In the commencement of this chapter we have thought proper again to recur to the circumstances and causes of the great division among those calling themselves Baptists, in connection with the Kehukee and other Associations in this country.
The Kehukee, at her session in 1829, explained and confirmed the position taken by her in 1827, and this action appeared to draw the line of demarcation distinctly between the old and the new order of Baptists then and until the present time. The barriers were then permanently erected between those who opposed and those who favored the man-made institutions of that day and this, as being aids and even superior to the church of Christ. The Kehukee Association, with her numerous churches, stood firm and unyielding in this great battle from 1829, and even from 1827, and onward. She did not have to go off or withdraw, even from the apologists for human wisdom and human righteousness; but they departed and went out from her, to make it manifest that they were not in principle with her. She remained steadfast in the Apostles’ doctrine and in fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers; while those who left, whether of her own churches or those of other Associations, departed first from the Apostles’ doctrine (salvation by grace alone), then from fellowship, then from breaking of bread, then from prayers.
One departure made way for another. Imbibing false doctrine led to false practice. The idea of salvation by works caused a dependence on works for salvation. When once confidence in God was lost, then it was placed on man. As soon as a religionist believes that God is unable or unwilling to save sinners, then he sets about the work himself, and soon concludes that he can do it alone without God’s assistance. So soon as disbelief in God’s word entered the mind of Eve she believed the lies of Satan, and that belief in his false statements produced the action, on her part, of reaching forth and partaking the forbidden fruit. So soon as Baptists in America, during the present century, imbibed “Fuller’s gospel”—all complete, they were ready to carry it out in practice, by the examples set them in England by Carey and Fuller.
So that we feel called on to state it as a historical truth, not successfully to be denied, that wherever Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Dorcas Societies, Mite Societies, Religious Fairs and Festivals, Temperance Societies, Sectarian Schools and Theological Seminaries in America prevail, there the doctrine of Phariseeism (modernly called Arminianism) prevails, there the doctrine of saving the souls of men from sin and from hell by works which men may do for themselves and for each other prevails. There the mark of the Beast and there persecution prevail. There fraternization with these in all sects and societies (Pedobaptists included) where salvation is reckoned of men prevails. In all these new things, comminglements and fraternizations, the New School party disprove their identity with Primitive Christians, and repudiate the faith and practice of the Apostles of the Lamb.
The Virginia Portsmouth Association went off with similar Articles of Faith to those of the Kehukee, but it is presumed they did not last her long, as she has long since been identified with the isms and worldly contrivances of the present century.
The Chowan Association, which organized under the Kehukee Articles of Faith, soon repudiated them—adopted others more suitable to her doctrinal notions, then changed them, we understand, and finally thought it more consistent with her free-will doctrines to have none at all.
The Neuse Association also adopted the Articles of her old mother when she was dismissed, but renounced them and eventually abandoned her organization.
The churches that were dismissed to form the Tar River Association went off professing undeviating faith in the old Articles, but, in organizing, lost sight of them, and fell completely under the influence of the work-mongers.
For twenty or thirty years after the separation among Baptists, and the departure of the “Do and Live” party from those who stood by the ancient landmarks, the contention was pretty sharp, each party denouncing the other in no very gentle language. It seemed lamentable that the old soldiers of the cross, instead of preaching Jesus and the resurrection all the time, did take up a good portion of their time in defending the faith and denouncing those who had brought in these heresies.
The other party treated the Old School with a great deal of contempt on account of the paucity of their numbers, their old-fashioned creed, their experience of grace, their want of education, and general deficiency in human polish. And they declared wherever they went (supposing no doubt it would be so) that the Old Party would soon become extinct—out of the way entirely, and give them no further trouble. Various names were applied to the Old School by the New, such as “Hard Shells,” “Straight Jackets,” “Ignoramuses,” “Lawrenceans,” “Osbournites,” “Antinomians,” etc., etc. After thirty or forty years’ experience, since the separation, however, it was ascertained that the Old School were not all dead, that some were still in existence, and by some unaccountable means they were in a state of outward prosperity to all human appearance. This so astonished the New School that they, supposing a good name was becoming popular, and might be some cause for success, suddenly changed their tactics, and assumed the name of “Old School or Primitive Baptists” to themselves, which they had themselves given to the Bible Baptists, and had for many previous years been aspersing and holding in the greatest contempt!
For some few years now prior to the writing of this history, their ablest minds, through the medium of pulpit and press, have been endeavoring to prove themselves the veritable Primitive Baptists of the nineteenth century! It is likely their affliction will increase as the prosperity of Zion becomes more and more manifest, and the well established among themselves forsake them and go where they rightfully belong, to the citizenship of the saints and the household of God.
This claim on the part of the New School has been set up by some of them, perhaps, since the year 1870. Lectures have been given, sermons delivered, newspapers have teemed, magazines have been filled, and books have abounded with argument, declamation and sophistry, to prove that the New School are the Old School—that the Old School are the New School—that white is black, and black is white—that the Pharisaical, money-loving, money-hunting, money-begging, mesmerizing, passion-exciting, “do and live” Baptists of the present day are the Simon—pure, old-fashioned, Primitive Baptists of a hundred years ago; and that Kehukeeites and Black-Rockers need not lay claim to any such title at all! Thus it is seen after all what advantage there is thought to be in a good name. It was for this reason, we suppose, that seven women were to “take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach”. (Isa. 4:1) What a pity that some people now desire to eat their own bread (the doctrine of the Pharisees), and wear their own apparel (self-righteousness), and yet greatly desire to be called “Primitive Baptists!” Primitive Baptists in reality are they who are “of the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
We proceed now to prove the Missionaries, so-called, of the present day, to be the New School party; that their worldly institutions, under the garb of religion, have divided the Baptists—that they are only about fifty to seventy-five years old in the United States, and that they have gone away from the original fold or church of Christ, and have made it manifest that they were not with her in faith and practice. Also that the constant tendency of the Missionaries is from the doctrine of predestination and election as set forth in the Bible to the doctrine of a Conditional Salvation, made sure only by man; that they have abandoned the true church of Christ, and made a confederacy with the daughters of Babylon and of Papal Rome; and that the Mother of Harlots herself has as good a doctrine[i][ii] to preach to the millions of her deluded followers as have a large number of the Missionary Baptists, so-called, either of Europe or America. The more is the pity and the more is the shame, because these people, as Baptists, had a noble origin. They never belonged to Babylon—they did not come out of her. Their predecessors from the beginning fought against and denounced Antichrist as the great spiritual evil in the world, that was poisoning the minds of men with false doctrine and destroying hecatombs of victims from generation to generation. They denounced her till the Reformation, so-called, under Luther and Melancton, Zuinglius and Calvin; they denounced her since the Reformation; they denounced her daughters, the Established “Churches” of Germany, Switzerland and England, whose hierarchies hated and persecuted Baptists as they hated and threatened Rome. Baptists stood independent of all other religious organizations and acted their part nobly, until in England they succumbed to the principles and practices of Rome (save her persecutions) under the leadership of Fuller and Carey, and in America under that of Judson and Rice. Now, therefore, we behold those calling themselves Baptists, and recently calling themselves “Primitive Baptists,” fused with numerous other sects and societies, and with the non-professing world also, in order to carry to a successful issue their craft and schemes of aggrandizement, born of worldly wisdom.
1. In the first place, we take it to be a self-evident truth that a project never submitted to the consideration of the Kehukee Association for the first thirty-seven years of her existence, when it was submitted, was then a new project to her. The subject of Missions was proposed to her by Martin Ross in 1803; it was never proposed before that time. The Association was constituted in 1765, and was therefore thirty-seven years old before the subject was brought to her notice. The subject was therefore new to her then, and those originating it must of course be called a “new order” or “New School Baptists.” Then and there (at Conoho, in 1803) originated the “Missionary” cause, so far as the Kehukee Association and all within the bounds of the State of North Carolina were concerned. The age of the concern, therefore, in its incipient state, in North Carolina, is much less than a century.
Younger and younger still are those who, from time to time, have since then set up for themselves—unfurled their “Missionary” banners to the breeze—joined the armies of the aliens, and made war against the old original panel, the church of Christ.
We do not see how such organizations as these can with any degree of propriety be called churches of Christ; because those of them who departed from the original fold were excommunicated from church privileges and gospel fellowship. Whatever they did thereafter was done in a state of disorder, whether it was to form churches, adopt creeds, baptize persons, or administer the elements at communion season. All was in disorder, and consequently should not be reckoned by the true church as legal or valid. Whatsoever has sprung from this impure source of course must be impure also; and their baptisms, as well as their false doctrines, must be rejected and disowned by the true church of Jesus Christ.
That portion of Baptists who have not departed from the faith, or who have been properly constituted into churches under the faith and order of Baptists of a hundred years ago, to say nothing of the Apostolic Age, must be the true church of Christ. It was unto the true church of Christ that the keys of the kingdom of Heaven were committed, with which to bind or loose, as she thought proper. And, by virtue of this Divine authority, she has loosed, withdrawn from and excommunicated these disorderly brethren, and therefore has no fellowship for them.
If there is to be union again it must be by a return of the excluded and their converts to the original fold. The door has all along been open and still is open for them to do so, upon repentance and faith—in the same manner as other people are received. And, on these terms, they are now welcome to the fellowship and the name of “Primitive Baptists.”
2. We adduce the testimony of “Missionaries” themselves to prove their projects to be innovations on original Baptist faith and practice, and consequently new things to the Baptist family.
David Benedict (1779-1874), of Connecticut, wrote a History of the Baptists, which was published in two volumes in 1810, and was well received by all regular Predestinarian Baptists throughout the land. This was done before the Division. He also wrote another history of the denomination, which was published in one volume, in 1848.[iii][iv] This was subsequent to the Division; and he then being a “Missionary,” advocating all the new schemes of the day, took decided ground against the Primitive Baptists, of course, treated them quite unceremoniously, and declared they were so few and worthless that they would likely become extinct before his book reached his more distant subscribers. He is therefore so committed to the “Missionary” cause that he must be considered by “Missionaries” good authority in all matters that pertain to them and their numerous projects for evangelizing the world.
This same author afterwards wrote another book, entitled “Fifty Years Among the Baptists,” which was published in 1860 by Sheldon & Co.; New York. In this book, and while at an advanced age, he relates his experience among the Baptists for fifty years—commencing nearly with the present century. If we are to look anywhere among his writings for truth and candor, we should think it would be here. Then we proceed to prove by this witness, who cannot be objected to by “Missionaries,” that the Missionary system, with all its adjuncts, such as Sunday Schools, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Theological Seminaries, and the reading or preaching of free-will sermons, are new things among the Baptists.
Says this author: “Should any one inquire of the Missionary cause, among American Baptists, fifty years ago, the account is soon rendered; and the total amount of their doings up to that time may be thus stated; a few small societies for domestic missions had been established in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and a few other places, by the aid of which missionaries were sent out, under temporary appointments, to destitute regions. The society in Boston was the oldest and most efficient of those bodies; there, and I think elsewhere, Female Mite Societies were among the principal contributors to these small organizations. In a few cases these efforts were directed toward the moral and spiritual benefit of the aboriginees of our country” (see pages 22, 23). Again he says: “A number of our oldest State Conventions grew out of the early societies for domestic missions. The Tract Cause was still more in its infancy than that of missions, if its existence had now commenced, although our Boston brethren made early movements in this line, as some of the old, untrimmed and rough looking documents of this sort published by them give evidence. ‘Give me the little book,’ I well remember was the familiar language of Dr. Baldwin, in an Association at an early day, while recommending these minor publications, which were then beginning to circulate among our people. The Bible Cause, in the modern sense of the term, was not engaged in by any religious community in this country at the period now under review. The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804, and it was twelve years later before the old American institution arose, with which a portion of our people became identified. Sunday Schools and Bible classes, and all the other institutions of modern times, for objects of Christian benevolence and moral reform, which are now in such successful operation with us and other communities in the land, were wholly unknown in my early day” (pp. 24, 25).
Again, says our author: “When I look back I can hardly realize the changes which have taken place in our denomination, in my day, in the means of intelligence and benevolence. It seems almost incredible that a society which so lately was so slow to engage in any new enterprise, and was so jealous of any collegiate training for its ministers, should at this early period have so many colleges and kindred institutions spread over the land; that such a flood of periodicals of different kinds should so soon be added to the old Magazine; that so much should have been done by this people in the Home and Foreign Mission departments, in the Bible cause, in the publication of Baptist literature, in Sunday Schools and Bible classes, and in kindred labors of various kinds; and all since I first began to collect the scanty and scattered materials for their history” (p. 27).
In regard to the Convention for Foreign Missions, our author says on page 47: “And here” (in Philadelphia) “also was founded the Convention for Foreign Missions in 1814, then the most important institution of the kind which existed among the American Baptists, and here for a long time after was the centre of its operations.” In regard to the old Confession of Faith, he further says: “The Baptist Philadelphia Confession of Faith, so called because it went out from this city, was a document of high authority among all the old Baptist Churches in this part of the country and generally throughout the South and West, when I first traveled in those regions. This document was published here and was printed by Dr. Franklin” (p. 47).
As to reading sermons, he says: “Fifty years ago it was as unconstitutional and unusual for ministers of our order to preach by note as it was for the old Scotch Seceders and many others; but extempore speaking was the almost universal practice. There was no established rule on the subject, but so decided and strong were the prejudices of the people against written discourses that very few of our ministers ever presumed to use them” (p. 55). And again: “With very few exceptions, in my early day, our most distinguished preachers pursued the extempore mode.—A large majority of Baptist preachers in early times had no inclination to offend the people with written sermons, had they been capable of producing them; but as a new generation came up, with more education, a change gradually took place, not always for the better, however, in the view of the old members, in whose mind a broad distinction was still kept up between reading and preaching.—When the new race, with permission or without it, had surmounted the old extemporaneous barriers, which had stood in the way of their predecessors, they found it more convenient to trust to their eyes than their memories; and, as Baptists are more tolerated in this business than the Covenanters, the reading of sermons has been about as common with Baptists as Pedobaptists in many parts of the country. And what is a little singular, while many of our ministers are going into the practice with increasing expedition, many in old dynasties are going out of it as fast as possible” (pp. 57, 58).
Again, says our author: “Fifty years ago the ministers of our order were generally a hardy and active set of men. Then we never heard of a very prevalent disease of modern times, nor was it common to go on distant voyages for the restoration of health. Instead of this they often sallied out on horseback into remote and distant regions as evangelical pioneers. This was done in many cases by ministers under pastoral engagements, who, after spending a few weeks or months in such services, would return to their pastoral stations. How it happened that the ministers of that age, who were exposed to so many hardships and privations, who so often preached in log cabins and in other pent-up places, or in the open air, should have so much better organs of speaking, stronger lungs, and firmer constitutions than their successors, whose labors are so much less severe, and who are so much better cared for, I could never fully understand.—At the period now alluded to, it was a very uncommon thing for any of our ministers to give up preaching or relinquish pastoral stations for the want of support. Instead of that they would devise some way to support themselves and keep on their work; and what may seem a little singular, I have always found our ministers of property among the self-supporting class, rather than among those who are cared for by their people.—A considerable number of our preachers in this age were physicians, some kept school, others followed trades, or were engaged in mercantile pursuits of different kinds; but by far the greater part of them, throughout the whole range of our country, were literally farmer preachers; and in my extensive travels among them I was somewhat disappointed in finding such a large proportion of these laborious men, in their spiritual vocation, in such comfortable circumstances as to their worldly concerns” (pp. 58-60).
Again he says: “The great mass of our ministers then had no settled income for their services, and, where moderate sums were pledged, in too many cases they were slowly paid, if paid at all. Under these circumstances the zeal and assiduity of so many laborious men is the wonder of the present age. Their perseverance in their ministerial work in the midst of so much ingratitude and neglect on the part of the numerous churches which they planted, and the poverty and privations which they endured through the whole of their ministry, are matters of high commendation and grateful remembrance. In that early age we seldom heard of any one retiring from a pastorship into ministerial inactivity on account of the parsimony of the people; and very few non-preaching Elders were then to be found” (p. 62).
Again, to show the recent origin of men-made missionism, our author says, on page 65: “Voting supplies for the churches which were destitute of all pastoral aid was an important item in the doings of our old Associations. This method was pursued before any arose for the promotion of missionary labors of the most limited and temporary kind.”
In regard to ministerial changes, revivalists and animal excitements, Mr. Benedict, on pages 67 and 68, says: “The causes of ministerial removals and changes, a half-century since, were not so numerous or pressing as they have been for many years past. Then the vehement spirit of numerical gain in the churches, and the restless desire for available ministers for the augmentation of congregations, had hardly begun to show itself. The old staid churches had more respect to the sound and certain teachings of their ministers than to anything merely captivating in their discourses. Again, the numerous excitements of modern times about matters foreign to the work of ministers of the gospel, in which not a few of our more modern pastors have been involved, and by means of which many have been run off the track, were unknown in my early intercourse with the Baptists.”
“Once more: The influence of restless Deacons to effect pastoral changes was then but feeble compared with later years. It was indeed felt more or less in some few churches, but it was afterwards greatly increased; and many an embarrassed pastor has been obliged to succumb to its controlling sway.”
“Finally, a scanty income was not always a sufficient reason for a ministerial change in the public mind, or in that of the minister himself; but often he would hold on year after year, under the most embarrassing circumstances, rather than leave his flock in a pastorless condition.”
“In those days, while church members were generally quite poor, and as many of them had come from the Pedobaptists of different parties, they were exposed to opposition and reproach of a painful nature; and on these accounts there was a very strong sympathy and affection on the part of the pastor towards these poor and despised people, and a reluctance to leave them without an under-shepherd, stronger than is now felt by many ministers in their sudden changes.”
As Primitive Baptists occupy the ground to this day which Benedict says Baptists occupied early in the nineteenth century, and those standing with him are far removed from said ancient position; what better evidence do we require to show that the fast traveling, free-will “Missionaries” have departed from the ancient order of Baptists, and are the new party, just sprung into existence during the present century?
Here comes a crushing declaration; and the money-hunting “Baptists” of today may well quail before it. Benedict, on page 59, says: “Fifty years ago, not an agent for collecting funds for any object of benevolence or literature was to be seen in the whole Baptist field.” The Italics are ours. And further, he says: “No one dreamed of so soon seeing such an array of agents in the field for so many different objects, and that the business would become a distinct vocation of indispensable necessity for carrying forward our benevolent plans and for performing our denominational work” (p. 70).
As to church discipline, and the distinction between church and world, our author says: “Fifty years ago it was contrary to Baptist rules for their members to seek such places of amusement as multitudes of them now resort to without any official censure or complaint. Our people then made a broad distinction between the church and the world, and if any of their members went over the line to the world’s side, they were at once put under church discipline. Then the Baptists sternly prohibited the practice of brother going to law with brother, under any circumstances whatever. All matters in offense or complaint of wrong-doing must be laid before the body according to gospel rule. And if rash or inexperienced members hurried their complaints there, without taking gospel steps, as the phrase was, they were required to retrace their course and go first to the offending member. Achans in the camp were then much dreaded, and church members were assiduously taught not to suffer sin upon a brother” (pp. 77, 78).
Our author further says: “Fifty years ago Baptists were noted for their familiarity with the Scriptures” (p. 81). Here is where the Old Baptists are today, but where are the New ones? What do they know about faith or the Scriptures, except as they learn it from the lips of their hireling priesthood?
In regard to the new-fashioned pew-rents among Baptists, our author says: “In my earliest examination into Baptist affairs, I did not find one society in the whole connection which made much dependence on pew-rents for ministerial support in Boston. In a few cases the remnants of pews which remained unsold were rented, and the funds thus obtained formed an item of the minister’s income. Free pews or benches were then the general rule. The idea of paying anything for seats in a Baptist meeting-house, much less of having the annual rent of them defray the expense of the establishment, ministers and all, had not entered the minds of our people; and as their meeting-houses were, nothing of the kind could have been done if they had attempted it” (pp. 82, 83).
We can but ask, Where are the Missionaries on this subject now? Gone, gone into the religious traffic with Babylon’s daughters.
As to Associational proceedings, our author says: “These were the only great meetings we had in my early day, as the age of our present anniversaries was far ahead. The whole number of Associations then in all America was about seventy-five, where there are now upwards of 600. The manner of conducting those which I attended, while young, was more devotional and less formal than now, in many places; and there was more preaching and exhortation, more freedom for men of less brilliant powers of speaking to take a part in devotional exercises, and an entire absence of agents to bespeak the good will of the people in favor of their different objects” (pp. 86, 87).
As genuine, old-fashioned, predestinarian Baptists were at the time alluded to by our author, so they are now. Their Associations are conducted in the same way, and so on; but where are the “Missionaries” at the present time? Gone into almost every conceivable device, thereby rendering their Associations worldly institutions, gotten up for the promotion of worldly objects; and they more resemble disorderly legislative assemblies than Baptist Associations.
In regard to an exchange of pulpits, our author says, on pages 94 and 95: “At that time” (about fifty years before his book was published, that is, in 1810) “the exchange of pulpits between the advocates and opponents of infant baptism was a thing of very rare occurrence, except in a few of the more distinguished churches in the Northern States. Indeed, the doctrine of non-intercourse, so far as ministerial services were concerned, almost universally prevailed between Baptists and Pedobaptists.” Question: Who has departed from this ancient order of things, Baptists or “Missionaries?” Answer: “Missionaries.” Then “Missionaries” are the New School party, who affiliate with Pedobaptists; while Primitive Baptists are the Old School party, who have not changed their course in this respect for fifty years, but stand where their fathers stood, a separate and distinct people from all others.
As to ministerial education, our author says, on pages 98 and 99: “The clergy of the standing order, so called, were generally men of collegiate training; and as the Baptists had often been grievously oppressed for their support, ministerial education itself, by many, was lightly esteemed. This came from the incorrect reasoning of our people. But there were other things which caused a strong dislike, on their part, of the ministers of the old order, among which we may mention their sacerdotal airs, the dullness of their performances, their cold and, in some cases, their contemptuous treatment of all without their pale, whether Baptists or others; all these things combined to produce, in the minds of our old-fashioned members, a settled aversion to the whole Pedobaptist concern, its priesthood, lay-membership, and all. And the urgent need of college learning for ministers they decidedly denied; and this sentiment was strengthened by observing the less formal, more animated and, to them, more edifying preaching of their own uneducated ministers.”
Where now has our author conducted us? To a scene in Baptist history, in his early day, when Baptists denied the necessity of collegiate education for their ministers, looked on college-trained ministers with indifference, and remembered that it was from an educated clergy that their heaviest oppressions and persecutions arose.
Here is where genuine Baptists stand this day. They are not opposed to education itself, and admire it as a necessary earthly acquirement; but they are opposed to educating men for the ministry, by means of Theological Seminaries or other human contrivances, thereby substituting human learning for the grace of God and the Spirit’s teachings. Here is where the Baptists stood in the early days of David Benedict, according to his own showing. But where stand the Missionaries on this subject since their departure from the faith? Is it not self-evident that they are head and ears involved in ministerial education by means of religious schools; and from their mills are grinding out young preachers yearly by scores, who are to spread over the land, like the locusts of Egypt, in search of a support from the people without any manual labor on their part? Such was not the case in the olden time. Yet these men, who have gone into this religious training during the present century, with all the zeal and eagerness of the Church of England, so called, or that of Rome itself, have the presumption to call themselves “Primitive Baptists!” David Benedict proves their claim to be a false one, and David Benedict they dare not contradict.
In regard to Foreign “Missions,” our author says they were in his early day exceedingly unpopular. Says he: “The idea of sending men and money out of the country, for the purpose of attempting the conversion of heathen in foreign lands, in the view of these men, was a most preposterous one, a project as they said not only visionary in its design, but impracticable in its nature.”
Here is evidence that in their origin Foreign “Missions” were considered an innovation on Baptist usage, and were opposed by regular Baptists.
Again he says: “About forty years ago (1814) the dormant energies of our denomination in this country began to be aroused in favor of some systematic efforts in favor of sending the gospel to the heathen. The cause of this movement may be traced to the conversion of Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice to the sentiments of the Baptists, while on their way to India as missionaries under the patronage of the Pedobaptists.”
“This unexpected change in these two young men, as a matter of course, made no small stir in the Pedobaptist ranks, as might be naturally expected. Mr. Judson, at the time of his baptism in Calcutta, preached a sermon on the baptismal controversy, which was republished and widely circulated in this country. Mr. Rice soon returned to America to solicit pecuniary aid for assisting in establishing Baptist Missions in the East, and to select suitable persons for an undertaking to which the attention of American Baptists was now directed in a sudden and unexpected manner.”
“Up to this time, this large and increasing body (the American Baptists) seemed to have had no idea that they had either the call or the ability to send out missionaries to foreign lands” (pp. 111, 112).
So far from claiming apostolic authority for Foreign “Missions,” and tracing its history back into the ages of antiquity, Mr. Benedict acknowledges that it took its rise about forty years before he wrote his “Fifty Years Among the Baptists,” say about the year 1814. Not only so, but that it took its rise in a sudden and unexpected manner, by the conversion of two young men, Judson and Rice, from Pedobaptist to Baptist sentiments, while on their way to India. Who ventures now to say, in contradiction to this statement of Mr. Benedict, the great Missionary Baptist historian, that there is Bible authority for Modern Missions, and that they had been kept up by the church from the days of the Apostles till now? All such claims and pretenses are overwhelmingly refuted by this great leader, writer and preacher among Missionary Baptists. This statement was made near the close of his life, and under the influence of long years of experience.
Mr. Benedict informs us that Luther Rice was the principal agent to arouse the Baptists in America to a favorable view of this “Missionary” enterprise; so that soon societies of various kinds arose, in all directions, for the promotion of this new undertaking; and thus a foundation was laid for the formation of the Old Baptist “Triennial Convention;” which body, says our author, “was organized in Philadelphia in May, 1814, and under its direction all Baptist affairs pertaining to Foreign Missions were managed for about thirty years, when the name of this body was exchanged for that of the American Baptist Missionary Union. This change was made in New York in 1845. This was a time of great trial and difficulty with the old convention, which was seriously threatened with dissolution on account of questions which for a number of years had been agitated in a very unpleasant manner. The perplexing discrepancies which arose between the Northern and Southern wings of a body which was spread over all the States, was the principal cause of the troubles here alluded to.”
“The Missionary Union came into being in a very amicable manner at first, but soon objections from some quarters were started against some parts of its constitution, as not conformable to Baptist principles and usages; and these objections still exist in the minds of many, and added to these, complaints from various quarters against the management of the men at the missionary rooms have become loud and widespread, and now (March, 1857) very serious difficulties are apprehended at the approaching anniversary of this important Baptist Institution” (pp. 116, 117).
Thus we have a clear and concise account of the origin and progress of the Foreign Missionary Society among Baptists in the United States, which then (1857), being only forty-three years old, was tottering to its foundation by intestine commotions, and likely to be abandoned even by its originators. What an apology for Bible and apostolic authority for an institution forty-three years old! How much does this advance the claim of these men, who made or cling to this society, to the title of “Primitive Baptists?” Primitive Baptists! How Primitive? Why primitive as far back as the year 1814. Born then, and consequently forty-three years old in 1857. Renounced the church of Christ in 1814, and denounced her as an old-fashioned, worn-out concern; and yet, in sixty years afterwards, turn round and claim the very title which they had aspersed, and declare publicly that these new inventions, tricks and enterprises of men were always found in the church of Christ from its origin! “0 consistency, thou art a jewel.”
Mr. Benedict frankly admits that this “Missionary” business did not go on harmoniously. On page 130 he says that he, “from the letters and journals of Mr. Hough, etc., became somewhat familiar with the management of missionary affairs, both at home and abroad, and was sorry to find that serious complaints were made, both by the home managers and the foreign laborers; on the part of the managers the principal complaints were of too independent action in the foreign field, of disobedience, insubordination, and of thinking too much for themselves.”
“On the other side, the terms, partiality, favoritism, prejudice, neglect, dictation, etc., were not unfrequently employed by the missionaries. I learned more in detail, in these matters, than was ever published in missionary documents, or that I am disposed to repeat. Let oblivion rest upon them all.” Is not this a nice repast to which the public and Old School Baptists are invited? How unreasonable for Missionaries to denounce genuine Bible Baptists for their opposition to such a system of avarice and ambition as is herein set forth by Mr. Benedict as being known to himself! And much more he knows that he is unwilling to make public.
In regard to a departure from the ancient Baptist faith, and a turning over to the doctrines of free will by the “Missionaries” of the United States, we propose quoting extensively from Mr. Benedict, who is the standard author with them, and who now comes in to prove that to be true which has been charged upon them, since the Division, by the genuine Baptists of our land, viz., that they are not only “Missionaries,” but Arminians also. Benedict says: “Forty years ago (1817) large bodies of our people were in a state of ferment and agitation in consequence of some modifications of their old Calvinistic Creed, as displayed in the writings of the late Andrew Fuller, of Kettering, England. This famous man maintained that the atonement of Christ was general in its nature, but particular in its application, in opposition to our old divines, who held that Christ died for the elect only. He also made a distinction between the natural and moral ability of men. Dr. John Gill, of London, was in his day one of the most distinguished divines among the English Baptists; and, as he was a noted advocate for the old system of a limited atonement, the terms ‘Gillites’ and ‘Fullerites’ were often applied to the parties in this discussion. Those who espoused the views of Mr. Fuller were denominated Arminians by the Gillite men, while they, in their turn, styled their opponents Hyper-Calvinists. Both parties claimed to be orthodox and evangelical, and differed but little on any other points except those which have been named. On election, the Trinity, etc., they all agreed.”
“In the age when the discussion arose among the American Baptists, as none of the modern subjects of agitation had been introduced among their churches, the speculative opinions, thus briefly described, for a number of years were the occasion of unhappy debates and contentions in many locations.”
“Our old Baptist divines, especially those of British descent, were generally strong Calvinists as to their doctrinal creed, and but few of them felt at liberty to call upon sinners in plain terms to repent and believe the gospel, on account of their inability to do so without Divine assistance. They could preach the gospel before the unconverted, but rousing appeals to their consciences on the subject of their conversion did not constitute a part of their public address.”
“In expatiating on the strong points of their orthodox faith, they sometimes ran Calvinism up to seed, and were accused by their opponents of Antinomian tendencies.”
“In that age it was customary for many of our ministers to dwell much on the decrees and purposes of God, to dive deep, in their way, into the plans of Jehovah in eternity, and to bring to light, as they supposed, the hidden treasures of the gospel, which they in an especial manner were set to defend. In doing this they discussed with as much confidence as if they were certain that they were not wise above what was written, but had given a true report of the secrets of the skies. This extreme of orthodoxy has been followed by laxity and indifference.”
“The Philadelphia Confession of Faith, published in that city in 1742, was the standard of most of the oldest Baptist churches in this country, especially in the Middle and Southern States. This Confession was copied mostly from one published by the Baptists in London in 1689, and this again agreed in its doctrinal sentiments with the Westminster Confession (of the Presbyterians). The oldest Baptists in New England, although for the most part they held, with their brethren elsewhere, the doctrines of depravity, election, Divine sovereignty, final perseverance, etc., were not in the habit of enforcing them so strongly as were those in New York, Philadelphia, and further South.”
“That class of Baptists which arose out of the Newlight stir in New England, which, as I have before stated, sent colonies into all the Southern States, and, in the second generation, over the mountains into the West, were Calvinists of a still milder type. Indeed, their orthodoxy was often called in question by the old school party in Virginia, the Carolinas and Kentucky.”
“These zealous reformers, in their public performances, dwelt mostly on the subject of Christian experience and practical religion, while the strait Calvinists labored much to explain the strong points of their system.”
“The kind of preaching now much in vogue, at the period and among the people here had in view, would have been considered the quintessence of Arminianism, mere milk and water, instead of the strong meat of the gospel. Then and with our orthodox Baptists, a sermon would have been accounted altogether defective which did not touch upon election, total depravity, final perseverance, etc.”
“In my early day the associated Baptists were all professedly Calvinists in their doctrinal sentiments. The term however was not agreeable to many, as they did not subscribe to all the sentiments of John Calvin; but they submitted to it for distinction’s sake, and in contradistinction from those whose views were less orthodox on predestination, etc. Beside the people of our order in the Associations, the Free Will and Seventh Day Baptists were then coming into notice, and they with but few exceptions among the Sabbatarians were decidedly opposed to some of the distinguishing doctrines of the Calvinistic Creed.”
“The Methodists, too, who often came in contact with the Baptists, and with whom I frequently associated in my early travels, were extremely severe in their feelings and comments on the orthodox faith, so far as election, etc., were concerned. Some of their circuit-riders of that age conducted as if they considered themselves predestinated to preach against predestination.”
“And some of our illiterate Elders were about a match for them against the Wesleyan Creed. And the cry of fatalism on the one hand, and of salvation by works on the other, was continually sounded by the parties.”
“I was often not a little surprised at the bitterness of feeling which in many cases was displayed by the anti-Calvinists against the doctrine of election, and their readiness, in season and out of season, to assail it by reason and ridicule. Many could hardly be civil towards their opponents, who were silent all the while.”
“But for many years past the asperity of feeling above described has been a good deal modified, so that the differing men can meet together without taunting each other with their offensive creeds. On this subject I lately remarked to a Free Will Baptist minister, ‘Your side has been coming up and ours has been going down, till the chasm between the two parties is by no means so great as formerly.’”
“On the introduction of the Fuller system, a very important change followed on the part of many of our ministers in their mode of addressing their unconverted hearers on the subject of repentance and believing the gospel. Hitherto they would use circumlocution in their discourses on these matters, instead of direct appeals and exhortations to those whose conversions they desired. They would describe the lost condition of sinners, and point out the duty of all men to repent and believe the gospel, but beyond this, their views of consistency with the doctrine which ascribes the whole work of salvation to God alone would not permit them to go. As a general thing, the discourses of that age were very dull and monotonous, and were greatly deficient in the pathos and fervor of that class of evangelical preachers who were not tramelled by such rigid rules in their theological creed.”
“Church members then received much more attention from our public speakers than those who stood without its pale. At times men of more than ordinary zeal would overleap the bounds of their restricted rules, but with studied caution in their use of terms; and I well remember with what ingenuity and dexterity this class of preachers would so manage their addresses to their unconverted hearers as to discourse to them much in the style of reputed Arminians, and yet retain the substance of the stereotyped phraseology of their orthodox creed.”
“The Fuller system, which makes it consistent for all the heralds of the gospel to call upon men everywhere to repent, was well received by one class of our ministers, but not by the staunch defenders of the old theory of a limited atonement. According to their views, all for whom Christ suffered and died would certainly be effectually called and saved. These conflicting opinions caused altercations of considerable severity, for a time, among the Baptists, who had hitherto been all united on the orthodox side. The Gillites maintained that the expositions of Fuller were unsound, and would subvert the genuine gospel faith. If, said they, the atonement of Christ is general in its nature, it must be so in its effects, as none of His sufferings will be in vain; and the doctrine of universal salvation will inevitably follow this dangerous creed. While the dispute went on, it was somewhat difficult for the Fullerites to pass muster on the score of orthodoxy with the Old School party, or be on terms of entire cordiality with them. But so great has the standard of orthodoxy been lowered, even among those who are reputed orthodox, from former times, and so little attention do many of our church members of the present day pay to the doctrines which are advanced by their ministers, that this whole story will probably be new to most of them except of the older class.”
“A few persons may now be found, in most of our congregations, who are so well informed, and who pay so much attention to the preaching they hear, that they are able to detect any unsoundness in the doctrines advanced; but this is not so generally the case with the great mass of our members as it was in a former age.”
“At present the modes and manners and the eloquence of their ministers engage more of the attention of our people than their doctrinal expositions; and most of all they look for those attractions which are pleasing to young people, and which will collect large assemblies and enable them to compete with their neighbors in number and style.”
“With this end in view, nothing that will sound harsh or unpleasant to very sensitive ears must come from the preacher; the old-fashioned doctrines of Predestination, Total Depravity, Divine Sovereignty, etc., if referred to at all, must be by way of circumlocution and implication.”
“As a general thing now our people hear so little in common conversation, in their everyday intercourse with each other, on doctrinal subjects, before, at the time, and after they become church members, and are so much accustomed to vague and indefinite references to them, that, different from former years, they have but little desire to hear them discussed. Indeed, many of them would sit very uneasy under discourses in which the primordial principles of the orthodox Baptist faith should be presented, in the style of our sound old preachers of by-gone years.”
“As for themselves, some of them, might bear this tolerably well, but they would be thinking of others, and of the adverse remarks of outside hearers and weaker members.”
“In the business of ordinations, how little scrutiny is made of candidates as to their belief in the strong points of our system, compared with ages past!”
“While our Creed, like the thirty-nine Articles, remains the same, this moderating still goes on in theological training, in ministerial functions, and in public sentiment, and to what point of moderation we shall in time descend, it is difficult to foretell.”
“An English statesman once said of his own church, ‘We have a Calvinistic Creed, a Roman Ritual, and an Arminian clergy.’ This in time may apply to us, minus the Ritual in some cases” (pp. 135-144).
We hope the reader has not become tired in reading, or impatient with us for quoting so extensively from Benedict’s “Fifty Years Among the Baptists.” How could we omit to notice a work so appropos to our cause? Here is proof to the uttermost that our charges against the “Missionaries” are true. There is no use in their denying them any longer. Here is evidence, produced by their own great historian and leader, that they have departed from the faith, and consequently are no longer entitled to identity with the old Baptist family. Just exactly where Benedict says the Old Baptists were fifty years before his book was published, there they are to this day, firm, steadfast and immovable. And just where the New School party were then, in their origin, there they are now, except that they have become more bold and determined in their Arminianism and works of self-righteousness.
Evidence to sustain a position has seldom been more conclusive; and the mouths of “Missionaries” claiming to be “Primitive Baptists” should be forever closed after this exposure. Benedict’s “Fifty Years Among the Baptists” was not popular enough with the Missionaries to pass to a second edition, we believe, and has long been out of print. The very publishers, in a recent letter to the writer, seem to have forgotten that they ever issued such a book. We would be pleased if these extracts should lead to a call for a second edition.—S. H.
Let us consider for a moment some of the marks which Mr. Benedict gives of old-fashioned Baptists, in this lengthy extract, and also the marks of the new-fashioned or Fullerite party.
The signs denoting Old Baptists are;
1. They believe that Christ died for the elect only.
2. They were called Gillites.
3. They preached the gospel before the unconverted, but rousing appeals to their consciences on the subject of their conversion did not constitute a part of their public addresses.
4. They were accused by their opponents of Antinomian tendencies.
5. They dwelt much on the decrees and purpose of God, and dived deep, in their way, into the plans of Jehovah in eternity, and thereby brought to light, as they supposed, the hidden treasures of the gospel.
6. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith was their standard for an orthodox Creed.
7. They were all professedly Calvinistic in their doctrinal sentiments, yet did not like the name “Calvinist,” because they did not hold to all the doctrines of that reformer.
8. They ascribed the whole work of salvation to God alone.
9. They addressed themselves, in their discourses, more to church members than to those outside.
10. They were staunch defenders of a limited atonement, and would not entertain the general atonement system of Andrew Fuller.
11. They taught that all for whom Christ died would certainly be called and saved.
12. They were careful not to ordain a man to the ministry unless he was sound in the ancient faith.
13. They were slow to engage in any new enterprise, and were jealous of collegiate training for their ministers.
14. They were called “Old Baptists,” and were opposed to ministers reading their sermons, favoring extemporaneous discourses altogether.
15. They were a hardy race of men, and pursued other callings for a living, besides preaching; the most of them were farmers, but some were merchants, some physicians, some teachers, etc., etc.
16. They adhered to their flocks, and seldom relinquished their pastoral stations for want of support; but would devise some way to support themselves and keep on their work.
17. They had no settled income for their services.
18. Their ministers, when once called to preach, continued in their fields of labor, and there were very few non-preaching Elders among them.
19. Revivalists, who were to play upon the passions, please the carnal mind, and augment the number of the visible churches, were unknown among them.
20. There was not an agent for collecting funds for any object of benevolence or literature among them.
The foregoing marks or signs apply as well to the Old School Predestinarian Baptists of today as they did to a description of them by Benedict fifty years before his book was written. Just what he said of them then, the world says of them now.
The signs given by him of the Arminian or “Missionary” party are about as follows:
1. They believed in a general atonement.
2. They charged orthodox Baptists as being Hyper-Calvinists.
3. They caused divisions and debates by their new doctrines.
4. They did not dwell in their discourses on the doctrine of depravity, election, Divine sovereignty, final perseverance, etc.
5. They were very bitter in their feelings against the doctrine of election, and readily assailed it, in season and out of season, by reason and ridicule.
6. Their method of preaching changed into the above-named order by the adoption of the Fullerite doctrine.
7. They lowered the standard of orthodoxy, and taught their hearers to pay no attention to the doctrines which are advanced by their ministers.
8. They sought, by the modes and manners and eloquence of their ministers, to engage the attention of the people, more than by their doctrinal expositions.
9. They sought to bring forward those things which were pleasing to young people, and which would collect large assemblies, and enable them to compete with their neighbors in numbers and style.
10. Their preachers refrained from preaching the old-fashioned doctrine of predestination, etc., because it sounded harsh to sensitive ears and was unpopular with the people.
11. They were opposed to hearing the primordial principles of the orthodox faith discussed.
12. While consenting, at times, to an orthodox creed, they were moderating its principles and stripping it of all force and meaning.
13. Old staid preachers were removed to give room for those of captivating discourses, which excited the passions of their congregations, and so augmented the number of converts.
14. They founded the convention for Foreign “Missions” in Philadelphia in 1814.
15. They threw aside the ancient jealousy of the fathers against ministerial education, and soon filled the land with schools for religious training.
16. They formed Bible Societies.
17. They introduced Sunday Schools and Bible Classes.
18. They set up departments which they called “Foreign and Home Departments.”
19. They created “Missionary” Societies to promote “Missionary” labors, when, before that, the Associations occasionally voted supplies to destitute churches.
20. They introduced organs as a part of their church service, and pew-rents as a foundation to meet church expenses, and various excitements about matters foreign to the accustomed work of ministers of the gospel.
These marks point unmistakably to the “Missionary” Baptists of today. Is it possible to better define them than has been done by our author?
According to the showing of their own great historian, they must, in the judgment of the world, stand condemned as the mischievous innovators, who have set up idols and brought in heresies among Baptists, causing the great Division that has been made among them in the nineteenth century, and prostituted that honorable and venerable name to the sanction of means and measures disgraceful to the Christian religion.
We must follow our author a little further to show other evidences of a departure by “Missionaries” from the customs and practices of ancient Baptists. On page 165 he says: “In my early day among by far the largest portion of the Baptists, the terms ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ were in common use in the everyday conversation of these people, when speaking to or of each other. A great change has indeed taken place in this business, in some locations, where much less of this old-fashioned familiarity of speech is heard than formerly; and this change is the most apparent in the older and more populous parts of the country, where forms and fashions have produced such a worldly conformity on the part of the Baptists that their language relative to church association is as cold and formal as that of worldly people.” This extract shows another departure on the part of the “Missionaries;” for while they address each other with the terms “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Miss,” Old School Baptists adhere to the ancient custom of speaking to each other or of each other as “brother” or “sister.”
As to the term “Elder,” our author says: “The term ‘Elder,’ as a proper distinction for our ministers of all grades, old or young, in my early day, was, and indeed from time immemorial it has been, the usual title for them. But there has been a great change in this respect among the more fashionable class of Baptists in many parts of the country, where the term Reverend has taken the place of the old and favorite cognomen above referred to.” “Missionaries” have made this change; they alone call their ministers “Reverend” while the Old School still call theirs “Elders.”
On Revivals of Religion our author says: “As far back as my recollection and researches extend, these seasons, for the most part, were like angels’ visits, few and far between. From Backus and others I learn that during the great religious movement under the labors of Whitefield, Tennant, Finley, and others, usually denominated the New Light Stir, a few Old Baptist Churches participated in that extraordinary work, which however prevailed mostly among the Pedobaptists.”
“In the early part of the present century, and up to the age of the excitements, which, as I have already stated, had a paralyzing influence on the better feelings of Christians, conversions and additions, among our people, were, in many cases, of the most exhilarating and encouraging nature. This golden age of our denomination lasted about a quarter of a century, and the increase of our communicants was often a matter of astonishment to our people at home and our friends abroad. During all this time scarcely any of the new measures of more modern times were adopted. In some locations where the Methodists were numerous and their customs prevailed, rising for prayers began to be practiced to a limited extent. But as a general thing the old way of conducting meetings, whether in seasons of revivals or declensions, was pursued, and all attempts to produce a high state of feeling among the people were carefully avoided. Depth of feeling was the main thing desired by our most efficient men, whether in the pulpit or the conference room. They also made much dependence on the silent workings of the Divine Spirit on the hearts of the people.”
“On these agents the Baptists made much more dependence than on multitudinous gatherings and bodily exercises.”
“At length protracted meetings began to be much talked of far and near, and so many reports were circulated concerning the wonderful effects of them, that by many they were thought to be the very thing for promoting religious revivals. For some time four days was the amount of time allotted them, but soon these meetings began to overrun this time, and the original term was exchanged for meetings of days, without any limit as to their number.”
“In connection with these meetings came along a new sort of preachers, who went into the business of conducting them by new rules of their own. In process of time, the Baptists became a good deal engaged in these peculiar gatherings, and many of them seemed much pleased with them.”
“The revival ministers, as they were called, soon became very popular; they were sent for from far and near, and in many cases very large additions were made to our churches under their administrations.”
“But in some cases the old ministers and churches demurred, and were unwilling to have these new men, with their new notions, introduced among them. They were jealous of these wonder-working ministers, in this business, and of a new machinery in the work of conversion. It was always customary with our old pastors to have other ministers to assist them in times of universal attention to religion, but they never gave up the helm of the ship to new pilots for the sake of more rapid speed. Whenever this experiment was made, with rare exceptions, it worked badly, and many a good and well settled pastor was, by its operation, either crowded out of his place, or else made uncomfortable in it, in consequence of the introduction of the new measures above alluded to, and the indiscretions of revival preachers.”
“To see converts coming into a church by wholesale was a pleasing idea to many members; and although they had been well satisfied with their pastor heretofore, yet now they began to think that the new man, who had been so active and successful in gathering in new members, would do much more for them than they could expect from the one in office; that he would soon fill their ranks, repair their meeting-house, pay off their church debt, and place them in circumstances as flourishing as those of their neighbors.”
“But another class of members had fearful forebodings for the future, under the ministry of the new man. They had rather continue their old way of doing business than to place a mere revivalist in the pastoral office, and make the radical changes in their operations which he and his ardent admirers considered of so much importance. Hence arose discussions at first; next, disputations; and in the end not unfrequently, painful and injurious divisions” (pp. 200-204).
This scrap of history is given:
1. To prove our assertion true, that religious excitements, produced by protracted meetings, etc., are of recent origin among Baptists.
2. That those who now engage in such things, as do the “Missionaries,” must be considered the new school party, who have departed from the practice of the regular Baptists.
3. To convince those, among the Missionaries, who have been born again—who have honest hearts, and are anxious to know the truth, that they have been sadly deceived in uniting with the “Missionaries” and engaging in their new-fangled schemes to make proselytes to their cause.
Mr. Benedict now tells them of the origin and motive of these meetings, the first of which is recent, and the second of which is shameful, so that no sound, upright man should feel willing to fellowship such things any longer. Old School Baptists, it is well known, reject these things altogether, and yet are ready to receive to their communion all those who renounce them and are sound in the faith.
In regard to the business of Associations, Mr. Benedict says there has been a great change. He says: “When I first began to attend these yearly meetings they were conducted with great simplicity, and were very interesting to all who were identified with them, and to many who repaired to them as spectators of their doings. In that early age, and for a long time after, these institutions, which are peculiar to the Baptists, were wholly devoted to religious exercises and the care of the churches of which they were composed.”—“Before the rise of modern benevolent institutions, our Associations were at full liberty to attend to their own proper work, without any interference from any quarter; but as soon as agents began to visit them from different directions, and for different objects, a great change very soon took place. These new visitors, often in considerable numbers, came to these annual assemblies, full of zeal in the speaking line, and sought to be heard in favor of their various objects. Mr. Rice was the pioneer in this business, and such was the native eloquence of the man, together with the novelty of his theme and the ardor of his pleadings, that his addresses for a while excited an unusual interest among the people. But in the course of a few years, the visits of even this man became less welcome; and as new societies arose and new agents were sent abroad, some Associations were burdened with their number and importunity.”—“At an earlier period of our benevolent operations, complaints began to be made of the undue cost of agents for the collection of funds to sustain them, and I have seen some very alarming figuring in this business, which ought to have aroused the Baptist public to devise some remedy for this most palpable evil. But it has remained from year to year without much comment, only on the complaining side” (pp. 222, 225, 226).
Now, in view of this extract, what are the facts of the case? As the Associations were conducted in Benedict’s early day, with simplicity, with interest to all concerned, wholly devoted to religious exercises and the care of the churches, so are they now conducted by Primitive Baptists. But “Missionaries” have brought about a great change. Their Associations are burdened with numerous projects before them, and numerous advocates pleading for money to carry into execution their various schemes. When one object or scheme becomes a little stale, they start up another, so as to keep the minds of the people sufficiently excited to part with their money to these greedy beggars, who keep much of the money they get, as Benedict intimates, to pay themselves for begging, and the object for which they beg is but little cared for.
Is it a difficult matter to decide between these people and determine who are Old School and who are New School—who are standing in the ways, and seeing, asking for the old paths and the good way, wherein they may walk and find rest to their souls, and those on the other hand who are despising the old way and searching for new ways, in which they may walk to gratify their fancies and gain the applause of the world?
We will dismiss Mr. Benedict from the witness stand, after hearing a little more testimony.
In regard to the construction of the old “Missionary” Convention, our author says: “The whole business of Foreign Missions came somewhat suddenly upon the Baptist denomination; the ministers of any public spirit entered into the thing with a commendable zeal; but as the mass of the people were rather slow in coming into the measure, how to raise the needful funds was at first an embarrassing question. A direct appeal to them would most likely have been a failure; some other plan must therefore be devised, and this led on to the money qualification for membership, which worked very well at first, except with the poor churches and ministers; and in that direction there often appeared some very hard cases, where men, who were much better qualified for a seat in the Convention than many who appeared there, were excluded by the money rule. Some of this class of men had friends in the more wealthy churches, who would think of them and have them returned as members on the strength of the contributions of their own churches; but many able men in counsel, and who would have been glad of a seat with their brethren, with whom they had been accustomed to act in all other meetings, were not thus favored; and of course they either staid at home, or else were registered as visitors merely, all for the want of one hundred dollars per annum.”
“The close figuring to ascertain this point, between the committees on membership and those who wished to secure seats for their friends, often partook too much of the nature of commercial transactions for religious assemblies” (pp. 232-234).
Question. What would Peter and John have thought of such a society as this, and if they had desired admission into it, how could they have obtained it?
It is near kin to blasphemy to claim Divine authority for such an institution as this, and yet there are many persons who claim Divine authority for it, and maintain the position that such things existed among Christians in the Apostolic Age of the world, and have existed ever since their day! Here was a society organized in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, ostensibly for the purpose of getting money to convert heathens to Christianity, and yet its projectors had neither the courage nor honesty to beg the money wanted directly from the people. Jesuitism was brought into requisition. A highly honored institution among men was created, and in order to secure the honor of being a member of it an initiation fee of one hundred dollars must be paid down. The higher the fee, of course the more honor conferred. Poor ministers, or those representing poor churches, could not enter for the want of money, but must sit down on the door-sill or be reckoned as visitors only, although they might be talented and wise; while any loquacious upstart, being backed up with one hundred dollars, though he might be destitute of grace or sense, could enter and claim the right to manage this great mammoth concern. Then came the “close figuring” to get some of these poor men in. Here was a spectacle indeed for angels and men, sufficient to make both weep if they had the love of God in their hearts, and were jealous for His honor, to witness such an abuse of His holy religion. Benedict says this was a new thing, and came suddenly upon the Baptist denomination. Who will dare contradict his declaration? Yet “Missionaries” boast of this institution as they do of their home “Missions,” their Bible Societies, their Tract Societies, their Theological Schools, their Sunday Schools, their Mite Societies, their Festivals and Fairs, as being means to be used for the salvation of sinners from sin and from hell.
On pages 297 and 298 Benedict informs us that, in his early day, the Baptists had a prejudice against theological learning, and would not tolerate it in their ministers. They believed the sentiments they uttered came right down from Heaven. They said, “If the Lord has called men to preach, they will and must preach.” “Open your mouth and I will fill it,” were terms frequently heard in his early years. But he says: “As these old members passed off the stage and a new race took their places, who required more cultivation in their preachers, etc., they began to look round for the best means of attaining it.” The necessity for a change in this respect, he says, became daily more apparent, and soon a new dispensation in this business was introduced among them. Now we would ask, Where are the Old School and where are the New on the subject of this ministerial training in schools of human learning for qualifications to preach the gospel of Christ? Benedict decides the question, and declares this new business never got a fair start until some of the old members passed away. Primitive Baptists of today are just where he says the Old Baptists were in his early day on this subject.
Let us hear what our author says about Sunday Schools, on pages 310 and 311.
“Fifty years ago, when I began my ministry in Pawtucket, being then a licensed preacher and student in college, I found a quiet little company of poor factory children, under the care of the village schoolmaster, who had a moderate compensation for his services from a few factory owners, for the children all were free. The main object of this juvenile seminary was to impart the rudiments of a common school education, but from the day on which it was kept it was called a Sunday School.”
“This benevolent undertaking was set in motion seven years before this time by the late Samuel Slater, of Corson Mill notoriety, for the benefit of the poor, ignorant and neglected children who had gathered round his mill, then the only one in the place. Pawtucket, at this time, was a small village, with but few meeting-going people in it, without any church or settled minister on the ground. The first Baptist Church was formed in 1805. We had heard of Raikes’s enterprise in England, in the Sunday School line, and his plan was copied by the new American institution, which still lives on an improved platform in a numerous pedigree in Pawtucket and vicinity. This sacro-secular concern was moulded into the shape of modern Sunday Schools about forty years ago,” etc., etc. In this extract we have given us the origin of one of the first Sunday Schools in America, and the character of it. It was copied from one formed in England by Robert Raikes. No reasonable objection could be raised against either the original or the copy, so long as they remained in subjection to the purpose of their creation; which was to take poor needy children from the streets, from the factories, or elsewhere, who were sent to no other school, and teach them cleanliness and good manners, teach them the alphabet and the rudiments of an English education. This was true benevolence and a praiseworthy enterprise. But so soon as the hands of a Jesuitical priesthood touched this thing, it was changed immediately into a different institution. Not the poor and the needy, not the ragged urchins of the lanes and streets of cities and villages, destitute of any learning whatever, were so much sought after as were the educated children of well-to-do and wealthy parents. These were brought in under a show of literature, it is true, but chiefly for the purpose of making professors of religion of them and swelling the numbers of their churches, so called. These children are taught to exalt themselves and despise others, and especially are they taught to hate the doctrine of the gospel. Nearly every sect of Protestants in America, including “Missionary” Baptists, has its Sunday Schools, which are kept pruned and in order as nurseries for the churches, so called. They idolize their Sunday Schools, and look to them chiefly for filling up and perpetuating their churches. The great scrambling is here seen among the sects for gathering in large numbers of children; for once within the pale of their Sunday School, they count them sure for church membership. This eagerness for Sunday School scholars and shrewd electioneering to obtain them are based on the principle, we suppose, that it is easier to bias the youthful mind in favor of their respective religions than it is to convert old, hard-hearted sinners, and bring them to the support of their various crafts.
Let it be borne in mind that Primitive Baptists reject the whole concern, in its present shape, and turn from it with disgust as an engine of priestcraft, and one of the sure marks of the Beast. We conclude now to dismiss our author from the witness stand for the present; we may have use for him again hereafter.
We suppose no man among the Missionary Baptists could be named, whose opinions and declarations are entitled to more respect than his.
He published one history of the Baptists in 1810, and another in 1848; an abridged edition of Robertson’s History of Baptism in 1817; a History of All Religions, published in 1824; and his Fifty Years Among the Baptists, in 1860.
In order to show utter departure by “Missionaries” from the doctrine of the Bible and the London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith, we will submit one or two quotations from a very famous “Missionary” document.
First. In a letter addressed to the ladies of America nearly fifty years ago by “Doctor” Adoniram Judson (1788-1845), a “Missionary” to Burmah, we find in two paragraphs these remarkable words:
“3. In the posture you have assumed, look up and behold the eye of your benignant Savior ever gazing upon you with the tenderest love—upon you, His daughters, His spouse, wishing above all things that you would yield your hearts entirely to Him, and become holy as He is holy, rejoicing when He sees one and another accepting His pressing invitation and entering the more perfect way; for on that account He will be able to draw such precious souls into a nearer union with Himself, and place them at last in the higher spheres, where they will receive and reflect more copious communications of light from the great Fountain of light, the uncreated Sun.”
“4. Surely you can hold out no longer. Thanks be to God, I see you taking off your necklaces and ear-rings, tearing away your ribbons and ruffles and superfluities of head-dress, and I hear you exclaim. What shall we do next? An important question, deserving serious consideration. The ornaments you are renouncing, though useless, and worse than useless, in their present state, can be so disposed of as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the sick, enlighten the dark-minded, disseminate the Holy Scriptures, spread the glorious gospel throughout the world. Little do the inhabitants of a free Christian country know of the want and distress endured by the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth. Still less idea can they form of the awful darkness which rests upon the great mass of mankind in regard to spiritual things. During the years that you have been wearing these useless ornaments, how many poor creatures have been pining in want; how many have languished and groaned on beds of abject wretchedness; how many children have been bred up in the blackest ignorance, hardened in all manner of iniquity; how many immortal souls have gone down to hell with a lie in their right hand, having never heard of the true God and the only Savior! Some of these miseries might have been mitigated; some poor wretch have felt his pain relieved; some widow’s heart have been made to sing for joy; some helpless orphans have been rescued from hardened depravity, and trained up for a happy life, here and hereafter; some, yea, many, precious souls might have been redeemed from the quenchless fires of hell, where now they must lie and suffer to all eternity, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable, and not like other folks! had you not preferred adorning your persons and cherishing the most seductive feelings of vanity and pride! 0 Christian sisters, believers in God, in Christ, in an eternal hell! can you hesitate and ask what you shall do? Bedew these ornaments with the tears of contrition; consecrate them to the cause of charity; hang them on the cross of your dying Lord. Delay not an instant; hasten with all your might, if not to make reparations for the past, at least to prevent a continuation of the evil in the future. And be not content with individual exertion. Remember that union is strength. Take an example from the Temperance Societies, which are rising in their strength, and rescuing a nation from the brink of destruction. Unite, Christian sisters of all denominations, and make an effort to rescue the church of God from the insidious attacks of an enemy which is devouring her very vitals. As a counterpart to the societies just mentioned, may I respectfully suggest that plain-dress societies be formed in every city and village throughout the land, recognizing two fundamental principles: the one based on (1 Tim. 2:9); All costly attire to be disused; the other on the law of general benevolence; the avails of such articles, and the saving resulting from the plain-dress system, to be devoted to purposes of charity. Some general rules in regard to dress, and some general objects of charity, may be easily ascertained and settled. Minor points must of course be left to the conscience of each individual, yet free discussion will throw light on many points at first obscure. Be not deterred by the suggestions that in such discussions you are conversant about small things. Great things depend on small; and in that case, things which appear small to short-sighted man are great in the sight of God. Many there are who praise the principle of self-denial in general, and condemn it in all its particular applications, as too minute and scrupulous and severe. Satan is well aware that if he can secure the minute units, the sum total will be his own. Think not anything small which may have a bearing upon the kingdom of Christ, and upon the destinies of eternity. How easy to conceive, from many known events, that the single fact of a lady divesting herself of a necklace for Christ’s sake, may involve consequences which shall be felt in the remotest parts of the earth, and in all future generations to the end of time; yea, stretch away into boundless eternity, and be a subject of praise millions of ages after this world and all its ornaments are burnt up.”
The false doctrine and blasphemy contained in these quotations are so apparent that it is almost unnecessary to criticise them. Yet the reply to them by Elder G. Beebe, editor of the “Signs of the Times,” then of New Vernon, New York, is so appropriate, that we do not feel excused from withholding it. It is as follows:
“We consider the foregoing extracts fraught with the most glaring and blasphemous heresy perhaps ever published by any man professing to rely on the finished righteousness and atonement of Christ for salvation.”
“Can it be possible that Mr. Judson, with his Bible before him, can think that the adorable Lamb,, who is in the Bible emphatically called ‘The mighty God, The everlasting Father,’ etc., that He in whose hands is vested all power in Heaven and on earth, that He should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given Him, is so very deficient in power after all as to be dependent on the American females for ability to draw souls into union with Himself, or that on their works, good or bad, His rejoicing depends? Be astonished, 0 Heavens! and awfully afraid, 0 earth! when, by the impudence of such men as Mr. Judson, the Lord Jesus Christ is set forth robbed of His crown and stripped of His eternal power and Godhead, pressing His invitations, and urging His earnest solicitations upon creatures whose breath is in their nostrils.”
“But in his fourth item Mr. Judson’s doctrine goes to supersede the work of Jesus Christ entirely, and he ascribes to his ‘golden calf’ not only temporal blessings, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc., but also the spreading of the gospel and the salvation of souls.”
“Instead of saying with an inspired Apostle, ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid,’ namely, Jesus Christ, ‘grinning defiance’ to the Apostle’s doctrine, he says that ‘some, yea, many, precious souls might have been redeemed from the quenchless fires of hell, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable,’ etc.”
“But let us consider how Mr. J’s redemption is to be made. First, Aaron-like, he, as an high priest, demands that the daughters of Israel shall strip themselves of their ornaments. Secondly, consecrate them to the cause of charity, by bedewing them with the tears of contrition, etc. Thirdly, hang them in the Savior’s stead upon the cross; offer them on the same altar on which the Divine sacrifice was offered, and then join with him in the shout, ‘These be thy gods, 0 Israel!’ etc., and as gods sound their praise millions of ages after this world and all its vanities are consumed.”
“One object of Mr. Judson cannot well be disguised, namely, that of blending the church and the world together in opposition to the express command of God, ‘Unite, Christian sisters of all denominations.’ Christ has established but one denomination of Christians on earth; all other denominations are harlots, and he that is joined to a harlot is one flesh. Thus Mr. J. identified himself with all the daughters of the old mother of harlots; and having placed himself at the corners of the streets for the seduction of the simple, in the language of the harlot he says, ‘Cast in thy lot with us, and we will have one purse.’”
“‘May I respectfully suggest,’ says Mr. Judson, ‘that plain-dress societies be formed in every city and village throughout the land.’ We answer. Yes, if you can bring a precept and example from the word of God. But this he does not attempt. He gives himself as authority, and says, Delay not an instant, and points to the Temperance Societies for an example.”
“Such precepts and examples may do for those who teach for doctrines the commandments of men; but the followers of the Lamb will never join in such unhallowed connections with Antichrist. They will hear His (Christ’s) voice and follow Him, but a stranger will they not follow. Many professors of religion, including perhaps all nominal and worldly minded professors, may unite. Pilate and Herod may make friends; the mother of harlots and all her daughters may join in unison. But thus saith the Lord, ‘Associate yourselves together, and ye shall be broken in pieces.’ And to His children the Lord says, ‘Say not a confederacy to all whom this people shall say a confederacy, neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.’”
“We cannot suppress our astonishment that even Mr. Judson should imagine that his golden calf will be a subject of praise in the world to come, although we must confess that this theory is consistent with his faith in a plurality of saviors; for if the single fact of a lady divesting herself of a useless necklace has a bearing on the eternal destiny, and the united exertions of a plain-dress society can save many souls from the quenchless fires of hell, where without these exertions they must lie and suffer to all eternity, it would be perfectly consistent to praise them for their God-like power to save. However beautiful this doctrine may sound in the ears of the gay and fashionable religionists of this day, there is no comeliness in it to those who believe that Jesus is God, and besides Him there is no Savior. Such souls as know the Lord confidently hope, through the blood of their incarnate Lord, to be permitted to join in the song of His redeemed, and in eternal anthems of everlasting worship swell these heavenly notes, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be the glory. Forasmuch as we know that we are not redeemed with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, for you, who by Him do believe in God,’ etc. The Apostle Paul says, ‘ But though we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’”—“Signs of the Times,” January 16, 1833.
Thus much for the doctrine of “Missionaries” about fifty years ago. And be it remembered that this letter of Mr. Judson’s was approved cordially by the Missionaries and their periodicals throughout the land. The “Baptist Repository” boasted of the great number of jewels this letter had brought into the treasury of the Lord. The “Missionaries” advocate the same God-dishonoring, Mammon-deifying doctrines today.
[v][vi] This statement of father’s is a strong one; but, as I have demonstrated in the previous part of this volume, the doctrine of salvation by works, instead of salvation by grace, is the essence of Greek and Roman Catholicism, and has unfortunately come to be the essence of nearly all Protestantism as well. Of course, Protestants have a great advantage over Catholics in being emancipated from innumerable degrading superstitions.
The Holy Spirit declares to us by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 11:5, 6) that salvation is either all of works, or all of grace.—S. H.