Succession to the Twentieth Century
Those who have traced the Kehukee, Virginia, Philadelphia, Charleston and other former Regular Baptist Associations are aware these bodies realized significant changes in both faith and practice since 1789. Indeed, most of the original Regular Baptist Associations no longer exist. In the mission/anti-mission divisions of the nineteenth century, churches from all of these associations gained new identities. Some few remained Regular Baptists, fully embracing the inventions of Fuller and Carey while retaining their Calvinist theology. In 1900 they became known formally as Landmark Baptists and are members of the American Baptist Association. However, it must be noted these brethren also experienced divisions; and today, not all who call themselves Landmark Baptists are Calvinists in their theology.
Some few churches in America are yet called Particular or Strict Baptists. Their affiliation is with the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists in England.
Many of the Regulars made a complete transformation once exposed to the heady self-flattery of the missionary scheme. They could no longer be satisfied with saving elect souls and demanded an opportunity to save all souls. They abandoned Calvin's theology and, with missionaryism as their creed, joined in union with the General Baptists, subdividing into numerous Baptist Conferences, Unions and Societies.
Those who truly loved the doctrines of grace were more perfectly instructed. Over several decades they came to accept the truth of man's depravity and God's grace. They realized man can do nothing before he is born again to save himself, including receiving gracious visitation and implantation of a saving faith prior to actual regeneration. They rejected Calvin's notions of saving faith gospel instrumentality in regeneration. They came to realize that faith is not one of the fruits of the Spirit; but rather, is one of nine elements of the single fruit of the Spirit. As such it cannot precede Spiritual indwelling in the child or God. They embraced the Old, primitive Baptist creed, which is the word of God, the only rule of faith and practice. They joined or affiliated themselves with churches whose unbroken succession of authorized baptism and true faith is traced back to Christ. In so doing, forefathers settled on an old name as their new name, Primitive Baptists.
Most Primitive Baptist churches in existence today can trace their origins back through the Kehukee, Virginia, or Georgia Associations; or, through some other church in the area, constituted through the efforts of Shubal Stearns, Daniel Marshall, or the small army of evangelical elders they ordained. From these numerous Churches, successions reach England in one of two ways. Those who so desire, may claim succession through the Particular or, Regular Baptists, who joined union with the Separate Baptists. This path proceeds back to England through the Churches of the Philadelphia, Charleston, New York or other Particular Baptist Associations. It leads back to the represented churches of the 1689 and 1644 London Confessions, It proceeds back to John Batte and the Rwynsburg Mennonites. It continues through Walter Reynard (Lollard) to the Waldensians. It moves back to Polycarp, then John and finally the Savior.
Those who choose the Welch succession trace their primitive Baptist heritage through Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall. They follow it to Elder Valentine Wightman, Obadiah Holmes and Dr. John Clarke. It goes back through the Midland Association of 1655 prior to embracing Fuller's errors of Calvinist gospel instrumentality. It reaches back to Elder Edward Wightman of Burton, in the Midlands in 1612, whose preaching so inflamed Anglican clergy they burned him at the stake. It traces from this brother back to the ancient mother Church at Olchon, who claims her origin in the era of the Apostle Paul and the apostolic church in first century Rome, finally, back to the Savior in Jerusalem.
The word fitly spoken by the Savior, which he gave to the Apostle Paul, was passed to Pudence, Bran Fendigaid and other noble Welshman. It was passed to martyred Alban, Aaron and Julius whom the Welsh pagan worshippers slew. It was passed to Dyfrig who withstood the Papist Austin and was slain with twelve hundred of his yoke fellows in 600 A.D. in the Vale of Carleon. It was preached by Dynawl, Tailo, Pawlin, Daniel and David. It was preached in fellowship with Walter Lollard. Sir John Oldcastle preached the same words of Christ, as flames licked his body. He passed the word to Walter Brute. It passed to Howell Vaughn and Edward Wightman. It was passed to Daniel King, John Mayo and others of the Midland Association. It passed to John Clarke and Valentine Wightman. It passed to Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall. It was passed to the one-hundred twenty-five elders they ordained. It was passed to Elders Lemuel Burkitt, John Maglamre, Nathan Mayo and others of the Kehukee brethren.
From there it spread across America. It is the doctrine Elder Richard Curtis Jr. preached in Mississippi in 1791. It is the faith which Elder Wilson Thompson preached all his life and passed to his son Elder Greg Thompson. It is the doctrine they both used with great spirit and skill as they refuted the arguments of gospel means in the mid 1800s. It was preached by Elders Lee Hanks, Achilles Coffey, John R. Daily, Walter Evans, S. F. Cayce, G. T. Mayo, J. G. Webb, S. F. Moore, Walter Cash and T. L. Webb. It is the doctrine so ably explained in the notes of the Fulton Convention of 1900. It is this same faith which is preached from Primitive Baptist pulpits today.
There is a great need for revival in the church today. She is under attack, and Satan is using his most subtle and effective weapons. We all seek spiritual revival. However, conforming ourselves to the teachings of Protestant reformers is not the answer. It was not the answer for Olchon, the Midland Churches, the Separates or the Kehukee brethren. Calvin, Owens, and Edwards or even Philpot or Spurgeon are not our role models. They were all men who served God as they felt impressed in their hearts. Our true role models are first, Jesus Christ, next the apostles, next the first century church and then New Testament saints such as Stephen, Timothy, Cornelius, Pricilla and Eunice. The relevance of their service is defined in scripture. We are not forced to wonder about their motives and activities. They are all defined examples. No such well defined role models have existed since, because the accounts of later saints were not penned by divine inspiration.
The true creed of Primitive Baptist doctrine and practice is not contained in uninspired articles of faith. Our standard for belief is the inspired word of God, the Bible. We must not succumb to the wiles of Satan in our efforts to claim God's elect into the church or to reclaim backsliding members. The self-defined doctrines of hyper-legality will never effect true revival. Throughout history, beginning with the Pharisees of Jesus Christ's day, such theories have always fallen by the way. Devices of men do not glorify God and therefore have never effected true revival.
True revival can occur. But it will occur only after we, as a people, humble ourselves before God in prayer, begging his forgiveness for our sins of negligence and idolatry. He will then give us spirits of repentance which will focus our minds and lives upon our complete dependence in his gracious providence. When we return to the narrow path walked by the Savior and martyred saints who gave all in their pursuit of godly righteousness, God will send others to walk with us.
The false religion of rigidly enforced ethical creeds will never effect true revival. Only when true gospel is coupled with the godly righteousness of true religion, which is in Christ Jesus, will God so bless us. The obedient walks of the saints of God will provide examples to those who long in their souls to be delivered from the bondage of corruption of their carnal existence. The gospel will explain the good news of salvation by the sovereign grace of God and give occasion to joy and peace. It will reveal the narrow pathway of true Christian discipleship. When we, as members of Christ's church, conform the walks of our lives to Christ Jesus by the transforming of our minds away from worldly charms, then God will send revival. But first, we must humble ourselves and beg God's forgiveness. When our minds are spiritual enough and our lives obedient enough God will send revival.
We may take a lesson from our seventeenth century brethren. When differences arose, their desire was to serve God in any way, even in disagreement. Personal attacks were few. Brethren looked for areas of agreement. Error was tolerated while labor was extended. Everyone benefitted from manifestations of godly affections. The Lord sent revival.
Though brethren sometimes did not agree, they continued to communicate in a spirit of brotherly love. When common ground could be found they quickly met there and served their creator, arm-in-arm. Contention ebbed. Satan's influence diminished. In this environment of brotherhood and godly affection hearts melted and correction was the result. By the mercies of God's love, his providence allowed brethren to realize they loved God more than self. They laid aside, what was for some, centuries of doctrinal heritage and declared as had the Midland Brethren "the word of God, our only rule." Love abounded and led the charge. Order pursued and soon prevailed. The Church was edified, seen as a Bride adorned for her husband. The song of the turtle dove was heard, and peace ruled the day. The glorious Lord was seen walking among his candlesticks. The morning of revival dawned.
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