committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

BAPTIST PRINCIPLES RESET

PART 3

CHAPTER 1.

What Baptist Principles Are Worth to the World.

BY A. E. DICKENSON, D. D., EDITOR OF THE RELIGIOUS HERALD, RICHMOND, VA.

 

The subject chosen is by no means trivial. It is worthy of the candid and prayerful study of all Christians of every name and denomination. It is as much every other person's duty to ascertain what is true about these matters as it is yours and mine.

I shall not put forward unwarranted and exaggerated claims for the Baptists, nor underestimate what other Christian people have done. In speaking of what Baptists have done, and of what their principles are worth, I hope not to use a word to which any of God's dear children not of this fold can rightly take exception. May great grace rest upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, here and everywhere, now and evermore!

In the very beginning, I must frankly confess that Baptists have accomplished for the human family scarcely a tithe of what they might have done and ought to have done. We are summoned to the profoundest humiliation in reviewing the failures and follies which have almost everywhere and always marred the force and beauty of our principles. Many a time have these blunders brought us into disrepute among great masses of good people. You know that the worst enemies to any good cause are those who profess to be its champions, and yet, in their teaching and living, misrepresent its spirit and aims.

Whenever the Spirit of Christ departs from a Baptist church, whenever such a church turns from its God-given mission, it dies

dies surely, dies completely, and often dies speedily. The bones of such a church soon become as "exceeding dry" as were those of which Ezekiel had a vision "in the open valley." No amount of excited breath expended in Baptist brag and brazen boastings, no fierce indictments of other Christian denominations, no iron bands of organization

nothing can keep alive a Baptist church which turns its eyes from its high and holy mission and fees them upon low and groveling aims and purposes. Such a church soon wastes away and gives up the ghost, and the sooner it does this the better.

CARICATURING OUR VIEWS

Whenever Baptists give their chief and almost exclusive attention to emphasizing the points of difference between them and others, they place their denomination at a frightful disadvantage. Multitudes, who might be won to our faith but for this distorted view, because of it are driven into organized and unrelenting opposition to us, and they in turn make thousands more our enemies, who might as well have been our friends. While this unwise advocacy of our views

this caricature of them, I might better say

has often damaged us immensely in the eyes of other good people and the world at large, such so-called Baptist champions have often not stopped there, but have turned their guns upon their own citadel. Not content with the ruin inflicted upon their own denomination by their unwise methods in attacking others, they have too often found additional vent for their pugnacious impulses in keeping up a lively fight at home within their own lines. There is nothing such Baptists like so well as hot water

the hotter, the better for them. If necessary, to make things lively, they will invent new tests of Baptist orthodoxy, of which our Baptist fathers never so much as dreamed. Anything is to their liking, if it serves to foster and foment dissensions and distract and destroy feeble churches, which, but for some unworthy leadership, might soon become great and glorious exponents of the true Baptist faith.

Had Baptists been as loyal to the command to go into all the world and disciple all nations as they have been to keeping the ordinances as they were delivered, long before this all Christendom might have accepted the truth as we hold it, and the kingdoms of this world might have been brought into loving subjection to Him whose we are and whom we serve.

In other particulars, also, we have often, in antagonizing unscriptural views and practices, gone too far in the opposite direction. If others have had too much machinery, often we have had too little. Their cast-iron polity, their wheels within wheels, should not have deterred us from having all the wheels we really need that are in keeping with the necessities laid upon us for doing our work and in line with Scripture teaching. In exalting our New Testament doctrine of church independency, putting the supreme power and authority in the local church, where they belong, it is not necessary that we let our great resources run to waste. That doctrine does not hinder, but rather calls for such combination and concentration of these little Christian republics as may be for the good of each and all.

If others have sought too exclusively the patronage of the more influential classes, have we not too often satisfied ourselves with evangelizing the neglected masses, while overlooking others, whose wealth, learning, and position we might have brought into active cooperation with us in the defense and diffusion of our denominational views? If knowledge is power in other directions, is it any less so here? Had we been wiser, we might more diligently and generously have fostered institutions of learning and have led others instead of being led by them, in this and in many more great Christian movements. Because of these and many more Baptist blunders (which, with becoming humility, let us all now confess and deplore), Baptist principles have not had a fair chance in the world. The victories they have gained have been won largely in spite of their advocates.

It is not the fault of the Baptist idea that it has not been worth a thousand times more to the world. It is not the fault of good seed that they fail to produce a good harvest when they are not properly planted and wisely cultivated. A medicine may be ever so good, but it may fail of producing the desired effects, when diluted or improperly administered. McCormick's best reapers fail to gather the waving harvests, if those in charge do not know how to use them. Baptist principles are not responsible for Baptist follies. As we become wiser and learn better how to wield this old Jerusalem blade, we shall secure results which will fill us with wonder anal rejoicing. We shall then probably accomplish as much in a year as we now do in a century.

Even now we see, here and there, how mightily the wise use of our resources tells. Often you will and one single Baptist accomplishing as much as dozens of his brethren, all told, equally gifted in many respects with himself. Such an one may chance to go into a community where there are no Baptists, and where the tide is all against them, and yet, in a year or two, by a wise and loving presentation of our views, he will capture almost the entire population. Under his leadership, men, women, and children, with all they have, in head and heart and purse, turn joyfully to the Baptists. Indeed, there is nothing under heaven which unprejudiced people take to so readily and hold to so firmly as to Baptist principles, when they are rightly put before them in the voice and life. The chief, if not the only reason, why Baptist principles have not long ago gained a thousand-fold stronger hold upon Christendom is to be found in Baptist blunders. Not Pedobaptist logic, but Baptist living, has kept us in the background.

With these preliminary remarks, I come now to consider

WHAT BAPTIST PRINCIPLES ARE WORTH TO THE WORLD.

And, first, it may be well to indicate what are Baptist principles. Baptists hold to certain views and practices which are distinctive and peculiar, and are held by no others on earth. They regard these as immensely important worth living for and worth dying for. And hence, when it is proposed in the name of Christian union to merge all denominations into one general organization, it seems to us but idle talk. Such a union may suit those who have nothing in particular to stand for; but it does not commend itself to us, who have great doctrines which can be maintained only by our continued separate existence. None desire more than we that all God's people may be really and truly one in faith and practice. We pray daily for the coming of the time when all who love Christ shall be one, even as he and the Father are one. But, starting out with the principle that the New Testament is our ultimate and only authority as to church order and church action, the question of church organization is settled for us for all time. The inspired Epistles emphasize the importance of holding firmly to gospel order, leaving nothing to the caprice and ever-changing whims of poor, fickle mortals.

The inspired volume does not contain a line which indicates that anything will do for baptism; that if you think a thing is right, it is right to you. You search the Book of God in vain to find that baptism means this, that, or the other thing, or nothing, just as one may choose to have it. You will find no line there which so much as remotely intimates that this ordinance is for any but penitent believers. Nor will you find anything there which could give the faintest idea that the supper was ever to come before baptism. The India-rubber system of our Pedobaptist brethren has millions of advocates in this world, but no whisper is heard in its behalf in the Book of God.

That those who can so readily set aside inspired command and example should keep up their own separate ecclesiastical organizations, is something we do not understand. Surely nothing less than the demands of conscience, enlightened and guided by the Word of God, can justify the continued separation of Christian denominations. If it is a mere question of church government, for example, between two ecclesiastical bodies, neither of which tries to fund a scriptural basis for its polity, then such bodies ought to coalesce, and as soon as possible. Unity is desirable

unity of form as well as unity of spirit; and hence every denomination of Christians is perpetually challenged for the reason of its existence. If it has no distinctive principles, it has no right to live, nor does it deserve to live if its principles are comparatively valueless. Without a "Thus saith the Lord" for what is peculiar in its teachings, as its Christian basis, a religious denomination has no right to exist, and the sooner it disbands and unites with a denomination which has such authority for its existence, the better for all parties. Continued separation from other Christian workers, under such circumstances, is schismatic, injurious, and un-Christian.

We are not disposed to avoid the issue here raised. We will not be disloyal to our convictions by asking that, the Baptists be relieved from the test herein involved. Baptists are not exempt from the application of these principles. They have no right to maintain a separate existence, unless they stand for great New Testament doctrines which are peculiar and distinctive. Ordinarily, we have not been slow to accept this challenge.

THE BAPTIST MONOPOLY

There are certain things in Christian doctrine and practice of which we have a monopoly. No one else is manifesting any special concern about these views and practices of ours, except to oppose them, and, if possible, to banish them from the world. This is the sect now, as it has ever been, everywhere spoken against. However our brethren of other persuasions may differ among themselves, they are solidly one in opposing Baptist principles; and hence it is manifest that there is something peculiar, as well as provoking, in our position and principles. And yet to all charges of creating schism and division Baptists may lift their hands to heaven and cry: "These hands are clean!" We simply stand by the old rules

as old as the New Testament. If others come in with new rules, upon them must rest the responsibility which comes with warring sects. From the peace which is bought at the expense of truth, may the good Lord deliver us? One particle of truth, in God's sight, is more precious than all earth's glittering treasures. Union in the truth is the only union worth the name.

Baptists from the days of John the Baptist, have given the most emphatic testimony to their conception of the value of their denominational tenets. In maintaining them, they have accepted imprisonment, stripes, and death itself. If the noble army of Baptist martyrs, who joyfully welcomed all the ills that earth could inflict rather than abandon their advocacy of Baptist views, were not greatly deceived, there is something wrapped up in this Baptist idea of priceless value. Roger Williams knew what he was doing when he plunged into the wilderness, and for days went without bread or water (he says, "For fourteen weeks I knew not what bed or bread did mean"), in his zeal for soul liberty, which was then as peculiar and distinctive a Baptist principle as believers? baptism is now. But Roger Williams was only one of a great multitude

we might almost say a multitude which no man can number

who proved their appreciation of what Baptist principles are worth by enduring fierce persecution in their behalf. It might quicken the zeal of Baptists for them to recall the sufferings endured by their fathers, to bear in mind at what cost this liberty they now enjoy was obtained, and how joyfully their fathers paid that price in the dungeon and at the whipping-post. They counted life itself a thing of no value, when called to abandon Baptist principles. The man who does not see anything worth living for or dying for in Baptist doctrines is a man immensely unlike Obadiah Holmes, who, after a term in jail, was tied to a public whipping-post, his clothes stripped off, and received thirty lashes; "the executioner striking with all his might, and spitting upon his hands three times, that he might do his utmost. His flesh was so torn and cut that for weeks afterward he could only rest upon his hands and knees, even in his bed." It was his profound conviction of the value of Baptist principles which cheered and sustained him through it all. He calmly accepted the situation, believing that the coming ages would prove that his sufferings were wisely endured. And so thought the old Virginia Baptists, who laid the foundation of our faith in this old Commonwealth, as their songs of praise to God rang out from many an old jail.

Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice did not stop to count the cost when, far from home and friends, in a heathen land, they gave up their only guaranteed support, as soon as they discovered that Baptist principles were simply New Testament principles, and cast their lot in with the Baptists. They did not stop to ask as to the social position or the wealth and worldly influence of the Baptists. They did not once raise such inquiries. As soon as they discovered that the Baptists had Scripture authority for the points on which they differ from others, Judson and Rice were ready, at any and every sacrifice, to espouse their cause. What a rebuke to all who desert the old Baptist banner because their lot happens to be cast in a community where it is not popular to be a Baptist, or because they happen to be associated with those who would be pleased to have them abandon these principles!

NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE.

It nothing is ever settled until it is settled right, loyalty to conscience and to the Word of God must always rank higher than any mere sentimental desire for the union of Baptists with other denominations. There is no room for compromise left us. It is not a mode of baptism that Baptists plead for, but the thing itself. No immersion, no baptism. Nor do we put baptism above other commands and teachings of Christ. Underlying our denominational position on all these questions there is one great cardinal, basal principle, the bed-rock of Baptist faith and practice. That principle is that the sacred Scriptures are the only and the absolute authority in religion. The object to the phrase "paramount authority," and we are not quite satisfied with the phrase "all sufficient." The Word of God is the sovereign, and this sovereign has no parliament and no prime minister. It is a matter of no earthly interest to us, as modifying in any way our beliefs, what councils, popes, cardinals, bishops, canons or deans, or even district associations, may proclaim. The Word of God

what does that teach? is the only question which concerns a true Baptist.

Along this line Baptists have been working through the centuries, and their labors have not been in vain. Baptists have been worth something to the world. They have stood for soul liberty, for converted church membership, for loyalty to Christ as the only King in Zion. They have kept the ordinances as they were delivered. With them there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. No one has a right to say two or three; God excludes all but his own "one." He has a right to dictate as to his own gospel and its ordinances, and we have no more right to undertake to change them than we have to change the physical laws which he has appointed to govern the material universe. There would be no more presumption in attempting to abolish the law of gravitation than the law of baptism. We read: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Again: "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not." And yet again: "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed." "Behold! To obey is better than sacrifice."

No, friends, it is not that we are bigots

not that we are lacking in love for you and in appreciation of all the good that is in your heart and life; but because we dare not be disloyal to Him who has loved us and given himself for us. If he counts the immersion of the penitent believer baptism, then nothing else in the universe is baptism. If he has put baptism before the supper, no one in earth, heaven, or hell, should dare to change that order. If he has put the governing power in the local church, you have no right to put it anywhere else.

BAPTISM NOT THE CHIEF DOCTRINE.

After all that has been said about Baptists unduly magnifying baptism, we do not hesitate to affirm that baptism is far from being the chief doctrine of the Baptists. If the other so-called modes of baptism could be shown to have scriptural authority, we would not hesitate to adopt them. The very principle which makes us immerse would, in that case, make us conform to scriptural precept and precedent, whatever that might be shown to be. The reason for the existence of Baptist churches would scarcely be weakened by so startling and improbable a discovery. They might have to change their practice, but their controlling principle would remain intact. We count as the small dust in the balance any question of much water or little water. Whether a goblet or a gulf, would make little difference to a Baptist, who understands that the ground of separation lies much deeper than that.

There are great differences between Baptists and all other denominations apart from the ordinances. We differ as to the first principles. They have one idea of the constitution of a Christian church, and we have quite a different idea. They start out with the old Abrahamic idea, and they say the church is for our children as much as for us, their parents; the Baptist begins with asserting that every human being that is born into the world is dead in sin

conceived in sin, born dead

and that nothing but the Almighty Spirit of God can infuse life into that dead soul, and that until that is done it is the supremest folly to think of bringing it into the church. Only those who have received Jesus, and to whom he has given the privilege of becoming sons of God, "who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," have, according to our principles, any right to the church and its ordinances. Thus, if ail others were to adopt immersion as baptism, and stop there, they and we would be as far apart as the poles.

In holding to immersion in water as essential to the act of baptism, the Baptists have saved to the world one of the only two great symbolic ordinances instituted by the Head of the church, and the other they have kept just where the New Testament placed it. We have also made prominent the principle of unquestioned obedience to the Word of God, placing it not only above, but infinitely above, all questions of custom or conscience, all decisions of ecclesiastical courts and councils; so that these latter are not thought of as having any authority whatever.

Baptism symbolizes some of the most precious truths of our holy religion. It tells us that we are dead and buried and raised to a new life

that our sins have been washed away

buried out of sight. It points to a blissful resurrection and a glorious immortality. It assures us that, having been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall also partake of the likeness of his resurrection. Baptism proclaims what no tongue can speak. One may in the most eloquent language explain what the Lord has done for him, but his words are cold and lifeless compared with the pathos and power which accompany the silent submission to this symbolic ordinance. We have seen vast crowds melted to tears as they gazed upon this expressive and beautiful picture

God's own picture

and we have known men converted by the sight, when all else had failed to move them.

As long as Baptists hold to their baptism, so long they will secure to the world this precious symbol, rich in soul-saving truth. As long as our baptism stands as an expression of obedience to Christ (and it grows more absolutely clear every day that it is), we exalt the Word of God, and everything that exalts God's Word and authority is something that the world needs. "The Bible, the Bible alone, the religion of the Protestants," was the famous dictum of Chilling worth. But it is lamentably true that the most serious and insidious

serious because insidious

attacks upon the Bible have, in recent years, come from Protestants. The few Baptists who have shared in this unholy crusade have found themselves quickly and surely shorn of all influence. The great Baptist body has had sufficient spiritual health to dispose of them effectually and promptly, without the slow and factitious aid of ecclesiastic courts. The principle which expresses itself in our baptism and communion and church polity has made this possible. This literalism, for which we are often mercilessly criticized, has done the world good service, and will render far more service in the future, unless we misread the signs of the times.

Baptists not only cleave to the act of baptism, as given in the sacred Scriptures, but they also adhere to the Scripture authority as to the subjects of the ordinance. We baptize none but such as make a personal confession of faith. Here, as elsewhere, we maintain not only the supremacy, but the absolute sovereignty of the sacred Scriptures. The failure of others to do this, the abolition of the scriptural prerequisite for baptism, has as a matter of history led, and does as a matter of fact lead, and will as a matter of logic continue to lead, in the direction of the union of Church and State.

INFANT REGENERATION.

Many who practice infant baptism affirm that infants are "regenerated, made members of the mystical body of Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven." This rite gives Romanists an unanswerable argument against Protestants. A Roman Catholic catechism asks: "Can Protestants prove to Baptists that the baptism of infants is good and useful?" "No," replied the same catechism, "they cannot, because, according to Protestant principles, such baptism is useless." An eminent Romanist recently said to a Baptist: "Either your people or mine are right. You are at one end of the line, we are at the other. Infant baptism, if anything, is all we claim for it."

Infant baptism lays the foundation for national hierarchies, and, where universally practiced, surely and speedily abolishes all distinction between the church and the world. For the legitimate fruits of any such practice we must look where that practice has had ample scope for working out its results, and not where it, is hedged in by opposing influences. If you would know what are the inherent tendencies of this "part and pillar of popery," inquire in the countries where for ages it has had uninterrupted and complete sway. There you will find great hierarchies crushing out the spirit and teachings of the gospel of Christ, and, with their imposing ritual and numberless and meaningless rites and ceremonies, ruling with despotic power over the bodies as well as the souls of its subjects, the partner and the patron of Caesar.

This ghostly delusion of the papacy has in it the germ of persecution. The infant is not consulted. His baptism is a question of mere physical force, rather than of religious faith. If he is the child of Pedobaptists, and, upon coming to years of responsibility, wishes to be immersed, but desires to hold his membership in the church of his parents, it cannot be done. The act performed on him without his consent has logically, though most unjustly, robbed him of the right of choice. It is easy to see how the State naturally comes at last to take the place of church and parent.

Infant baptism is the egg out of which all this confusion and perversion of God's truth are hatched. It removes and abolishes the line of separation which God designed should ever stand between the church and the world, paves the way for a union of Church and State, and of this adulterous union a numerous progeny is born

persecution lighting its lurid fires through the dark centuries, the church hunting rather than comforting, multiplying rather than dividing the sorrows of humanity, killing when it ought to have been saving. And whence came all this? It grew, as all the world knows, though all the world may not acknowledge it, out of this union of Church and State, against which Baptists have always and everywhere protested. They stand today, as they have ever stood, the natural enemies of every principle which would enslave the soul.

NO MERE ACCIDENT.

Baptists did not stumble upon religious liberty. It is no mere accident that wherever Baptist views have prevailed, and to the extent to which they have prevailed, men have been left to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, with none to molest or to make them afraid. Soul freedom as surely comes with the adoption of Baptist principles as day comes with the rising sun it is the inevitable, logical outgrowth of the doctrine that each must hear for himself, repent for himself, believe for himself, confess Christ for himself, and be baptized for himself

that as we come one by one into the world, so we must go to Christ one by one for mercy, and at last go one by one out of the world, to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The doctrine of regenerated church membership, with its basis in the written Word, like the light of the sun, goes everywhere, and everywhere opens the way for the highest civil and religious liberty.

Our form of church government has been of unspeakable value to the world. With us the function of the local church, our only ecclesiastical authority, being exceedingly simple and its authority very limited, there is room for the development of liberty of thought and speech, while the very basis of the organization being in the Scripture model, that fact supplies all needful restraint. If Baptists have ever failed to be in line with all movements looking to human freedom and progress, then in every such case they have gone counter to their own foundation principles. In their own ecclesiastical organization (the local church) there is a decided and perpetual protest against every form of tyranny in religious matters, and in the equality among its membership there is a suggestion of that civic freedom which is beginning in some measure to be realized. If it be the true theory of the republic that "that community is governed best," which is governed least," then it is a truth which finds striking exemplification in our simple, but effective

and effective because simple

church polity.

In emphasizing what Baptists have done for the world, often sufficient attention has not been given to this free-and-easy church polity of ours. More and more men of strong episcopal church governments are looking on with amazement at the organized power of these thousands of Baptist churches in America. They do not see how we manage to combine, and concentrate the power of the denomination as we do in, great philanthropic movements; nor can they see how it is that so easily and quietly we rid ourselves of the heretics and impostors who spring up among us.

We have only to answer that all this proves that the great Head of the church made no mistake in laying down the church polity to which the Baptists cling. Some one has said that "it is no discredit to a Christian organization that it cannot succeed without Christianity." As the Baptists obtain more of the spirit of Christ and more Christian education, as they grow in grace and in knowledge, this church polity will work so well that all the world will see that it is of God, and, abandoning their great ecclesiastical church governments, they will adopt this, which has no machinery to drive

no great driving-wheels which will keep the concern rolling on when Christian love and holy zeal have departed from it. A Baptist church dies when there is no more consecration of heart and life left to it?of course, it dies then; there?s nothing to keep it going a day longer.

But these strong aristocratic churches run on centuries after the Spirit of Cod has left them. Their machinery?wheels within wheels?drives them on long after the divine power has left them.

BAPTIST INFLUENCE ON PEDOBAPTISTS.

In estimating the value of Baptist principles, we must not fail to take into the account their influences upon other Christian denominations

how they hold back Pedobaptists from the ruinous extremes to which they would inevitably go but for such restraining power. Nothing hinders the baptism and church membership of every infant except the Baptists. But for them, every babe would as surely come into the church as it comes into the world.

Wherever Baptists are not found, there infant baptism goes unchallenged among Protestants and Roman Catholics, and is universally practiced. You have only to turn your eyes to Europe, Mexico, and South America to see what sad work it does when left to do its worst. Even over the lands where Martin Luther's Reformation won its brilliant victories this evil has spread desolation and ruin. Baptists are now reforming Luther's work, by taking from it the fatal error of birthright church membership. Where will you find a spot on the map of this earth where Christianity has anything more than a name, if on that spot infant baptism, has not been held in check by the Baptist protest? That rite, as our friends call it, carries with it a dead formalism, which, as surely as an effect follows its cause, works evil, and only evil, and that continually. The reason it does not work out such results in this country is to be found in the prevalence of opposing influences. Baptists here keep Pedobaptist errors from running to seed; or, to change the figure, we put down the brakes and hold back the Pedobaptist car from the frightful precipices over which it would plunge, if left to itself.

Every godly Pedobaptist minister is doing far greater good because of the Baptist influence upon him and upon his people. He and they may not be conscious of it

indeed, they may be very unfriendly to us

but that does not alter the fact that Pedobaptists are a thousand times more useful because of the Baptists. And hence, before you can tell what Baptist principles are worth to the world, you will have to work upon this problem. You will have to ascertain what pedobaptism would be if its position as to the order of ordinances of the gospel were everywhere as fully accepted and practiced among us as they are in some other countries, before you can tell what Baptist principles are worth. Close these Baptist churches, silence these Baptist pulpits, cast aside all our Baptist agencies for spreading our principles, and what then? In a few decades you could not find in all this broad land an unbaptized infant. They would all be in the church, and once there they would remain there in the same enclosure with their parents, and as truly church members as they. With such a universal acceptance of this "rite," surely and speedily all distinction between the church and world would vanish, and pedobaptism would be left to do for our fair land what it has done for every other land where it has had full and undisputed sway. We say these things in no boastful spirit, and certainly with no desire to misrepresent our Pedobaptist brethren. This is no time for self-admiration among Baptists. Nor is it a time

nor can there ever come a time

for placing our brethren of opposing creeds at a disadvantage. God knows that I love with a full heart Christians who do not wear the Baptist name. If feet-washing were now in vogue among us as a religious ceremony, I should desire no higher honor than to wash the feet of some of the very men who most bitterly oppose our views. They may not love us, but they love Christ, our Master, and I hope and pray that in time they may come to love our Baptist principles. Learned theologians of all faiths seem to be more favorable to us than formerly, and there is among Protestants a constant approximation to our views. Positions that a hundred years ago were distinctly and peculiarly Baptist, and for which thousands of our people suffered stripes and imprisonment, are now firmly held by millions who do not wear the Baptist name.

LEAVENING THE LUMP.

Thank God, Baptist leaven is spreading throughout the whole lump in this, our "Baptist America," and we are mercifully saved from that dead formalism which otherwise would rest like a nightmare upon us. "The Goddess of Liberty" stands upon our shores, and with uplifted torch is "enlightening the world." With the blessing of God, Baptist principles will more and more prevail in this, our loved land, and they will be preached and adopted in all lands. Some day in the coming years

God hasten that day! ?the sun in his journey will not look down upon any section of this globe of ours unblessed by these principles.

Baptist principles, when rightly held, lead to a life of consecration to God's service and to a worldwide philanthropy. One cannot take this Baptist idea into his heart without taking with it all else that is good. He is false to his burial with Christ, if there is in him no resurrection to a new life. He must feel, as Paul felt, that this world has been put upon his shoulders, that he may lift it up to God; that every human being has a claim upon his best energies; that his commission is to each and every being on earth. Nothing less than such a consecrated life does the Baptist idea demand, and nothing less will it accept.

And here let me say that, as a matter of fact, Baptists have led in agencies for the world's redemption. Were not Carey and Thomas, the pioneers in foreign missions, Baptists? Was not the first Foreign Mission Society of modern times formed by English Baptists in 1792? Were not Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice among the first to go from America to the heathen? Were not the first Christian churches organized in India and Burmah, and China and Siam, Baptist churches? And are not more than one-third of all the converts from heathenism Baptists? And have not the Baptists ever been the true and fast friends of education? Have they not sought everywhere to enlighten the masses, reaching down to the lowest and up to the highest? Who but Baptists made the earliest translations of God's Word into heathen tongues? Was not the first Bible Society called into being under the leadership of Joseph Hughes, a Baptist minister? And does not a Baptist deacon share with Robert Raikes the honor of originating the Sunday school? In every great movement for the evangelization of the world Baptists have held no mean place. Nor is this strange. The very principles underlying our system bind us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. That Baptist would better never have been born into the world who refuses to do all in his power to save the world, and that Baptist church which knows nothing of this sense of responsibility to save the perishing nations of earth can do for the Baptist name no nobler service than to lay that name aside and wear it no more.

No word of mine can do the subject justice. I cannot tell

no man living can tell

what Baptist principles are worth to this poor, sinning sorrowing world of ours. The world is bad enough as it is, but who can tell how much worse it would be but for these principles? Who can tell what this uplifting of the word and authority of God has been worth to humanity? Who knows what a calamity it would have been, had the ordinances of the gospel been lost to the world, and these two great monumental pillars in the house of our God been torn to pieces and forever cast aside? Where is there under the blue arch of heaven a man who has more than the faintest conception of what religious liberty is worth to the world? Who can tell how much of the good done by other Christian denominations comes from the influence, direct or indirect, of this Baptist idea upon their heads and hearts?

No, brethren, I beg to be excused. You might as well ask me to tell you what the shining sun in mid-heavens is worth. It cannot be done; life is too short to tell it all. A greater calamity than the overthrow of Baptist principles one can scarcely conceive. If any are seeking to bring this to pass, they know not what they do. To succeed would be to wreck and forever overthrow the beautiful and symmetrical system as given by Christ and his apostles, and snatch from a perishing world its brightest

I might almost say its only

hope.

BEST OF ALL, GOD IS WITH US.

But, brethren; you need not fear any such catastrophe. The God of providence is our God. He has often turned the bitterest enemies of the Baptists into their most helpful friends. Many of the greatest names in Baptist history are names that have come to us from other denominations. How often, in searching for arguments against us, have men and women found that the Baptists have a "Thus saith the Lord," and gone forth frankly confessing that our position must stand while the inspired record stands.

If Baptists could have been overthrown, it would have been done long ago. Almost every weapon has been tried against them, and with what result? Since our Lord bade us go into all the world and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, there has never dawned a day when the prospect for the Baptists was brighter than it is this day, and the morrow will be for them brighter still. These principles of ours are yet to be laurel-crowned. To use the words of a celebrated Baptist martyr: "Divine truth is immortal. It may be scourged, crucified, and for a season entombed, but on the third day it will rise again victorious, and rule triumphant forever." That Baptist martyr did not overstate the great fact; for back of these Baptist principles is the Almighty throne, and it is pledged to their complete triumph. If there were but one Baptist on the earth, he might throw his banner to the breeze with a full and unquestioning faith that it will surely and completely win in the great coming struggle.

"Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." Multitudes in other denominations believe as we do, and the number of such increases daily. Their preachers may preach some other baptism, but more and more their people are practicing ours, and daily they are seeing more clearly that infant baptism is without divine authority.

Let us gird ourselves for the conflict. Today one of the chief points of attack is the integrity of the inspired Word. The enemies of Christianity are gathering at this point as never before, and the very atmosphere around us seems to be laden with skepticism. The mission of the Baptists is hardly yet begun. Theirs is the post of honor in the conflict for God's Word. Clad in God's armor, they must more than ever stand in serried phalanx where the fight is hottest. It is a most comforting paradox that as we defend the Bible it furnishes us with weapons, defensive and offensive.

THE BRIGHTER DAYS.

If God has wrought so mightily through the Baptists in the past, with all their lack of faith, and zeal, and tact, and toil, what may we not hope for in the better days that are ahead of us, when we shall realize as never before the weighty responsibilities which press upon us

in the coming days, when we shall see that having more truth than others devolves upon us the solemn obligation to live a more holy, a more consecrated life? We are Christ

s witnesses, and his only witnesses, for the great distinctive principles he has committed to us. Shall he look in vain to us to witness aright for him?

There can be but one issue of the struggle, unequal as it is, with all the mighty forces arrayed against us. He who is for us is mightier than they who are against us. "As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so let us walk in him." Let us teach these Baptist principles to all the people, and in doing that let us not forget our own children. And let us cultivate fraternal relations with other Christian denominations. Let us give them full credit for all the good they are doing, and rejoice with them in it all. Often their holy zeal and Christian endurance will put us to the blush, and cause impartial observers to say that, while Baptists have the doctrine, others have the practice. Let us seek to profit by all this, and then, at last, when the crowning day shall come, it will appear to all that not only have Baptist principles been valuable to the world, but invaluable.

 
 
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