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 churchwould 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 actsuniting with them in "union meetings," and joining their "alliances of various kindsthey 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 thingscriptural.
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 tablesthe 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 Lords 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 allfor none are precludedall 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 heresiesmen who bitterly and constantly oppose Baptist influencethan 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 Churcheswe 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 mans 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 disobeyand teach others to do sothe 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.