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The Communion Question Settled
By J. M. Pendleton, 1868
      Let us all rejoice that the question of communion is at last settled! It is needless to say anything more about it. My readers will of course expect me to explain. Here is the explanation: Mr. Spurgeon has preached and published a sermon on these words, "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit." In utter disregard of every principle of correct exegesis, to say nothing of his want of Christian courtesy, he makes the text bear on the "strict-communion Baptists." I do not mean that he finds no other classes who "separate themselves," but that he considers the separation referred to as illustrated in "strict-communion Baptists." It is superfluous to say that the various classes of Pedobaptists are delighted with Mr. Spurgeon's utterances. They agree with him - they indorse him. Even Methodists who glory in their Arminian views forget or forgive his high Calvinism, and exult in the rebuke he administers to those Baptists (and no others deserve the name) who believe baptism and church membership must in all cases precede communion at the Lord's table. But let us notice the text and context in their obvious meaning. It appears from his epistle that Jude deemed it necessary to exhort the saints to "contend earnestly for the faith," because "certain men" had "crept in unawares . . . ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ," These men are described as "filthy dreamers," as having "gone the way of Cain," the first murderer, as repeating "the error of Balaam," as spots in the Christian "feasts of charity," as "trees twice dead, plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever," from Adam, prophesied of these "ungodly men," nor Enoch alone; but the apostles of Christ predicted that there "should be mockers in the latter time who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." What a graphic delineation of the character of wicked men is this! Well does Jude say, in the language of Mr. Spurgeon's text, "These be they that separate themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit." Now Mr. S. and the Pedobaptists who indorse him, in applying this language to strict-communion Baptists, virtually place them in the same category with the ungodly men described by the apostle Jude, The question is not whether we strict-communion Baptists deserve to be placed in that category. For the sake of the argument let it be conceded. Then I insist the communion question is settled. For if we who believe in close baptism (that is in the baptism of believers) and therefore in close communion, are so wicked as to be "sensual, not having the Spirit," we are utterly unfit for a place at the table of the Lord, The descriptive epithet translated sensual is the same employed by Paul when he says "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." If this is true of the natural or sensual man he certainly has not the Spirit, for he cannot receive the things of the Spirit. If this is the condition of strict-communion Baptists they are manifestly unworthy of any Christian privilege. And those words of artful delusion - "we shall all commune together in heaven" - must be used no more. Those with whom Mr. Spurgeon identifies strict-communion Baptists will never enter into heaven; for to them "is reserved the blackness of darkness forever," They are to go to a place

"As far from God and light of heavcn,
As from the center thrice to the utmost pole."

      How then stands the matter? Clearly thus: If we close communion Baptists are such ungodly persons as Mr. Spurgeon and his Pedobaptist allies represent us, they cannot as honest, not to say Christian, men invite us to commune with them. On the other hand if we are not the ungodly persons Mr. S. and his Pedobaptist allies say we are - that is to if they slander us - we cannot invite them, knowing them to be slanderers, to commune with us. What they say of us is true or it is false. If it is true they cannot commune with us. If it is false we cannot commune with them. Hence intercommunion is a thing not to be thought of. I have therefore placed at the head of this article the words, "The communion question settled."

      I give Mr. Spurgeon due credit for all the good he has done. I have often spoken and written of him in terms of high commendation. He is a wonderful preacher, but in many things a very inconsistent man. In one of his sermons, for example, he expresses the opinion that the gospel cannot be preached unless Calvinism is preached; and yet he invites to his communion Methodists, many of whom, to say the least, hate Calvinism as much as they hate sin. Read his sermon on "Baptismal Regeneration" and see with what eloquent severity he applies his sarcasm to the "sponsors" who according to the "Book of Common Prayer" promise at the christening of infants that they renounce the devil, etc. These sponsors, however, he invites to commune with him, for he says he cannot be "separate from the Episcopalians." Mr. Spurgeon often speaks truthfully and forcibly of the act of immersion as the only baptismal act, and then in communing with unbaptized persons nullifies his testimony in favor of immersion. Alas for such inconsistencies. Open communion, so called, is the greatest deception of the nineteenth century. There is in fact no such thing. There is not a Pedobaptist sect that communes with all it baptizes. Pedobaptist denominations do not, to any great extent, commune with one another. They say a good deal about it when they wish to excite prejudice against Baptists, but they do not practice it. How often do they commune together in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, etc? Will it be said that no house in any of these cities can hold them all? This is true but if "open communion" is the great thing they say it is, they ought to arrange to come together in some wide street, or square, or park, and there commune. Then I could believe them sincere.

      Who could think of Mr. Spurgeon's course and not wonder how he hoodwinks the people? "He is a liberal Baptist," they say. Yes, he invites Pedobaptists to his communion. This is the proof of liberality. But does Mr. S. ever dispense with service in his Tabernacle that he may be present at the communions of Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Independents, etc? I presume not. The truth is, "open communion," of which so much has been said and written, is a delusion and a cheat. It has no logical foundation to rest on.


[From The Baptist newspaper, Memphis, October 3, 1868, p. 2. CD edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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