A History of the Baptists
The Anti-Effort Secession from the Baptists.
The Rise of the Division?The Rancor of the Discussions?The Misunderstandings?Opposition to Missions?To Education?Masonry?Drinking?"Old School Baptists"?The Opposition Widespread?Bebee in The Signs of the Times?Tennessee.?Arkansas?Kentucky?Hill Grove Church?Otter Creek Association?Georgia?Hepziban Association?Yellow River?Flint River?Alabama?Virginia?Reasons for the Divisions? State of Religion?John Taylor?Samuel Trott?Daniel Parker?Illinois?Peck and Parker?Indiana?Texas?Sad Results.
Contemporaneous with the formation of the Triennial Convention there began among some Baptists an aggressive campaign against missions, education, Sunday schools, and indeed almost everything that organization fostered. The history of the Baptists of that period would be incomplete which did not give an account of the anti-effort secession variously called anti-missions and hardshellism. One can hardly, in this day, understand the rancor of speech which prevailed for years in many of the churches, and most of the early associations.
This was largely true of all parties. For example, Rockwood Giddings, who was, at one time, President of Georgetown College, said of the editor of The Signs of the Times, the anti-effort publication: "His examination was published in the Signs of the Times; a paper which is read by but few respectable people, and still fewer who are capable of appreciating sound arguments, when they are presented to them. Indeed, Mr. Trott, in that paper reminds me forcibly of a rather factious couplet which Mr. Wesley?s clerk is said to have read to the congregation, with the old-cast-off-wig of his master on his head?
?Like an owl in ivy bush,
That fearsome thing I am?
I have therefore no disposition to enter the ?bush? with him; and shall for the present dismiss him and his writings with a few remarks" (The Baptist Banner, January 9, 1838. IV. 2). This is rather a mild sample of things which were said.
Ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstandings were the fruitful source of many of these denominational dissensions. The following is a fair representation of many other letters written by William Hays, Weakley county, Tennessee, in 1838, and published in The Old Baptist Banner:
I am certainly glad of the alternative of your paper, as I think it will be of benefit to some of us Old School Baptists in the west, where the floodgates of iniquity and Arminianism are open; and the hideous roar of the lion of the tribe of serpents is heard; together with the missionary ?lat which is so clearly adverse to the gospel and the church of God; and whose operations have been simultaneous since their model was set up at Mill Creek in this State. But modernism, in these days, especially in theology, has become most desirable with many, notwithstanding the opposition of such things so fully and clearly developed in the book of God, according to my understanding; as such, I am opposed to any, and all such errors, for the following reasons: Phantasm is not to be depended on in matters of indemnity, though preponderance of authority may, &c.
While there was great opposition to missions, which gradually augmented as time went on, there was, if possible, a more bitter opposition to education, and to the establishment of Baptist colleges. The expressed opposition to these benevolent enterprises, as they were designated, was a conviction that they were human institutions, inventions and schemes, and contrary to the simplicity of the instructions enunciated in the New Testament for the spread of the gospel. There were also, of course, lower considerations, such as that preachers would not receive their support if mission collections were pressed, and some dissatisfaction because some preachers failed to receive appointments which they desired. Others feared that educated men would take their places. The Holy Spirit instructed preachers what to say, and therefore human learning was unnecessary. So missions and mission societies, Sunday schools, colleges and education, paid ministers, and temperance societies were denounced as contrary to the Word of God and human liberty.
Masonry was violently denounced by the anti-mission Baptists. But this was contrary to the former position of Baptists. For example, the Charleston Association, in 1798, answered the following query:
Query.?Is it consistent with the principles and conduct of a Christian, for a person to join himself to a lodge of free-masons?
The following was the reply:
Answer.?As the essential part of the masonic constitution is secrecy, the Association find themselves greatly disqualified for giving a decided answer to the query. The universal benevolence professed by members of that body; the acts of kindness and liberality actually performed in many instances by them; and the existence of persons professing Christianity in that connection make in favor of it; but on the other hand, engagements to secrecy, before he can receive the necessary information to enable him to form a regular and conscientious judgment on the necessity a person is laid under, to bind himself by the most solemn subject, and which, should he finally disapprove of it, must prove the most embarrassing nature, appears to be so inconsistent both with reason and religion, that it would seem, at least, advisable for serious Christians to avoid the connection; especially as we are amply furnished with directions, and aided by the most powerful and sublime motives to the purest benevolence, in the scheme of our holy religion, and as the principles of all the useful branches of science are open to the freest access. Yet we think the subject so intimately connected with the rights of private judgment, that a person should be left to his own conscientious determination respecting it (Minutes of the Charleston Association for 1798).
Most of the anti-mission Baptists were opposed to Temperance Societies, and advocated the drinking of intoxicating liquors as a beverage. Joshua Lawrence, the leader of the anti-missionary forces on the East, in a sermon preached July 4, 1830, in Tarborough, North Carolina, thus defends the drinking of liquors: "Much is said about the Temperance Society?but if I am rightly informed those who join are not to drink one drop?if so, it has the wrong name, for it ought to be called the Abstaining Society. Does such a society agree with Scripture? Drink no longer water says Paul to Timothy, but use a little wine-and of deacons he said, not given to much wine-and the Saviour drank wine. And because some men make a storehouse of their belly, I must eat none-because some men have burnt up their kettles, I must not hang mine on the fire-and because some men have been killed by medicine, I must not use it prudently. What sophistry of priests!" (The Colombian Star, October 9, 1830).
The name by which they designated themselves was Primitive, or Old School, Baptists; and they claimed that all Baptists were originally of their contention, which certainly was not the fact. "They arrogate to themselves," says J. M. Peck who was a contemporary, "the name of Old School Baptists because they reprobate all these measures (missions, education and Sunday schools, etc.), and declare non-fellowship with all Baptists who have anything to do with missionary work or any of those forms of active benevolence, and with all who hold correspondence with or fellowship missionary Baptists. In this charitable act they cut themselves off from at least nineteen-twentieths of all our Baptists in the United States, unless we can admit that a mere fragment of a party can exclude a vast majority" (J. M. Peck, Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, July 4, 1839).
This conflict became nation-wide but prevailed more widely in the Southern and Western States, although it extended to the Middle and New England States. It began somewhere about the year 1814 and increased in violence until 1835 to 1842, when many of the churches and associations were rent asunder. The following suggestions were made by Mr. Beebe, in The Signs of the Times, in 1838, and had much to do with the divisions which speedily obtained:
We believe that missionary exertions in modern days are carried on to a considerable pitch of extreme, and, therefore, cause considerable disturbance in churches and associations, which is an evil which ought to be guarded against; therefore, we will not correspond with, nor fellowship, any association or church which holds it as a principle of right.
We believe that the institution of free-masonry is a great evil, and a work of midnight darkness; we, therefore, will not either directly or indirectly, correspond with or fellowship any church or association which holds fellowship with free masons that have not withdrawn from the lodge.
As an outgrowth of this controversy there were many unpleasant, and often violent, situations produced. Churches were rent asunder, associations divided, and there were many personal alienations. A few examples of this kind out of the many which are typical are here recorded:
I. J. Roberts writes of Tennessee as follows:
The unpleasant part particularly relates to the division of the church. The Baptists are divided into four shades of difference, viz.: 1. The Regular Baptists, such as live in Georgia and S. Carolina, &c., so called by way of distinction. 2. The Separate Baptists, so- called from having separated from the Regulars on Arminian principles; they are sometimes called freewill Baptists. 3. The Campbellite Baptists; so called from having adopted the sentiments of Alexander Campbell of Virginia. None of these commune together. 4. The seed Baptists: Their preachers sometimes, by way of emphasis, are called snake preachers; because they preach that a part of the human family are the Seed of Adam, and under the law, for whom Christ died; and that a part of the Seed of the Serpent, are not under the law, for whom Christ never did die. They quote this text, with others, in proof of their doctrine: "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law."
Daniel Parker of Illinois, has published a book vindicating this doctrine, and seems to be at the head of the party in the west. These still commune with the Regular Baptists. Of these four the Regular Baptists are the most numerous. Another matter of grief in the west, is the abundant ignorance which prevails among the preachers and people. None are learned except in their partyisms; and consequently far from being liberal minded. I think I am acquainted with from thirty to one hundred Baptist preachers in Tennessee, of whom very few are enlightened. I think one cause of so much neglect in the cultivation of their minds, is the entire omission of the churches to support their pastors. An unsupported and, unenlightened ministry are inseparable companions everywhere (The Columbian Star and Christian Index. October 9, 1830).
The condition of affairs in Arkansas was thus described:
In relation to the general condition of the denomination in Washington Association, which embraces so large a territory in this frontier State, we have the following facts:?The brethren and the churches in the aggregate are of the High-Calvinistic cast in their doctrine. In relation to benevolent efforts which characterize our times, they have not much information, and a majority of them may, therefore, be set down as opposed. The ministers are generally good men, laborious and self-denying, but of limited attainments and moderate talents (The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, January 30, 1840).
In Kentucky there were many resolutions offered in churches and associations on the subject, some of which were passed and some rejected. The following was presented in the Hill Grove Church, Hardin county, July, 1839, and was rejected:
Resolved that the church has taken into consideration the corruptions of the United Baptists of Kentucky in faith and practice in the supporting of the Arminian doctrine and all those societies that money buys membership contrary to the Bible and our articles of faith answer. Resolved, that we se a church believe that the Voice of God and of truth in saying come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not her plagues feel it our duty to withdraw from the United Baptists and stead on Original ground and as we were constituted a Regular Baptist church and feel it Our duty to invite all Our brethren churches and individuals to Union and correspondence with us and hope Our dear Brethren whom we love in the truth both ministers and members will visit us and preach with and pray for us (The Baptist and Pioneer, December 5, 1839. IV. 2).
The following extracts are from the minutes of the Licking Association, the largest anti-missionary body in the State:
The Licking Association has noticed with deep regret the various efforts which have been made to involve the memory of several valued ministers of the gospel, who lived and died members of her body, in the modern missionary institutions of the day. Some are curious to know why the Elkhorn Association has not introduced Peter, James and John, the Master, or some other inspired witness, to sustain her missionary operations, instead of Ambrose Dudley, Joseph Redding, John Price, and others who make no pretensions to being inspired? A solution of the question is not difficult, when it is known that the Bible is as silent as death on that subject . . . Suppose some of our aged brethren had given countenance to missionary operations; we ask, is the church justified thereby (in absence of Bible authority), in giving her support to an institution which it is believed has done, and is doing more to corrupt her, than, perhaps, any other?"
The Circular Letter of the Panther Creek Association gives the following advice:
We further say to the churches, have nothing to do with the Bible Society, for we think it dangerous to authorize a few designing men to translate the holy Bible. Stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has set you free, and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage.
The Otter Creek Association was organized from fragments of churches, October, 1839, in Meade county, Kentucky. The following report was given at the time of the members of this body:
The preachers of this association are remarkably illiterate, and are not too well supplied with common understanding. They are, however, as vain of their ignorance, and boast more of it, than any scholar ever did of his highest honors of the first universities in the world l But they claim to be possessed of a species of inspiration, which more than supplies the place of common sense and cultivated intellect. They were called to the ministry almost as miraculously an was Paul, and were invented of the priestly office as wan Aaron. But their chief characteristic consists in their rampant opposition to all benevolent institutions of the day. This association holds in utter abomination everybody who would give the Bible to the heathen, preach the gospel to sinners, or refuse to drink drama! They are deadly hostile to all who belong to, or in anywise favor, or rather who will not disfellowship Bible, Missionary, and especially Temperance Societies (The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, February 27, 1840).
One of the first acts on record in Georgia, which may be considered hostile to benevolent institutions, is that of the Hepzibah Association, in 1817, when the Circular Letter for the year, written by Charles J. Jenkins, appointed at the preceding session, was rejected because it took strong grounds in favor of missions. Things in the association went from bad to worse for the missionary cause, so that Jenkins wrote to Dr. Sherwood, January 2, 1823, as follows:
My situation is a lamentable one, and claims largely the commiseration and prayers of my brethren. I am in a land of darkness and cruelty, excluded from the privileges of the sanctuary, and from the society of Christians; and, indeed, I am destitute of any society at all. But, hitherto, the Lord has helped me to be resigned to his will. I sometimes have a refreshing from his presence, and then my soul doth magnify his name; but, when I am in darkness, it is distressing indeed. I beg you to remember me at a throne of grace. Pray the Lord that I may possess my vessel in patience; and that I may not be permitted to do anything which may cause a reproach on the name of the Saviour whom I have espoused.
By the year 1835 divisions in churches and associations became common. A few illustrations are given to show the spirit of the times.
The Yellow River Association, in Georgia, in 1838, adopted the following non-fellowshipping resolution:
That the institutions of the day, called benevolent, to-wit: the Convention, Bible Society, Sunday School Union, Tract Society, Temperance Society, Abolition Society, Theological Seminary, and all other institutions tributary to the missionary plan, now existing in the United States, are unscriptural, and that we, as an Association, will not correspond with any Association that has united with them; nor will we hold in our communion or fellowship any church that is connected with them.
These meetings were often violent and sometimes disgraceful. Rev. A. T. Holmes wrote that "the Flint River Association adjourned on Tuesday last, after the most stormy and unpleasant session I ever witnessed. On Monday, the body presented- the most disgraceful aspect that I ever witnessed in a religious meeting. It did more harm, and r have no doubt had a worse effect on the community, than it will ever do good. Other denominations looked on with wonder and astonishment, and even regret, to see the Baptists so much divided; and even the world was pointing the finger of scorn and saying, ?See how these professors hate, and are trying to devour each other"? (The Christian Index, October 21, 1837).
In Alabama the same violence was manifested in some of the associations. The Flint River Association, in 1838, denounced missionary operations; and declared that such activities were deleterious to the peace and harmony of the churches; therefore, it was resolved "by this Association, that she declares unfellowship with the Missionary Society and all auxiliaries, together with all and every? person who are joined with or in anywise connected with any of these institutions; and that all of those churches, ministers or otherwise, within her chartered limits who shall adhere to the principles of their constitution, in connection with the Association, will be regarded by her as members of her body, and that she will sustain and defend all those rights and privileges reckoned to them by their respective church covenants, so far as association compact is concerned."
The estimate of the numbers of the Anti-Mission Baptists in Virginia, in 1839, according to The Religious Herald, was as follows:
There are in Virginia over 500 Baptist churches, and about 60,000 members. The Old School Baptists have therefore not quite one-fifth of the churches, and about one-eighth of the white members. The Old School churches are generally small, and not on the increase. Within the last year they have had but few additions; the number baptized in five churches in the Dover Association was greater than in the whole of their churches in this State. The Regular Baptist churches, on the contrary, are steadily, though slowly, increasing, and the disproportion betwixt the two bodies, in point of numbers, will every year become greater. Indeed we expect that in another generation they will have become extinct.
Many reasons may be given for these divisions. The Baptist denomination, at this time, was not consolidated or unified. The Baptists until recently had been few and scattered, the churches were often located far apart, they had preaching very seldom and no local pastor, the associations met only once a year and were frequently turned into debating societies, there were few Baptist newspapers and they only had a small circulation, and the Triennial Convention had just been organized, and was perhaps the occasion for the attack. There was as yet no common rallying point. The methods of work were new and untried. The anti-missionary newspapers, The Signs of the Times and The Primitive Baptist, were widely circulated and from every standpoint attacked the new institutions. Many of the charges preferred were unjust but they produced the desired results.
The state of religion, in this period, the country over, was very low. It was a time of chaos and confusion, of bitter animosity and dissension, and of course religious conditions were deplorable. The Circular Letter written in 1831 by Jesse Mercer to the Georgia Convention says:
That the standard of Christian morality is deplorably low among the ministry and churches of our denomination, is too obvious to be concealed.
Are there not many professors among us whose spirit, life and conversation, filly becomes the gospel of Christ?worldly in their views and mercenary in all they do, so if they were not seen in the church meeting, or at the Lord?s table, they could not be told from worldlings? And yet do they not go unreproved?
Are there not many who, to the entire neglect of all family religion, seldom attend church meeting, and habitually live irreverently, if not immorally? And are they not suffered to go undisciplined?
And others there are, who, in the plainest sense, are drunkards, and though no drunkard hath any place in the Kingdom of God and Christ, yet do they not, by some means?by feigning repentance or empty and vain resolves?continue from youth to old age in the church, frequently, if not habitually, drunk? Are there not many such cases?
And more; is it not common that mere negative goodness is all that is requisite to constitute a member in good standing, and to recommend him, as such, to a sister church?
And, moreover, is there not evidently a want of union and concert among both ministers and churches of our denomination?
Have not instances occurred in which some churches have disciplined their members for what others have winked at, or even commended, in theirs? And have not censured, and even excluded members of some, been received and nurtured by other churches? And have not ministers gotten into heated and hurtful controversies with one another, breathing toward each other the most cruel asperities and cruel animosities? And is it not true that one has preached what another, in and to the same congregation, has contradicted and exposed as unsound and dangerous, by which questions which engender strife have abounded? And has not all this passed off, without any effort to correct the evil or to reconcile these inconsiderate brethren?
The Anti-Mission movement had a curious beginning. Samuel J. Mills was the leading spirit in organizing the celebrated Haystack Prayer Meeting at Williams College. It was from this prayer meeting that Adoniram Judson became the missionary to India. Mr. Mills, with a companion, was on a missionary tour through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Natchez settlement to New Orleans. While in Kentucky he went sixty miles out of his way to visit John Taylor. Taylor was a man of great influence and had seen much of service in building the early churches in that State; but he was a man of limited education and high prejudices. He speaks of his visitors as "respectable looking young men, well-informed, and zealous in the cause in which they were employed . . . I have no doubt these young men meant friendship to me and to preachers in general."
The two missionaries were, however, unfortunate enough to arouse Mr. Taylor?s prejudices by trying to show him that for a pastor to secure missionary contributions meant to increase liberality all along the line, and especially in regard to pastoral support. "They became quite impatient with my indolence, assuring me that if I would only stir up the people to missions and Bible society matters, I should find a great change in money affairs in favor of the preachers; urging by questions like this: ?Do you not know that when sponges are once opened they will always run? Only,? said they, ?get the people in the habit of giving their money for any religious use, and they will continue to appropriate for all sacred purposes."?
Mr. Taylor comments upon this as follows: "Surely it will not be thought uncharitable to say that I did begin strongly to smell the New England rat." As a result he wrote the first of the books in the anti-mission schism.
One of the leaders in this reaction was Samuel Trott. He "was for many years," says J. M. Peck, "in connection with the Regular Baptist denomination, first in New Jersey, and afterwards in Kentucky. Then he professed and acted with the denomination on missions, ministerial education, and other benevolent operations. He was always rather ultra in doctrine, verging toward Antinomian fatality, rather narrow in his views and tinged with a little bigotry. While in Kentucky he was connected with the Kentucky Missionary Society and, for a time, served as agent to collect funds. Whether his salary and expenses exceeded his collections; or his dogmatical-Calvinistic style of preaching dissatisfied the brethren, we never learned. They discontinued his agency. His preaching never proved very attractive, interesting, or useful anywhere. Some years since he migrated to Virginia. When the antinomian and anti-missionary party in that quarter, a few years ago, formed the Black Rock Convention, broke from the denomination, and sent forth their harmless anathemas against the whole Baptist phalanx, as missionary operators, Trott found himself amongst this little ?sect.? He had always found a peculiar itching to be a great man, and as greatness is comparative, and, doubtless, recollecting the adage, ?better be the head of the dog than the tail of the lion,? he is now nearly in the front rank" (The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, June 27, 1839. IV. 1) .
It was Daniel Parker, however, who was the originator of the system. "Daniel Parker, in the west, and Joshua Lawrence in the east, are in truth and fairness, the fathers and founders of this sect" (J. M. Peck, The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, July 4, 1839. IV. 1). "These two worthies?one in Texas and the other in North Carolina?are the two heads of the party." Parker was an enigma; and his system was a strange rehash of the old Gnostic philosophy. Peck, who knew him well, describes him in the following language:
Mr. Parker is one of those singular and extraordinary beings whom Divine Providence permits to arise as a scourge to his church, and as a stumbling block in the way of religious effort. Raised on the frontier of Georgia (by others he is spoken of as a native of Virginia) without education, uncouth in manner, slovenly in dress, diminutive in person, unprepossessing in appearance, with shriveled features and a small piercing eye, few men for a series of years have exercised a wider influence on the lower and less educated of frontier people. With a zeal and enthusiasm bordering on insanity, firmness that amounted to obstinacy, and perseverance that would have done honor to a good cause, Daniel Parker exerted himself to the utmost to induce churches to declare non-fellowship with all Baptists who united themselves with any of the benevolent (or, as he called them, "newfangled") societies.
His mind, we are told, was of a singular and original sort. In doctrine he was antinomian. He believed himself inspired, and so persuaded others. "Repeatedly have we heard him when his mind seemed to soar above its own powers, and he would discourse for a few moments on the divine attributes, or on some devotional subject, with such brilliancy of thought and correctness of language as would astonish men of education and talents. Then again, it would seem as if he were perfectly bewildered in a maze of abstruse subtleties" (Smith, A History of the Baptists in the Western States East of the River, 123, Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, 198. July, 1842).
Parker extended his labors from North Carolina through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and from Indiana to Texas. The extraordinary spread of anti-mission sentiment in Tennessee, and elsewhere is well explained by Dr. R. B. C. Howell. He says: "About this time the noted Daniel Parker began to attract attention. He was, as is well known, the author of the ?Two Seed doctrine;? as it is usually called, and then, and for sometime after, resided in Middle Tennessee; from whence he removed to Illinois, and finally to Texas, where, last autumn, he paid the debt of nature. Several circumstances combined to give him and his doctrine extraordinary influence. Our Methodist brethren had, from the first settlement of the country, been very numerous and strong. Here the Cumberland denomination arose, and swept over the land like a whirlwind. Both those classes of Christians were ultra-arminian, and they and the Baptists were perpetually at war. It is not surprising that, in these circumstances, the Baptists became insensibly ultra-predestinarian. Of this doctrine Parker was the champion, and therefore, the general favorite. In his person, dress, and manners, he was plain, approximating to vulgarity. This also added to his popularity, And, withal, he was a man of astonishing ability and untiring industry. It may be supposed that the repugnance of his system would have destroyed his influence, but this was not the case. So ingeniously did he interweave it with Baptist doctrines, as then understood and preached, which was a kind of antinomianism, that it required much discrimination to separate them, and make them appear in contrast, with satisfactory distinctness. His views met with a spirited resistance from a few men, such as McConico, Whitsitt, and Wiseman; but the prevailing feeling was, that if he erred, it was on the safe side?in favor of the divine sovereignty, and in opposition to Arminianism.
"Mr. Parker set in motion the means that overthrew missions in Tennessee, and to which he was induced by the following considerations.?He was ambitious to be a writer, and sought, as the medium of his communications with the public, the columns of the Columbian Star, then published in Washington City. His essays, setting forth his peculiar opinions, were rejected by that paper, and his doctrines ridiculed as equally immodest and preposterous. This was too much for a man of his unbounded pride and self-confidence tamely to endure. The offense given him was unpardonable. The conductors of the Star he knew to be associated in the conduct of the missionary enterprise, and of ministerial education. From that hour he conceived the moat implacable hatred against the men and all their pursuits. Seldom did he preach a sermon in which he did not give them a thorough dressing. He also commenced the publication of a series of pamphlets, which he continued for a year or two, giving expressions of his doctrine. In these, as well as his sermons, he appeals successfully to the sympathies of his Tennessee brethren. His own, with other pamphlets and books, such as those by Joshua Lawrence, of N. Carolina, and James Osborne, of Baltimore, were constantly carried and sold by him and his associates until the land was deluged by them in all its length and breadth. Religious newspapers, tracts, and books (except their own) were denounced as unscriptural, and designed to supersede the Bible; ministerial education was reviled as consisting of the manufacture of graceless and lazy young men into preachers, and therefore supremely abominable; and missions were worse than all, since they were nothing less than a combination of their pretended managers, not to preach the gospel to the heathen, which they could not do, because they did not themselves know the gospel, but to get the people?s money, with which they were represented as purchasing immense estates, and living like princes. All of this was believed by a surprising number of people. Why should they not believe it? They knew human nature to be very depraved; they possessed little general information, and they were assured of its truth by ministers, in whose veracity they had the fullest confidence.
"Meanwhile, no agent, or other friend of missions, visited the state, who might have corrected these false impressions, and set all these matters, and missions particularly, in the proper light. No Baptist paper existed in the South, and none was taken, except, perhaps, by one in a thousand of our brethren. Moreover, some of the prime friends of missions became converts to Mr. Alexander Campbell?s system and joined him. Thus missions became beyond measure odious. The current of prejudice had. gradually swollen, until now no one dared to resist it. Not a man ventured to open his mouth in favor of any benevolent enterprise or action. The missionary societies were dissolved, and the associations rescinded all of their resolutions, by which they were in any way connected with these measures, and, in this respect the stillness of death rested upon the whole people! Subsequently, and until the present time, this state of things has been kept up wherever it was possible., by the same means, and by industriously circulating in addition such papers as The Old Baptist Banner, of Tennessee, and The Primitive Baptist of North Carolina, and Signs of the Times, of New York" (R. B. C. Howell, Missions and Anti-Missions in Tennessee, The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record, 306, 307. November, 1845).
Peck speaks of his work in Illinois as follows: "In 1820, Daniel Parker, then a resident of Crawford county, and connected with the Wabash District Association, published his book against the ?Principles and practice of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions,? which was circulated petty extensively among western Baptists. We wrote a pamphlet to correct Parker?s misrepresentations, but suppressed it after it was in the hands of the printer, for fear that it might give Parker?s book more notoriety and influence than- it otherwise possessed. Parker was indefatigable in introducing a query into as many Associations as he could through the West, that would produce an answer condemnatory to missionary operations, and he really deserves the credit, not only of that monstrous abortion of purblind theology, The Two Seeds, but as the most active and persevering opposer of missionary and other benevolent societies in the West. Most. of his argument and objections are founded upon misrepresentation, or whimsical sophisms, but there is one objection more plausible and formidable than our brethren who are not well acquainted with western Baptists imagine. It may be stated in the following form:
"That missionary societies, not being formed and sustained by the authority of the churches of Jesus Christ, not under their control, but based upon the principle of the payment of a definite sum of money by individuals, acting independent of the churches, and who, by appointing the managing committee, exercise entire control, and thus take the appropriate work of the churches out of their hands. That in assuming to appoint missionaries, and designate the fields of their labor, without any direct responsibility to the churches, they usurp another of the church?s prerogatives, in controlling a portion of the ministry."
J. M. Peck twice met Daniel Parker in debate in Indiana. The first was in June, 1822, in Gibson county, at a special session of the Wabash District Association. The contest lasted the entire day and was decided by vote of thirty-five to five in favor of missions. In 1825, the second debate occurred before the White River Association in which the association unanimously voted against Parker. In 1824 the Sangamon Association was formed, and it was charged that missionary work was rejected through clandestine methods by a vote of a majority of one. The following article was adopted: "It shall be the duty of the Association to bar from a seat any United Baptist who is a member of a missionary society" (The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, December 26, 1839). This action was the occasion of much strife among the churches, litigations, remonstrances and confusion. The remonstrances were in vain, though at one time nine churches called for a change in this rule, and it was only changed in 1826 by a convention called to remodel the constitution.
Dr. Peck records the following terrible results of this agitation in this association:
We need not inform our readers that these movements, hostile to missions, were an effectual barrier to religious efforts of every kind in the churches connected with these Associations?that the spirit of God fled from such scenes of strife and confusion?that revivals of religion were withheld from such churches?that a majority of the churches then have ceased to exist?that an unusual number of the preachers have turned out to be drunkards and profligates?and that so far as religion is concerned other churches and Associations cover this field. God has spoken in his Providence, in terms too plain and fearful to be misunderstood?"O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."
Referring to these events Dr. De Blois, the biographer of John M. Peck, describes these scenes as follows: Peck "visited various churches and associations, and met the famous (or infamous) Daniel Parker, politician, theologian, reactionary and propagandist. This shrewd and able man embodied the whole devilish spirit of the anti-mission crusade, and had a smooth tongue, considerably eloquent, and a genius for a persistent proselytism.
"In the light of present-day world-wide ideas it is hardly possible to understand the bitter opposition to all of the higher forma of Christian service which characterized the people of the smaller churches in the New West one hundred years ago. At the Association in New Princeton, Indiana, Mr. Peck was refused a seat in the body and treated as $n outcast, because of his seal in missionary enterprises. Mr. Parker, on the other hand, was welcomed joyously, and applauded at his rabid opposition to every form of missionary activity. Mr. Peck, great hearted and noble, says in his diary: ?In my interview with Brother Parker, I alluded to his address about missions, and told him I could cheerfully give him my hand, as a conscientious and well-meaning though greatly mistaken brother.?
"Describing the latter sessions of the Association he says: ?The subject of missions came up. This was occasioned by one church having charged another with having supported missions.? This constituted a serious grievance. Mr. Parker arose and delivered a fiery address, denouncing all missionary effort in lurid and forceful terms. Mr. Peck obtained leave to speak and defended the missionary enterprises of the denomination with great fervor. It was s memorable occasion. Two of the most noteworthy leaders of religious thought and feeling that the 19th century produced were present, face to face, at the meeting of a few humble and insignificant churches. They spoke mightily, the discussion lasted for five hours. Mr. Peck must have appreciated the vigor of his antagonist for he says: ?I never before met with so determined opposer to missions in every aspect.? But the virile and eloquent Parker, State Senator, splendid man of affairs, religious leader, founder of a sect and stalwart reactionary in all that concerned the kingdom of Christ, received a startling rebuff; for the very Association which had declined to recognize the missionary and had refused him a seat three days before, voted heartily to sustain the cause of missions, and resolved, by formal vote, to support the church which had raised a contribution for the great cause" (De Blois, 48, 49).
Thus did the terrible conflict rage for nearly thirty years. A large number of members withdrew and formed new churches and associations; the morale of the denomination was weakened; the minds of the people were turned from missionary endeavor and directed to contentions; and altogether the results were most discouraging. This contention was accompanied by another schism in which more people were probably alienated from the churches than in this one.
Books for further reference:
B. H. Carroll, Jr., The Genesis of American Anti-Missionism.