While there are many indications that, during the nineteenth century the sun has continued to ascend above the horizon, and while his bright beams have occasionally illuminated some parts of the British Isles and the United States, and possibly, to some small extent, parts of all the Continents and some of the Islands of the Sea; yet, originating in the chief centres of our rapid modern civilization, and extending thence nearly all over Christendom, the multiplying tapers and torches of an unscriptural, mechanical, material, unspiritual and ungodly science, philosophy and religion, are emitting such volumes of pitchy fumes as to shroud much of the Heavens with clouds of inky blackness, fearfully portending wide-spread visitations of Divine judgments, “to startle the nations into thoughts of God.”
Well does Mr. C. H. Spurgeon, of London, in his “Clew of the Maze,” say with reference to “Advanced Thought:” “It is certain that from the apostolic period to the dark ages, if the church advanced at all, it was in a backward direction. Religious thought made progress in a wretched fashion away from truth for several centuries. It is more than possible that modern thought is starting on another such progressive period.” “Doubt dims and chills the day. A fog is over all things, and men move about like Egypt’s ancients when they felt the darkness.” “Men have made gods of themselves; they rely on themselves, and have no patience with talk about faith in God, and they have become their own Providence and Rewarder.” And in his sermon on Psalm 55:6, 7, he remarks: “To-day the most approved preaching makes much of man. Philanthropy, which is good enough in its place, has supplanted loyalty to Jehovah; the second table of the law is put before the first, and in that position it genders idolatry—the worship of man, which is only a form of self-adoration. All divinity is now to be shaped according to man, and from man’s point of view; and men are to think out their theology, and not take it from God’s mouth, or from the book inspired of the Spirit of God. Men are such wonderful beings in this nineteenth century that we are called upon to tone down the gospel to ‘the spirit of the age’—that is, to the fashions and follies of human thought, as they vary from day to day. This, by God’s help, we will never do—no, not by one diluting drop, not by the splitting of a hair. What have I to do with suiting the nineteenth century any more than the ninth century? We have to do with the immutable God, and with the fixed verities which He has revealed to us. Having taken our foothold upon the rock, we shall not stir from it, by God’s help, while there is breath in our body. Yet so it is; man has made man his God, and Jehovah is dethroned in his thoughts. I believe in God, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob; if there be another god newly come up, let those worship him who will; but the stern God of the Old Testament, the loving God of the New Testament, it is evermore my resolve to magnify. Of course, he who is faithful to his God, and declares His greatness in this evil time, will to-day be stigmatized as ‘behind the times,’ and be little esteemed by those who deem themselves cultured and advanced; but of this he may make small account. I see how it is. God’s word is nothing; these new notions are everything. The modern men blot out what they like, and tear out what they please from the book; or they lay the book aside altogether; for they themselves make their own Bible, and every man is his own inspiration, and will ere long proclaim himself to be his own god. But when the soul is brought to know God, it does not question His word or His doings any longer. It sits down before a great mystery, and cries, ‘I do not understand this; I cannot measure it. O the depths! But what God says, I believe. What God does, I accept.’ Let me not deceive you by pandering to the idle prattle of the times. Men dream, and then assert that their visions are truth. It is an atrocious disloyalty to the majesty of revelation to add to it the maunderings of our poor, fallible judgments. The better thing is always to feel as a little child at his father’s knee, when we are reading the Scriptures, and to ask to be taught of the Spirit. Whatever the truth may be, I shall never quarrel with God. However terrible His acts, if I am unable to rejoice in the light of His face, yet in the shadow of His wings will I rejoice. When He seems to spread that great wing, and hide the sun, I will go and nestle beneath Him, and cry, ‘It is the Lord, and it must be right.’ O, eternal God, I do not understand Thee! If I could comprehend Thee, Thou wert not God, or I not man. The parts of Thy ways which Thou hast revealed stagger and almost slay me, but, as I fall at Thy feet as dead, my heart cries, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’ For the Lord is good, and righteous are all His ways. Hallelujah, though the world should perish! Hallelujah, though my soul should die with fear! The Lord forever shall be extolled. Alas! many are only reconciled to the half of God, or to the tenth part of God! Indeed, I fear that many have shaped a god for themselves, and so are not reconciled to the true God at all. We want a conversion which shall make us run in parallel lines with the God who has revealed Himself by His prophets and Apostles, and by His ever-to-be-adored Son.”
Mr. W. E. Gladstone, in a recent number of the Nineteenth Century Magazine, fitly characterizes the jubilant attitude of the modern mind in burying Deity in the gulf of negation as a deep judicial darkness, an astounding infatuation, far more degrading than the ancient heathen idolatry of nature.
The nineteenth is the most composite and heterogeneous of all the centuries of the world’s history. Almost all former errors, under new names, as well as almost all former truths, have revived and are more or less nourishing in our time; and some new and direr forms of errors and evils as well as some peculiar providential blessings, have appeared.
The nineteenth is the century of the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, in a long series of bloody and demoralizing European wars; the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire by the Greek Revolution, and of the Spanish Empire by that of Mexico and South America; the repeated revolutions in France; the War of 1812 between England and the United States; the War between the United States and Mexico; the War between the Northern and Southern States of the American Union; the unification of Germany, and that of Italy; the numerous wars of England (the most warlike, self-aggrandizing, wealthy and powerful nation of modern times), for the maintenance and increase of her empire and claims, among which contests should be particularized her wars in 1839-1842, to force the impious opium trade, and missions incidentally, upon China—in 1840, with her allies, to reconquer Syria for the Turks from a rebellious vassal, just as England has repeatedly upheld the Turks in their frightful and wholesale massacres of “Christians” in the Turkish Empire and Asiatic provinces-in 1854-6, in connection with France and Sardinia, to defend Turkey from Russia—in 1857, to preserve her dominion in India from the Sepoy rebellion—in 1857-1860, to open China better to trade and missions—and in 1882, to take possession of Egypt, and foreclose, at the mouth of cannon and rifle, her mortgage on that abject and impoverished people, and to defend her shares in the Suez Canal and her shortest route to India; the course of England, during recent years, in forcing, by her fleets and treaties, the wretched liquor traffic upon India, Siam, Madagascar, Griqualand, etc., degrading the heathens far below their former condition, in order to increase her revenue; the apparent and temporary recognition, by the European nations, of a special and merciful and almighty Providence in staying the victorious career of Napoleon Bonaparte, followed by their speedy relapse into infidelity; the almost universal emancipation of slaves, and the very extensive liberation of civilized peoples from political oppression; the improvement of the manners of general society—less open indecency, intemperance, profanity and dueling; the milder character of legislation; the increase of charities and asylums for the afflicted and unfortunate; the great extension of popular education; the unprecedented progress of scientific discoveries and practical inventions, lightening physical labor, and multiplying the conveniences, comforts and luxuries of life; the discovery and mining of gold in California and Australia; the establishment of manufactures, and great increase of commerce, and excessive devotion to business and money-getting; the rapid increase of wealth, and pauperism, and demoralization, and, in most civilized countries, of recent crime; morbid sympathy for and condoning of wrong-doing; the general prevalence of quackery, puffery and dishonesty; unparalleled adulterations of foods and drinks and medicines; the increased licentiousness of theatrical performances; the great increase of gambling in old and new forms, including speculation in grain and cotton futures; the gradual but steady decay of the appreciation of the life-long sacredness of the marriage relation, the relaxation of the laws of divorce, and the alarming multiplication of divorces and of “consecutive polygamy” (the New England States of the Union occupying a miserable pre-eminence, and Protestant countries far surpassing Roman Catholic countries, in this corrupting disregard of the Divine law of marriage); the increasing frequency of obfœtation and fœticide, in place of infanticide practiced by the Pagans; the recent increasing corruption of the daily press, in the large cities, and of the use of the telegraph, expatiating upon all the details of crime, and thus helping to make crime epidemic; the infidel tendency of a large body of periodical literature and of science falsely so called; the impurity and corrupting influence of much of modern art; the fact that the nations of Europe spend, on an average, four and a half times more for war than for education—that England spends about twenty dollars per year for every man, woman and child, for spirituous liquors, and that the United States spends about seventeen dollars annually per capita for the same purpose, while spending for each inhabitant only about one dollar annually for religion and about two dollars for education;[i][ii] the great increase of insanity and idiocy; the disruption of the Roman Catholic communion (the Old Catholics, in Europe, seceding in 1870)—the Episcopalian (the Reformed branch, in the United States, going off in 1873)—the Presbyterian (the Cumberland or Arminian Presbyterians, in the western and southwestern States of the Union, withdrawing from their Calvinistic brethren in 1810; the Free Church, in Scotland, from the Established Church, in 1843; the New School, in the United States, separating from the Old School in 1837, but re-uniting in 1869; and the Southern separating from the Northern in 1861)—the Baptist (the Old School, in the United States, separating from the New School in 1828-42;and the New School separating into Northern and Southern in 1845; the Strict Baptists, in England, separating from the Particular Baptists in 1835)—the Methodist (dividing into about a dozen sects; and, in the United States, separating into Northern and Southern in 1844)—and the Society of Friends (some Quakers, in Ireland, becoming heterodox in 1813; and the Hicksite, in the United States, withdrawing from the old Orthodox Quakers in 1827); a very extensive decay of their ancient faith among Jews, Brahmins, Buddhists, Mohammedans and Protestants (the latter almost universally abandoning their original Calvinism for Catholic Arminianism, and many going off even into Pelagianism and Universalism); the decayed and deadened condition of Greek Catholicism; the vigorous revival and blasphemous culmination of Roman Catholicism (Ultramontanism), regaining a significance and influence such as it had not had for centuries (the deadly wound being healed), in the re-establishment of Jesuitism and the Inquisition (1814)—the murder of two hundred female and nearly two thousand male Protestants in Southern France (1815)—the re-invigoration of the Propaganda Society (1817)—the founding of the Lyons Propagation Society (1822) and of numerous Colleges and Theological Seminaries-the renewed ardor of a large number of old Catholic Societies—the purchase, by the “Society for the Holy Childhood of Jesus,” of about 400,000 Chinese orphan children, at about three cents apiece, in order to bring up and “baptize” them in the Catholic communion, and the purchase of numerous pretended conversions from the lower classes of Protestants in Europe—the gathering in of thousands from the Episcopalians in England, and the very rapid increase of their numbers, in the United States, from immigration—the sending out of three thousand priests on foreign mission work, disseminating, among the heathens, the most corrupting Jesuitical casuistry and idolatry in the name of Christianity, and, at times, especially in remote islands, the most shameless French licentiousness, worse than that previously practiced by the heathens themselves—the affirmation, by Pope Pius IX., in 1854, of the sinlessness (Immaculate conception) of the Virgin Mary, “the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven” (thus still more than ever justifying and encouraging the increasing Roman Catholic Mariolatry, or idolatrous worship of Mary, to whom are addressed numerous prayers, beseeching her to persuade or command her son Jesus to grant the petitions of the suppliants)—the issuance by the same pope, in 1864, of the “Syllabus of Errors,” claiming still the “Church’s” power to use temporal force, and denouncing non-Catholic schools and the separation of Church and State—the declaration of the Vatican Council, July 18th, 1870, in the midst of a terrific tempest of black clouds and incessant lightning flash and thunder peal, of the INFALLIBILITY OF THE POPE (thus making him God on earth, the last Supreme Judge of the human race in all questions of faith and morals, from whose decision no one can deviate without loss of salvation—see 2 Thess. 2:3, 4), followed, in speedy Divine retribution, the very next day, July 19th, 1870, by the declaration of war against Germany by Napoleon III., the political supporter of the papacy, which contest in two months destroyed the Empire of France and the temporal power of the pope—and the Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII., Nov. 1st, 1885, “De Civitatum Gubernatione Christiana” (Concerning the Christian Government of States), enjoining upon all Catholics to devote all their energies to influence and control the politics of the world, and to remodel all States and Constitutions upon Catholic principles (and thus carry the world back to the midnight of the Dark Ages, and to the essentially political, as well as to the essentially formal, legal, ceremonial and conditional, religion of Pagan Rome, and to unspiritualize and corrupt Christ’s professing kingdom by making it a kingdom of this world); the appearance of fresh proof that God has a people even in Roman Catholicism, or Mystical Babylon (out of whose fellowship He calls them to come, Rev. 18:4), in the existence of true spiritual religion among a few Catholics of South Germany, leading them to feel the worthlessness of empty pomp and ceremony, the sinfulness and helplessness of man, his absolute dependence on the mercy of God, and need of an inward union with Christ through repentance and faith, provoking far more bitter hatred and persecution than even infidelity provokes from the bigoted followers of the pope—and in the existence of similar humble spirituality, looking beyond all creatures to God, and lovingly serving and spontaneously and cheerfully praising Him in the midst of life-long privations and sufferings, among some of the aged, poor and ignorant Catholics of Ireland, grievously oppressed by their English lords;[iii][iv] the remarkable outpouring of the Divine Spirit, in the first years of the century, upon England and the United States, and large ingatherings into the Protestant communions; the vast increase of the profession, in recent years, without the evident possession, of Christianity (more members having been added to the “churches” in this century, chiefly since 1850, than their entire number of members at its beginning), especially the deceiving and gathering in of large numbers of the young, particularly young females, by Sunday Schools, and by preaching loose doctrine or no doctrine, and by other myriad human means and machinery (often conducted by so-called “evangelists” at a stipulated price of from $25 to $200 per week), protracted and distracted meetings, perversions of Scripture, fabulous stories, anxious seats, mourners’ benches, affecting tunes, sobs, sighs, groans, convulsions, human resolutions, hand-shaking, etc., etc., etc.; the secularization or worldly assimilation of the professing “church;” the substitution of money-based societies for the church of God, and of human learning and human boards for the Spirit of God; the old characteristically and essentially Jesuitical principle of systematically indoctrinating the minds of the young with false[v][vi] religion, sifting nearly the whole juvenile population through the “Sabbath School,” substituting the feeble and humanly-devised influence of the “Sabbath School” teacher for the potent and scripturally-enjoined influence of the home and the church, and resulting, in a large proportion of instances, according to the most recent and extensive and reliable investigations, in filling the youthful mind with irreverent religionism and hatred of the Bible and the church;[vii][viii] the establishing or getting control of seminaries, colleges and universities for the same proselyting purposes, (Protestants, in this as in numerous other matters, merely copying the old Catholic methods); the vile character of much of the fiction found in “Sabbath School” libraries; theatrical preaching, greeted with laughter and applause; the great increase of hireling “shepherds,” who, instead of feeding the flock, feed themselves upon the flock, caring not for the sheep (whom they hasten to leave at any time for a larger price elsewhere), and lording it over the flock for filthy lucre’s sake (Eze. 24; John 10; Acts 20:33-35; 1 Peter 5:2, 3); the multiplication of almost all species of worldly amusements in connection with the so-called “churches,” for the entertainment and retention of the young members who, having no spiritual life, cannot partake of spiritual food, and for the raising of money for pretended religious purposes—such as strawberry and ice-cream festivals, oyster suppers, concerts, burlesque hymns, comic songs, amateur theatricals, Sunday School excursions, and picnics, and banners, and emblems, Christmas trees, Easter cards, charity balls, and “church fairs” (with their rafflings or gamblings), rightly termed “abysses of horrors,” mingling sham trade with sham charity, obtaining money under false pretenses, teaching the selfish and thoughtless patrons how to be “benevolent without benevolence, charitable without charity, devout without devotion, how to give without giving and to he paid for ‘doing good,’”—thus attempting to serve God and mammon, and turning what is claimed to be God’s house of prayer into a house of merchandise and a den of thieves, and loudly calling for the Master’s scourge to cleanse the temple of its defilements (Jews, Catholics and Protestants, all practicing these abominations); the increasing tendency, as in the latter part of the Dark Ages under the teachings of the Pope of Rome, to reduce all the commandments to one, GIVE GOLD, as though this were the one thing needful, and everything else were of no value, for the salvation of the soul;[ix][x] the almost universal tendency of people to try to pull the mote out of other people’s eyes, and not to think of the beam in their own eyes-to busy themselves chiefly with the means and ways of morally improving others, without beginning with their own moral improvement, resulting in extravagances and abortions; the exhuming and deciphering of the ancient monumental records of Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, all tending to illustrate and confirm, in the most wonderful manner, the exact truthfulness of the Old Testament Scriptures, at a time when such a confirmation seems most needed by an unbelieving world; many new translations of the Scriptures into the languages of both civilized and uncivilized peoples; the union of the Lutheran and the Reformed “Churches,” in Prussia, at the command of the king, into the “Evangelical Church,” and the revival of “Old Luther anism” there; the Tractarian or Anglo-Catholic movement in the “Church of England,” resulting in Ritualism, Romanism and Skepticism; the formation of the Broad-Church (in addition to the High-Church and the Low-Church) party, in the “Church of England”-“so broad that you cannot see across it,” says Mr. John Gadsby, of London-“the Church of England,” says Mr. A. V. G. Allen, of Cambridge, Mass., “thus remaining open to all the tides of thought and spiritual life which have swept over the nation, and thus able to retain in its folds those whom no other form of organized Christianity could tolerate;” the appearance, in 1860, of the rationalistic “Essays and Reviews,” written by seven Oxford Episcopalian teachers, and, in 1862, of “Bishop” Colenso’s “Investigations of the Pentateuch and Joshua,” assailing the authenticity and credibility of those Scriptures with the antiquated or surrendered arguments long current in Germany, and the acquittal of the charge of heresy, both of the Essayists and of Colenso, by the Privy Council, the highest ecclesiastical court in England; the disestablishment of the Episcopal “Church” in Ireland in 1869, with its prospective disestablishment in England also, before the lapse of many years; the reunion, in 1846, of Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, New School Baptists, Methodists, Moravians, and other Trinitarian Protestants, of all countries, in an “Evangelical Alliance” (significantly apostrophized by Krummacher, in his address of welcome, “O heart-stirring mirage!”), on a doctrinal basis of Nine Articles, the chief object avowed being to oppose the progress of the papacy and of more than half-papish Puseyism;the union of nearly all Protestants in other Societies, Associations, Diets, Councils, Committees and Conferences; the organization and operation of large numbers of Bible, Tract, Missionary, Abstinence and Relief Societies, and of the so-called “Salvation Army,” with its eccentricities, profanities and delusions;the gathering of about two million communicants into the Protestant “churches” from heathen lands; the continued home and foreign missionary zeal of the Moravians, which began in 1732,—“accomplishing,” it is said, “the most extraordinary results with the fewest means,” trusting in the providence of God, choosing the poor and humble fields (not of India and China, but) of Greenland, Labrador, the West Indies, South Africa and Australia, and heroically doing rough work which others would not touch; the obliteration of almost all distinctions between the various Protestant “churches;” the cloaking of the shallowest unbelief under the popular assertions that there should be no doctrine, no creed, no church, but perfect liberty in all these matters; the notion that self-styled sincerity, no matter what one believes, any religion or no religion, is all that is necessary for salvation; the doubt, suppression or denial, by the most of Protestants, of many of the vital truths of Christianity; a diminished sense of sin, and a fainter conviction of the indispensability of the atoning blood of the Son of God and of the regenerating power of the Spirit of God; the Pharisaic principle of transforming religion from a saving inward reality into a vain-glorious outward show; the general contempt and abuse of revealed religion; a disbelief in the special providence of God extending to all the events of human life; a disbelief in the literal, verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures—this spides of infidelity permeating, more or less, nearly all the Protestant “churches,” unblushingly avowed by their most recent and authoritative writers, and in reality degrading the Scriptures to the level of all other books, containing a mixture of truths and errors, which it is left for the reader to discriminate, accepting what he pleases, and rejecting what he pleases; the stigmatizing of those who adhere to the old unpopular doctrinal truths proclaimed by the prophets and by Christ and His Apostles, as being “a hundred years behind the times,” and as applying the principles of the cold understanding to the language of emotion and imagination, and too literally deducing doctrines from bold types and metaphors, while at the same time the objectors admit that the old system of doctrine is made out fairly and logically enough, but too rigidly, from the language of the Scriptures; the steadfast and immovable adherence of “a very small remnant according to the election of grace” to original apostolic principles and practices (Isa. 1:9; Rom. 11:5), in the face of continual blasts of unpopularity, ridicule, slander, contempt and persecution (Matt. 5:10-12; Rom. 3:8; Acts 28:22)—only those who have eyes to see being able to discern the unworldly and spiritual motives of these despised and calumniated servants of the Most High God; the rise (or revival) of Universalism, Unitarianism, Naturalism, Anti-Supernaturalism, Unspiritualism, Undoctrinalism, Superficialism, lism, Philosophism, Transcendentalism, Paganism, Pantheism, Humanitarianism, Liberalism, Neologism, Campbellism, Irvingism, Darbyism, Puseyism, Mormonism, Millerism, Wine-brennerianism, Two-Scedism, Psychopannychism, Non-Resurrectionism, Annihilationism, Universal Restorationism, Pseudo-Spiritualism, Utilitarianism, Rationalism, Pelagiamsm, Scientism, Agnosticism, Omniscienceism, Presumptuousism, Stoicism, Materialism, Evolutionism, Fatalism, Atheism, Optimism, Pessimism, Socialism, Communism, Libertinism, Red Republicanism, Internationalism, Nihilism, Destructionism, Dynamitism, Atrocicism and Anarchism.[xi]
Mr. W. E. H. Lecky, in his “History of Rationalism in Europe,” represents the nineteenth century as the age of liberty, fraternity and equality, of machinery, manufactures and commerce, of science, industry and peace, of the culminating substitution of human reason for Divine doctrine, of almost universal materialism, and of the loss of self-sacrifice, the loss of faith, and the loss of devotion to right. The brilliant day of Modern Rationalism is ending everywhere, according to its learned historian, not only in “shadow” (vol. ii., p. 357), but also (vol. ii., pp. 356, 98) in the awful midnight storm of ATHEISTIC MATERIALISM, when, in his own eloquent but terrible language, “every landmark is lost to sight, and every star is veiled, and the soul seems drifting helpless and rudderless before the destroying blast”—THE SATANIC WIND OF INFIDEL DOCTRINE.
Prof. Richard T. Ely, of Johns Hopkins University, in his “French and German Socialism in Modern Times,” pp. 186, 187, declares that “the International Association, which now appears like a little cloud on the horizon, possibly points to the darkening of the Heavens with black and heavy clouds—possibly foreshadows a tragedy of world-wide import, which shall make all the cruelty and terror of the French devolution sink into utter insignificance—possibly portends the destruction of old, antiquated institutions, and the birth of a new civilization in a night of darkness and horror, in which the roll of thunder shall shake the earths foundations, and the vivid glare of lightning shall reveal a carnival of bloodshed and slaughter.” All the professors of political economy in the Universities of Europe and America, many of whom in Europe, at least, are infidels, admit that nothing but the gospel of Christ can efficiently remedy the tremendous evils of modern civilization, and avert even the earthly ruin of the human race.
The carnal mind regards the nineteenth century as the wisest and richest, the most glorious and magnificent, of all the centuries; but the spiritual mind cannot but consider it, in many respects, as the most Egyptian and Babylonian, the most Pharisaic and Sadducaic, of the centuries—pre-eminently abounding in worldly and ungodly wisdom and wealth, religious pretension and infidelity—the lukewarm, liberal, indifferent, sentimental, compromising, nauseating, respectable, self-sufficient LAODICEAN AGE, full of legal and unspiritual works, proudly boasting of its natural and religious attainments and possessions, feeling no need of the grace and power of God, and not knowing its spiritual wretchedness and misery and poverty and blindness and nakedness, and, like its ancient prototypes, to be visited by the righteous and terrible judgments of God, in accordance with the stern precedents of history, and the following Scriptures: Acts 7:22; Exodus 5:9, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; Daniel 2:33, 38, 44, 4:30-37; Luke 18:11, 13; Matthew 23; Acts 23:8; Luke 18:8; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, 2:3, 4; 2 Peter 3:3-13; Jude 1:18, 19; Revelation 3:14-22, 13, 18, 19.
The three downward steps in the progress of modern, ungodly, Advanced Thought (Rationalism), since the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, seem to me to be as follows:—
Arminianism (seventeenth century, undeification of the Spirit).
ARIANISM (eighteenth century, undeification of the Son).
ATHEISM (nineteenth century, uudeification of the Father).
From the bottomless pit to which these steps descend, all the free will and reason and machinery, and science and philosophy and gold in the world, cannot save us; but nothing short of the sovereign and unmerited and almighty grace and power and Spirit of the living God. There never has been, there is not, and there never will be, a single individual of the human race saved from eternal death, who will not truthfully ascribe all the glory of his or her salvation unto the Lord—unto GOD THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST.
The secession of the Old Catholics from the Roman Catholics, in 1870, was caused by the proclamation of the doctrine of the infallibility of the pope—the opposition to Jesuitism and Ultramontanism having already been fomented in the very pale of the Roman Catholic communion by the proclamation of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854, and by the papal Syllabus of Errors of 1864. The “Church of Utrecht,” containing the remnant of the Jansenists of Holland, united with the Old Catholics, who now claim a population of about 60,000. Some reforms have been introduced, such as the offering of the cup, as well as the bread, to the “laity” in the Lord’s Supper, the use of the native tongue in the service, and the abolition of the compulsory celibacy of the “clergy.”
The organization of the “Reformed Episcopal Church” out of and apart from the “Protestant Episcopal Church,” in 1873, was caused by the increasing high-churchism, ritualism and Romanism of the latter, and by the discovery and recognition of the irreconcilable conflict between the Romish liturgy of the English Prayer-Book, adopted in the early part of Elizabeth’s reign to conciliate her Catholic subjects, and the Protestant thirty-nine Articles of the Prayer-Book, adopted in the latter part of her reign after she had become greatly offended with the pope. Reformed Episcopalianism has revised the Liturgy to make it consistent with the Articles, and with the Protestant Reformation, and rejects the Romish doctrines of apostolical succession, baptismal regeneration, sacramentalism, sacerdotalism, and the unchurching of other denominations. They claim now about 7,000 members.
The separation of the “Free Church” from the “Established Church” in Scotland (both Presbyterian) in 1843, under the leadership of Mr. Thomas Chalmers, was a noble act of self-sacrifice for Christ on the part of 474 ministers and their congregations, in giving up an annual State endowment of about $500,000 for the purpose of rescuing the “church” from State control, and vindicating the highly important truth of Christ’s sole and supreme leadership over His church.
The cause of the separation of the New School from the Old School Presbyterians, in the United States, in 1837, was the adoption of a milder form of Calvinism by the former; but the latter having become similarly moderate, there was no bar to their reunion in 1869.
The separation of the Northern and Southern Presbyterians, New School Baptists and Methodists, was caused by a difference on the question of slavery.
The causes of the withdrawal of the Old School or Primitive from the New School Baptists, in the United States, are stated by my father in the latter part of this work; they were similar to those dividing the Strict from the Particular Baptists in England.
The fathers of nineteenth-century Unitarianism were the Presbyterians, Theophilus Lindsey, who began Unitarian services in London in 1774, and Thomas Belsham, who founded the first Unitarian Society in England in 1791; and Robert Aspland, who had been a General Baptist, became the leading promoter of English Unitarianism. The first “Unitarian Church” in America was the “Episcopal Church” of King’s Chapel in Boston, under the leadership of James Freeman, in 1783. They now claim 370 “churches” in England and 360 in the United States; and they maintain that at least 3,000 “churches” in the United States hold antitrinitarian views—including, with themselves, the Universalists, the so-called “Christians,” the Hicksite Quakers and the Progressive Friends, and “some other minor bodies.” The Arians of the fourth century held that Christ, though a creature, was a super-angelic being, who created all other things. The Socinians of the sixteenth century held that Christ might be called God, and ought to be worshiped. But the Unitarians maintain that He is a mere man, though without sin and error; that His mission into the world was to reveal the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They are Pelagians, denying the fall of the human race in Adam, and the total depravity of fallen man, and the atonement of Christ; and, in general, they are Universalists, denying the eternity of future punishment. Starting with “liberal” and “progressive” views, they have become thoroughly rationalistic. They are said to be cultured, moral and philanthropic; and they have their Sunday Schools, Theological Seminaries and Missions. William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) was their most famous and influential theologian. Theodore Parker, of Boston (1810-60), a Unitarian preacher, “advanced to the most notorious, Rationalism, emancipating himself entirely from the authority of the Bible.”
Mr. W. E. Gladstone, in an address at the Liverpool College, December, 1872, declared that, since the coming of Christ, “many more than ninety-nine in every hundred Christians have with one voice confessed the deity and incarnation of our Lord as the cardinal and central truths of our religion.” “Those who have given up Christ,” says President James McCosh, of Princeton, “find that they have to give up God; and those who have given up God find that they have no sustaining morality left them, no peace, no hope of immortality.” “The history of ancient and modern Arianism,” says Mr. John Stoughton, in his “History of Religion in England from 1800 to 1850,” “shows that it cannot continue in one stay, that it is strong only on the negative side, while on the positive side it is weak as water, having nothing in it to resist the pressure of antagonistic criticism.”
Universalism, like Arminianism, originated in the first Theological Seminary, the Catechetical School established at Alexandria, Egypt, about 180 A. D., and designed to harmonize Greek Philosophy and Chris- tianity. Clement of Alexandria was its father, and Origen was its most distinguished advocate. Clement was also the father, and Pagan Philosophy the mother, and the First Theological Seminary the birthplace, of Pelagianism and Rationalism, and of the professedly Christian denial of the sacrificial atonement of Christ, His second personal coming to the world, a general judgment, and the resurrection of the body.[xii][xiii] An abundant demonstration of this statement is found in Prof. Alexander V. G. Allen’s recently published “Continuity of Christian Thought,” pages 33-68. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, of Germany (1768-1834), the modern reviver of Clement’s or the Greek Theology, and “the typical theologian of the nineteenth century,” as he is called, also rejected the fall of the angels, the personality of the Devil, the personality of God, and the doctrine of the Trinity; he was a Pantheist,[xiv][xv] holding that God dwells in every man forever—like Spinoza, identifying God and the universe—and, while professing to revive and refine the Protestant orthodoxy of the sixteenth century, he held that God chose only a few to be saved in time in order that all, through their means, might be saved in eternity, thus maintaining the doctrines of universal election, universal redemption, universal regeneration, and universal salvation. “He had drunk deeply at the springs of ancient Greek philosophy,” and declared that Christianity had as close affinity with Paganism as with Judaism; that “God is the constitutional ruler of the world, responsible to the infinite righteousness which is the charter of the Divine activity; that humanity is endowed with native rights which every human government must respect; that God must rule the world for the good of all, and not in the interest of a few; that grace, no less than law, is the dispensation under which all men everywhere are living; that the Bible, being the record of a progressive revelation, must contain in its earlier portions much which is superseded, or even contradicted, by the later and higher truth; and that although evangelists and Apostles spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, it does not follow that the attribute of infallibility pertains to all their utterances.” Here comes out very plainly the cloven foot of Pantheism and Universalism—human reason set up in critical and absolute judgment of Divine Revelation. Ever since the second century, universalism has more or less affected the Catholic and nearly all the non-Catholic or Protestant communions; but it was not organized into a separate denomination until in 1751 by James Relly in London, and in 1779 by John Murray in Gloucester, Mass. Modern Universalists are Anti-trinitarians, Pelagians and Rationalists; they believe that sin will be punished after death, but not forever. They claim about sixty thousand members in the United States, and have their Sunday Schools, Theological Seminaries and Missions. The most of the denominations of the nineteenth century are extensively permeated by Universalism. Alfred Tennyson, the Poet Laureate of England, in his “In Memoriam,” gives expression to this very prevalent feeling, which is also his own:
Strong Son of God,
Thou wilt not leave us in
Our little systems have
O yet we trust that
That nothing walks with
Behold, we know not
So runs my dream: but what
I falter where I firmly
I stretch lame hands of
faith, and grope,
That God, which ever lives
“He sees,” says Mr. E. H. Capen, the Universalist College President, “the whole creation in one vast, resistless movement, sweeping toward the grand finality of universal holiness and universal love.” But the believer in the old-fashioned Bible, unmixed with Pagan Philosophy, can see no such grand finality.
A speculative Pantheism, with its system of Universal Salvation, was the leading tendency of the infidelity of the first half of the nineteenth century; and the leading tendency of the infidelity of the last half of the nineteenth century has been an evolutionist, materialistic, fatalistic, Stoic, atheistic Agnosticism. “These types,” says Prof. John Cairns, “appear successively in the most prominent unbeliever of the nineteenth century, David Friedrich Strauss,” of Germany. Change is one of the most characteristic features of infidelity. Strauss passed through three marked changes of belief. In his first edition of his “Life of Jesus,” in 1835, he was a pantheist; in his second edition, in 1864, he was a naturalistic theist, or a deist; while, in his “Old and New Faiths,” published in 1873, he has become a materialistic atheist. “His criticism thus refutes itself, and ends by pulling down the whole temple of religion on its head,” declaring that there can be no God and no religion, and that this planet, with all its works and all its inhabitants, must one day utterly vanish, and leave no trace behind. Ernest Renan, of France, is a more conservative follower of Strauss; but his “Life of Jesus” (1863) substitutes romance for history, makes the miracles of Christ spurious, and blends good and evil, in an impossible manner, in His character. John Stuart Mill (1806-73), the clearest-minded of English infidels during this century, in his “System of Logic,” strikes at the root of all spiritual, revealed religion; teaches the doctrine of universal causation, absolute fatalism, the necessity of all human character and conduct as well as of all material phenomena; but he held this system with less clearness and firmness the longer he lived. In his posthumous “Three Essays on Religion,” he leaves a little room for the supernatural; admits the validity of the argument from design; but thinks that God, though perfectly good, is not almighty (an idea common to both Pagan Philosophy and false religion); he confounds morality with religion (another idea common to false philosophy and false religion); he hopes that Jesus was a Divine messenger, and he admired His character the more he studied Him, and confesses that the Prophet of Nazareth was a man of sublime and pre-eminent genius, and the greatest moral reformer, martyr and exemplar that ever appeared on earth. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), with his chronic dyspepsia, and extreme pessimism, and worship of force and thrift, and rejection of Christianity as a Divine revelation, and still greater contempt of materialistic evolution which he called “mud philosophy,” with his “silences,” “eternities,” “infinitudes,” “realities,” “veracities,” “moralities” and “idealities,” which he substituted for God, denying the personality and fatherhood of the Supreme Being, was a sort of Pantheist, but also a Stoic, a stern and earnest teacher of morality. He professed to have wrestled with the problems of the universe, and, by the aid of Goethe, the German poet, to have fought himself free from the dragons and quagmires of Tophet into the eternal blue of Heaven, and thus to have been “converted from fear and sorrow to peace and joy;” and so John Stuart Mill professed to have been “converted from darkness to light” by reading Marmontel’s Memoirs. Herbert Spencer (born 1820), a retired civil engineer, and the most pretentious of speculators, with his materialistic and fatalistic evolution of all things, and with his “omnipresent, infinite, eternal, unknown and unknowable Power, from which all things proceed”—the Only and the Ultimate Reality, of whom or which we do not know and never can know whether he, she or it has personality, consciousness, volition, intelligence or emotion—is a simultaneous concentration of Straussism, a unique compound of Pantheism, Deism and Atheism. He traces the origin of all religions to dreams and ghosts, the latter being gradually ranked, de-materialized, de-anthropomorphized and unified,[xvi][xvii] as civilization advanced; and, in the concluding (sixteenth) chapter of the Sixth Part or Volume of his “Principles of Sociology,” he, if possible, out-Satans Satan himself in pouring the most horrible and blasphemous contempt upon all the fundamental, though caricatured, truths of the Bible, and upon the God of the Bible, whom he degrades below the god of the Fiji Islanders! Behold the black and bottomless depths to which modern Scientism, Philosophism and Religionism descend! For Spencer maintains that his system is a religion, although Frederic Harrison, the Positivist Philosopher, insists that there is no more religion in Spencer’s system than in the binomial theorem, the equator, a gooseberry, or a parallelopiped; and we are told that there are, in both England and America, Unitarian congregations that avow that their whole theology consists in Spencer’s religious conception—a theory which “defecates the idea of deity to a pure transparency,” and which is, therefore, virtual ATHEISM. Of course, if there is a God who has created finite intelligent beings, He can make Himself intelligible to them. The common sense of mankind declares that there is a Divine Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who has, in His works, revealed to His intelligent creatures not only His power, but His wisdom, benevolence and righteousness, as well as our responsibility to Him and our dependence upon Him. Atheism, in the garb of Agnosticism, as in every other garb, is “a hollow mockery to both head and heart.”
In the “Church of England,” during the first quarter of this century, there was a wide circle left untouched by evangelical influences. Mr. W. E. Gladstone, in the Contemporary Review of October, 1874, said that, in coldness and deadness, the services in that communion forty and fifty years before were “probably without a parallel in the world; that they would have shocked a Brahmin or a Buddhist.” Many of the “clergy” were devoted to field sports and fashionable gayeties and literature, to the abuse of Calvinism and Methodism and Dissenters, and to the preaching of morality; while there was a fearful number of clerical scandals. A specimen of the preaching is given by Mr. John Stoughton as follows: “The sermon lasted exactly five minutes, and was addressed to three classes, the good, the bad, and the indifferent The good were told they needed no advice; let them persevere in their righteousness, and the kingdom of Heaven would be their reward. The bad—but in such a congregation it was uncharitable to suppose that such a class could be found. The indifferent lost much by not exerting a little more energy, in order that their reward might not only be rendered more certain, but more brilliant.” In the same pulpit, on another occasion, a preacher of the same stamp took for his subject the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. “It was said (in this parable),” he observed, “that if any of our fellow-creatures should so fall as to stand in need of such a degrading confession as the Publican’s, let his hearers be on their guard, lest, by drawing too favorable a contrast between such outcasts and themselves, they incurred the censure pronounced on that otherwise estimable character, the Pharisee.” “People went to church on Sunday to learn to be good, to hear the commandments repeated to them for the thousandth time, and to see them written in gilt letters over the communion-table.”
Tractarianism, in the “Church of England” (so called from a series of ninety Tracts for the Times published at Oxford from 1833 to 1841), also called Puseyism (from Edward Bouverie Pusey, 1800-1882, a leader of the movement) and Anglo-Catholicism, was “a revival of mediaeval ecclesiasticism and scholasticism, in protest to evangelicalism and political liberalism;” and its doctrines were and are, “traditionalism, sacramentalism, sacerdotalism, apostolical succession, baptismal regeneration, the real presence of the body of Christ in the Eucharist, and that there is a kind of purgatory, a method of priestly pardon, a species of reverence for images and relics, and a certain form of saintly invocation;” if Mariolatry and Papal Infallibilism had been added, it would have been Roman Catholicism complete. The revival of Roman Catholic doctrine was naturally succeeded by Ritualism, the revival of all the paraphernalia of Roman Catholic worship, followed by the secession of thousands of Episcopalians to Rome. Pusey, in his Eirenicon, says: “Ever since I knew those called ‘Evangelicals’ (which was not in my earlier years), I have loved them, because they loved our Lord. I often thought them narrow, yet I was often drawn to individuals among them more than to others who held truths in common with myself. I believed them to be of the truth.”
The High-Church or Tractarian and the Low-Church or Evangelical parties in the “Church of England” subscribe to the same thirty-nine Articles of Faith, but explain them contradictorily. Between these two parties, and off to one side in the direction of Rationalism, lies the Broad-Church party, founded in 1833 by Mr. Thomas Arnold, Head-Master of Rugby School, and embracing his pupils and sympathizers, a small but brilliant band, “seeking to liberalize the Anglican communion by keeping it in friendly intercourse with Continental thought and learning,” but, of course, in this attempt, “approximating to rationalistic views of inspiration and interpretation.” Some of the most famous members of this school have been Julius Charles Hare, Frederic Denison Maurice, Charles Kingsley, Frederick William Robertson, Alexander Ewing, and Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. The Broad-Church theology, like that of Clement of Alexandria, and that of the Cambridge Platonists in the latter part of the seventeenth century, rests on Platonic[xviii][xix] or Neo-Platonic forms of thought; and at least some of its advocates go so far as Clement and his pupil Origen in maintaining the final salvation of all men and devils, and even of Satan himself! This platform is, of course, broad enough for every one; and any position less broad will be stigmatized as narrow by the broadest of Broad-Churchmen.
The “Church of England” is powerless to deal with any case of doctrine or worship, as proved by the decisions of the Privy Council Committee since the beginning of the year 1850. A clergyman may Protestantize, or Romanize, or Rationalize, or Universalize, and he cannot be excluded from the Anglican communion.
The Nine Articles forming the doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Alliance (of the most of the Protestant communions) are as follows:
1. The Divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.
2. The right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
3. The Unity of the Godhead, and the Trinity of persons therein.
4. The utter depravity of human nature in consequence of the Fall.
5. The incarnation of the Son of God, his work of atonement for the sins of mankind, and his mediatorial intercession and reign.
6. The justification of the sinner by faith alone.
7. The work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion and sanctification of the sinner.
8. The immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with the eternal blessedness of the righteous and the eternal punishment of the wicked.
9. The Divine institution of the Christian ministry, and the obligation and perpetuity of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The Articles, when adopted by the large assembly of eight hundred in London, in 1846, occasioned much discussion. “A day and a half were spent in debating the Eighth Article respecting the eternal punishment of the wicked. The Ninth Article also, in regard to the Christian ministry and ordinances, caused long discussion. Some lamented that the Quakers were thus excluded; but several Episcopalian ministers considered it essential, and made it a condition of their own adherence to the enterprise.”
The unionistic spirit seems for some time to have been very prevalent in the religious world. Some of the High-Church party in the Anglican communion desire fraternization with Roman Catholicism, and others with Greek Catholicism; while the Protestants seem to wish universal affiliation with each other. “A change wide and deep,” says Mr. John Stoughton, “came over the domain of religious thought during the middle of this century, different from any before, breaking down old hedges, and defacing old landmarks, so that in now walking the theological round we hardly know where we are. Even on High-Church standards, and on the top of rationalistic stocks. Evangelical growths have appeared. A new spirit has come over the Baptist denomination within the last thirty years. Up to 1850 a broad doctrinal line could be drawn between the Particular or Calvinistic and the General or Arminian Baptists; but that old distinction between the two classes of Baptists seems now nearly obliterated. For several years these two classes have been united in the same Associations and operations, and the doctrinal distinction between Calvinism and Arminianism is effaced, to a very great measure at least, in the Baptist home operations, while the distinction remains asserted in the titles of their Foreign Missions. “The same statement is true of the New School (who call themselves Regular or Calvinistic) and the Free-Will Baptists in the United States; the doctrinal distinction between them has practically disappeared, for they are all Arminians together.” These are the piping tunes of peace,” says Mr. James Strong, the leading Methodist theologian of America, in his book called “Irenics.” “Let us hope that Christians, at least, have beaten their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and that they will learn war no more.” And he labors, in a truly surprising manner, to show the “Substantial Reconcilement of Calvinism and Arminianism!” He declares that a remarkable assimilation between Calvinists and Arminians has taken place within the present century, and that they have almost ceased the wordy warfare; that a by-path has been recently discovered across the chasm heretofore thought to separate the opposing cliffs of Divine predestination and human free-agency—this by-path consisting in the resolution of the Divine decrees into the certainty arising from the uniform operation of general laws established by the great Sovereign for governing the transactions of the universe, including man’s will itself; the Divine foreordination of human actions being simply a determination on God’s part to create men with powers such as He foresaw would result in these acts, and then leave them to the free exercise of those powers. This is a position, he says, which all consistent theists, including Arminians, must admit. “God certainly did foresee such results, He did create man capable of them, and He does allow them to take place. If that is all, there is nothing to dispute about. We may wonder why God should do so, but the ultimate reason is as inscrutable to the Arminian as it is to the Calvinist. Both suppose, both believe, that it was best for man in the end, and most for the glory of God on the whole, that it should thus be; and these both are forced at last to leave it. No mortal can fully understand it or authoritatively explain it. At least this has never yet been satisfactorily done. The true reconciling position is that the Divine economy is such as to give free scope (within certain limits, of course) to bad as well as to good influences, and even to extend enabling power to the agents who bring these about. In the conversion of the sinner, there are the Divine drawing and the human yielding, the yielding being the result of grace. The Spirit, of God takes the lead, and the subject follows. It makes little or no difference, except as a matter of technical terminology, whether, with the Calvinist, we say that the man was already converted, and, therefore, yielded; or, with the Arminian, that he yielded, and was, therefore, converted. The facts remain the same, and they take place in the same order; or, rather, they are more or less simultaneous. And so, in reference to the sanctiflcation and the final perseverance of the saints; the difference is almost wholly in name, and not in the thing. The most judicious Christians of all denominations prefer to leave to Jesus Christ the superlative pre-eminence of entire sanctification in this life. When a Christian falls from grace, Arminians admit or suspect that there was some important, if not radical, defect in the Christian character or conduct which led to so fatal a result, and they argue that Divine power alone can restrain any one from thus destroying himself. So noted a writer as Prof. Philip Schaff says: ‘Good Calvinists preach like Methodists, as if everything depended on man; good Methodists pray like Calvinists, as if everything depended on God. The five knotty points of Calvinism have lost their point, and have been smoothed off by God’s own working in the history of the church.’ The paths pursued by both are substantially parallel, and in these days of closer Christian fellowship between the two great communions represented, they have grown more and more near together. Let us cherish the ardent expectation that, when the two processions meet at the common gateway into , each will look back with glad surprise to see how really contiguous they always were. “To show at how very great a distance from the Calvinistic” path to “Mr. Strong himself is still journeying, I need but quote two of his recent utterances. 1. The last essay in his “Irenics” is on “The Divine Compassion in the Endless Punishment of the Wicked.” After declaring that most of the Scripture language in regard to the future punishment of the wicked is undoubtedly figurative, that torment will be not so much physical as mental, a separation from all wordly business and pleasure and an abandonment to evil thoughts and companions-not so much any special or vindictive affliction of Divine power as the consequence of the legitimate and necessary operation of the laws of their own being, a reaping of the harvest which they themselves have sown, the suffering, therefore, being exactly proportioned to their demerits; that a holy Heaven would be the worst hell to the wicked, and a compulsory preparation for Heaven the greatest absurdity, he concludes with these words: “We have seen that the good of all grades must applaud it that is, the endless punishment of the wicked as the only means of security and satisfaction for an injured Majesty, an outraged law, and an imperiled government. The bad themselves must confess it to be but the inevitable issue of violated conscience, debased powers and misused privileges. Above all” (and here comes the thoroughly anti-Calvinistic sentiment), “the great Sovereign and Savior, Father and Friend, who has exhausted every resource of the Godhead in order to avert the catastrophe, may reverently be said to sign with tears the death-warrant of the reprobate, as he wailed with unavailing grief over the fall of Tyre, Babylon and Jerusalem: ‘If thou hadst known in thy day the things which belong unto thy peace! but even now are they hid from thine eyes.’ Divine compassion has reached its climax in the final doom.” Thus it seems, according to Mr. Strong’s doctrine, that God cannot save the sinner; and all sinners, who are finally saved, really save themselves! 2. In his article on Arminianism in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia, he says: “In a last analysis the precise element or force which turns the scale in favor of a new life, or otherwise, is believed by Wesleyans to be the will of the subject himself, acting freely under its own impulses, in view of, but not constrained by, motives, and yet stimulated and guided by Divine light and grace. Repentance and faith are indeed potentially the gift of God; but their actual use and exercise are the conscious, voluntary, and personal act of the man himself.” Even if there were not manifold other texts, two passages in Paul’s letter to the Philippians Philippians 1:6; 2:12,13 would annihilate this citadel of Arminianism. These passages demonstrate that God does the whole work of the sinner’s salvation—both the beginning and the consummation of it, both the willing and the doing (or working or exercising); and we know that only on this ground will He justly receive all the glory. The central substance of Mr. James Strong’s theology is precisely the same as that of Roman Catholicism, as will be seen by reference to the “Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent,” Session vi., chapter v., and the book on “Symbolism,” p. 105, by John Adam Mohler (1796-1838), the most esteemed Catholic theologian in this century; these accepted Roman Catholic authorities declare that the sinner’s salvation is determined by his “freely assenting to and co-operating with the grace of God”—his “freely yielding to and following the influence of the Spirit of God.”
In an address on “Juvenile Discipline,” at the Autumnal Session of the Baptist Union, at Bradford, England, October 8th, 1884, Mr. J. R. Wood, of London, said: “It is cheering to know that, in our times, the number of young disciples is rapidly increasing. Once believers in child-conversion were a comparative handful; now they are an ‘exceeding great army.’ Conversion is prayed for, toiled for, and expected by those who have charge of the young, in a spirit not common when Andrew Fuller was a boy. The attitude of the church is changed too; and, instead of a door doubtfully opened, or not opened at all, in most instances the youthful convert finds prompt admission and a cordial welcome. Nor, in this connection, must the remarkable multiplication of Sunday Schools be forgotten, and the undoubted increase in their efficiency. When we recall these signs of our times, there is good reason to expect that the number of young disciples during the next twenty-five years will be very much larger than during any preceding period of the history of the church. By a great variety of agencies God is bringing the lambs of His flock within the fold; and we must accept the high trust committed to us, and carefully ‘feed’ them. Let the churches have confidence in themselves for the doing of this work, and also confidence in the children. Nothing could be more unwise than to question and cross-question a child on his religious experience, as if he were a witness in court suspected of perjury. Let us rather impute what we desire to see; credit young disciples with the grace which we pray and work to communicate, and we shall not fail. Let us sing Christ into their hearts, and keep Him there, by chants, litanies, sonnets and doxologies; and not obstruct the work by making the doors of the church bristle with razors, and pitchforks, and bundles of thorns.”
As in the fourth century, the union of the professing church and the State corrupted the former by the introduction of heathen superstitions and practices, so, in the present century, the large unregenerate additions made to the membership of the Protestant communions (those memberships increasing, during recent years, in England twice as fast, and in the United States three times as fast, as the population) by Sunday Schools and galvanic revivals, have brought in numerous corruptions of doctrine and practice, so that there is scarcely the slightest difference between the professing church and the world, skepticism and secularism being almost as characteristic of the one as of the other. Mr. Alfred E. Myers, a Presbyterian minister of Owasco, New York, says in his pamphlet on “The Sociable, the Entertainment, and the Bazar:” “A church which has recently received a number of young people into active membership is the scene of a humorous entertainment. A stage is laid over the pulpit platform and over the place lately occupied by the communion-table, and there the young converts, with others, are encouraged to perform for the benefit of the church. At another entertainment a group of young gentlemen go through the form of selling at auction a young lady to the highest bidder. At another of these diversions, before people of education and refined taste, a professional musician renders a roystering bacchanalian song with startling energy. Clergymen and their wives figure in costume as George Washington and Martha Washington. One minister reads humorous selections; another sings comic songs; others make droll speeches. The pulpit is sometimes removed, and Santa Claus and his chimney occupy the platform. Again, in just such a position, along with other attractions, we have an organ-grinder, with a wealthy middle-aged citizen sustaining the dignified role of the monkey passing the hat for pennies. The superintendent of a Sunday School, chalked and painted, poses as an ancient king, and teachers amuse an audience with a semblance of stage embraces. Under the auspices of a Sunday School a college glee-club provokes great merriment by its bold allusions to the truths which, in the school, are taught as tremendous verities. In the ‘Old Folks’ Concert solemn hymns and revered tunes are sung in a drawling style to raise a laugh. At an exhibition in the lecture-room of a prominent church, a worthy gentleman of remarkable sobriety of deportment and visage, and excellent in the prayer-meeting, played ‘the sneezer,’ and another Christian gentleman feigned intoxication, with his fair and temperate face smeared with red blotches to assist the illusion. The programme of a Church Entertainment, for admission to which twenty-five cents were charged, lies before us, and is as follows: ‘Part First.—Two operatic selections on the piano; three ballads; one tragic reading; one comic reading; and a Xylophon Solo. Part Second.—An exhibition of a singing-machine; a slave camp-meeting song; an old-fashioned negro melody; and a semi-classical duet. Part Third.—1. Chorus, ‘Whosoever Will.’ 2. Quartette, ‘Jesus, Lover of my Soul.’ 3. Solo and Chorus, ‘Old Log Cabin in the Dell.’ When a church enters upon a round of Entertainments, the occasions which suggest them are many and various. There is a festival for each season of the year, and for specific products of the confectioner’s art. They are for winter and summer, for old and young, for benevolence and for fun. Hardly is one of these past, and the remains of food or litter or stage-appointments removed from sight, before another is under consideration.” Says the author of “The Church Walking with the World,”
And fairs and shows in the
halls were held,
In the last chapter of Mr. G. F. Pentecost’s work, “Out of Egypt,” he makes some excellent remarks on “The Mixed Multitude” of Egyptians that went up with the Israelites into the wilderness, and loathed the heavenly manna, and lusted and occasioned Israel to lust after the fish and cucumbers and melons and leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt (Ex. 12:38; Num. 11:4-7). “Their lusting was evidence of their distaste for new and spiritual things, and their longing for old and carnal things, for fleshly pleasures, practices and fellowships. The mixed multitude were not in fellowship with God, nor with His purposes of grace toward Israel. The wilderness was lonely to them. There were none in it, but God and His people. The food was heavenly; and they had no real taste for it. The occupations and conversations of the real Israelites were of a nature that did not interest them; and their old nature was starving for the delights and employments of the old life. It did not take these Egyptians long to communicate their discontent to the Israelites themselves, and the whole camp fell a lusting. Now it is not difficult to see in the church of to-day the presence and working of this mixed multitude of worldlings, and the effect of their lustings and worldly outcries upon the unsanctified natures of God’s own people, with whom they associate. It is not surprising that unregenerated people in the church do not enjoy the life that is marked out for the child of God in this world. These people complain of a too strict religious life. Their hearts are in Egypt, and they object to being led too far away from the world. Separation from the world and consecration to Christ and His service are intolerable to them. The Bible is dry and meaningless to them. Spiritual conversation does not interest them. They loathe preaching that is spiritual. All preaching that holds forth the blood of Christ as the only ground of justification with God; that insists on the necessity of being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of the incorruptible Word of God, and by the Spirit; that refuses to confound regeneration and baptism; that insists on a new creature in Christ Jesus; that exposes the difference between the religious doing of the flesh, and the real fruit of the Spirit manifested in a life that has come from God; that will not accept reformation for regeneration; that dwells much on the necessity of maintaining a real spiritual walk with God; that insists on real separation from the world—is distasteful to them. They seek out a minister who preaches ‘in harmony with the age;’ one who will give them neat essays and sermons on interesting religious topics, rather than expositions of God’s word, with a practical enforcement of it upon the heart and conscience. In numerous churches in the United States the mixed multitude have carried the carnal lustings so far that they have turned the church buildings into concert halls and places of general entertainment. There is a bazar, or a supper, or a tea, or a concert, or a company of jubilee singers, or some sixpenny show or another, going on all through the season. These things are done for two ostensible reasons: first, to get money to carry on the church; and second, ‘to afford amusement for our young people, who, you know, must have amusement, or they will not stay with us.’ The real reason is that the mixed multitude in the church have not consecrated their wealth, great or small, to the Lord; and so must resort to all sorts of miserable make-shifts to get money, by hook or by crook, to carry on ‘the church.’ Oh, the shame and disgrace of trailing the cause of God in the mire before a scoffing and unbelieving world, and of sending Christ begging among the unbelievers for a few dimes or dollars to carry on ‘religion’ with. And in order to get their money, any kind of carnal and Egyptian entertainments will be arranged, and all sorts of miserable expedients resorted to. The people will be bribed to give some money by a supper, or a cheap concert, or a show of some kind or other. It must make angels weep, and the demons in hell dance with delight, to behold the cause of Christ so degraded. The Master would not worship him on the mount, though the Devil promised to give Him all the kingdoms of the earth if He would do so. But now, with the aid of the mixed multitude, the church, the fair ‘bride of Christ,’ is draggling her robes in the dirt of the Egyptian world, bowing down to Satan, for a very small pittance of his ‘filthy lucre.’ A score of things are accomplished by the god of this world by this proceeding; among which these are some: All spirituality must disappear under such circumstances; the covetousness of the mammon-people in the church is encouraged and justified; the world is set sneering at the weakness and worldliness of the church; the carnal nature of the people of God is stirred up; young Christians (if there be any in such a church) are led away from their simplicity in Christ; and all spiritual power disappears from that body. But apart from the plea of necessity to get the money for the cause of Christ, the real reason is that the mixed multitude are lusting after the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt. You will see all the worldly Christians eagerly aroused to the importance of a bazar, a supper, or an entertainment. And having tasted again the old Egyptian delights, and eaten flesh once more, they soon tire of the thin quality and meagre supply had under restrictions in the church, and go trooping back to Egypt for the flesh-pots. You may find them by scores and hundreds in the theatres, in the ball-rooms, at the fashionable parties and the ‘society’ routs of the day. God is not in all their thoughts; Christ is not in their hearts; spiritual things are far above, out of their sight. It is too sadly true that Egypt has found its way into the church, and more or less corrupted it in all its parts. Its doctrine is pared down or diluted to suit a carnal conscience. Its life is voted too straight. The narrow way is broadened into a highway of pleasure. The line of demarcation that divided between her borders and the world is largely obliterated; and her true children have to make the best of the way through the wilderness, as Caleb and Joshua did with that generation which lusted after Egypt and provoked God there for forty years.”
Says Mr. Howard Crosby, of New York: “The church is to-day courting the world. Its members are trying to bring it down to the level of the ungodly. The hall, the theatre, nude and lewd art, social luxuries with all their loose moralities, are making inroads into the sacred inclosure of the church, and, as a satisfaction for all this worldliness, Christians are making a great deal of Lent and Easter and Good Friday and church ornamentation. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish Church struck on that rock; the Roman Church was wrecked on the same; and the Protestant Church is fast reaching the like doom.”
“Quality tells far more than quantity in spiritual things,” says Mr. C. Williams, of England. “The church and the world are on better terms with each other than they were. There are among us those who think that Christians are no longer strangers and sojourners, as their fathers were, but are as much at home in Vanity Fair as in the Palace Beautiful. I fear there is increasing laxity in the churches, growing conformity to the world. The strength of the church is in its spirituality. If this be lost, we shall be ‘weak as other men.’ Only the unworldly can conquer the world. The godless suspect the sincerity of professors who are as gay, or as mercenary, or as selfish as themselves; while they respect those who refuse to walk in ‘the way of sinners,’ and are never found near ‘the seat of the scornful.’ A chief condition of church success is holiness of life. The historian, Gibbon, in accounting for the progress of the Christian religion (on natural causes), laid considerable stress upon the character of the early Christians. He described them as ‘averse to the gay luxury of the age,’ as remarkable for ‘chastity, temperance, economy, and all the sober and domestic virtues,’ as winning the good opinion of the profane by ‘the strictest integrity and the fairest dealing,’ and as practicing ‘humility, meekness and patience.’ By this character they ‘put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,’ and compelled the world to do homage to the religion they professed.” Mr. Richard Glover, President of the Baptist Union of England, says: “The church, with an unbelief almost equal to and less excusable than that of the infidel world which it dreads, is moved to fear some collapse of both the gospel and the church which rests upon it. The strangest of all unbeliefs is that of those Christians who copy the poorest of all Scripture saints, and ‘tremble for the ark of God.’ We ought to have faith in Truth, and in its power to hold its own. There is no throne so secure as that of Truth. There are no useful falsehoods nor wholesome errors. Anything that alloys our creed only impairs its gracious influence.” The author of “Modern Christianity a Civilised Heathenism,” who is supposed to be a clergyman of the English Established Church, says: “Until the world is wholly converted, which nobody yet pretends, Christ’s people must ever wage with it a deadly war. There can be no peace between two such armies as the soldiers of Christ and the servants of the Devil. His disciples must fight as their Captain fought, making themselves (if need be) an offense, a nuisance, an abhorrence to every man who is not, like them, an open confessor of His name.”
“A characteristic feature of religious culture at the present day,” says Prof. J. L. Diman, “is an aesthetical revival, seen in the general disposition to affect a more elaborate religious ceremonial, and in the extraordinary impulse given to ecclesiastical architecture. The first stained windows were brought to this country in 1827, and in the same year we find Doane urging the restoration of the cross to churches. The tendency pervades all sects; and mediaeval architecture is no longer, as it once was, a matter of principle, but simply a question of expense. The Baptist and the Methodist have learned to covet the ‘dim religious light’ and the ‘pealing organ;’ and the children of those whose early history was a stern protest against the perilous alliance of faith with any sensuous forms, and who refused, in their plain meeting-houses, to tolerate so much as the stated reading of the sacred volume, lest a spiritual worship should degenerate into a formal service, have come to listen with composure,
Under vaulted roofs
to such artistic ‘renderings’ of holy writ as awaken a bewildered doubt whether Hebrew or Greek or Latin be the tongue employed. Whatever the defects of religious teaching a century ago, it was certainly a vigorous intellectual discipline. It is not easy to believe that the substitution of such different methods is a sign simply of a more cultivated taste.”
The Roman Catholics claim to have at the present time about 3,000 foreign missionaries, at an annual cost of $1,500,000; while the Protestants claim to have now about 3,000 foreign missionaries, at an annual cost of about $7,500,000. Thus the Catholic must be far more self-denying or less extravagant than the Protestant missionaries, since each of the former receives on an average only one-fifth as much as each of the latter—one cause of which may be that Catholic priests are not allowed to marry. John E. Gossner, of Germany (1773-1858), driven by his evangelical views from Catholicism to Protestantism in 1826, and esteemed above all the other preachers in Berlin by the church historian Neander, held that missionaries ought to follow the example of Paul in working with their own hands; and in 1836 he established missions in Australia, India, North America and Western Africa, and during his lifetime educated and sent out one hundred and forty missionaries on his self-supporting plan to these fields. The “Gossner Society” still continues his system. It is said that industrial missions, which combine preaching with practical instruction in the arts of civilized life, and medical missions, which pay special attention to the sick, have been recently organized and operated with success. In 1865 the “China Inland Mission” was established by Mr. J. Hudson Taylor and his wife, of England, “on the principle of faith and prayer, independently of all the ordinary machinery of Missionary Societies, a large proportion of the missionaries sent out being laymen who were willing to consecrate themselves to the work with no remuneration but the supply of their actual wants, and some of whom are self-supporting.” It is said that “these missionaries have met of course with hardships and privations, and have frequently been reduced to great straits, and their faith has been severely tried, but on these occasions they have left the burden with the Lord and been helped;” and while former Protestant Missions have been confined to a narrow strip on the coast, these more scriptural missionaries have found friends everywhere, and gone into all the provinces, and penetrated to the utmost boundaries of the Chinese Empire. John G. Kerr, M. D., writing in the Cincinnati “Herald and Presbyter,” of June 17th, 1885, concerning “The China Inland Mission,” says: “In our missionary societies, as organised in modern times, there is too much of the form and semblance of a business corporation, in which the agents of the church agree, with a stipulated amount of money and the required number of men, to do a given amount of work in certain mission fields. There is a feeling in all Christian lands that a minister who enters the service of the church with his eye mainly fixed on the salary, is not the man who will be most successful in winning souls to Christ; it is even more necessary in a heathen land that the missionary should be able to convince the people, whose minds never rise above the sordid things of earth, that preaching the gospel is not with him a money-making business. The records of the China Inland Mission, as well as of other missions, show that access to the masses, in populous countries like China, is secured by works of benevolence and kindness. The managers of our missionary societies have much to learn of the power of the gospel of mercy and brotherly kindness as it was practiced on earth by our blessed Savior, and they have much to learn of the willingness of Christian people to give for these objects, and of the willingness of the heathen to aid in supporting them. The expense of hospitals, asylums and homes in heathen lands is much less than in Christian lands, and these institutions, under the management, for the most part, of laymen, will do an amount of physical good more than the equivalent of their cost; while there are also the direct and immediate spiritual results of dispelling prejudice, winning confidence, and giving living examples of the benevolent character of our holy religion. Christian people in this land are responsible for the use of a large proportion of the vast wealth which God has given to this country and this generation. While such vast multitudes of our fellow-men are in need of bodily and spiritual healings, it does not become the redeemed of the Lord to waste God’s money in self-indulgence and aggrandizement.” George Augustus Selwyn (1809-78), “the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand,” and said to have been a laborious, self-denying and successful minister, declared at a Lord Mayor’s banquet in London, in 1854, that “the superfluities of social life in England would supply a fund sufficient to evangelize the world;” and he said a few days afterwards, when it was proposed by the government to withdraw his salary, that he was entirely willing to be one of the first Bishops to try the experiment of showing how many things there are in the world, salary included, which he could do without. And yet with how infinitesimal a fraction of even their “superfluities”—three cents apiece per year—are the combined Catholic and Protestant world willing to part for the purpose of effecting this universal evangelization! How small their faith in their own schemes, or how cold their love for the poor heathen who are perishing, at the rate of 80,000 souls a day, because Christians will not contribute for their conversion the pecuniary value of their own unnecessary luxuries! Why if contrary to the scriptures (1 Peter 1:18, 19), gold could purchase the eternal salvation of a single soul that would otherwise perish, all the Christians in the world ought to be cheerfully willing to dwell in log houses and subsist upon the simplest and cheapest vegetable diet the whole period of their temporal lives in order to accomplish so glorious a result. But, for those professing Christians who believe so unscriptural and Christ-dishonoring a doctrine, and who, nevertheless, refuse to deny themselves of even scarcely the smallest part of their superfluities for the salvation of a thousand million perishing heathen souls, a monument of eternal shame should rise from the earth and pierce the skies forever! Let them contribute even one-tenth of their incomes for so great a purpose as ancient national Israel were required to give to the Lord, and we will begin to believe in the sincerity, at least, of their professions.
The New York “Weekly Witness,” of February 25th, 1886, truthfully remarks: “There is much shame and confusion of face felt by Christians generally on account of the small amount of funds contributed for the evangelization of the world. Hundreds of times as much is spent by nations, called Christian, on intoxicating drinks as upon Christian missions, and half as much more on tobacco. On foolish fashions and unnecessary finery, theatres, balls, etc., there are probably a hundred dollars spent by church members for every one given to missions. In view of these terrible contrasts, is it not a proof of God’s long-suffering mercy that the candlestick is not removed from our churches, as it was from the seven churches of Asia? The Jews, besides paying tithes to the priesthood, made many costly offerings to God, and surely Christians should not be behind the men of the old dispensation.”
It is said that a chain of Missionary Stations has been established through Central Africa from the Eastern to the Western coast; and that, instead of ninety Protestant missionaries among the Chinese some twenty years ago, there are now about four hundred. And Mr. Kichard Glover, President of the Baptist Union of England, eloquently declares: “The desolation of Africa is lifting up its gates that the King of glory may come in. India is smitten with the sacred curiosity which is saying, ‘Sirs, we would see Jesus.’ China—last to be touched by the gospel—is becoming first, and heading the nations in their return to God. If but our consecration matched our opportunity, we would at once begin to find ourselves within measurable distance of a regenerated world; and probably within a century heathenism in its worship and darkness would be dead, as it is dead here in this happy land. Shall we take our part in furthering this consummation? It seems as if God meant it to be wrought chiefly by the English people, and had set us as a nation of kings and priests unto God to rule and raise our fellow-men.” “The Anglo-Saxons,” says M. Taine, “are the most earnest, serious, Hebraic race in Europe, possessing the idea of the grand God of the Bible, omnipotent and unique.” Says the distinguished scientist, Elisee Reclus, of Paris: “England, of all civilized countries, is the one where the number of truly conscientious men, who guide their conduct by rules which they consider to be just and honorable, is the largest.” I myself believe that the Anglo-Saxons, the inhabitants of Great Britain and the United States, are now the most spiritually-blessed of all the peoples of the earth; and, more than by all possible temporal blessings would I and my brethren be rejoiced if it should please the Most High soon to pour out upon the two English nations the fullness of His quickening and sanctifying Spirit, making them indeed kings and priests unto Himself, and chosen vessels to bear His name into all the benighted regions of the globe, and to pour out of the same saving Spirit upon all the nations, making “the kingdoms of this world the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15). I believe that He, and no one else, has the power to do this blessed work, and that in His own best time and way He will make “a new Heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:18; Rev. 21:1).
A few words require to be said of the new denominations that have sprung up in this century.
The “Christian Connection” (or sect calling themselves “Christians”) is the resultant of three independent secession movements-the North Carolina J. O’Kelley “Republican Methodists” (1793), Vermont Baptists (1800), and Kentucky and Tennessee Presbyterians (1801). They profess to reject all creed but the Bible; and they are Anti-Trinitarian and Arminian, and congregational in church polity, and practice immersion and open communion. They have spread over the United States and Canada and England, and claim about 200,000 communicants.
Thomas Campbell (1763-1854), an ordained minister in the “Seceder Church of Scotland,” left Ireland in 1807, and came to Western Pennsylvania; his son, Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), a licentiate minister in the same “church,” followed his father in 1809. The theological views of the Campbells became “altered and liberalized, and were regarded by many as both novel and objectionable; hence they and the few who at first sided with them formed an isolated congregation, called ‘The Christian Association,’ at Brush Run, Washington County, Pa., in 1811.” Their special plea was the restoration of original apostolic Christianity, and the union of all Christians, with the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. Becoming satisfied that immersion was the only scriptural baptism, both father and son and the majority of their members were immersed, in 1812, by Elder Loos, a Baptist minister. Alexander was thenceforth the leader of the movement. In 1813 the Brush Run “Church” joined the Redstone Baptist Association, and in 1823 the Mahoning Baptist Association. In 1827 the Baptist Churches withdrew fellowship from the followers of Alexander Campbell, and the latter were then constituted into a separate body that have called themselves “Disciples of Christ,” but have been generally known as “Campbellites,” an appellation which they indignantly repudiate at the same time that they implicitly reverence Mr. Campbell’s authority. They are extreme Arminians, and almost Pelagians,[xx][xxi] and many of them avowed Universalists; they minimize the work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of the sinner to the very lowest degree, and maximize the printed or preached word and immersion to the very highest degree, making immersion the last and an essential part of regeneration or the new birth, without which ordinance there is no pardon or salvation, though admitting that baptism has no abstract efficacy without previous faith in Christ and repentance toward God, and yet declaring that a person may believe the gospel, be changed in heart, and quickened by the Spirit, and still not be regenerate and saved without immersion (see A. Campbell’s Christian System, pp. 58, 60, 191-202, 212, 218 and 239). I have been carefully reading the most approved writings of the “Disciples” for many years; and, while glad to discover some very rare indications of spiritual-mindedness, I have been heartily pained to see, in general, their thorough and pugnacious anti-spirituality, naturalism and rationalism. Many of their views are inconsistent with each other, with Christian experience, which they ridicule, and with the Bible, which they profess to revere. Says Mr. Campbell, in the Preface to his Christian System, p. 6: “Judging others as we once judged ourselves, there are not a few who are advocating the Bible alone, and preaching their own opinions.” This seems to me to be an exact account of himself and his followers. They claim 600,000 communicants in the United States, mostly in the West and Southwest, and a few in other countries.
John Nelson Darby, of London (1800-82), at first a lawyer, and then an Episcopalian preacher, started in 1827 at Dublin, Ireland, and in 1830 at Plymouth, England, a religious assembly, afterwards developed into a sect called “Darbyites” or “Plymouth Brethren” (their greatest success being at Plymouth), and calling themselves “Brethren.” They unchurch all ecclesiastical communities, both Catholic and Protestant, holding each and all to be a Babel; and they do away with all church offices, holding that every believer has a right to preach and administer the ordinances. Their testimony is chiefly negative—their main positive doctrine being that the Lord is at hand, and, until His coming, the Holy Ghost is the sole and sufficient Sovereign in the church. Some practice and some oppose pedobaptism. They are generally strong Calvinisfcs; are familiar with the Scriptures; and their preaching and writings are uncommonly spiritual. They are now divided into five sects; and they claim about 1,500 “meetings” in the world, of which half are in the British Isles, and about 100 in the United States, about 100 in Canada, and the remainder mostly on the continent of Europe.
In 1829 Mr. John Winebrenner, of Harrisburg, Pa. (1797-1860), who had been a minister of the German Reformed “Church,” organized a society which he called “The Church of God,” but which is generally known as Winebrennarians. They are immersionists, pre-millenarians, Arminians, and ardent revivalists. They advocate and practice feet-washing, and the administration of the Lord’s Supper to Christians only, in a sitting posture, and always in the evening. They claim 45,000 members, mostly in Pennsylvania and the West.
The Mormons, who call themselves “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” were first organized in 1830 at Manchester, New York, by Joseph Smith (1805-44), a man, like Brigham Young (1801-77), his successor, of great ignorance, cunning and impudence. Smith pretended to find, in 1827, in a hill four miles from Palmyra, N. Y., a stone chest containing a book of gold plates with curious inscriptions, and a pair of crystalline spectacles through which the inscriptions could be read in English; and in this way to have composed the “Book of Mormon,” a romance of the peopling of America by three migrations of Jews before the coming of Christ—substantially the same as a novel written, but never published, by Solomon Spalding, and placed, in 1812, in a printing office at Pittsburg, and copied by one of the printers, Sidney Rigdon, who soon after quitted the office and became a preacher of peculiar doctrines, and, in 1829, associated himself with Joseph Smith. The other text-book of the Mormons is the “Book of Doctrine and Covenants,” composed of multi-farious pretended revelations to Smith and one to Brigham Young. The “Book of Mormon” repeatedly forbade polygamy; but in 1843 Smith claimed to receive a revelation authorizing it, and thus sought to justify several scandals of which he had been guilty—this pretended revelation, however, not being publicly admitted and avowed by his followers till 1852. The Mormons successively emigrated to Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and, in 1847, to Utah. They profess to believe in the Bible and in Christ, and are Arminians and Pelagians; they teach baptism (immersion) for the remission of sins and for (the salvation of) the dead; they maintain that the apostolic and prophetic offices, and the gifts of tongues and miracles are still continued in the church, and that Christ will soon come to reign in person on earth with His saints (themselves) a thousand years. They pay tithes to their so-called church, mostly for the building of temples. Like the Jesuits, they are skillfully and thoroughly organized, and are most zealous, self-denying and successful missionaries. They claim now to have a membership of 300,000 in the world, half in the United States (Utah and the neighboring States and Territories), and the other half in Europe and the Sandwich Islands. The success of their missions has been greatly increasing during recent years.
William Miller (1781-1849), a native of Massachusetts, but a resident of New York, began in 1833 to declare that the end of the world would occur in 1843, which date he arrived at by reckoning 2,300 years Dan 8:14 from B. C. 457, when Artaxerxes, king of Persia, sent up Ezra from his captivity to restore the Jewish polity at Jerusalem Dan 9:25; Ezra 7. He got some 50,000 people to follow and believe him-known as Millerites or Second Adventists. Among other dates, the years 1847, 1848, 1857 and 1861, were fixed upon by himself or his adherents for the second visible appearing of Christ. There are said to be at present about 20,000 Adventists in the United States, mostly in New England and the Northwest. They practice immersion, and many of them believe in the annihilation of the wicked, and in the sleep of the soul from the hour of death to the day of judgment (psychopannychism). Having failed so often, they have ceased to predict the exact year of the second advent of Christ, but they maintain that He will soon come in person, and reign on earth with His people a thousand years, which expected period is called the Millennium.
Edward Irving, of Scotland (1792-1834), one of the most powerful pulpit orators of this century, taught that the end of the present dispensation was rapidly approaching, and that the special offices and gifts of the apostolic church were to be revived to make ready a people for the Lord. In 1824 he preached by invitation before the London Missionary Society, and for three hours in gorgeous eloquence he depicted a grand ideal of a mission scheme after the model of apostolic times, making a burning protest against the cowardly, worldly, business spirit in which nineteenth century missions were prosecuted. “Money, money, money, is the universal cry,” said he. “Mammon hath gotten the victory, and may triumphantly say (nay, he may keep silence, and the servants of Christ will say for him), ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’” Mr. Irving was never again asked to preach before a modern missionary society. In 1835, the year after his death, the completion of the organization of the “Catholic Apostolic Church” (generally called Irvingites) was effected by the full number of twelve so-called “Apostles” being called to their office by what was considered the voice of the Holy Ghost speaking through those called “prophets.” In its hierarchical constitution and ritualistic worship, Irvingism is a combination of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. There are about two hundred communities of this order in Europe and America.
“Spiritualism,” or “Spiritism,” originating in 1848 in the Fox family, in Hydeville, Wayne County, New York, now claims some three million adherents. It professes to be a method of communicating with the spirits of the dead by means of rappings, table-turnings, mediums, writings, drawings, pictures, stigmata, healings, lights, the apparition of spirit-hands, faces and bodies, etc.; but it is a combination of superstition, hypnotism, expectant attention, dominant ideas, epidemic delusion, ventriloquism, unconscious muscular movement, thought-reading, imagination, jugglery, etc., as the most competent scientific investigators have demonstrated. Spiritualists, in general, deny the divinity of Christ, the personality of the Devil, and the eternity of future punishment; they are extreme Arminians or Pelagians. This wretched nineteenth century delusion has “assumed the character of a new religion, with new revelations far exceeding those of the prophets and Apostles.” If any disembodied spirits aid in making these pretended revelations, they are undoubtedly evil spirits, with whom human beings should have no dealings (Lev. 19:31, 20:6; Deut. 18:11). The “Saturday Review,” of England, forcibly remarks: “It is much better to be a respectable pig, and accept annihilation, than to be cursed with such an immortality as the Spiritualists reveal to us.”
And another so-called “New Christianity,” born in the throes of the French Revolution during the last decade of the eighteenth century, and nursed into new and far more terrible life during the last half of this nineteenth century of ours, is French and German and American Communism, Socialism and Internationalism, originating in pantheistic or atheistic mammonism and materialism, indicating a fearful decay of religion and morality, ignoring God and eternity, taking the work of Karl Marx on “Capital” as its Bible, becoming daily more wide-spread and more extreme, professing to base itself on political economy, logical demonstrations and scientific facts piled mountain high, numbering its newspapers by scores, its adherents by tens of thousands, and its pupils, in Labor Unions, by hundreds of thousands, demanding free land, free tools, free money, and free love, a perfect equality of property, and the right of every one to do as he pleases, urging the purchase of powder and lead, muskets and dynamite, arming and drilling its thousands, holding up the riots of 1877, when many lives and a hundred million dollars’ worth of property were destroyed, as a feeble example, declaring that they will be far better prepared next time, and that the present generation, in the United States, shall not pass away until the whole fabric of our social order and civilization is thoroughly overturned.[xxii][xxiii] Unless the kind and loving and self-denying Spirit of Christ be given to both rich and poor, employers and employees, the avoidance of some dreadful catastrophe, before the lapse of many years, seems impossible.
In 1813 died William Huntington (born in 1744). He was of low origin, and very poor, ignorant and dissipated; his occupation was that of a coal-heaver. He was converted suddenly and wonderfully, and became a Calvinistic Methodist preacher—a large chapel in London being built for his use. He had an extraordinary tact for spiritualizing everything; and seemed to obtain nearly all the bodily necessities and comforts for which he prayed. His numerous writings are esteemed by many sound English and American Baptists as the most deeply experimental and spiritual of any since the days of the Apostles. He appended S. S. (Sinner Saved) to his name, as a contrast to the unscriptural ecclesiastical title D. D. (Doctor of Divinity).
Robert Hall (1764-1831), of England, was one of the most eloquent of modern preachers, and almost his whole life was a lingering martyrdom from disease. He was a Baptist, a semi-Calvinist, and an open-communionist. He suffered from spinal and heart disease, renal calculus, and insanity. For more than twenty years he could not pass an entire night in bed, and had often, in a single night, to take a thousand drops of laudanum. To him one of the sweetest thoughts of Heaven was, “There shall be no more pain.” His paroxysms were most distressing, and his spirit, at death, passed away in a storm of agony.
Richard Watson (1781-1833), also of England, was the greatest and the most nearly Calvinistic of Methodist theologians. “His name is emblazoned in gold on Methodist banners.” Just before his death he said: “I am a poor, vile worm; but then the worm is permitted to crawl out of the earth into the garden of the Lord.”
I shall behold His face,
“We shall see strange sights some day; not different, however, from what we may realize by faith. But it is not this, not the glitter of glory, not the diamond and topaz—no, it is God; He is all in all.”
“Methodism,” says the Episcopalian historian, A. C. Jennings “gave rise to Evangelicanism in the Established Church of England; and Evangelicanism caused the church to recover vitality; there was a reaction against profligacy and skepticism.” Says Mr. John Stoughton: “The defects of early (Calvinistic) Evangelicals are manifest. They were destitute generally of any great taste for literature and art, and used a somewhat peculiar religious dialect; also they were intolerant of other men’s opinions, questioning the religion of those pronounced unevangelical, and they were one-sided in their theological systems. They did not clearly distinguish between scientific theology and spiritual religion. The inferences of eminent divines amongst reformers, amongst Puritans, and even amongst themselves, were too often confounded with the teachings of Scripture. They repudiated all authority but that of the Bible, yet they were powerfully influenced by their own favorite authors. Yet when all this is said—and I have put the matter in strong terms—it remains true, that what they lost in breadth they gained in depth. There was a living power in their convictions, which moved their whole being, and gave incisiveness to words, boldness to work. They were an immense power for good at the commencement of this century, and a long while afterwards; they were the very salt of the Church of England, during a period when influences existed threatening decay and corruption. If not for any number of dignitaries within its circle, if not for a multitude of adherents in its ranks, yet for spiritual force, for religious efficiency, the Evangelical movement can scarcely be over-estimated.” John Newton (born 1725) died in 1807. He would preach as long as he could talk. When remonstrated with for traveling and preaching when very old and feeble and almost helpless, he would exclaim, “I cannot stop. What, shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?” When near his end he said, “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things—that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” “Preaching Christ,” says Mr. Stoughton, “was the chief joy of those old ministers, and they lived on the sides of eternity. Richard Cecil (born 1748) died in 1810. During his last days his whole soul seemed absorbed in heavenly contemplations; and when in dying circumstances he exclaimed with great fervor, ‘None but Christ! none but Christ!’ Thomas Scott (born 1747) lived on till 1821, being all that while a pillar in the Evangelical aisle of the English Church. His ‘Family Bible’ was wonderfully popular, and was one main instrument in keeping alive evangelical sentiments and methods of interpretation. The capital excellency of the work perhaps consisted in following more closely than any other commentary the fair and adequate meaning of every part of Scripture, without regard to the niceties of human systems. Sir James Stephens, referring to Scott, says: ‘He would have seen the labors of his life perish, and would have perished with them, rather than distort the sense of revelation by a hair’s-breadth from what he believed to be its genuine meaning.’ The second coming of Christ was a favorite subject with the Evangelical clergy. Perhaps the zenith of prosperity in the Evangelical section of the English Church may be dated from 1810 to 1830; and then evangelical truth ceased to be identified with a particular school, and became,” Mr. Stoughton thinks, “much more widely diffused.” “The Independents,” Mr. S. says, “have been more conservative than the Presbyterians; and the Baptists more conservative than the Independents, and also more united than either of the other two denominations, because their denominational zeal rallied round one distinct institute (baptism), the name of which ever shone on their banners.”
During the present century about two hundred and thirty translations of the Bible have been made, about seventy of them in languages previously without a literature. The one of most interest to the readers of the present volume is the Canterbury, or Westminster, or Victorian Revision of the King James or Authorized Version—begun in 1870; the New Testament finished in 1880, and published in 1881; and the Old Testament finished in 1884, and published in 1885. This Anglo-American Revision, by sixty-seven English and thirty-four American scholars of nine different denominations, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist, Reformed, Lutheran, Unitarian and Quaker, is declared to be “the noblest monument of Christian union and co-operation in this nineteenth century.” The undertaking was inaugurated by the (Southern) Convocation of Canterbury, in the “Church of England,” but opposed by the (Northern) Convocation of York. In the Massoretic Text of the Old Testament (the Text almost universally received by both Jews and Christians) there are said to be 1,353 various readings, very many of which are merely in spelling, and do not affect the meaning; while there are said to be about 150,000 variations in the manuscripts of the New Testament, of which, however, only about 400 materially affect the sense, and of these only about fifty are of real importance, while even of these “not one affects an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching.” The Old Testament Committees were far more conservative than the New Testament Committees, and have made much fewer changes, especially in the original text, and their work is, therefore, far less objectionable. The Committees on the New Testament made about 36,000 changes, including 5,788 changes in the Greek text, based mainly on the new Greek text of Westcott and Hort, which is chiefly founded on two Uncial Manuscripts believed to have been written about the middle of the fourth century—the Codex Sinaiticus (discovered by Tischendorf in 1844 in the Convent of St. Catharine at the foot of Mount Sinai, but not used till 1859), and the Codex Vaticanus (in the Vatican library at Rome, but not critically published till by Tischendorf in 1867); the Vatican manuscript, especially, being almost superstitiously venerated by Westcott and Hort and by the Revisers, on the ground that it contains the shortest, oldest and purest text, though it contains thousands of additions by second and third hands, and though there are known to be at least 1,763 manuscripts of the New Testament, in whole or in part, including 158 Uncials and 1,605 Cursives, very few of which have been thoroughly examined. The Textus Receptus, or Received Text, of the King James Version and of the other Protestant versions (German, French and Dutch) of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, usually followed Beza’s Greek text of 1589, which was based on Stephens’s text of 1550, that being derived from Erasmus’s text of 1527, and the latter derived from a few Cursive manuscripts of the Middle Ages, but traceable through the Byzantine family of manuscripts to the middle of the fourth century, and in general accord with the Alexandrine Codex (believed to have been of the fifth century) now in the British Museum, and with the Peshito, or Syriac Version, of the second century, “justly called the queen of the ancient versions;” and this text, says Prof. Philip Schaff, the President of the American Committee of Revision, “teaches precisely the same Christianity as the uncial text of the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, the oldest versions, and the Anglo-American Revision.” The new version does not exhibit the real judgment of any one of the revisers, each being many times outvoted in points which he greatly valued; and its adoption is earnestly opposed by able and influential scholars, among whom the chief are Dean John W. Burgon, of Chichester, and Canon F. C. Cook, Editor of “The Speaker’s Commentary on the Bible.” Prof. Schaff himself admits that the Revision now needs another revision; and he maintains that a new revision ought to be made every fifty years. He says that about 3,000,000 copies of the Revised New Testament were sold within twelve months of its publication; but that since that time there has been a reaction in favor of the old version. “King James’s Version,” he remarks, “had a powerful rival in the Geneva Bible, which had taken strong hold on the affections of the people because it was made by the English exiles in times of fierce persecution, and under the eyes of the great Reformers, Calvin and Beza, and was accompanied with convenient explanatory notes.” In reference to the King James Version itself, Prof. Schaff, the leading authority among American Bible scholars, says: “It is the last and the best of the English versions of the Reformation period, and hence it finally superseded all its predecessors. It is the mature fruit of three generations of Bible students and translators, and embodies the best elements of the older versions. Its style is universally admired, and secures to it the first rank among English classics. It hails from the golden age of English literature. It coincides in time with the greatest and almost inspired poet of human nature in all its phases, but rises above Shakespeare as grace rises above nature, and religion above poetry. The Bible is beautiful in any language, but it is pre-eminently beautiful in the English, the most cosmopolitan of all languages. The (King James) translators called to their aid with easy mastery all its marvelous resources of Saxon strength, Norman grace, and Latin majesty, and blended these elements in melodious harmony. Their language is popular without being vulgar, and dignified without being stiff. It reads like poetry and sounds like music. It is thoroughly idiomatic, and free from Latin barbarisms. It is as true to the genius of the English as to the genius of the Hebrew and Greek. We hear, in our Bible, Moses and the prophets, Christ and the Apostles, speaking to us in our own mother-tongue. From this ‘well of English pure and undefiled,’ poets, orators and historians have drunk inspiration for more than two hundred and fifty years. It has done more than any great writer, not excluding Shakespeare and Milton, to fix the character of the language beyond the possibility of essential change, and the idiom of this version will always remain the favorite organ for the oracles of God to the English-speaking race. The King James Version is the work of the English Church in the period of the greatest revival of primitive Christianity. The sacred memories of three generations of martyrs and confessors are treasured up in its pages. No other version has such a halo of glory around it, nor is the child of so many prayers, nor has passed through severer trials, nor is so deeply rooted in the affections of the people that use it; and no other has exerted so great an influence upon the progress of the Christian religion and true civilization at home and abroad. It is interwoven with all that is most precious in the history and literature of two mighty nations which have sprung from the Saxon stock. It is used day by day and hour by hour in five continents.”
Of the numerous changes made by the recent Revisers, it may be truly said that they were all conjectural, as no one of the inspired autographs is extant; that, in the present inchoate and very imperfect condition of manuscript criticism, they were premature; that the most of them were altogether unnecessary and inexpedient; and that, if a very few had been proper and desirable, it would have been better to have put them in the margin, and left the text of the Authorized Version unchanged. I have for several years been making daily use of Eyre and Spottiswoode’s Variorum Bible for Bible Teachers, which contains, at the foot of each page, the most important of all the known various readings and renderings from the best critical and exegetical authorities; and I take pleasure in bearing the faithful testimony that there are very few of the variations that are not trivial and worthless.
There are three classes of Strict Baptists in England, represented respectively by the “Gospel Herald,” established in 1833; the “Gospel Standard,” established in 1835; and the “Earthen Vessel,” established in 1843. They are all Calvinists and Close Communionists; they do not exact rebaptism on the part of members that join them from other “churches,” though they require a relation of Christian experience; they do not practice feet-washing as a literal observance in the churches; they all have Sunday Schools, in which they teach how to read, and explain the Scriptures, but they reject the idea that the Sunday School is “a nursery of the church” or a substitute for the Holy Spirit; they all have Relief Societies for the Christian poor; and all contribute to the “Trinitarian Bible Society.” The “Gospel Herald” class of Strict Baptists also have Associations, and Tract and Missionary Societies. The “Gospel Standard” Strict Baptists most nearly of all the people in England resemble the Old School or Primitive Baptists in the United States. Their Articles of Faith are substantially the same as ours—are thoroughly sound, spiritual, and experimental, insisting, in the strongest language, upon the doctrine of salvation by sovereign, discriminating and almighty grace from beginning to end, and upon the necessity of adorning the doctrine of God our Savior with a godly walk and conversation, humility and brotherly love, and closing with these words: “And for every blessing and favor, both temporal and spiritual, we, who are as deserving of hell as the vilest of the vile, desire to ascribe all the praise to the glory of the grace of a Triune God.” They open their pulpits to all who subscribe to all their Articles of Faith, whether they are Baptists or not. They utterly condemn Theological Seminaries. They have, and sustain by voluntary contributions, the “Gospel Standard Aid Society” for the relief of aged and infirm Strict Baptist ministers and their widows; and the “Gospel Standard Poor Relief Society,” for the relief of afflicted and needy Strict Baptist ministers of any age, and of needy Strict Baptist members over sixty years of age. One of their leading members writes me: “We do not profess to have religious Associations, as the Duty-Faith Baptists have. Neither do we send out missionaries, as we cannot afford to do so; and we do not unite with the Baptist Missionary Society, as the ministers are Duty-Faith men [that is, such as declare faith to be a duty, instead of a gift]. We have no Society for the distribution of tracts, though individuals amongst us often issue tracts or leaflets in onr letters.” Among the leading ministers of the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists have been William Gadsby, John Warburton, John Kershaw, John M’Kensie and J. C. Philpot. From the Memoirs of Gadsby and Philpot I will present a few interesting facts.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a member of a family containing fourteen children, and, when young, he was very poor, illiterate, and mischievous. He was first apprenticed to a ribbon-weaver and then to a stocking-weaver. He was converted in his eighteenth year, baptized when twenty-one, married when twenty-three, and began preaching when twenty-five years of age. He had an original and powerful mind, and was a bold and uncompromising defender of the doctrine of the Trinity and of predestination and election; though he maintained with James James 1:13 that God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man, and he declared that making God the author of sin was a diabolical doctrine. He considered and often publicly declared Andrew Fuller the greatest enemy that the church of God ever had, as Fuller’s sentiments were so much cloaked with sheep’s clothing. When informed that a meeting of dissenting ministers had decided that the best method to further the gospel was to preach in such a way that the people could not discern whether they preached free-will or free grace, he declared that Satan was the president of that meeting. He was pastor of the Strict Particular Baptist Church in Manchester from 1803 till his death. He planted forty Baptist Churches in four counties, preached from six to eight times a week, and during his life traveled more than 60,000 miles, a great deal of the distance on foot, for the purpose of preaching. He received from five to twelve hundred dollars a year, besides numerous presents; and he gave away four or five hundred dollars a year to the poor and afflicted, who have seldom had so active and devoted a friend; and yet one of his troubles in his last days was that he had done so little for the poor. In 1805 he wrote the “Everlasting Task for Arminians.” He was editor of the “Gospel Standard” from its foundation in 1835 till his death; and he wrote twenty-two works, some of which have been widely circulated. His character was irreproachable. Like Huntington, he maintained that the Gospel, and not the Law, is the rule of life for the believer; and for this he was stigmatized and persecuted as an Antinomian. When told by a Baptist minister once that such doctrines led to licentiousness, he asked: “Do they lead me to licentiousness?” “Why, no,” replied the minister, “I don’t mean you exactly.” “Well,” said Mr. G., “do they lead my church to licentiousness?” “No,” replied the minister, “I don’t say they do.” “Well,” continued Mr. G., “do they lead you to licentiousness?” “No,” replied the minister, “for I don’t believe in them.” “Well, then,” said Mr. G., “if they lead neither believers nor unbelievers to licentiousness, pray tell me who the characters are that they do so lead?” “It is an awful fact,” says Mr. Gadsby, in his “Perfect Law of Liberty,” “that we live in a day when the best name which the truth as it is in Jesus can obtain among the bulk of the professing world is that of ‘Antinomianism.’” The last ten years of his life he totally abstained from the use of spirituous liquors, though he never joined an Abstinence Society; and to a young man waiting on him in his last illness he said, “Shun wine as you would shun the Devil.” He had but little confidence in missionaries or their societies. When told that it took but three cents to convert a heathen, and three hundred dollars to convert a Jew, he said that, if the soul of the heathen was as precious in God’s sight as the soul of a Jew, the missionaries should leave the Jews to their fate, and turn their exclusive attention to the heathen. His wife was deranged the last twenty-two years of his life, and this was a terrible affliction. He preached twice on the last Sunday of his life, though he was so feeble that it took him four minutes to ascend the pulpit stairs, and he could not give out the hymns except the last. His text in the morning was Isaiah 43:2. On Tuesday morning he was attacked with inflammation of the lungs, and had to take his bed. He suffered much from pain and sleeplessness. On Saturday morning he sent for his family to come into his room, desiring also his poor wife to be present. About eight o’clock the Lord appeared to break into his soul. He had the twelfth chapter of Romans read Rom 12, and he then engaged in a broken but most solemn and affecting prayer for the church and for his family. “There is nothing too hard for Christ,” said he after the prayer; “He is the mighty God-from everlasting to everlasting. He is precious.” After sleeping, he awoke in the afternoon. “There is no religion without power,” he remarked. “Unto them which believe, Christ is precious; yes, King, Immanuel, Redeemer, all glorious. I shall soon be with Him, shouting Victory! victory! victory! forever. Free grace! free grace! free grace!” And then, without a struggle or movement, he smiled and fell asleep in Jesus. In his desk was found a slip of paper containing the following, in his own handwriting: “Let this be put on my stone:”
Here rests the body of a
Joseph Charles Philpot (1802-69) was descended by both parents from Huguenot or French Calvinistic Protestant families. His health was always delicate. He was a distinguished graduate and fellow of Worcester College, Oxford University. In 1827, while acting as the private tutor of the sons of a wealthy gentleman in Ireland, the Lord sent upon him grievous affliction, and poured upon him the Spirit of grace and supplications, taught him his sinfulness, and blessed him with a sweet hope in Christ. Returning to Oxford, he met, though still an Episcopalian, with contempt and persecution because of his inward, spiritual religion; so he left the University, and from 1828 to 1835 he was curate of Chislehampton and Stadhampton near Oxford. At this time “it was his custom on Sunday before the morning service to spend some time in the Sunday School, teaching the children the word of God, and then walk with them to meeting, where he preached extemporaneously about an hour; after the afternoon service he again went to the school and had the children assembled all around him to hear what they remembered of the sermon, and to explain to them what they could not understand of it, and then dismissed them with prayer. His day’s labor was concluded by an exposition given on some portion of the Scriptures in his own sitting room, where often quite a goodly number of his parishioners assembled to hear him.” During the week he was unwearied in his daily walking from house to house to read and pray with his people, and to attend to the temporal as well as spiritual needs of the poor. In a letter written the last year of his life he declares that, while thus laboring in the Episcopal “Church,” he was both a living man and a living minister, and that the Lord greatly blessed his ministry to the comfort of His people. But becoming satisfied of the great errors of the Establishment, he seceded from the “Church of England” in 1835, and left his income from the “Church,” and resigned his University fellowship, giving up every worldly advantage for conscience’s sake. “Like Abraham, he went forth, not knowing whither he went, but counting, with Moses, the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, and little foreseeing either what the Lord in His providence would do for him, or in His grace do by him.” About six months afterward he was baptized by Mr. John Warburton into the fellowship of the Strict Baptist Church at Allington. From 1838 to 1864 he was pastor of the two Strict Baptist Churches at Stamford and Oakham; and from 1849 to 1869 editor of the “Gospel Standard,” a very laborious and responsible position, that monthly magazine having a circulation of about 10,000 copies. He spent an hour every morning reading his Hebrew Bible, and an hour every evening reading his Greek Testament, greatly enjoying these moments; and he appreciated the writings of John Owen (especially his voluminous Commentary on the Hebrews) and of William Huntington, particularly the latter, as the most spiritual and profitable since the close of the canon of inspiration. Removing to Croyden on account of his failing health, he was pastor of the church there the last five years of his life. He was more of an experimental than a doctrinal preacher. Viewing religion as a human body, he considered “the doctrines of the gospel the bones, experience the flesh, and the Holy Spirit the life of both bones and flesh. The dead Calvinists,” said he, “have the bones without the flesh—a dry skeleton; the Arminians have the flesh without the bones—a shapeless and unsupported mass; and the daily experimentalists have the bones and flesh without life—a corpse. But the living family of God have bones and flesh and life; for they have truth in doctrine, truth in experience, and truth in life and power; and thus religion with them is a living body.” He was a strong and scriptural advocate of the eternal Sonship of Christ and of the Three-Oneness of Jehovah, and of the doctrine of predestination. “I fully believe,” says he, “that the entrance of sin into the world, and of death by sin, was according to the permissive will of God, for without it it could not have entered; but not appointed by Him in the same way as what is good, for such an assertion, reason how we may, would make God the author of sin. Sin is not a creature. Two things are very evident; first, that sin is a most dreadful evil, hateful to God, and calling down His displeasure and righteous punishment; and secondly, that there is no remedy for this dreadful evil, except through the incarnation and bloodshedding of the Son of God.” In November, 1869, he was taken severely ill with bronchitis, and suffered greatly with shortness of breath and sleeplessness. All remedies failed. As he was sinking fast, his children were called round his bed about midnight, Dec. 8th. He was perfectly conscious, knowing them all, and calmly bidding them good-by. To them he said, “Love one another. Be kind to your mother; she’s been a good wife to me, and a good mother to you all. Follow on to know the Lord. Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. Better to die than to live. Mighty to save! Mighty to save!” This he repeated several times. “I die in the faith I have preached and felt. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. O, if I could depart, and be with Christ, which is far better. Praise the Lord: bless His holy name.” Just before he departed, he looked up earnestly, then closed his eyes, and said, “Beautiful!” His wife, who was close beside him, asked, “What’s beautiful?” He made no direct answer; but presently said, with his failing voice, “Praise the Lord, 0 my soul!” These were his last words; and soon after this he gently passed away at half-past three on the morning of Dec. 9, 1869.
All the latter part of the present volume is devoted to the Old School, or Primitive, or Predestinarian, or Covenanted Baptists of the United States and Canada, mostly during the present century-that part of the work having been written by my father, who enjoyed a long, intimate and extensive personal acquaintance with the people of whom he gives an account; I myself, therefore, will say but little about them here. I believe that, both in doctrine and practice, they come much nearer than any other professing Christians to the models of the apostolic and primitive churches, as described in the New Testament and in Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and in the most reliable Church Histories. At the same time, like the apostolic and primitive churches, they neither are nor claim to be perfect, only in Christ. Like those churches, they are not yet perfectly united in all points of doctrine and practice; there being still some diversity among them in the understanding[xxiv][xxv] of the mysterious doctrinal truths of the Trinity, Predestination, the nature of Regeneration, the condition of the soul between death and the end of the present dispensation, the Resurrection of the body, and the Judgment after Death-and in the practice of Feet-Washing, the Laying on of Hands on all Baptized Believers, the Proper Attitude in Prayer, the Manner of Opening Church Conferences, and the Method and Amount of Contributions to the Temporal Assistance of the Ministry. But in the great central doctrine of Salvation by Grace alone, through the Electing Love of God the Father, the Redeeming Love of God the Son, and the Renewing Love of God the Spirit, and in the heartfelt obligation of adorning this holy doctrine with godly lives and conversations—they are perfectly agreed. In reference to other matters, not so essential now to be understood, and upon which they cannot now reach perfect harmony, it becomes them not to fall out by the way and unchristianize one another, and indulge a fleshly spirit in the use of harsh and bitter language, but to await the sunshine of new and clearer revelations in that Perfect World of Light and Peace and Love to which the saints are hastening. Then, in answer to the prayer of our great High Priest, all the redeemed family of Godall the members of His Mystical Body—shall be perfectly one, even as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:20-23).
May the God of all grace pour out upon our brethren and sisters everywhere a richer fullness of the Spirit of Christ, making them less cold, worldly-minded, covetous, unsympathetic, opinionated, theoretical, and careless of avoiding the appearance of evil, and more zealous, heavenly-minded, generous, kind, meek, practical, and careful to avoid all appearance of evil—more filled with living faith—more like our blessed Lord, who, during His earthly ministry, not only worshiped the Father in spirit, but went about lovingly ministering to the needy and afflicted in body and soul, teaching all His followers, both by precept and example, that they should both love God supremely and love their fellow-creatures as themselves. May they be forward to remember the poor (Gal. 2:10), and the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35); and may they obey the injunctions of the Scriptures not to muzzle the mouths of the oxen that tread out the corn, but cheerfully and liberally minister of their carnal things unto those who, laboring in word and doctrine, minister of their spiritual things unto them (1 Cor. 9:7-19; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18),—that thus the ministry may be able to give more “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, neglecting not the gift that is in them, but meditating upon these things, and giving themselves wholly to them, that their profiting may appear to all” (1 Tim. 4:13-15). May it please the Lord to revive the gifts of exhortation in the churches, and to stir up His people more to practical godliness, so copiously and impressively enjoined, in the Epistles of the New Testament, as the fitting superstructure upon the foundation of sound doctrine. May the gospel be preached to every creature in all the world, and may the Lord Jesus gather and bring into His fold all His sheep of every nation, people, kindred and tongue (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:16, 27-30; Rev. 5:9).
It is falsely said, by those who have been charitably preaching our funeral for the last fifty years, that the number of Primitive Baptists is decreasing, and all will soon be dead and gone. Their numbers have increased, during this century, in the same proportion as the population. In 1800 there were about 10,000 of them, when the entire population of the United States was about 5,000,000; and in 1880 there were about 100,000, when the entire population of the country was about 50,000,000. It is a remarkable coincidence that this proportion—about one in 500—was about the same as that of the 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal, in Elijah’s time, to the entire population of the kingdom of Israel, about 3,500,000. We have now, in round numbers, about 1,500 Elders; 3,000 churches, 240 Associations, and 100,000 members[xxvi][xxvii] in the United States—the most of our membership being in the Southern and Western States.
Some of our ministers who have passed away during this century are the following: John Leland, John Boggs, Thomas Fleeson, Gideon Farrell, Daniel E. Jewett, Samuel Trott, Joshua Lawrence, Blount Cooper, William Hyman, Thomas Barton, Ichabod Moore, James Osbourn, Burwell Temple, Gabriel Conkling, D. L. Harding, John Staddler, John W. Stamper, Thomas Briggs, William Whitaker, John H. Daniel, Robert C. Leachman, Philander Hartwell, Joseph L. Purington, Robert D. Hart, G. W. Staton, Wilson Thompson, John M. Watson, Isam Cranfill, J. F. Johnson, Clayton Moore, C. B. Hassell, Gilbert Beebe, Jacob Castlebury, Samuel Danks, R. H. Harriss and Russell Tucker. My sketch of my father’s life, and Elder Gilbert Beebe’s autobiographical sketch, will be found in the Appendix to this volume. Some information in regard to others of these ministers appears in other parts of this work. Several of them traveled between one and two hundred thousand miles, preaching the gospel of Christ, in the manner of the Apostles, wherever the Spirit and providence of God directed them, and not sent out, instructed and supported by human Boards and Societies devised by Papal Rome and imitated by Protestants. Elder James Osbourn was an Englishman, who traveled and preached much, and wrote many religious books. Elder Clayton Moore, of Martin Co., N. C., was a profound thinker and instructive speaker; and he, more than any other person, urged my father to undertake and myself to complete this History. Having the published lives and writings of Elders John Leiand and Wilson Thompson, I will add some interesting particulars in regard to them.
Elder John Leland (1754-1841), a native of Grafton, Mass., was brought under conviction for sin and also concerned in regard to the ministry in his eighteenth year, experienced a hope in Christ and was baptized and began to exercise in public in his twentieth year, was married in his twenty-second year, and, during the sixty-seven years of his ministry, labored with his own hands, never solicited money for himself, went forth entirely undirected and unsupported by missionary societies or funds, preached from four to fourteen times a week, from Massachusetts to South Carolina (fifteen years in Virginia, from 1776 to 1791, and the most of the remainder of the time in Massachusetts), traveling more than a hundred thousand miles, somewhat on foot, but mostly on horseback, baptized 1,535 persons on a credible profession of faith, only one or two of whom ever attended Sunday Schools, faithfully preached the word unmixed with the doctrines and commandments of men, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, zealously opposed Sunday Schools, Theological Seminaries, a salaried ministry, and moneyed religious institutions, endured great and numerous persecutions, was an earnest advocate of civil and religious liberty, personally knew more than a thousand Baptist preachers, heard more than three hundred of them preach, and entertained more than two hundred of them at his house, wrote about thirty pamphlets and many hymns, including, “The day is past and gone,” and “Christians, if your hearts be warm, Ice and snow can do no harm,” never could preach without getting into the third chapter of John, declaring the necessity of being born again, and more and more felt his unworthiness the longer he lived, carefully weighing himself in the balances of the sanctuary and finding himself wanting, and feeling that his soul and all his services needed washing in the blood of the Lamb, and perfuming with the intercession of the great High Priest, and that, at last, on the verge of the grave, with hoary head, and decrepit limbs, and faltering tongue, he could but cry, “God, be merciful to me a sinner! Save, Lord, or I must perish!” He preached in four hundred and thirty-six meeting-houses, thirty-seven court-houses, several capitols, academies and school-houses, barns, tobacco-houses, and dwelling-houses, and many hundreds of times on stages in the open air, having congregations of from five to ten thousand people. In 1835 he wrote: “I have been preaching sixty years to convince men that human powers were too degenerate to effect a change of heart by self-exertion; and all the revivals of religion that I have seen have substantially accorded with that sentiment. But now a host of preachers and people have risen up, who ground salvation on the foundation that I have sought to demolish. The world is gone after them, and their converts increase abundantly. How much error there has been in the doctrine and measures that I have advocated, I cannot say; no doubt some, for I claim not infallible inspiration. But I have not yet been convinced of any mistake so radical as to justify a renunciation of what I have believed, and adopt the new measures.” In 1833 he wrote to the “Signs of the Times:” “In these days of novelty we are frequently addressed from the pulpit as follows: ‘Professors of religion, you stand in the way of God and sinners—give up your old hope and come now into the work—God cannot convert sinners while you are stumbling-blocks in the way—sinners are stumbling over you into hell. Profane sinners, I call upon you to flee from the wrath to come—come this minute and give your heart to God, or you will seal your own damnation—God has given you the power, and will damn you if you do not use it—God has done all He can for you and will do no more—look not for a change of heart; a change of purpose is all that is necessary—to pray the Lord to enable you would be presumptuous. Some of you are mourning for the loss of a friend—I tell you your friend is in hell, and has gone there on your account—had you done your duty, your friend would now be in Heaven, but for your neglect your friend is damned. My hearers, you may have a revival of religion whenever you please—begin in the work, and the work will begin among the people—continue in it and the work will continue—keep on and the work will become universal.’ Now I have not so learned Christ—I do not understand the Scriptures in that light—it is not the voice of my Beloved—it sounds like the voice of a stranger, and I dare not follow it. Societies of various kinds are now formed, with ostensible views, to extirpate drunkenness, masonry, ignorance, slavery and idolatry from the earth; and the people, from the aged to the infant, are called upon to enroll their names and take a bold stand to moralize and christianize the world. Lying, fraud, love of money, hypocrisy, gaming, dueling and licentiousness as yet seem to be considered too sacred to be meddled with, for no society is formed to check them. The missionary establishment, in its various departments, is a stupendous institution. Literary and theological schools, Bible and tract societies, foreign and domestic missions, general, State, county and district conventions, Sunday School Unions, etc., are all included in it. To keep it in motion, missionary boards, presidents, treasurers, corresponding secretaries, agents, printers, buildings, teachers, runners, collectors, mendicants, etc., are all in requisition. The cloud of these witnesses is so great that one who doubts the divinity of the measure is naturally led to think of the locusts in Egypt that darkened the Heavens and ate up every green thing on earth. This machine is propelled by steam (money), and does not sail by the wind of Heaven. Immense donations and contributions have already been cast into the treasury; and we see no end to it, for the solicitors and mendicants are constantly crying ‘Give, Give,’ with an unblushing audacity that makes humble saints hold down their heads. But I forbear. The subject sickens. I close in the words of God Himself, ‘Stand ye in the way, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls’” (Jer. 6:16). Among the other remarkable and excellent sayings preserved in his writings are the following: “That God is good, and that men are rebellious—that salvation is of the Lord, and damnation is of ourselves, are truths revealed as plain as a sunbeam.” “God sits upon a great white throne, free from every stain.” “When I was a boy, I could not understand Pedobaptist orthography; they spelt circumcision, and pronounced it baptism. And I observed that they put the cart before the horse; instead of, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,’ they would have it, ‘He that is baptized and believeth shall be saved!’” “Some say, ‘If you will pay me well for preaching and praying, I will do them, otherwise I will not.’ Such golden sermons and silver prayers are of no great value.” “There is no danger of your being damned, if you see yourselves bad enough to be saved wholly by grace. He that has raised you out of the grave of carnal security will loose you and let you go. He that has opened your eyes to see your dungeon and chains will also bring you out of the prison-house and set you free.” Referring to the text which many preachers seemed to take, “Schools, Academies and Colleges are the inexhaustible fountains of true piety, morality and literature,” he said that he had never been able to find it in the Bible. “In my travels I have heard much said about a Savior by the name of ‘Old Mr. Well’s You Can,’ but I have never seen him, and almost despair of ever finding him below the sun. If the salvation of the soul depends upon our doing as well as we can, who can be saved? If a man falters once in his life from doing as well as he can, the chance is over with him. Those who place the greatest hope for Heaven on doing as well as they can, are more negligent in good works than those who detest themselves as the vilest of the vile, and trust alone in the mercy of God, through the blood of Christ. Pharisees may boast of good works, but humble penitents perform them.” “The only true Missionary Society ever founded on earth was that established by Christ in Galilee more than eighteen hundred years ago, His church, to whom he said nothing about collecting money for the spread of the gospel.” “Missions established on Divine impression are no ways related to those formed by human calculation. When the Apostles traveled from Judea to Gentile regions, they collected from the Gentiles, and brought the alms to the poor saints in Judea; but now the poor saints in Judea are taxed to aid the missionaries when they go.” In 1829 he wrote: “In 1755 Daniel Marshal and Shubal Stearns, moving southward, preached and formed a church of sixteen members on Sandy Creek, Guilford County, N. C. In the south part of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, there are more than a thousand Baptist churches, now existing, which arose from that beginning. These missionaries had neither outfit nor annuity. The providence of God, the prayers of the saints, and the benevolence of those who were taught by them, carried them through.” “Children are now exhorted to cast their mites into the missionary treasury, with encouragements that every cent may save a soul.” “Bibles, Tracts and Magazines are much more abundant now than formerly; but it is a serious question whether Biblical knowledge is equal to what it was fifty years ago.” “Sabbath Schools are very fashionable, and are considered by many as the great lock-link which unites nature and grace together; but those among whom I live and labor are without them; and they say that, if the Sabbath is holy time, it ought not to be profaned by acquiring literature.” “I would never worship a day, and make a Savior of it; but worship the Lord, in spirit and truth, every day; and publicly assemble as often as duty called and opportunity served.” “Some seem to say, ‘The eleventh and great commandment, on the observance of which hang all religion and good order, is, ‘Remember the first day of the week, and keep it hypocritically: the six following days may labor, laughter, lying, cheating, drinking, gaming, reveling and oppression be done, by day or by night, according to the inclination of the individuals; but on the first day of the week shall no labor or recreation be done, save only that men may salt their cows in the morning, sleep in time of service, talk about politics, fashions and prices at noontime, read newspapers after service, and pay their addresses at night.’” “For many years of my life I drank no spirits. During recent years, with increasing infirmities, I have used about a gallon per year. A spoonbowl full is as much as I use at a time, and the times of drinking are not frequent.” “Internal religion is always the same, and always will be. So many religious novelties have lately sprung up that I have often exclaimed, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.’ But this alarm has been quieted by, ‘What is that to thee? follow thou Me.’” In 1827 he writes: “I now have eighty-two descendants living, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A few of my posterity have died at their respective homes; but I have never had a coffin or a death at my house.” In 1830 he writes: “Every child has left me; myself and wife keep house alone. We have neither Cuffie nor Phillis to help or plague us. My wife is seventy-seven years old, and has this season done the housework, and from six cows has made eighteen hundred pounds of cheese, and two hundred and fifty pounds of butter.” In 1831 he writes: “We have nine children, seven of whom have made a profession of religion.” “When convicted of sin, I found that I could no more believe, come to Christ, and give up my whole heart to Him, than I could create a world; that, unless I was drawn by the Father, all the exertions of my natural powers of body and mind could not bring me to the Son; that, unless I was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, and saved by grace, I must sink into hell.” In 1836 he writes: “Would not a new translation of some passages in the New Testament, according to our present dialect and customs, be acceptable? In Matthew 10:7 read thus: And as ye go, preach to the people, Your money is essential to the salvation of sinners, and, therefore, form into societies, and use all devisable means to collect money for the Lord’s treasury; for the Millennium is at hand. In Mark 16:16 read: He that has attended Sunday Schools, had his mind informed by tracts, contributed to support missions, and joined in societies to support benevolent institutions, shall be saved; the rest shall be damned. In Matthew 10:17 read: Be ye wise as serpents in your guile to deceive men; keep out of sight that ye have to receive part that you collect for your mendicancy; show great concern for poor benighted heathen, but let your neighbors have none of your prayers, exhortations or alms; but strive to appear harmless as doves; put on gravity and holy awe; make others believe that ye are too devotional to labor for a living, and that they must labor to support you; for if you do not appear uncommonly holy, you will not deceive the simple and get their money. In Acts 4:34-36 and 6:3 read: The convention appointed a board of directors; any man who would cast into the fund one hundred dollars should be one of them for life, to dispose of the money at discretion, and mark out the destination of the missionaries. In Acts 13:1-4 read: Now there was at Antioch a convention of Christians, and among them five directors; and as they fasted and prayed, they were moved to select two of them as missionaries; and when they had supplied them with a good outfit, and promised them liberal supplies, to make Christianity appear honorable among the heathen, they sent them away. As for Acts 20:33-35, ‘I have coveted no man’s silver or gold; ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities and to them that were with me; I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak,’ etc.—these sentences are so little used in this day of great light, that a new translation is unnecessary. The new version of Mark 16:15 would read: Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature—if they will give you three hundred dollars a year [they would want two or three or more times that amount now]. Acts 5:42: And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ—for five dollars a week. Acts 11:26: And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves, and taught much people—for a stipulated sum of two hundred and fifty dollars each, for the year. Acts 9:38: They sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them—and they would handsomely reward him.” “If any grades of collegiate education are essential prerequisites to the ministry, why does God not call those who are already in possession of those prerequisites? Is it reasonable to believe that a wise God would call a man to preach, when He knows that he cannot do the work until he has studied how to decline nouns and conjugate verbs three or four years?” “In this day of boasted benevolent institutions, which cost hard labor and millions of dollars to support (called the morning of the Millennium), but little reliance can be placed on the words of the seller, and less on the promise of the buyer.” “For nearly fourscore years I have heard a continual lamentation among the aged, crying, ‘O the times! O the manners! the customs and manners of the people are greatly depreciated from what they were when we were young.’” Elder Leiand was providentially blessed with a wife of great industry and patience, faith and fortitude, trained in the school of adversity from two years of age. Her trials were many and severe, especially during the Revolution, when she was often left alone for weeks with her little ones, far from neighbors, her husband gone, with very little prospect of pecuniary reward, and while abandoned characters were roaming through the country. “Many a long hour she plied her needle by moonlight to prepare clothing for her little ones, fearful lest the ray of a lamp from her window might attract a bloody foe.” She died in 1837. On January 8th, 1841, Elder Leland preached, from 1 John 2:20 and 27, his last sermon—a very sound and spiritual discourse. He was taken ill that night with pneumonia, and lingered six days, though with little pain. The day of his death his prospects of Heaven were clear; they had been clouded the day before. To a young preacher who called early in the evening, and said that they were going to hold a prayer-meeting, and asked whether he had any advice to give, he said: “If you feel it in your hearts, I am glad. Forms are nothing.” To the same preacher he said: “Bury me in a humble manner. I want no enconiums; I deserve none. I feel myself a poor, miserable sinner, and Christ is my only hope.” He passed away in perfect peace, January 14th, 1841.Elder Wilson Thompson (1788-1866), a native of Hillsborough, Kentucky, is regarded as the ablest Primitive Baptist minister that ever lived in the United States. There was in his eventful experience a combination of some of the most striking features in the experiences of Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter and Paul, demonstrating that he was exercised by the same eternal and unchangeable Spirit as were the old prophets and Apostles. The depth, solemnity and fulfillment of his spiritual impressions prove that the God of Israel still sits upon the throne of the universe, and during this century has been carrying on His work of salvation in this country of ours, not in a new manner, but in the very same essential manner that He has been employing since the establishment of His church on earth. Especially does the solemn testimony of the Apostle Paul, in Acts 20:33-35; 2 Corinthians 11:26, 27 and Galatians 1:10-12, impressively reappear in Elder Thompson’s Autobiography.[xxviii][xxix] He was of an old Baptist family, of English, Welsh, Scotch, Irish and German descent. When he was born it was thought that he and his mother would immediately die; but Elder James Lee, his father’s half-brother, having been called in to pray, received strong assurance at the throne of grace that the child would be spared, and would become a minister of the gospel; and when he rose from his knees he so declared, and repeated it many times in subsequent years, always with the same assurance; but this was never told the child until after he began to preach. His parents were very poor, and could give him very little education; but God, who had given him his extraordinary faculties, was equally careful to give him exactly the right and best kind of an education for his predestined and remarkable life-work. His father was a Deacon in the Baptist Church, had a special gift in discipline, prayer and exhortation, was a fine singer, and able in the Scriptures, sound in faith, interesting in conversation, and hospitable in his manners. Elder Thompson had religious impressions from his earliest recollection; and, during the first twelve years of his life, without, any instruction from any person or book, he became a thorough graduate in Arminian or Pharisaic or natural religion—“getting religion” himself by his own good resolutions and exertions, idolizing “the Sabbath,” attaining perfection in the flesh, assured that he was bound for Heaven, despising the people of God as far below himself in religious knowledge and attainments; then “falling from grace” (so-called), taking his “fill of sin” (when he thought he had not yet passed what he heard called “the line of accountability”), afterwards terrified anew by natural convictions, going to work again with more zeal than ever to ingratiate himself into the favor of God, repenting and praying more, and doing more good works, acting on the principle—Do good, and be good, and keep good, and so fit yourself for Heaven—until he got “sinless” again, and resolved that he never would commit another sin in his life! He now had no doubts and no fears, and he felt that all was well and safe with him, if he only continued to be faithful, watchful, prayerful during life, and all this he was determined to be. He rested in the persuasion of his own righteousncss, with which he believed that God was well pleased. While in his thirteenth year he went to see Elder James Lee baptize some candidates, among others a small, slender girl, named Mary Grigg, who afterwards became Elder Thompson’s wife; and, while this girl was being led into the water, suddenly all nature seemed to him to be overspread with a dark, heavy, angry, threatening gloom, and he felt like one forsaken of God and man, the most loathsome and guilty wretch that lived on earth, utterly corrupt without and within, and justly exposed to the everlasting wrath of an infinitely holy God. He left the company and the water in despair, and sought a deep ravine in the wood, expecting there to die alone. While there, the darkness increased and weighed heavily upon his heart. He longed, above all things, to be holy, and felt that, above all things, he was furthest from it. For three days and nights he continued in such gloom that he did not seem to have one hopeful thought of his salvation, and, while his heart prayed all the time for mercy, if mercy were possible, he did not dare to make a formal prayer, because feeling it impossible for a holy God to pardon such a sinner as himself. Still he would seek the woods, fall upon his knees, close his eyes, and make confession of his sinfulness and of God’s justice in his condemnation. While thus engaged, on the fourth day, he was startled three times by the sudden appearance of a glittering brightness, visible only when his eyes were closed, and each time increasing in brilliancy, so that at last in amazement he sprang to his feet, opened his eyes, and saw all nature glittering with the glory of God. He was so completely captivated with the scene, and so absorbed in the contemplation of the goodness of God, that he forgot everything else. He walked about, gazing, wondering and adoring that God, who seemed almost visible in the works of His power, wisdom and goodness. The gloom and the burden of sin were gone; but he soon began to be troubled because his trouble had left him, and he feared that his heart had become too much hardened to feel sin, and he never once thought of this being conversion. He attended a prayer-meeting, and, while on his knees, there came upon him a feeling of enraptured love for God and His people, such as he had never before realized; and when the congregation arose to their feet and began singing, they seemed to him transfigured with the glory of God and the beauty of holiness—the loveliest sight he had ever beheld. He was completely filled with peace and love and happiness. On his way home he became despondent again, and sought for his burden, and repined because it was gone. But on the next day, while alone in a grove, his soul was again filled with love for Christians, and peace and comfort. He had these changes of feeling, more or less, during life. In June, 1801, he went before the church called the “Mouth of Licking,” and related the reason of his hope, and was baptized by Elder James Lee, who said, as he led him down into the water, “I am now about to baptize one who will stand in my place when my head lies beneath the clods of the valley;” many of those present knowing that he thus alluded to the convictions expressed shortly after the candidate’s birth, but the latter, knowing nothing of that, only understanding him to speak of the probability of himself living after Elder Lee’s decease. When raised from the water his first thought was, “O! that sinners could but see and feel the beauties of a Savior’s love!” And he felt a strong desire to speak of the glorious plan of salvation, but, remaining silent in language, he burst into tears, and came out of the water weeping like a child. These impressions continued, but he strove to subdue them, feeling that he was so young and ignorant, and might bring reproach upon the sacred cause. For about nine years he resisted, and at last came to the conclusion that he would rather die than try to preach. But his impressions continued to increase, and he was suddenly attacked with a disease called “Cold Plague,” and for a time his life was despaired of, and once he was thought to be dying. He was conscious, however, and his mind was exercised about preaching, and he concluded that if he should ever get well again, and feel the same weight of soul to preach Christ and Him crucified, he would make the attempt. He recovered, but still felt that, being a poor, backwoods, ignorant boy, he had no qualification for the ministry. But he began leading in prayer and exhortation in prayer-meetings and singing schools taught by himself, and eyes unused to weep would flow with tears. He was so troubled in mind, and lost so much sleep and appetite, that his parents feared he would commit suicide, and had him sleep on a bed on the floor in the same room where they slept on a bedstead. One night after all had retired, and the fire had burned down, and all was dark save a faint gleam from the brands and coals, a shadowy form seemed to approach him, bend over him, and say, “I know your trouble, and your great desire to know what you should do; and I have come to tell you. Read the sixth and tenth chapters of Matthew Mat 6; Mat 10, and to every sentence answer, ‘I am the man,’ and you will soon come to know your duty.” This was done and said three times. He believed that the appearance was not literal, but a vision (Acts 2:17, 18). The next morning he slipped off with the Bible to a secret place, and did as directed, but could not be satisfied. (The sixth chapter of Matthew, it may be remarked, emphasizes the inward, spiritual, filial, heavenly character of true religion; while the tenth chapter contains Christ’s commission to His Apostles to go, fearless of man and dependent upon God, and preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.) His mind became greatly exercised on the Scriptures. He finally told his feelings to his pastor, and the latter related them to the church, which at once gave him license to exercise his gifts in any way or at any time within the bounds of the North Bend Association. His first text, Feb., 1810, was John 10:2, 3. He now spoke once or twice a week, and the power of the Lord was gloriously manifested. Saints were revived; sinners were awakened; backsliders were reclaimed; and new converts began to sing and tell what great things the Lord had done for them. The still, deep and solemn work of God’s Spirit was plainly evident to spiritual minds. In May, 1810, he was married to Mary Grigg. He became deeply impressed with a conviction that God had a work for him to do in Missouri Territory, though he had never been there, and knew very little of the country or people. In his mind he could see the people there gathering in crowds to meeting, while a wonderful change for the better was going on among them. The church gave him license to preach the gospel wherever God in His providence should direct. He was very poor indeed. In a journey of great hardship, he removed, with his wife and his father’s family, to Southern Missouri, in Jan., 1811; and located seven miles from a small and very cold Baptist Church named Bethel, there being then only one other Baptist Church in the southern part of the Territory. He and his wife and parents gave in their letters, and joined Bethel Church. He had to labor hard for the support of his family, by teaching and farming, and he endured sore privations and persecutions. The people of that section were exceeding ungodly, intemperate and immoral. He preached in that and other neighborhoods. In December of the same year a very favorable pecuniary proposition was made to him to move elsewhere; but the Lord interfered and deeply impressed him with the fact that He would soon begin a great work of grace in that section. He communicated these impressions to his wife and parents. He bought fifty acres of land in the green woods, a mile and a half from Bethel meeting-house, and moved into a little cabin there with his family. A few days afterwards there were several earthquake eruptions, making deep chasms in many parts of Southern Missouri; and for three days and nights the sun, moon and stars were concealed by a heavy fog while ever and anon a hard shock would seem to threaten the world with destruction. He himself felt perfectly calm, and pursued his daily business, and, by request, began holding evening meetings. Soon an unusual effect was visible. The old brethren were revived, and engaged in prayer and short exhortations. At the regular church meeting, instead of the usual number of about twenty persons, the house was crowded on Saturday. In the conference eleven persons came forward and gave clear and satisfactory evidence of their hope. The next day the people came from twenty and thirty miles around; and the number was so great that preaching had to take place out of doors. The text used by Elder Thompson was Rom 6:23. Solemnity, deep as death, was depicted on most of the countenances of the congregation. After the sermon, some twenty or more arose simultaneously and came forward, and requested him to pray for them, poor, undone sinners. He stood dumb for a moment, and on this and similar occasions, made remarks about as follows: “My dear friends, you request me to pray for you as helpless sinners. I am as poor and helpless a sinner as any of you. I can only pray for myself or for you, when I have the spirit of supplication granted me. I can do you no good; you must not think that my prayers can save you, or move the compassion of God. I am as poor and unworthy as any of you; but I do know that there is forgiveness with God. While I am authorized to preach both repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, I feel willing to ask of God, in the same name, for the manifestation of that forgiveness to all of us, and in accordance to His will—let us pray.” The evening meetings continued; there were no mourning benches, but many mourning hearts, hiding from the public gaze in some dark corner, secretly imploring God for His mercy. In January, 1812, Elder Thompson was ordained by Elders Stephen Stilley and John Tanner; the latter—who was a native of Virginia, and for his fidelity to the Baptist cause had been shot and imprisoned there before the Revolutionary War—delivered the charge from John 21:17, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” The old veteran of the cross dwelt upon the specialty of the ministerial call, the omniscience of Christ, the true motive of the minister, and the proper method of feeding the lambs and sheep. “Every preacher,” said he, “should love his Lord well enough to obey Him, feeding the flock, even if he got no money for it; nay, if it cost him all he had, and even his life beside. And the flock who were fed by him should remember that he had a right to his support from them. The duty of the church was plainly laid down, and they ought not to neglect it. The flock should be fed with doctrine, well tempered with experience and exhortation. The youngest lambs love sound doctrine if it is bright with experience; and the older sheep love experience if it is according to sound doctrine. Thus all the flock will feed together.” Elder Thompson’s library consisted of a small Bible, Rippon’s Hymn Book, and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; and his study was either on his little cabin hearth, with a light made from bark, or in his clearing, while his brushfires were throwing a brilliant light around him; and at the midnight hour the sound of his axe echoed through the solitary forest, and he meditated upon the deep things of God revealed in the Scriptures, and in the earth around him, and in the spangled firmament above. The good work of God continued in that section eighteen months, and Elder T. baptized there some four or five hundred persons,[xxx][xxxi] all professing to be sinners, and to trust in Christ alone as their Savior; by the almighty power of Divine grace the barren wilderness had been made to blossom as the rose. And yet, soon after this time, he became as despondent as Elijah fleeing from Jezebel after the display of God’s glory on Carmel. He felt himself to be a poor, useless rod, that had been used by the Father for the good of His children, but was not itself a child, and was now to be cast away. He resolved never to preach again; but God comforted him and encouraged him to go on. He remained there another year, working hard for the support of his family, preaching in four different places and traveling two hundred and forty miles a month, a good deal on foot, and receiving no aid from those whom he served in the gospel—the people themselves being very poor and also negligent of their obligation as hearers. His wife became fevered and deranged, and, by the advice of the doctor and friends, he traveled with her in Kentucky and Ohio, and preached, and finally settled in Indiana. He was requested by Elder Isaac McCoy to join him in his Mission to the Indians, and he was at first disposed to do so; but, upon a thorough examination of the New Testament, he became entirely satisfied that the modern missionary system was, in all respects, directly contrary to God’s plan and to apostolic practice; and this persuasion increased the longer he lived. He moved to Lebanon, Ohio, on a call from the church at that place, and while living there he published two books, “Simple Truth” and “Triumph of Truth,” opposing Fullerism, and thus brought upon himself much persecution. Considering “person” to mean a distinct and separate individual, he objected to the saying that there were three persons in the Godhead; though he maintained the unity of God, and, at the same time, the divinity of the Father, Son and Spirit. Challenged to discuss religious questions publicly with the champions of other denominations, he displayed transcendent powers of debate. Going to Cincinnati to observe for himself a wonderful modern “revival,” he could see no evidence of any genuine work of grace. In 1834 he moved to Fayette County, Indiana, having received special direction to leave Lebanon; and he became the pastor of three churches in the Whitewater Association. There were not many additions to the churches, until in 1843 there were 247 that joined the churches in that Association. While residing in Indiana he made extensive tours of preaching in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia; and his ministerial gifts and Christian virtues shone with starry brilliancy, and numerous sinners were moved, and multitudes of saints were comforted and established in their most holy faith, remembering and mentioning with delight, as long as they lived, those wondrous ministrations of the divinely called and divinely qualified servant of God. In regard to the use and effect of the preached gospel, Elder Thompson held, with the majority of Old School Baptists, that it is not the means of imparting spiritual life to the dead sinner; that as no means can be used to give life to one literally dead, even so no means can be used to give eternal life to those who are dead in sins; that, as all temporal means are used to feed, nourish and strengthen living subjects, and not dead ones, so the preaching of the gospel is the medium through which God is pleased to instruct, feed and comfort His renewed children, and not by which He gives life to the dead sinner whom the Spirit alone can quicken; that the gospel is the proclamation of good tidings of great joy to those who have a hearing ear and an understanding heart to receive it, and to these it is the power of God unto salvation, saving them from the false doctrines of men, and feeding and making them strong in the truth. He deeply regretted that brethren in heart should suffer themselves to be divided on this subject by partisanship and ambition; and he lamented the coldness resulting from such divisions, and earnestly labored to heal the breach thus caused, though he would not compromise the truth. In a sermon preached in 1859 on 1Cor 15:54, he, among other things, said: “The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, as shown by Paul in this chapter, is emphatically a cardinal point in that heavenly message of glad tidings sent to earth, called the gospel of our salvation. If the dead rise not, then Christ is not risen, and we shall not rise, and our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins. But if Christ be risen from the dead as the first fruits of them that slept, then all His saints, as the entire crop or harvest, shall finally rise in His likeness. Paul says that the Apostles, including himself, and more than five hundred brethren, the most of whom were living when he wrote, were personal witnesses of the resurrection of Christ; and that, as Adam represented the whole crop of his posterity, and they all died in him, so Christ represents the whole crop of His spiritual seed, and they shall all be made alive in Him, and in His heavenly and perfect likeness. Some modern Sadducees profess to believe in a resurrection, but not of this identical body. They say that when the body dies, the never-dying spirit is separated from this dying body—being mortal, it will return to its mother earth and never be resurrected; but the living spirit, which never dies, leaves the body, and in a living, spiritual body ascends up to God who gave it, and there enjoys the eternal glory. Now who does not see through the mist of this sophism? Where is any particle of the resurrection of the dead in this system? What dies? The body only; and, according to this hypothesis, that which dies never rises again, only the spirit in a spiritual body which never died. There is no resurrection of the dead in this theory; but the Apostle argues the resurrection of the dead, even these vile bodies of ours—that they shall be changed and fashioned like our Savior’s glorious body—that this mortal shall put on immortality, that this corruptible shall put on incorruption. He maintains that it is sown a natural body, but is raised a spiritual body; that it is sown in corruption, but it—yes, it is the same body—it is raised in incorruption. All this shows the identity of the body, but that this identical body shall be not only raised from the dead, but shall, in that process, be changed from natural to spiritual. Flesh and blood, in the present depraved state, shall not inherit the kingdom of Heaven, neither corruption inherit incorruption. The same body of Christ that was crucified and laid in the sepulcher, was raised again to life, and made spiritual, and ascended to Heaven. Enoch and Elijah did not leave their mortal bodies behind to decay, but they were translated or changed, in the process, from natural to spiritual. The saints who shall be alive on earth at the second coming of Christ shall not sleep, but shall be changed—not exchange these bodies for some other bodies, but these bodies shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; from being terrestrial, they shall become celestial bodies, incorruptible, glorious and immortal. Then shall death be swallowed up in victory. Under a conditional covenant, the ministration of law and of death, Adam, with all his posterity, fell into ruin; but under the unconditional covenant of grace, ordered in all things and sure, the ministration of the Spirit and of life, all the heirs of promise shall certainly be saved, both in soul and in body, forever. A conditional plan of salvation can reach only the good, the obedient, the righteous; and, as the Bible declares there are none such on earth, such a plan can reach no member of the human family. While conditionalists are preaching to moral free agents and to the good, do let me preach the gospel to the poor, to them who are without strength, to them who are naked, and hungry, and thirsty. Let me say to the poor, ungodly sinner, ‘This is a faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’ Let me tell the helpless sinner that Christ is able to save to the uttermost. Though their sins be red as scarlet or crimson, let me tell them that He can cleanse them white as wool or snow. If the conditionalist can find a good, righteous man, a moral free agent, he may preach to him; for, as Christ ‘came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,’ I have but little to say to such, and I cannot find them. Let me preach to sinners, for these I can find everywhere, and the gospel of the grace of God is the gospel of their salvation. Its language is, ‘The Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost.’ We learn from John 5:28, 29, that all the dead, both the righteous and the wicked, shall be raised from their graves; and, from Revelation 20:12-15, that all shall stand before God, and the books shall be opened, and another book shall be opened, which is the book of life, and that the dead shall be judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works, and that all except those who are found written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire—the second death. I understand the books to be the books of the law—the five books of Moses. ‘There is one who judgeth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. They that are under the law shall be judged by the law.’ The law is the conditional system, and every conditionalist desires and expects to be judged by the books of the law according to his works. So the books and their works will be compared, and they will all be cast into the lake of fire. Such will be the final fate of all whose names were not found written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Such are the awful results of the conditional plan, which is the law, the ministration of condemnation and death. May the Lord save His people from the curse. The gospel of our salvation opens a brighter prospect before us than all the schemes and systems which philosophy, criticism, speculation or the wisdom of the world ever devised. By man came death and all its gloom; we look at it with dread and repulsive fear. Its gloom is deep and dark; not one bright star to guide, or one bright beam to cheer the lonely traveler!—all, all is gloom! But hark! in accents soft and melodious as seraphs sing, we hear it proclaimed, ‘By man came also the resurrection of the dead;’ ‘death is swallowed up in victory;’ the gloom recedes. Clothed in bright immortality and incorruption we behold the saints arise. This is the hope of the gospel.” Elder Thompson’s last sermon was preached before the Antioch Church, in Wabash County, Ind., the third Sunday in April, 1866, from 1John 5:1,2. He spoke, with his accustomed energy, nearly an hour and a half. He gently fell asleep in Jesus on the evening of the first of May, testifying in his last moments, “I have preached that which I believed to be the truth, and in prospect of death it is my only hope. For many years I have not known the fear of death, but have been waiting till my change should come, leaving the event entirely in the hands of a just God. How great a blessing it is to have a merciful and faithful God to trust in when I come to die ! My God is a God of purpose and power; He doeth all things right.”
Elder Daniel Parker, who had some following in the West and Southwest, denied the creation and fall of the angels, and the resurrection of the body; and he affirmed the actual existence from eternity to eternity of Satan, and of all the wicked as his seed in him, and of the righteous as the seed of Christ in Him. This doctrine is known as Two-Seedism, or Dualism; and it is an attempt to incorporate into Christianity the essence of Parsism, the ancient Pagan religion of Persia, which affirmed that there were two eternal Beings, Ormuzd, the God of light, the cause of everything good, and Ahriman, the God of darkness, the cause of all evil. It was a characteristic of Gnosticism and Manichsaeism, and has more or less troubled the church in all countries and ages. In utter demolition of this doctrine, the Bible declares that there is but one Eternal Being, JEHOVAH, and that He is the Creator of all things. The most thoughtful minds admit that sin is not a creature of God, but originated in the abuse of the free-will that God first gave to His responsible creatures.
In regard to the charge of Arianism made against the first editor and some of the old correspondents of the “Signs of the Times,” my father, who was personally acquainted with the parties, was fully satisfied that the charge arose from a misconstruction of the real views of the writers; while, at the same time, it must be admitted that some of the expressions of some of the writers were unguarded, ill-advised and unscriptural.
Mr. William Cathcart, in his “Baptist Encyclopedia,” published in Philadelphia in 1881—the largest New School Baptist book in the world—says in his article on Primitive or Old School Baptists: “Many of the Old School brethren, while they comfort saints, do not feel it a duty to warn sinners, and few conversions occur under their ministrations. They allege that God carries on His own work ‘without the least instrumentality whatever’, and that ‘all the preaching from John the Baptist until now, if made to bear on one unregenerate sinner, could no more quicken his poor, dead soul than so much chattering of a crane or a swallow.’ And it would not but for God’s accompanying Spirit. This system is not entirely new, but has prevailed at times elsewhere. It is claimed that it humbles the pride of man; but it is charged, also, that it pampers ease, lulls to sleep, and shrivels benevolence. The decline of some Baptist Churches in Great Britain is attributed by many to this contracted view of man’s duty and privilege. Many of the Old School brethren in the ministry possess decided ability as expounders of Scripture; the members of their churches are commonly persons of deep piety, and of extensive Biblical knowledge. The creed which they generally hold is the Confession most venerated by all the Regular Baptists of America, from whom they originally withdrew, and with whom they decline to hold any ecclesiastical relations.”
Mr. Richard B. Cook, in his “Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries,” published in Baltimore in 1884, says of the New School Baptists, of whom he is one: “A peril arises from rapid numerical growth, and this admonishes us to be careful in the reception of members, and in the training of converts. We should grow, but grow wisely. Numbers may be an element of weakness. Tacitus said that the Roman Empire was in danger of breaking down from its own greatness; and so, in our rapid increase, we may lose the strength and vigor of earlier years. Yet the cry is for more, and some churches think they are not progressing unless receiving accessions. There is a craving, in many quarters, for the feverish excitement of large ingatherings, and for pastors who will ‘draw,’ and ‘fill the pews,’ and ‘pay.’ Hence the pastor, in a large degree, is prevented from steadily laying solid foundations for the spiritual house, and finds himself almost unconsciously drifting with the popular current, seeking to please, laboring for present effect, and securing, it may be, large, but superficial, results. I apprehend that our method is wrong. There is a kind of church growth that ought to be sought first in order of time, as it is first in importance. We speak of development which is internal, not external, spiritual instead of material, in quality rather than in quantity. Progress in this direction may be slow, like the advancing hour-hand of the clock, or the maturing child, but it is steady and sure. Let this inward growth be manifest to ‘those without’ by the broadest distinction made in theory and in practice between the church and the world, and nothing be done by Christians in the pursuit of pleasure or of business that is a reproach to Christ; and mark the result. Attention thus given to that part of the commission which requires ‘teaching them to observe’ and observing ourselves the ‘all things’ ‘commanded,’ will not fail of best success. The church that attends faithfully to its own spiritual prosperity will be too active to cease to grow from without. It is spiritual strength that the churches most need, and which mere numbers cannot give.”
Says Mr. S. H. Ford, “LL. D.,” a prominent New School Baptist minister, editor and author: “With all the intellectual and social progress of the nineteenth century, all the advance in the outward, the active, and the material, where is the piety, the heart devotion, the calm thought and unshrinking faith of these elevated and enlightened times? In all the boasted progress and advance of the present day, there has been a crumbling away of basal truth. Vital doctrines have been and are ignored and even denied with levity, and often with derision, by the accredited ministers of the churches of the Reformation. Downright infidels have poured from Lutheran pulpits ridicule on the doctrines of grace preached by Luther. A Bishop of the Anglican church is in the foremost ranks of the impugners of God’s word. Dignitaries in Scotland’s Free Church have become the apologists and abettors of skepticism. In ‘evangelical’ pulpits and theological schools of almost every denomination, the full or real inspiration of God’s word has been denied. Work is the watch-word, and faith is decried. There is a lack of that rugged, steadfast, immovable faith which once distinguished the followers of the Lord. Beneath all the activity and benevolence of the present age is an emasculated, shattered, yielding theology, which places humanity above dogma—that is, a depraved nature above Divine truth, work above faith, the material above the spiritual, and the present above the future. The time has come when men will not endure sound doctrine. Well-paid musicians, and costly floral displays, and secular themes, and the sounds and sights in so-called evangelical churches, have taken the place of the glorious gospel of our blessed God. ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man.’”
Says Mr. J. R. Graves, “LL. D.,” another New School or Missionary Baptist minister, editor and author, of great ability: “This is the last—the Laodicean Age of the church. Work! WORK! WORK! Missions! MISSIONS! is shouted by the agents of missionary societies and by the religious press, while the faith and order of the gospel is thrown into the background, and those few brethren who seek to maintain them in their primitive purity are opposed and frowned upon, and the prejudices of the brethren excited against them as obstructionists to the spread of the gospel! They are pointed to with a sneer as men who waste their time and energies upon unimportant subjects! when they occasionally correct the unscriptural teachings of the press and pulpit touching the Atonement, the church and its prerogatives and mission, the Lord’s Supper, the Rest of the Saints, and the Last Judgment. The presentation of any one of these and cognate subjects is called not preaching the gospel, but obstructing it and hindering missions! Who will say that there is any gospel aside from and independent of these subjects, which lie at the foundation of the gospel and of a correct faith and incentive to Christian work? Have we not enough of this masked opposition to the faith of the gospel from Pedobaptists, without hearing it from the Baptist press, and having it issued to us in printed circulars from our Missionary Boards? The mission of the Church of Christ is twofold. 1. The first and by far most important is to preserve the doctrine of Christ—the faith once delivered, in its purity, otherwise it will prove a curse; though all the world should be converted to it, no one would be saved by it. 2. The second part of the church’s mission is to preach a pure gospel, to the extent of her ability, to all nations, not for the conversion of every man and woman of any nation, but that God may thereby call out of the Gentiles a people for His name. Our zeal should be according to knowledge—even the directions given us in God’s word, and not in contravention of them.”
The number of nominal Christians at the close of each century, and in 1885, is estimated as follows:
A.D. 100, ........ 500,000
“ 200, ........ 2,000,000
“ 300, ........ 5,000,000
“ 400, ........ 10,000,000
“ 500, ........ 15,000,000
“ 600, ........ 20,000,000
“ 700, ........ 25,000,000
“ 800, ........ 30,000,000
“ 900, ........ 40,000,000
“ 1000, ........ 50,000,000
“ 1100, ........ 70,000,000
“ 1200, ........ 80,000,000
“ 1300, ........ 75,000,000
“ 1400, ........ 80,000,000
“ 1500, ........ 100,000,000
“ 1600, ........ 125,000,000
“ 1700, ........ 155,000,000
“ 1800, ........ 200,000,000
“ 1885, ........ 410,000,000
Of this present nominal Christian population of 410,0000,000, about 200,000,000 are Roman Catholics; about 90,000,000 are Greek Catholics; and about 120,000,000 are Protestants. The Protestants are sub-divided about as follows: 45,000,000 Lutherans; 20,000,000 Episcopalians; 10,000,000 Presbyterians; 4,000,000 Congregationalists (or Independents); 16,000,000 Baptists (including Disciples); 20,000,000 Methodists; and 5,000,000 belong to minor sects—these numbers denoting, not the communicants, but the entire population, all the members of all the families of each denomination. As a general thing, the number of communicants is about one-fourth of the estimated population.
The present population of the world is supposed to be 1,500,000,000, and the numbers of those professing the different religions are reckoned as follows:
Christians, ........ 410,000,000
Jews, ........ 7,000,000
Mohammedans, ....... 200,000,000
Brahminists, ....... 175,000,000
Buddhists, ........ 340,000,000
Taoists, ........ 60,000,000
Confucianists, ....... 80,000,000
Shintoists, ....... 14,000,000
Other Pagans, ....... 214,000,000
The membership of the Protestant denominations in the United States is estimated to have been 364,872, in 1800; 3,529,988, in 1850; 6,672,396, in 1870; and 10,065,963, in 1880. The Roman Catholic population in the United States is estimated to have been 100,000, in 1800; 1,614,000, in 1850; 4,600,000, in 1870; and 6,367,330, in 1880.
The 364,872 Protestants in the United States in the year 1800 are believed to have been sub-divided as follows: Regular Baptists, 100,000; Free-Will Baptists, 3,000; Congregationalists, 75,000; Presbyterians, 40,000; Methodists, 64,000; Episcopalians, 11,978; Quakers, 50,000; Lutherans, Mennonites, Moravians, Dutch Reformed, etc., 20,000. And the 10,065,963 Protestants in the United States in 1880 were reckoned to have been sub-divided as follows: “Regular Baptists,” 2,296,327; Free-Will Baptists, 78,012; “Anti-Mission Baptists,” 40,000 (this is the name given to the Old School or Primitive Baptists, who numbered in 1880 about 100,000); other Baptists, 38,539; Congregationalists, 384,332; Disciples, 591,821; Dunkers, 60,000; Episcopalians, 338,333; Reformed Episcopalians, 9,448; Evangelical Association, 112,197; Evangelical Friends, 60,000; Lutherans, 950,868 Methodists, 3,574,485; Mennonites, 50,000; Moravians, 9,491; Presbyterians, 937,640 (of whom 111,863 were Cumberland); Dutch Reformed, 80,208; German Reformed, 155,857; Second Adventists, 70,000; Seventh-Day Second Adventists, 15,570; United Brethren, 157,835; Winebrennerians, 30,000; Minor Sects, 25,000.
It is believed that in the year 1800 there were less than 5,000,000 Bibles in the world; and it is said that, during this century, about 170,000,000 copies of the Bible, in whole or in part, have been printed and distributed. “At the beginning of this century,” says Mr. Daniel Dorchester, in his “Problem of Religious Progress,” “the Bible existed, in some fifty translations, in the languages of one-fourth of the earth’s population; now it exists in the languages of over four-fifths of the inhabitants of the world”—in about three hundred languages and dialects.
As to whether this world is optimist, the best possible, or pessimist, the worst possible, I believe that it is neither; but that the history of the world is a blending or alternation of day and night, light and darkness, sunshine and shadow, Summer and Winter, calm and storm, truth and error, virtue and vice, godliness and ungodliness. And I believe that this world, as well as every other, is under the absolute control of an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God; who has created and preserves it; who exercises not only a general, but also a special providence over every one of His creatures, and over every moment and every event of their existences, not a sparrow falling to the ground without Him, and the very hairs of our heads being all numbered; who has wonderfully loved poor, lost sinners with an everlasting love, and has demonstrated that love in the sin-atoning death of His incarnate Son, and in the renewing power of His indwelling Spirit shedding abroad His love in our hearts; and who is abundantly able to bring order out of chaos and salvation out of ruin, and to accomplish His blessed promise to fill the whole world with His knowledge and glory (Num. 14:21; Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 5:13, 11:15, 20:2-6, 21:1).
In regard to the moral progress of the world since the coming of Christ, Mr. W. E. H. Lecky says: “In the first two centuries (the purest period) of the Christian Church the moral elevation was extremely high, and was continually appealed to as a proof of the divinity of the creed. In the century before the conversion of Constantine a marked depression was already manifest. The two centuries after Constantine are uniformly represented by the Fathers as a period of general and scandalous vice. The ecclesiastical civilization that followed, though not without its distinctive merits, assuredly supplies no justification of the Catholic boast about the regeneration of society by the church. This period, however, though justly called the Dark Ages (of a professing Christianity), and though intellectually the lowest period in the history of mankind, was morally far superior to the noblest Pagan antiquity of Greece and Rome. The Byzantine Empire constitutes, with scarcely an exception, the most thoroughly base and despicable form that civilization has yet assumed, its history being a monotonous story of the intrigues of priests, eunuchs and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude, of perpetual fratricides. That the civilization of the last three centuries has risen in most respects to a higher level than any that had preceded it, I at least firmly believe; but theological ethics, though very important, form but one of the many and complex elements of its excellence. Mechanical inventions, the habits of industrial life, the discoveries of physical science, the improvements of government, the expansion of literature, the traditions of Pagan antiquity, have all a distinguished place;” some of these elements of modern civilization, however, as he elsewhere admits, both secularize and demoralize society; and he confesses that the first and second centuries were the purest period of the church. The truth I believe to be that, under the operations of Divine Providence, evil is, in general, more restrained and seeks more disguises and milder forms in modern civilized countries than in ancient or uncivilized countries (there is much truth in the saying that hypocrisy increases with so-called civilization); while nothing but Divine Almighty grace extirpates the root or love of moral evil. It is certain tliat in the United States, since 1850, crime has greatly increased. The ninth census gives these figures:
Year. Prisoners. Ratio to Population.
1850 ..... 6,737 1 out of 3,442
1860 ...... 19,086 1 “ 1,647
1870 ...... 32,901 1 “ 1,172
And the tenth census gives the following:
1880 ...... 59,255 1 out of 860
The tenth census strangely doubles the number of prisoners for 1850 and 1860. Thus, according to the figures in the ninth census, crime increased in the United States, from 1850 to 1880, four times—and, according to the figures in the tenth census, two times—as fast as the population; and it is a very remarkable and a very lamentable fact, that during the same period, from 1850 to 1880, the profession, without the evident possession, of Protestant Christianity, increased from 3,529,000 to 10,065,000—almost in a threefold proportion; while the Catholic population increased from 1,614,000 to 6,367,330—almost in a fourfold proportion. The increase of crime is attributed to the eight million foreign immigrants that came into this country from 1850 to 1880 and to the Civil War in 1861-64; but the tenth census makes crime somewhat less in 1870 than in 1860, though much greater in 1880; and it is known that murders, for instance, have terribly increased in the last four years, from 1,266 in 1881 to 3,377 in 1884; and, notwithstanding the fact that nearly all the youthful population is now sifted through the Sunday School, the age of criminals is growing constantly less.
Says Mr. M. S. Baldwin, “Bishop of Huron:” “Dark and troubled though the world may be, riven and seamed by the ghastly effects of sin, yet, after all, confusion does not reign supreme. The stars seem powdered in the sky—scattered in orderless profusion—yet astronomy reveals that harmony, not discord, prevails among them. So, too, while to the eye of sense the world appears but the arena of capricious passions, we know it is far otherwise. High over all—above the god of this world—sits One to whom all power in Heaven and earth belongs. It is the admission of this blessed fact which gives us enduring peace. For if it be true that the supreme and abiding government of the world is upon His shoulder whose right it is to reign, it follows as a natural sequence that there is a limit to all earthly power; and a gracious reason, even if we cannot grasp it, why the tumultuous forces that exist are allowed for a moment their sway. All things must subserve His glory and His people’s good. We need a ministry that believes in Jesus Christ. I mean by this, a ministry that believes in Jesus Christ against the whole world; that not merely believes that Jesus Christ is a power, or even a great power, but that all power in Heaven and earth is His; that He is before all things, and by Him all things consist; that He is not only King, but King of kings and Lord of lords; that believes, when it enters the pulpit, Bible in hand, to uplift Christ as the infinite salvation of God, a blessing not only may, but must follow, because He is the power of God, and because this is the hour when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. This is the ministry we need: one not afraid to step out on the deep blue of God’s promise, and trust where the whole world derides; not afraid to stake the awful inviolability of Christ’s word against the despair of a nation, and to rejoice in sunlight when the whole world sees only the blackness of the storm. Oh, we need always to be wrapped round in the very folds of the Redeemer’s garments, to realize Him so personally present, that above us we can see His glorious form towering up into infinite divinity—His head crowned with many crowns, and shining above the brightness of the sun; beneath us, as the Rock of Ages, upholding the whole church with the omnipotency of His power; around us, as the hills are about Jerusalem, that we being encircled with His presence may be saved from all our adversaries, and rest in the fullness of His peace. The painful absence of such faith causes many practically to banish Christ from their discourses. To interest a congregation and stimulate their flagging attention, every unsanctified method is adopted—the arts of oratory, the questions of politics, the subtleties of science, anything, everything to accomplish the result. The truth is, men have grown ashamed of Christ, because His glorious gospel is absolutely divorced in their minds from that to which God inseparably joined it, namely, Power. We need a ministry baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. There is no subject before the church of Christ to-day of such tremendous import as this. What the church needs most-more than gold and silver—more than social influence—more than all with which this world can dower her—is the personal power of the Holy Ghost. While lingering at Calvary, the church has forgotten Pentecost; while mourning the absence of the dear Lord, she has not rejoiced in the presence of her blessed Comforter. To use the powerful language of the late Adolphe Monod: The church has unlearned the Spirit. As a general rule, we do not see that it needs the whole work of God, the Holy Ghost, to explain and bring home to the heart the work of God, the Son. Doubtless the disciples thought none so meet as they to go forth and preach Christ at the time of His departure, but the Lord positively forbade them: ‘Tarry,’ said He, ‘in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ All the historical facts of our Lord’s life were clearly before them, but they did not understand their spiritual import and value. They wanted light, they wanted power; and these were supplied in the coming of the Holy Ghost. It is the same now. All the learning of the schools, however subtle, however profound, cannot supply this power. Preachers speak of a Christ, but all is dark—midnight is about them. What is needed is Light, Life, Power, and these three are in the Holy Ghost. We need a ministry courageous and outspoken for the truth. As for modern science, it is yet in its infancy; it speaks as a child, it understands as a child, it thinks as a child, and only when it has become a man will it put away childish things, and be a complete witness for the truth. Revelation is the perfect man, and cannot, therefore, in all the grandeur of its perfect evidence, chime in with the chorus of inchoate and faulty sciences. No; from their very nature they must inevitably change, while truth, like God Himself, is forever changeless and the same forever. Under no pressure whatever let us offer any compromise of the truth; any adaptations of the written word of God to suit the haughty demands of an imperious criticism or sneering unbelief. The Bible is true, generally, absolutely, verbally. It was not only inspired when it was written; it is inspired now. We may stake time and eternity on all its blessed utterances, and be at peace when the world is in throes about us. We need a ministry understanding the relative position of the church to the world. The fierce demand of the world is that we should conform to its ideas, its pleasures and its aims; the precept of Christ is that we should come out and be separate from it. The world’s cry is ‘compromise;’ Christ’s is ‘separation.’ We cannot possibly do both; and as we are not our own, but bought with a price, let us go without the camp to our Divine Master, and learn from Him how to conquer the world. And it is just as we do this, and listen to His voice who says, ‘Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world,’ that we shall not only witness a good confession, but be able in this very world to demonstrate the power of a living, conquering Christianity. Two precepts Christ gave, one at the beginning, the other at the close, of His ministry. The first was, ‘Follow me;’ the other, ‘Abide in me.’ This latter was His dying injunction. It indicates the present and eternal home of the believer; it is ‘in Him.’ Nothing could possibly be more intimate, more personal than this. The believer is not only to walk worthy of Christ, to follow Christ; he is to abide in Him. The only life of Divine fruitfulness, acceptance, sinlessness and power, is that of the man continually abiding in Christ. Holiness being that to which we are urgently called, permit me to point out what seems to be one of the greatest incentives to worldliness in the present day. I refer to the tortuous and unholy ways in which money is often raised for church purposes. Dice and gambling, lotteries and grab-bags, even theatrical exhibitions, farces and comedies, are brought into requisition now by some to advance the cause of Jesus Christ. Against them all, root and branch, I enter my most solemn and determined protest. In my judgment, they are calculated to bring down a curse rather than a blessing on the misguided people by whom they are practiced and upheld. The end is always supposed to justify the means; and the clearing off the heavy debt on some burdened church is supposed to be a result so stupendous that it fully vindicates any expedient, however extravagant, which may have been adopted. On the contrary these methods fearfully confound the church with the world, and the world with the church; they lower, below zero, the spirituality of the whole congregation; they grievously insult Him who is the Head, even Christ, and most seriously injure the body, which is the church. In order to justify my position, I will point out three glaring contradictions of the word of God which these worldly methods encourage. First, Self-indulgence. If we understand anything of the Bible, we know that one great underlying principle is that of self-denial. Is money wanted? The Bible would say, then, deny yourselves and give it. Do without some luxury, some needless refinement. Christ said to the young man, Give up everything. The modern method is, Give up nothing, but indulge the flesh. Don’t deny yourselves, but gratify yourselves. It is an act of rebellion against Him who said, ‘Whosoever will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.’ Secondly, these worldly methods encourage the worship of a false god. The great mistake the church is making in our age is giving the world credit for owning the silver and gold. ‘The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.’ No, says the church, they do not belong to Thee; they belong to the Rothschilds, the Astors, the Stewarts, and the Vanderbilts. And in this belief we have the ghastly spectacle of the professing Christian Church doing homage before the idol, and crying out, ‘O Baal, hear us. Give us money for our churches, money for our organs, money for our ministers, money, money, money, O Baal, hear us!’ That which is most needed in our day is not so much more money as a deeper spirituality all along the line. We ought to honor God more as holding in His sovereign hands all that is needful for the welfare of His church. We need a simpler faith, a clearer conviction both of His love and omnipotency; and just as we attain unto this, and confess that He reigns, and not man, will money cease to be the burthen that it is to-day. God will honor faith that trusts Him. At its request He will open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing we have not room enough to receive. Thirdly, worldliness is encouraged. Christ calls us to holiness. We are to walk in the light, as He is in the light; and if there is anything destructive to this spirituality which He enjoins, it is the worldliness which so often characterizes what are now called ‘Church Entertainments.’ They wound and rob, instead of building up and strengthening, the inheritance of the Lord. If a church needs money, let it pray much, let it believe much, let it practice much self-denial, and the money will come, providing only the object is God’s glory and the welfare of His people.”
I will now give a few extracts for the purpose of showing the manner in which a large number of recent, able, learned and highly esteemed Calvinistic writers treat the subjects of predestination and free will.
Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh, one of the noblest, ablest and most learned men of modern times, says, in his “Discussions of Philosophy and Literature,” (pp. 585-590): “Fatalism, Pantheism and Atheism, the negation of a moral Governor and of a moral universe, are essentially the same. The only valid arguments for the existence of a God, and for the immortality of the human soul, rest on the ground of man’s moral nature; consequently, if that moral nature be annihilated, which in any scheme of thorough-going necessity it is, every conclusion, established on such a nature, is annihilated likewise. An absolute commencement, required by the libertarian, and an infinite non-commencement, required by the fatalist, are equally inconceivable; but our consciousness unconditionally testifies that we are, though we know not how, the true and responsible authors of our actions, not merely the worthless links in an adamantine series of effects and causes. How moral liberty is possible in man or God, we are utterly unable speculatively to understand; but, practically, the fact, that we are free, is given to us in the consciousness of an uncompromising law of duty, in the consciousness of our moral accountability; and this fact of liberty cannot be red-argued on the ground that it is incomprehensible, for there are things which may, nay, must, be true, of which the understanding is wholly unable to construe to itself the possibility (for instance, space and time must be either limited or unlimited, while our minds, in their present condition, cannot conceive the possibility of either of these contradictory propositions, one of which must be true). It is thus shown to be as irrational as irreligious, on the ground of human understanding, to deny, either, on the one hand, the foreknowledge, predestination and free grace of God, or, on the other, the free will of man; that we should believe both, and both in unison, though unable to comprehend either even apart. This philosophy proclaims with Augustine, and Augustine in his maturest writing: ‘If there be not free grace in God, how can He save the world? and if there be not free will in man, how can the world by God be judged?’ Or, as the same doctrine is perhaps expressed even better by Bernard: ‘Abolish free will, and there is nothing to be saved; abolish free grace, and there is nothing wherewithal to save.’ Austin repeatedly declares the conciliation of the foreknowledge, predestination and free grace of God with the free will of man to be ‘a most difficult question, intelligible only to a few.’ Had he denounced it as a fruitless question, and (to understanding) soluble by none, the world might have been spared a large library of acrimonious and resultless disputation. This conciliation is of the things to be believed, not understood. The futile attempts to harmonize these antilogies, by human reason to human understanding, have originated conflictive systems of theology, divided the church, and, as far as possible, dishonored religion.”
Mr. George Park Fisher, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Yale College, a man of exact and profound learning, says, in his recently published “Outlines of Universal History,” pp. 2-8: “The Philosophy of History.—That there is, in some sense, a ‘reign of law’ in the succession of human events, is a conviction warranted by observed facts, as well as inspired by religion. Events do not spring into being, disjoined from antecedents leading to them. Even turning points in history, which seem, at the first glance, abrupt, are found to be dependent on previous conditions. They are perceived to be the natural issue of the times that have gone before. Preceding events have foreshadowed them. There are laws of historical progress which have their root in the characteristics of human nature. Ends are wrought out, which bear on them evident marks of design. History, as a whole, is the carrying out of a plan: ‘through the ages one increasing purpose runs.’ Augustine long ago argued, that He who has not left ‘even the entrails of the smallest and most insignificant animal, or the feather of a bird, or the little flower of a plant, or the leaf of a tree, without a harmony, and, as it were, a mutual peace among all its parts,—that God can never be believed to have left the kingdoms of men, their dominations and servitudes, outside of the laws of His providence.’ To discern the plan of history, and the causes or laws through which it is accomplished, as far as our limited capacity will allow, is the object of what is called the philosophy of history.
“Freedom and Law.—It must not be forgotten, however, that man is a free agent. History, although it is not an aimless process, is, nevertheless, not subject to the forces and laws which govern in the realm of matter. Physical analogies are not a literal image of what takes place in the sphere of intelligence and freedom. Moral evil, wherever it is a factor in history, has its origin in the will of man. In respect to it, the agency of God is permissive and overruling. Through His providence, order is made to emerge, a worthy goal is at last reached, despite the elements of disorder introduced by human perversity. Nor is progress continuous and unbroken. It is often, as one has said, a spiral rather than a straight line. It is not an unceasing advance: there are backward movements, or what appear to be such. Of particular nations it is frequently evident that, intellectually and morally, as well as in power and thrift, they have sunk below a level once attained. Of the inscrutable blending of human freedom with a pre-ordained design, Guizot says: ‘Man advances in the execution of a plan which he has not conceived, and of which he is not even aware. He is the free and intelligent artificer of a work which is not his own.’ ‘Conceive a great machine, the design of which is centred in a single mind, though its various parts are intrusted to different work-men, separated from, and strangers to, each other. No one of them understands the work as a whole, nor the general result which he concurs in producing; but every one executes with intelligence and freedom, by rational and voluntary acts, the particular task assigned to him.’
“The Meaning of History.—A thoughtful student can hardly fail to propose to himself the question, ‘What is the meaning of history? Why is this long drama, with all that is noble and joyous in it, and with its abysses of sin and misery, enacted at all?’ It is only a partial answer that one can hope to give to this grave inquiry, for the designs of Providence cannot be fully fathomed. But, among the ends in view, the moral training of mankind stands forth with a marked prominence. The deliverance of the race from moral evil and error, and the building up of a purified society, enriched with all the good that belongs to the ideal of humanity, and exalted by fellowship with God, is not only an end worthy in itself, but it is the end toward which the onward movement of history is seen to be directed. Hence, a central place in the course of history belongs to the life and work of Jesus Christ. No more satisfactory solution of this problem of the significance of history has ever been offered than that brought forward by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:27, where he says that the nations of men were assigned to their places on the earth, and their duration as well as boundaries determined, ‘that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him.’
“Physical Geography.—The configuration of different portions of the globe, with the varieties of climate, the relations of mountain and plain, of land and water, have strongly affected the character of nations and the currents of history. In regions extremely hot or extremely cold man cannot thrive, or build up a rich and enduring civilization. The occupations of a people are largely dependent on its situation—whether it be maritime or away from the sea—and on peculiarities of soil and temperature. While the agency of climate, soil and other physical circumstances may easily be exaggerated, that agency must be duly considered in accounting for historical phenomena.”
In reference to these extracts I would say that I am perfectly free to admit that the conciliation of Divine predestination and human free will is entirely above my comprehension; nor can I conceive the conciliation of the doctrine of the fallen human free will with the emphatic declaration of Christ in John 8:34-36. But I am assured, both from Scripture and observation and experience, that men are voluntary, and therefore accountable, in the commission of sin, and that they receive no internal compulsion from a holy God necessitating them to commit sin.
Says Mr. C. H. Spurgeon: “We need an antidote for the heresies and poisonous doctrines proclaimed by a large part of the public ministry of the present age. Zealous persons whose zeal for God is not according to knowledge, have gone about and gathered the gourds of the wild vine—ritualism, sacramentalism, Romanisn, liberalism, Rationalism, Arminianism, undoctrinalism, unspiritualism, naturalism—and have made a doctrinal mixture which is served out from numerous pulpits, but which cannot be taken without serious risk of soul-poisoning, for ‘there is death in the pot.’ Meal must be brought-the pure gospel of the grace of God, the truth as it is in Jesus-and cast into the pottage of wild gourds, and it will kill the poison. The surest remedy for false doctrine is preaching the truth. Lift up Christ, and lay the sinner low. Proclaim justification by faith, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and the grand old doctrines of the Reformation. I am more and more persuaded that the good old Calvinistic truths, which are now kept in the background, are the great Krupp guns with which we shall blow to pieces the heresies of the day, if once more they are plainly and persistently preached in harmony with the rest of revealed truth. Like ships of war in time of peace, the glorious doctrines of grace have been laid up in ordinary, but now is the time to bring them out to the fight, and if well managed they will pour red-hot shot into the enemy! The people need gospel teaching—the soul-saving gospel of Christ.”
Says President James McCosh: “The Bible doctrine of Predestination is substantially the same as the modern scientific doctrine of the Uniformity of Nature or the Reign of Law, only seen under a somewhat different aspect—the latter from below and the former from above, the latter secular and the former spiritual, the former being vastly more comforting as it brings in the will of a good God. The ordination of nature is the preordination of God.” Of course, the ordination of the kingdom of grace is, in the same manner, the preordination of God, who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11), and who “knew all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “The principle at the heart of Calvinism is this,” says Mr. J. Stoughton, “that the unchangeable will of God and not the fluctuating wills of men, the purpose of the Creator and not the purposes of the creature, are the foundation of an order gracious and righteous, by which the universe is governed and the Lord of all is glorified.”
The question of the truth or falsehood of the doctrine of the Divine Predestination is the fundamental problem of both philosophy and religion. The ancient Greek tragedians and Stoic philosophers were fatalists; while the Epicureans were accidentalists. Among the ancient Jews, the Essenes were fatalists; the Sadducees were free-willers (or Pelagians), rationalists and infidels; while the Pharisees were Semi-Pelagians, or co-operationists, or Arminians, or Conditional Predestinarians. The orthodox Mohammedans are fatalists; while some Mohammedan teachers are co-operationists, and the Koran itself is a mixture of fatalism and Pelagianism. “The doctrine of predestination,” says the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, “runs through both the Old and the New Testaments; it is corroborated by the whole scriptural teaching concerning the Divine scheme of salvation; and, in its immeasurable compass, in its infinite depth, has never lacked the testimony of the religious consciousness of the living church,” Nothing essentially new or important has been added in the discussion of this question for the last fourteen hundred years, since the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius; and it is not likely that anything new will ever be added, until there shall be a new revelation from God. Semi-Pelagianism logically or really amounts to Pelagianism, because it retains the root-principle of Pelagianism, that man has some ability to will good; and Pelagianism really amounts to Rationalism, which identifies grace and nature, and has no use for the atoning death of Christ, or the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit—in other words, no use for Christianity. Augustine maintained that grace is nothing else than predestination realized; that salvation is the work of God, in accordance with His eternal will and purpose; that His decree is the efficient cause of all good in the elect, while the cause of sin in the reprobate is the evil will of man permitted to operate voluntarily and independently of Divine grace, and thus justly left by God to go on to perdition. In reference to the acts of wicked men and devils, the Holy Spirit uses six different Greek verbs, all having the essential meaning of PERMIT, in eleven different passages of the New Testament:—In Mark 1:34, Aphiemi; in Mark 5:13, and in Luke 8:32, Epitrepo; in Luke 4:41, and in Acts 14:16, Eao; in Acts 13:18, Phoreo; in Romans 9:22, Phero; and in Acts 7:42, and Romans 1:24, 26 and 28, Paradidomi. In the King James and the Revised Versions, these words are rendered give leave, suffer and endure. In the seventh and last edition of Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, the highest present authority on the Greek language, Aphiemi means send forth, discharge, let loose, let fall, give up, hand over to, let go, loose, set free, leave alone, let pass; Epitrepo means turn over to, leave to, give up, yield, permit, suffer; Eao means let, suffer, allow, permit, let go, let alone, let be, leave alone; Phoreo means bear, suffer; Phero means bear, endure, suffer; and Paradidomi means give over to, allow, permit. In like manner, in Psalm 81:12, Shalach is rendered by Gesenius, “relax, loosen, let go, especially one who has been in any way detained; give over into the power of anything.” And, as God is unchangeable, what He does in time He eternally decreed to do. God made man “very good” (Gen. 1:31), and said to him, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat;” and He did not compel Adam to transgress this law which He had given him, but, withdrawing His restraint, He left him to his own volition, and Adam sinfully chose to disobey God’s commandment. And such is the case with every sin in the universe; instead of originating and approving it, God hates and punishes it, if unatoned for, with eternal wrath. He inflicts endless death upon the guilty unredeemed sinner—everlasting separation from His holy presence; because the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of hosts, our righteous Creator, Governor and Judge, is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Nay, even when the incarnate Son of God took upon Himself the sins of His chosen people, the flaming sword of Divine justice bathed itself in His bleeding heart, the Holy Father forsook the sin-atoning Son, the sinless sin-bearing Friend of sinners, the noonday Heavens and the Savior’s soul were shrouded in a midnight pall, and Jesus was numbered with the dead! And alone by this perfect sacrifice for sin can any sinner find acceptance and peace in the holy presence of God. Surely, then, it were the most dreadful blasphemy to believe that God is the author of sin or source of wickedness, and no Baptist, no Christian, no Bible Predestinarian does or can believe it. Such an idea would confound God with Satan, who is the great tempter to evil. When God says in Isaiah 45:7, “I make peace and create evil,” the prophet Isaiah himself explains, in 2:11 and 31:2, what the evil is; the same Hebrew word Ra occurs in these three verses, and is rendered “ill” in 2:11, but “evil” in the other two verses. The evil which God creates is plainly seen, in 2:11 and 31:2, to be not sin, but the very opposite—the holy punishment of sin; rendered in this sense, by Gesenius, the chief Hebrew lexicographer, “unhappiness,” “adversity,” “calamity”—the antithesis to that “peace” which God gives His people-the equivalent of that “darkness” which is the opposite of “light.” God hardened Pharaoh’s wicked heart by lifting from him the restraints which His weighty judgments had laid upon him; He chastens sinning David with the cursing of Shimei; and punishes wicked Ahab by a lying spirit in his false prophets; and uses the wicked as a sword to accomplish His righteous purposes; but He “cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man” (James 1:13). While He does not incite sinful thoughts in any heart, He is perfectly able to bend and control every sin to the furtherance of His own glory and His people’s good. His knowledge and purpose and power include all events, so that His children may, in one sense, see Him in all things, and rejoice that He will make all things work together for their good. All the highest of high Calvinists in past ages (except Thomas Bradwardine, 1290-1349, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, and a very few of his followers), have used the scriptural word permit in reference to God’s decree of sin.
John Gill, of London, the soundest, the most learned, and the most able Baptist theologian since the death of the Apostle John—the author of a complete critical Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and of a Complete Body of Divinity—the only man that ever hunted and drove out Arminianism from the explanation of every verse in the Bible, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation—says: “Though God may be said, in some senses (for instance, to bring about a great good, or to punish other sin), to will sin, yet He wills it in a different way than He wills that which is good; He does not will to do it Himself, nor to do it by others; but permits it to be done; and which is not a bare permission, but a voluntary permission; and is expressed by God’s giving up men to their own hearts’ lusts, and by suffering them to walk in their own sinful ways, Psalm 81:12; Acts 14:16; He wills it not by His effective will, but by His permissive will, and therefore cannot be chargeable with being the author of sin. He neither commands sin, nor approves of it, nor persuades to it, nor tempts nor forces to it; but all the reverse. He forbids it, disapproves of it, dissuades from it, threatens to punish for it, yea, even chastises His own people for it; and, besides, overrules it for great good, and for His own glory.” “God hardens some men’s hearts, as He did Pharaoh’s, and He wills to harden them, or He hardens them according to His decreeing will; whom He will He hardeneth, Romans 9:18; this He does not by any positive act, by infusing hardness and blindness into the hearts of men—which is contrary to His purity and holiness, and would make Him the author of sin; but by leaving men to their natural blindness and hardness of heart; for the understanding is naturally darkened; and there is a natural blindness, hardness and callousness of heart, through the corruption of nature, and which is increased by habits of sinning; men are in darkness, and choose to walk in it; and therefore God, as He decreed, gives them up to their own wills and desires, and to Satan, the god of the world, whom they choose to follow, and to be led captive by, who blinds their minds yet more and more, lest light should break in unto them, (Eph. 4:18; Ps. 82:5; 2 Cor. 4:4); and also God may be said to harden and blind, by denying them that grace which can only cure them of their hardness and blindness, and which He, of His free favor, gives to His chosen ones, (Ezek. 36:26, 27), but is not obliged to give it to any; and because He gives it not, He is said to hide, as He determined to hide, the things of His grace from the wise and prudent, even because it so seemed good in His sight.” (Matt. 11:25, 26) In reference to the fall of Adam, Mr. Gill says that “God decreed it, but that the sin of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not owing to God, for He forbade it, was displeased with it, and resented it to the highest degree; that He gave Adam power to abstain from eating the forbidden fruit, had he made use of it, so that he could have stood if he would; that God permitted or suffered Adam to sin and fall; and that our first parents, with the full consent of their wills, and without any force upon them, took and ate the forbidden fruit.”
In regard to the statement of Moses that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it is also to be carefully observed that Moses repeatedly says that, after God removed His judgments, Pharaoh hardened his own heart; and, as God and Pharaoh were totally distinct persons, so the acts of the two in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart were totally distinct. Pharaoh hardened his own heart ungratefully, wickedly and rebelliously against God; while God providentially, righteously and punitively hardened Pharaoh’s heart—by calamitous providences justly punishing Pharaoh for the latter’s long and cruel oppression of Israel; and each removal of the judgment, instead of relaxing, but intensified the rebellion of Pharaoh’s heart. “As the same heat of the sun softens wax and hardens mud, so the long-suffering of God softens some hearts while it hardens others.” Much of the language of the inspired writers was designed to comfort and sustain the spirit of God’s people in the midst of the greatest trials, by teaching them that all events are perfectly foreseen by God, and, in a sense, predetermined by Him, and will be overruled for good to His afflicted ones. “His absolute and universal dominion was constantly present to the minds of the children of God in ancient days. Its effect upon the mind was solemn and impressive, and never suggested the faintest presumption of injustice in God, even when the acts that were sinful in His creatures were traced in another sense to His holy and awful will. The Scripture, accordingly, never hesitates for a moment to ascribe absolute holiness to God, and all the guilt of every sinful act to the sinner.” As for anything occurring “by chance” or without a cause, no human being can possibly believe such a thing, even if his very life depended upon it; for the human mind is so constituted by the Creator as to necessarily believe that every event has a cause; and the use of the expression “by chance” simply means that the cause is unknown to the speaker or writer, and not at all that there is no cause. The belief in universal causation is a primitive and fundamental intuition of the human mind. All secondary causes point the thoughtful mind inevitably to the Great First Cause, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, and to His eternal sovereign will, either efficient or permissive, in accordance with which all events occur.
“No Primitive Baptist,” says Elder J. R. Respess, in the “Gospel Messenger,” “believes that God worked sin in man; it never has, in any age, been believed by the church, that God in His word forbade a thing, and that God in His Spirit prompted disobedience to His word. That would destroy His unity. But it is sin to violate God’s word, and hence repentance is required. God the Spirit convicts the sinner for violating the word of God; shows him his guilt. But if done by God’s prompting there would not nor could there be any sense of guilt for it; for it would be no sin. An effect follows from and is to be ascribed to the last immediate cause that produced it. Thus, for instance, if I hold a book in my hand, my holding it is the immediate cause of its not falling; but if I let it go, my letting it go is not the immediate cause of its falling; it is carried down by its own gravity, which is therefore the proper and immediate cause of its descent or fall. It is true, if I had kept my hold of it, it would not have fallen, yet still the immediate cause of its fall is its cwn weight, not my quitting hold. Without God there could have been no creation; without creation, no creatures; without creatures, no sin; yet sin is not chargeable to God.”
Learning that two Primitive Baptist Churches in Texas had withdrawn their fellowship from the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things, Elder Respess writes: “This is the first time we have ever heard of this question being made a test of church fellowship, and we are sorry to hear it, because we believe it to be more a difference about words than in spirit. It has been believed by many eminent saints amongst the Baptists for probably centuries-we know it has ever since our remembrance. We have never ourselves professed to understand it: we couldn’t understand it. We have always believed about it as Elder Rowe does [that is, that God decreed to permit sin], but it has never affected our love and esteem for those precious brethren who do believe it [that is, the absolute predestination of all things]. Because we are unable to say they are wrong about it. It is a mystery that none can explain. There is one thing we all know, and that is, that nothing has happened or can happen by chance, and that smacks so much of decree that it shuts our mouth. This single Scripture is of itself sufficient to make brethren forbear with each other about it: ‘For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined [decreed] before to be done,’ Acts 4:27,28. But it is a dangerous question if unskillfully handled; dangerous on both sides. On one side is the Scylla of presumptuous sins, and on the other side the Charybdis of Arminianism and infidelity.” The danger of being wrecked on either of these extremes, as we navigate the narrow channel of truth between them, “should warn us to forbear with each other as poor creatures of a day, who know nothing. Forbearance! the noble Christian virtue of forbearance is, and always has been, necessary to the unity and prosperity of the church. Oh how careful we should be not to confuse and divide the family of God! The true mother in Solomon’s day preferred the false mother to have her child than for it to be divided by the sword. Are we sound in experience, giving all the glory of our salvation to Christ, and in church order? then why make such a question [the absolute predestination of all things] a test of church fellowship? How few, how very few, of the little ones of Christ know what they are torn up about! Alas, how few! One may be wiser than another, but his wisdom should be used for edification; and it is lawful for some to know more than others. Some of the tribes of Israel did not go as far as others; some went over into the Promised Land, whilst others remained on the other side of Jordan; but there was no falling out about it; they were all Israelites and brethren.”
Thousands who will read these pages believe that there has been no scriptural uninspired teacher superior to the late Elder Gilbert Beebe, of Middletown, New York. In the first volume does it exonerate him from accountability; this may be discovered by noticing the following examples-the crucifixion of his “Editorials of the ‘Signs of the Times,’” pp. 30, 31, Elder Beebe says: “The doctrine of Absolute Predestination, when rightly understood, does not involve the idea of man’s acting involuntarily in sin; nor of Christ (Acts 4:27 compared with Acts 2:23), the abduction of Joseph, together with many other circumstances recorded in holy writ. The brethren of Joseph had no knowledge of the purpose of God when they sold him to go down to Egypt; they meant it for evil, but God ordained it for good (Gen. 1:20). When the Jews persecuted the disciples of our Lord Jesus into strange cities, they knew not that God had ordained this very method of sending His missionaries everywhere preaching the word. ‘The wrath of man shall praise Him, the remainder of that wrath He will restrain’ (Ps. 76:10). We need only to understand this precious doctrine, and we shall most assuredly love it. The Christian exults in the thought that death and hell can do no more than what our Father please.” And on page 130 he says: “Satan himself, if he could speak truth, would tell us that he could not drown a swine without the permission of God. [Notice the scriptural word permission.] Men and devils act voluntarily in sin, without the least regard to the purpose or decree of God; of whose purpose or decree they are totally unconscious. While they act from wicked motives, God means it for good; overrules even their wicked acts and murderous designs for His glory, and the good of all such as are the called according to His purpose.” Says Prof. Philip Schaff: “Absolute predestinarianism starts from the almighty power of God, but is checked by the moral sense and kept within the limits of infralapsarianism, which exempts the holy God from any agency in the fall of the race, and fastens the guilt of sin upon man.” “God’s decrees,” says Elder John Rowe, “are not the causes of men’s sins, any more than the sun is the cause of darkness. We may feel the greatest assurance that God is just in all His dealings.”
Why God decreed to permit sin to arise and continue in the universe, when He is infinitely wise, righteous, merciful and powerful, is a mystery equally insoluble by both Predestinarian and Arminian. But, whether we can understand the mystery or not, we know that the righteous Judge of the universe doeth all things right; and it becomes us sinful and foolish creatures to be perfectly submissive to Him. Of two things we are assured, both by the Scriptures and our own consciences,—1st. That God is not the cause or author of sin, but hates and punishes it; and 2nd. That we are ourselves blamable and justly punishable for our sins. Says the Encyclopedia Britannica: “No Pelagian ever has or ever will work a religious revolution. It has become a commonplace of historical science that, in order to do or to endure great things, men must believe in one form or other of predestination. They must feel confident that they are made use of by God to accomplish things that to Him seem worthy, and that until these be accomplished no earthly power can defeat or harm them. They must feel that their will ia embraced in the Divine and empowered by it. And it is the consciousness of their own impotence that leads men to yield themselves as instruments of the Divine power. Pelagianism is the creed of quiet times and commonplace people; Augustinianism is the inevitable faith of periods that are dangerous and eventful, and in which men must exhibit some heroism.”
“Every true Christian,” says S. T. Coleridge, “must attribute his distinction not in any degree to himself—his own resolves and strivings, his own will and understanding, still less to his own comparative excellence—but to God, the Being in whom the promise of life originated, and on whom its fulfillment depends. Thus Election is a truth of Christian experience. This the conscience requires; this the highest interests of morality demand.” “Sin is a disease and attribute of the fallen will of man, and can only be remedied by the effective power of God.”
Says Elder W. M. Mitchell, of Alabama: “Predestination enters into every rational act of every intelligent creature, and puts them to work to carry out their predestinating plans; and it enters into every act of God, the Great Fountain of Intelligence. His works in nature, providence and grace are but the development and manifestation of His predestination. Our faith and hope and every grace are wrought in us by the effectual working of His ‘mighty power, which He wrought in Jesus when He raised Him from the dead.’ In the great covenant of redemption it is said, ‘All things are ordered and sure;’ but nothing is sure when man has a part to do to make it so. The ‘sure mercies of David,’ which are promised to the heirs of promise, depend for their certainty, not upon what man shall do, but upon what the Lord Jesus Christ hath done.”
Mr. C. H. Spurgeon says: “The sovereignty of God in the dispensation of His grace shines throughout both the Old and the New Testaments and throughout the history of the human race, and in every case of true conversion. It was shown, for instance, in the provision of salvation, not for fallen angels, but for fallen men; in Elijah’s being sent to a Gentile widow dwelling in Sarepta, a city of Sidon; in Elisha’s healing Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy, while he cleansed none of the lepers of national Israel; in the salvation of the extortionate publican, Zaccheus, and the adulterous woman of Samaria, and the blood-thirsty Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, and of the wicked John Newton and John Bunyan, and of every other sinner who shall be saved. This doctrine of the Bible and of Christian experience is perfectly consistent with all other scriptural truths—with all the sweet promises of the gospel to every hungry, thirsty, sin-sick soul. To be sure, when applied by the Holy Ghost, it strikes dead forever all the efforts of the flesh, all Pharisaic self-righteousness—like a potent hammer, it dashes out the brains of all a man’s works, merits, doings and willings, while it pronounces over the dead carcass this sentence: It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy; but then the best thing is done for a sinner that can be done as a stepping-stone to the act of faith. When a man is weaned from self, and totally delivered from looking to the flesh for help, there is hope for him; he is just ready to trust in Christ for salvation. What! am I to set a sinner industriously to labor after eternal life by his own works? Then, indeed, am I an ambassador of hell. Am I to teach him that there is a goodness in him which he is to evolve, to polish and educate and perfect, and so to save himself? Then I am a teacher of the beggarly elements of the law, and not the gospel of Christ. Are we to set forth man’s prayers, repentings and humblings as the way of salvation? If so, let us renounce the righteousness of Christ at once, for the two will never stand together. The impenitent sinner is an Arminian, and believes that any day he likes he can turn to God and be saved; so he walks about the world as comfortably as possible, thinking it all depends on himself, and that he will get into Heaven just at the eleventh hour. But the doctrine of election teaches that he is absolutely in God’s hands, to be saved or damned as God will, and, if he believed and felt this truth, he would cry to God for mercy and find it. Election is no discouragement to seeking souls,” says Mr. Spurgeon; but I would state the truth far more strongly in saying that ELECTION is THE GREATEST POSSIBLE AND IMAGINABLE ENCOURAGEMENT TO SEEKING SOULS, because it declares that every sinner, who feels the need of and longs for God’s holy salvation, is already alive from the death of sin, because he has been quickened by God the Spirit, redeemed by God the Son, and elected, before the foundation of the world, to eternal life by God the Father; and thus, notwithstanding the opposition of the flesh, the world and the devil, his everlasting salvation in glory is just as sure as that an unchanging and almighty God sits upon His throne; and, consequently, he is encouraged never to give up in despair his struggle with his spiritual enemies.
Elder John Rowe, of Columbus, Ga., is the author of an admirable work (Elder Rowe’s work may be had of him by mail for 75 cents per copy, or six copies for $3.50.) entitled, “A Practical Discourse on the Sovereignty of God,” from which I will make a few extracts. “While the blessings of the old covenant were conditional and temporal, the blessings of the new covenant are unconditional and spiritual and eternal. There would be no salvation for poor, perishing sinners, were it not secured to them some other way than by their own choice—their choice being to serve Satan instead of God. If redemption only renders salvation possible to men, and if yet it is left to their free will whether they apply for it or not, then we have less in Christ than we had in Adam; for in Adam we had freedom of will without any bias upon our minds; and if yet Satan prevailed over our free will as it was, what may we expect now since so strong a bent to evil has come upon our minds? If free will was not able to keep off the disease, surely now as it is it cannot effect a cure, especially when we love the disease and hate the remedy—this is the worst symptom of our case, and except it be removed there is no cure for us, and nothing but free and sovereign grace will remove it. Good fruit is not the condition but the evidence of a good tree; even so repentance, faith, holiness of character, etc., are not conditions but evidences of our election; and we see not why to make faith, repentance and good works an evidence of election should not be as great a motive to obedience as to make them a condition of election. The Spirit’s work in the heart is an unmistakable evidence of personal election.”
In a recent number of the “Signs of the Times,” Elder F. A. Chick, of Maryland, speaking of Satan’s question, “Doth Job fear God for naught?” says: “It seems to me that in this question is involved all the difference between him who serves God and him who serves self; between gospel obedience and legal obedience; between the religion of Christ and the religion of the world. Do we serve God from motives of policy or from principle? for reward or for the delight of the service? Do we obey God as a child, or as a slave? as water runs down hill, or as it is forced up hill? All who profess to serve God at all are ranged upon either the affirmative or the negative of these questions. According as these questions may be answered concerning us, are we actuated by the Spirit of Christ, or are we not. If a man is honest because honesty is the best policy, he is no more honest than the man who cheats and steals because he thinks that it is the best policy for him to do so. If a man is rendering obedience to any of the commands of God because he expects to gain Heaven or escape hell by it, he is in no wise any better than he that makes no pretense at serving anything but his own lusts. All natural, fleshly, Arminian religion looks at the matter just as Satan does in this question. This religion is essentially a worship of self, and a seeking to glorify self. It seeks not to honor God only but as it imagines that by so doing it can exalt and secure praise to self. Self is the great consideration and end, not God. Self is the centre around which sun, moon and stars revolve. Deity is, according to this system, only a satellite moved and controlled by the central self. This worldly religion is Satanic, therefore, in its nature. It does not attempt to serve God ‘for naught,’ and does not believe in such a thing. While professing to uphold virtue, it robs virtue of its virtuousness by holding up selfish ends always to view as the motives for being virtuous. Its votaries appeal to fear and hope as the chief reasons why men should seek the Lord and become religious. They make it a mere matter of bargain and sale, or exchange of commodities, in which man strives to get the best end of the bargain. In this plan, while the name of virtue is retained, its very substance is lost, and but the shell remains. This fleshly religion, whose spirit is from below, and whose nature is seen in this question of the Devil, ‘Doth Job fear God for naught?’ denies that there is any such thing as serving God from love, and so appeals to the lowest selfishness of man’s nature, striving to reform the outward manners, while self and pride still reign supreme within. Like Satan, it denies that there is any such thing as unselfish virtue, or that any man ‘serves God for naught.’ On the contrary, the religion of Christ presents an entirely opposite ground for obedience. It recognizes virtue for virtue’s own sake. It claims to give such a spirit to man that, if he had no hope of Heaven or fear of hell, no expectation of good in this life, or fear of temporal evil, he still would follow holiness, esteeming its possession greater riches than all other treasures. Nothing short of this can be counted as the service of God. All else is serving self. Now Satan denies that there is any such service possible. He says, and his followers say, that reward is and must be the motive appealed to in every case—that there is no such thing as holiness for holiness’ sake. Satanic religion is today the religion of the masses of men. And the religion which has Arminianism for its basis withers virtue, and takes away all but its name, just as surely as does the man who breaks in detail every commandment of the decalogue. Self-seeking is as hateful to God and as foreign to true righteousness in one form as in another. The Pharisee who thinks that what he does is gain to him, is as much the enemy of God as any publican or sinner; yea, more of an enemy. After Job was stripped of everything he still worshiped God; and thus it is made plain as noonday that there is in the religion of God our Savior power to produce unselfish obedience and disinterested service in men. And the assertion of Satan is thus given the lie. The friends of Job, too, are firm believers in the religion of self. If Job were righteous (say they) he would be blessed; being afflicted, it is evident that he is unrighteous. They plainly exhort him to seek God, to be at peace with Him, and urge as the motive, ‘Thereby good shall come unto thee.’ They make self the turning point; but the whole spirit of Job revolts at this. He knows that it is not for this reason that he serves God. He cannot see through all the ways of God, he cannot see God Himself, but yet he believes in God; and he in substance says, I do not fear God for hire. Out of his own heart’s experience he found an answer to confound all their legal reasonings, and to trample upon that system of religion which has its origin in a Satanic pride, which bids a man think he is something when he is nothing.
“In this wonderful book we see the question of Satan answered in the affirmative. Job does fear God for naught. His is not a legal service. It is the obedience of faith. Love is its substance. In this book, too, we see the question answered as to what liberty in Christ is. Christian obedience rests not upon the slavish idea of rewards and punishments, but is the large, noble freedom of a heart which loves God, and spontaneously follows Him. All else that claims to be true religion is a lie, and does credit to its author, the father of lies. Millions are deceived by it today, and its votaries have no shame in confessing that they serve God for hire. Miserable misnomen! Say rather that they are serving their own selves. Brethren, how heart-searching is the question, Do you and I serve God for hire? Do we love holiness for holiness’ sake? I have to confess feeling much legality about me yet. Still I believe that I do love the service of God for its own sake. 0 to be more like Jesus, who said it was His meat and drink to do the will of His Father in Heaven.”
Mr. George B. Taylor, a New School Baptist, in his pamphlet entitled “The Origin of the Baptists,” after showing that there have been Baptist Churches from the close of the first century to the present time, well says: “And now will you be surprised if I say that I lay little or no stress upon all this as proof that we are right? It has its value, for it is truth, and all truth is precious. It is also well calculated to encourage Baptists of the present day, and especially those who, like ourselves, have much to contend with, to see that our principles have thus fought their way through the ages, conducted by God’s own mighty hand. But it is not on the example of man that we depend, but on the word of God. Satisfactory evidence that the principles we hold and the ordinances we administer are taught in the New Testament is worth more than all human testimony or practice in their favor. Such is my conviction that Scripture is the true, the only standard, that if there were not a Baptist on earth, and I had no evidence that there had ever been one since apostolic times, finding Baptist principles and practices in the New Testament, I would leave all Christendom, and leap over the ages, contented to be found in the path of simple obedience to the word of God. I ask, then, were not the churches of the New Testament Baptist Churches? We believe that they were, being made up of believers, and believers only, who, believing in Christ and confessing their sins, were buried with Christ in baptism. I humbly claim that we originated, not at the Reformation, nor in the Dark Ages, nor in any century after the Apostles; but that our marching orders are the Commission, and that the first Baptist Church was the church at Jerusalem. And I beg you, calling no man master, like the Berean Jews, to search the Scriptures daily, whether these things be so.”
Now it is certain that the doctrines and practices, inventions and institutions originated by the Catholics and imitated, during the last hundred years, by the Protestants, including the New School Baptists, are not found in the New Testament; and, therefore, the Old School or Primitive Baptists, who have steadfastly repudiated all these religious innovations, looking above all uninspired testimony and example, appeal, with still greater confidence than Mr. Taylor and his brethren, for the Divine origin and authority of their faith and practice, to the standard of the apostolic church described in the New Testament.
The doctrine that we believe is experimentally unfolded in A. M. Toplady’s “Living and Dying Prayer,” which may it please the Lord to give all of us the grace to adopt as our own, as we personally plead with Him for salvation from sin:—
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
“Not the labors of my hands
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
“While I draw this fleeting
[xxxii][xxxiii] Mr. W. E. Gladstone, in his speech in the English House of Commons, March 5, 1880, said that it was estimated that greater calamities are inflicted on mankind by intemperance than by wars, pestilence and famine. England is the hardest drinking country in the world; about 120,000 of her people die annually from alcoholism. The 200,000 liquor saloons in the United States kill about 100,000 drunkards per year. It is officially, but I think extravagantly, computed that the results of the use of alcoholic stimulants in England are: nine-tenths of the paupers, three-fourths of the criminals, one-half the diseases, one-third of the insanity, three-fourths of the depravity of the young, and one-third of the shipwrecks-a ghastly catalogue of evils. Distillation is a product of modern civilization-unknown to the ancients and to savages. Alcohol is not a food, and rarely, if ever, a proper medicine, having been altogether abandoned by some of the most eminent and successful physicians of Europe. Alcohol is “the very genius of degeneration,”-clots the blood, overworks the heart, dilates the capillaries, retards digestion, ulcerates the stomach, substitutes an unhealthy fat for healthy tissue, chills the body, soon after being taken, two degrees below the normal temperature, so that its use has had to be discontinued in Arctic expeditions, paralyzes the nerves, crazes the brain, deadens the conscience, opens the system to the attacks of disease, and propagates its evils to the fourth generation. Itself a poison, about twenty of the rankest poisons are used to adulterate and color and expand it. In ancient Pagan Athens, a citizen seen to enter a drinking shop was disgraced for life. The Mohammedan Sultan, Soliman I., ordered that melted lead should be poured down the throats of drinkers See Axel Gustafson's “Foundation of Death-A Study of the Drink Question,” summing up the results of three thousand books in regard to the effects of alcohol.
[xxxiv][xxxv] Of course, if there are some spiritual worshipers of God among the Roman Catholics, there are also some such worshipers among all the various bodies of Protestants (Rev. 5:9, 10, 7:9, 10). There may be more or less darkness in the head, while at the same time grace exists in the heart. Even inspired Apostles, while on earth, knew only in part, and saw through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 8:2, 13:9, 12). More light would give us more comfort, and cause us to give more glory to God.
[xxxvi][xxxvii] I am myself a personal witness of the increasingly gross and ruinous perversions of scriptural truth taught in “Sabbath schools” and at “protracted meetings,” and also of the, lamentable effects of such teaching. Of course, to the teaching of the truth, in a tender and reverential manner, by any persons who know the truth, to any persons, at any becoming time and place, neither I nor any Primitive Baptist will object; but the obscuration of God's holiness and power and of man's sinfulness and dependence is the exact opposite of the truth, and yet such obscuration is the usual tendency of the teaching at “Sabbath Schools” and “protracted meetings.”
Josiah W. Leeds, in his admirable little work on “The Theatre,” page 53, says: “In the report of the Howard Association, of London, for the year 1880, it was stated on the authority of the chaplain of Clerkenwell Prison, that out of fifty boys sent to the prison from the ages of nine and one-half to sixteen years, forty-eight had been Sunday School scholars, of whom forty-two had attended regularly, and twenty-nine had received prizes.”
[xl][xli] In the report of the proceedings of the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina, published in the Wilmington (N.C.) Morning Star, Nov. 17, 1883, “Dr. Wison” is stated to have said: “Faith leads to prayer, and prayer is transmuted to gold, and God condescends to use gold for the conversion of the world.” In the report of the proceedings of the Baptist Home Missionary Society, held at Saratoga Springs, New York, May 28, 1885, the New York Examiner of June 4, 1885, states that Dr. MacArthur said: “If a man is not making money, and feels that he is becoming an unchristlike Christian, he must give to save his soul. If a man is making money and is becoming hard-hearted, he must give to save his soul. If a man is in neither of these conditions, but liberal, he must give in larger measure.” Says Mr. R. B. Cook, in his recently published “Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries:” “Instead of falling behind, we ought henceforth to lead all other denominations in our contributions for saving perishing souls.” See A. Judson’s Letter in the latter part of this volume.
[xlii][xliii] To economize space, as I am permitted to make but the briefest allusion to the most of these matters, I have presented, in this one long sentence the most faithful photograph that I am able to draw of the chaotic nineteenth century. While there are, in the picture, many bright scenes, there are far more numerous spots and vistas of darkness. The best informed and most candid observers unite in declaring that, after all our progress, this is still a very sinful and miserable world, and man’s only well-grounded hope is in God.
[xliv][xlv] The Scriptures are both literally and spiritually true. The prophecies of the Old Testament in reference to the coming of Christ had not only a spiritual fulfillment in every believer during that dispensation before His personal coming to the earth, but also a literal fulfillment in His First Advent to the world to redeem His people (see 1 Cor. 15:3-8; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7); and, in the same manner, the prophecies of the New Testament in reference to the coming of Christ will have not only a spiritual fulfillment in every believer during the present dispensation, but also a literal fulfillment in His Second or Last Advent to the world, to raise the bodies of the dead, and change the bodies of the living, and conduct the general and final judgment, and publicly manifest His righteousness in the salvation of His people and in the overthrow of His enemies (John 5:22, 27-29; 1 Thess. 4:15-18; 1 Cor. 11:26, 15:23, 15:50-57; Matt. 11:22, 24, 25:31-46; Acts 1:11, 17:31; Rom. 2:6-10; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Heb. 9:28; Rev 1:7, 6:14-17, 20:11-15). In Matthew 24 and Matthew 25 and Mark 13 “our Lord’s reply distinguishes, though with the obscurity of prophetical language, between a first coming in judgment during that generation, and a second coming at the end of the world, of which the time was known to none but the Father. The contrast between ‘these things’ (tauta), in Matt 24:34 and Mark 13:30, and ‘that day and hour (ekeine emera kai ora), in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, distinctly shows the twofold application of the previous language, and the two events marked off from each other. The earthly kingdom of Christ shall be manifested to this generation: His heavenly kingdom shall come at a time which God only knows. The expression that day is elsewhere used, as here, without any expressed antecedent. to signify the Day of Judgment (see Matt. 7:22; Luke 10:12; 2 Tim. 1:12, 18, 4:8).”
The perfection of sophistry, in explaining away all the literal, and indeed nearly if not quite all the real, meaning of the eschatological predictions of the New Testament, may be seen in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and in the recent universalist book, “Mercy and Judgment,” by F. W. Farrar.
While sustained by the grace of God, I can never believe in the literal falsehood of any of the statements of the Holy Scriptures, especially of the Lord Jesus Christ, with reference either to the past or the future.
[xlvi][xlvii] “Pantheism,” says H. Heine, “is really Atheism ashamed of itself, dreading not so much the thing as the shadow it flings on the wall-the name.” “In my review of all human races,” says the eminent French anthropologist, M. Quatrefages, “I have sought atheism in the lowest as well as the highest; but I have nowhere met with it, except in individuals, or in more or less limited schools, such as those which existed in Europe in last century, or may still be seen at the present day.”
[l][li] The Athenian philosopher Plato, a disciple of Socrates, lived 427-328 B. C. His philosophy is described in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge as pre-eminently spiritual, theistic, teleological, ethical, religious and retributive; but devoid of proper ideas of sin and grace -deficient, not so much in the wisdom of God, as in the power of God unto salvation. This deficiency is an essential part of all Rationalism, including Arminianism.
[lii][liii] They sometimes admit, and sometimes deny, the innate depravity of the human race since the Fall; and they distinctly and emphatically abandon the central doctrine of Protestantism, the justification of the Christian by faith alone, and return to the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by faith and works (or rather work-baptism being the one great work with them).
[lvi][lvii] It is proper to remark that the great majority of Primitive Baptists understand these truths in precisely the same way, but that some few understand them differently. I am satisfied that the differences are mainly wars of words, and that they would disappear if the parties could meet in person and in the right spirit.
[lx][lxi] Let it be remembered that there was not the slightest particle of Arminianism in Elder Wilson Thompson’s preaching; he uncompromisingly proclaimed at this time, and at all other periods of his ministry, the scriptural doctrine of salvation by the sovereign, discriminating, efficacious grace of God. He did not, by the proclamation of false doctrine, gather into his churches a bushel of chaff for every grain of wheat; for mere numbers and dollars were in no sense his object
[lxii][lxiii] Elder John M. Watson, in “The Old Baptist Test,” published, in 1865, a masterly “Refutation of the Manichaeo-Parkerite Heresy.” And Elder George Y. Stipp, of Henning, Ill., published in 1879 an able “Refutation of the Doctrine called ‘Two Seeds’”—a pamphlet which may be procured from the author at twenty-five cents per copy.