OLD LANDMARKISM: WHAT IS IT? BY J.R. Graves
WHAT IS IT?
Editor of “The Tennessee Baptist”
Author of “Great Iron Wheel,” “Trilemma,” “Bible Doctrine of the Middle Life,” “7 Dispensations,” Etc. Etc.
“Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set.”- SOLOMON
“Some remove the old landmarks.” – JOB
This Little Work is Dedicated
It’s Dissemination throughout the Denomination committed
EVERY BAPTIST BROTHER AND SISTER
MY BRETHREN IN THE MINISTRY AND OF THE PRESS
Who love those Principles for which our Baptist Fathers for
18 Centuries suffered cruel Mockings, bloody Stripes,
Imprisonments, and Martyrdoms: and are willing to be
Their Successors as the “Witnesses of the Truth”
In this Laodicean Age of universal Luke-
Warmness and Indifferentism with Respect
To the Fundamental Doctrines of
Christianity, and especially the
And Policy which
In the purest
Ages of the
Churches of Christ
Memphis, January 1, 1880
The origin of the appellation „Old Landmarkism”—Its present strength.
Introductory—The real questions at issue between the „Liberals” and the strict or „Old Landmark” Baptists Fundamental principles upon which the „strict” policy rests axiomatically stated.
Bishop Doggett’s position touching a Christian church—The apostles built churches by a divine model—No organization should be called church unless conformed to that model—The unmistakable features of that model—1. Its origin divine—2. Visible—3. Its locality this earth.
The „ecclesia” of Christ a single congregation—Not universal, national, or provincial—Was independent of all other bodies —Therefore alone authorized to preach the gospel, elect, ordain, choose, and dismiss its own officers, receive and disciple its own members, and administer the ordinances.
The divine and inalienable rights of a Christian church—Alone commissioned to preach the gospel—To ordain her officers —To receive, discipline, and exclude members—To administer her ordinances.
The Fifth Mark of the apostolic model church—A spiritual membership; i.e., professedly regenerate—”Christ before the church, blood before water,” the symbol of its faith—Those religious organizations that admit infants and the unregenerate can not be Christian churches.
Christian immersion the act appointed for the profession of gospel faith—The twelve disciples at Ephesus—The faith professed by a Catholic baptism—Campbellite—Episcopalian—Methodist—Presbyterian—Baptist—What is scriptural baptism?
THE LORD’S SUPPER
A local church ordinance not denominational or social—Intercommunion between different religious bodies, having diverse organizations and diverse faiths, or, between „sister” churches, contrary both to the genius of scriptural church building and the symbolism of the ordinance—The inconsistencies and evils of intercommunion among Baptists.
Objections and difficulties to non-intercommunion noticed—1. Some pastors could not commune with the churches they serve, and administer the supper to—2. „Paul communed with the church at Troas”—Not established—Testimony of Alford, Barnes—The false teachers whose doctrine Paul called „leaven,” and commanded the church at Corinth to purge away from the Lord’s Supper, were members of Baptist churches—Conclusion.
The inconsistencies and evils of intercommunion among Baptists.
For the maintenance of the inspiration of the prophets, as well as the divinity of Christ, the kingdom he set up must never be „broken to pieces,” and the church he built must have never been prevailed against by violence or corruption—The true statement of what „Landmarkers” mean by church succession, not „apostolic succession,” nor the succession of any particular church or churches, etc.
What it is not, and what it is, to be an Old Landmark Baptist—The true mission of Old Landmark Baptists.
The current pleas of liberal „Baptists” considered: 1. That preaching is not an official duty—2. That we do not recognize those societies as churches by accepting their ordinances—3. That we do not recognize those ministers as scriptural ministers, by accepting their official acts—4. That we do not indorse their erroneous doctrines and practices by affiliating with them.
How did Paul regard, and how did he teach the churches he planted, to regard teachers of false doctrine?—How did he instruct the early Christians and churches to treat them?—Associate with, or withdraw from, and avoid them?—Can it be supposed that they invited them into their pulpits, and to the Lord’s Supper, though those teachers belong to the church at Jerusalem?
Does the history of the churches of Christ establish the fact, disputed by Affiliationists, that the ancient Baptists, by whatever name called, refused to affiliate with, or in any way recognize, Pedobaptist societies as scriptural churches, or their ministers as gospel ministers?—The teachings of history.
How the „fathers” of New England Baptists regarded Pedobaptist societies and their ministers, from A. D. 1638 until 1776—not as churches or brethren, but enemies and persecutors.
Were the fathers of Virginia Baptists „Old Landmarkers?”—Did they, like too many of their descendants, receive, as valid, the immersions of Pedobaptists, and recognize them as evangelical churches?
What were the Landmarks set by the „fathers” of the Philadelphia Association, the oldest in America—Decisions concerning alien immersion—The testimony of the venerable Spencer H. Cone—Conclusion of the argument.
The inconsistencies of, and evils abetted by Baptists who practice inter-denominational affiliations.
Last words to my brethren.
A. A correction and explanation.
B. Pulpit recognition.
C. Old Landmarkism in Philadelphia.
D. Jesse Mercer, an Old Landmarker, 1811.
E. Kiffin, of England, in 1640.
F. Review of Objections to this Book.
The origin of the appellation „Old Landmarkism”—Its present strength.
„Et quorum pars ful.”—Virgil, L, 2, 1. 6
My thoughts were first awakened to the subject discussed in this little book in 1832, upon witnessing the immersion of my mother and sister by a Pedobaptist minister, and the plunging of another subject face forward as he knelt in the water, and the pouring water upon another while kneeling in the water, the sprinkling it upon another in the same position, and the sprinkling upon several others while standing on the banks of the stream, and yet others out of a pitcher in the meeting-house. Those different acts for „one baptism” made an indelible impression, and the more so because the administrator seemed to he in ill humor when he immersed, and dipped his hand in water and laid it upon the heads of the candidates he immersed while he repeated the formula! The questions started were: „If he did not believe in immersion, was the act at his hands valid? If ‘what is not of faith is sin,’ could his sin be an act acceptable to God?”
Twenty-two years after, that mother applied to the 2d Church in Nashville, of which I was pastor, for membership upon her immersion, which brought the whole matter up afresh as a practical question for serious examination. Being quite young and this my first pastorate, I referred the whole matter and responsibility to Bro. Howell, then pastor of the 1st Church, telling him that I was in serious doubt about the validity of her baptism. He promptly decided it all sufficient and according to the usage of the denomination. From this time I commenced the careful study of the question, „Can an unbaptized man administer baptism?” Reason said, No; and I found no example of it in the New Testament after a church had been organized. Soon the question with me assumed a proper form: „Has any organization, save a scriptural church, the right to authorize any one, baptized or unbaptized, to administer church ordinances?” I decided this, by God’s Word, in the negative; and subsequently this additional question came up: „Are immersions administered by the authority of a scriptural church with an unscriptural design valid?” Such immersions I also decided, by the clear light of the Scriptures, to be null and void; and thus I instructed my church, which, from that day to this, has never been troubled about unscriptural baptisms.
Shortly after I had the pleasure of seeing that mother and sister observe the ordinance as at first delivered.
In 1846 I took charge of „The Tennessee Baptist,” and soon commenced agitating the question of the validity of alien immersions, and the propriety of Baptists recognizing, by any act, ecclesiastical or ministerial, Pedobaptist societies or preachers as churches and ministers of Christ. This agitation gave rise to the convention, which met at Cotton Grove, XV. T., June 24, 1851, of all Baptists willing to accept and practice the teachings of Christ and his apostles in these matters. In that convention these questions were discussed, and the decisions of that meeting embodied in the famous „Cotton Grove Resolutions,” which attracted the attention of Baptists throughout the whole South. As a matter of history, I copy them from the minutes, which were offered in the form of „queries.”
„Rev. J. R. Graves offered the following questions:
„1st. Can Baptists, consistently with their principles or the Scriptures, recognize those societies not organized according to the pattern of the Jerusalem Church, but possessing different governments, different officers, a different class of members, different ordinances, doctrines and practices, as churches of Christ?
„2d. Ought they to he called gospel churches, or churches in a religious sense?
„3d. Can we consistently recognize the ministers of such irregular and unscriptural bodies as gospel ministers?
„4th. Is it not virtually recognizing them as official ministers to invite them into our pulpits, or by any other act that would or could be construed into such a recognition?
„5th. Can we consistently address as brethren those professing Christianity, who not only have not the doctrine of Christ and walk not according to his commandments, but are arrayed in direct and bitter opposition to them?”
These queries were unanimously answered in the negative, and the Baptists of Tennessee generally, and multitudes all over the South, indorsed the decision.
The name of Old Landmarkers came in this way. In 1854, J. M. Pendleton, of Kentucky, wrote an essay upon this question at my special request, viz.: „Ought Baptists to recognize Pedobaptist preachers as gospel ministers?” which I brought out in tract form, and gave it the title, „An Old Landmark Reset.” This calm discussion, which had an immense circulation in the South, was reviewed by many of the leading writers, North and South, and they, by way of reproach. called all Baptists „Old Landmarkers” who accepted his conclusions, and the impression was sought to be made that Brother Pendleton and myself were aiming at dividing the denomination and starting a new sect.
From this brief history it will be seen that we, who only deem ourselves „strict Baptists,” are not responsible for the name, but our opposers. But that we have no reason to be ashamed of it will be seen by every one who will read this little book. Why should we object to the name „Old Landmarkers,” when those ancient Anabaptists, whom we alone represent in this age, were content to be called Cathari and Puritans, which terms mean the same thing as Old Landmarkers?
I put forth this publication now, thirty years after inaugurating the reform, to correct the manifold misrepresentations of those who oppose what they are pleased to call our principles and teachings, and to place before the Baptists of America what „Old Landmarkism” really is. Many believe that simple opposition to inviting ministers into our pulpits is the whole of it, when the title to the tract indicated that that was only one of the landmarks of our fathers. Others have been influenced to believe that we hold to „apostolic succession;” others, that we hold that baptism is essential to salvation, but its efficacy ineffectual unless we can prove the unbroken connection of the administrator with some apostle; and yet others, that we hold ‘that any flaw in the qualification of the present administrator, or any previous one in the line of his succession, however remote, invalidates all his baptisms and ministerial acts, as marriages, etc., past, present, and future, and necessitates the re-baptisms and re-marriages of all he has ever immersed or married. It is certainly due to those who bear the name to be vindicated from these hurtful misrepresentations. I think it is no act of presumption in me to assume to know what I meant by the Old Landmarks, since I was the first man in Tennessee, and the first editor on this continent, who publicly advocated the policy of strictly and consistently carrying out in our practice those principles which all true Baptists, in all ages, have professed to believe. Be this as it may, one thing is certainly true, no man in this century has suffered, or is now suffering, more than myself „in the house of my friends,” for a rigid maintenance of them.
In 1846 pulpit affiliations, union meetings, receiving the immersions of Pedobaptists and Campbellites, and inviting Pedobaptists, as „evangelical ministers,” to seats in our associations and conventions, even the Southern Baptist, had become, with but few exceptions, general throughout the South. At the North not only all these customs, but inviting Pedobaptist preachers to assist in the ordinations, and installations, and recognitions of Baptist ministers, was quite as common. I have noticed that in some of these meetings Universalist, if not Unitarian ministers affiliated, and delegates were appointed by Baptist associations to meet Pedobaptist associations and Methodist conferences. A glance at my file for 1856 notes this action by a California association:
„Delegates of fraternal courtesy were also appointed, as follows: Bro. Brierly to the Congregational Association of California; Bro. Saxton to the Methodist Conference, North; and Bro. Shuck to the Methodist Conference, South.”
Baptist papers made a glowing, pleasing record of all these inconsistencies without a note of disapproval.
At this writing, January, 1880—and I record it with profound gratitude—there is only one Baptist paper in the South, of the sixteen weeklies, that approve of alien immersion and pulpit affiliation („The Religious Herald”), while already two papers in the Northern States avow and advocate Landmark principles and practice. I do not believe that there is one association in the whole South that would today indorse an alien immersion as scriptural or valid, and it is a rare thing to see a Pedobaptist or Campbellite in our pulpits, and they are no longer invited to seats in our associations and conventions anywhere South.
The heavy drift of sentiment throughout the whole South, and the „Great West” and Northwest, is strongly in favor of Baptist churches doing their own p reaching, ordaining, baptizing, and restricting the participation of the Supper to the members of the local church celebrating it.
With these statements, before the reader forms an opinion, a fair and impartial consideration of these chapters is entreated. A Christian man will certainly heed the injunction of the apostle, „Prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good,” i.e., in accordance with the teachings of God’s Word.
J. R. GRAVES.
Memphis, January, 1880.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
The first edition of this little work offered to the public in June last has been exhausted, and there is a call for a second. I have reason to be grateful for the consideration it has received from a portion of the Baptist press, and from distinguished brethren. Some few of these can be seen on the fourth page. By a portion of the press, and a class of brethren, it has been ferociously assailed in spirit and terms they are not accustomed to use in noticing a book put forth by the bitterest assailant of Baptist principles. I expected that my position would be objected to by many of my brethren; but I had a right to expect the courtesy that Christian gentlemen and scholars always extend to an author whose work they see fit to notice. The principle objections to the book—its logical method, and the observance of the Supper as a church ordinance—I have briefly noticed in the Appendix. I have added the Old Landmark Platform constructed by Jesse Mercer, Ga., and indorsed by his Association in 1811. Also an account of Kiffin’s Old Landmark Church, in London, 1640. Commending it to the lovers of truth and of fair and free discussion, I again send it forth upon its mission.
J. R. GRAVES.
Memphis, January, 1881.
The real questions at issue between the „Liberal” and the Strict, or „Old Landmark” Baptists—Fundamental principles upon the „strict” policy rests axiomatically stated.
„I have known a man so set in his way of thinking that he would not admit the truth of an axiom if it was against him.”—Old Author.
„Convince a man against his will, and he’s of the same opinion still.”—Old Adage.
„He who answereth a matter before he heareth, it is folly and a shame unto him.”—Solomon.
Facts Taken For Granted.
That Christ while on earth did „set up a kingdom” and „build a Church,” unlike any institution that had ever been seen on earth.
That Christ „set up” but one kingdom, and built but one house, which he designed to be called, in all after ages, „the house of Cod,” „the Church of the living God,” and to be „a pillar and ground of the truth.”
That Christ did not found His „kingdom” of provinces or parts in deadly antagonism to each other, and all in open rebellion to His own authority, laws and government—a kingdom constitutionally „divided against itself”—or construct his divine „house,” which he designed for His own glory and praise, of heterogeneous and discordant materials, so that, from their very nature, they could never be „fitly framed together” and become a homo geneous, compacted whole, but ever and necessarily „a house divided against itself.”
„Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”—Christ.
But Christ’s kingdom is never to be brought to desolation, and his Church is to stand forever.
The Direct Inferences from these admitted facts are:
First Inference—That the popular „church-branch theory” is a bald absurdity. That theory, as preached and taught by those who pride themselves upon being „undenominational Christians,” is that all these different sects are „branches of the Church.” Branch is a relative term, and implies necessarily a trunk or body; but they are unable to tell us what or where the trunk or body of the tree is! But the absurdity of the conception of a tree bearing natural branches of fifteen or twenty different kinds of wood, does not seem to occur to the people or their teachers!
Second Inference—The absurdity of the „church – army theory,” which is the popular pulpit illustration with „undenominational preachers.” This theory is, that all the different denominations compose but one great army, Christ being the „Captain,” and the various sects the regiments, brigades and divisions, and their different creeds the different flags, etc. The illustration breaks down fatally when we remember that the parts of an army are all under the same laws and army regulations, and drilled by the same tactics, and not in conflict, each regiment with every other regiment in the army, as these different denominations, called churches, are—doing the army more deadly harm than the common enemy can do!
Third Inference from the premise is the equal absurdity of the „universal church theory.” This theory is, that all the different and opposing sects, taken together, constitute the kingdom of Christ on earth, and all the true Christians in these sects constitute the „invisible, spiritual Church.” This theory—of one kingdom, composed of a multitude of discordant elements, irremediably divided against themselves and engaged in destroying each other—is sufficiently noticed above. It is too preposterously absurd to be put forth by men who have any respect for the wisdom of the Divine Founder of the Church. Infidels could wish for no better argument against Christianity. I honestly believe that more infidels are made by those who preach, hold, and teach these absurd and unscriptural church theories than by all the speeches and writings of infidels themselves. Convince a man that it is true that Christ originated all these diverse sects, and is the author of their radically different and mutually destructive faiths, and he must be an infidel or a fool. If they mean invisible kingdom, the reply is, Christ has not two kingdoms or two churches, considered as institutions, for He has but one Bride, and will have but one „wife”—He is not a bigamist.
It will be granted by all that there are fifty distinct religious organizations in America alone, [see Churches and Sects in America] each radically dissimilar in form and faith, each asserting its right to be considered an evangelical—which means scriptural—church, and, in more respects than any other, like the original organization which Christ set up to be the model and pattern for all His churches.
Now, the unthinking multitude is taught to believe that all these sects are equally evangelical, and that it is proof of „intolerant bigotry,” and the lack of all „Christian charity,” to assert that all can not be churches, or if one is indeed scriptural, all the rest must be unscriptural. The absurdity of admitting them all to be equally churches of Christ does not occur to them. Let us see.
Things equal to or like the same thing are equal to or like each other.
Corollary.—If these fifty different and conflicting organizations, claiming to be churches, are each evangelical, i.e., scriptural, they must be like each other in doctrine and organization; but they are essentially and radically unlike the one to the other, and therefore they can not all be scriptural.
The man who admits they are alike evangelical, or any two of them, involves himself in the absurdity of asserting that things unlike and unequal to each other are like the same thing!
It is asserted by the advocates of an „undenominational Christianity,” that Baptists and Pedobaptists hold „in common all the fundamental doctrines and essential principles of Christianity, differing only in non-essentials.”
This is a thorough misstatement of the known and palpable facts in the case, and calculated to deceive and mislead the unthinking.
Protestants are fundamentally opposed to each other; e.g., the Presbyterians will admit, and openly maintain, that their Calvinism is vitally opposed to the Arminianism of the Methodists, and Methodists will as freely assert that their Arminianism is fundamentally and essentially opposed to Calvinism. Presbyterians hold and teach that Arminianism is subversive of Christianity, and Methodists affirm the same of Calvinism. If one preaches the Gospel, the other certainly does not.
Every sound Baptist in the land will affirm that the fundamental doctrines and principles of Pedobaptism are utterly subversive of the whole system of Christianity. Therefore, it is not true that Baptists and Pedobaptists „hold in common” all the fundamentals of Christianity and are equally evangelical, in doctrine they differ radically.
Two truths or a thousand can no more antagonize, than two or one thousand parallel lines can cross each other.
Direct Inference.—Two or one thousand evangelical—which always means scriptural—churches can not antagonize, but must be essentially one in fundamental doctrines and principles, having „one faith and one baptism” in form and design, as certainly as one Lord and Savior.’ 1. Therefore, all evangelical churches are equal to and like each other. 2. Therefore, the fifty different denominations in America are not all evangelical — if one is, only one is.
Baptist, Campbellite and Pedobaptist organizations, being fundamentally and vitally different in doctrine, in character and in principles—if Baptist churches are evangelical, as all Baptists do believe, then all Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are not evangelical, and vice versa.
Rem.—It requires us to do violence to the plainest dictates of reason to demand that we admit that opposites and contradictories are one and the same—equal.
Contradictory systems or theories no more than antagonizing elements in nature—light and darkness—can exist in the same time or place without antagonism. Harmony or quiescence is impossible.
Direct Inference.—There can not be any harmony or real union of effort between a system of religion founded in truth, and systems of religion founded in error; and sham unions are hypocritical and sinful.
Definition.—Compromise is the settlement of differences between two or more parties by mutual concessions.
Fundamental Principles.—Principles, moral convictions and the revealed truths of God can not be denied, yielded or modified to effect a compromise; while opinions, prejudices, feelings and self-interests may be.
E.g., politics has been defined „the science of compromise” because based upon opinions, self-interests and prejudices, and these may be conceded or modified.
Christianity—scientia scientiarum—being a system of divinely revealed truths and principles to be held and proclaimed in their entirety, and therefore admitting no increase or diminution, can neither be conceded nor modified. Therefore, between Christianity—the gospel of Christ—and systems of religion that are not Christianity, between the gospel and „a gospel which is another gospel,” there can be no compromise or affiliation.
Less or more, then the gospel is not the gospel, but error; hence the fearful penalty threatened in Revelation Chapter 22, against those who add to, or take from, the things revealed.
By withholding any of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity in our preaching, we can no more preach the gospel of Christ than we can spell the English language without the consonants; and to agree to withhold any part of the gospel, for any length of time, to effect a compromise with those who do not hold it, is manifest treason.
Those ministers who hold „union meetings” with those who believe and teach contrary to God’s Word, can not at the close say: ‘We have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.”
Compromise, being based upon mutual concessions, when effected between truth and error, truth must always suffer, since error has nothing of truth to surrender.
„The accessory before or alter the fact Is equally guilty with the principal.”—Common law.
Ill.—If we receive or pass, or encourage others to receive and pass, counterfeit money, we make ourselves equally guilty with those who counterfeit it.
Unscriptural systems of religion and churches are counterfeits of Christianity and counterfeit churches. To associate with the teachers of these systems so as to impress them and their followers, and all who witness our acts, that we recognize them as the accredited ministers of God’s truth; we encourage them in their work and thus „bid them God-speed” and make ourselves accessories to, and partakers of their sins.
Now the work I have undertaken to accomplish by this „little book” is threefold:
1. To establish the fact in the minds of all, who will give me an impartial hearing, that Baptist churches are the churches of Christ, and that they alone hold, and have alone ever held, and preserved the doctrine of the gospel in all ages since the ascension of Christ.
2. To establish clearly what are the „Old Landmarks,” the characteristic principles and policy, of true Baptists in all these ages.
3. To demonstrate, by invincible argument, that treating the ministers of other denominations as the accredited ministers of the gospel, and receiving any of their official acts—preaching or immersion—as scriptural, we do proclaim, louder than we can by words, that their societies are evangelical churches, and their teachings and practices orthodox as our own; and that by so doing we do encourage our own families and the world to enter their societies in preference to Baptist churches, because, with them, the offense of „the cross hath ceased.”
I close by assuring the reader that in these pages he will not find one term of „abuse or personality.” I shall not treat of men or motives, but discuss creeds, doctrines and practices, and them by the Word of God and in the spirit of the Master; an therefore, whatever my critics or opposers may say, they can not charge me with being „uncharitable”—the trite but handy thrust—for the terms „charity” and „bigotry” can have no more rightful application in discussing creeds and religious doctrine than in repeating the multiplication table. The sole province of charity is to judge kindly of men’s motives when they do wrong or teach error.
With the sole desire to gain the „well-done” of my Divine Master I shall write these pages regardless of the praise or censure of sinful men.
Bishop Doggett’s position touching a Christian church—The apostles built churches by a divine model—No organization should be called church unless conformed to that model—The unmistakable features of that model—1. Its origin, divine—2. Visible—3. Its locality, this earth.
„For see that thou make all things according to the pattern shown thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5).
The following statements I copy from an editorial article in the Methodist Quarterly when published in Richmond, and edited by Bro. D. S. Doggett, now bishop of the M. E. Church South, as eminently worthy the consideration of every reader, and Methodists most especially:
„Unless the professed followers of Christ organize upon the apostolic model they are not a church of Christ, although there may he members of the body of Christ or Christians among them. . .
„Ministers and members professing the religion of Christ may congregate together for the purpose of worship, and may organize, yet they will not be a church of Christ unless they organize upon. apostolic model. . . .
„We do not suppose that any unprejudiced mind would call any body of men and women the true church—so particularly described by the inspired writers as the true church has been—unless it comes up fairly and fully in every minute particular to a description proceeding from that wisdom that could not err in the description in any remote or conceivable degree.”
There is no misunderstanding these statements. It is the conviction of Bishop Doggett—1. That Christ did leave a church as a model of church building to the apostles, and for all subsequent ages. 2. That the marks or features of this divine pattern are so particularly described by the inspired writers that no intelligent inquirer need mistake it. 3. a body of ministers and members, all Christians, congregated for worship, and organized, should not be called a church of Christ unless they are organized upon the apostolic model. I most heartily indorse these statements. Their truth must be apparent to all. If the officers and members of a Masonic lodge were all Christians, the lodge could not therefore be called a church of Christ, because not scripturally organized as a church. We may unchurch an organization, then, without unchristianizing its members—i.e., declare a body to be destitute of the marks or qualifications of a church of Christ, without calling in question the Christian character of its members.
Let us now dispassionately inquire for some of the unmistakable and essential marks of the „pattern” after which Christ commanded his apostles and ministers to the end of time to build.
Moses at his peril would not have varied the tabernacle in the least thing, from the divine pattern, and may we dare to build churches altogether different from the pattern Christ has given?
The Church and Kingdom of Christ is a Divine Institution.
Proofs—Daniel 2:44, 45; Matthew 16:19; Hebrews 3:3-6.
I understand these Scriptures to teach that this organization, called here „kingdom” and „church” is the conception of the divine mind, the expression of the divine thought, and the embodiment of the divine authority on earth. No created being, angel or man, assisted in its origination or construction; it is the „stone cut out without hands;” it is a perfect product of infinite wisdom. For man or angel to presume to modify it in the least, by additions, changes, or repeals, is to profane it and offer an insult to its divine Founder; far more sacred and inviolable is it than God’s altar of rough ashlers: „If thou lift up thy tool upon it thou hast polluted it.” (Ex. 20:25). And for man to set up any form of church as equal, or in opposition, to it, and influence men to join themselves to it, under the impression that they are uniting with Christ’s church, is an act of open rebellion to Christ as the only King of Zion; while it is „offending”—deceiving, and misleading these that desire to follow Christ; and He has said, that „it were better that a mill-stone were hanged about the neck of that man, and he cast into the midst of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). It must be true that those who originate such false churches, and those who support them by their means and influence, occupy the positions of rebels against the rightful and supreme authority of Christ. Designed as the „house and church of the living God” was by an architect possessing infinite wisdom, who saw the end from the beginning, every conceivable exigency that could effect it to the end of time, must have been foreseen and provided for; and the very intimation that changes have become necessary, the better to adapt it to fulfill its mission, is impiously to impugn the divine wisdom that devised and set it up.
If I am right in my conception of the character of this divine institution, then it follows that the sanctity and authority of its divine Founder are so embodied in its government, as they were in its type—the Jewish theocracy—that as men treat His church, its doctrine, its laws or its members, ‘they treat its Author. To despise and reject its teachings is to despise the Author of those teachings; and those who hate or persecute its members for their obedience to its laws and fidelity to its principles, will be confounded at last to learn, that, inasmuch as they did it to one of the least of Christ’s followers they did it to Christ Himself. (Matthew 25).
Christ enjoined it upon His apostles and ministers for all time to come, to construct all organizations that should bear His name according to the pattern and model He „built” before their eyes; and those who add to or diminish aught, do it at their peril. (Rev. 22:18,19). Organizations bearing the name of Christ devised and set up by men are manifestly counterfeits, and certainly impositions upon the ignorance and credulity of the people. Human societies are but the expression of human opinion; only human authority is embodied in their laws and regulations; and to observe and obey them is only obeying the men who established them; and it is written: „His servants—slaves—ye are whom ye obey.” It is rejecting Christ as king, and choosing men for our masters when we unite with human societies instead of a church of Christ set up as the home of His children.
Now it cannot be truthfully denied that the Catholic and the various Protestant sects were originated and set up by men many ages after the ascension of Christ; since all their own standard Church Histories frankly admit the fact. They are therefore not divine—but human institutions, which rival and antagonize—or, in the strong language of Bro. Bright of the Examiner-Chronicle, N. Y.: „They are an organized muster against the church and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.” One thing can not be denied, so long as they had the power, they assaulted His kingdom and shed the blood of His brethren. Every reader can easily satisfy himself of the truth of this statement if he will but turn to Protestant histories. See History of „Religious Denominations.”
Second Mark of a Church of Christ.
It is a Visible Institution.
Notwithstanding the contradictory teachings prevalent, this is a self-evident fact that an institution or organization must be visible. But the church and kingdom of Christ is an institution, an organization; He, as Cod of heaven, „set it up,” He built it, and it must therefore be visible. Every term selected by the inspiring Spirit to designate the institution Christ was to originate when He came to this earth, in both Testaments, is a term necessitating form, and therefore visibility, e.g., „Kingdom of God,” „of Heaven,” „of Christ,” „Bride,” „wife,” „Church,” „House,” etc.
And this, too, is manifest, that the only church that is revealed to us is a visible church, and the only church with which we have anything to do, or in connection with which we have any duties to perform, is a visible body. It has a specified organization, officers, faith, laws and ordinances, and a living membership, and therefore it must be visible. Christ never set up but one kingdom, was never constituted King of but one kingdom, and His Word recognizes but one kingdom; and if this is visible, He has no invisible kingdom or church, and such a thing has no real existence in heaven or earth. It is only an invention employed to bolster up erroneous theories of ecclesiology.
Third Mark of the Church of Christ.
Its Locality is upon this Earth.
Since I have used the terms church and kingdom, it may be well to explain here what I understand by them and their relation to each other. They were used as synonymous terms by the evangelists so long as Christ had but one organized church for they were then one and the same body. So soon as „churches were multiplied,” a distinction arose. The kingdom embraced the first church, and it now embraces all the churches. The churches of Christ constitute the kingdom of Christ, as the twelve tribes, each separate and independent of itself, constituted the kingdom of Israel; as the provinces of a kingdom constitute the kingdom; as all the separate sovereign States of these United States constitute the Republic of America. Now, as no foreigner can become a citizen of this Republic without being naturalized as a citizen of some one of the States, so no one can enter the kingdom of Christ without becoming a member of some one of His visible churches.
Baptism is an ordinance of, and in, each local church—not of the kingdom, and Christ himself says: „Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God.” It was of a visible earthy organization He spake—His church. (See John 3:12.)
The locality of Christ’s church, and therefore kingdom, is this earth; all the subjects of His kingdom are here; all the work of His church is here. This earth was given to Him by His Father to be the sole seat of His throne and His kingdom. (See Psalms second chapter.) All authority, power and judgment over all flesh were vested in Christ, and He was appointed to reign on this earth until He should put all His enemies under His feet, and then will come the end when He will give up his kingdom to His Father, when the Godhead will rule with undivided scepter over it, as before sin entered it. Christ, then, has no church in heaven—never had; nor has He, as Messiah, any kingdom in heaven, or will He ever have; nor, if we will believe the Scriptures rather than mere theorists, will He always have a kingdom on this earth: „Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” Did He not teach His disciples to p ray: „Our Father, who art in heaven; thy kingdom come”? Not Christ’s kingdom, for that had already come, and the disciples were in it; but the Father’s kingdom; and when the Fathers will shall be done on this earth as it now is done in heaven, will not this earth then be a heaven as much as any other place in the universe?
The „ecclesia” of Christ a single congregation—Not universal, national, or provincial—Was independent of all other bodies —Therefore alone authorized to preach the gospel, elect, ordain, choose, and dismiss its own officers, receive and disciple its own members, and administer the ordinances.
„The church which is at Cenchrea” (Rom. 16:1).
„Salute . . . Nymphas and the church which is in his house” (Gal. 4:15).
„Uhi tres ecciesia est, licet laici.”—Tertullian.
„Ea quae est in quoque loco ecclesia.”—Irenaeus.
All congregations were [in the 1st and 2nd centuries] were independent of each other.”—Gieseler.
Several important marks of a true church I pass for lack of space, and because not so essential to this discussion—e. g., the perfect equality of its ministers, the purely democratic and executive character of its government—that I may notice more at length what I will call the,
Fourth Mark of the Divine Model.
It was a Local Organization, a Single Congregation.
Now, there are three theories concerning a church, and u p on one or the other of these all organizations claiming to be churches are built; but, according to Bishop Doggett, only that one can be a Christian church that is in all respects conformed to the scriptural model, so particularly described by the inspired writers. Let us examine these theories:
The first is the Catholic or Universal church theory. According to this, there can be but one church, of the denomination adopting it, throughout the world. No single congregation is a church in any sense, but an infinitesimal part of the universal idea. The Greek Catholic Church is formed upon this theory, having the Grand Patriarch at Constantinople for its Supreme head.
The Latin, or Roman Catholic Church, is constructed upon this idea. No local congregation in one place is a church, but only a minute part of the great whole, the seat of which is at Rome, and the absolute governing power, the Pope.
The reader will notice that, according to this theory, (1) the word can not be used in the plural—there is but one Roman Catholic, and but one Greek Church in the world; (2) that the local congregations are not churches; and (3) that these universal churches never were, and never can be, assembled in one place for any purpose.
The second is the National or Provincial theory. This is like the universal, only limited. All the local congregations in the nation, province or country, in some way associated, constitute the one church of that nation or province.
The Church of England is an illustration of this theory. The thousands of local societies scattered throughout the empire of Great Britain are not churches, but only parts of the one great state church, of which the reigning king or queen and Parliament is the supreme head, determining the faith and enacting the laws for the government of the body.
The Old School Presbyterian Church of this country conforms to this idea. Before the division of the Old School body, all the local bodies in the United States, with all the Presbyteries and Synods, constituted but one church, of which the General Assembly was the central head and ruling power.
The Methodist Episcopal Churches of America also illustrate the provincial theory. There are only two Methodist Episcopal Churches in these United States, the one North and the other South. Before the division there was but one. The local societies, to which the members, but not the ministers, belong, are in no sense churches—have none of the prerogatives of churches. They have no voice in determining the doctrines they must believe; they can not elect their own ministers to teach them, nor can they dismiss them when .they prove inefficient, or discipline them should they fall into the grossest vices; they are not even allowed to hold the titles to the houses of worship which they build and pay for with their own money; and no acting minister, circuit rider, presiding elder or bishop belongs to one of these local societies to which the lay members belong; but these ministers belong to the Annual Conference; so that if the local societies are indeed churches, the ministers do not belong to a church; if they are not, the members do not belong to any church!
But this point needs no argument, since it was forever settled by the Supreme Court of the United States, in accordance with the instructions of the bishops, North and South, that no Methodist society is a church in any sense, or even a constituent part of the Methodist Church. Of this „church,” the General Conference, which meets once in four years, is the supreme head and all-governing power, and, according to the above cited decision, is alone the Methodist Church; but, strange for a church, no minister or member is, or can be, a member of it, save the bishops only, except appointed by some Annual Conference!
Let it be borne in mind that, according to this theory of church building, (1) „ecclesia” can not be used in the plural, and (2) the church can not be gathered into one place to discipline its members or to observe the ordinances.
The third is the Baptist, or scriptural theory; viz., the church is a local organization. This implies that the primitive model was a single congregation, complete in itself, independent of all other bodies, civil or religious, and the highest and only source of ecclesiastical authority on earth, amenable only to Christ, whose laws alone it receives and executes—not possessing the authority or right to enact or modify the least law or ordinance, or to discipline a member, save for the violation of what Christ himself has enjoined. This church acknowledges no body of men on earth, council, conference or assembly as its head, but Christ alone, who is invisible, as „head over all things” to it.
Proofs.—1. The term ecclesia itself.—The Holy Spirit selected the Greek word, ecclesia, which had but one possible literal meaning to the Greek—that of a local organization.
2. New Testament use.—It is used in the New Testament 110 times, referring to the Christian institution, and in 100 of these it undoubtedly refers to a local organization; and in the remaining 10 instances it is used figuratively—by synecdoche—where a part is put for the whole, the singular for the plural, one for all. In each of these instances what is true of all the churches is true of any one—e. g., Ephesians 1:22; 3:10; 21:5, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32; Colossians 1:18. There is no occasion whatever for any misapprehension touching this use, nor is there one passage that affords the shadow of a ground for the idea of an invisible church in heaven, any more than for a huge universal, national or provincial church on earth, but a multitude of passages preclude the idea.
3. Ecclesia in the plural.—It is used in the plural thirty-six times, which fact is demonstrative that the universal or provincial idea was not then known.
4. The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.—This is impossible for a universal or invisible church to do. It was often required to assemble. (Matthew 18:17; 1 Cor. 11:18; 14:23.) Discipline, baptism and the Lord’s Supper could only he administered by the assembled church.
5. Ecclesia in a single city and house.—”Unto the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2); „the church which was at Jerusalem” (Acts 11:22); „the churches of Asia salute you;” „Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord with the church that is in their house” (1 Cor. 16:19). „Salute . . . Nymphas and the church which is in his house” (Col. 4:15); „and to the church in thy house” (Philem. 2). Now a complete church was composed of the members of these individual households, and, probably, a few others, and were wont statedly to meet in the houses of these brethren for worship and the transaction of business, and it is certain that it could have been nothing else than a local society.
6. Historical testimony.—The earliest writers knew nothing of an invisible, universal or provincial church.
Clement, A. D. 217.—”To the church of God which sojourns at Rome;” „To the church of God sojourning at Corinth.”
Eusebius referring to this epistle says: „There is one acknowledged epistle of this Clement, great and admirable, which he wrote in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth; sedition then having arisen in the latter church. We are aware that this epistle has been publicly read in very many churches—both in old times, also in our day.”
Irenaeus, A.D. 175-200—”For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down any thing different; nor do those [i.e., churches] in Spain; nor those in Gaul; nor those in the East; nor those in Egypt; nor those in Lybia; nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world.”
Tertullian, A.D. 150.—Expressed the idea of a Christian church in his clay in these words: „Three are sufficient to form a church, although they be laymen.”
Giesler.—Of the churches of the first and second centuries, says: „All congregations were independent of one another” (Vol. 1, chap. 3).
Mosheim.—”During a great part of this [second] century all the churches continued to be, as at first, independent of each other; . . . each church was a kind of little independent republic” (Vol. 1, p. 142).
Bro. Owen.—”In no approved writer for two hundred years after Christ is mention made of any organized, visibly professing church except a local congregation” (By Crowell, in „Chap. Man., p. 36).
No fact is better established than this, and therefore the various Catholic and Protestant organizations can lay no just claim to be patterned after the apostolic model; and, according to Bishop Doggett’s axioms, should not be considered or called Christian churches.
The Divine and inalienable rights of a Christian Church—alone commissioned to preach the Gospel—to ordain her officers—to receive, discipline and exclude members—to administer her ordinances.
„God’s house is a church of the living God, a pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15, 16).
I hold these postulates to be so self-evident to every commonly intelligent reader of God’s Word, that I will exalt them into axioms and devote this chapter to their application.
Each church is a living body, to which Christ committed both the sacred oracles and ordinances of Christianity.
The true churches are the only authorized exponents of Christ’s revelation, and of what Christianity is; and, therefore, to them is thus committed its wholeness and its symmetry.
It is admitted by all commentators that—
1. Christ commissioned His churches alone to preach His gospel.
The first commission He ever issued on earth was to that body of disciples which John called „the Bride,” one of the titles of the Christian church. The last commission was to the same body on Mt. Olivet, and was but the repetition and emphasis of the first.
To the saints organized into churches—for we find no companies of unbaptized and unorganized persons spoken of as saints in the New Testament—was „the faith”—which is but another word for „the gospel,” with all its ordinances—at first delivered, and, for all time, to be held by it. We can not, for one moment, conceive that Christ or His apostles committed the gospel to, and commissioned it to be preserved and preached by, those who neither experimentally understood, nor had themselves obeyed it, and whose teaching and practice tended directly to pervert and subvert it.
Paul, addressing the Hebrew churches, says: „Therefore we receiving a kingdom that can not be moved,’ etc. To Timothy he declared that „the church of the living Cod was the pillar and the ground of the truth.” This teaches that to the church alone was the gospel entrusted to be preserved in its purity, and to be published to the world, for it was the ground and the pillar of the truth. Says Barnes in loco:
„Thus it is with the church. It is entrusted with the business of maintaining the truth, of defending it from the assaults of error, and of transmitting it to future times. The truth is, in fact, upheld in the world by the church. The people of the world feel no interest in defending it, and it is to the church of Christ that it is owing that it is preserved and transmitted from age to age. . . . The stability of the truth on earth is dependent on the church . . . Other systems of religion are swept away; other opinions change; other forms of doctrine vanish; but the knowledge of the great system of redemption is preserved on earth unshaken, because the church is preserved and its foundations can not be moved. As certainly as the church continues to live, so certain will it be that the truth of God will be perpetuated in the world.”
If the church alone was commissioned to p reserve and to preach the gospel, then it is certain that no other organization has the right to preach it—to trench upon the divine rights of the church. A Masonic Lodge, no more than a Young Men’s Christian Association; an Odd-Fellows’ lodge or Howard Association, no more than a „Woman’s Missionary Board,” have the least right to take the gospel in hand, select and commission ministers to go forth and preach it, administer its ordinances and organize churches. „Young Men’s Christian Associations” are not churches or any part of a church. Nor is a „Woman’s Missionary Society” in any conceivable sense, a church of Christ, and their daring to assume the mission and exercise the prerogatives of the divine church, is no less daring and impious than that of Uzziah when he put forth his hand to seize the ark of God! The church is degraded in the eyes of the world when its divine mission work is assumed by organizations of men’s and women’s origination, and confusion and distraction are introduced into the Christian church.
It is through His church that Christ wishes and ordains that the glory of all we can do, or give, or influence, should flow to Him in all ages, in this and in all time to come, as well as in the past.
The second divine prerogative of a church of Christ is—
2. To elect and commission—i.e., ordain—her own officers.
It is evident that, if a church must exist before her officers, and that she is absolutely independent of all other bodies, she must be authorized to elect and to commission her officers without being required to call upon some outside party. (1) The church at Jerusalem elected an apostle to take the place of Judas, and afterwards seven deacons to administer the temporal affairs of the church. These may have all been of the seventy Jesus originally commissioned to preach, and it is certain that one of them at least, became an evangelist, but not by virtue of his office of deacon. Subsequently, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, the church at Antioch formally commissioned Paul and Barnabas to the full work of the ministry, and to go forth as missionaries to foreign lands. There is no intimation that either one had administered the ordinances before this ordination. No neighboring churches were called upon to send their officers to ordain these men; nor can we bring ourselves to believe that a number of ministers belonging to this church ordained and gave them „credentials,” bearing their individual signatures; the record of the church alone was the visible proof of their ordination, and it is given.
A church may, if she sees fit, invite as many ministers as she pleases to advise and assist her officers in this work, but she must allow them no authority in the matter. They may all decide that the candidate is qualified for the work, but if she is not, after due examination, no ordination can take place; and, the presbytery may decide adversely, but if the church is satisfied, it is her right to ordain, and the presbytery can not prevent her act. One church does not make a minister for, nor can she impose one upon, another church. When one church calls a minister to preach to her, she virtually commissions him to preach the gospel for her, or if the reader prefers, she indorses the act of the church ordaining him. If the minister is a member of her body, she can, if she deems him unworthy, withdraw the authority she gave him to preach, and retain him as a member. A man may be qualified to be a good church member, and not qualified to be a preacher of the gospel. Of this the church is the only judge.
3. A church is alone authorized to receive, to discipline, and to exclude her own members.
This power, with all her other prerogatives, is delegated to her, and it is her bounden duty to exercise it; she can not delegate her prerogatives.
„Quod delegatur non delegatum est” is a legal maxim as old as the civil code. What is delegated can not be delegated. She can not authorize her ministers to examine and baptize members into her fellowship without her personal presence and action upon each case. A minister, therefore, has no right, because ordained, to decide who are qualified to receive baptism and to administer it. Their ordination only qualified them to administer the ordinances for a church when that church called upon them to do so. A minister has an equally just right to administer the Lord’s Supper to whom, and when, and where he pleases, as he has to baptize whom he pleases, and one act would be as null as the other.
A distinguished scholar in the South, in order to find a ground upon which to unite the advocates of ministerial authority to baptize whom they will, and the advocates of church authority alone, proposes that the pastor be allowed the veto power—i. e., the right to reject whom he pleases. This would virtually place the keys of the church door, and all the ordinances of the church in the hands of the pastor, and put the whole church at his feet. He would be a petty pope indeed, and no pope ever had more control of the ordinances than he would have. Nor would he be long in making his power felt—his arrogance and self-sufficiency as well.
The question was discussed and decided in the negative by the old Goshen Association in Virginia, in 1795, in the case of one George Morris, a self-opinionated minister, who continued the practice contrary to the advice of the Association, and was excluded therefor. There are some ministers among us now who declare they will baptize whom they please; and they care not for church authority. Churches can not stand too clear of men of this spirit.
It is strangely advocated, by the same writer, that the act of any one church, whether scriptural or not, binds the action of every other church in the world;— e.g., suppose a church in this place should, without just cause, and by a process not recognized in the New Testament, exclude a member—say for contributing his money for foreign missions—that every other church of Christ would be bound to respect that act, and would have no authority to restore that outraged member to his church rights, of which he had been wickedly robbed in open violation of the law of Christ! We refer all to 3 John 9, as determining this case.
When a church has excluded a member, she has no further jurisdiction over him than over a publican, or one who never belonged to her body. She has no right to say what church shall not, any more than what one shall, receive him. Each church on earth has an unquestioned right to receive whom she pleases to her fellowship. If she can fellowship a certain person, it is not her business or duty to inquire if a church possibly exists on earth that can not; and for this reason reject him. I do not discuss here what would be policy or comity in a case where the church was knowing to the fact that the applicant had been excluded for unchristian conduct from a sister church; but I am asserting the abstract right of one church to dictate to another whom she may or may not fellowship. No church on earth is compelled to receive a person because he has a letter of credit from another sister church. That church itself may be without credit—may be in known disorder, and then the church may have no fellowship for the person applying. His character may be unsatisfactory, or he may come with a baptism irregular and null in the estimation of the church, and certainly she has the right to decide upon the qualifications of the members she must fellowship and admit to her ordinances. To grant pastors the „veto power,” and that „the acts of one church bind all others,” would be to subvert the government of Baptist churches altogether, and introduce ministerial lordship and a species of Church Centralism in the place of Independence.
4. It is the inalienable and sole right and duty of a Christian church to administer the ordinances, Baptism, and the Supper.
That these ordinances were designed to be of perpetual observance, commemorating specific and important events or acts in the work of Christ, no intelligent Christian will deny. The rites and ordinances of an institution belong, unquestionably, to that institution, and may be rightly said to be in it. I mean by these expressions that they are under the sole control of the organization; they can he administered only by the organization as such, and when duly assembled, and by its own officers or those she may appoint, pro tern pore. A number of its members, not even a majority in an unorganized capacity; is competent to administer its rites, and certainly another and different body can not perform them—e. g., the rites of Masonry belong to the respective lodges; ‘they can not be performed outside, or independent of. the lodge by any number of Masons: the officers are mere ciphers so soon as the lodge adjourns, and Odd Fellow lodges certainly can not administer the rite of initiation for a masonic lodge, or vice versa.
Corollary 1.—No Baptist Association or Convention can ordain ministers; dictate the discipline of churches; administer baptism or the Lord’s supper; and if Pedobaptist and Catholic organizations are not scriptural churches, then they not only have no right to preach or power to ordain ministers; but they have no right, any more than have Masonic Lodges, to administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and such acts of theirs ore worse than null and void.
Corollary 2.—The official acts of a minister of a church are held valid as to third parties, as the acts of an officer, de facto, though not, de lure, would be, should there be found to hove been material defects as to his legal qualifications for the office. This is a scaled question in all civil matters, and should be in ecclesiastical.
REM—There ore certain qualifications, personal and ceremonial, scripturally required to render a man eligible to ordination, as personal regeneration, „aptness to teach,” a valid baptism, etc. Of these the church alone is judge, and responsible for any defect that may exist, and not parties applying to the church for its ordinances. The church may, years after, be satisfied that her pastor is on unregenerate man, or covetous, or his baptism defective—e. g., he was not entirely put under the water when baptized, or by on unqualified administrator, or by on impostor upon his own responsibility without examination by a church, or by an impostor while officiating for a church; still all his official acts, as marriages, baptisms, ordinations, are, de facto, valid.
The baptisms of John, of Judas, and of the false teachers in Paul’s day, who belonged to the church at Jerusalem, were as valid as those of Paul’s by virtue of their commissions.
The Fifth Mark of the apostolic model church—A spiritual membership; i.e., professedly regenerate—”Christ before the church, blood before water,” the symbol of its faith—Those religious organizations that admit infants and the unregenerate can not be Christian churches.
„Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 1:5).
„The Lord added to the church daily the saved (tous soozomenous)” (Acts 2:47).
The character of the material of which a public building, or a house for the protection of a family, is constructed, is manifestly of the very first importance. God never has commanded a structure to be erected for His service, that He did not specifically indicate the material, and Christ no less specifically commanded the material that should be used in His house—the membership of His ecclesia. Let us look then, for the
Fifth Mark of the „Model Church.”
The membership all professedly regenerate in heart before baptized into it.
The typical teachings of the Old Testament require this. Paul distinctly teaches (Heb. 12:18) that the kingdom of Israel was a type of the kingdom of Christ; and nominal Israel of his spiritual Israel; the literal family of Abraham, of the spiritual family of Abraham. Now it was by manual circumcision of the flesh that God called out from among the nations, and separated the family of Abraham and the Jews as a nation to himself. No one was recognized as belonging to Abraham’s family unless circumcised, and no one could become a citizen of the kingdom or enjoy one privilege in it unless circumcised, for the uncircumcised were to be cut off (Gen. 17:14). So in the gospel dispensation, Christ calls out from the world, and marks all His people by the „circumcision made without hands, of the heart in the spirit, and not the letter”—i.e., by regeneration of heart effected by the Holy Spirit; and such persons, and such alone, are Christ’s people—Christians; and of such alone He authorizes and commands His churches to be constituted, and these churches of the spiritually circumcised, „saints.” Only with the idea of a purely spiritual membership can the Scriptures, that refer to the church, be read intelligibly. Persons „quickened,” made alive by the Spirit, are called „living stones;” and of such is His church said to be „built up a spiritual house,” and to such—”the saved”—alone are to be added. This, then, being the true idea of a scriptural church, whatever theory or practice naturally tends to destroy it, by introducing the unregenerate, can not be of God, but must be considered as directly antagonistic to the authority of Christ.
There are three theories of church constituency extant between which Christendom is divided; and if one be the true one the other two must be false, and the pretended churches built upon them counterfeit and of pernicious influence.
1. The first theory is the Catholic.
According to this the church is the instrumental source of salvation, and her ordinances are God’s appointed sacraments of salvation—channels of grace; so that out of the church, without the use of these sacraments, there is no salvation; therefore those „churches,” accepting this theory, teach that it is the duty of all, however wicked, to unite with „the church,” to receive the grace of salvation, and to bring their children, young or old, into it, and give them baptism, etc. This theory, if carried out, would introduce the whole world at once into the church, and obliterate the least distinction between the world and the church. It would be all church and no „world;” or, rather, all world and no church. All purely Catholic countries, and those where Protestant state churches” prevail, are proofs of this. These, therefore, can not be considered scriptural churches in any sense—Methodist and Episcopal societies accept this theory.
2. The second is the Presbyterian theory.
According to this, believers and their children—natural seed—irrespective of regeneration, are entitled to membership. But this theory, carried out according to the standard expositions of it, would introduce the whole world quite as certainly as the former; for the „seed of believers” is made to include all who have descended from believing ancestors, however remote.
„The seed and posterity of the faithful, born within the church, have, by their birth, interest in the covenant and a right to the seal.”—Westminster Assembly’s Confession.
„Children may be lawfully accounted within God’s covenant if any of their ancestors, in any generation, were faithful” (Bro. Rathburn: quoted by Tombes, p. 32).
„Infants that are born of believers belong to God before their baptism. Though they had not a father or mother that was acquainted with God, yet perhaps, they had some ancestors who were so favored, and therefore they are members of the church” (Peter Martyr, in Booth’s P. Ex., vol. II, p. 201).
Well said old Thomas Boston, in opposing this theory, that it, like the Catholic, would sweep in all the world, „so long as it remains undoubted that all the world is come of Noah and of Adam.” This theory is, therefore, evidently false, and, like the first, subversive of the spiritual idea of the church Christ established; and its societies are certainly no more churches than is the Catholic hierarchy. From the above consideration, the reader can appreciate the statements of the two Langes of Germany, distinguished Pedobaptist scholars:
„All attempts to make out infant baptism from the New Testament fails. it is utterly opposed to the spirit of the apostolic age and to the fundamental principles of the New Testament” (Bro. L. Lange: Infant Baptism, p. 101).
J. Lange, the renowned commentator: „Would the Protestant church fulfill and attain to its final destiny, the baptism of new-born children must be abolished. It can not, on any point of view, be justified by the Holy Scriptures” (History Baptism, pp. 34, 35).
3. The third is the Baptist theory.
This is, that none but Christians should be baptized, and thus added to the church. I mean a person should give satisfactory evidence that he has been regenerated in heart, made a new creature in Christ, before he is baptized. All human societies—and by this test they may infallibly be known—baptize, and add to the church in order to save. Baptists do it, because they believe the subject is saved. This is the grand characteristic that makes Baptists a peculiar people—that separates them from all other. They invariably place Christ before the church, while all others place the church before Christ. For this reason Baptists do not give baptism to their infants, nor to unregenerate persons. I have not the space, in this little work, to make an extended argument against infant baptism; its unscripturalness, and its vast and positive evils (I should be pleased if the reader will study my little work—”The Origin and Evils of Infant Sprinkling”) to Christianity and the race; but I will simply indicate the four principal arguments in addition to the one given above, either one of which is sufficient to condemn it forever with every unprejudiced man or woman.
I. The Word of God contains neither precept for, nor example of, Infant Baptism, which is frankly admitted by hundreds of the most learned Pedobaptist scholars.
If infant baptism be a Christian duty, it must be a positive duty; and if positive, it must be clearly and unmistakably commanded, since all positive duties are clearly commanded.
A. Bledsoe, LL.D, late editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review, vol. 14, pp. 234, 235, the most scholarly man the Methodists of America ever had, makes this declaration:
„It is an article of our faith that the baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the church as most agreeable to the institution of Christ. But yet, with all our searching, we have been unable to find in the New Testament a single express declaration, or word, in favor of infant baptism. This may, perhaps, be deemed by some of our readers a strange position for a Pedobaptist. It is by no means, however, a singular opinion. Hundreds of learned Pedobaptists have come to the same conclusion; especially—since the New Testament has been subjected to a closer, and a more conscientious and more candid exegesis than was formerly practiced by controversialists” [Italics Mine].
Bro. Bledsoe quotes Bros. Knapp. Jacobi and Neander, distinguished German Pedobaptists, in proof that infant baptism was not instituted by Christ or His apostles, or known in the first ages, and adds:
„We might, if necessary, adduce the admission of many other profoundly learned Pedobaptists, that their doctrine is not found in the New Testament, either in express terms or by implication from any portion of its teachings.”
II. That the practice of Infant Baptism was unknown to the churches of Christ in the first two centuries after Christ. is admitted by all standard Pedobaptist scholars and historians.
Curcelleus, acknowledged to be the most learned Protestant scholar of the sixteenth century, says:
„Pedobaptism was not known in the world the two first ages after Christ; in the third and fourth it was approved by few; at length, in the fifth and following ages, it began to obtain in divers places; and, therefore, we [Pedobaptists] observe this rite, indeed as an ancient custom but not as an apostolic tradition. The custom of baptizing infants did not begin before the third age after Christ, and there appears not the least footstep of it for the first two centuries.”
So Neander, Mosheim, Gieseler, Schaff, Coleman. Now, if infant baptism was not instituted by Christ nor His apostles, nor known for ages after Christ, it is evidently a „commandment of men,” and Christ Himself has said:
„In vain do they—all those—worship me who teach for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).
Such systems, no more than the worship of such bodies of men, can be pleasing or accepted by Christ, but condemned and abhorred by him, whatever men, who would be considered „liberal,” may think or say, Christ does not, he can not, approve them, nor should we, and hope to please him.
III. All the teachings of Christ and His apostles positively forbid the practice of Infant Baptism, and the admission of the unregenerate to baptism and church-membership.
Catholics baptize all these, and their graveyards as well; and on the same authority they do their infants.
1. John, Christ’s first gospel minister and apostle, it is admitted by all, baptized only penitent believers, and he positively declared that children, by virtue of their connection with pious ancestors, were not entitled to baptism. Christ never authorized any man to teach differently.
2. Thus Christ, during His ministry, made disciples before He baptized them (John 4:1), and therefore He did not make disciples by baptizing them, and therefore no one is authorized to say it can be done. Christ certainly never commanded His apostles or ministers to teach or baptize otherwise than He instructed John and His apostles during His own ministry. The commission is the permanent law for Christian baptism; and in it Christ positively forbade the baptism of unbelievers and non-believers, by specifying the character to be baptized, viz., „he that believeth.” Since „the specification of one thing is the prohibition of all other things;” if He prohibited the baptism of a bell, mules and apes, He did that of a baby—an unbeliever.
3. The formula Christ gave forbids the baptism of infants or unregenerate persons.
He commanded all who were to receive His baptism to be baptized into, not in, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Whether into or in the name, equally implies by the authority—and no minister who has the fear of the Sacred Trinity before his eyes, will declare he does an act by the authority of Christ until he can find an express precept arid command for it—and every intelligent minister and Christian knows such authority can not be found in the Word. But the preposition into,” with a subject that is impenetrable and indivisible, is manifestly used figuratively, and means every-where so used—a „profession of,” or „faith in,” and union with, etc. See „eis metanoian” (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:38), into repentance, means upon their profession—state of repentance; „eis ephesin amartioon,” into remission, a profession of being in that state; „eis ti ebaptisthete” and „eis to Ioannes baptisma” (Acts 19:3). What faith did you profess by your baptism? And they said, We were baptized into John’s baptism—i.e., declared our belief in the faith, or doctrine we understood, that John taught. „Eis ton moousen ebaptisanto, baptized into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2), was an act by which they expressed their faith in the existence of Moses, and their allegiance to him as their guide and lawgiver, and a baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, can certainly mean no less than a declaration or profession, on the part of the subject, of his belief in the tri-personality of the Godhead, and allegiance to their equal authority. Baptism was designed to be a profession of our faith; but infants are unable to exercise or profess faith, and unregenerate persons do not. Baptism is designed to be the answer of a good conscience toward God, but an infant has no conscience.
IV. The uniform practice of the apostles demonstrated how they understood their commission. (See Acts 2.)
V. The evils of the practice are many and fearful to the subject. to Christianity, the church, and to the world.
These are so many, and so great, that Brother Gill declared infant baptism to be „part and pillar of popery;” and so distinguished a Pedobaptist and scholar as Brother J. Lange, of Germany, felt forced to say:
„All attempts to make out infant baptism from the New Testament fails. It is utterly opposed to the spirit of the apostolic age and to the fundamental principles of the New Testament.”
It seems to me, from these considerations, that the conviction of every candid person must be that Christ designed the material of His churches to be spiritual—built of lively stones— i.e., their members to be all „circumcised in heart;” „born from above;” in a word, professedly regenerated persons, and that the primitive and apostolic churches were each and all composed of such. This, then, is the irresistible.
All those religious organizations that, by fundamental law, do admit infants and the confessedly unregenerate to baptism and membership, are not, and should not, be considered, called, or by any act recognized as churches of Christ or evangelical bodies.
Christian immersion the act appointed for the profession of gospel faith. The twelve disciples at Ephesus—The faith professed by a Catholic baptism—Campbellite—Episcopalian—Methodist—Presbyterian—Baptist—What is scriptural baptism?
„Into what then were ye baptized?” (Acts 19:3).
„Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
„Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies bathed in pure water, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” (Heb. 10:22,23).
The Sixth Mark of the Church of Christ
Its baptism is the profession, on the part of the subject, of the faith of the Gospel by which he is saved.
Christian baptism is not the celebration of a religious rite by modes indifferent; but it is a specific act, instituted for the expression of specific truths; to be administered by a specific body, to persons possessing specific qualifications. When one of these properties is wanting the transaction is null—since, unless the ordinances are observed as Christ commanded, they are not obeyed, but perverted.
Now the divine institutor of the rite selected but one word to indicate the act he intended, and that word—baptizo—which never had but one meaning when referring to persons, viz., „To dip in, or under water,” (Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, sixth and last edition, gives but this one definition) and, therefore, immersion in water was the act He specifically commanded; by specifying one act, He forbade any other to be done in His name, Having seen that a scriptural church is the only organization He has authorized to administer the act, and only to persons who give satisfactory evidence of being regenerate in heart, it now remains to inquire for the symbolism of the rite.
The Scriptures are clear, in teaching that baptism is for the profession of something on the part of the subject, and that something is the faith of the gospel—the ground on which the soul must rest upon for its salvation. Paul explicitly states this fact. (See Heb. 10:23, above quoted.) That ground is the finished work of Christ, and our participation in it. This we are to profess and set forth in our baptism.
When Paul heard from the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19), that they had not so much as heard of the existence of the Holy Spirit, he asked, with evident astonishment, „Into what then were ye baptized?” He was understood by them to ask what faith they could have professed by their baptism; and they said they were baptized into John’s baptism, which evidently means they professed the faith John preached in their baptism. They did not say they had been baptized by John, but their very answer implies they had not. They could not have heard John preach, or been baptized by him, without hearing of, and having experienced, the converting and regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit.
John baptized only those who gave him evidence of having repented toward Cod, and were exercising faith in Christ soon to appear, and no one could exercise these graces without the influences of the Holy Spirit; and he did distinctly mention the existence and work of the Spirit. These disciples had, doubtless, been immersed by Apollos, a disciple of John, who was preaching in these parts, for he knew nothing but the baptism of John. Now the faith which John preached before Christ came, was not the proper faith to be preached after he came; since he required them to believe that Christ was yet to come, and no one but John was authorized to administer his baptism. There were, therefore, three things unscriptural connected with their case.
1. These persons were unregenerate when they were immersed.
2. They did not profess the proper faith in their baptism.
3. They were not baptized by one having any authority to baptize.
Though they acted conscientiously, and were perfectly satisfied with the act, they were nevertheless unbaptized. This case should convince any one that Brother Jeter’s position is wrong. He holds that if persons have been dipped in water, in the name of the Trinity, and are satisfied with the act, it is valid baptism to them, irrespective of the faith they professed in it, or the moral or ecclesiastical qualifications of the administrator. These had been dipped, and were satisfied with the act. The immersion of a traveling imposter, without the vote of any church, would then be valid baptism, and Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, baptized them. This has been the authority quoted by Anabaptists in all ages, as well as in this age, to justify them in baptizing those immersed by unscriptural organizations; and those who oppose them are forced to deny that these Ephesian disciples were rebaptized. „But by no rules governing the Greek language can the original be wrested to teach otherwise than that Paul, or one of his companions, baptized these disciples.” The English is a faithful translation of the text; and by the laws of the English language, the version can not be construed to teach otherwise than that Paul laid his hands upon those who were said to be baptized; and it is certain that he did not lay his hands upon those John baptized. For a critical exposition of this passage, see little work by the author—”The Baptism of John.” This example is positive instruction to us to readminister the act where there has been an irregularity. The church at Corinth conscientiously believed it was correctly administering the Lord’s slipper, but it was not, but utterly perverting it, and making themselves guilty of the body and blood of Christ. To return, that baptism has been regarded as the profession, on the part of the subject, of the faith of the church baptizing, whether true or false, from the third century and onward—the „catechumens”—those applying for baptism were required to repeat the creed of the church, and then the question was invariably asked: „Wilt thou be baptized into this faith?”—i.e.. Do you desire to profess that you receive, and will hold this faith, and rest your salvation upon it? Only upon the candidate answering „I will” was baptism administered. When the apostate churches perverted the rite of baptism to „a sacrament” and „seal” of salvation, and gave it to unconscious infants to secure their salvation, they invented sponsors, and godfathers, and godmothers, to answer for the infant. The Episcopalians retain this custom (See Baptism of Infants).
„Dost thou believe all the articles of the Christian faith as contained in the apostolic creed?”
(Answer by sponsor for the infant) „I do.”
„Wilt thou be baptized in this faith?”
Ans. „That is my desire.”
Having established the fact that the subject of baptism does not profess any private personal faith he may entertain, but always the faith or creed of the church baptizing him, let us here notice the faith of each of the leading denominations around us; that we may know into what we were baptized—if we have been baptized by them, or expect to be baptized by them.
The Greek Catholic Church (A.D. 313-337).
This, the oldest apostate church existing today, requires all its subjects personally, or by sponsors, to be baptized into this faith, as the ground of salvation:
„We believe that baptism is a sacrament appointed by the Lord, which, except a person receive, he has no communion with Christ; from whose death, burial, and resurrection proceed all the virtue and efficacy of baptism. We are certain, therefore, that both original and actual sins are forgiven to those who are baptized in the manner which our Lord requires in the gospel; and that whoever is washed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is regenerated, cleansed, and sanctified.”
There is no mistaking this language. The baptismal rite is Cod’s appointed channel by which He conveys the grace of salvation to the soul, and is therefore called a „sacrament,” without which there can be no salvation.
The Roman Catholic Church (A.D. 610)
teaches this faith, and requires all baptized in her communion to profess it, viz.:
„Baptism is a sacrament instituted by our Savior to wash away original sin, and all those we may have committed; to communicate to mankind the spiritual regeneration and grace of Jesus Christ, and to unite them to the living Head.
„If any man shall say that baptism is not essential to salvation, let him be accursed . . . In baptism, not only our sins are remitted, but all the punishment of sins and wickedness” . . . (Council of Trent).
The faith of these two „churches,” that constitute the apostate part of Christendom, from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries, are very similar. The perversion of the primitive faith, touching the ordinance, was by transposition; they put the water before the blood, and made it necessary to reach the blood through the water. This simple change corrupted the whole gospel, perverted the whole plan of salvation, and made regeneration depend upon the will of men—the priesthood. I ask every Baptist right here to stop and answer this question: Should the most esteemed and influential Baptist Church on this continent, from this day, baptize into this faith, and for this purpose, would you vote to receive the baptisms of that church as scriptural and valid? You can decide this.
Campbellite Design of Baptism
Compare the above with the faith into which Campbellites baptize their converts. They baptize for the remission of sins. What do they mean by the expression? Mr. Campbell, the originator of the sect, is certainly qualified to explain:
„In, and by the act of immersion, as soon as our bodies are put under the water, at that very instant all our former or old sins are washed away” (Christian Baptist, p. 100).
„Immersion is the means divinely appointed for the actual enjoyment of the first and great blessings.”—Millennial Harbinger.
„Remission of sins can not be enjoyed by any person before immersion.”
„Belief of this testimony is what impelled us into the water, knowing that the efficacy of his blood is to be communicated to our consciences in the way which God has pleased to appoint; we stagger not at the promise, but flee to the sacred ordinance [water of baptism] which brought the blood of Jesus in contact with our consciences. Without knowing and believing this, immersion is as a blasted nut—the shell is there, but the kernel is wanting” (Christian Baptist, p. 521).
The reader can see for himself that Campbellites baptize into the self-same faith the Catholics do. He, if possible, more strongly emphasizes the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. He asserts, with all the force he can give his language, that the sinner can only come to Christ through the water; that he can only reach the blood of Christ by being immersed into the water; and he elsewhere affirms that immersion and regeneration are terms meaning the same thing. Campbellites, therefore, unite with the apostate teachers of Christianity in placing water before blood; thus bringing an unpardoned, unregenerated sinner to water baptism, as a sacrament of salvation. Can a church of Christ indorse this pernicious doctrine, by receiving those baptized by Catholics and Campbellites as scripturally baptized? There are three vital features lacking in their immersions: 1. They have not the scriptural authority—their societies not being churches. 2. The subjects are confessedly unpardoned and unregenerate when they come to the water; and 3. The faith which they profess in the act is not the faith of the gospel.
The Protestant Episcopal church baptizes into this faith: viz., in the catechism the subject is taught to say, there are two sacraments as generally necessary to salvation—i.e., baptism and the supper of the Lord. At his confirmation he is required to answer thus to the question: „Who gave you this name?”
Ans. „My sponsors in baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” All who are baptized in this „church,” come to the water as sinners, unpardoned and unregenerate, in order to receive pardon, and regeneration, and salvation. The teachings of the prayer-book abundantly sustain this.
The Methodist Episcopal Church
Many come to us immersed by these societies, but are they baptized? Let the question be asked, into what is every Methodist baptized?
To save space I will state that the office for the baptism of both infants and adults in the Discipline, is copied, almost verbatim, from the Book of Common Prayer used by the Episcopalians; and, touching the efficacy of baptism in the case of infants, Wesley, the father of the system, who copied the office from the Book of Common Prayer, is competent to explain.
„It is certain that our church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy, are at the same time born again; and it is allowed [no Methodist ever disputed it in Wesley’s day] that the whole office for the baptism of infants proceeds upon this supposition” (Wesley’s Works, vol. 1, p. 405).
Now, into what do Methodists baptize adults?
„By baptism, we who are by nature children of wrath, are made the children of God.” In all ages the outward baptism is a means of the inward . . . By water, then, as a means—the water of baptism—we are regenerated or born again (Wesley’s Works, vol. 6, sec. 4).
I might quote pages of similar teachings; and lest some one should say this is not what Methodists now teach, I ask, Do they not still use the office prescribed in the Discipline, and pray the same prayers at baptism, as they did in Wesley’s day? The last Methodist Conference that met in Memphis, in an official report, decided that for Methodists to require a profession of regeneration before baptism is an evil! I quote a paragraph:
„Baptism, too, has been unnecessarily deferred, not only in case of children, but sometimes postponed to an indefinite period in the case of adults. The practice of requiring a public profession of regeneration before baptism, has resulted in evil, and that the design of the sacrament is perverted, and the people encouraged to expect the divine blessing without the use of means, [i.e., baptism]. We call attention to these evils, that we may seek diligently to remove them” (Copied from Western Methodist).
This is sufficient. To teach and practice that a sinner can be regenerated without water baptism, as a means, is an evil in the estimation of the Methodist conference today. No regenerated person can be baptized according to the „Methodist Discipline.” Every adult, without exception, is required to confess himself unregenerate, and unpardoned, and that he comes to baptism to obtain these blessings. Every song prepared to be sung at their baptism teach the same thing. Now, can a Baptist, with the teachings of God’s Word before him, indorse such baptisms as valid, and the design scriptural, by receiving them? That Baptist must know that immersion would be worse than null, if administered by Baptist Churches for such a purpose. The subject would profess a false and pernicious faith in his baptism. There are three vital defects in immersions administered by Methodists.
1. There is the lack of any church authority—Methodist societies are not churches of Christ, and therefore can not baptize.
2. The lack of qualification on the part of the subject—he confesses him- or herself unregenerate, and that he seeks it in the act.
3. The design is unscriptural—the faith it requires to be professed, as shown above, false and pernicious.
The Presbyterian Faith Required to be Professed
By referring to „Shorter Catechism” we find this:
Q.—What is a sacrament?
A.—”A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein [i.e., in the receiving of which] by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant are represented, sealed and applied to believers.”
Now the covenant of grace is worthless to any one, unless it is sealed and applied to him. Therefore, unless the sacrament is received, none of the benefits of Christ’s death can be enjoyed by any one. This is clear. Now, what ordinances are sacraments?
„A.—The sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
„Q.—What is baptism?
„A.—Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost to be a sign and seal, of engrafting into himself of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life.”—S. Catechism. This is a palpable misrepresentation. For Christ commanded to dip in or under water; and Christ
Himself was immersed into the river Jordan; and John said: I, indeed, baptize you in—en, not meta, with—water.
In these extracts it is clearly taught that baptism is a sacrament—i.e., a rite by which the benefits of Christ’s death are applied; and also, a seal, by which they are made sure—confirmed to those receiving. Of course, if the benefits of Christ’s death—i.e., regeneration, justification, pardon and adoption—are applied in and by baptism, it can not be supposed the subject possesses them before baptism; and, therefore, none but unregenerate and unpardoned persons can be baptized, in accordance with the Presbyterian design of baptism. It is substantially the same as the Catholics and Campbellites—to make one a Christian and child of God. Water is put before Blood.
An immersion or baptism by this sect would be marked by the same three vital defects with that of the Catholics—i.e., no scriptural authority—for Presbyterian societies are not churches (see last chapter)—an unscriptural subject, and an unscriptural design; and Baptist Churches can not recognize them as valid by receiving them without renouncing their own as unscriptural; for, of two contradictory propositions, if one be true, the other must he false.
Baptist Faith Professed in Baptism
Our historical ancestors, the Anabaptists (A. D. 1120), five hundred years before a Protestant sect existed, or Luther or Calvin had been born, taught this concerning the above doctrine of regeneration by baptism, in a little work defending Antichrist:
„A third work of Antichrist consists in this, that he attributes the regeneration of the Holy Ghost unto the mere external act, baptizing infants into that faith, teaching that thereby baptism and regeneration must be had; on which principle he bestows orders, and, indeed, grounds all his Christianity, which is contrary to the Word of the Holy Scriptures.”
Can it be that Baptists of this age, instead of protesting against, will approve and indorse the teachings and act as scriptural, by receiving them? Those old Baptists held the faith concerning baptism that we profess to teach. From fourteen articles of faith they put forth I copy—
„Article 7.—We believe in the ordinance of baptism. The water is the visible external, which represents to us that, which by virtue of God’s invisible operation, is within us, viz., the renovation of our mind and the mortification of our members through faith of Jesus Christ; and by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of God’s people, previously professing and declaring our faith and change of life.”
Christ was our great exemplar as well as teacher, and He not only indicated by His example how we should be baptized, but at the very water’s edge He declared the true design of baptism. He declared that His own was to fulfill all righteousness.” We know He came to earth to work out a righteousness for His people, to satisfy the infinite claims of Divine justice. This He could not accomplish literally, by being baptize , else He might have ascended in a chariot of glory to the right hand of His Father when He came up out of the water. But He did fulfill all righteousness, in some sense, and it must have been fulfilled figuratively. He painted before their eyes the three great acts by which He did fulfill the all-righteousness the law required. 1. He must sink in death. 2. Be buried. 3. Rise again from the dead. By these acts, prefigured in His baptism, He prefigured His crucifixion, His burial, and His resurrection. Paul taught .that Christian baptism represented the crucifixion of Christ (Col. 3:1), and Christ, referring to His coming crucifixion, called it a baptism —immersion (Luke 12:50). Paul also declares that three acts constitute the whole gospel, by which we are saved, if we rightly apprehend and believe: 1. How that Christ died for our sins; 2. That he was buried; 3. That He rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-5).
Christ, then, in a lively figure, set before the eyes of all His sacrificial work—the gospel of our salvation—and He has made it the duty of every disciple of His to do the same. And is it too much for Christ to require us to represent these great acts of His redemptive work, and profess our own personal faith in them, for our own salvation, as we are about to enter His church? The soul, redeemed by His precious blood, will rejoice to do it, despite the sneers of an ungodly world, and the opposition of modem priests and Pharisees.
This is the baptism Christ instituted for His church, and He forbade it to recognize or receive any other. In this design we see it is—
Blood Before Water
By this simple test human societies, and all counterfeit churches, can be easily distinguished from the churches of Christ, viz., in the former, water is put before blood, and the church before Christ; in the latter Christ is put before the church, and blood before water. Reader, how do they stand in your faith, and which came first in your baptism, blood or water?”
1. Where there is no scriptural baptism, there are no scriptural churches of Christ, no scriptural ordinations, no scriptural ministers, no scriptural ordinances. (Brother N. L. Rice, Presbyterian, admits this—”no baptism, no church”).
2. If immersion be the act which Christ exemplified in His own baptism, and commanded for baptism, then Pedobaptist societies are without baptism, and, consequently, are not churches, and are without scriptural ministers or scriptural ordinances.
3. If baptism is not a „seal,” nor the law of pardon, nor a „sacrament” of salvation, but an act by which we profess the saving faith we possess, and in which we symbolize the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, then it must be admitted that Baptists, alone, truly baptize, and the immersions of other denominations are in no sense baptisms, and should not be indorsed as valid.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
A local church ordinance, not denominational, or social—Intercommunion between different religions bodies, having diverse organizations and diverse faiths, or, between „sister” churches, contrary both to the genius of scriptural church building symbolism of the ordinance.
„Because there is one loaf, we, the many [members of the one church at Corinth] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17). Trans. Emp. Diaglott.
„Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you” (1 Cor. 11:2).
THE SEVENTH MARK OF THE MODEL ECCLESIA.
The Lord’s Supper was observed as a local church ordinance. commemorative only of the sacrificial chastisement of Christ for His people, never expressive of personal fellowship, or of courtesy for others, or used as a sacrament.
That the Supper is a commemorative ordinance, instituted by Christ, to be observed in each local church, until He comes again, every Baptist will admit. This implies that each participant must, at least, he a member of some scriptural church, which also implies that he must have been scripturally baptized—immersed. Now the question I wish more particularly to discuss in this chapter is:
Can a local church, scripturally or consistently, extend the invitation to participate beyond her own membership and discipline?
I well know that but few brethren can follow me in this discussion with unprejudiced minds, such is the power of denominational precedent over us all. I shall, without doubt, be confronted, at the very threshold, with the „traditions of fathers,” and the almost immemorial „usages” of the denomination. But it weighs not a feather’s weight with me; though it can be proved that Baptists, since the days of Paul, and that by the very churches he planted and instructed, have practiced inter-communion, the question is, „What were the instructions he gave?” These must constitute the „Old Landmarks” to guide us in the observance of this ordinance, and not „denominational usage,” or the mistakes and errors of our fathers, if our ancestors did, indeed, err from the „old paths.” The writer can easily remember when Baptist Associations were wont to close their sessions by celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and this they did for years; but was it right because our fathers did it? Who will advocate this practice today, or what Association on this continent will presume to administer the supper? And yet, what a clamor would have been raised about the ears of the man who, in those days, had lifted his voice in condemnation of it! Fifty years our fathers were wont to advise the churches to send their licentiates to the Association to receive ordination, and it was wont to select a Presbytery, and between them ordain the minister. But who will advocate so unscriptural a procedure now? Twenty-five or thirty years ago, the overwhelming majority of our churches in the South would indorse a Campbellite, and alien immersion as valid; but there is not an Association in the South, let the question be fairly laid before it, would indorse them today. And why? Because the attention of the churches have been called to a serious consideration of the question by discussions, pro and con, and scriptural truth and consistency have triumphed.
Now, touching the Lord’s Supper, Baptists have not departed from „the form of sound words” in formulating their belief. They universally hold that it is a local church ordinance, i.e., an ordinance to be observed in and by a local church, but they have generally fallen into a „slip-shod” way of observing it, quite as unscriptural as either of the bad „usages” I have mentioned above.
They now generally observe it, not as a strictly local church ordinance, i.e., confined to the members of the singular church celebrating the rite, but as a denominational observance, as belonging to the kingdom rather than to each local organization of the kingdom. Many and great evils, and gross inconsistencies, damaging to our denominational influence and growth, have sprung out of this practice, which it is my object to point out. Encouraged, as my faith is by the past, I believe that in a few years our churches will, as a body, return to the „old paths,” in this, as in other matters, and walk in them, and find rest from the opposition which they have justly brought down upon their own heads.
Arguments From Our Church Constitution.
1. It is a local church ordinance.
A church, by its constitution, is strictly an independent body. It absolutely controls its own acts, and can, in no sense, control those of any other church. Her prerogatives, like her responsibilities, terminate with herself, and her authority is limited, as to the objects over which it is exercised, to her own membership, and she has not a church privilege she can extend to those outside her pale. If, then, the supper was committed to each local church, its observance was limited to the membership of each church, and it can rightly be observed, only by the united membership of such churches, and not by them, in common with the membership of other churches. A church can extend her privileges, no more than her discipline, beyond her organization.
I never heard an intelligent Baptist claim that the members of other Baptist churches have a right to participate in the supper, when spread in any Baptist Church. And why? Because they know it is a local church ordinance, like voting in the administration of the government of said church. If Christ did not institute it to be observed by local churches as such, but for the denomination—the churches, and their members generally, wherever they might chance to be—then each member in good standing, would have a right to go uninvited to the supper, wherever spread, and the local church would have no right to prevent him; but in that case, the individual churches could not be made responsible for any „leaven” that might be introduced into the feast, nor would it be in the power of any local church to obey the apostolic injunction, „purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. Therefore, let us keep the feast [observe the supper], not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness,” etc. But what Christ did not authorize in the observance of the supper, He certainly forbade, and, if He did command its observance by each local church as such, He forbade its being converted into a denominational or a social ordinance, i.e., observed by a particular church in common with parts of as many churches as may chance to be present. It certainly is either the one thing or the other—limited or unlimited. In this respect, Baptists, who can not feel the force of the argument from the specifications of one thing prohibiting another, can not blame Pedobaptists for not seeing that, when Christ specified believers only in the commission, He forbade the baptism of unbelievers, bells, and babies.
Again, when a person, having accepted Christ as his Savior, and seeks, as he should, the privileges of His church, he unites with a local church only, and not with the denomination generally, and receives and enjoys church privileges in that church alone. He can vote on all questions of ecclesiastical polity in that particular church, and in no other. He can participate in the supper in that church and no other, since he is under the watch and care of that church and no other.
2. To each local church is committed the sole guardianship of the ordinances she administers.
She is commanded to allow only members possessing certain qualifications, to come to the feast. Any who may have fallen into heresies, or whose Christian conversation is not such as becometh godliness—drunkards, fornicators, covetous, revilers, extortioners, etc.—with such she is not to eat.
The church at Corinth was not merely permitted, but peremptorily commanded, to prohibit the table to every person she did not know—so far as she had the ability to learn—was free from leaven: „Purge out the old leaven, that ye [the church celebrating] may be a new lump.” „Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven,” etc.
Each church, then, is made the guardian of this feast. She can not alienate the responsibility; she must see that no disqualified person comes to the table; she must, then, have absolute control of the supper; but, if it is her duty to invite the members of all Baptist Churches present, regardless of their known character, then she has no power to discharge this duty. She would evidently have no control over this ordinance; would be robbed of one of her most important prerogatives as a church. But, if it is not her duty to invite any but her own members, then, she ought not to do it, and, if the act robs her of the power to obey the laws of her Head, and preserve the purity of this sacred ordinance, then, she may know the practice is wrong, and fraught with evil.
I conclude with this argument in logical form:
1. Any practice that puts it out of the power of the church to discharge a positive command of Christ must be sinful, and forbidden by Christ.
2. The practice of inviting all members of Baptist Churches present, to observe the Lord’s Supper, does put it out of the power of that church to discharge ‘the positive duty enjoined (1 Cor. 5).
3. Therefore, the practice of inviting all members of Baptist Churches present is sinful and forbidden by Christ (Q. E .D.).
Argument from the Symbolism of the Supper.
The symbol can not be appropriate where the thing signified is wanting—and conversely: Those things can not be appropriate, or scriptural, that contradict the symbol.
No one will question these axioms, and all Baptists believe that the elements Christ employed were symbolic of great facts. Let us see what they symbolized.
The One Loaf.—There should be but one loaf upon the table. Christ used but one. Paul specifies the use of but one: „Because there is one loaf, we, the many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor. 11:17). The church at Corinth were to partake of but one loaf, and in this respect she is the model for all the churches of Christ, in all ages.
This one, undivided loaf was designed to teach that only one undivided body—organization—church as such—not several churches as an Association, nor parts of several—was authorized to celebrate this ordinance, or could do it without vitiating it. The symbolic teachings of the „one loaf” is stultified whenever one church, with the fragments of a dozen others, attempts to observe the supper. Could the administrator say, „We are one body”—or organization, or church—and tell the truth?
Here Paul specifies that one, and only one, church like that at Corinth should come together „in church,” i. e., as a single church, and in „church capacity,” to observe this ordinance. An organization assembles „in lodge” to receive members, and perform their rites, and so a local church must organize as such, to observe the supper; a plurality of churches, or parts of churches, can not.
Artos.—The loaf was of one specific kind and quality of flour. It was not a loaf of barley, nor of maize; neither of oat nor rye flour, much less a mixture of these, but it is specified one wheaten loaf—”heis artos not, madza”—and this loaf was not of unbolted, but of „fine flour”—all the impurities of the wheat carefully removed. God never permitted any other flour to be used in His ordinances of old, or offered in any sacrifice upon His altars. It certainly had a meaning, as a type; it certainly has a symbol in the church of Christ. The ordinance is vitiated, if any other element than fine wheaten flour is used in the supper.
The Signification of the Fine Wheaten-Loaf.
The quality of the loaf signified the one faith, and that the pure faith once delivered to the saints unadulterated. Where there are divers faiths in the same church, this ordinance can not be observed. This was the case—divisions produced by heresies —in the church at Corinth when Paul wrote his first letter: „I hear that there are divisions among you; for there must be heresies among you, etc. This state inhibited the celebration of the Supper by that church until they were healed. Now, suppose the parties holding these heresies had separated, and organized each a Baptist Church in the city of Corinth, could they have communed together as churches or as parts of churches? The faith would not have been the same, and, therefore, there must have been error, adulteration, leaven, somewhere. Suppose the First Baptist Church in Memphis, upon a rigid examination, should find that several of its members. were high Calvinists, and a part low Arminians, several Unitarians, some, conscientious Universalists, and yet others Spiritualists—faiths based upon doctrines fundamentally opposed—would the church be justified in celebrating the Supper? Would not the symbolism of the one wheaten loaf be vitiated? But should they amicably separate and form five different churches in this city, could the First Church scripturally invite the membership of all these, who once belonged to her body, to celebrate the Supper with her? If not—why not? Because such a communion would make the symbolism exhibit a falsehood. The one fine-flour of the loaf shows forth that the communicants have one and the same unadulterated faith of the gospel; and, behold, they have six different faiths between them! Such an observance of the sacred Supper would be a profanation of it, and make the participants guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
Thus the symbolism of the one loaf of one flour forever settles the question of their communion by different sects, and inter-communion among Baptist Churches; they are not the „one body,” organization, church, nor have they the same faith. Will Protestants claim that they and Catholics are one—the self-same body—organization? If not, they can not observe the supper together. Will they claim that their faith is one? Will Protestants claim that their various organizations are one and the same? Will Presbyterians aver that the Arminianism of the Methodists is the same as Calvinism? They are the poles asunder. How, then, without profaning the feast, without making the symbolism testify to a falsehood, can Presbyterians, Methodists, and Campbellites observe the supper together? They certainly are not one body, one church; nor have they the one and the same faith.
The last time the Old and New School Presbyterian assemblies met the same year in Philadelphia, the New School sent a courteous invitation to the Old School assembly to unite with them in a joint celebration of the Lord’s Supper. This invitation was scornfully rejected, as an open insult by the Old School—”for,” said a learned doctor of divinity, „they ask us to stultify ourselves, and act a lie in the face of Christendom. Why did we separate? Because we hold to different faiths, and, therefore, could not commune together. And now they ask us to say to the world, by our act, that we are one body, and hold one and the self-same faith, which is not true.” If more proof is needed that the leaders of the very bodies who plead loudest for open communion, know that it is unscriptural and sinful, I appeal to the action of the decisions of synods and their standard authorities. One or two must suffice. From „Synodical Records,” vol. 3, page 240, I quote this from a report adapted:
„The committee are of opinion that for Presbyterians to hold communion in sealing ordinances with those who belong to churches holding doctrines contrary to our standards (as do Baptists, Methodists, and all others), is incompatible with the purity and peace of the (Presbyterian) Church, and highly prejudicial to the truth as it is in Jesus. Nor can such communion answer any valuable purpose to those who practice it, etc.”
Bro. D. Monfort, Presbyterian, in a series of letters, gives the following reasons for not giving free invitations to other churches, and especially Baptists:
„1. They do not belong to the fellowship (i.e., of the Presbyterian Church), and therefore they can not consistently receive the tokens of it. 2. They profess to be conscientious in refusing the fellowship, and it is uncharitable to ask them to violate their consciences, etc.” (Letter IV).
Bishop Hedding, Methodist, in his work on the administration of the Discipline, asks: „Is it proper for a preacher to give out a general invitation in the congregation to members in good standing in other churches to come to the Lord’s Supper?”
„No; for the most unworthy persons are apt to think themselves in good standing, etc.”
And again: „There are some communities, called churches which, from heretical doctrines or immoral practices, have no claim to the privileges of Christians, and ought not to be admitted to the communion of any Christian people” (Pages 72, 73).
This is what the Discipline enjoins: „But no person shall be admitted to the Lord’s Supper among us who is guilty of any practice for which we would exclude a member of our Church.”
„Inveighing against our doctrines or discipline” are the capital charges mentioned in section 5; and what Presbyterian or Baptist does not oppose both the doctrine and discipline of Methodism as unscriptural and evil? Can these bodies practice open communion?
No church may dare to celebrate the ordinances unless she possesses the faith and the facts symbolized.
The Unleavened Loaf.—The loaf used by Christ was one of those prepared for the Passover Supper, and was, therefore unleavened. God required, on pain of death, that no leaven should be used in any bread brought to His altar, or mingled in any sacrifice or ordinance typical of the sacrifice of Christ for us. All the burnt offerings for sin typified Christ’s sacrifice, and the Paschal Feast was an eminent type of Christ, our Passover. He certainly had good and sufficient reasons for using this sort of bread. It was not mere capriciousness in Him. But He explained to the Jews why He instituted the unleavened bread of the passover. It was to teach them and their children, in the generations following, that He, their Sovereign Lord, alone and unassisted, had delivered them and brought them up out of Egypt: „Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten” (Ex. 13:3). Their salvation was of the Lord alone. To symbolize this fact, all leaven of every sort was to be diligently sought for in all their coasts for 7 days, and burned with fire; and by this they were given to understand that God was jealous of His honor, and that no part of their salvation was ever to be ascribed to either man or idol. The passover was a type pointing forward to what the symbols of the supper point back to, the sovereign grace of God in Christ, by whom we are redeemed from the „power of sin and Satan,” and not by works of righteousness which we have done or may do; and, therefore, it is absolutely essential to the scriptural observance of the supper that unleavened bread should be used. With leavened bread, Paul’s allusion would be meaningless where he recognizes the church at Corinth as solely responsible for the purity of the sacred feast entrusted to her guardianship: „Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye [the church at Corinth] may be a new lump,” etc. The one unleavened wheaten loaf, then, symbolized that the members composing that church celebrating, must be without the leaven of wickedness, etc. „Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8). Certainly no thoughtful Christian can doubt that the loaf upon the table should be without leaven, when it is required that the body it represents should be, and when this is required by Paul in order that the significance of the feast be not vitiated.
The Wine.—The Savior used wine made of „the grape” —it was „the fruit of the vine.” He commanded; and, if it was not lawful for leaven to be used in this feast, He certainly did not use an element that was little less than leaven itself. It could not have been unfermented wine He used and commanded, as some, more zealous than wise, are now teaching; for unfermented wine, in the first place, is a misnomer. There never was, there can not be, a drop of wine without fermentation. It is must, and not wine, until fermentation ensues, and unfermented juice of the grape is but a mass of leaven. It is this element in the juice that causes it to ferment, and fermentation is the process by which it throws off, and clears itself, of this impurity. Thoroughly fermented wine contains no leaven, and, therefore, it is only after this natural clarification of itself that the Savior used, and commanded His churches to use it; and, limiting this element to wine, He forbade the use of any other liquid than the pure juice of the grape, when fermented and clarified.
One Cup only should be used, to preserve the symbolism; yet, where the church is large, and the wine to be used necessarily considerable, it can be placed upon the table in one vessel, and thanks given, before it is divided into smaller ones, to be distributed. The church, though many, may be said, all to drink of one wine, and of one vessel, or measure of wine.
As a crowning proof that no leaven must be used at this feast, either in the bread or wine, I refer the Bible student to those burnt-offerings of old, which were typical of Christ. No leaven was allowed to be used (Ex. 34:25; Lev. 2:11; Lev. 10:12; Amos 4:5), and it was the unleavened juice of the grape, wine only, that was used in the drink offerings. As was the type, so should be the symbol. The elements of the feast were, unleavened wheaten loaf and the unleavened fruit of the vine.
The Argument From the Design of the Supper.
Ritualists, whether Protestants or Romanists, have perverted this ordinance, as well as baptism, into a „sacrament” and „seal” of salvation; thus making it indispensable to the salvation of both infants and adults, and, in addition to this, they teach that the supper is a mark of Christian courtesy, or sign of Christian fellowship, in partaking of which Christians commune with one another.
I have not space in this work to notice and expose the doctrine of transubstantiation, as taught by Romanists, nor of con-substantiation, as held by Lutherans, nor that of the „mystical body” after consecration, as taught by Episcopalians and Methodists.
The Savior expressed the whole design when he said: „Do this in remembrance of me.” It is, therefore, nothing more and nothing less, than a simple ordinance, commemorative of what Christ is, and what He has done for us—a remembrance of Him.
It is, in no sense, a „sacrament.” It conveys no saving grace, nor can it be a „converting rite;” for the converted, the regenerated, and saved, alone may, scripturally, partake of it. It is as gross a perversion of this ordinance, for Protestants to teach that it is a ‘seal,” or a „sacrament of salvation,” as for Catholics to teach it is the veritable body, and blood, and divinity of Christ; and, for this reason, Baptists can not unite with either in its celebration, if it was not a church ordinance. This statement will be questioned by those who know little of the teachings of the Word of God, and less of the teachings of Protestants.
Presbyterians teach that it is both a „sacrament” of salvation, and a seal of the Covenant of Grace; which, if true, no one ever was, or can be, saved without them.
Q.—What are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A.—The sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Q.—What is a sacrament?
A.—It is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed and applied to believers (Conf. Faith, p. 335).
Q.—Wherein do the sacraments of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, agree?
A.—The sacraments of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, agree in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and His benefits; both are seals of the same covenant (p. 297).
The Methodist „church” teaches the same pernicious doctrine, i.e., that the supper, like baptism, is a sacrament of salvation, to be eaten by the unregenerate as a means of obtaining regeneration, the pardon of sins, and salvation.
In their articles of faith it is declared to be a „sacrament.” Wesley, the founder of the sect, explains what his church holds and teaches on this ordinance:
„The Lord’s Supper was ordained by God to be a means of conveying to men either preventing, or justifying, or sanctifying grace, according to their several necessities, . . . or, to renew their souls in the image of God. To come to the Supper of the Lord no fitness is required at the time of communicating, but a sense of our state of utter sinfulness and helplessness. Every one who knows he is fit for hell, being just fit to come to Christ, in this as well as all other ways of his appointment. . . . In latter times, many [these are Baptists] have affirmed that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance. . . The falsehood of this objection appears both from Scripture precept and example” (Wesleyana, pp. 283, 284).
The ordinance is not more grossly perverted by the Catholics. How a Baptist, or a Christian, at all conversant with the Bible—a regenerate person—can dare to partake of the Supper as a sacrament, or a „seal,” to secure conversion, justification, or remission of sins, I can not imagine. All who partake for any such purpose, eat and drink „unworthily,” and make themselves guilty of the body and blood of Christ.
The ordinance is a simple memorial of Christ’s work and love for us, a photograph He has left His betrothed Bride till He comes again to marry her; and He asks her not to worship it, but to look upon it as oft as she pleases, with the sole purpose of remembering Him and no one else, on earth or in heaven. It is one little service He claims all for Himself, and will allow no thought to be given to another. There are times when we may properly think of earthly friends—of mother, of dear wife, husband, of precious children, of departed saints, of living relatives, but it would be doing insult to Christ, and profaning this sacred memorial, to remember any one but „Him who loved us and died for us.”
We do not, therefore, commune with one another at the Lord’s Table, but with Christ only, if we eat and drink „worthily.” We have no occasion to leave or absent ourselves from the supper lest we indorse, by our act, the Christian character of some one who may be there. We disobey a positive command of Christ. „Do it,” and we refuse to remember Him when we neglect this duty.
Nor is it designed to be used as an expression of fellowship, or „courtesy” towards other Christians or members of other Baptist Churches. The ordinance is profaned and eaten „unworthily” when it is observed with this design. Baptists of other churches present can not complain, if they are not invited, of any injustice done them, for no right of theirs, or duty of the celebrating church, has been violated or omitted; and, as I have shown, no discourtesy has been shown them, because the ordinance was not given for the purpose of expressing our courtesy to others.
The command is: „Do This In Remembrance Of Me.”
The Opinions of Eminent Baptists
We are not altogether alone in the views above expressed. at least so far as the principle is concerned.
Bro. A. P. Williams, in his „Lord’s Supper,” says: „Having done these things [i. e., believed, been baptized, and added to the church] he has a right to the communion in the church to which he has been added; but nowhere else. As he had no general right when running at large, so he has no general right now” (p. 93).
Now, if he has no right to the Supper anywhere, save in his own church, it is because Christ has not given him authority to eat anywhere else, which is tantamount to a positive prohibition. It is certain that no other church has any right to extend her church privileges beyond her own bounds.
If he has no right to commune anywhere else, it is because Christ has not given him the right, and therefore, he has no right to claim, or to exercise the right. It is not true, as open and intercommunionists assert, that „they are entitled to the Supper wherever they find it.”
„Now, here (Acts 2:41, 42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17) it is plainly argued that this joint participation in the one cup, and the one bread is designed to show that the participants are but one body; and, as such, they share this joint participation; but, if the communion were obligatory upon Christians as individuals, and not as church members, it could not show this” (p. 70).
Yet Bro. Williams, influenced by feeling or usage, says that members of other Baptist Churches, while they have no right on the premises, still may be invited as an act of „courtesy.” But, according to his own teachings, as above, the symbolism of the Supper is vitiated whenever it is done; for it is no longer a church ordinance, but a denominational or social rite.
Prof. W. W. Gardner, Bethel College, Kentucky, in his able work on „Church Communion,” says: „The same is equally true of communion at the Lord’s Tables which is a church act, and the appointed token, not of the Christian, nor denominational, but of church-fellowship subsisting between communicants at the same table. Hence, it follows that a member of one Baptist Church has no more right, as a right, to claim communion in another Baptist Church than he has to claim the right of voting; for both are equally church acts and church privileges. The Lord’s Supper being a church ordinance, as all admit, and every church being required to exercise discipline over all its communicants, it necessarily follows THAT NO CHURCH CAN SCRIPTURALLY EXTEND ITS COMMUNION BEYOND THE LIMITS OF ITS DISCIPLINE. And this in fact, settles the question of church communion, and restricts the Lord’s Supper to the members of each particular church as such” (pp. 18, 19).
Bro. Richard Fuller—”If any thing can be plain to those who prefer the Word of God to sentimentalism and popularity, it is that baptism is to follow faith immediately; that it is an individual duty, and must precede membership; and that as the Passover was a meal for each family only, so the Supper is a family repast, for the members of that particular church in which the table is spread. This is so plain to our minds, hearts, consciences, that there is never any discussion about it.”
If the supper is a repast for the members of each particular church only, it is because the Divine law governing the feast has made it so, and, therefore, it would be in violation of that law for a church to invite, or allow others than her own members, to partake of it; and equally so for members of another church to accept such an unlawful invitation. This is so plain to my mind that discussion is useless.
President Robinson, of Brown University, Rhode Island, and formerly pastor of the First Church of Providence, believing that the Supper is an ordinance of the local church, never extended an invitation to members of Baptist Churches present, whether ministers or laymen.
Bro. Curtis, author of an able work on „Communion, and Progress of Baptist Principles:” „Thus, then it is clear [i.e., from 1 Cor. 15] that the Lord’s Supper is given in charge to those visible churches of Christ, in the midst of which He has promised to walk and dwell (Rev. 2:1). To each of these it belongs to celebrate it as one family [Then certainly not as parts of different families or bodies.] The members of that particular church are to be tarried for, and it is to be a symbol of their relations, as members, to each other. In all ordinary cases, it should be partaken of by each Christian in the particular church of which he is a member” (Progress of Baptist Principles, p. 307).
It is only from the Scriptures we learn how an ordinance is to be ordinarily observed. From what book can Bro. Curtis, or any one else, learn how they are to be extra ordinarily observed? The one specified form of their observance is the only form we may observe. Christ, nor His apostles, gave exceptional cases, or warrant us in the least deviation whatever, in any circumstance.
Several of the leading Baptist papers of America have given a decided opinion upon the subject. The National Baptist, Philadelphia, warmly approved the course of Bro. Robinson; the Western Baptist warmly approved the position of Bro. Fuller; and commenting upon our lecture upon this subject in the Metropolitan Temple, San Francisco, the Evangel, the Baptist organ of California, thus expressed its unqualified endorsement:
„Some four or five years ago we were appointed to write an essay on the Lord’s Supper; and, after the most thorough examination we were able to give the subject, we were driven to the following conclusion, viz.: that the Supper is an ordinance within a Gospel church, and that there is no authority in the Scriptures for extending it beyond the jurisdiction of the church administering the ordinance. From this conclusion we drew the practical inference that, as there is no Scripture warranting inter-communion among the members of different churches of the same faith and order, Baptists who claim that the Scriptures are a sufficient rule of faith and practice, ought to stop just where the law stops; in other words, the churches should restrict the ordinances to those over whom they exercise jurisdiction.”
This is an important „Landmark” of the primitive churches, which every friend of scriptural order should assist in restoring to its erect and firm position.
Objections and difficulties to non-intercommunion noticed —Some pastors could not commune with the churches they serve, and administer the Supper to—”Paul communed with the church at Troas”—Not established—Testimony of Alford, Barnes—The false teachers whose doctrine Paul called „leaven” and commanded the church at Corinth to purge away from the Lords Supper, were members of Baptist Churches— Conclusion.
„Objections are not arguments unless insuperable.”—Logic.
It is objected—
1. That „should the churches return to the strict practice, many ministers who are now ‘pastoring’ four or five churches could not commune with the churches they serve and for which they administer the supper.”
This is not the fault of the theory, but of those churches that have no pastors. Christ ordained that each church should have a bishop, as he ordained that each wife should have one husband, and each flock a shepherd, and he also ordained that each church should support its own pastor; and, if unable to do so, it should not assume church form and prerogatives. In this case the pastor can participate with his church, for he will he a member of, and under its jurisdiction. Still there is no real difficulty in the case, when the minister is willing to act scripturally. He can administer this ordinance to the church, without exercising the rights of a member, as well as receive members into the church, and administering the other ordinance, without voting on the qualifications of the subject. He has the same right to vote, as he has to eat, with a church of which he is not a member. We often administer the supper for churches at their request, but participate only with our own.
Christ made no exceptions to meet difficulties arising from departures from His order, and we have no right to do it. We can not divide a principle; we must take the whole or none at all; for unless we observe the ordinances as He commanded, we do not observe them at all—they are null and void, and worse—perverted and profaned.
The only Scripture we have seen quoted to sustain the practice of intercommunion among Baptists, is Acts 20:7. The brethren who quote this should never smile in pity upon Pedobaptists for quoting Mark 10:14 to prove Infant Baptism. All that passage lacks of being a proof text for the practice, is the substitution of the one word baptized, for „blessed;’ and all this passage lacks to be of any service to our brethren, is the statement that Paul and Luke did eat the Lord’s Supper with the Baptist Church at Troas, but it does not say it, or even intimate it. And let me here state that the practice of the apostles and first ministers, divinely commissioned to promulgate the gospel and establish churches in foreign lands, certainly should not be quoted to justify ministers, or private members, in doing the same thing. No one is warranted to preach, and to baptize now, without having received baptism or the ordination of some church, because John the Baptist did so. No deacon can claim the right to preach and baptize, by virtue of his office, when traveling in a strange country, should a stranger demand baptism at his hands, because Philip, once a deacon, baptized the eunuch. I insist that, could a score of passages be produced to prove that Paul, or any other apostle did commune with the churches he planted, it would prove nothing in support of denominational communion, so long as Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth are allowed to be the law to all our churches of this age, and in which the supper is still to be observed with „one loaf,” and by one church, one body. and the church required to purge out the leaven that she may observe a pure feast.
But this serviceable proof-text is confidently quoted to prove opposite theories! It is the sole reliance of those who would establish weekly communion, and of those who favor inter-communion, and of the advocates of social communion! In the first edition I conceded to claimants that there was a church at Troas, though not necessarily a communion service; but a critical examination convinces me there was no church at Troas in the first century, and consequently all these theories are utterly groundless.
I can only indicate the conclusions here, and refer the reader to a little volume designed to be the companion of this—”Intercommunion, Unscriptural and Inconsistent,” etc. for the scriptural and historical facts.
1. Paul did not even preach in Troas, at his first visit, when all say this church was planted, for the Holy Ghost strictly forbade him to do so in any part of Asia Minor at this visit (See Acts 16:6,7).
2. No door was opened at that time to preach in Troas or Asia, but a door was opened for Paul to preach in Greece, and he immediately entered the door. (See how opened, v. 9.)
It is not supposable that the Holy Spirit forbade him to preach in Asia, and yet opened a door in Troas for him to disobey, and then blessed his disobedience! Or, that when the door was opened, Paul refused to enter, but went to Asia, where no door was opened!
3. There is not the slightest evidence that there was a church at Troas at Paul’s last visit, according to Luke’s record; but contrariwise, for none is mentioned—no meeting, no address to it, and no parting, as at Ephesus (17th verse to the end)—and no allusion to it in the New Testament.
4. There is no intimation that any were assembled on Sunday evening to „break bread” save Paul, Luke and the seven brethren mentioned.
5. There is no evidence that the Lord’s Supper was celebrated by Paul and his company, but contrariwise. In the original, whenever the Lord’s Supper is indicated, the expression is „to break the loaf”—the definite article is before artos—never „to break bread.”
6. The company assembled to partake of the evening meal together, when Paul commenced reasoning with these brethren, instructing them out of the Scriptures, which he had there with him, and left there (2 Tim. 4:13). The verb translated preach here, is nowhere else so translated, but „to discourse,” „to reason with,” „to dispute.”
7. The meal (v. 11) was either the delayed supper or a special repast prepared for Paul after discoursing to them over six hours, and the restoration of the young man; since he was going to leave at daybreak, he continued on „talking” (See Alford and Barnes, in loco.).
8. John was banished to Patmos A.D. 64-68, ten years after this, and his address to „the seven churches of Asia,” and not to seven of the churches of Asia, implies there were only these seven in existence when John wrote.
9. History corroborates the position that there was no church at Troas in the first century, and that there were seven, and only the seven mentioned by John, A.D. 68.
10. If brethren, to sustain an unscriptural practice, will dogmatically infer that the Lord’s Supper was observed at Troas by Paul and these eight brethren with a church, they must maintain that it was in direct contravention of Paul’s own instructions given to the church at Corinth. (Chap. 11.)
If they will hold and affirm that the Supper was observed without a church, then, to be consistent, they should maintain that it is a social and not a church ordinance. Which horn will they take?
Direct Scriptural Proof Against Inter-Church Communion.
There were certain teachers that belonged to the church at Jerusalem who had a great zeal for the law, and they seemed to have made it a point to visit all the churches planted by Paul, to antagonize the doctrine he taught, and these, everywhere they went, introduced confusion into the churches, and bewitched the brethren with their Judaistic teachings. The elders and brethren at Jerusalem admitted this fact:
„Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your soul, etc.” (Acts 15:24).
How did Paul regard these brethren?
„I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into another gospel, which is not another: but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
„Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing. . . Christ is become of none effect unto you . . . A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
The false doctrine taught by those teachers Paul called „leaven.”
In warning the church at Corinth of these, and such like, he says:
„For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end,” etc. (2 Cor. 11:13-16).
Again he says: „For many walk, of whom I have told you before, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction” (Phil. 3:18).
How did Paul instruct the churches to treat these brethren? Associate and „commune” with them, or to avoid and withdraw, and purge them as leaven, away from their tables? Hear him: „Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” „I would they were cut off who trouble you.”—”Turn away from them.” „Withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly.” —”Note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” How about communing with such? „Purge out the old leaven”—i.e., all these false teachers and those who hold with them.
This to my mind settles this question of intercommunion in Paul’s day. The church at Corinth could not invite all the members of the church at Jerusalem to partake of the supper, without violating the positive instructions of Paul; for there were thousands of members, if not the majority of that church, who held with these false teachers, and supported them. (See Acts 21:22.) But not a few of such like brethren had crept into all the churches Paul had planted among the Gentiles, into the churches of Galatia; and if the church at Corinth did as our churches are wont to do, invite all members in good standing in sister churches; then all the Judaized brethren at Jerusalem, and all the false apostles—impostors—all the false and corrupt teachers, and false brethren of all Asia, might have come and sat down with their loads of leaven!
No thinking man can believe, with Paul’s instructions before his eyes, that the church at Corinth did practice intercommunion with the church at Jerusalem or the churches of Galatia, and very many of the other churches of Asia. The reader will see this more fully presented in Chapter XIII.
As late as the thirteenth century the practice of each church limiting its supper to its own membership seems to be established. This was called the aphorism of Ignatius—one altar and one bishop in each church. But not into the histories of the apostate churches, which, unfortunately, most of our histories are, may we look for primitive purity; and little do we know of those that kept the faith, save through their enemies, who generally misrepresented them. The instructions given to the New Testament churches must be our „Landmarks.”
1. Intercommunion between opposing denominations holding diverse faiths, is a profanation of the Lord’s Supper.
2. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of each local church, to be observed by its own members qualified to receive it and by none else. Therefore,
3. Intercommunion between Baptist churches is unscriptural.
The Inconsistencies and Evils of Intercommunion among Baptists.
„Truth is never contradictory nor inconsistent with itself.”—Tombes.
Baptist churches, with all their rights, have no right to be inconsistent, nor to favor a practice unwarranted by the Word of God, and productive of evils. Under the inflexible law of „usage,” which compels the pastor to invite „all members of sister churches present” to the Lord’s Supper, the following inconsistencies and evils, exceedingly prejudicial to our denominational influence and growth, are practiced and fostered.
1. Baptist Churches that practice intercommunion have practically no communion of their own. They have church members, church conferences, church discipline, but no church communion; and, therefore, no scripturally observed Lord’s Supper, and, therefore, none at all, as I have shown in Chapter VII. The communion of such churches is denominational, and not church communion.
2. Baptist Churches that practice intercommunion have no guardianship over the Lords Supper, which is divinely enjoined upon them to exercise. They have control of their own members to exclude them from the table if unworthy, but none whatever of others more unworthy who may come. Such churches can exclude heretics, drunkards, revelers, and „every one that walketh disorderly” from their membership, that they may not defile the feast; but they cannot protect the table from such so long as they do not limit it to their membership.
3. There are Baptist Churches that exclude from their own membership all drunkards, theater-goers, dancers, horse-racers, and visitors of the race-course, because they cannot fellowship such practices as Godly walking or becoming a Christian, and therefore believe that they are commanded to purge the feast of all such characters as leaven, and, yet, by the invitation to the members of all other Baptist Churches, they receive the very same characters to their table every time they spread it.
ILLUSTRATION 1.—The church at C——excluded a member for „general hard drinking and occasional drunkenness,” because she could not eat with such. He united with the church at W——the next month, for he was wealthy and family influential; and on the next communion at C——he accepted the urgent invitation of courtesy, and sat down by the side of the brother who preferred the charge of drunkenness against him.
ILLUSTRATION 2.—The church at M——excluded two members on the charge of adultery, for marrying contrary to the law of Christ; the one having a living wife, and the other a living husband; they had both been legally divorced, not for the one cause specified, but it was generally believed that they deserted their respective companions that they might obtain an excuse for marrying. Three months after they both united with a church ten miles distant, and now never fail to accept the affectionate invitations of the former church to commune with it.
4. There are multitudes—I rejoice to say nearly all our Southern churches outside the cities—who will not receive persons immersed by Catholics or Campbellites, Protestants or Mormons, because they do not regard them as baptized at all; yet by their open denominational invitations they receive all such—and there are many of them in the churches—to their table, as duly qualified.
ILLUSTRATION 1.—The church at S——refused to receive two Campbellites on their baptism. They offered themselves to the Sixth Street church, which received alien immersions, and whose pastor was an immersed Campbellite; were received, and they made it a point to accept the very pressing invitation of the church at L——to commune with it.
ILLUSTRATION 2. —The church at H——has several members received on their Mormon immersions. Her sister church at P——repudiates such immersions as null and void, yet these very members never fail to accept her liberal denominational invitations. From principal and solemn duty she forbids all such as her members, but from courtesy invites all such, as foreigners, to commune with her.
CONSISTENCY.—If each Baptist Church had its own communion, with its own members, independent of all others, then each church could receive into membership, or exclude from membership, whoever it pleased, and no other church or communion be injured by it. On the one hand, the church excluding a person would have no power to prevent his uniting with another church made up of members no better than himself; and, on the other hand, the church receiving the excluded person would not, in so doing, restore him to the communion from which he had been cast out.
The evils of denominational communion
1. It opens the door to the table to all the ministerial impostors that pervade the land. They have repeatedly started from Maine or Canada, and „gone through” all our churches to the Southern Gulf and the Pacific Coast, and they can usually be traced back to the place whence they came by a grass-widow left in „perplexity” every one hundred fifty, or two hundred miles on the „back tract.” These impostors hold „revival meetings” until all their borrowed sermons are exhausted, and make it a point to do all the baptizing, and have the weakness of some other ministers to keep a record of the number of their baptisms. It is needless to say that the church is often divided by their influence, and left in confusion and disgrace when they are exposed. California can witness to the evils resulting from these characters.
The remedy is, let no strange traveling preacher be admitted to the table as a participant, nor into our pulpits, until the church has written back and learned that he is in all respects worthy.
2. Denominational communion never has been sustained, and never can be, but at the expense of peace. It has always been the occasion of discord among brethren. It has alienated churches one from the other. It has distracted and divided associations, and all for the very good reason that it is departure from the simplicity that is in Christ.
3. It has encouraged tens of thousands of Baptists, on moving away from the churches to which they belong, to go without transferring their membership to a church where they are going, as they could have the church privileges—preaching and COMMUNION—without uniting with, and bearing the churches burdens. Nor has it stopped here. It has done more in this way to multiply backsliders and apostates all over the country than any other one thing that can be named. If Baptists could have no such privileges without membership, they would keep their membership with them and enjoy it.
4. To this evil may be traced four out of five, if not nine out of ten, of all the councils called to settle difficulties between churches during the last twenty-five years. The difficulties have in one form or another, grown out of this practice, and would not have been, had our churches observed only church communion.
5. All the scandal heaped upon us as „close communion Baptists” with much of the prejudice produced in the public mind and fostered against us, has come from our denominational communion. Had our churches severely limited their communion as they have their discipline, to their own members, we should no more have heard of „close communion Baptists” then we now do of „close-membership Baptists,” or „close-discipline Baptists.”
6. We annually lose thousands and tens of thousands of worthy persons who would have united with us, but for what they understand as our unwarranted close-communion. Our practice can never be satisfactorily explained to them as consistent, so long as we practice a partial, and not a general, open communion. Our denominational growth is very materially retarded by our present inconsistent practice of intercommunion. If we practiced strict church communion, these, and all Christians, could understand the matter at once; and no one would presume to blame us for not inviting members of other denominations to our table, when we refuse, from principal, to invite members of other Baptist churches—our own brethren.
7. It is freely admitted by reliable brethren who enjoy the widest outlook over the denomination in America, that for the last few decades of years the general drift has been, and now is, setting towards „open communion”—it is boasted of as a „broadening liberalism.” There are numbers in all our churches—and the number is increasing, especially in our fashionable city and wealthy town churches—who are impatient of the present restrictions imposed upon the table; because, not being able to divide a principle, they are not able to see the consistency of inviting members of sister churches, and rejecting those whom we admit to be evangelical churches, as though all evangelical churches are not sister; nor can they divine why Pedobaptists ministers are authorized to preach the gospel and to immerse; are invited to occupy our pulpits, and even to serve our churches as supply pastors for a season—all their ministrations recognized as valid, and yet there are debarred from our table. They work for us, and we refuse to allow them to eat. The only ground upon which we can successfully meet and counteract the liberalizing influences, which are gently bearing the Baptists of America into the slough of open communion, is strict local church communion, and the firm and energetic setting forth of the „Old Baptist Landmarks” advocated in this little book.
We have had assurances of the correctness of the statement from many of the standard men in our denomination.
In the last conversation had with the late Brother Poindexter, of Virginia, he freely expressed himself in substantially these words:
„You are aware that I have not fully endorsed all your positions known as Old Landmarkism, but I wish you to know my present convictions for your encouragement. I have carefully examined all the arguments, pro and con, and watched the tendency of things the last 20 years, and I am prepared to say that I am convinced that what you call „Old Landmarkism” constitutes the only bulwark to break the increasing tide of modern „liberalism,”—which is nothing but open communion—that threatens to obliterate every vestige of Bible ecclesiasticism from the earth. Though my sympathies, and feelings, and practice, often, have been upon the liberal side, yet I am convinced that Baptists, if they long maintain their denominational existence, must stand squarely with you upon these principles.”
Brother J. P. Boyce, the distinguished president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY., publicly declared on the floor of the Mississippi Baptist state convention, at Jackson, Miss., 1876, what he had before stated to us privately—that he was a Landmark Baptist.
He has openly proclaimed to the world his repudiation of „alien immersions” by immersing, in 1879, Brother Weaver, pastor of a Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. Brother Weaver, twenty years before, had been received into a Baptist Church on the Methodist immersion.
The Continuity of the Kingdom of Christ.
For the maintenance of the inspiration of the prophets, as well as the divinity of Christ, the Kingdom He set up must never be „broken to pieces,” and the church He built must have never been prevailed against by violence or corruption—The true statement of what „Landmarkers” mean by church succession, not „apostolic succession,” nor the succession of any particular church or churches, etc.
„In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed; neither shall it be given to another people; . . . it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).
„On this Rock will I establish (Gr.) my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
„We, therefore, receiving a kingdom that can not be moved,” etc. (Heb. 12:28).
„The fall of a kingdom is the disgrace of its founder.”
Landmark Baptists very generally believe that for the Word of the Living God to stand, and for the veracity of Jesus Christ to vindicate itself, the kingdom which He set up „in the days of John the Baptist,” has had an unbroken continuity until now. I say kingdom, instead of succession of churches, for the sake of perspicacity. Those who oppose „church succession confuse the unthinking, by representing our position to be, that the identical organization which Christ established—the First Church of Judea—has had a continued existence until today; or, that the identical churches planted by the apostles, or, at least, some one of them, has continued until now, and that Baptist ministers are successors of the apostles; in a word, that our position is the old Romish and Episcopal doctrine of apostolic succession. I have, for full a quarter of a century, by pen and voice, vehemently protested against these misrepresentations, as Baptists have, for twice as many more, against the charge of teaching that no one can be saved without immersion, an d quite as vainly; for those who oppose us seem determined to misrepresent, and will not be corrected. We repudiate the doctrine of apostolic succession; we do not believe they ever had a successor, and, therefore, no one today is preaching under the apostolic commission any more than under that which Christ first gave to John the Baptist. They are our opposers who, in fact, hold to apostolic succession; for the majority do believe that, if ministers, they are p reaching by the authority contained in that commission! So much for this charge.
Nor have I, or any Landmarker known to me, ever advocated the succession of any particular church or churches; but my position is that Christ, in the very ‘days of John the Baptist,” did establish a visible kingdom on earth, and that this kingdom has never yet been „broken in pieces,” nor given to another class of subjects—has never for a day „been moved,” nor ceased from the earth, and never will until Christ returns personally to reign over it; that the organization He first set up, which John called „the Bride,” and which Christ called His church, constituted that visible kingdom, and today all His true churches on earth constitute it; and, therefore, if His kingdom has stood unchanged, and will to the end, He must always have had true and uncorrupted churches, since His kingdom cannot exist without true churches.
The sense in which any existing Baptist Church is the successor of the First Church of Judea—the model and pattern of all—is the same as that existing between any regular organization and the first such organization that was ever instituted. Ten thousand local organizations of like nature may have existed and passed away, but this fact in no wise affects the continuity of the organization. From the day that organization was started, it has stood; and, though it may have decayed in some places, it has flourished in others, and never has had but one beginning. Thus it has been with that institution called the Kingdom of Christ; it has had a continuous existence, or the words of Christ have failed; and, therefore, there has been no need of originating it, de novo, and no unbaptized man ever had any authority to originate baptism, or a church, de novo. Nor can our opposers prove that a Baptist church exists today started in this way. I understand that Christ’s declaration (Matthew 16:18), and Paul’s statement (Heb. 12:28), are emphatic commentaries upon the prophecy of Daniel (2:44).
We do not admit that it devolves upon us more than upon every other lover of Jesus to prove, by uncontestable historical facts, that this kingdom of the Messiah has stood from the day it was set up by Him, unbroken and unmoved; to question it, is to doubt His sure word of promise. To deny it, is to impeach His veracity, and leave the world without a Bible or a Christ. We dare not do this. We believe that His kingdom has stood unchanged as firmly as we believe in the divinity of the Son of God, and, when we are forced to surrender the one faith, we can easily give up the other. If Christ has not kept His promise concerning His church to keep it, how can I trust Him concerning my salvation? If He has not the power to save His church, He certainly has not the power to save me. For Christians to admit that Christ has not preserved His kingdom unbroken, unmoved, unchanged, and uncorrupted, is to surrender the whole ground to infidelity. I deny that a man is a believer in the Bible who denies this.
Nor do we admit the claims of the „Liberals” upon us, to prove the continuous existence of the church, of which we are a member, or which baptized us, in order to prove our doctrine of church succession, and that we have been scripturally baptized or ordained. As well might the Infidel call upon me to prove every link of my descent from Adam, before I am allowed to claim an interest in the redemptive work of Christ, which was confined to the family of Adam! We point to the Word of God, and, until the Infidel can destroy its authenticity, our hope is unshaken. In like manner, we point the „Liberal” Baptist to the words of Christ, and will he say they are not sufficient? When the Infidel can prove, by uncontestable historical facts, that His kingdom has been broken and removed one year, one day, or one hour from the earth, then we surrender our Bible with our position.
The wire of the Atlantic Cable is of peculiar formation, peculiarly insulated, and history informs us that several years ago it was laid down across the entire ocean, from Valentia, Ireland, to Newfoundland. I suppose there are persons who stoutly deny this as quite improbable, if not impossible, and assert that I am foolish to believe it, and even call upon me for proof of its continuity before they will believe. I satisfy them that the wire cable that I trace from Valentia to the ocean, and for a thousand miles along the plateau, where it drops beyond my line, is the same with that which I find upon the plateau, on this side of the deep soundings, and onward to the telegraph station at Newfoundland. In addition, I satisfy them that the cipher of the message started at Valentia is the same with that received at Newfoundland, on this side, and that no other company on earth uses that peculiar cipher. Furthermore, I convince them that the message received at this end of the wire is precisely the same with that started at the other, and that there is no other way conceivable by which the message could be transmitted. Still, those persons refuse to believe unless I will trace the continuity of that wire for the hundreds of miles of those almost soundless depths. What would the candid world say of such a demand?
I can not forbear quoting a paragraph from the reply of Bro. J. W. Smith to Albert Barnes: „Whatever is found in the New Testament is as worthy as if you traced it there. It is only a doubtful practice, whose thread must be traced thus carefully through the labyrinth of history, with painful uncertainty, lest you reach its end, while yet a century or two from Christ. Why, sir, if between us and the apostolic age there yawned a fathomless abyss, into whose silent darkness intervening history had fallen, with a Baptist Church on this side, and a New Testament on the other, we should boldly bridge the gulf, and look for the record of our birth among the hills of Galilee. But our history is not thus lost. That work is in progress, which will link the Baptists of today with the Baptists of Jerusalem” (p. 38).
I have no space to devote to the historical argument to prove the continuity of the kingdom of Christ, but assure the reader that, in our opinion, it is irrefragable. All that any candid man could desire—and it is from Catholic and Protestant sources—frankly admitting that churches, substantially like the Baptists of this age have existed, and suffered the bitterest persecution from the earliest age until now; and, indeed, they have been the only religious organizations that have stood since the days of the apostles, and are older than the Roman Catholic Church itself.
I am aware that such an opinion has come to be scouted by our „Liberal” brethren in these days of growing looseness and love of the praise of men, but I am sustained by standard names among Baptists. J. Newton Brown, editor of Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, a scholar who had given twenty-five years to the study of history, maintained that „the ancient Waldenses, Cathari, Paterines, and Donatists were our historical ancestors, and that a succession of whom continued up to the Reformation.”
Bro. Joseph Beleher says: „It will be seen that the Baptists claim the high antiquity of the commencement of the Christian church. They can trace a succession of those who have believed the same doctrine, and administered the same ordinances, directly up to the apostolic age” (Rel. Den. in Europe and America, p. 53).
Bro. Howell says: „I assert that from the days of the apostles to the present time, the true, legitimate Baptist Church has ever been a missionary body” (Letters to Dr. Watson, p. 3).
Benedict says: „The more I study the subject, the stronger are my convictions that, if all the facts in the case could be disclosed, a very good succession could be made out” (His. Bap., p. 51).
I add to these Bra. W. R. Williams, J. L. Waller, D. B. Ray, and Crump. Orchard has, beyond all question, made out the succession, century by century, in various countries, in his invaluable book, „A Chronological History of Baptist Churches.” „The Seven Churches of Revelation,” in course of preparation by the writer, will do this. Not those who affirm, but those who deny the continuity of the kingdom of Christ, are to be pitied for their ignorance or their prejudice.
I quote, with pleasure, the closing paragraph of that great national work, „The History of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands,” by Bro. J. J. Dermout, chaplain to the King of Holland, and Professor Ypeig, Professor of Theology in the University of Groningen—both distinguished Presbyterians. They certainly could have no object, save fealty to the truth of history, to pen a line favorable to Baptists, and no motive but scholarly honesty, to concede to Baptists a church existence far anterior to their own, and that of the Catholic. They say:
„We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and, in later times, Mennonites, were the original Waldenses and who, even from the most ancient times, have received such well deserved homage. On this account, the Baptists may be considered as of old—the only religious community which has continued from the times of the apostles—as a Christian society which has kept pure, through all ages, the evangelical doctrines of religion. The uncorrupted inward and outward condition of the Baptist community affords proof of the truth, contested by the Romish church, of the great necessity of a reformation of religion, such as that which took place in the sixteenth century, and also, a refutation of the erroneous notion of the Roman Catholics, that their denomination is the most ancient” (Trans. by Prof. Tobey in South. B. Review, vol. v, p. 20).
Monastic,; in his „History of the Voudois Church,” i.e., those who were the ancient Waldenses, says: „The Voudois church is a link that unites them to the primitive church. By means of it they establish the anterior existence of their constitution, doctrine, and worship to that of the papistical idolatries and errors” (Bap. Suc., p. 547).
Theodore Beza, the successor of Calvin, Presbyterian, says: „As for the Waldenses, I may be permitted to call them the very seed of the primitive and purer Christian church, since they are those that have been upheld, as is abundantly manifested, by the wonderful providence of God; so that neither those endless storms and tem pests, by which the whole Christian world has been shaken for so many succeeding ages, and the western parts, at length so miserably oppressed by the bishops of Rome, falsely so called, nor those horrible persecutions, which have been expressly raised against them, were ever able so far to prevail as to make them bend or yield a voluntary subjection to the roman tyranny and idolatry” (Jones’ Church History, p. 353).
Whatever the enemies of Christ may say —and they are His real enemies, who disbelieve His plain statements—His kingdom has stood unshaken, and will stand as a monument to His faithfulness, His power, and His veracity until He comes again.
„Oh, where are kings and empires now,
Of old, that went and came?
But, Lord, thy church is praying yet,
A thousand years the same.
„For, not like kingdoms of this world,
Thy holy church, O God!
Though earthquake shocks are threat’ning her,
And tempests are abroad,
„Unshaken as eternal hills
Immovable she stands;
A mountain that shall fill the earth,—
A house not made with hands.”
What it is not, and what is, to be an old Landmark Baptist—The true mission of old Landmark Baptist.
„Now I entreat you, brethren, to watch those who are making factions and laying snares, contrary to the teachings which you have learned; and turn away from them. For such like ones as they, are not in subjection to our anointed Lord, but their own appetites; and by a kind and complementary words the decedent hearts of the unsuspecting.”(Rom.16:17,18.)
„Be not a partaker and other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Tim 5:22).
„If anyone comes to you, and brings not this doctrine, do not receive him into your handles, nor wish him success; for he who wishes him success partakes in his evil works” (2 John 10:11). (Translation of Emphatic Diaglott)
„Can two walk together; except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
Landmark Baptist are continually charged by all who oppose their characteristic principles and policy—Baptists who know better, not excepted—with many and grievous offenses, in order to make us obnoxious to our own brethren and, and detested by all others. It seems proper, therefore, at this point, to refute all these, by stating, first, what Old Landmarkism is not, before making a summary of what it is.
1. Old Landmarkism is not the denial of spiritual regeneration to those with whom we decline to associate ministerially or ecclesiastically.
Still we by no means feel warranted in saying that we believe that the members of those societies, which hold and teach that baptism is a sacrament or seal of salvation, or essential to the remission of sins—as all Pedobaptists and Campbellite societies do hold and teach—are Christians, or even presumptively regenerate, since they do not require a credible evidence of regeneration as a condition of membership. They may believe that baptism, „duly administered,” confers the grace of regeneration upon adults and infants as well, but Baptist do not, and, therefore we cannot believe that because they are members, it is therefore probable that they are regenerate, as we are justified in believing with respect to Baptist Churches that require a credible profession of regeneration in every instance. It must be true that the vast mass of Pedobaptists, and the overwhelming mass of the membership of Campbellite societies are unregenerate, and we are not justified in applying to them the title of brethren in Christ; for we will thereby mis-teach them, and brethren, ecclesiastically, we know they are not.
But Landmarkism does not pretend to sit in judgment upon the state of any man’s heart, but upon his ecclesiastical relations only. Refusing to affiliate with them, ministerially and ecclesiastically, is not declaring by our act that we believe their ministers and members are unregenerate, but that they are not members of scriptural Churches. Refusing to invite their ministers to preach for our churches, and to accept their immersions, is no more denying their Christian character than refusing to invite them to our communion table—Baptist know this, and all Pedobaptists ought to know it. We mean by our refusal, to emphasize our protest against their organizations as scriptural churches, and consequently against their ministers as authorized to preach and to administer the church ordinance’s. We do not recognized unbaptized and unordained men, who are Baptists in sentiment, as scriptural ministers, and qualified to administer Church ordinances; and why should we be expected to recognize those we regard as disqualified, and who violently oppose our faith and practice? It is manifestly inconsistent in Baptists to do so, and Pedobaptists know and freely admit it. In all mere Christian duties, as private Christians, we are at liberty to participate, but never ministerially or ecclesiastically. By no act that can possibly be so construed, must we recognize other societies as Christian churches, or other ministers as Scriptural ministers.
2. Landmarkism is not the denial of the honesty and conscientiousness of Pedobaptists and Campbellites.
We concede to all the honesty of purpose we claim for ourselves, and we accord to them equal conscientiousness; but we, nevertheless, belief them honestly deceived, and conscientious in the belief of unscriptural and pernicious errors; and that it is our bounden duty to undeceive them by all possible scriptural means; but by no word or deed of ours to confirm them in their error. It is the highest proof of love to endeavor, even at the hazard of losing their friendship, to correct the mistakes and errors of our friends; while to leave them unwarned of a danger of which we are aware, is the part of an enemy.
3. Landmarkism is not a proof of our uncharitableness.
We are charged with manifesting a spirit uncharitable and un-Christlike. This charge is without foundation. Christ called Himself the „truth;” He hated and opposed all error; he failed not upon all occasions to rebuke and denounced it; He recognized only those as His friends who were like Him in this respect.
Charity not only rejoices in the truth, but is opposed to that which is not truth, and „hateth every false way.” Christ, nor charity, then, requires of us to surrender Christian principle, and to be unfaithful to the teachings and requirements of duty. We cannot hope to please Christ, by recognizing the institutions and traditions of men, as equal to His own churches and Commandments. That is not Christian charity, but a false liberality and treason to Christ, to surrender or compromise that which He has committed to us to firmly hold and faithfully teach.
Landmarkism, then, is not opposed to the spirit of true Christian charity, but to an unscriptural and pernicious „liberalism” which is being palmed off upon the world for Christian charity—a spirit which is truly opposed to Christ, and is the „bane and the curse of a pure Christianity,” and daily demonstrates itself as the very spirit of persecution itself.
4. Landmarkism is not the denial to others the civil right, or the most perfect liberty to exist as professed churches, or to their ministers to preach their views, as it is falsely asserted.
We accord to all denominations and to all „religions,” Jews and Gentiles, Mohammedan and Pagan, the same right to exist; and to their priests and teachers the same civil right to teach and propagate their doctrines, as we claim for ourselves. It is one of the peculiar characteristics of Baptists, which they have maintained in every age; and viz., the absolute liberty of conscience and belief, and the freest expression of them. We would fight as soon to vindicate religious liberty in this country, to an idolatrous Chinese or a Jew, as to a Baptist. We would not, had we the absolute power to do so, forbid Pedobaptists, or Campbellites, or Mormons from preaching, and the fullest enjoyment of their religious rights; but do most positively deny that they have any scriptural right to exist as churches of Christ: we do deny their claims to be called or treated as churches of Christ; we do deny the scripturalness of either their doctrines, or other ordinances, and their authority to ordain ministers of the gospel, precisely as we would the right of the lodge, or Young Men’s Christian Associations, should they assume to do so. We do deny that their ministers have any more authority to preach the gospel and administer church ordinances, than the officers of lodges have, by virtue of their office; but, in saying this, we make no allusion to their personal Christian characters whatever. All the members and officers of a lodge might be true Christians, but that would not constitute the lodge a Christian church, or is officers Christian ministers. The only force we would bring to bear against Pedobaptists, and Campbellites, and Mormons, to put an end to their existence as churches, or to their ministers to arrest their preaching, is the sword of truth, wielded in the dauntless spirit of Paul and the love of Christ. We would convert them from the error of their ways, and bring them all, by the force of moral suasion, into sweet subjection to the Law of Christ. We would exterminate the isms by converting the ists.
We may as well notice here Mark 9:28, which our would-be undenominational brethren constantly quote as proof positive, that we should not oppose in anyway, but rather encourage all religious teachers, of even manifest errors, to propagate their false doctrine so long as they claim to be religious teachers and the friends and followers of Christ. The Apostles forbade a person to cast out devils in the name of Christ, because he did not follow them! The Protestant commentators have generally made all possible use of this passage to support their cause as against the pretensions of the Romish church, and Baptists have been influenced to use it against the advocates of apostolic succession, who claim that no one is authorized to preach unless ordained in the succession; and now „liberal Baptists,” who would recognize all sects as equally „Christian churches,” and all the ministers of those sects as „evangelical ministers,” and bid them God-speed—quote it against Landmarkers. But the passage yields them no encouragement to disrespect and violate the order which Christ established, and the positive injunctions of Paul. This man, whom John and his fellow apostles saw casting out devils, in the name of Christ, was certainly not an enemy of Christ, and could not have been doing anything contrary to His will or authority, or he could not have cast out devils. He was undoubtedly either one of John’s disciples, or one of the seventy who had been authorized by Christ Himself to do this very miracle when He sent them forth; and this man may have continued to proclaim the mission of Jesus, and to cast out devils. He was, most unquestionably, a disciple of Christ, though not one of the apostles, and therefore, had been baptized. The only irregularity complained of by John was, that he followed not Christ continually, as the apostles were required to do, to qualify them for their work after the ascension of Christ; but it was not required of him, nor of any other disciple of Christ, save the twelve, to follow Christ constantly. That this man was a friend and disciple of Christ, is established by the great faith he had in Him as Messiah or the Son of God—greater than the Apostles themselves were at times able to exercise. (See Matt 17:16-22). Will a Baptist, therefore, in the exercise of impartial candor, claim that this passage warrants him in maintaining that anyone, irrespective of baptism or church relations, or faith in the doctrine of Christ, is authorized to go forth and preach his erroneous views in the name of Christ, and to administer church ordinances, and that we must bid him God-speed, and thus endorse his doctrinal errors which are subversive of true Christianity, and his irregularities totally subversive of the church and kingdom of Christ. Let all who desire to believe this know of a certainty that Christ never set up a kingdom and divided it against itself, nor can it be that „the house of God, which is the church of the living God” is divided against itself.
The following are indisputable facts:
1. That without scriptural baptism there can be no Christian church, and consequently no scriptural ministers, and no scriptural ordinances.
2. That sprinkling and pouring of water upon persons, adults, and infants, as a sacrament of salvation, is not scriptural baptism, but as gross a perversion of it, as it is to administer it in order to procure the remission of sins.
It is a stern and solemn fact—
3. That we, as Baptists, can not by our words or acts declare that Pedobaptists or Campbellites societies are scriptural churches, or their teachers scriptural ministers, or their ordinances scriptural, without testifying to that we know to be untrue, and without lending all our influence to support and bid „God-speed” to their false and pernicious teachings, and thus becoming partakers of their wrongdoing—as guilty in the sight of God as they themselves are. (See 2 John 10: 11).
What is the mission of Landmark Baptist?
1. As Baptists, we are to stand for the supreme authority of the New Testament as our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. The New Testament, and that alone, as opposed to all human tradition in matters, both of faith and practice, we must claim as containing the distinguishing doctrine of our denomination—a doctrine for which we are called earnestly to contend.
2. As Baptists, we are to stand for the ordinances of Christ as He enjoined them upon His followers, the same in number, and mode, and order, and in symbolic meaning, unchanged and unchangeable till He come.
3. As Baptists, we are to stand for a spiritual and regenerated church, and that none shall be received into Christ’s church, or be welcomed to its ordinances, without confessing a personal faith in Christ, and giving credible evidence of piety.
The motto on our banner is:
Christ Before the Church, Blood Before Water.
4. To protest, and to use all our influence against the recognition, on the part of Baptists, of human societies as scriptural churches, by affiliation, ministerial or ecclesiastical, or any alliance or co-operation that is susceptible of being apparently or logically construed by our members, or theirs, or the world, into a recognition of their ecclesiastical or ministerial equality with Baptist churches.
5. To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of the divine origin and sanctity of the churches of Christ, and the unbroken continuity of Christ’s kingdom, „from the days of John the Baptist until now,” according to the express words of Christ.
6. To preserve and perpetuate the divine, inalienable, and sole prerogatives of a Christian church – 1, To preach the gospel of the son of God; 2, To select and ordain her own officers; 3, To control absolutely her own ordinances.
7. To preserve and perpetuate the scriptural design of baptism, and its validity and recognition only when scripturally administered by a gospel church.
8. To preserve and perpetuate the true design and symbolism of the Lord’s Supper, as a local church ordinance, and for but one purpose—the commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ—and not as a denominational ordinance, or as an act expressive of our Christian or personal fellowship, and much less of courtesy towards others.
9. To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of a divinely called and scripturally qualified and ordained ministry, to proclaim the gospel, and to administer the ordinances, not upon their own responsibility, but for, and under the direction of, local churches alone.
10. To preserve and perpetuate that primitive fealty and faithfulness to the truth, that shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, and to teach man to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded to be believed and obeyed.
Not the belief and advocacy of one or two of these principles as the marks of the divinely patterned church, but the cordial reception and advocacy of all of them, constitute a full „Old Landmark Baptist.”
The current pleas of liberal „Baptists” considered: 1. That preaching is not an official duty. 2. That we do not recognize those societies as churches by accepting their ordinances. 3. That we do not recognize those ministers as scriptural ministers, by accepting their official acts. 4. That we do not indorse their erroneous doctrines and practices by affiliating with them.
„Then said Pilate to the chief priests, and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
„And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between themselves” (Luke 23:4-5, 12).
It argues a degenerate state of affairs when Baptists have to defend themselves against the attacks of their own brethren, for consistently maintaining the time-honored principles of their own denomination. When professed Baptists make friends with a common enemy, they even show a more „fierce,” and bitter, and persecuting spirit, than those who once put our fathers to death for holding the self-same sentiments that Landmark Baptists hold today. But this is the case, while the impartial and candid world renders the verdict: „We find no fault in these men,”—conceding that our course is strictly consistent with Baptist principles, while that of our opposers is not. Affiliationists deny—
1. That preaching of the gospel is official or strictly ministerial work but equally the duty of all.
We oppose to this, 1. The plain teachings of the Scripture. Jesus specially called and ordained—i.e., commissioned those who preached during His public ministry—John the Baptist, the seventy, and the apostles. The very term he selected to designate their work, Kerusso, is used in the Greek to indicate the special official duty of proclaiming as a herald. 2. „Paul distinctly declares that he was specially called, ordained, and put into the ministry” (1 Tim. 1:11, 12 and 2:7). He reminds both Timothy and Archippus that they were specially designated for this office (1 Tim. 4:14; Col. 4:17). He also declares that evangelists, pastors, and teachers are special gifts to the churches. He commanded Titus to ordain elders in every city, and left Timothy in Crete for this purpose. Why ordain men to do a specific work—as preaching and administering the ordinances—if all Christians are equally obligated to do it? 3. We oppose to their position the almost united voice and practice of all denominations of Christendom, in all ages, and the unbroken practice of Baptists founded upon the Word of God. 4. The unvarying practice of these very brethren themselves. They invariably require a Baptist to be baptized and ordained, by the authority of some church, before they deem him qualified to preach and administer the ordinances. Not one of them, if a member of a Presbytery, would lay his hands upon a brother who should confess he was not convinced that he had any special call to preach, or any impression of duty in that direction that members in common have not; nor would he presume to lay his hands upon him if he knew he was unbaptized. If „it is as much the duty of one Christian as another to preach the gospel,” then the doctrine of a special call and the duty of ordination should both be repudiated, and all men, women, and children, if only church members, should proceed to preach and baptize when, where, and whomsoever they please! The preaching of the gospel, and administering the ordinances, belong strictly to a specific officer of a local church—can only be done by its authority and under its guardianship. The minister is then a church officer, and his work is official work. Should not Baptists promptly reject a theory that would so completely anarchize the whole polity of the church? Let all decide who are revolutionists and distractionists—those who plead for the „Old Landmarks” or modern „liberalists”—who are laboring to undenominationalize our people, and lead the denomination into open communion! Despite all their sophistries, it is as certain as the teachings of the Scriptures are true, that the preaching of the gospel and administering its ordinances, is official work; and that no one may take this office or work unto himself but „he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4).
2. It is in the next place denied that we do recognize and indorse the ministers of other denominations, as scriptural ministers, and as upon a perfect equality as ministers with ourselves, when we invite them to preach and pray in our pulpits, and do work which we strictly limit to our own ministers.
Such a denial should fill the brethren who make it with „shame and confusion of face.” It is an accepted axiom, by all nations and in all ages, that „actions speak louder than words.” No man of truth can, or will, deny that the act does seem to teach this. But says Bro. Jeter, the recognized leader of ecclesiastical looseness in the South: „We do not understand ourselves to indorse them as scriptural ministers, nor do we intend so to indorse them, and we do not believe they so regard our ministerial associations with them.
We can not regard this as an ingenuous declaration, but the specious plea of an advocate, since reason, common sense, and the united and outspoken voice of Pedobaptist ministers, as well as the world at large, affirm that they and their churches do understand us to publicly recognize them as scriptural ministers of scriptural churches, and in all respects equal to our own ministers, when we invite them to perform ministerial functions for us.
When the civil courts call upon a man to perform a certain act, which the law authorizes only a certain qualified officer to do, is it not understood by all men that the courts recognize that man as a legally qualified officer? When they act upon the cases prepared for them by a professed magistrate, do they not recognize the man filling that office as a legal magistrate? It is not the part of common honesty to deny it. But some have admitted, that did they believe that Pedobaptist and Campbellite ministers understood their exchange of pulpits, and general ministerial affiliation with them, as indorsing them as scriptural ministers, they would refuse to invite them to do so, and we believe that Bro. Jeter has so admitted.
Let us settle this question here, and forever, with all candid men. It is a well-known fact to all, that they do so regard our association with them. Any Baptist can satisfy himself by asking any Pedobaptist, or addressing a courteous letter to one of their representative men, and they will tell him frankly that they would regard an invitation to fill a Baptist pulpit, with the distinct understanding that they did so as unbaptized and unordained men, as a personal insult. Elder J. W. Jarrell, of Illinois, addressed letters of inquiry to ten or twelve prominent Pedobaptist ministers, and their replies should satisfy every one.
It must be presumed that the answers of Bro. Stuart Robinson (O.S.P.), Louisville, Ky., and Bro. Charles Hodge, Princeton, N. J., forever determine this matter. Says Bro. Robinson: „The idea of inviting one to preach in the character of a layman seems to me a paradox.”
Bro. Hodge says: „When one minister asks another to exchange pulpits with him, such invitation is in fact, and is universally regarded as an acknowledgment of the scriptural ordination of the man receiving the invitation.
„No man who believes himself to be a minister can rightfully, expressly, or by implication, deny the validity of his ordination; and, therefore, if invited to lecture or speak in the character of a layman, he must decline.”
I have said it is a fact well known to Bro. Jeter and all our opposers—for they are all intelligent men—that our affiliating acts are regarded as endorsements of their ministerial character by Pedobaptist ministers.
In a discussion of this very question with Bro. Jeter, Bro. J. B. Link, of the Texas Baptist Herald, put in this strong language: „Pedobaptists hold the pulpit to be sacred to the ministry, and understand them to be indorsed whenever invited into it. When a Baptist who does not so hold, invites them to the pulpit, not intending such endorsement, as many pretend they do not, he practices duplicity knowingly or ignorantly.”
To justify this putting of the case, he appealed to the Texas Christian Advocate: „Will the Texas Christian Advocate please tell us how he regards the invitation of one of its ministers into a Baptist pulpit, which invitation regards him only in the light of an unbaptized religious teacher, without church membership or ecclesiastical authority of any sort? What would you say to that?”
This is that editor’s reply, well-known to Bro. Jeter and all editors: „When one gentleman invites another to his house, receives him into his parlor, and seats him at his table, he recognizes him on terms of perfect social equality. So when one Christian minister invites another to occupy his pulpit, all who witness the courtesy thus extended, regard it as a proclamation of perfect ministerial equality. Only Christian ministers are invited to the pulpit. If, however, the one who gives the invitation is a Jesuit and a hypocrite, who wishes to make a show of liberality he does not feel, and believes the brother he thus pretends to honor as a minister is only ‘an unbaptized religious teacher, without church membership or ecclesiastical authority of any sort,’ he should be treated as all hypocrites and pretenders deserve to be treated.”
This is rather hard upon Bro. Jeter and all our pulpit affiliationists, but it is true. (See App. B).
The Texas Presbyterian, in its next issue, emphatically indorsed the sentiment of the Texas Christian Advocate, and Bro. Hill, late editor of Presbyterian organ at Louisville, asserted the same.
This fact, then, that we do recognize them, and that they so understand it, is established by the highest possible proof and testimony. We agree with other Pedobaptists, in declaring that it is a personal insult for a Baptist or church to invite a Pedobaptist minister to preach or perform any ministerial office, with the understanding that he does so as an unordained and unbaptized religious teacher, and he would prove that he was himself as unworthy the office, as the inviting minister, should he consent to disclaim by his act that he was a minister or even a church member.
3. It is strangely denied by our „liberal” brethren that we do impliedly recognize the societies as scriptural churches, whose ordinances we receive as valid, and the offices of whose ministers we accept.
In the judgment of charity we will say, that those who can conscientiously make this denial are shame fully ignorant of the simplest principles, not of church organization only, but of any organization.
I pause not to reason, with those ministers who can make this declaration, but with those brethren whom they endeavor to deceive and mislead by such a statement.
To use a carnal, worldly illustration, but not approving of the same, we will grant that there is only one body on earth that can celebrate a Masonic rite, admit a member into a Masonic Lodge, or confer the Master Mason’s Degree. That body is a Masonic Lodge. An Odd-Fellows’ Lodge, or a Grange Lodge can not do it. Now, when the Masonic Lodges of this city recognize these acts, and such an officer, when performed and made by another body professing to be a Masonic Lodge, do they not thereby give the highest endorsement possible of the true Masonic character of that Lodge? If a body can masonically perform Masonic rites, and confer Masonic Degrees, that body is a Masonic Lodge. The body that can make Masonic officers, whose acts are legal in the order, is most certainly, „to all intents and purposes, a Masonic Lodge. A wayfaring man, though a fool, can understand this. Now apply this common sense to churches. There is but one organization on this earth that can authorize a man to preach the gospel—i.e., confer scriptural ordination—and that body is a scriptural church. There is but one organization on earth that is authorized to administer Christian baptism or the Lord’s Supper, and that is a scriptural church. There is but one body on earth that possesses Christian, or Evangelical, or gospel ministers, and that body is a scriptural church. Now when we recognize the preachers of Pedobaptist societies as ministers of the gospel, by inviting them to perform the functions of gospel ministers, do we not thereby recognize the societies which ordained them as churches of Christ? When we receive the immersions of those societies as valid baptisms, do we not thereby proclaim, louder than words can express it, that those societies are scriptural churches, and in all respects equal to our own? Brethren, be not deceived by your teachers. Axioms are not more self-evident than these facts. Those ministers, and their members, and the world, and the masses of our own people so understand these acts, and they have a right — they ought to so understand them, for they are logical and irresistible conclusions from the premises.
That the Methodist Church—i.e., the General Conference (North)—for 1876 regarded „Union Meetings” as an open proclamation, on the part of those denominations that engage in them, that Methodist societies are evangelical churches, may be learned from the following resolution that can be found on page 371 of the Discipline for that year:
„Resolved, That we regard the annual observance of the week of prayer, in concert with the Christian people of other denominations, as highly salutary and an appropriate recognition of the unity of the church,” etc.
That is, they are an acted declaration that all the multi-form and opposing sects together constitute the one church of Christ!
Did you believe it? Can you, then, act it?
4. We do impliedly indorse the doctrines of the societies those ministers represent.
But if they are churches of Christ, then is their infant-membership; then is their sprinkling for baptism; then are their distinguishing doctrines—their sacramentalism, and ritualism, and priestism, their baptism as a „seal and a sacrament,” and their communion as a means of salvation, and their hierarchical and aristocratic church governments—scriptural for no organization on earth—unscriptural in these regards as every sound Baptist believes Campbellite and Pedobaptist societies to be—can be, or should be regarded as a church of Christ. By recognizing their religious teachers, then, as ministers of Christ, we recognize their societies as scriptural churches, and we do thereby indorse the false doctrines and most pestilential errors of those societies as scriptural.
By such unscriptural and inconsistent conduct we destroy the world’s faith in the authenticity, and its regard for the authority of the Bible, by making it teach manifest contradictions; and we teach our children and the world that there is no essential difference between Pedobaptist and Campbellite ministers and our own, and between their societies and the churches of Christ—between the doctrines held and propagated by those societies and our own, and between their ministers and our own; that all—ministers, and churches, and doctrinal teachings—are truly and equally evangelical! Is not the insensible and powerful tendency and influence of all this to fill those societies with our children, our neighbors, and the world, and to effectually obliterate Baptist Churches from the earth, by destroying all denominational distinctions and preparing an easy down-grade into the slough of open communion?
The principles that distinguish us as Baptists are so intimately connected and like a chain inter-linked, that we may as well break or give up every link as any one, and we can not consistently hold to one without holding to all. Dear reader, decide here and now, to give up all or to hold to all, and may God help you; for an inconsistent „half-and-half” Baptist is as offensive to God as to man (Rev. 3:16).
How did Paul regard, and how did he teach the churches he planted, to regard teachers of false doctrine?—How did he instruct the early Christians and churches to treat them? —Associate with, or withdraw from, and avoid them?— Can it be supposed that they invited them into their pulpits, and to the Lord’s Supper, though those teachers belonged to the church at Jerusalem?
„—;but there be some who trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. If we, or an angel from heaven, preach otherwise unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
„I would they were cut off who trouble you. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who walks out of order, and not according to the instructions which you received from us. And if any one obey not our word by this epistle, point him out, and do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.”—Paul.
„It is affirmed that our position as Landmark Baptists, of non-association with the teachers of acknowledged and dangerous heresies ministerially, and the non-recognition of their societies ecclesiastically, is contrary to the teachings of Scripture.”
This charge is most persistently made by those Baptists who advocate and practice affiliations with Pedobaptists and Campbellites, and recognize their ordinations and immersions; and, by such misrepresentations, they prejudice us in the eyes of our own brethren and the world, as bigots and sectaries.
Now, I propose to show the reader that the Scriptures are not more opposed to rantism, or infant baptism, than it is to association with those ministers and teachers who teach things contrary to what the apostles taught, and that no one feature more characterized Baptist Churches, from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries, than their refusal to recognize, in any way, the teachers of acknowledged heresies, and those organizations claiming to be churches, yet, in their estimation, human societies, and apostate from the truth. This charge must be the offspring of the most willing ignorance, or unprincipled opposition to truth and consistency.
1. What are the teachings of the Scriptures?
(a) This much will be admitted by all Baptists, that our churches are scriptural church organizations. If so, they alone constitute the visible kingdom of Christ, which is the antitype of the kingdom of Israel, in the Old Testament.
Paul and Peter distinctly affirm this, (Heb. 12; 1 Pet. 2:9) and the teachings of the type should find a fulfillment in the antitype. What were those teachings? God of all nations selected but one to be unto him „a peculiar treasure above all people, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation,” and he straightway commanded them that they should not affiliate with the nations around them in their religious rites and ceremonies, neither „walk in the manners of the nations;” for, by so doing, they would render themselves idolaters, since the worship of those nations was purely human, and corrupted the religion which he had given them. The churches composing the antitype must, therefore, keep themselves separate and distinct from all human organizations and societies claiming to be churches, and, in no way, affiliate with them or their teachers, or recognize their rites and ceremonies, which are human inventions, and by so doing admit they are divine, and thus make themselves idolaters. This is the teaching of the type, and upon it the apostles base their earnest exhortations to churches: „But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people,” etc. (1 Pet. 2:9).
But teachers of false doctrine abounded in Paul’s day, for the mystery of iniquity had already commenced working in his day; and, let us mark how he taught the churches to regard every one who preached contrary to the doctrine he had taught them. By his teachings, the charge of our opposers must be tested, and our own practice as Baptists determined, whatever may have been the practice of our historical ancestors. It should be borne in mind that these teachers, who subverted the faith of many by their false doctrines, were not heathens, nor infidels, nor heads of alien and formidable organizations, set up in direct opposition to the churches of Christ, as all Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are, but what made it more delicate and difficult to fix relations and determine the character of the intercourse, they were Baptists—influential members of the church at Jerusalem, and of churches which he himself had planted. They did not teach the churches to substitute sprinkling for the act Christ enjoined, nor to baptize infants, nor that baptism is „the law of pardon,” nor „a seal and sacrament essential to salvation;” and thus subvert the gospel of Christ, and make the law of God of none effect by their traditions; but these teachers did it quite as effectually and far more plausibly, and, if charity should be extended to false teachers, it should have been to those whom Paul antagonized. Those teachers, like Pedobaptists, taught that the covenant made with Abraham was binding upon Gentiles, as well as Jews—was the covenant of Grace—and, therefore, unless all were circumcised, and kept the law, as well as the requirements of the gospel, they could not be saved. There were many thousands of these Judaized brethren in the church at Jerusalem, even after that church with the apostles and elders had answered the question sent up by the church at Antioch, that the Gentiles were free from the law of circumcision; for teachers from Jerusalem had troubled this church with this doctrine: „And certain men, which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised, after the manner of Moses, ye can not be saved” (Acts 15:1).
And when this question was raised in the church at Jerusalem, the record reads: „But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed [i.e., in Christ, and were members], saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the laws of Moses” (v. 5).
Paul, in his letter to the churches at Galatia, thus speaks of these brethren: „And because of false brethren, unawares brought in, who came privily to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for one hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these, who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me, God accepteth no man’s person), for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference, added nothing to me, but contrariwise,” etc.
And in this language he taught these churches to regard them and their teachings: „I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into another gospel, which is not another; but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. . . . I would they were cut off who trouble you”— [excluded from the church, which it was not in Paul’s power to accomplish, but he could wish and advise it.]
„Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. . . . Christ is become of none effect unto you . . . Ye did run well; who did hinder, that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
And there was another element in this doctrine that made it popular, besides that of its being held and taught by those metropolitan ministers, who came down from Jerusalem and taught them to despise Paul, which Baptists of this age should notice.
Let Paul state it: „As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ! And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.”
Thousands and tens of thousands would he „Old Landmark Baptists” today were it not for the Overweening desire „to make a fair show in the flesh,” and to avoid the odium and persecution that the consistent advocacy and practice of Baptist principles would bring upon them. Every strict, consistent, faithful Baptist knows, full well, that the days of persecution have not passed, and they know, like Paul, something of the „perils among false brethren.” I must be allowed to add that the above language of Paul ought to settle the question concerning intercommunion among the apostolic churches. Many of them, like the church at Jerusalem, were corrupted by these false teachers whom Paul calls „leaven,” and he specifically commands the church at Corinth to purge out all leaven that the feast might be kept pure.
To the church at Corinth he wrote thus: „For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [these brethren were not aware that they were the ministers of Satan] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Can it be that God ever allowed a true child of his to live and die in the service of Satan? Those who teach doctrines that subvert the gospel, Paul declares to be the ministers of Satan, and that their end will he answerable to such a service! Was he uncharitable? Not only Paul’s usefulness and happiness were measurably destroyed, but his very life was put in peril by these false brethren. (2 Cor. 11:13-16; 26).
To the church at Philippi he wrote thus: „For many walk, of whom I have told you before, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction” (Phil. 3: 18).
2. How did he instruct the churches to treat these false teachers, though professed Christians and brethren?
Did he exhort them to be liberal, and very charitable, and associate with them as brethren beloved? and did he advise Timothy and other ministers to affiliate with them, invite them into their houses to teach their people, as so many of our prominent ministers now do?
To the church at Rome he wrote: „Now I entreat you, brethren, to watch those who are making factions and laying snares, contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and turn away from them; for such like ones as they are not in subjection to our anointed Lord, but to their own appetite; and, by kind and complimentary words, they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
And, alas! how successfully do they do it in this age! Can a Baptist possibly misapprehend this language? Will our churches refuse to listen to so earnest an entreaty? Then let them heed the emphatic command of Paul to the church at Thessalonica: „Now we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly, and not according to the instruction which you received from us. But if any one obey not our word, by this letter, point him out, and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.”
We ask our brethren if Pedobaptists and Campbellites do teach the doctrine that Paul taught, and walk according to his teachings? and if it is „withdrawing from and putting them to shame” to invite them into our pulpits, to preach, as ministers of Christ, to our people, and associate with them in „Evangelical Pastors’ Meetings,” „Evangelical Alliances,” and „Young Men’s Christian Associations?” Brother, you may treat this question lightly at your peril; for Christ has said: „Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words in this age, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
That I have not an improper construction upon these Scriptures, the testimony of A. Barnes and Adam Clark will convince all Pedobaptists upon Paul’s advice to Timothy (1 Tim. 5:22): „He was not to invest one with the holy office who was a wicked man, or a heretic; for this would be to sanction his wickedness and error. If we ordain a man to the office of the ministry, who is known to be living in sin [disobedience to the commands of Christ is sin], or to cherish dangerous error, we become the patrons of the sin, and of the heresy. We lend to it the sanction of our approbation, and give to it whatever currency it may acquire from the reputation which we may have,” etc.
Now every thoughtful reader will see the principle is all the same whether we are personally instrumental in putting a man, whom we know to be living in the sin of disobedience or who is a heretic, into the ministry, or whether we sanction and encourage his being in it, we equally indorse his errors and make ourselves partakers of his sin. It matters not one whit whether we engage him to preach for us once, or one hundred times, or continually, as our pastor, we can not divide a principle. If it would be right in us to introduce him into our pulpit to preach once, it would be just as right for us to employ him to preach for us always.
Adam Clark says on v. 22: „To help him forward, or sanction him in it, is to partake of his sins. Will any one presume to deny that we do sanction a heretic’s being in the ministry, and „help him forward in it,” when we invite him to preach and attend upon his ministry?
Mr. Clark says on 2 John 1:10,11: „For if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house; neither bid him God-speed.” „He that acts toward him as if he considered him a Christian brother, and sound in the faith, puts it in his power to deceive others by thus apparently accrediting his ministry. „No sound Christian should countenance any man as a gospel minister who holds and preaches erroneous doctrines.”
Do not Pedobaptists and Campbellites hold and preach erroneous and dangerous doctrines? I can prove it by themselves. The Presbyterians and Campbellites will affirm that the Methodists do. The Methodists and Campbellites will agree that the Presbyterians do; and both Presbyterians and Methodists stoutly declare that the Campbellites do; and all Baptists know that they all do. But hear Mr. Clark further, and then show what he says to your Methodist friends, who think you are too strict and bigoted.
„Nor can any Christian attend the ministry of such teachers without being criminal in the sight of God. He who attends their ministry is, in effect, bidding them God-speed, no matter whether such belong to the established church, or to any congregation of dissenters from it” [Italics his].
Barnes quotes and indorses this view, and says: „It is as applicable now as then.”
This is farther than many Landmarkers have generally gone, but I believe it is the true ground upon which we all ought to stand undeviatingly. Does not our crowding their places of worship constantly with our families apparently accredit and sanction their ministry, and encourage them in their work? Let every Baptist settle this with his own conscience before his God. We must not bid them God-speed, or we become upholders of their errors and partakers of their sin.
How the early churches understood the instructions of the apostles with respect to those who „taught contrary to the apostles’ doctrine,” we learn from Prof. Curtis’ statement, who examined the history of those times upon this point, and is undoubted authority. He says:
„In former ages of the church—that is, from the close of the second century downwards until heathenism was obliterated—it was generally supposed by almost all, that Christian fellowship, or communion, consisted chiefly in praying together. Christians would never unite in saying, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven;’ would not even pray in the same house of worship, with those whom they did not consider orthodox Christians. Heathens, unbelievers, heretics, persons suspended, or excommunicated. . . and members of other sects, were admitted to hear the Psalmody, and reading of the Scriptures, and the discourses, but were invariably excluded from the building before the prayers of the church were offered” (Curtis on Com., p. 80).
This testimony establishes beyond controversy two facts:
(1). That any practice looking toward „open communion” at the Lord’s table received no countenance in those early ages.
(2). That there certainly could have been no „pulpit communion, no exchange of „ministerial courtesies,”—as the exchange of pulpits, inter-preaching between the orthodox ministers of those ages and the teachers of manifest heresies, even though the latter belonged to orthodox churches—as the false teachers in Paul’s day did—much less when they belonged to opposing sects.
3. That the orthodox ministers and churches in those ages certainly held no „union meetings,” did not labor together in public worship, or co-operate in the preaching of the gospel and promoting the spread of Christianity generally with those ministers and members who preached, or held, doctrines contrary to the teachings of Christ, and, therefore, subversive of it. How could two consistently walk or work together unless they were agreed? and from the teachings of the apostles, the early Christians understood that they did, by their act of worshipping, even in prayer together, say to the world that they were in fellowship with their doctrine and religion.
Who will say, with the teachings of the apostles and the facts of history before their eyes, that the apostolic churches, and the orthodox churches of the earliest ages downwards, were not „Old Landmarkers” of the strictest sort? Let the candid Christian reader decide between us and those „liberal” brethren, who say that we are trying to bring in new customs and ways of our own invention, unsustained by the Word of God, and unknown to the Baptists of the earliest ages.
I. It would have been in open violation of Paul’s instruction. for the primitive churches to have invited all members of other sister churches, to participate with them in the celebration of the Supper, since all those „false teachers, ministers of Satan.” „enemies of the cross of Christ,” subverters of the gospel „leaven”—the very characters he commanded them to „withdraw from,” „avoid.” „have no company with.” „not to eat,” belonged to Baptist churches. There could have been no intercommunion among Baptist churches in Paul’s day, or association in preaching the gospel, or in gospel work, with teachers of false doctrine.
II. It is as unscriptural and as sinful in this age for us. as for Baptists in that age, to violate these plain instructions. Verily, those who do so God will judge.
Does the history of the churches of Christ establish the fact, disputed by Affiliationists, that the ancient Baptists, by whatever name called, refused to affiliate with, or in any way recognize, Pedobaptist societies as scriptural churches, or their ministers as gospel ministers?—The teachings of history. „And I will give power [i.e., ability] to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy [preach the gospel] a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev. 11:3).
„And the woman [church of Christ] fled into the wilderness [obscurity] where she bath a place prepared by God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and sixty days [each day for a year]” (Rev. 12:6).
It is asserted with the utmost assurance, by Affiliationists, that our policy of the non-recognition of human and unscriptural societies as churches of Christ, and of their teachers as ministers of the gospel, and our non-acceptance of their ordinances as valid, is not sustained by the history of our denomination, and is, therefore, not an old but a new landmark, and we, ourselves, are heretics and schismatics.
This is a serious charge, and if it can be sustained by the Word of Cod and the facts of history. the most effectual means should be employed to bring to us the knowledge of the truth, and this failing, Old Landmarkers should be excluded as incorrigible and dangerous offenders. Let us, then, patiently inquire—
what are the teachings of ecclesiastical history
It will be admitted by the most „liberal” of our brethren that all the churches of Christ, before the „apostasy,” which took place in the third and fourth centuries, and gave rise to the Greek and Latin Catholic hierarchies, were what are now called Baptist churches. It must then be granted that the falling away foretold by Paul (2 Thess. 2:3), was a falling away from the doctrine and church form established by Christ and His apostles, and which characterized all the scriptural churches in the first century, and as a general thing a part of the second—consequently, it was a falling away from Baptist doctrines, principles, form of church organization and fellowship. All history unites in testifying that a general defection from ‘the primitive faith and church order did take place throughout the entire Roman Empire, East and West, in the third century, and a general withdrawing, according to the directions given by Paul, of the pure and uncorrupted portions of the churches that adhered to the faith at first delivered; and these steadfastly claimed, though often in the minority, and often ruthlessly excluded by the corrupt majority, to be the scriptural church, and pronounced the corrupt majority the „apostasy” or apostates from the truth. These uncorrupted witnesses of Jesus were called „Cathari” at first, the Pure, and afterwards by the names of their most prominent ministers and leaders, as Novatians, Donatists; and after they fled to the valleys of the mountains from the face of their implacable persecutors, where for ages they were hid as in a „wilderness,” they received the general name of „Waldenses” and Vaudois, which meant the inhabitants of „valleys” or „valleymen.” Robinson says: „From the Latin ‘vallis,’ came the English ‘valley,’ the French, and Spanish ‘valle,’ the Italian ‘valdeci,’ the Low Dutch ‘velleye, the Provencal ‘vaux,’ ‘vaudois,’ the Ecclesiastical ‘vallences,’ ‘valdenses,’ ‘Waldenses.’”
Peter of Lyons, a rich merchant, embraced the doctrinal sentiments of these valley-men, and from them he received the name „Waldus,” valley-man, and not, as some have supposed, they from him. While originally it only designated the inhabitants of certain valleys, yet it ultimately was applied to all those Christians in all countries who held the faith of these original valley-men. These persecuted saints who, in the third and fourth centuries, fled into these valleys of the mountains—places „prepared by God, that they”—i.e., these rich valleys—”may nourish her,” I believe are the successors of the apostolic churches, and from them received their constitution, their baptisms, and ordinances, I can only give here the testimony of a few distinguished and standard historians.
Bro. Alexis Muston, therefore, truthfully says: „The Voudois (Waldenses) of the Alps are, in our view, primitive Christians, or inheritors of the primitive church, who have been preserved in these valleys from the alterations successively introduced by the church of Rome into evangelical worship. It was not they who separated from Catholicism; but Catholicism which separated from them in modifying the primitive worship.” (The Is. of the Alps, p. 1, quoted in Baptist Succession).
With him agrees Waddington in his „History of the Church,” who, speaking of the Novatians, whom he calls „Sectaries,” says: „And those rigid principles which had characterized and sanctified the church in the first century, were abandoned to the profession of schismatic sectaries in the third” (p. 70).
This is precisely what is meant by the falling away—i.e., abandoning the scriptural principles of the gospel of Christ, and adopting a corrupt policy, order of government, and human traditions. Those scriptural minorities in all those countries, though overborne and excommunicated by corrupt majorities, constituted the true and primitive churches of Christ.
Bro. Allix, in his „History of the Churches of Piedmont,” gives this account: „‘For three hundred years or more, the Bishop of Rome attempted to subjugate the church of Milan under his jurisdiction; and at last the interest of Rome grew too potent for the church of Milan, planted by one of the disciples; insomuch that the bishop [pastor] and people, rather than own their jurisdiction, retired to the valleys of Lucerne and Angrogna, and thence were called Vallenses, Waldenses, or „the people of the valleys” (Encyclopedia Rel. Knowl., p. 1148).
Cramp says: „We may safely infer the Novatian churches were what are now called Baptist churches, adhering to the apostolic and primitive practice,” (p. 59).
These puritan churches were known as Donatists in North Africa, and they were designated as Cathari and Paulicians by the Council of Nice, A.D. 325.
These despised, oppressed, and persecuted Cathari, Novatians, and Waldenses of the third and fourth and following centuries, were our historical ancestors, and not the dominant and corrupt hierarchies at Rome and Constantinople, which called themselves „Catholics.”
Now these pure and primitive churches did not in any way recognize other denominations than their own, as scriptural churches, and, therefore, they did not acknowledge their ministers as having any authority to preach or administer the ordinances; nor did they receive their immersions as valid, but invariably baptized all who came over to them, and from this fact they became known by the general name of Anabaptists (Rebaptizers).
Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent (A.D. 1550), declared that the Anabaptists had for 1,200 years past suffered generally, and the most cruel sorts of punishments. „The Anabaptists are a pernicious sect, of which kind the Waldensian brethren seem also to have been. Nor is this heresy a modern thing, it existed in the time of Austin” (Rus. Reply to Wail, p. 20).
This concedes that, as Rebaptizers, we had a separate church existence in the fourth century, and were most cruelly persecuted. We claim these suffering Rebaptizers as our historical ancestors, and not those who bathed their hands in blood. Whom do you claim, dear reader?
Zwingle, the Swiss Presbyterian, said (A.D. 1534): „The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for thirteen hundred years has caused great disturbance in the church,” [i.e., the apostate part of it].
This concedes to us an organized existence as Rebaptizers in the days of Novatian, and even before; and it is a fact that fifty years before Novatian’s separation from the church at Rome, the withdrawal of the Old Landmarkers from the churches that had become corrupt had commenced. Says Robinson: „They call Novatian the author of the heresy of Puritanism; arid yet they know that Tertullian had quitted the church near fifty years before for the same reason; and Privatus, who was an old man in the time of Novatian, had, with several more, repeatedly remonstrated against the alterations taking place, and, as they could get no redress, had dissented and formed separate congregations” (Ecel. Res., p. 127).
Sir Isaac Newton, the great astronomer, but still greater student of the Scriptures and ecclesiastical history, declared to Whiston: „The modern Baptists, formerly called Anabaptists, are the only people that never symbolized with the papacy” (See Life of Whiston).
Mosheim’s testimony is to the point, both as to the origin of our name and our great antiquity: „The true origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion . . . is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is, therefore, extremely difficult to be ascertained” (Vol. 4, p. 427).
[The reader is referred back to Chapter V, for the testimony of Bro. Ypeig and Prof. Dermout].
That the prime reason the Anabaptists would not recognize the ordinances of the Catholic and other sects, was that they did not admit them to be churches, and consequently utterly without any authority to baptize or to preach, no intelligent man will doubt.
Bro. John Owen, who was born A.D. 1616, „a divine of such eminence as to eclipse all the regal honors of his ancient house,” says: „The Donatists rebaptized those who came to their societies, because they professed themselves to believe that all administration of ordinances, not in their assemblies, was, null, and that they were to be looked on as no such thing. Our Anabaptists do the same thing” (Works, vol. XIII, p. 184).
Our „liberal” brethren are extravagant in their praises of the reformers Luther, Calvin, Zwingle, and Knox, and they speak of them as evangelical ministers; and of their societies, now called Protestants, as evangelical churches; and it is with these „churches,” and these evangelical ministers, they have so great a desire to affiliate, and in every way recognize, and seem to prefer them to their own brethren, especially in their own brethren are Landmarkers. But not so did our fathers—the hated Anabaptists of the days of the Reformation. Let the reader mark well the testimony of a Presbyterian, who lived contemporary with Calvin, and succeeded him, and wrote a history of the Reformation, and knew whereof he testified, and then decide who are the „Old Landmarkers” of this age—Affiliationists, or those strict Baptists they denounce as schismatics.
Henry Bullinger, the successor of Calvin, who wrote in the sixteenth century, says: „‘The Anabaptists think themselves to be the only true church of Christ, and acceptable to God; and teach that they, who by baptism are received into their churches, ought not to have communion [fellowship] with [those called] evangelical, or any other whatsoever: for that our—[i.e., evangelical Protestant, or reformed] churches are not true churches, any more than the churches of the Papists.”
And he bears this testimony to the purity of these Anabaptists: „Let others say what they will of the dippers: we see in them nothing but what is excellent; and hear from them nothing else but that we should not swear or do wrong to any one; that every one ought to live godly and holy lives; we see no wickedness in them.”
Professor J. S. Reynolds, D.D., of the University of South Carolina, prepared, in 1848, an elaborate paper upon the practice of Baptists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the conclusion I copy. There was not a man in the South whose opinion was worthy of more consideration.
„The conclusion is irresistible, that they did not consider even immersion valid, when it was the act of an unimmersed administrator. The principle of action, doubtless, was, that there could be no valid baptism unless the administrator was authorized to baptize by a properly constituted church. Hence, in a vindication of the Baptists of London, published in 1615, the ground is taken, that all baptism, received either in the church of Rome or England, is invalid; because received in a false church and from Antichristian Ministers’ (Crosby, vol. 1, p. 273). They refused to sanction the acts of any administrator, who derived his authority from churches which perverted the ordinance of baptism. This is firm Baptist ground, and the position is impregnable.”
Wall testifies that there was a body of Baptists in England as early as A.D. 1587, who would have no religious intercourse with those teachers who perverted the faith of the gospel. He says: „Many of them hold it necessary, as I said, to renounce communion with all Christians that are not of their way. Many of them are so peremptory in this, that if they be in the chamber of a sick man, and any Pedobaptist minister or other, come in to pray with him, they will go out of the room. And if they be invited to the funeral of any Pedobaptist, they will go to the house and accompany the corpse with the rest of the people to the door; but there they retreat—they call it the Steeple House. They seem to judge thus: Those that are not baptized are no Christians [this is Wall’s misrepresentation, for always and ever, we have held that a man must be a Christian before he is baptized], and none are baptized but themselves [this is so]. So that they make not only baptism itself, but also the time, or age, or way of receiving it a fundamental, [to a church or church membership, we do]” (Wall’s History, chapter VIII, section 7, part II).
Wall, like multitudes of Pedobaptists, we fear, was but too willing to attribute wrong motives to these English Baptists for not witnessing the religious ceremonies of these church and state ministers. Those ministers did not pray with the sick, but read prayers to them, and for this mummery they had no fellowship. They did not visit their Steeple Houses, because they did not believe God was worshipped in them, but His holy name and service profaned by the priests, by their senseless and popish forms and ceremonies; for Christ had said, „In vain do they worship me who teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” Baptists of that day thought they would be regarded as countenancing, in some sense, the priests of the church of England should they attend their administrations. And if we will only consider the influence of acts closely, we shall be forced to conclude that they acted consistently.
That our historical ancestors did not affiliate with Catholics, who, for twelve hundred years, endeavored to exterminate them with fire and sword, no one will claim. That they could not, if they had desired, affiliate with the early Protestants, Bro. Winkler has shown in a ringing article in the Alabama Baptist: „They came into contact with the Reformers everywhere. And they were reviled and persecuted by them all—by Lutherans, and Episcopalians, and Puritans, and Presbyterians. Even the Romanists did not denounce them so bitterly as did Melancthon and Luther, Calvin and Zwingle, and Knox, Cranmer, and Ridley and Latimer. When Bishop Hall sneered at them as ‘sectaries, instructed by guides fit for them, cobblers, tailors, felt—makers, and such like trash,’ he gave expression to the Protestant feeling of his own and of previous ages toward the Baptists. There was no sect among which these outraged and long-suffering believers could find refuge. They had to meet apart, baptize apart, commune apart. Their independent church organization was necessitated by the spirit of the age. In all the world ‘none were so poor as to do them reverence.’”
J. Newton Brown, of Philadelphia, for many years editorial secretary of the American Baptist Publishing Society, in an historical essay, says of the policy of the Baptists, with respect to the Catholics and all corrupt churches: „They held that the Catholics had so departed from the original constitution of the church, in this respect, as to have forfeited their claim to that honor; and hence invariably baptized all who joined them from the Catholic churches. Hence, they are the first in history who are called Anabaptists, that is, rebaptizers; although, of course, they denied the propriety of the appellation, as they believed the baptism administered by a corrupt church to be null and void.”
So we say today, and, therefore, should no more invite the ministers of corrupt „churches”—human societies—into our pulpits to preach for us, than we would papistical ministers.
The Donatists baptized all persons coming from other professing [Christian] communities. This conduct Augustine [Catholic] disapproved, and observes: „You [Donatists] say they are baptized in an impure church, by heretics” (Orchard’s History, p. 95).
These authorities indicate the faith and practice of the Baptists for the first ten centuries. In the year 1120, we find a „Treatise Concerning Antichrist,” etc., among the writings of the Waldenses. In defining Antichrist, they say: „It is not any particular person ordained to any degree, or office, or ministry, ‘but a system of falsehood,’ [as a false ‘church,’ or ecclesiastical system, etc.], opposing itself to the truth, covering itself with a show of beauty and piety, yet very unsuitable to the church of Christ, as by names and offices, the Scriptures and the sacraments, and various other things may appear. The system of iniquity thus completed with its ministers, great and small, [as we now find in the Romish, Episcopal, and Methodist societies], supported by those who are induced to follow it with an evil heart and blindfold—this is the congregation, which, taken together, composes what is called ‘Antichrist or Babylon,’ etc.
„Christ never had an enemy like this; so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the true church, with her children, is trodden under foot.”
One of the marks of an Antichristian system, or Antichrist, these Waldensian Baptists declare to be— „He teaches to baptize children into the faith, and attributes to this [baptism] the work of regeneration, thus confounding the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, with the external rite of baptism.”
Do not all Pedobaptist sects do this, as well as the mother church, of which they are branches, or the daughters?
The Romish church says that „baptism is necessary to salvation.
The Greek, or Eastern church, which finally separated from the Roman, or Western church, about 1054, maintained that whoever is baptized by „immersion, is regenerated, cleansed, and justified.”
The Swiss church says that, by baptism, we are „received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God.”
The Bohemian church says that, in baptism, the Lord „washeth away sin, begetteth a man again, and bestoweth salvation.”
The Confession of Augsburg says, „baptism is necessary for salvation.”
The Confession of Saxony says, „by this dipping the sins be washed away.”
The Episcopal Church of England says, by baptism we are „made members of Christ and children of God.”
The Westminster Assembly say, in their confession, baptism „is a seal of grace, of our engrafting into Christ— of regeneration, adoption, and life eternal.”
The Confession of Helvetia says that, by baptism, the Lord „doth regenerate us and cleanse us from our sins.”
The Confession of France says that, by baptism, „we are engrafted into Christ’s body.”
The Methodist church, through Mr. Wesley, says, „by baptism, we who are by nature the children of wrath, are made the children of God.”
The Campbellites teach that regeneration and immersion are synonymous terms; and that actual remission of sins, conferred in the act, is hut too notorious.
Now, how do these Baptists think it became them to treat every such Antichristian sect. Hear them: „And since it hath pleased God to make known these things to us by his servants, believing it to be his revealed will, according to the Holy Scriptures, and admonished thereto by the command of the Lord, we do, both inwardly and outwardly, depart from Antichrist.”
Had these Baptists affiliated with Papists, by calling them „brethren,” and recognizing their priests as Christian ministers, by inviting them into their pulpits, or „stands,” to preach for them, would they have appeared to the world to have „outwardly” departed from them as the ministers of an Antichristian society?
What the descendants of these Waldenses considered as „outwardly” departing from Antichrist, we learn even after Luther, and Calvin, and Henry VIII, had set up their divisions or kingdoms, by referring back to the testimony of Bullinger, (p. 173). The descendants of those very Protestants who joined with the Catholics, in the attempt to exterminate our churches from the earth, as too vile and pernicious to exist, today authoritatively demand that we shall recognize their societies as scriptural churches; their doctrine and ministers as evangelical; and their ordinances as valid and scriptural as our own. I say they do not reason to convince us; they do not courteously request it; but they imperiously, arrogantly, and dictatorially demand it of us.
We quote but a paragraph from a work on „Exclusivism,” written by Albert Barnes, the great Presbyterian, and author of Barnes’ Notes, which so many Baptists delight in:
„We claim and demand of the Baptists that they shall not merely recognize the ministry of other denominations, but their membership also—[i.e., infants, seekers, sinners and all]; that while, if they prefer it, they may continue the practice of immersion in baptism, as a part of their Christian liberty, they shall concede the same liberty to others—[i.e., to practice adult and infant sprinkling and pouring for baptism]; and while they expect that their acts of baptism shall be recognized by others as valid, they shall not offer an affront to the Christian world by rebaptizing all who enter their communion, or by excluding from their communion all who have not been subjected to the rite of immersion. And we claim and demand of the Baptist Churches that they shall recognize the members of other churches [every sect in Christendom that claims to be a church] as members of the church of Christ. We do not ask this as a boon, we claim it as a right” (pp. 66, 67).
Can any Baptist read this, and doubt for one moment that Bro. Barnes, and all Presbyterians who indorse him, would, by imprisonment, fines, and flames, attempt to compel us to recognize their societies and human traditions, as Calvin and Luther, Zwingle and Knox, did in the sixteenth centuries and their ancestors—the Catholics—did for twelve hundred years before? In order to propitiate the opposition of the Protestants of today, and to become popular with them and the world they influence, our affiliating brethren are endeavoring, „by kind and complimentary words, deceiving the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Rom. 16:18), and to influence them to grant this claim, and yield this arrogant and intolerant „demand” of Bro. Barnes, who speaks for all the sects of the age, and for the Evangelical Alliance. Brethren, will you—can you yield it? Liberal Anti-Landmark Baptists say you ought, and must, or they will make friends with your foes to persecute you. „Old Landmark Baptists” say the claim is preposterous, and the demand opposed, both to the teachings of the Scriptures and spirit of Christianity—is the very spirit of Antichrist, and we will resist-it unto blood if it is necessary.
Reader, with whom do you stand? and which of these two classes of Baptists do you think occupies the ground held by our fathers from the third to the sixteenth century?
I think that even Bro. Jeter and his „Pike” man will admit, that there was very little affiliation or open communion of any sort practiced in those ages. Those saintly Reformers, the ancestors of modern Protestants, who burnt, and drowned, and imprisoned without mercy our fathers, were not quite so anxious to exchange pulpits, and hold union meetings with Baptists as their children now are. And why? They are the same, and Baptists hold the same principles today as then. What can the reader think of the historical information or candor of the man, who will assert that Baptists recognized those Protestant societies as churches, and their preachers as ministers of the gospel of Christ, any more than they did those of the Catholic church and her priests?
How the „Fathers” of New England Baptists, regarded Pedobaptist societies and their ministers, from A.D. 1638 until 1776—not as churches or brethren, but enemies and persecutors.
„Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways 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).
„My people have forgotten me; they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths in a way not cast up” (Jer. 18:15).
Having shown in the last chapter that our fathers, from the first to the sixteenth century, in obedience to the divine injunction, withdrew from those who departed from the teachings of Christ, and thus preserved pure churches and a pure faith, I now propose very briefly, to show that the Baptists of America, from the planting of the first church in Newport, Rhode Island, A.D. 1638, until A.D. 1776, were in faith and practice „Old Landmarkers.”
1. what was the practice of new england baptists?
The Puritans who landed from the Mayflower, A.D. 1620, did not come hither with the intent of establishing here a government where the oppressed of all nations would have absolute
„freedom to worship god.”
but where their own particular creed would be protected and secured against disturbances from all other opposing religious faiths. Therefore, when they framed their laws, they put their creed and the sword into the bands of the magistrates, and made it their highest duty to see that all men, who would enjoy the protection of their laws, should, on peril of estate and life, accept the creed. This was freely acknowledged by them:
„And because they foresaw that this wilderness might be looked upon as a place of liberty, and, therefore, might in time be troubled with erroneous spirits; therefore, they did put one article into the confession of faith, on purpose, about the duty and power of the magistrate in matters of religion” (Morton’s New Eng. Mem., p. 145-6).
Says Bro. Samuel Mather: „The reforming churches, flying from Rome, carried, some of them more, some of them less, all of them something of Rome with them, especially in that spirit of imposition and persecution, which has too much cleaved unto them all.” (Apology, Appendix, p. 149).
(1.) My first position is, that the Baptists of New England, during this period, could not have affiliated with Pedobaptists had they desired to have done so.
Of all „erroneous spirits” the Puritans regarded the Anabaptists, as they stigmatized Baptists, as the most pernicious and dangerous to the state, and against them they enacted the most cruel laws. I copy the first one they passed against them:
„Forasmuch as experience hath plentifully and often proved that since the first rising of the Anabaptists, about one hundred years since [a gross, willful, or ignorant misrepresentation], they have been the incendiaries of the Commonwealth, and the infectors of persons in matters of religion, and the troubles of churches in all places where they have been, and that they who have held the baptizing of infants unlawful, have usually held other errors, or heresies, together therewith, though they have [as other heretics used to do] concealed the same till they spied out a fit advantage and opportunity to vent them, by way of question or scruple; and, whereas, divers of this kind have, since our coming into New England, appeared amongst ourselves, some whereof [as others before them] denied the ordinance of magistracy, and lawfulness of making war; and others, the lawfulness of magistracy, and their inspection into any breach of the first table; which opinions, if they should be carried out by us, are like to be increased amongst us, and so, must necessarily bring guilt upon us, infection and trouble to the churches, and hazard to the whole Commonwealth; it is ordered and agreed that if any person, or persons, within this jurisdiction, shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinance, or shall deny the ordinance of magistracy, or their lawful right and authority to make war, or to punish the outward breaches of the first table, and shall appear to Court willfully and obstinately to continue therein, after due time and means of conviction, every person, or persons, shall be sentenced to banishment” (Mass. Records, quoted by Backus, vol. 1, p. 126).
The pages of this book would not suffice to detail all that Baptists suffered in New England from fines, imprisonment, bloody whippings, and banishment from their homes and possessions. A few cases must indicate all:
In 1644, one Painter, a poor man, turned Baptist, and refused to have his child baptized, and when arraigned for it before the Court, told them that it was, in his opinion, an antichristian ordinance. For this he was tied up and whipped. Governor Winthrop declared he was whipped for „reproaching the Lord’s ordinance” (Related in Backus, vol. 1, p. 127).
John Smith, for gathering a church at Weymouth, „contrary to the orders,” was’ fined twenty pounds ($100) and committed during pleasure of Court.
Richard Sylvester, for going with Smith, was disfranchised and fined forty shillings.
Ambrose Morton, for calling their covenant a human invention, and that their ministers did dethrone Christ and set up themselves, was fined ten pounds ($50).
Thomas Makepeace, because of his novel disposition, was informed that we were weary of him unless he reformed.
John Spur and John Smith were bound in forty pounds to pay twenty pounds the first day of next Court, 1640.
Their crime was the avowal „that only baptism [i.e., a profession of faith] was the door into the visible church” (Backus).
July 19, 1651, Messrs. John Clark, pastor of the Baptist Church at Newport, O. Holmes, and Crandel, members of the same, upon the request of William Witter, of Lynn, arrived there, he being a brother of the church, who, by reason of his advanced age, could not undertake so great a journey as to visit the church (Newport). He lived about two miles out of town. The next day, being Sabbath, Mr. Clark concluded to preach in his house. In the midst of the sermon two constables appeared, and arrested them, and carried them away to an ale house first, and then proposed to carry them to the meeting. Mr. Clark replied: „Then we shall be constrained to declare ourselves, that we can not hold communion with them,” i.e., even by appearing in their religious assemblies. „We shall declare our dissent from you both by words and gesture.” The constables persisted. Says Mr. Clark: „At my first stepping over the threshold, I unveiled myself, civilly saluted them, and turned into the seat I was appointed to, put on my hat again and sat down, opened my book, and so fell to reading.”
It will be seen that he was not invited up into the pulpit. or even called upon to close by prayer!
At the close of the sermon Mr. Clark arose and courteously asked permission to state why he was there, and why he put on his hat to declare his dissent:
„I could not judge that you were gathered together and walk according to the visible order of our Lord.”
Some thoughtless Baptists will think this act of Bro. Clark unchristian and discourteous, but he believed that he, in common with all, favored, and by act approved, of the worship he attended; and he knew that he was forbidden, in any way, to bid an unscriptural worship or teacher of error „God-speed,” and so, by „gesture,” he declared his dissent. Do we, as Baptists, declare our dissent from the teachings and ministrations of Pedobaptists and Campbellites when we attend upon their preaching with our families, month after month, and thus aid, by our presence and personal influence, to increase their congregations, and swell their collections to pay their preachers to oppose our faith, and build up societies in our communities to destroy our own churches? There are many Baptists in the South who give annually far more to support Pedobaptist preachers than their own, because they take their families three times a month to such meetings, where the collection is never missed, and only once to their own. There are many places where they would cease preaching altogether for want of congregations and support were it not for the attendance and contributions of Baptists. It is a great thing to be consistent Baptists—like John Clark, Holmes, and those early Baptists of New England were. Who dare, before God, to charge them with inconstancy or inconsistency?
They were committed to prison. Mr. John Spur, then a member of the Baptist church at Newport, was present and relates: „Mr. Cotton, in his sermon, immediately before the Court gave their sentence against Mr. Clark, Holmes, and Crandel, affirmed, that denying infant baptism would overthrow all, and this was a capital offense; and therefore they were soul-murderers.”
They were fined, Mr. Clark twenty pounds, Holmes thirty pounds, and Crandel five pounds, and to remain in prison until their fines be either paid or security given, or else to be „well whipped.” Friends, without Mr. Clark’s knowledge, paid his fine. When Mr. Holmes was brought forth to receive his stripes, he desired of the magistrates permission to speak, which was refused him, and they (Flint and Norvel) said to the executioner: „Fellow, do thine office.”
„He, having removed so much of his garments as would hinder the effect of the scourge, and having fastened him to the post, (This was planted on Boston Commons—the soil of liberty!) seized a three-corded whip, and laid on the blows in a most unmerciful manner. Stroke followed stroke as rapidly as was consistent with effective execution, each blow leaving its crimson furrow, or its long blue wale on the sufferer’s quivering flesh. The only pause which occurred was when the executioner ceased for a moment in order to spit in his hands, so as to take a firmer hold of the handle of the whip to render the strokes more severe. This he did three times” (Banvard).
Ninety stripes! The blood flowed down, filled, and overflowed his shoes and bathed the ground. For weeks after he could only rest upon his knees and elbows. So lacerated was his body, he could not suffer it to touch the bed.
When released from the post, his brother Spur took him by the hand, and with a joyful countenance, said, „Praised be the Lord!” and walked with him to the prison. For this grievous offense he was arrested and fined by the Pedobaptist Court ‘forty shillings, or to be whipped.”
John Hazel, another of Mr. Holmes’ brethren, above three-score, and infirm, had traveled nearly fifty miles to see his beloved brother, also gave him his hand, and said, „Blessed be God.” He was likewise arrested, thrown into prison, and fined forty shillings, or to receive ten strokes with a three-corded whip, equal to thirty stripes.
This was the fellowship Protestants had for Baptists in that age.
How Baptists regarded Pedobaptists may be learned from Bro. John Clark’s charge to his church. Says C. E. Barrow, of Newport, Rhode Island: „He also charges the people to steer clear of both Scylla and Charybdis,—of the opinion of those, on the one hand, who destroyed the purity and spirituality of the church by uniting it with the civil power, and by introducing into it unregenerate material by infant baptism; and of the opinion of those, on the other hand, who denied that there were any visible churches. He would have them avoid both extremes,—not turn to the left side in a visible way of worship, indeed, but such as was neither appointed by Christ, nor yet practiced by those who first trusted in him; nor to the right in no visible way of worship or order at all, either pretending . . . that the church is now in the wilderness, or that the time of its recovery is not yet,” etc. (Semi-centennial Discourse, p. 22).
Thus John Clark warned his people against the false order and worship of Pedobaptists on the one hand, and the no order and anarchy of Roger Williams and his party—the Seekers—on the other.
Those who would pursue the sickening details of Baptist suffering at the hands of Pedobaptists for the next centuries, I refer to the History of Baptists, by Backus, two volumes.
The only instance of affiliation I find for one hundred years after, was the case of a „liberal” Baptist, who invited Bro. P. Robbins to preach to his people. This he did January 6th, 1742, and for this act Mr. Robbins was promptly tried and excluded from his Consociation as a disorderly person.
One hundred and twenty-seven years after this, we find the Baptists in New England still fined and imprisoned, and the objects of the most disgraceful indignities.
This is related by Backus: „For two young ministers were called to preach in Pepperell, near forty miles north-westward of Boston, to whom six persons offered themselves as candidates for baptism. Therefore, on June 26th they met in a field by a river side, where prayers were made, and a sermon begun, when the chief officers of the town, with many followers, came and interrupted their worship . . . A dog was carried into the river and plunged in, in evident contempt of our sentiments. A gentleman of the town then invited the Baptists to go and hold their meetings at his house, which was near another river. They accepted it, and so went through with their worship—at the close of which a man was hired, with a bowl of liquor, to go into the river and dip another two or three times over, when also two or three dogs more were plunged; after which three officers of the town came into the house where the Baptist ministers were, and advised them to immediately depart out of that town for their own safety” (Backus, vol. 2, p. 221).
They left, agreeing to meet the candidates at a distant place of water, where the baptism did take place. This was near Boston, in the year 1778; and it is worthy of note that the first meeting house Baptists built in Boston was nailed up, and they forbidden to worship in it.
If there can be any doubt in the mind of anyone how the „fathers” of New England Baptists regarded the Puritan Pedobaptists of their day (1770), I copy this from Backus. These Puritans declared to the Court that—
„Some [Baptists] have had the affrontery to say that the standing ministry [Congregationalists] is corrupt; ministers themselves unconverted; the churches impure and unholy, admitting unconverted and unsanctified persons into their communion” (Vol. 2, p. 158).
Can any one believe that Baptists would believe this, which they most undoubtedly did, and then, before the world, by affiliating acts recognize these unconverted ministers, and these impure and unholy sects as scriptural churches, and in every way equal to their own? They certainly did not do it. And are not these charges as true today with respect to all Pedobaptist societies as they were then? And if we walk in the „paths our fathers trod,” what ought to be our testimony?
The Warren Association, which last year voted to exclude the church in Newport, Rhode Island, for its open communion practices, or failure to discipline its pastor and those members who practiced this disorder, is the oldest Association in New England. It was organized in 1767. Three years after, such were the intolerable oppressions of the „standing order,” in selling out their lands and homes to pay the tax to support the hireling ministers of the Puritans, that the Association resolved to appeal at once to the King and Council, and appointed a committee to collect grievances. That committee of leading ministers published the following in the Boston Post, August 20th, 1770, and I publish it— 1, because it will give the Baptists of this age some idea of what our fathers suffered at the hands of those whom we are now taught to call „evangelical brethren,” and „evangelical churches,” and „evangelical ministers,” and what we would suffer today had our old persecutors only the power; and, 2, how our brethren regarded them, not as „Christian brethren” certainly—which they were not — but enemies and persecutors.
„To the Baptists in the province of the Massachusetts Bay, who are, or have been, oppressed in any way on a religious account, it would be needless to tell you that you have long felt the effects of the laws by which the religion of the government in which you live is established. Your purses have felt the burden of ministerial rates; and, when these would not satisfy your enemies, your property has been taken from you and sold for less than half its value. These things you can not forget. You will, therefore, readily hear and attend when you are desired to collect your cases of suffering, and have them well attested; such as the taxes you have paid to build meeting-houses, to settle ministers and support them [i.e., for their enemies], with all the time, money, and labor you have lost in waiting on courts, feeing lawyers,” etc., etc. (Backus, vol. 2, p. 155).
I add but one more instance of persecution which took place twenty years after the Declaration of Independence:
„Mr. Nathan Underwood [Pedobaptist minister of Harwich] and his collector seized six men, who were Baptists, on the 1st day of December, 1795, and carried them as far as Yarmouth, where one of them was taken so ill being old and infirm before, that he saw no way to save his life but to pay the tax and cost [all Baptists were taxed to pay the salaries of Pedobaptist ministers still!]; which he did and the other five were carried to the prison at Barnstable, where they also paid the money rather than to lie in the cold all winter. . . . Their collector went to the house of one of the Baptists when he was not at home, January 8th, 1796, and seized a cow for a tax to said minister; but his wife and daughter came out and took hold of the cow, and his wife promised to pay the money, if her husband would not do it, and they let the cow go, and she went to Mr. Underwood the next day and paid the tax and costs, and took his receipt therefor. Yet four days after, the woman and two daughters, one of whom was not there when the cow was taken, were seized and carried before the authorities, and fined seven dollars for talking to the collector and his aide, and, taking hold of the cow while they had her in possession, so they had to let her go” (Backus, vol. 2, p. 551).
This and scores of such like exactions and oppressions took place in New England, in the year 1796.
I close this century of bitter sufferings with the letter that the Warren Association sent to the Philadelphia Association, only six years before the Declaration of Independence:
Letter from the warren association, Massachusetts.
‘The laws of this province were never intended to exempt the Baptists from paying toward building and repairing Presbyterian meeting-houses, and making up Presbyterian ministers’ salaries; for, besides other insufficiencies, they are all limited, both as to extent and duration. The first law extended only five miles round each Baptist meeting-house; those without this circle had no relief, neither had they within; for, though it exempted their polls, it left their estates to the mercy of harpies, and their estates went to wreck. The Baptists sought a better law, and, with great difficulty and waste of time and money, obtained it, but this was not universal. It extended not to any parish until a Presbyterian meeting-house should be built and a Presbyterian minister settled there; in consequence of which the Baptists have never been freed from the first and great expenses of their parishes, expenses equal to the current expense of ten or twelve years. This is the present case of the people of Ashfield, which is a Baptist settlement. There were but five families of other denominations in the place when the Baptist Church was constituted; but those five, and a few more, had lately built a Presbyterian meeting-house there, and settled an orthodox minister, as they called him; which last cost them 200 pounds. To pay for both, they laid a tax on the land; and, as the Baptists are the most numerous, the greatest part fell to their share. The Presbyterians, in April last, demanded the money. The Baptists pleaded poverty, alleging that they had been twice driven from their plantations by the Indians’ last war; that they were but new settlers, and had cleared but a few spots of land, and had not been able to build commodious dwelling-houses. Their tyrants would not hear. Then the Baptists pleaded the ingratitude of such conduct; for they had built a fort there at their own expense, and had maintained it for two years, and so, had protected the interior Presbyterians, as well as their neighbors, who now rose against them; that the Baptists to the westward had raised money to relieve the Presbyterians who had, like them, suffered by the Indians; and that it was cruel to take from them what the Indians had left! But nothing touched the hearts of these cruel people. Then the Baptists urged the law of the province; but were soon told that that law extended to no new parish till the meeting-house and minister were paid for. Then the Baptists petitioned the General Court. Proceedings were stopped till further orders, and the poor people went home rejoicing, thinking their property safe; but had not all got home before said order came, and it was an order for the Presbyterians to proceed. Accordingly, in the month of April, they fell foul on their plantations; and not on skirts and corners, but on the cleared and improved spots; and so, have mangled their estates, and left them hardly any but a wilderness. They sold the house and garden of one man, and the young orchards, meadows, and cornfields of another nay, they sold their dead, for they sold their graveyard. The orthodox minister was one of the purchasers. These spots amounted to three hundred and ninety-five acres, and have since been valued at 363 pounds, 8s., but were sold for 35 pounds, 10s. This was the first payment. Two more are coming, which will not leave them an inch of land at this rate.
„The Baptists waited on the Assembly five times this year for relief, but were not heard, under pretense they did no business there. At last the Baptists got together, about a score of the members, at Cambridge, and made their complaints known; but in general they were treated very superciliously. One of them spoke to this effect:
„‘The General Assembly have a right to do what they did, and, if you don’t like it, you may quit the place!’
„But, alas, they must leave their all behind! These Presbyterians are not only supercilious in power, but mean and cruel in mastery. When they came together to mangle the estates of the Baptists, they diverted themselves with tears and lamentations for the oppressed. One of them, whose name is Welk, stood up to preach a mock sermon on the occasion; and, among other things, used words to this effect:
„‘The Baptists, for refusing to pay an orthodox minister, shall be cut in pound pieces, and boiled for their fat to grease the devil’s carriage,’” etc.
And yet, in the face of these facts, a Puritan poetess, with the blood of Painter and Holmes flowing before her eyes, and the midwinter prisons filled with Baptists, and the tracks of others leading into the bleak wilderness, into which Christian men were driven by the Puritans, could say:
„Aye, call it holy ground,
The place where first they trod;
They have left unstained what there they found—
Freedom to worship God!”
Let the most prejudiced Anti-Landmark Baptist—the moat „liberal” Baptist on the continent—if a Christian man, with the facts of this chapter before him, decide whether the Baptists of New England, from 1638 to 1796, regarded or treated Pedobaptist organizations as Evangelical churches, and their bloodthirsty and cormorant preachers as ministers of the gospel of love and peace. Turn back to Chapter XV and learn their decision.
Baptists of that age were what landmark Baptists are in this.
Were the fathers of Virginia Baptists „Old Landmarkers?” —Did they, like too many of their descendants, receive, as valid, the immersions of Pedobaptists, and recognize them as evangelical churches?
„For the leaders of this people cause them to err” (Isa. 9:16).
It is for the „Landmarks” of the fathers of Virginia Baptists—those men who planted the first churches upon the soil o the Old Dominion—that I inquire, and not for the opinions of their children, who „have stumbled from the ancient paths, to walk in a way the Lord certainly hath not cast up.”
As I said of the first Baptists of New England, I can say of our Virginia fathers, they could not have affiliated with the state church—the Episcopalians—if they would, and they would not if they could: 1. Because they did not regard it a church of Christ; and, 2. They were unrelentingly oppressed and persecuted by it, from the planting of the first Baptist Church in 1714, until the final overthrow of the Episcopalians in 1798.
No one has ever intimated that there was the least recognition of this „church” or its ministry by Baptists, by any act, ministerial or ecclesiastical, during this period or since. This much is settled, Presbyterians stood side by side with the Baptists in influencing the state to divorce itself from the Episcopal church, and from this very fact a kindly sympathy originated by a common oppression, and a common struggle for freedom sprang up, which disposed our brethren more to affiliation in Virginia than in New England or any other States, and the influence remains until this day. That many Associations have invited Pedobaptist ministers to seats in their Associations in the last fifty years, and that very man y churches under the misleading influence of their late teachers, have received, and do now receive, the immersions of Campbellites and Pedobaptists as valid, we well know, but this was not the practice of the „fathers” of Virginia Baptists.
1. The ministers who organized all the first Baptist Churches in Virginia, came either from New England, or were members of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, whose position will shortly be noticed. These preachers were Shubal Stearnes, Daniel Marshall, who came from New England, and David Thomas, John Garrard, John Corbley, J. Marks, P. P. Vanhorn, Miller and John Gano; and we must believe that they impressed the churches they planted with their own personal convictions, which were those of the Baptists of those sections whence they came. Then some of these churches belonged to the Philadelphia Association, and all the first Associations in Virginia, were in correspondence with it, and must have been influenced by its views.
I have Semple’s History of Virginia Baptists before me, and from it I gather the following facts. Speaking about affairs in the Roanoke Association A.D. 1789, the historian says: „About this time, H. Pattillo, a Presbyterian preacher of distinction, had preached several times in favor of Infant Baptism, in which he had degraded the Baptists in the most scurrilous manner. The Association, in order to rebut his calumny, appointed John Williams to answer him on a certain day; which day they determined should be a day of fasting and prayer. Accordingly Mr. Williams fulfilled the appointment to the general satisfaction of the Baptists and their friends, and to the annoyance of their enemies (p. 234).
There was little affiliation at this time, for Baptists regarded Presbyterians as the enemies of the cross of Christ.
A.D. 1794, I find this in history of New River Association: „It appears that the Baptist interest prevails more than that of any other religious society, there being only two or three Presbyterian congregations in the district, and but few Methodist classes [it appears they do not presume to call either churches]. Between these and the Baptists a good understanding subsisted; insomuch that a considerable party [which has yearly increased] were of opinion in the Association, that they ought to invite the Presbyterian and Methodist ministers to sit with them in their Association as counselors; but not to vote. This subject underwent lengthy investigation, and finally was decided against inviting” (p. 262).
The reasons given would preclude the idea that they could affiliate ministerially or ecclesiastically, viz.— „1. Because it might tend to confusion. 2. Because it would probably rather interrupt than promote friendship—seeing, in most cases, as it respects the intercourse between man and man, too much familiarity often ends in strife. We should be more likely to continue in peace with a neighbor, whom we treated with the distant respect due a neighbor, than if we were to introduce him to our private domestic concerns” (pp. 268-9).
Not a word is intimated about these people being „brethren in Christ,” or „evangelical churches” —not a word of it— while the plain, square truth is withheld which should have been spoken.
A.D. 1792, I find this concerning Baptist interests on the eastern shore: „The established church here, as well as in most other places in Virginia, declined rapidly after the rise of the Baptists. Of late they have other opponents that are much more successful. For many years past the Methodists have been a very increasing people on the eastern shore. Whether their prosperity is only temporary until the set time to favor Zion shall arrive; or whether, for some cause, God is disposed to permit his people to be led into captivity, and to become subservient to the neighboring nations, we can not determine” (p. 283).
This language leaves us in no doubt but that they regarded Methodists, in common with the other Pedobaptist organizations of that day, as the antitypical nations that harassed and attempted to corrupt and lead into their false religions the Jews, God’s chosen and separated people of old. This is „Old Landmark” doctrine.
But a case came up before the Ketocton Association, A.D. 1791, which determined the position the Baptists of that day occupied.
One Mr. Hutchinson came from Georgia as a Baptist minister, and held meetings in London, and baptized many converts. It was ascertained that he had been received, by some church in Georgia, upon his Methodist immersion. This brought the question before the Association, and it decided that he was unbaptized, and advised against any church receiving those he had immersed. The result was, he and his converts submitted to a proper baptism. They reasoned thus:
„1. If such baptism was sanctioned, every thing like ordination might be dispensed with. But that ordination was not only expedient but an institution of the Bible, and, therefore, indispensable. 2. That such proceedings, if allowed, might go to great lengths, and ultimately produce confusion.”
Whatever laxity prevailed in after years, I have shown in what light the fathers of Virginia Baptists, without exception, regarded and treated Pedobaptists and their immersions.
Bro. Jeter received his loose Baptist ideas from the Baptists who constituted the Portsmouth Association, and who came from England, and belonged to the General Baptists. Semple says: „Their manner of gathering churches was very loose indeed; or, at least, was very adverse to the method now prevalent among Baptists in Virginia. They required no experience of grace or account of their conversion. But they baptized all who asked it, and professed to believe in the doctrine of baptism by immersion.”
These arc the kind of baptisms which Bro. Jeter holds and teaches are scriptural and valid today. He indorses a Campbellite immersion as valid, which is just like the above, for „no experience of grace, or account of conversion” is required by the Campbellites. It is this destructive looseness, and perversion of the ordinances, and subversion of the gospel, that Old Landmarkers are opposing, and from the dire effects of which we are trying to save the churches of this age.
Whether we are traveling in the „old paths” in this respect, let ‘the candid reader judge. It was not until the preachers of Virginia and the United States, desirous of popularity, commenced to „burn incense to vanity,” that they caused themselves to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, and to walk in a way not cast up.
What were the Landmarks set by the „fathers” of the Philadelphia Association, the oldest in America—Decisions concerning alien immersion—The testimony of the venerable Bro. Spencer H. Cone—Conclusion of the argument.
„Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy ‘fathers’ have set” (Prov. 22:28).
„Some remove the old landmarks” (Job 24:2).
The Philadelphia Association was organized, A.D. 1707, and is, therefore, the oldest upon the American continent. Its territory originally embraced all the Middle States and some churches in Virginia. Her correspondence reached to every association on the continent, and from her, as a mother body, advice was widely sought. It was by missionaries sent out from her and from New England, that the first churches in Virginia and North Carolina were formed. Her doctrinal sentiments and denominational policy, were stamped upon the entire denomination in America. In determining her general policy, with respect to Pedobaptist societies, and the views and practices of her Ancients, we must conclusively decide the truth or falsity of the charge made against us by our liberal brethren—viz., that we are attempting to bring in a heresy, and a new departure, in opposing the reception of alien immersion, and the recognition of Pedobaptist societies as evangelical churches. The reader will see who are laboring to establish, and who are trying to „remove, the ancient landmarks which the fathers have set.”
It would seem strange indeed to us for the most liberal of our would-be „undenorninational” brethren, to claim that it could be even probable for the Baptists of 1700, to seek, or to countenance, affiliations and inter-religious communion with Pedobaptist sects, which sought by law to force all men, irrespective of regeneration, into their bodies, and united themselves to the state. and used it as an engine of oppression against them, eating up their substance by taxes levied to support a venal ministry, who consigned them to midwinter prisons; who whipped them, without mercy at the post, and drove them from their own hearth-stones into the wilderness among the wild beasts of winter, because they refused to accept their doctrines and sprinkle their infants to insure their salvation. The great fact stands out in bold relief upon the pages of their history, that they did not regard these sects as churches of Christ, or their ministers as ministers of Christ, and scripturally authorized to preach and administer the ordinances of the church; and, therefore, they regarded their ordinances—even immersion at their hands—as null and void. This fact can not be truthfully denied. From the minutes of this Association, covering the first century of its existence, the question touching the validity of immersions by unbaptized and unauthorized administrators—i.e., by men who had no ordinations; since Pedobaptist sects could not ordain, not being churches—came up before the body six times, and was unanimously voted down.
When discussed in 1788, and negatived, these reasons, among others, were given:
„First, because a person—that has not been baptized must be disqualified to administer baptism to others, and especially if he be unordained.
„Second, because to admit such baptism as valid, would make void the ordinances of Christ; throw contempt on His authority, and tend to confusion—for if baptism be not necessary for an administrator of it, neither can it be for church communion, which is an inferior act; and if such baptism be valid, then ordination is unnecessary, contrary to Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:5; and our Confession of Faith, Chapter 27.”
While indorsing these arguments as solid, I would rather emphasize the more conclusive one, that as those human societies are not scriptural churches, they have no power to authorize a man to preach— i.e., ordain a minister—or to administer the ordinances, and consequently all their ecclesiastical acts and ordinances are null and void; for if we recognize their ordinances as valid, or their preachers as gospel ministers, we thereby recognize their societies as true churches of Christ. The Baptists of America from 1707-1807, did not regard Pedobaptist societies as scriptural churches, or their ministers as baptized or ordained.
I conclude the discussion of the question of „old” Baptist usage, with a letter from Bro. Spencer Cone, for many years the pastor of the First Baptist Church, New York City. His statements of facts will be received, and his opinion, as a sound Bap. tist, should certainly be regarded:
„The question you ask was presented to me in July by Brother J. Tripp, Jr., of your church. I replied that, in my opinion, valid baptism could only be administered by a duly authorized minister; and stated my impression also that the ‘regular Baptist Churches of England and the United States’ had long held the same sentiments. I wrote in the midst of numerous calls, and without dreaming that the hasty line was to appear in print, but make no complaint. My Baptist sentiments are public property, for in things pertaining to faith and practice I have no secrets.
„First, then, what has been the sentiment of ‘regular Baptist Churches’ in England and the United States upon this subject? The ministers and messengers of more than one hundred baptized congregations of England and Wales (denying Arminianism) met in London, July 3-11, A.D. 1689, and published what they call ‘The Confession of our Faith,’ and recommended its perusal not only to the members of our churches, but to all other Christians who differ from us. Among these ministers you have the names of Knollys, Kiffin, Keach, Collins, Harris, Gifford, Vaux, Price, Finch and a host of others, whose praise was in all the regular Baptist Churches—viz., such as was opposed to ‘general redemption and open communion.’ Under the head of baptism, among other things, they stated that ‘it is to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called.’
„The Philadelphia Association was formed in 1708, and adopted, with alteration, the London Confession of 1689; so that in this country it has gone by the name of the ‘Philadelphia Confession of Faith;’ and since that period most of the Associations in the Middle States have been formed upon the same platform. The New York Association, organized in 1791, has always held the views I advocate. In 1821, the particular point before us was discussed and settled, in answer to a ‘query’ from one of the churches similar to that contained in your letter. Mr. Parkinson was appointed to write a circular letter on baptism, in which he maintained the immersion of professing believers, by a baptized minister, as essential to gospel baptism.’
„After the adoption of this circular, a resolution was passed, stating that although they considered the query sufficiently answered in the circular, nevertheless they record the opinion of the Association, that Baptist Churches had better never receive persons, either as members, or even as transient communicants upon such baptism—viz., by unimmersed administrators. Many reasons are embodied in the resolution to sustain the opinion given, as ‘the disunion, inconvenience, uneasiness, etc., which have always arisen in churches receiving such members.’ But the basis of their opinion is thus set down in plain words—‘Pedobaptist administrators, as far as we can see, are unknown in the Holy Scriptures.’ And that is just as far as I can see, and no farther.
„The First Baptist Church in this city, of which I am pastor, was founded in 1745, and as the Bible has not changed, she still adheres to her original confession of faith. The article on baptism closes thus: ‘That nothing is a scriptural administration of baptism, but a total immersion of the subject in water in the name of the Holy Trinity, by a man duly authorized to administer gospel ordinances’ (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 2:40-42). The action of this church for one hundred years has been to reject as invalid baptism administered by an ‘unimmersed administrator.’ During my residence in Maryland and Virginia, the Baltimore, Columbia, and Ketocton Associations (which I attended for eight or ten years, and was personally acquainted with every minister belonging to them) held the same sentiment. The subject was called up in the Associations while I was pastor of the Alexandria Baptist Church, D.C.—thus: a Mr. Plummer, from down East, a Free-will Baptist or ‘Christian,’ as he called himself, immersed a number of persons in Virginia, and formed a Baptist Church. He baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and yet denied the divinity of the Son. In a year or two he departed from our borders — his disciples were scattered. Some of them were really converted, and wished to unite with some Baptist Church in the vicinity. The church and pastor in Alexandria being satisfied with the Christian experience and deportment of two of them, I baptized them into the name of our God, Father, Son, and Spirit—coequal and coeternal—and we no more considered their baptism by Plummer as Christian, than we should if they had been dipped by a Mohammedan into the name of his prophet. These Associations, then, held that valid baptism must be administered, not only by an immersed minister, but also one in good standing in our denomination.
„In the early part of my ministry I was intimately acquainted with Gano, Baldwin, Holcombe, Staughton, Williams, Richards, Fristoe, Mercer and many others, now gone to glory; and I never heard one of them drop a hint, that baptism by a Pedobaptist minister opened the door into a regular Baptist Church. Indispensable engagements compel me to close. That there are now many pastors and churches opposed to my views, I know—painfully know—but all this does not convince me that our fathers were wrong in this matter. I must be made over again before I count that to be valid baptism’ when neither the administrator nor those who ordained him, believed immersion of believers any part of their commission, and never submitted to it themselves in obedience to the command of the King in Zion. Affectionately, your brother in gospel bonds,
NEW YORK, September 30, 1845.
I once more call upon the candid reader to decide if I have made out my case—viz., that „our fathers,” as a body, and as a general thing, were not Old Landmarkers in their views and practice; and if the recognition of Pedobaptists, as evangelical and valid, is not a new thing, and a departure from the „old paths?” Reader, will you take the old, or the new way that men and not God has cast up?
I claim that I have demonstrated, by the plain teachings of the Scriptures and the history of our denominational ancestors, the following facts—viz.:
1. It is a fact that the churches of the New Testament, covering the entire apostolic age, were instructed to hold the doctrines, and observe the policy now denominated „Old Landmarkism.” The Christians of the first century, then, were „Old Landmarkers.”
2. It is a fact that all those churches, by whatever name called, which were the recognized witnesses of the truth and the preservers of the gospel during all the subsequent ages until the Reformation, were strictly „Old Landmark” Baptists, in faith and practice, and were called Anabaptists.
3. It is a fact that the genuine Baptists, from the rise of Protestantism onward, for centuries following, were „Old Landmarkers” in the strictest acceptation of the term, according to the testimony of Bullinger, Mosheim and Owen.
4. It is a fact that the Baptists of England and Wales, from the time churches were planted in those countries until a late day, were Anabaptists who refused in any way to recognize the Pedobaptist persecuting sects of that day, as churches of Christ, and were, therefore, „Old Landmarkers.”
5. It is a fact that the first Baptist Church planted in America at Newport. Rhode Island, in 1638: and its pastors, Clark and Holmes, were „Old Landmarkers,” and for this were imprisoned, and the latter cruelly whipped upon Boston Common.
6. It is a fact that the Baptist Churches of America, from 1707-1807, according to the published minutes of the Philadelphia Association, were „Old Landmarkers.”
7. It is a fact, according to the testimony of Bro. Spencer H. Cone, that from the earliest planting of Baptist Churches in New York, until 1845, the general sentiment and practice of the churches and all the leading ministers was strictly Old Landmark; and, that only in the latter part of his ministry did a looser sentiment and practice commence to prevail through the influence of those ministers, who loved the praise of men more than that of God—which pained the heart of Bro. Cone. The voice of that venerable man. though he sleeps in Jesus, should be heard today.
8. It is a fact that the venerable Oncken, and all the churches he has planted in Germany, and Prussia, and Russia, comprising tens of thousands of Baptists, are Old Landmark to the core, unless Bro. Oncken and his people have radically changed since I conversed with him, during his last visit to this country.
9. It is a fact that the oldest churches and Associations in Mississippi were Old Landmark, and never affiliated, and do not until this day, with human societies, or their ministers, or accept their ordinances.
10. It is a fact that the oldest and most successful Baptist minis-ten in Tennessee, as the venerable James Whitsett,1 and George Young, deceased, and Joseph H. Borum, now living, for forty years a pastor in West Tennessee, never affiliated with Pedobaptists or Campbellites, and they testify that affiliation is a new practice, and the forerunner of open communion.
11. It is a fact that the attempt of the few influential and. would-be popular ministers, of the early past and of this present time, to carry the denomination into affiliations and alliances of various kinds with Pedobaptists, and to influence it to recognize their societies as evangelical churches, by accepting their immersions, and their preachers as evangelical ministers, by ministerial associations with them, has caused all the strifes, angry discussions and alienations that have afflicted us as a people in this and other states. And finally—
12. It is a sad fact that in Christ’s last revelation through John, of what would take place toward the close of the present gospel dispensation, and previous to His second advent. He foretold that laxity of views and practices, general indifferentism and lukewarmness, a state which He denominated as „neither cold nor hot,” would characterize a large number in His churches; and these, He declared, unless they repented and turned from their loose ways, He would spew out of His mouth: but the faithful and zealous few would be approved and presented as the „Bride,” without spot, before the Father.
It is my deepest conviction that „this day is this Scripture being fulfilled in our ears and before our eyes!” Reader, where do you stand? Where would you stand—among the faithful few, or the most popular among the lukewarm many?
1 (The grandfather of Bro. Win. Whitsett, of the Louisville Theological Seminary, who died at an advanced age, left an able paper with me upon this question, which he prepared the last year of his life. His eighth objection is: “We object to receive the baptism of Pedobaptists, because we think it a dangerous innovation. We have no recollection that the history of the Baptists furnishes an example of the kind, and we are well assured that the common sense and piety of the Baptists were as strong one hundred years ago as they are now. This question we have before us must be a new-comer. We hope it will not be very obtrusive [in this he mistook the ministers of this age] . . . We say again, we think this is a dangerous innovation” (South Bapt. Rev., vol. 5, p. 388).
The inconsistencies of, and evils abetted by, Baptists who practice inter-denominational affiliations.
A straight line can not cross itself though projected indefinitely.
Truth is never inconsistent with itself, and is never the abettor of error.
Consistency is a jewel.—Old Adage.
The practice of affiliating with unbaptized and unordained men of the various human societies of this age as scriptural ministers, and with those societies which „are but an organized muster against the lordship of Christ” (Bro. Bright, New York) as evangelical churches, involve its advocates in many and glaring inconsistencies, and makes them the abettors of many and pernicious evils. A few of these only have I space to point out.
Inconsistencies of Affiliation.
1. The „liberal” Baptists of today are at a loss for language with which to eulogize the martyr Baptists of the ages past for their steadfast opposition to doctrines and practices they called antichristian, and yet they seem at the same loss to condemn and degrade their own brethren, of this age, for opposing the self-same doctrines and the self-same practices, put forth by the self-same sects, which those martyrs called antichristian! They certainly „can not love the one and bate the other, or bold to the one and despise the other” (See Chapters XIV and XV).
2. Should a Baptist Church so far depart from the faith as to discard immersion and adopt affusion for baptism, and infants and unregenerate sinners for proper subjects, and accept a hierarchical or aristocratic form of church government, and a ministerial prelacy, every orderly Baptist Church in the land would disfellowship it as, in any sense, a church—would refuse to recognize its minister as evangelical, or receive his ministrations; but let this unscriptural body join a Methodist conference, or a Presbyterian presbytery, and, presto, it is an „evangelical church,” and its minister is „evangelical,” in the estimation of our liberals, and invited into their pulpits and to participate in their „union meetings.” This is the consistency they wish us to admire!
3. Should one of our most highly esteemed ministers renounce our faith, and embrace and advocate fundamental and dangerous errors, he would be promptly expelled from our church, and debarred our pulpits; but let him join himself to a Pedobaptist or Campbellite society, and, with our liberal brethren, he is at once „evangelical;” and, to illustrate Christian charity and its Thread liberality,” is lovingly invited into their pulpits, and treated as a ministerial equal. For one error he would be expelled from the pulpit and the house; but let him go and take unto himself seven ethers worse than the first, and, lo! he returns to find it swept and garnished for his reception!
4. The most liberal of our liberal brethren, by their words, when called upon to answer, will freely admit that Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are not scriptural churches, and therefore, not evangelical, and yet, before the public, by their acts—uniting with them in „union meetings,” and joining their „alliances’ of various kinds—they declare that they are evangelical churches of Christ, and indorse and recommend them to the world as such, and thousands are led to join them by Baptists indorsing them as churches.
5. The most liberal of the would-be „undenorninational” brethren will frankly declare, if asked, that no organization, save a scriptural church, can administer Christian baptism, or authorize a man to preach, and, in this, they say truly; yet, by their affiliations, they do say, and they know they are understood to declare, that Pedobaptist and Campbellite preachers are truly baptized and ordained ministers of scriptural churches, and in all respects equal to themselves.
When do they wish us to understand that they tell the truth? When they speak, or when they act?
If Baptist preachers are scriptural ministers. Pedobaptists certainly are not, and vice versa, since two things unlike each other cannot be like the same thing—scriptural.
6. Bro. N. L Rice, the great Presbyterian leader of his day, declared if immersion only is baptism, then we Pedobaptists are all unbaptized, and our societies are not churches in any sense, nor are our preachers baptized, or ordained, or authorized to preach. This is unquestionably true. Now the most „liberal” of our brethren, Bros. Burrows and Jeter, will assert as stoutly as the stoutest Landmarker, that immersion alone is Christian baptism. But yet, in the face of these logical facts, they will indorse the immersions and ordinations of Pedobaptist societies as valid, and even indorse those societies as „evangelical churches.” Land-markers are abused for not indorsing their course as consistent.
7. The „liberals” among Baptists, by their words, and by frank admissions, will say that Pedobaptist and Campbellite organizations are not scriptural churches, and therefore, that their ministers are both unbaptized and unordained, which is the truth; and yet, when immersed Pedobaptist preachers come to us, our „liberals” will receive them, and continue them as ministers, without either baptism or ordination; or, as in the recent case of Mr. Foote, Campbellite, ordain without baptism. To accept the baptisms of a society is to indorse that society as a scriptural church, since no organization but a scriptural church can baptize.
8. If a Baptist Church should elect a Pedobaptist or Campbellite preacher to occupy its pulpit for one year, and pay him a salary for his services, as she ought if she employs him, all Baptists, and all men, would say that the act would be strangely inconsistent. When Mr. Chambliss, of Richmond, declared his unwillingness to defend, not to advocate, close communion, his church promptly accepted his resignation, and all Baptist Churches approved their course; and only one man, Bro. Jeter, deemed it consistent to continue him as pastor; but, if it is consistent to receive the services of such a preacher once or twice a year, it is equally so to receive his ministrations fifty-two times. A principle cannot be divided. Even the most obstinate of open communionists (The New York Independent admits this to be unanswerable) accept this argument as valid when applied to interdenominational communion, viz.: If Methodists and Presbyterians can commune together occasionally, they can always, and, therefore, can all unite in one church.
9. Our „liberal” brethren are wont to say that it is only the matter of the mere act of baptism—”close baptism”—that separates them from all other sects which they call „evangelical churches,” and, upon these grounds, it is so. To be consistent with themselves they should invite all who have been immersed to their tables—the Greek Catholics, who observe no other act, all immersed Catholics and Protestants, all Campbellites, Mormons, etc., etc. Thus, as I have ever maintained, the anti-landmark position swings wide, if not wide open, the doors of the Lord’s Supper. This glaring inconsistency is now being charged with effect upon the „liberal” Baptists of the North by the New York Independent. We do not say that it is close baptism alone that keeps other denominations from our tables.
10. The position of these affiliating Baptists is so manifestly weak, that it imperils the whole line of our denominational defenses. The fact is, scores of worthy brethren have openly avowed it, and hundreds of others, who have not, now feel all the logical absurdity of closing the table against those to whom we open our pulpits, and openly indorse as members of evangelical churches. I am free to say that I am forced to admit the consistency of Bros. Jeffery, Thomas, Reeves, and Pentecost in advocating the offering of all our church privileges, and tokens of church recognition, to Pedobaptists, or withholding all. They felt and declared that they were logically compelled to be Old Landmarkers or Open Communionists. I am free to say that, could I be convinced that Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are evangelical churches, and could conscientiously invite their ministers into my pulpit, and granting the general practice of inviting members of all sister churches to the table is scriptural, I would, with the next dip of my pen, proclaim myself an open communionist. A man who cannot feel the irresistible force of this conclusion cannot be made to feel the force of logic. All evangelical churches are scriptural, and, therefore, sister churches; and, when our liberals invite sister churches to their tables, they, in fact, invite all they call evangelical, and they feel this, and, consequently, are falling into the practice of inviting no one, and this is throwing the table open to all—for none are precluded—all who wish can come.
Though not a prophet, yet my personal conviction is that, fifty years from this writing, the Baptists of America will be either Old Landmarkers or Open Communists.
Some two years a go, Elder W. A. Jarrell, of Illinois a Landmark Baptist, proposed to discuss the communion question with Bro. Jeffery, of New York. Bro. Jeffery objected because he was a Landmarker, and occupied consistent and impregnable ground. I quote extracts from two letters:
September 11, 1875.
„It would be of advantage to me to discuss the question with a man who will defend the propriety of ministerial and missionary cooperation with Pedobaptists; and then I would charge upon them the inconsistency, and drive them, and the denomination, to choose between Landmarkism and Open Communion. They recognize and act upon the propriety of exchange with Pedobaptists in preaching, prayer-meetings, and general work. This fact enables me to take advantage of their inconsistency. Your position deprives me ‘of the argumentum and absurdum.’
The question among us is not: Shall we extend recognition in Christian privilege to Pedobaptists? but it is, rather, Shall we forbid participation simply in communion with persons whom we admit to all other privileges of work and worship?”
11. It has long been noticed that our charitable and liberal brethren exhibit vastly more of their „courtesy” and fellowship towards the unbaptized teachers of acknowledged heresies—men who bitterly and constantly oppose Baptist influence—than they do towards their own brethren, who occupy the position and advocate the doctrine and policy of our historical ancestors in the martyr ages of Christianity. In nine cases out of ten, if there were Landmark Baptist preachers and a Pedobaptist minister present, the liberal minister will pass by his own brethren, and invite the unbaptized preacher and public opposer of Baptists into his pulpit, or call upon him to close with prayer. Is this consistent?
The Evils Abetted by Anti-Landmarkers
1. It is the duty of Baptist Churches to throw their whole proper weight, as divine institutions, in favor of the authority of Christ, and the correct and proper observance of His laws and ordinances. But this is impossible, if we associate ourselves on an equality with those religious societies not called into existence by the authority of Christ, but in contravention of His will, whose belief, practice, and influence are erroneous. Such associations most effectually paralyze our own influence for the truth by indorsing manifest error. This great evil is abetted by affiliating ministers and churches.
2. If Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are not scriptural churches, and if they do teach fundamental and dangerous errors, and every Baptist will admit these facts, then it is a fact, that by associating with them as churches, and recognizing their ordinations and immersions as valid, and, by pen or tongue, calling them „evangelical churches” and „evangelical ministers” before the world, we do, by all our influence, indorse their false claims, sanction their pernicious errors, and aid them, to the extent of our influence, in deceiving the multitude to unite with them as churches. And whenever we admit them to be evangelical, we impliedly admit that there is no real necessity for Baptist Churches—we are, in fact, not churches at all, but sectaries, and are guilty of dividing the body of Christ.
3. If Pedobaptists „churches” are „an organized muster against the lordship of Jesus Christ,” as was asserted by Bro. Bright before the New York State Baptist Ministers Conference, which I have shown our fathers have ever believed and acted upon, then, by ministerial and ecclesiastical affiliations with them, we do accredit them as the true ministers and churches of Christ, and bid them „Godspeed,” and become partakers of their sin.
Since writing the above my eye has fallen upon the following:
At a recent installation of a Baptist minister in Massachusetts, two Baptist ministers, and five Pedobaptist ministers took part in the proceedings” (Christian at Work).
Pedobaptist ministers in the North are sometimes invited to assist in ordaining Baptist ministers, and why not, as well as to install? In one case no more than another do we accredit them as scriptural ministers.
4. By indorsing human societies, as Protestants and Campbellites admit theirs to be— i.e., originated and set up by men — we say that men may invent and set up evangelical churches equal in all respects to the divine institution which Christ set up, and we degrade the authority of Christ to that of wicked men, and teach the world to give equal respect to man’s work as to that of Christ.
It is a sad fact, seen and deplored by the venerable Oncken when in this country, that Baptists, by their practical endorsement of Pedobaptist societies as evangelical churches, are very largely responsible for the success and prosperity of those organizations in this country. Said Oncken to the writer:
„The Baptists of America have done and are now doing more to give success and spread to Pedobaptist sects than those sects could do for themselves without Baptist assistance. You Baptists here are like crutches under the armpits of these societies, upholding them and saying, by all the influence of your acts, these be the true churches of Christ— ‘evangelical churches.’ If Baptists would only put forth the whole weight of their united influence against Pedobaptism, it could not live through the century in America, where it is unsupported by the State.”
And after a pause: „And I believe God will not be left without a body of witnesses in this land who will bear a faithful testimony against the whole family of the vile woman of the apocalypse.”
5. Our liberal brethren disobey—and teach others to do so—the plain commands of the Holy Spirit concerning the attitude they should occupy toward the teachers of manifest and acknowledged errors and false doctrine, which was „to avoid them” —to have no company with them, that they may be ashamed.”
Will the reader turn back and read Chapters XII and XIII.
1 He said that he, and the Baptists of Germany, never called Pedobaptist ministers evangelical, nor their societies churches, nor their members brethren.
Last Words To My Brethren.
„A false system has for accomplice whoever spares it by silence” (Vinet.)
I have now, clearly as possible, in the limited space allotted to this work, placed before you the principles, polity, and practices which characterized our historical ancestors, and something of the terrible sufferings it cost them to maintain them at the hands of Pagans, Papists, and Protestants, from the days of the apostles until now. I wish, in conclusion, to urge a few questions upon your prayerful consideration:
1. Will you now decide, by the evidence submitted, if the scores of thousands of Baptists in America, especially in the South, in England and Germany, who now hold and witness for the principles and polity developed in the preceding chapters, have left the „old paths” and are walking in „a new way, and a way not cast up” by the Master?
Or, whether those Baptists who recognize those very organizations, which persecuted our fathers, as evangelical churches. and accredit their preachers as evangelical ministers, by associating with them upon perfect ministerial equality, and receive their immersions as valid baptisms, and affiliate with them in all things, and extend to them every token of ministerial and ecclesiastical fellowship—the Lord’s Supper excepted—are traveling
„In The Ways Our Fathers Trod?”
This is the practical question of this age. It is vital to the best interests of American Baptists that it should be correctly answered. The world demands its settlement. To assist in determining this question this little book has been written. My conclusions are before you.
In the thirty odd years past, during which I have discussed and urged upon Baptists the adoption and practice of these views. I have not heard of one man, however, bitterly opposed, who did not acknowledge that these conclusions are logically irresistible, if my premises are granted. May I beg of you, who read these lines, to decide, before you lay down this book, whether the plain unvarnished teachings of the apostles, and the practice of our denominational ancestors, from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries, do not sustain my premises beyond a reasonable doubt? Turn back, if necessary, and re-read Chapter XIV, and not only note what our fathers claim, but what Catholics and Protestants, with united voice, testify they held and practiced in the face of the dungeon and the stake. Are you not compelled by facts to admit that—
1. They did not acknowledge Catholic or Protestant societies to be evangelical churches, but proclaimed them alike to be anti-Christian bodies, and their ordinances null and void?
2. That they did not accredit the ministers of the Protestant sects any more than those of Catholics, by any act as gospel ministers, nor did they associate with them in preaching the gospel or in any Christian work.
If this is not your conclusion, you may as well close the book, for further words of mine will be useless. But these historical facts admitted, let me press upon your fraternal consideration other important questions:
2. Were not our martyr fathers approved of God for bearing the steadfast and unmistakable witness they did for the divine constitution, the doctrine and ordinances of the church of Christ, and against the human societies that opposed, and the corruptions that subverted them in their day? You can not doubt it. John saw their souls under the altar and white robes given unto them, and heard the promise of their future vindication and coming glory.
3. Can you doubt that it is as much your duty and mine to steadfastly hold, faithfully teach, and as cheerfully suffer, if needs be, for these same principles, and to as boldly oppose these self-same sects and their false teachings and practices in this day, as it was their duty in that age? My brother, do not lightly pass this, but decide—upon your knees, with your Bible, your conscience, and your God.
„Must I be carried to the skies,
On flowery beds of ease;
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed thro’ bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to fight?
Must I not stem the flood?”
4. Have you ever stopped to think why it is that not one in a thousand to-day, who bears the name, suffer the least opposition or discomfort of any sort for being a Baptist? It was never so before. Why is it that thousands of our ministers finish a life ministry, and sill their advocacy of Baptist principles—or preaching the gospel, if you prefer it—never costs them one word of reproach from the teachers of error, the hatred or ill will of a living man? So that living friends even solace their grief, by inscribing on the tombstone of such—
„None knew him but to love him,
Or heard him, but to praise.”
Was the boast of that eminent doctor of divinity to his praise, who said in a recent speech: „If I have offended man, woman, or child with my denominationalism in a pastorate of twenty years, I have never heard of it?”
That minister exchanged pulpits with Unitarians, and invited Universalists even unto his own. If the position of Bros. Jeter and Burrows is correct, that we do not thereby recognize their ordinations or themselves as evangelical ministers, but only as gentlemen, thus lowering the pulpit—which should be the throne of God’s truth on earth—to the level of the parlor, that minister’s course can not be condemned.
Thousands of Baptist ministers can truthfully repeat his boast, after professing to preach the gospel five, ten, and fifteen years; and other thousands are preaching today with no higher ambition than to build up large churches, and to gain an enviable reputation for being „undenominational preachers;” men of „broad” „liberal,” „Catholic” views.
Have you ever seriously asked yourself if these men can be pleasing the Master? I turn to His Word and it reads: „Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
Has this passage no application in our day? Is it true, as some preachers tell us, that the days of persecution are ended? Has the offense of the cross indeed ceased? How am I to understand these declarations of my Savior: „Ye shall be hated of all men for my sake: but he that endureth” (Matthew 10:22). „The disciple is not above his master; if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” „Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” „For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be of his own household.” „If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word I said unto you, The servant is not greater than the lord. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20). Paul understood the import of this language: „Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Do you say all this was spoken of the apostolic age, and is obsolete and utterly meaningless in this; and that the Testament would be as complete to us if these and all similar passages were eliminated? Is it indeed so? has Beelzebub become a faithful ally of Christ—
„And this vile world a friend to grace,
To help us on to God?”
If this be so, has it ever occurred to you that we shall lose many and exceedingly precious promises as well? A few occur to me: „Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Can it be that the blessedness of that kingdom will be the same to those who have never lived for Christ so as to be persecuted? „Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were be fore you.” Is it impossible for us to gain this great reward? Is it, alas! true, that we, alone, of all the Christians who have lived on the earth, are denied the distinguished privilege of gaining this „GREAT REWARD? That we can not suffer peril from false brethren—can not so witness for Christ as to suffer reproach or even to be spoken about falsely for Jesus’ sake?
If this be so, then indeed are we, of all Christians, the most unblessed; for the crowning glories of salvation are alike predicated upon suffering with and for Christ here. Among a host are these: „If so be that we suffer with him, that we be glorified together” (Rom. 8:17). Is it not here implied that those only are glorified together who have suffered for Christ? „If we suffer for him, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12).
But suppose we live on such terms of amity and concord with the enemies of Christ, and those who oppose His teachings, that they become our friends, and speak well of us, can we hope to reign with Christ? Grant that we may possibly be saved „yet so as by fire,” have we a promise of reigning with Christ? The Scriptures impress me that only sufferers, martyrs, cross-bearers, witnesses of Jesus, and for the Word of God, „have part in the first resurrection, and live and reign with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20): that only those Christians who „have not defiled themselves with women”—i.e., affiliated on terms of equality and friendship with false churches—are accounted as „virgins” unto Christ, and are numbered with the one hundred and forty and Jour thousand, and are permitted companionship with Christ (Rev. 14). If one passage more than another has influence, and now influences my life as a Christian and a minister, it is those words of Jesus to His faithful servant at the close of his service: „Well done, good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). What is this world to me if I have no good hope, through grace, of hearing these words at last from the lips of my master? How unspeakably fearful, though I have gained the praise of earth’s millions, and fail to hear the „well done” of Jesus? Oh, what can the future be to me, though I should have the praise of the angels, and fail to hear these few words—”well done, good and faithful servant”—from the lips of my Savior? I know, that He. whose name is Truth, will never utter them unless I have done well, and been faithful in the things committed to me. If I have failed to openly hold and boldly preach His whole truth, for fear of men. I may not hope to hear them, for He hath said: „For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
Let us not deceive ourselves or be deceived. Satan bears the same hellish hate towards the Savior and His church, he did the day he nailed Him to the cross of ignominy, by the wicked hands of his servants.
The carnal heart is still only enmity to God. The whole world still lieth in the wicked one, and is as thoroughly opposed to the authority of Christ as of old. False systems of religion, and false teachers are a thousand times multiplied; only they assume the character, and demand of us the name of „evangelical churches” and ministers of Christ. The words of Christ and His apostles are equally for this as for any former age; and it is tremendously true now as then—that they „who will live godly shall suffer persecution.” There never was, there is not now, there never will be, till Christ comes, an exception to this declaration. If you and I are not persecuted, if we are not reviled and spoken falsely of, for Christ s sake, it is as certainly true as God’s Word that we are not living godly. We are not persecuted nor reproached because we have struck an unholy truce with sin, and the spirit of this world, and with spiritual wickedness, because throned in high places. In every age when the witnesses of Christ have been faithful to their mission, they have suffered from His avowed enemies and professed friends.
It was not only true when the old Pagan dragon held his authority over the nations, but equally so when its ghost—a counterfeit Christianity—ascended the throne and wore the purple of the Caesars; and more bitterly true when Protestantism shed the blood of the saints in the days of the Reformation, and whenever and wherever it has been able to wield the sword, whether in England old or England new, on the soil of the Old Dominion or of Georgia. In every age and in every land, genuine Christianity has been persecuted by its counterfeit, and shall we by all our influence as Baptists, accredit that counterfeit as „evangelical” and genuine?
Be assured, my brother, were we only as faithful in teaching and defending Christ’s precious truth as our fathers were; if we would no longer sacrifice it by sinful compromises to secure the peace and obtain the friendship of false teachers and their followers, we would not long be strangers to their bitter experiences, and we would realize that the words of Christ, and the teachings of the apostles, are of real significance in our day; though our blood might not be shed, yet our names would be defamed, our characters blackened, the spirit of the evil one attributed to us when preaching most faithfully, as it was to the first Baptist—for they said, „he hath a devil”—our wives, and daughters, and sons ostracized from „polite society,” and we and ours would be „accounted the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things, even in this day.”
A young lady was converted at meetings held at the Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and had given her name to be baptized, when she was visited by the Episcopalian rector, and informed if she should so degrade herself as to join the Baptists, who were of the lower class, she would be no longer invited into polite society, but would sink to their level.
We see and feel enough to be convinced that we have entered the Laodicean age of this dispensation, in which the Master’s knock will soon be heard at the door. The love, and zeal, and works of the first age have been „left;” the faithfulness to the order of the house of God, and in trying and condemning false teachers, and the hatred of the laxity, and the profane double-dealing of the Nicolaitanes—who, professing to be followers of Christ, fellowshipped false religions as well—which characterized the churches of other ages has well-nigh died out, and instead, a strange indifferentism to gospel doctrine and denominational principles—to church constitution, to church order, to church discipline, and to pastoral support, has seized the great mass of the membership—a state denomination „lukewarm” by the Savior, which is, of all states, the most abhorrent to him.
But, added to this, an overweening desire to be considered „respectable,” and to command the admiration of the world, has taken possession of the churches. We boast of our numerical strength, our power and our influence, and the culture of our ministry. Could an uninspired pen so graphically have described our condition as a denomination as Christ foretold it?
„And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God; „I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 3:14-22).
Whatever other brethren may do, will you not, my brother, resolve, here and now, to join the noble few whom God is raising up to resist this flood-tide of looseness, lukewarmness, and indifferentism, which is rendering powerless the protest of the churches of Christ against sin and error?
The angel, in Revelation 18, is the symbol of a class of ministers who are to come to the front, at the close of this age, to tell Christians and the world what Babylon is, and call upon God’s people to come out of her. Hear the voice of God, cast the fear of men behind you, and become a martyr—a witness for Jesus.
„Perish ‘policy’ and cunning,
Perish all that fear the light;
Whether losing, whether winning,
Trust in God, and do the right.
Some will hate thee, some will love thee,
Some will flatter, some will slight;
Cease from man, and look above thee—
Trust in God, and do the right.”
What Is It?
A CORRECTION AND EXPLANATION.
Not a few of our brethren represent me as teaching that we should preach on baptism or communion, when we advocate the presentation and enforcement of some one of our distinctive denominational principles or doctrine in every sermon—i.e., to make this as a general rule. I do not hold that baptism and communion are the Alpha nor the Omega of our religion, though Christianity would not long remain pure were these ordinances perverted, and, therefore, they should have due prominence. I am certain that, in a ministry of thirty-three years, I have not, to my church or the same congregation, preached an entire sermon upon the ordinances oftener than once each year, and no church or congregation can be properly indoctrinated with less instruction than this. But I do mean that some one doctrine or characteristic principle of genuine Christianity, in contradistinction to the prevailing counterfeits of it, should find a place, and be emphasized in each sermon; and thus, without unnecessarily awakening sectarian prejudices, popular errors can be corrected, and our distinctive principles—all of which I believe to be scriptural principles—will be most effectually inculcated, and the church and congregation will be gradually and almost insensibly indoctrinated. I can not better explain what I mean than by illustration:
Suppose you were preaching upon the duty and importance of searching the Scriptures. Ask what is the first duty that God enjoins upon His creatures, and suggest: Is it repentance? is it faith? is it obedience? It can not be. It is to learn who He is; it is to learn how just His claims are upon us; it is to learn what He desires us to do, and how He wishes us to do it—in one word, it is to „search the Scriptures.” Say it can not be that God requires any thing of us until we are able to search His Word and know what He would have us to do. It does not read—apply to your parents, or to preachers, or to priests to learn what duty God enjoins upon you. but the command is to you personally, „Search the Scriptures,”—each one of you for yourselves—and learn what the will of God is; and, having learned it for yourself, you must obey it for yourself, moved by love for Him.
In this connection the pernicious doctrine of .the Papists can be corrected, viz., that the common people may not freely read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. The highest duty Christ enjoins upon each individual is to search the Scriptures for himself, and obey its teachings. And no one may presume to do any religious act until he has himself found it required at his hands by searching the Word of God, etc. How natural it would be to ask, in this connection, if it is not the sin of this age, that we seek to learn what distinguished preachers and popular churches, or our parents or friends believe or think we should do, rather than to „Search the Scriptures,” and do only what God requires? This one idea, pointed and driven home, will abide forever in the mind, and prove a most effectual blow to infant baptism. If you would strike at human creeds, formulated by human societies, and required to be consulted and held, irrespective of what the Scriptures teach, quote and enforce that inspired declaration: „God hath magnified his word above every name”—i.e., authority. What God wills or wishes concerning us lie has placed in His Word; and when we turn away from it, to seek in creeds, disciplines, confessions, for man’s requirements, we reject God for man: „In vain do they worship me who teach for doctrine the commandments of men.”
Supposing you were urging the duty of repentance, you can say it is not doing penance, or having it done for you by a priest— as the Catholics falsely teach, and everywhere translate it in their version—but a personal act, that, like every other duty of Christianity, each one must do for himself. Explain the act, and then urge and emphasize that in every case it must precede baptism, because an essential qualification for baptism. Baptism is said to belong to repentance—”the baptism of repentance”—because repentance must exist before baptism, so that baptism can be, as it was appointed to be, an expression or profession of repentance previously exercised. So that other expression that ritualists and baptismal regenerationists make so much use of—”the washing of regeneration.” Grant what they claim, that it refers to baptism, then regeneration of heart must necessarily precede the washing” or baptism, since the washing belongs to it, and is a profession of it. By the pressing of these two points, infant baptism and baptismal regeneration can be effectually crushed.
If you are urging the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, you can emphasize the fact that it is not the mere assent of the intellect, as is widely taught, nor accepting the testimony of the evangelists concerning Christ, as we do those of Irving concerning Washington, but it is gladly receiving the Word, because the message is pleasing to us; relief from our lost and helpless condition is offered to us in Christ, and we rejoice to accept Him in the character He is offered to us—the Savior of guilty and lost sinners—and we trust our whole salvation in His hands. Here you can show how repentance does and must, in the plan of salvation, precede saving faith, which is the sinner’s trust in Christ; since Christ only offers Himself to penitent, not self-righteous, sinners. Not until a person has seen and felt himself a guilty and lost sinner, and sorrows for sin after a godly sort, does Christ say „Come unto me.” Only penitent, weary heavy-laden sinners does Christ invite to come. Repentance and faith are everywhere commanded and required as qualifications for baptism, and they, like every duty enjoined by Christianity, are personal. As no one, parent or priest, can repent for you or believe on Christ for you; so no one can perform the duty of baptism for you—i.e., without your own choice and volition, or before you have personally repented towards God and exercised faith in Christ.
Campbellism, and infant baptism, and ritualism all go down under this stroke. Dare to find places, often to say with an impressive boldness, that the one of the infallible tests by which genuine Christianity can be distinguished from some counterfeits, is its intense individuality—that it knows no proxies, no sponsors, no attorney-ship—each and every duty required is a personal duty, an act of personal obedience, which parents nor priests can obey for us. Now the axe is laid at the roots of the trees, and every tree stands or falls upon the basis of its own individual, personal obedience.
If you are preaching the grace of God as the ground of salvation, can you not find a place to show that it is a sure ground? Because not our works, but faith in Christ alone that introduces and keeps us in this grace, therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, so that the promise of salvation „might be sure to all the seed.” If there was the least contingency affecting our salvation, it could not be sure to us. Therefore the apostle says: „By grace are ye saved, through faith,” and that any admixture of works—any overt act, as baptism—would destroy grace as the sole groundwork of salvation; for if it is of grace it is no more works, or grace is no more grace; and if of works in the least, then is not our salvation of grace at all, else works are no more works; it must rest either upon all grace or upon all works. If it is of grace alone, then must our salvation be sure, because the lack of works will not affect it.
Were you reading the passage, „By deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight,” you could, by way of comment, say there is no definite article in the original, and it should read, by deeds of law—any law, moral, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical—there shall no flesh be justified. Now if baptism is the law of pardon, or a sacrament of salvation, as is so generally taught by Protestants and Campbellites, then this passage is not true; for if by the law of baptism, remission of sins, justification, and the grace of regeneration, are secured, then, by the deed—observance of law—all men can be justified before God!
Should you be preaching upon the passage—and you could, and should often 1)reach upon it—”The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin;” or upon that other precious text —”having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed in pure water, let us hold fast the profession of our faith,” etc., could you not clearly and irresistibly show that blood in every case precedes water; that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, leaving no sin for the water to wash away; that the real cleansing of the conscience is by the blood of Christ. while the washing of our bodies can only be the declaration of it, in symbol? Refer back to all the types of sin-cleansing, and the blood is ever first applied, and then the body bathed in water, symbolizing the cleansing. When the heart of Christ, who was the antitype of all the types, was pierced, „forthwith came out blood and water.” In all the teachings of God’s Word, where the plan of salvation is referred to or pointed to, even by a type, it is blood before water.
This, then, is the infallible test by which genuine Christianity may be tested and known; it places blood before water; it teaches that we come to the church through Christ, to the water of its baptism through His blood; while all human and counterfeit religions reverse this, and teach that we come to Christ through the church, and to the blood of Christ through the water of baptism. Urge the heater to decide on which side he stands, and which he places first in his creed and practice, water before blood or
Blood Before Water,
and show that this is the grand and distinguishing issue between Baptists and all other denominations; and, so far as the doctrines of salvation are concerned, what makes us Baptists—we put blood before water in every case; while in the creeds and practice of Campbellites and Pedobaptists, water is put before blood—the infant and the sinner are brought first to the water in order to reach the blood that cleanseth from all sin.
These illustrations may serve as a key to my usual manner, whether I read the Scriptures or preach the gospel, to drive here and there a nail in a sure place, and clench it so that it can never be drawn.
Men who are gray now often tell me of distinct and lasting impressions made, by these sharp points, twenty and thirty years ago.
What Is It?
Bro. John W. Broadus, professor of theology in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., delivered the following statements to his class, upon pulpit affiliation, which have been kindly furnished us by Elder S. M. Province, of Brownsville, Tenn., an old student. There are many thousands of Southern Baptists who will be delighted to learn the exact position Bro. Broadus occupies upon this question. If he doubts for a moment how his invitations are understood, he as well as the reader is referred to the opinions of Bro. Stuart Robinson, and Hodge, and others, in Chapter XII.
„Illustrating the adherence to principle which the Apostle Paul showed in refusing to circumcise Titus, while in the case of Timothy, where no principle was involved, he allowed the rite to be performed, Bro. Broadus said: ‘A Baptist preacher may invite a Pedobaptist to preach for him, so long as it is understood that he does not thereby indorse the latter’s ordination; i.e., when no principle is involved.’ I quote from my notes. In reply to the question of a student, the professor said substantially: ‘If I were to invite a Pedobaptist to preach in my pulpit, and should afterward learn that he construed the invitation into a recognition of his claim to be a properly ordained minister of a New Testament church, I should not only not repeat the invitation, but I would take pains to tell him why I did not.’”
„Now Bro. Broadus should know that all do construe his invitation into a recognition of their claim to be scriptural ministers.”
„Bro. Stuart Robinson says: ‘The idea of inviting one to preach in the character of a layman seems to me a paradox.’”
„Bro. Hodge, of Princeton, says: ‘When one minister asks another to exchange pulpits with him, such invitation is in fact, and is universally regarded as an acknowledgment of the scriptural ordination of the man receiving the invitation. No man who believes himself to be a minister can rightfully, expressly, or by implication, deny the validity of his [own] ordination; and, therefore, if invited to lecture or speak in the character of a layman, he must decline.’”
„The editor of the Texas Christian Advocate, being asked, said: ‘When one gentleman invites another to his house, receives him into his parlor, and seats him at his table, he recognizes him on terms of perfect social equality. So, when one Christian minister invites another to occupy his pulpit, all who witness the courtesy thus extended, regard it as a proclamation of perfect ministerial equality. Only Christian ministers are invited into the pulpit. If, however, the one who gives the invitation is a Jesuit, a hypocrite, who wishes to make a show of liberality he does not feel, and believes the brother he thus pretends to honor as a minister is only an unbaptized religious teacher, without church membership or ecclesiastical authority of any sort, he should be treated as all hypocrites and pretenders deserve to be treated.’”
„These testimonies must settle the question with every honest man. Pedobaptists and the world universally do, and have a right to regard all such affiliations as a proclamation that we, the minister, invited to exchange, or to a seat, or to preach in our pulpits, as a scripturally baptized ordained minister of a scriptural church.”
What Is It?
OLD LANDMARKISM IN PHILADELPHIA.
Bro. E. L Magoon invited a Swedenborgian preacher to occupy his pulpit, and in consequence the following was offered in the Baptist Ministers’ Conference in Philadelphia:
„Whereas, The public mind has been charged with knowledge of the fact that the pulpit of a Baptist Church of this city, has, by invitation and acceptance, been made the vehicle of publishing grievous and dangerous error; and,
„Whereas. The silence of a representative body of Baptist ministers may be construed as an enactment of such proceedings and utterances; therefore,
„Resolved, That while we rightfully continue to disclaim any assumption of ecclesiastical authority, yet we feel called upon to express public dissent from proceedings thus publicly announced, and that, as a conference, we hereby enter upon record our fraternal protest against employing the appointments of any Baptist meeting-house to aid in disseminating opinions that we, as Baptists, believe are contrary to the teaching of the Word of God.”
Bros. Wayland and Catheart opposed the resolution as unnecessary, but Brother J.M. Pendleton and others favored it. After some discussion it was adopted. It would seem that there is some Landmarkism even in Philadelphia. What will those do now who condemned the protest of the St. Louis pastors? We are pleased to see the pastors of Philadelphia so sound.—Texas Baptist Herald..
I unite with the Herald in an expression of my gratification at this evidence of the soundness of the Philadelphia Baptist pastors. I am not surprised at ‘the opposition of Bro. Wayland to the resolutions, but I am at Bro. Cathcart’s; because I know him to he a consistent and uncompromising Baptist, and the course of Bro. Magoon is fundamentally unbaptistic, inconsistent, and unscriptural.
Paul expressly says:
„Now I entreat you, brethren, to watch those who are making factions and laying snares, contrary to the teachings which you have learned, and turn away from them.
„Now we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly, and not according to the instruction which you have received from us, and if any one obey not our word, by this letter, point him out, and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.”
And he charges Timothy not to be a partaker of other men’s sins, and to bid no false teacher God-speed by an act that may be so construed; since that would involve one in complicity with his false teachings.
John says: „For if there come any one unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed.”
A. Clark well says: „No sound Christian should countenance any man as a gospel minister, who holds and preaches erroneous doctrines.”
If John forbade a beloved sister to receive a teacher of false doctrine into her private house, lest he should contaminate her family with his errors, how much less should he be allowed to occupy our houses of worship and teach the children of God?
Where was the church of which Bro. Magoon is the servant? Did he not consult it? Had it nothing to say? Or is it like the churches of some other learned doctors of divinity—a mere cipher—allowed no voice whatever as to who the pastor may put into the pulpit during his pastorate? There is a class of ministers—who claim that the pulpit belongs to them, and it is not the business of the church to question their right to put into it whom they see fit—that it is their pulpit—and they speak of it as „my pulpit!” They might as well say „my baptism” and „my supper, as „my pulpit.” The pulpit, like the supper and baptism, belongs solely to the church, and not at all to the pastor of the church; and when he cannot occupy it, it is the duty to refer the filling of it to the church. He might as well claim the right to appoint his successor for all time, as to appoint his substitute for one Sunday, without consulting the church. A principle cannot be divided.
It was indeed eminently proper and right for the pastors of Philadelphia to express their disapprobation of the unscriptural act of Bro. Magoon. But in this protest the Philadelphia pastors placed themselves squarely on Old Landmark ground. If it is wrong for any one preacher of acknowledged heresies to occupy a Baptist pulpit and preach to a Baptist congregation, it certainly is equally improper and unscriptural for any other preacher of unscriptural and pernicious doctrines. There is not a Baptist minister in Philadelphia who will not admit, if called upon, that the doctrine of federal holiness of all children born of believing parents taught by Presbyterians, and the doctrine of infant purity taught by Methodists, and the sacramental character and efficacy of the ordinances taught by all Pedobaptists and Campbellites, are as unscriptural and pernicious—as „grievous and dangerous errors,”—as any thing taught by the Swedenborgians; and, if it is improper and wrong to invite a Swedenborgian to occupy a Baptist pulpit, it is equally so to invite or permit a Pedobaptist or a Campbellite to do so; and we do say, that if one such can properly occupy a Baptist pulpit, by invitation, one Sunday, he can as properly, by election, one year, or always. If Baptists can scripturally commune at the Lord’s Table with Pedobaptists once, they can ten thousand times—and always—and, therefore, they can unite and become one church; and so can and should all denominations that commune together. There is no avoiding the logic of this conclusion. We extend the hand of Landmark fellowship, therefore, to every pastor who voted for the above resolutions.
Another Landmark Established in Philadelphia.
A Mr. Henry Losch, a regularly ordained Presbyterian minister, recently renounced Presbyterianism, and was scripturally baptized into one of the Baptist Churches, which soon invited a number of ministers to assist it in the examination of Bro. Losch, with reference to ordination. Bro. J. Wheaton Smith, one of the Presbytery, and a Baptist pastor in Philadelphia, offered the following resolutions, viz.:
„Whereas, our brother, Bro. Henry Losch, a regularly ordained Presbyterian minister, has been brought to believe in the scripturalness of those views which we hold distinctively as Baptists, attesting the earnestness of this belief by uniting with a Baptist Church, on profession of his faith in Christ by Christian baptism; and,
„Whereas, He has related to this council not only the story of his change, but also of his Christian experience, his call from God to the ministry, and of his view of those doctrines which he has held heretofore in common with ourselves; therefore,
„Resolved, That we congratulate the Christian brethren from whom he comes, on their wisdom with their views in ordaining him to their ministry, and that now we heartily adopt him into ours, commending him to any Baptist Church who may invite him to be their pastor.”
I have no intimation how many, or the names of the Baptist ministers who, with Bro. Smith, advocated the above resolutions, but I do not believe that Bro. Henson supported it or Bro. Cathcart, who openly avowed that he believed that „Baptist Churches were the only scriptural or evangelical churches on earth; and if that declaration classed him with High Church Baptists, or Landmarkers, then he was a Landmark Baptist, and not ashamed for the world to know it.” Grand and noble words from a grand and noble Baptist! It would seem from the above resolution that Bro. Smith has fully yielded to the „demand” that Bro. A. Barnes made upon him, and recognizes Pedobaptist societies as scriptural churches; in all respects equal to Baptist Churches, for he unquestionably concedes it in the above resolution.
He admits that the ordination or commission to preach the gospel and administer church ordinances, which Bro. Losch received from the Presbyterians, was a valid ordination.
But every sound Baptist on earth, and every intelligent Bible reader of every denomination admits that a scriptural church of Christ alone can ordain—i.e., commission—a man to preach the gospel and administer church ordinances.
If, therefore, Mr. Losch’s ordination was scriptural, the Presbyterian church of America is a scriptural church, and its infant sprinklings, and sprinkling for baptism; its doctrine of federal holiness and eternal reprobation of the larger part of the human race; and its provincial form of church government, are all scriptural, and, therefore, there is but one inevitable conclusion that Bro. Smith cannot escape, viz.: Baptist organizations are not churches of Christ in any sense, but an organized muster against the authority of Christ; because Baptist churches are fundamentally unlike, and radically opposed to, and subversive of, the Presbyterian church. And it is axiomatically true that things unlike each other must be and are unlike the same thing—i.e., if the Presbyterian organization is a scriptural church, Baptist organizations, claiming to be churches, certainly are not, because radically unlike, and subversive of the Presbyterian. The world reasons, if some of our eminent teachers do not, and every thinking man on the continent would have concluded with us—that if Mr. Losch was indeed an ordained minister, then the Presbyterian organization is a scriptural church, then its sprinklings, and infant baptism, and doctrines are scriptural, and Baptists sin in opposing them. While we regret that there is a Baptist minister in Philadelphia who would present such a resolution, we exceedingly rejoice that it was not indorsed by that presbytery.
I can but express my astonishment at the position of Bro. Smith, so glaringly unscriptural as well as inconsistent and absurd! The Scriptures teach, by precept and example, that baptism must precede ordination to the ministry, and Baptists have invariably observed this order. I do not think that Bro. Smith could be influenced to lay his hand upon a candidate for ordination, whom he knew was unbaptized, and for the very reason that he believes baptism must precede church membership, and church membership must precede ordination, as unquestionably as faith in Christ precedes baptism and church membership. But, by his resolution, he urges upon a Baptist Presbytery to indorse an utter subversion of this order—i.e., that there can be a scriptural ordination before baptism.
Bro. Smith admits that Mr. Losch was an unbaptized man when the Presbyterians professed to ordain him, and he admits that the Presbyterians, being a society of unbaptized persons, are not a church of Christ; and, therefore, have no shadow of authority to ordain a minister, and, therefore, he required Mr. Losch to he baptized before he would receive him to membership. By his resolution he proposes to indorse Mr. Losch’s Presbyterian ordination, and thus subvert the divine order and establish the precedent among Baptists that there can be a scriptural ordination without baptism—that ordination may scripturally precede baptism!
And more—that an organization which is manifestly not a church, can make an officer for a church of Christ, and even commission an unbaptized man to preach the gospel and baptize!
We claim that those ministers who voted to ordain Bro. Losch, placed themselves squarely by our side on Old Landmark ground—they can not consistently oppose it, and, to he consistent, they are compelled to advocate and practice the Landmark policy.
For if Mr. Losch was an unordained and unbaptized man, he certainly had no right to claim to be a scriptural minister of the gospel, and assume to administer its offices; and it was certainly unscriptural and sinful for Baptist ministers to accredit his false claim by any act whatever.
But, inviting him into their pulpits to preach or pray for them as a minister, or receiving his immersions for valid baptisms, would be accrediting him as such, and the society in which he officiates as a scriptural church.
Furthermore, if Mr. Losch was not, while a Presbyterian either baptized or ordained, his baptismal acts, though by immersion, would be as null and void as though administered by a man who did not profess to belong to a Christian church. Therefore, those ministers who voted down that resolution, did impliedly declare that the immersions of an unordained and unbaptized man are null. They thus put themselves on the record as opposed to alien immersions.
They cannot, therefore, consistently affiliate with unbaptized and unordained men, as ministers of the gospel, nor can they indorse any of their official acts—though the outward form be correct—as scriptural or valid. Thus these two decisions by the Baptist pastors of Philadelphia indorse all the Old Landmark principles for which we contend.
Since writing the above I have received the following article from Bro. J. M. Pendleton, of Upland, Pennsylvania, which will set the whole matter in a light before the reader, and must forever settle the question of what Old Landmarkism is, in the mind of every one who can appreciate argument or consistency.
A Philadelphia Ordination
By J. M. Pendleton
„The Memphis Baptist is the paper in which can be most appropriately chronicled an account of a recent ordination in Philadelphia, which has caused some little excitement. The editor of The Baptist will appreciate more highly than any other editor the decision of the council of ordination. The facts in the case are these:
„Bro. Henry Losch, a Presbyterian preacher, having learned the way of the Lord more perfectly, united with the Memorial Church, and was baptized by the pastor, Bro. Henson. In due time a council was called to consider the matter of Mr. Losch’s ordination. It was, fortunately, a large council, confined, so far as I know, to our city churches, and therefore it was not my privilege to be present. The council having been organized, Bro. J. Wheaton Smith offered a resolution virtually recognizing and indorsing the validity of the Presbyterian ordination already received by the brother. This led to an earnest discussion, and the vote on the resolution was quite significant—two for it, fifty against it. Bro. Smith was of course chagrined, and referred in no very courteous way to the decision as an ‘outrage on a Christian church,’ but the council was firm. The brother has been ordained—I do not say reordained, but simply ordained.
„There has been a flurry of excitement among the Presbyterians, and the editor of their paper (The Presbyterian) has come cut with a long article on what he calls ‘New Marvels of Sacramentarianism,’ and pronounces the vote on Bro. Smith’s resolution as a ‘sign of the survival and revival of ecclesiastical bigotry.’ By ‘Sacramentarianism’ the editor of course means the impartation of grace through ordination, which doctrine he ought to know no Baptist believes. The truth is, there is no more grace imparted in ordination than in baptism, and baptism is symbolic of grace already received.
„The excitement of the editor of The Presbyterian was contagious. Hence when the Philadelphia Central Presbytery met, January 6, a preamble and resolution were offered by Bro. Eva, complaining of the action of the Baptist council, and denouncing its decision as a ‘transgression of Protestant principles of equality, unity, fraternity, and charity.’ In his remarks, as published in the Public Ledger of January 7, he is reported as saying, ‘The Baptist clergymen would not meet with Presbyterian clergymen at the table of the Lord, and now it seems that they will not act with them in the matter of the ordination of the ministry. When his brethren said to him you are neither baptized nor ordained, he desired not to meet with them.’ It will be seen that Bro. Eva wishes Baptist ministers to recognize him as baptized and ordained. His idea is that an exchange of pulpits implies this. I ask all anti-Landmark Baptist preachers to take this matter into consideration. Many of them say that Pedobaptist ministers, in being invited by them to preach, know the invitation does not imply a recognition of their baptism or ordination. They can see from the above what Bro. Eva, of Philadelphia, thinks. He wishes to have nothing to do with ‘Baptist clergymen’ unless they admit that he is ‘baptized’ and ‘ordained.’
„In the same discussion, Bro. Poor said that he had been invited, some time ago, by a Baptist clergyman to preach for him, to which request he replied: ‘How can you ask me to occupy your pulpit, if the fact that you do not acknowledge our ordination is correct?’ His friend, in reply, said that he did not acknowledge the ordination of Presbyterian ministers. Bro. Poor added that, from that day to this, he had declined to preach in Baptist pulpits. Here we see that another Presbyterian minister makes a recognition of his ordination indispensable to his preaching in Baptist pulpits. Surely when the facts are fully understood by Baptists and Pedobaptists, the interchange of pulpits will cease.
„In the matter of ordination Presbyterians are quite unreasonable, though they, perhaps, think otherwise. I will explain what I mean: They consider baptism and church membership prerequisites to ordination. Very well. Baptists take the same view. Where, then, is the difference? It is concerning baptism and the church-membership resulting. Believing Pedobaptists without baptism, and consequently without scriptural church-membership, it is impossible for Baptists to recognize the validity of Pedobaptist ordinations. Philadelphia Presbyterians believe that baptism precedes ordination, but they are unwilling for Baptists to believe the same thing, unless the latter will also believe that the sprinkling of an unconscious infant is baptism. This would be as difficult as to swallow not only a camel, but a caravan of camels. What, then, is to be done? The antagonism between Baptists and their opponents is so decided that harmony is impossible, unless one side or the other surrenders. Compromise is utterly out of the question. Compromise is very well in matters involving no principle, but where principle is concerned there is no place for it.
„As to the few Baptists who are satisfied with Pedobaptist ordinations, I scarcely know what to say. They must believe that baptism, to say the least, is not prerequisite to ordination, and how they can believe this defies ordinary comprehension. They find nothing in the Scriptures nor in the customs of Baptist Churches to justify such a belief. Manifestly the elders ordained by Paul and Barnabas in every church were church members, and had, therefore, been baptized. No man is now ordained in any Baptist Church unless the church calls for his ordination, and the church can not go beyond its own members in making a call, for its jurisdiction extends no farther. All its members, however, have been baptized, and therefore every ordination among Baptists presupposes baptism and church-membership. How, then, any Baptist can ignore one of the principles and one of the practices of his denomination, so as to believe that there can be ordination where there has been no baptism, and consequently no church-membership, is as strange as the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation. The Baptist who recognizes Pedobaptist ordinations must recognize Pedobaptist sprinkling as baptism, and Pedobaptist organizations as New Testament churches. He who can do this will find it difficult to say why he is a Baptist. Indeed, if Pedobaptist ordinations are valid, there is no use for the Baptist denomination—it has no moral right to exist and the sooner it surrenders its life the better. Yes, the right of Baptist Churches to exist is involved in the ordination question which has recently created a little stir in Philadelphia.”
What Is It?
JESSE MERCER, AN OLD LANDMARKER.
In 1811, nine years before the editor of this paper was born, the great and good Mercer wrote the Circular Letter of the Georgia Association, in which he presented „his reasons for regarding the administration of baptism by Pedobaptists, though in the proper mode, as invalid.” The following is an outline of his argument, which is taken from his Memoirs by Mallory:
I present them in proof that the principles and practice so bitterly assailed by a class of our ministers as something new and unheard of before their advocacy in The Baptist, are not new, but were considered as the scriptural landmarks of the churches of Christ before we were born. Bro. Mercer uses church figuratively for „churches,” and by apostolic succession he means a succession of churches from the days of the apostles.
„I. The Apostolic Church, continued through all ages to the end of the world, is the only true gospel church.
„II. Of this church Christ is the only head, and true source of all ecclesiastical authority.
„III. Gospel ministers are servants in the church, are all equal, and have no power to lord it over the heritage of the Lord.”
Having established these propositions to his own satisfaction, he infers the following „clear and certain truths.”
„I. That all churches and ministers who originated since the apostles, and not successively to them, are not in gospel order; and, therefore, can not he acknowledged as such.
„II. That all who have been ordained to the work of the ministry without the knowledge and call of the church, by popes, councils, etc., are the creatures of those who constituted them, and are not the servants of Christ or His church, and, therefore, have no right to administer for them.
„III. That those who set aside the discipline of the gospel and have given law to an exercised dominion over the church, are usurpers over the place and office of Christ, are against Him; and, therefore, may not be accepted in their offices.
„IV. That they who administer contrary to their own or the faith of the gospel can not administer for God; since without the gospel faith they have nothing to administer, and without their own He accepts no service; therefore, the administrations of such are unwarrantable impositions in any way.
„Our reasons, therefore, for rejecting baptism by immersion, when administered by Pedobaptist ministers, are—
„I. That they are connected with ‘churches’ clearly out of the apostolic succession; and, therefore, clearly out of the apostolic commission.
„II. That they have derived their authority by ordination from the bishops of Rome, or from individuals who have taken it upon themselves to give it.
„III. That they hold a higher rank in the churches than the apostles did, are not accountable to and of consequence not triable by the church; but are amenable only to or among themselves.
„IV. That they all, as we think, administer contrary to the pattern of the gospel; and some, where occasion requires, will act contrary to their professed faith. Now, as we know of none implicated in this case but are in some or all of the above defects, either of which we deem sufficient to disqualify for meet gospel administration, therefore we hold their administrations invalid.”
On the question of apostolic succession, he adds:
„But it should be said that the apostolic succession can not be ascertained, and then it is proper to act without it; we say that the loss of the succession can never prove it futile, nor justify any one out of it. The Pedobaptists, by their own histories, admit they are not of it; but we do not, and shall think ourselves entitled to the claim until the reverse be clearly shown. And should any think authority derived from the mother of harlots sufficient to qualify to administer a gospel ordinance, they will be so charitable as not to condemn us for professing what is derived from Christ. And should any still more absurdly plead that ordination received from an individual is sufficient, we leave them to show what is the use of ordination, and why it exists. If any think an administration will suffice which has no gospel pattern, they will suffer us to act according to the divine order with impunity. And if it should be said that faith in the subject is all that is necessary, we beg to require it where the Scriptures do, that is, everywhere.”
What Is It?
WILLIAM KIFFIN, AN OLD LANDMARKER.
But there was a consistent Landmarker and a landmark church in London nearly two hundred years before Mercer wrote that letter; and I have shown that every Baptist Association in America was Landmark in faith and practice one hundred years before. I copy the following historical fact from Cramp’s „History of Baptists:
„The young man [Wm.. Kiffin] became an independent inquirer, prepared to follow the leadings of truth regardless of consequences. [This is the true Landmark spirit—the spirit of God’s true men]. Observing that some excellent ministers had gone into voluntary banishment, rather than conform to the Church of England, he was induced to examine the points in dispute between that church and her opponents. He had been five years a member of the Independent church, then under the care of Mr. Lathrop, when, with many others, he withdrew, and joined the Baptist Church, the first in England of the particular Baptist order, of which Mr. Spilsbury was pastor. Two years after that, in 1640, a difference of opinion respecting the propriety of allowing ministers who had not been immersed to preach to them—in which Mr. Kiffin took the negative side—occasioned a separation. Mr. Kiffin and those who agreed with him seceded, and formed another church, which met in Devonshire Square. He was chosen pastor, and held that office until his death, in 1701 [61 years], the longest pastorate on record.”
If the Baptist ministers of America were only such men as Wm. Kiffin, how long would Pedobaptist societies be regarded as churches of Christ? How sad to think that Baptists, by their inconsistent teaching and practice, are doing more than Pedobaptists themselves to build up pedobaptism!
Bro. J. M. Pendleton says: „My opinion is, that the number of Baptists in the United States would he larger by a million today if it had ever been the understanding that there could be no ministerial affiliation between them and Pedobaptists. How strange is such affiliation! The exchange of pulpits makes the impression that these are small matters; and this impression has led many to become Pedobaptists, who would otherwise have copied the example of Christ, who said, concerning His personal immersion, ‘Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.’”
What Is It?
NOTICE OF THE OBJECTIONS TO THIS BOOK.
This little book has elicited a large amount of adverse criticism, and revealed the fact that the most diverse and grossly unscriptural views of the Baptist Church Polity exist among our authors and writers—the recognized teachers of our churches.
The Religious Herald, and some few other critics, declare that the fundamental error of this book is its „cold, inexorable, mathematical logic.” It asserts that strict logical methods of reasoning are not admissible in discussing such questions as are treated in this book, but „moral and probable reasoning” only. We reply, that since logic has only to do with forms of thought, and is the science of correct thinking, that it is rightly applied to the investigation of all subjects, especially to all moral and religious ones; that this, in my opinion, is the chief merit of the book. Sir Win. Hamilton, Bowen, and all standard authorities, sustain me in this. I have demonstrated something, i.e., that Old Landmark principles and policy are taught and enjoined by the Word of God.
The Relative Rights of Ministers and Churches.
There is an irreconcilable diversity of opinions among the teachers of our Israel on these matters, I will divide them into classes:
1. This class is composed of those who hold and teach that baptism belongs to the kingdom, and only introduces the subject into the kingdom, and never into a local church; and that the subject, to gain admission into a church, must apply and present certificate of his baptism by some one, and upon this the church receives him by an unanimous vote!
The unscripturalness and absurdity of these positions can be shown by these plain facts:
(1) The kingdom of Christ has no officer save its one King and Lawgiver, who never baptizes, and hence can not administer an ordinance to any one!
(2) The kingdom of Christ has no ordinance, and therefore no one ever yet received baptism as an ordinance of the kingdom.
(3) The kingdom of Christ is not composed of persons, but of churches, as kingdoms are of provinces, and therefore no person ever was or can be a member of it and not of one of Christ’s churches.
(4) But, if one ordinance belongs to the kingdom, then both do, for what God hath joined together let not man attempt to sever. The advocates of this theory will not admit that the Supper belongs to the kingdom.
(5) But, if the theory be correct, then, when the church excludes a member, she leaves him in the kingdom, where she found him. Think of it—all her excluded members are in the kingdom of Christ, and there is no authority on earth to put them out!
(6) And more, the churches have no disciplinary jurisdiction over ministers, since they belong to the kingdom—if they can administer its ordinance, for it is evident an officer must belong to the government whose laws he executes. If these are distinct organizations, as these teach, one can not interfere with the subjects of the other!
(7) This class also teach that baptism was delivered to the ministry, and not to the church, and therefore they have a right to administer it to whomsoever they deem fit, and wheresoever they please; though they think it expedient to take the voice of a church, when one is convenient, of which they are the sole judges! They may enter a church, and baptize in its own baptistery, without consulting it, if they please!
Now every Bible-reader knows that both ordinances were delivered to the same organization—not to the kingdom, not to the ministry, but to the churches (1 Cor. 11:2); and the churches are everywhere charged with their guardianship and scriptural administration, and the ministry are nowhere thus charged.
(8) And, finally, if it be true that baptized subjects are only in the kingdom after baptism, and not in a church until they make application with certificate of or witnesses to their baptism by a scriptural minister, and the church must receive them by vote, then there is not a Baptist church on this continent, for no Baptist in America was ever so received! And these advocates themselves are not church-members! American Baptists, save the few afflicted with this „crotchet,” believe, with their historical ancestors of 1120, that „by baptism we are initiated into the holy congregation of God’s people;” and with Paul (1 Cor. 12:13), that in one spirit we are all baptized into one and the self-same body — a local church, and not the kingdom.
2. Another class of teachers claim that both the church and its pastor—though not a member—jointly decide who may be baptized; and, if the pastor objects, no baptism can be performed! All can see this puts the veto-power into the hands of the minister; and he alone, even when not a member, can prevent any one entering the church of Christ, or receiving its ordinances. This would be to make the pastor an Autocrat. It is most passing strange that intelligent Baptists should put forth such theories for Baptist or scriptural church polity!
The polity set forth in this book is that the churches of Christ are absolutely independent bodies; and that to them Christ committed all the ordinances, and constituted them the sole guardians and administrators of them; and that his ministers are the servants, not the masters, of the churches, to administer the ordinances to those whom the churches deem qualified. Let the reader decide whether this theory is scriptural, or the above contradictory ones.
Touching the Lord’s Supper
My position has called forth the most confused and conflicting opposition. As in seeking the condemnation of the Author of Truth, the witnesses fail to agree among themselves, and thus virtually destroy their own testimony. Let us see. The position advocated in the book is—
That the Lord’s Supper is a Church ordinance, symbolizing church relations among other things, and therefore should in all cases be so observed, else the ordinance is vitiated and null. Some Baptists oppose this outright, while the most admit that it is a church ordinance, but seek by various indirect methods to evade it, to uphold the present unscriptural and inconsistent practice.
1. The former hold and teach that the Supper belongs to the kingdom, and therefore a member in good standing in one regular Baptist Church has the right to eat with any and all other churches; and that „there is no power in heaven (?!) or on earth that can withhold it from any member where a church is.” (The language of the Baptist Reflector, Nashville, Tenn.). This is blasphemy, denying, as it does, that Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Author and Lord of the ordinance, has a right or power to change it! But this class, while agreeing that the member of one church has the right to eat with every other church in the denomination, disagree. Some of these consistently apply the absurd theory to all other church rights, acts and privileges, as voting, etc., which the other part repudiate. If the theory is correct, then it is true that the members of one church have a right to vote on all questions in all other churches, and thus discipline them, and determine who shall be pastors, if the non-members can raise an outside majority! Now, all our readers can see that either of these positions utterly destroys the independence of Baptist Churches, and denies to them the guardianship of the ordinance which Christ committed to them (1 Cor. 11:2). This theory is thoroughly unscriptural, revolutionary and absurd to be tolerated for a moment. No standard author or scholar, among Baptists, admits that members of one church have a right to the Supper spread in another.
2. There is a second class that hold and teach that the Supper is unquestionably a Church ordinance, and was appointed by Christ to be so observed; and that it was manifestly so observed universally in the earliest centuries of Christianity. But this class is divided into three parties: Those who teach that the churches, though not under any obligation to do so, may contravene the appointment, and invite visiting brethren of sister churches to occasional communion, as a matter of courtesy. This is the general opinion, agreeing with the popular practice of the denomination. It cannot be honestly denied that a church has as much right to invite all Baptists present to vote in electing or dismissing a pastor, or discipling a member, as to participate in the Supper. But our standard teachers agree in saying that it has no right to do the latter, and that our local churches cannot do it without self-destruction. These, as well as those of the first class, infer that Paul and the eight brethren with him communed with the church at Troas while two things remain to be proved—as they do in proving that infants were baptized in Lydia’s house— viz., that she ever had any; and, if so, that she brought her babes along with her! It has never been proved that there was a church at Troas at the time of Paul’s last visit.
That the meal spoken of (Acts 20:11) was the Lord’s Supper, and not a common meal.
The fact is, there was no church at Troas in the first century, if ever.
3. Others of this class say that, since it is so clear that the Supper is a Church ordinance, i.e., an act that must be confined to the members of the particular church, and that it symbolizes church relations, therefore those invited must be, in some sense, members, they propose their theory, viz., that all visiting brethren be regarded as members for the time being—quo ad hoc—to enjoy this one church privilege but no other, and regarded as foreigners so soon as the Supper is ended! This theory is entitled to the credit of originality, for history affords no illustration of it any more than the Scriptures a warrant. To practice this, would be to practice a „pious fraud,” since no conceivable church relations exist, or are recognized either by the church or the individuals. It is seeking to evade the plain law of Christ by a culpable indirection.
4. The author of this book belongs to the fourth party of this class, who hold and teach, that, since Christ appointed the Supper to be observed as a Church ordinance, and to symbolize that all who eat of „the one loaf” are members of one and the self-same church, therefore it must be observed as such; which it never is, nor can be, unless limited to the members of each local church; for, if the thing symbolized does not exist, the symbol is nullified, and the ordinance vitiated. Therefore, Prof. Curtis, in his able work, „Progress of Baptist Principles,” though evidently desirous of being very kind toward the prevalent practice, says:
„It [the Supper] is not only committed to their [the churches] care, but is to be administered among them as a symbol, among other things, of that fraternity which they bear to each other as such. It therefore unquestionably indicates visible Church relations as subsisting among all who by right unite together in its celebration. Occasional communion by invitation must follow, therefore, the principles established for the regular celebration of this ordinance. We may not bend the rule to the exception, but the exception to the rule.” (pp. 303-4).
This means those who wish to commune with any church must become actual members of it. This is my opinion—no more, and no less; and in this opinion it is a satisfaction to know that I stand with the greatest thinkers who have written on this subject, and, better than all, with the Word of God. There are some who insist that the expression of my convictions upon this subject is „the great blunder of my life.” It is my conviction that it will not be so considered by the denomination twenty years hence, and I can well afford to wait that long for the verdict it will then delight to render.