committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

A LANDMARK OUR FATHERS SET

James Robinson Graves (1820-1892)

"REMOVE NOT THE ANCIENT LANDMARKS WHICH THY FATHERS HAVE SET " PROV. 22:28

    Some Baptists may be ready to oppose the position taken by Brother Pendleton in this tract supposing it to be some NEW PRACTICE sought to be introduced. It is an OLD practice sought to be revived. It is an old landmark, which a modem and false charity and an unscriptural liberality have well nigh removed, that is sought to be replaced. It is a coming up of the consistent Scriptural ground, which our brethren the martyrs, from the first ages, boldly and fearlessly stood upon and consecrated with their blood. It was the ground occupied by the first Baptists of America, and it is ground that we, as Baptists, must occupy at all sacrifice, or betray our cause and the ultimate triumph of our principles and our influence.

    Yielding to the sophistry and specious charity of Open Communion, Baptists of Great Britain have well nigh lost their visible existence, and this new form of "open communion" - "pulpit communion " - this demand upon us on the part of Pedobaptists to recognize their societies before the world as gospel churches and their ministers as legitimate gospel ministers, by inviting them thus into our pulpits, and addressing them thus in our convention and through the press, clearly involves the surrender of our distinctive principles. Our ancestors would not yield to this unjust and absurd demand, and accordingly drew down upon their devoted heads the cruel hatred and fierce wrath of Pagans, Papists and Protestants.

    We say it has been the constant practice of Baptist churches to hold no fellowship with corrupt and irregular "churches," from the day the first irregular and corrupt "churches" were organized. The practice of re-baptism commenced as early as 251, one century before sprinkling (save in cases of sickness) or infant baptism had a recognized existence, and therefore the practice could not have originated, as some have affirmed, because Baptists could not recognize infant baptism or sprinkling. It was for the same reason that we now urge for baptizing all, who have received the rite in any form from Pedobaptists and Campbellites - i.e. because such irregular and corrupt bodies are not churches of Christ.

    We quote first from a Historical Essay, by J. N. Brown, (Editorial Secretary of the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, prefixed to the Memorial of Baptist Martyrs.) He says: "Pedobaptism had no recognized existence, "even in the so-called Catholic Church until after the Council at Nice, (nor indeed until the time of Gregory Nazianzen A. D. 363) so we have no proof whatever that it ever existed in the pure churches, or CATHARI, who separated from the Catholics in the preceding century, in the time of Novatian A. D. 251. This large body of Dissenters from the Catholic communion were called Novatians by their adversaries; but as the historian Socrates testifies, they called themselves in Greek, CATHARI (in Latin PURITANI), signifying THE PURE; and the name was designed by them to announce the fundamental principle of their separation, which was the preservation of a pure church membership, communion and discipline. They held that the Catholics had so dewed 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 caged ANABAPTISTS, that is, RE-BAPTIZERS; 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 baptize 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 His., p. 95, which see throughout for the practice of Baptists. These authorities indicate the faith and practice of the Baptists for the first ten centuries.  In the year 1120, we find a "Treatise Concerning Anti-Christ" etc., among the writings of the Waldenses. In defining Anti-Christ 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 find in the Romish, Episcopal and Methodist societies), supported by those who are induced to follow it with an evil heart and BLIND-FOLD - is the congregation which taken together, composes what is called "Anti-Christ or Babylon, etc.' "One of the marks of an anti-Christian system or anti-Christ these Waldensian Baptists declare to be - "He teaches to baptize children into the faith and attributes to dm (baptism) the work of regeneration, thus confounding the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration with the external rite of baptism."

    Do not all the Pedobaptist sects do this, as well as the mother church of which they are branches, or her 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 is conferred in the, ac is but too notorious.

    Now how did these Baptists think it became them to treat every such anti-Christian 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 anti-Christ. 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 then would they have appeared to the world to have "OUTWARDLY" departed from them as the, ministers of an anti-Christian Society?

    What the descendants of theses Waldenses consider as "outwardly" departing from anti-Christ we learn even after Luther, and Calvin, and Henry VIII had set up their divisions, or kingdoms, the leaders and rulers of which demand that we consider and recognize them as churches of Christ.

    Bullinger, a distinguished Protestant historian, in the year 1540, tells us what Baptists considered as OUTWARDLY DEPARTING FROM ANTI-CHRIST. He 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 ANY 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.
"I most conscientiously believe with my brethren of the sixteenth century that Pedobaptist and Campbellite Societies are no more entitled to be considered or recognized as gospel churches, or churches of Christ than the "church" of Rome; the Episcopal hierarchy of England, or the Methodist hierarchy of America, than the Romish hierarchy of America - names, or piety of individual members neither change principles.

    The above historical facts are sufficient to show the faith of Baptists on the Continent of Europe from A. D. 300 to the 16th century.

    The faith of the Baptists in England in 1615 is clearly set forth in the following extract which I copy from the Georgia Index of 1843. The correspondent signs himself "J. L. R.," which are the initials of one of the ripest scholars-us in the South:

    "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 baptisms unless the administrator was authorized to baptize by a PROPERLY CONSTITUTED CHURCH. Hence, in 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 ANTI-CRISTIAN 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 film Baptist ground and the position is impregnable.,,

    If English or Protestant Episcopal ministers are anti-Christian ministers, are not Methodist Episcopal and all Pedobaptist ministers equally so - being alike members and ministers of false churches? And ought Baptists to affiliate with, or recognize such by act as official and gospel ministers? Ought they not to separate from such outwardly, MINISTERIALLY, and by all external acts? It is a very plain question to my mind.

    The practice of the early Baptists in New England and Vii has been referred to by the author of this tract. I will only add two extracts from the history of Pennsylvania and Virginia Baptists. The Philadelphia Association in 1746 decided that to receive into Associations those with whom we cannot communion, is inconsistent and not to BE WINKED AT, because it opens the door to greater and more dangerous conceptions, and is itself subversive of the being and end of an association. Is not the reason of Baptists, which was valid in 1746, valid today? Why, than should we invite Pedobaptist and Campbellite ministers to seats and participation in our Associations?

    Semple, in his account of the New River Association, Virginia, says: "Between these (Methodists and Presbyterians) 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."

    Elder Semper, a veteran Baptist justly remarks:

    This was assuredly a VERY PRUDENT DETERMINATION; first because it might trend to confusion, and secondly, 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 distant respect due a neighbor, than if we were to introduce him to our domestic concerns. * * * Steadfastness in our principles, and charity towards those of others, are not inconsistent with each other.

    It can be seen from the above that this pulpit and associational affiliation and communion with Pedobaptists is a LATE thing and if continued in will prove a Pandora's box to our denomination.

    I endorse the opinion of Elder J. S. Baker, than whom no man in our ranks is worthier of respect: "WE HAVE LOST MORE THAN WE HAVE GAINED BY ASSOCIATION AND CO-OPERATION WITH PEDOBAPTISTS." These facts submitted are sufficient to show the footsteps of our forefathers, when their history could be traced by blood and persecution - when their names were cast out for nought.

    Let our churches of this age decide who are seeking to introduce new practices, who are attempting to break- down the old landmarks and lead them away from the old paths, those who would introduce this new phase of open communion - this recognizing human societies as gospel churches, by inviting their ministers into our pulpits, and receiving their baptisms as valid, and calling them our brethren in writing and in conversation; or those who in the face of bitter scorn and the fires of the inquisition of public opinion, hold forth the old, tune-worn, fire-scathed banner, glowing with the inscription of the martyrs!

Editor Tennessee Baptist Nashville, TN.

Reprinted from:
THE MEMOIRS OF ELD. J. N. HALL
BY W. V. BARKER
Chapter VI / pages 88 - 97

 
 
The Reformed Reader Home Page 


Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved