in the believing elect." The Baptists believe that the bread is only a symbol of the body of Christ, and likewise the wine, of the blood. We say there is no difference between this bread and other bread of the same kind except in the purpose for which it is used. It is just bread and wine, that is all. Against the Catholics, who say that the church, by a consecrating act, converts the elements into the body of Christ, and against the Lutherans, who say that the real body and blood are present be- cause Christ said so, and against the Calvinists and all others who say there is a spiritual blessing and means of grace in the
supper, we say, "No, the bread and wine only represent the flesh and blood," as where Christ in the parable of the sower said the seed is the word and the field is the world, he meant that the seed sown represent the word and the field where the seed were sown represents the world. We say there is no more efficacy in the Lord's Supper than in baptism. Each is a symbol and the only blessing is that which comes from obedience to Christ and from meditating upon the truths set forth in those symbols. So that, not to invite one to the Lord's Supper is not shutting him off from a means of grace. Those who take so much to heart the action of Baptists in not inviting them to the table, seem to think there is some mysterious grace in the supper just as they seem to think there is some efficacious power in the water of baptism. No, the baptism is only a picture setting forth Christ's burial and resurrection, and the supper is only a picture of Christ's death. By it we commemorate the sufferings and death of our Saviour and profess to be in communion with him. There is no hint of observing it in remembrance of one another,
nor for the expression of affection and fellowship. Dr. Burrows, Sr., used to say, "Every reference to the supper in the New Testament connects it with Jesus." To make either of these ordinances mean more, is a perversion of Scripture. Every Baptist beheves this much about baptism, and if he is logical he will believe the same about the Lord's Supper.

      This is our position as to the import of the Lord's Supper. Our practice has been severely criticised by those who would have been milder and more generous if they had understood our interpretation of the meaning of the ordinance. What is there objectionable in our practice? Let me state that practice in one sentence - We do not invite unbaptized persons to the Lord's table, and as we do not extend invitations to such persons, we do not accept invitations of unbaptized persons to partake with them. Thinking as we do, that the Lord's Supper is a church ordinance to be preceded by baptism, we could not act otherwise. And since the ordinance is not a means of grace, we have not deprived those whom we do not invite of any mysterious or special blessing. I candidly affirm that our

position is both scriptural and logical. And I say furthermore that while you may be a Baptist and be an open communionist, yet your brother who believes in restricted communion is more consistent than you.

The Baptist Position Vindicated.

      We have seen that immersion was the uniform practice of Christ and his apostles. Having explained our belief and practice, it is now proposed to give a reason for our custom.

      Proposition I. - There is no such thing in the Bible as free and open communion.

      1. Restricted and located in the church. "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it." 1 Corinthinans 11:18.

      The ordinance is not to be observed in the home. Administering the supper in rooms of the sick and dying is not only contrary to Scripture teaching and practice as to the place for its observance, but is also to teach that there is some saving merit in the supper itself. Baptism of the dying comes from the same beliefs, namely, that the ordinance is

essential to salvation. A more deadly or more anti-scriptural heresy never blighted a land.

      2. Restricted to the pure in life. "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no, not to eat." 1 Corinthinans 5:11.

      3. Restricted to an orderly walk. "And now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

      The disorderly member is out of the church and hence away from the table. If I were a member of a Pedo-baptist church and should preach the doctrine I now hold, they would exclude me for heresy. Being excluded, they would not invite me to the table. But, holding these same views, and being a Baptist, they invite me to the table. That is, they are better to me as a Baptist than they would be if I belonged to them. This is inconsistent and unnatural.

      4. Restricted to discernment of the Lord's body. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." 1 Corinthinans 11:29.

      One dare not think of wife or friends at the table of the Lord. Scripture, not sentiment, is the guide, and Paul says one must discriminate, must see, the Lord's body.

      5. Restricted where divisions and schisms exist. 1 Corinthinans 11:17-20. Note the twentieth verse as it reads in the Revised Version, "When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper." The margin of the Authorized Version reads, "Ye cannot eat," and the reason assigned is the existence of divisions or schisms. Let us suppose the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Disciples, Episcopalians and Baptists assembled around one table to observe the Lord's Supper. Now, we have what the Christian world needs! The one thing supposed by many as wanting for the speedy conquest of the world for Christ is supplied! How beautiful to see all denominations around one table! But, wait a

moment before you break that bread. "Are you agreed in other matters now that you have come to a common table?" "Are you united in doctrine and practice?" If there be divisions among you there "you cannot eat." The Catholic believes in an infallible pope and a church through which alone people are saved. The Presbyterian detests Roman Catholicism, but believes that children of believing parents are to be members of the church. The Methodist believes in Arminianism to an extent which separates him widely from the Presbyterian. The Disciple parts company with the sprinkling Methodist and discards his emotional religion. The Episcopalian declares his belief in Apostolic succession and cannot accept Presbyterian, Methodist, Disciple and Baptist pastors as ordained ministers. The Baptist believes that Jesus is the only Lord of the conscience and that the New Testament is the only law of Christianity. He tells the Catholic that his claims are monstrous and preposterous; he tells the Presbyterian that only believers are to be members of the church; he tells the Methodist that God is sovereign and His
purposes are behind and above all; he tells the Disciple, "With the heart man believeth," and not the head; he tells the Episcopalian that his church came from the Roman Catholics and his exclusive claim for an ordained ministry is a vestige of papal succession heresy and is absurd. Not to mention more, these are radical differences which exist among these denominations irrespective of the communion question. If they partake of that ordinance with these divisions among them, they do so as Paul says, "Not for the better but for the worse." Open communion would be an unmitigated curse.

      6. Restricted to the baptized.

      (1) Only the apostles were present at the institution. Neither his mother nor brothers were present, for they were unbaptized. We know that some of these twelve apostles were former disciples of John and he baptized all those whom he received. We know that Jesus himself was baptized, and can you believe that he used unbaptized persons as his apostles? The qualification of an apostle, as learned from the election of a successor to Judas, was that he should have companied

with Jesus and the eleven from the baptism of John.

      (2) The supper comes after baptism.

      The divine order is, (1) disciple; (2) baptize; (3) teach all the things commanded. The order is a part of that commission. You have as much right to put baptism before making disciples as you have to put communion before baptism. Dr. Hibbard, Meth- odist, truly writes: "The reader will perceive that the argument is based entirely upon the order of the apostolic commission. It may be questioned by some whether the argument is genuine, and whether it is entitled to any considerable force. But suppose we assume an opposite ground? Suppose we say that the things commanded are important to be done, but the order observed in the commission is a subject of indifference. Now what will be the consequences of this position? What but total, irretrievable confusion? The apostles go forth, they are intent upon doing all that Christ commanded them, but the order of the duties is a subject of indifference. The consequence is that some are baptized before they are converted from heathenism.;


some receive the holy supper before either baptism or conversion; others are engaged in a course of instruction before they are dis- cipled; and the most incoherent and unsuitable practices everywhere prevail. Improper persons are baptized, or baptism is im- properly delayed; the holy supper is ap- proached before the candidate is duly prepared, and it is therefore desecrated, or it is unduly withheld from rightful communicants. Is not the prescribed order therefore in the administration of the ordinances, and the duties of the apostolic commission all-im- portant? And thus we hold that Christ enjoined the order as well as the duties themselves; and, in this order of Christ, baptism precedes communion at the Lord's table."

      (3) The practice of the Apostles.

      The first instance of the Lord's Supper being observed after its institution. "Then they that gladly received his word were bap- tized and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:41, 42.


Tere is not a case in which there was time to celebrate the Lord's Supper before bap- tism. If we do not know from the New Testa- ment that immersion was their baptism, then we do not know from the Bible that there is a God. If we do not know from the same source that immersion came before the sup- per, then we do not know that there were any believers or churches. I assert in the words of Dr. Jeter, "In all the oracles of Godhe second instance of the Lord's Supper after its institution. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." Acts 20:7.

      (4) Every mention of baptism puts it immediately upon profession of faith and hence before the Lord's Supper.

      The Samaritans believed Philip and were baptized at once. Acts 8:12. The Eunuch believed Philip and was baptized immediate- ly. Acts 8:36-39. Paul was baptized as soon as the scales fell from his eyes. Acts 9:18. The jailer was baptized the same hour of the night. Acts 16:33.

      There is not a case in which there was time to celebrate the Lord's Supper before baptism. If we do not know from the New Testament that immersion was their baptism, then we do not know from the Bible that there is a God. If we do not know from the same source that immersion came before the supper, then we do not know that there were any believers or churches. I assert in the words of Dr. Jeter, "In all the oracles of God

there is neither proof that the Lord's Supper was ever administered but within a church and to its baptized members." In what chapter and verse do you find your authority for an unbaptized person partaking of the Lord's Supper? Do you beheve that immersion only is baptism? Then you must be a restricted communionist, for you cannot show where an unbaptized person ever partook of the supper in the New Testament.

      (5) That we are right in demanding baptism as a prerequisite to the supper is evident from the symbolism of the ordinances. Bap- tism symbolizes spiritual birth. Birth pre- cedes nourishment. The Lord's Supper sym- bolizes spiritual nourishment, support. We are born once and baptized once. We are fed often, and have the Lord's Supper often.

      Proposition II - There is no such thing among the denominations as open and free communion.

      The Rev. Dr. William Wall, of the Church of England, who wrote two large and elaborate volumes of the history of infant baptism, showing that immersion was uniformly practiced in the early churches, says: "No church

ever gave the communion to any person before he was baptized; among all absurdities ever held, none ever held this, that any person should partake of the communion before he was baptized."

      Among the Presbyterians, the devout and erudite Dr. Doddridge writes: "It is certain that so far as our knowledge of primitive antiquity extends, no unbaptized person received the Lord's Supper. Howsoever ex- cellent any man's character is, he must be baptized before he can be looked upon as completely a member of the church of Christ."

      Rev. Dr. Griffin, one of the most eminent Congregational divines of this country, writes: "I agree with the advocates of close communion * * * that we ought, not to commune with those who have not been baptized, and of course are not church members, even if we regard them as Christians.

      Among the Methodist scholars and divines, Rev. Dr. Hibbard writes: "It is but just to remark that in one principle the Baptist and Pedo-baptist churches agree. They both agree in rejecting from the table of the Lord and in denying the rights of church

fellowship to all who have not been baptized. Valid baptism they (Baptists) consider essential to constitute visible church membership. This we (Methodists) also hold. The only question, then, that divides us is, What is valid baptism? No society of Christians would receive an unbaptized person into its com- munity and tender to him the privileges of their body * * * The converts of the day of Pentecost were first baptized, and then added to the church. The concurrent voice of the Christian world would exclude an unbaptized person from fellowship in the visible church of Christ.

      The Episcopalians declare that baptism and church membership precede communion. Prof. Cheetham, Professor of Pastoral Theology in King's College, London, says: "None could be admitted to holy communion but baptized persons lying under no censure."

      The Episcopal Recorder says: "The close communion of the Baptist churches is but the necessary sequence of the fundamental idea out of which their existence has grown. No Christian church would willingly receive to its communion even the humblest and truest believer in Christ who had not been

baptized. With Baptists immersion only is baptism, and they therefore, of necessity, exclude from the Lord's table all who have not been immersed. It is an essential part of the system - the legitimate carrying out of the creed."

      Lord Chancellor King says: "As for the persons communicating, they were not indifferently all that professed the Christian faith, as Origen writes: 'It doth not belong to every one to eat of the bread, and to drink of this cup.' But they were only such as were in the number of the faithful, 'such as were baptized, and received both the credentials and practices of Christianity.' That is, who believe the articles of the Christian faith and led a holy and pious life. Such as these, and none else, were permitted to com- municate. Now since none but the faithful were admitted, it follows that the catechumens and the penitents were excluded; the catechumens because they were not yet baptized, for baptism always precedes the Lord's Supper."

      Therefore Dr. Cuyler says: "The terms of communion in the Presbyterian Church

require a previous open confession of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. That presupposes a membership in some evangeHcal church. Baptism is an essential part of an open profession of Jesus Christ and of reception into the visible church."

      John Wesley says very plainly that baptism precedes communion. In a sermon which he preached upon "Do this in remembrance of me," he laid down baptism as a prerequisite to communion. (Wesley's Sermons, vol. 4, p. 153.) In his Journal, vol. 1, p. 188, he says: "In the ancient times every one who was baptized communicated daily." No Baptist ever insisted upon this doctrine more strongly than did Mr. Wesley.

      In practice Mr. Wesley was as strict as any high-churchman in the land. Commenting upon a letter received from one J. M. Bolzins, he says: "And yet this very man, when I was in Savannah, did I refuse to admit to the Lord's table, because he was not baptized by a minister who had been episcopally ordained."

      In reply to a question from Mr. Jones, of England, Mr. Alexander Campbell says:

"Your third question is, Do any of your churches admit unbaptized persons to communion, a practice that is becoming very prevalent in this country? Not one so far as is known to me. I am at loss to understand on what principle - by what law, precedent or license any congregation founded upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, could dispense with the practice of the primitive church with the commandment of the Lord and the authority of the apostles."

      In the Christian Baptist Mr. Campbell says: "But I object to making it a rule, in any case, to receive unimmersed persons to church ordinances: first, because it is nowhere commanded; second, because it is nowhere precedented in the New Testament; third, because it necessarily corrupts the simplicity and uniformity of the whole genius of the New Testament; fourth, because it not only deranges the order of the kingdom, but makes void one of the most important institutions ever given to men."

      Then, if there is no such thing in the Bible or among the denominations as open

communion, why blame the Baptists for consistency and conscientiousness? The average Pedo-baptist to-day disregards the standard authorities of his denomination and views the Lord's Supper sentimentally. He ignores the logic of restricted communion and conceives it as a breach of Christian fellowship, a denial of a common faith. He does not distinguish between Christian and church fellow- ship. He fails to see the logic of his own position. Sentiment is not a safe criterion; it is as variable as a weather vane. The Scriptures are the one unerring, unchangeable guide. Adherence to their teachings is ob- ligatory. The very essence of the Lord's Supper is changed when sentiment controls its observance. Suppose the sentiment of missionaries in China favored admission of cultured Confucianists to the Lord's Table as a recognition of their moral code. The perception of Christ's broken body would be lost thereby for sentimental reasons. Yet the logic that abolishes the prerequisite of baptism would, strictly applied, lead to the abolition of the symbolism of the elements, leaving the ordinance like a monument whose
inscription had been effaced, like a temple whose glory had departed.

Objections Removed

      1. A Baptist wife cannot commune with her Pedo-baptist husband or vice versa. This objection is based upon an erroneous view of the purpose of the Lord's Supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation of the body of Christ?" 1 Corinthians 10:17. It is communion with Christ and never communion with friends or loved ones. You commune with them in your homes. A husband and wife are to show their love for each other in the home, and day by day.

      2. If we cannot partake of the communion together on earth, how can we in heaven? This question would never be asked by one who has noted the time limit on the Lord's Supper. There will be no Lord's Supper in heaven. Christ said it was to be kept "until he come."

      3. The Baptists are a narrow folk because they do not commune with other

denominations. We do commune with them in every legitimate way. We commune with them in gospel song, in earnest prayers, in enterprises of benevolence, in temperance reform and in moral welfare. Baptists contribute to hospitals and charitable objects like other people. They are just as liberal with their means and in their views as other people. I am sure they are not less hospitable. Baptists invite all denominations to their tables and make no distinction in dispensing the hospitality of their homes. They invite all to their tables, but to the Lord's table they can invite only those whom he has invited, that is, baptized persons.

      4. Restricted communion prevents Christian union. Why do not the denominations that believe in open communion unite as they are? When they have done so then it will be time to make this objection to the Baptists. I venture that the Methodists and Presbyterians are as far apart as they would be if the Baptists were open communionists.

      5. Restricted communion keeps many out of the Baptist denomination. So does our

requirement of a changed life. We could not surrender a principle to increase our membership. Furthermore, when those who incline towards the Baptists understand why restricted communion is practiced they will be drawn to us more readily and closely. Even outsiders who understand our position admire and commend us for our consistency. We are always glad to have accessions, but we are also anxious that they shall be right in belief and practice. Then, again, it does not seem that restricted communion is hurting us badly, for in the South, where Baptists are uniformly restricted communionists, they are growing faster than anywhere else in the world. God honors the people who honor His word. We have no desire for a liberality that breaks a Bible commandment or changes a gospel order. We are content to be as broad as Jesus Christ.

      It is submitted that Baptists are not responsible for existing divisions. Baptists have adhered to a uniform scriptural practice. The people who deviated from the course of the New Testament are responsible for the divisions.


[From George W. McDaniel, The People Called Baptists, 1919, pp. 81-104. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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