The Centennial Celebration of the Church--The Sermons, Papers, &c.
AFTER A CENTURY.
One hundred years have passed since the organization of the first negro Baptist church in Georgia, and, so far as history relates, the first in the United States.
In October, 1884, in the city of Milledgeville, Rev. E. K. Love called the attention of the Executive Board of the Missionary Baptist State Convention to the fact that we were nearing our centennial, and offered a set of resolutions looking forward to the celebration of the happy event. (He was then missionary of the State of Georgia, and not pastor of the First African Baptist Church.) This fact, together with the resolutions, were reported to the Missionary Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia in its session at Cartersville, Ga., May, 1885. This was heartily endorsed, and a State Centennial Committee appointed, consisting of Revs. W. J. White, J. C. Bryan, E. K. Love, G. H. Dwelle, C. T. Walker, C. H. Lyons, E. R. Carter, T. M. Robinson, and Deacon J. H. Brown. At this session of the convention the name of Rev. S. A. McNeal was added to the Centennial Committee. These were appointed to raise means and to plan generally for the celebration. Rev. W. J. White was elected chairman; Rev. C. H. Lyons, treasurer, and Deacon J. H. Brown, secretary.
The committee employed Rev. J. C. Bryan as traveling financial agent. A better selection could not have been made. It was also determined to get out a book containing the history of the negro Baptists for the past one hundred years, of which Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., was appointed editor-in-chief; Rev. W. J. White compiler, and Rev. E. R. Carter and Deacon J. H. Brown appointed to gather historical data. This committee was composed of the ablest men of our denomination in Georgia, and notwithstanding they worked most assiduously they failed to get out the book. This was no fault of theirs. The undertaking was quite a great one and attended with much expense. It is still the determined resolution of the committee to get out the book, but this will require hard work, much money, time and patience.
At the session of the convention in Brunswick, May, 1887, the committee was enlarged by the addition of the chairman from each associational centennial committee. This was an increase of about fifty members. The congratulations of the denomination are due to this committee for the able, faithful and arduous labors which brought a pleasing success to our centennial celebration. The interest these brethren manifested in the work was simply wonderful. They have inscribed their names upon the pages of history as legibly as the stars upon the brow of the evening. Their names shall be enrolled upon the sacred scroll of history among those few immortal names which were born never to die. When they shall stand upon the interlacing margin of eternity and bear the shouts of their welcome borne to them by angelic harpers from the other golden shores, they may rejoice in the consoling fact that their brethren upon this terrestrial globe are not less silent in their praise while they sing in human tongue in concert with the angels, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from hence forth; yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them."
At the session of the convention in Brunswick, May, 1887, the following special programme committee was appointed: Brethren A. Harris, W. J. White, E. K. Love, J. M. Simms, J. H. Brown, D. Waters, J. C. Bryan, U. L. Houston, C. T. Walker, E. R. Carter, S. A. McNeal. This Committee, led by Rev. Alexander Harris, chairman, did its work in an able manner, and reflects great credit on the denomination. They prepared the following programme:
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE NEGRO BAPTISTS OF GEORGIA, TO BE HELD IN SAVANNAH, GA., COMMENCING WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, AND CLOSING MONDAY, JUNE 18, 1888.
Committee--Rev. Alexander Harris, Chairman, Savannah, Ga.; Rev. U. L. Houston, Savannah, Ga.; Rev. J. M. Simms, Savannah, Ga.; Rev. David Waters, Savannah, Ga.;, Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., Savannah, Ga.; Rev. C. T. Walker, Augusta, Ga.; Rev. E. R. Carter, Atlanta, Ga.; Rev. J. C. Bryan, Americus, Ga.; Deacon J. H. Brown, Secretary.
Wednesday, June 6th--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. Henry Way, Hawkinsville, Ga.
I.--10 A. M.--Welcome Address, by Rev. E. K. Love, Savannah, Ga.
II.--11 A. M.--Opening Sermon, by Rev. C. T. Walker, Augusta, Ga.
III.--12 M.--History of the Church, by C. A. Clark, Brunswick, Ga.
IV.--3 P. M.--Baptist Doctrine, Rev. C. H. Lyons, Atlanta, Ga.; Rev. S. A. McNeal, Augusta, Ga., and Rev. J. M. Pendleton, D. D., Pa.
V.--4:30 P. M.--New Testament Policy, Rev. E. M. Brawley, D. D., Greenville, S. C.; Rev. W. E. Holmes, A. M., Atlanta, Ga.; Rev. A. F. Owens, Mobile, Ala.
Night Session, 8 o'clock--VI.--Peculiarities of Baptists that distinguish them from all other people, Rev. W. J. Simmons, D. D., Rev. C. H. Parish, A. B., Louisville, Ky., and Rev. C. S. Wilkins, West Point, Ga.
Thursday, June 7th--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. E. W. Walker, Dawson, Ga.
VII.--10 A. M.--Baptist Church History, by Revs. W. J. White, G. H. Dwelle, Augusta, Ga., and Rev. W. H. Tillman, Atlanta.
VIII.--11:30 A. M.--Reminiscences of the Baptist Fathers and the Church during one hundred years, Revs. Levi Thornton, Greensboro, Ga.; J. M. Simms, Savannah, Ga., and Alexander Harris, Savannah, Ga.
IX.--3 P. M.--The Wants of the Colored Ministry, Rev. W. H. McIntosh, D. D., Macon, Ga.; Rev. Alexander Ellis, Savannah, Ga., and Rev. W. G. Johnson, Augusta, Ga.
X.--4:30 P. M.--The Relation of the White and Colored Baptists in the Past, Now, and as it should be in the Future, Rev. T. J. Hornsby, Augusta; Rev. G. S. Johnson, Thomson, Ga., and Rev. J. B. Hawthorne, D. D., Atlanta, Ga.
Night Session, 8 o'clock--Sermon by Rev. E. R. Carter, Atlanta, Ga.
9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. C. A. Johnson, Americus, Ga.
XI.--10 A. M.--The Home Mission Society and its Work for the Colored People, Dr. A. E. Williams, Crawfordville, Ga.; Prof. S. Y. Pope, Waynesboro, Ga.; Rev. G. A. Goodwin, Gainesville, Fla., and Rev. S. Graves, D. D., Atlanta, Ga.
XII.--12:30 P. M.--Woman, Her Work and Influence, Misses S. B. Packard, Atlanta, Ga.; J. P. Moore, New Orleans, La., and Rev. L. Burrows, D. D., Augusta, Ga.
XIII.--3 P. M.--The American Baptist Publication Society and its Work for the Colored People, Rev. E. K. Love, Savannah, Ga.; Rev. N. W. Waterman, Thomasville, Ga.; Rev. G. B.
Mitchell, Forsyth, Ga., and Rev. B. Griffith, D. D., Philadelphia, Pa.
Night Session, 8 o'clock--XIV.--Education, Dr. J. H. Bugg, Lynchburg, Va.; Rev. J. A. Metts, Hightown, N. J., and Rev. J. A. Battle, D. D, Macon, Ga.
Saturday, June 9th.--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. John Williams, Brunswick, Ga.
XV.--10 A. M.--The Bible as Believed by Baptists, Revs. J. C. Bryan, Americus, Ga.; H. N. Bouey, Columbia, S. C.; G. M. Sprattling, Brunswick, Ga., and P. S. Henson, D. D., Chicago, Ill.
XVI.--12 M.--The Authenticity of the Bible, Rev. David Shaver, D. D., Atlanta, Ga., and Rev. H. H. Tucker, D. D., Atlanta, Ga.
XVII.--3 P. M.--The Dignity of the Ministry and the Necessary Qualification to Fit Them for Their Work, Revs. E. R. Carter, Atlanta, Ga.; C. H. Brightharp, Milledgeville, Ga.; E. V. White, Thomson, Ga., and Dr. J. B. Broadus, Louisville, Ky.
Sunday, June 10th.--Divine Services.
Monday, June 11th.--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. Floyd Hill, Athens, Ga
XVIII--10 A. M.--The Duty of Baptists to Home Missions, Revs. W. H. McAlpin, Montgomery, Ala; J. M. Jones, C. O. Jones, Atlanta, Ga., and E. J. Fisher, La Grange, Ga.
XIX--12 M.--Temperance, Hon. W. Lyons, Augusta, Ga., and Rev. S. D. Rosier, Midville, Ga
XX--3 P. M --The Duty of Baptists to Foreign Missions, Revs. J. E. Jones, W. W. Colley, and J. H. Pressly, Virginia.
XXI--4.30 P. M.--Baptist Newspapers and their Influence, Revs. S. T. Clanton, D. D., New Orleans, La.; J. T. White, Helena, Ark., and Deacon W. H. Stewart, Esq., Louisville, Ky.
Night Session, 8 o'clock.--XXII.--Scriptural Divorce, Revs. A. S. Jackson, New Orleans, La., and C. O. Booth, Selma, Ala.
Tuesday, June 12th.--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. Henry Morgan, Augusta, Ga.
XXIII.--10 A. M.--Are We Advancing as a Denomination? Deacon J. H. Brown, Savannah, Ga.; Prof. M. J. Maddox, Gainesville, Fla.; Prof. M. P. McCrary, Valdosta, Ga., and Rev. T. Nightingale, Memphis, Tenn.
XXIV--12 M.--The Bible as Suited to the Elevation of Mankind, Revs. J. E. L. Holmes, D. D., Savannah, Ga., and W. W. Landrum, D. D., Richmond, Va.
XXV.--3 P. M.--The Duty of the Pastor to the Church, Revs. J. W. Dungee, Augusta, Ga.; J. G. Phillips, Aiken, S. C., and E. W. Warren, D. D., Macon, Ga.
XXVI.--4.30 P. M.--The Duty of the Church to the Pastor, Prof. Isaiah Blocker, Augusta, Ga., Deacon R. H. Thomas, Savannah, Ga., and Rev. J. L. Underwood, Camilla, Ga.
Night Session, 8 o'clock.--XXVII.--Sermon by Rev. T. M. Robinson, Macon, Ga.
Wednesday, June 13th.--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Louis Williams, Washington, Ga.
XXVIII.--10 A. M.--What is Our Duty to the Baptist Institutions of the Country? Rev. A. Bings, Jr., Col. A. R. Johnson, Prof. H. L. Walker, Prof. T. M. Dent, Augusta, Ga.
XXIX.--12 M.--The Importance of Pure Baptist Literature, Revs. E. P. Johnson, Madison, Ga.; J. G. Ross, Jacksonville, Fla.
XXX.--3 P. M.--The Purity and Work of the Church, Rev. C. G. Holmes, Rome Ga.; Henry Jackson, Augusta, Ga., and J. B. Davis, Atlanta, Ga.
XXXI.--4.30 P. M.--The Deacons and their Duty, Revs. J. H. DeVotie, D. D., G. R. McCall, D. D., Griffin, Ga.
Night Session, 8 o'clock--XXXII.--Money as a Factor in Christianizing the World, Revs. W. R. Pettiford, Birmingham, Ala.; R. N. Counter, Memphis, Tenn., and Prof. J. G. Mitchell, Malvern, Ark.
Thursday, June 14th--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. U. L Houston.
XXXIII.--10 A. M.--Baptist Church Government, Revs. J. L. Dart, Charleston, S. C.; H. J. Europe, Mobile, Ala.; H. A. D. Braxton, Baltimore, Md.
XXXIV.--12:30 P. M.--God as Revealed in Nature, Rev. H. H Tucker, D. D., Atlanta, Ga.
XXXV.--3 P. M.--Christian Baptism, Rev. J. H. Kilpatrick, D. D., White Plains, Ga.
XXXVI.--4 P. M.--Independence of a Baptist Church, by Rev. W. L. Kilpatrick, D. D., Hepzibah, Ga.
Night Session, 8 o'clock.--Preaching.
Friday, June 15th.--9 to 10 A. M.--Praise Service, led by Rev. C. T. James, Baconton, Ga.
XXXVII.--10 A. M.--The Duty of Baptists to give the World the Gospel, Rev. W. L. Jones, Atlanta, Ga.; John Marks, New Orleans, La; E. R. Reid, Valdosta, Ga., and Rev. A. S. Jackson, New Orleans, La.
XXXVIII.--12 M.--The Final Perseverance of Saints, by Rev. E. Lathrop, D. D., Stamford, Ct.
XXXIX.--3 P. M.--Our Duty as Citizens. Unassigned.
Night Session, 8 o'clock--Preaching.
Saturday, June 16th.--Devoted to Sunday school.
Sunday Morning, June 17th--Devoted to Sunday school.
Afternoon--Sunday, 3 P. M.--Dedication First Bryan Baptist Church.
Monday and Tuesday devoted to miscellaneous subjects.
The persons to whom this is sent, whose names appear on the programme for an address or sermon, will please signify their acceptance by addressing
REV. A. HARRIS,
William Street, Savannah, Ga.
All these brethren did not come, and some of those who did come spoke extemporaneously. Those who spoke from manuscript their productions are given in this work. At the session of the Missionary Baptist Convention, May, 1888, just preceding the centennial celebration, Rev. W. S. Ramsey, of Columbus, Ga., stated that since the centennial celebration must be in honor of some church as the oldest, and that since both the First African Baptist Church, Franklin Square, Savannah, Ga, and the First Bryan Baptist Church on Bryan street, in Yamacraw, claim to be the original First African Baptist Church, it seemed befitting to him that a committee of judicious brethren should be appointed before whom the claimants should go in person and with papers. The convention then appointed the following brethren as that committee: Rev. F. M. Simmons, Stone Mountain, Ga.; E. J. Fisher, La Grange, Ga.; Rev. W. S. Ramsey, Columbus, Ga.; Rev N. B. Williamson, Quitman, Ga; Rev. H. B. Hamilton, Walthourville, Ga., Rev. S. A. McNeal, Augusta, Ga., and Rev. C. H. Brightharp, Milledgeville, Ga.
Rev. James M. Simms, representing the First Bryan Baptist Church, gave notice that the representatives from said church would not appear before the committee. The committee, however, having the book he had just published purporting to be the history of the oldest Negro Baptist Church in North America, which book set forth his claims as cogently as he possibly could have done. Putting this book in evidence the committee proceeded to make the following report, which was unanimously adopted:
REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
We, your committee, to whom were referred the matter of priority of the First Bryan Baptist Church on Bryan street, in Yamacraw, or the First African Baptist Church at Franklin Square, beg to submit the following report: Having the facts in the case, which we think are conclusive, we earnestly state that the conclusion to which your committee has arrived was caused solely from the facts at their command. We regret to state that one of the parties refused to appear before your committee, notwithstanding being urged upon, namely, Rev. J. M. Simms, for the First Bryan Church in Yamacraw. It does strike us that men feeling that they had a good case would not refuse to be examined. These brethren have openly and defiantly refused in the presence of this convention, to lay their case before you or the committee, declaring that you have nothing to do with it, and they had nothing for you to decide. Your committee proceeded to perform their work. Having seen the book written by Rev. J. M. Simms purporting to be the true history of the oldest colored Baptist church in North America, your committee feels that the book makes their case as strong as they could possibly make it. We find that the church organized at Brampton's Barn, three miles southwest of Savannah, January 20th, 1788, is the same First African Baptist Church to-day. This fact is admitted by the book which Rev. Simms has written. Until 1832 there was no dispute about the first A. B. Church, but in the year 1832 a great trouble occurred which continued for several months. Many councils were called, who advised again and again a course, which, if pursued, would restore peace to the grand old army, then numbering 2,795 members and divided into two parties, the one led by Rev. Andrew Cox Marshall and the other by Deacon Adam Arguile Johnson. Two thousand six hundred and forty following Rev. Marshall and one hundred and fifty-five following Deacon Johnson. It appears to your committee, from the evidence found, that before this trouble the church had contracted to buy the white Baptist church located at Franklin Square, hence, when the trouble occurred, Rev. Mr. Marshall and his 2,640 members went to Franklin Square, still owning the site on Bryan street, in Yamacraw. The white Baptist church of this city took a lively interest in the church, and tried to spare it of all this bitter pain and heartache, an accurate account of which has been carefully preserved in their church records, which has been in the hands of your committee and carefully read, which we now offer in testimony. We read from the minute book of the white Baptist church:
"In the conference of the white Baptist church, Dec. 24, 1832.
"An application was made that the minority of the First African Church be received as a branch of this church, when it was decided that it was proper that they first be formed into a church and afterward could come under the supervision of a committee."
They being refused admittance under the supervision of the white Baptist church, it appears quite clear that the white brethren began to labor with both parties, hence the following petition of the First African Baptist Church, January 4th, 1833. The First African Baptist Church addressed the following letter to the Savannah Baptist Church, white:
"We, the subscribers, of the First African Baptist Church, do solicit the aid and protection of our brethren, the Baptist church of Savannah. We propose to come under the supervision of a committee of your body, provided you will receive us on the terms and conditions following:
"1st. That we be independent in our meetings; that is, that we receive and dismiss our own members, and elect and dismiss our own officers, and finally manage our own concerns, independently; however, with this restriction: In case any measure is taken by us which shall seem to militate against our good standing as a church of Christ, we shall submit it to a committee of five members, whom we shall choose out of the Baptist church of Savannah, whose counsel we bind ourselves to follow, provided it be not contrary to the precepts of the gospel.
"2d. We agree to hold no meetings for discipline or other purposes until we have duly notified by writing, one member of the Baptist church, selected by said church, to be present and agreeing not to pursue any measure such delegated member shall deem improper until we shall have had council of the above named committee.
"3d. We agree to relinquish to the minority of this body all our rights and title to the old church so soon as they shall agree to give up and do relinquish to us all right and title to the newly purchased one, and when we are put in full and free possession of it and our trustees, viz.: William H. Stiles, Peter Mitchell and John Williamson, shall satisfy us that they have good and sufficient titles.
"4th. We agree to dismiss all members, and such as have been members of our church, that they may either join another, or form a new Baptist church, and as soon as such church shall be satisfied with and receive them, then they shall be dismissed from us."
This being accepted by both parties, the minority of the First African Baptist Church was organized into the Third African Baptist Church, for in the minutes of the white Baptist church January 28th, 1833, appears the following resolution:
"Resolved, That, inasmuch as the minority of the First African (now the Third) Church have conformed to the requirements of this church in constituting themselves into a church, be received under the supervision of this body upon the same terms as the First African Church."
The 155 was always after the trouble of 1832 called the minority of the First African church until they were organized into a church, when they became the Third African Baptist Church. To this name they offered no objection, nor for thirty years was the slightest protest offered of their being known and called the "Third African Baptist Church." In 1833 they entered the Sunbury Baptist Association as such, and their church was always recorded in their minutes as the Third African Baptist Church. The Sunbury Association expelled the First African Baptist Church in November, 1832, as the First African Baptist Church. Every reference to this church in public or in the minutes of the Savannah Baptist Church book is as First African Baptist Church. The Third church themselves complained against the First African Baptist Church as the First African Baptist Church. Rev. Simms, in his book, admits that the 155 above mentioned were organized as the Third church; that is, he admits a reorganization. Your committee has seen a sketch of the First African Baptist Church from its organization in 1788 till toward the close of the administration of Rev. W. J. Campbell about 1877, in Rev. Simms' own handwriting, without any reference to the First Bryan Baptist Church. It appears passing strange to your committee that if the First Bryan Church is the First African Baptist Church that they do not and have not called themselves by that name. The pastor of the First African Baptist Church has shown your committee the deed of the First African Baptist Church to the spot of ground which the First Bryan Baptist Church now occupies. With all of these facts and as many more which have come before your committee as candid, God-fearing men, we feel in honor bound to decide that the First African Baptist Church at Franklin Square is the original First African Baptist Church, organized at Brampton barn January 20th, 1788, by Rev. Abraham Marshall and Rev. Jesse Peter, whose centennial anniversary we have gathered to celebrate. We decide, therefore, that the claim of priority of the First Bryan Baptist Church, which has given itself this name since the emancipation and the claim of the book written by Rev. J. M. Simms, of being the oldest church (colored) in North America is without foundation.
Signed, your committee.
REV. F. M. SIMMONS,
The centennial celebration of the Baptists of Georgia, in honor of the First African Baptist Church, opened most solemnly on Wednesday, June 6th, 1888. The members of the First African Baptist Church met at their spacious church edifice at 9 o'clock in the morning and marched out to the Centennial Tabernacle. Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., and officers marched in front. Deacon March Haynes and Brother John E. Grant alternately bore the banner of the church. The procession was over a mile long. The Church entered the Tabernacle singing, "All hail the power of Jesus' name." When Rev. Alexander Harris, chairman of the programme committee, called the vast multitude to order, he introduced Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., pastor of the First African Baptist Church, who had been selected to deliver the welcome address. Rev. Dr. Love delivered the following appropriate welcome address, which was well received:
Dear Brethren: It falls to my happy lot to bid you welcome to Savannah, to our homes and to our churches on this auspicious occasion--the centennial anniversary of our church. From our church the Negro Baptists of Georgia commenced. After battling with sin and Satan for 100 years, scattered all over Georgia, we have returned as one family again around a common family altar to recount the labors of an hundred years, to rejoice over the victories achieved and lament our failures. As one army of the Lord we welcome you. The Baptist star which arose in the eastern part of this State an hundred years ago has been often covered by intense darkness, but which has been as often kissed away by the sun of righteousness assuring us that all was not lost, but that "behind a frowning Providence he hides a smiling face."
We invite you here as fellow-citizens of the household of faith. Our faith is your faith, we love the God you love, we were redeemed by the Saviour who died for you, we are journeying to the same celestial city to which you are going, we are traveling home to God with you in the way our fathers trod, and our home and glorious inheritance is the same.
It is very befitting, therefore, that we should welcome you. Our church was planted in blood. Rev. Andrew Bryan, its founder and first pastor, was whipped until his flesh was terribly torn. His blood ran freely and puddled by his lacerated body on the ground for no other crime than that he preached Jesus to Africa's sable sons and daughters enslaved in this country.
When he was commanded not to preach the gospel he raised his dusky hand, stained in his own blood drawn by his vile persecutors, and said with a trembling voice, with that manly heroism and christian courage that the grace of God alone can fan into burning eloquence, "If you would stop me from preaching, cut off my head." This humble statement from our father in Israel amazed and ashamed his ungodly persecutors. This humble slave, using the weapon of warfare which is not carnal, but mighty through God, conquered these human brutes and through Christ won a signal victory for the church. Our fathers planted the banner of the Lord here in sweat, tears and blood, around which their children have rallied for one hundred years.
Our troubles have been great, our trials many, but we have not yielded an inch of ground to the enemy. We have not compromised any part of the grand old principles that distinguish us as Baptists, and though missiles most terrible from the enemy's camp have been and are being hurled at us, we have not nor will we ever quit the field.
Our fathers suffered nor do we expect to shun the hallowed road which they have gone. The Baptists of Savannah, an hundred years ago numbered only four souls, now they number something over ten thousand.
We all make you welcome to our city. We make you welcome because you come to rejoice with us. We make you welcome because you come to speak words of peace and comfort to us, and we bid you a hearty welcome because you are our brethren. In retrospecting the ground over which we have come during the last century, we felt it becoming to invite you to rejoice with us for the train of mercies which has followed us for one hundred years.
THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF OUR EXISTENCE.
The nineteenth century has been a most wonderful century. It begun upon an enslaved people, without liberty, without churches and without a knowledge of Christ. In this awful century our church was organized. The nineteenth century is characterized by wonderful inventions. Locomotives, telegraphs, telephones and many other inventions came into use in this century. In this busy and exciting century the Baptists of Georgia were born.
This century has witnessed a most remarkable change in this country. The slaves have been all set free and public opinion has been entirely revolutionized. Those who were once slaves now worship God under their own vine and fig tree, and no one dares molest or make us afraid. So wonderfully has God blessed us through these weary years, that we have felt it a great privilege as well as a pleasing duty to invite you here to celebrate our centennial anniversary. We could do naught else but welcome you. From the depth of our souls we welcome you. We want that you should feel at home for you are at home with your brethren around the old family hearth-stone.
From this time-hallowed shrine you begun. You have been spread over Georgia for an hundred years fighting for the right with heavenly weapons. You have not gone alone. A covenant-keeping God has gone with you and has prospered you in the land whither you have journeyed, and has added very largely to your number many happy recruits. After you have been gone for an hundred years, most of which time you have spent in the most cursed and disgraceful system of slavery that has ever spread sorrow, gloom, heartaches and wounds over a civilized country, you have returned to the old parental home to rejoice with the mother. The mother at times has had it hard; she has had untold sorrows and innumerable difficulties. Your countenance give signs of careworn and inexplicable anxiety and suffering which tell me that you have encountered Appolyon on your respective fields of labor in the vineyard of the Lord, but beneath it all I see blooming up in your countenances evidences of that joy and peace which only the grace of God can give.
From four, the Baptist family of Georgia has increased to 166,429. This is an average of 1664 29--100 a year. While we rejoice over these that the Lord has given us in the land wherein we sojourned as strangers we would humbly cry unworthy and ascribe our conquest to the Lamb, our victory to His blood and our life to His death. From one church, 1,500 have sprung up, an average of 15 a year. The joy belongs to us all. All the glory belongs to God.
We welcome you from our hearts. We feel that we have great need to rejoice that God has so wonderfully blessed us in letting our old fathers remain with us so long to give us their wise counsel. We should be thankful that the school doors have been thrown open and so many of our young men have been favored with educational advantages and are so much better prepared to preach the gospel than our fathers were. We invite you here after the close of an hundred years to rejoice over the advancement our people have made in the sciences, literary pursuits, in theology and in morality. The Baptists have been great gainers in all these virtues and attainments. More than two-thirds of the educated young preachers in Georgia are Baptists. In welcoming you, we rejoice that among you are some of the best scholars in our race. We welcome you as able expounders of the sacred scriptures and eloquent preachers of the New Testament. We are glad to welcome many of you as professors of colleges and accurate teachers and newspaper editors. In welcoming you, we are glad to note that many of you are comfortably situated in your own homes and are moderately rich, and are raising dignified, interesting and happy families.
We are glad that while other denominations have made progress that the Baptists have not stood still. This denomination is more largely responsible to give the world the whole truth as it is in Jesus than any other. To the Baptist denomination the great commission was given to preach the gospel to every creature. No denomination can stand so flat footed upon the Bible as the Baptists. No denomination meets as few passages in the Bible which war with its practice as the Baptist denomination. As Baptists we have nothing to fear. We are gaining ground. We are proud to welcome you as Baptists.
Our ministry of to-day is of such that we can look upon with pleasing pride, both as men of letters, good morals, temperate, full of zeal and piety. We have not retrograded. Our young men have become learned and our old men have made very commendable progress.
Dear Brethren, let us pray and humbly trust that our meeting at the close of this century may so inspire, bless and lift up our people that we may be living afresh for the next hundred years. If we are not here in person, it may be our happy lot to be angel visitors to the next centennial celebration of the Negro Baptist of Georgia. Then, the Lord grant that it may be a thousand times more glorious than this one, and may the fruits be infinitely more plenteous, the victories be far more signal and God more glorified in his servants.
May heaven more gently and lovingly smile over our great denomination and its wonderful accomplishments at the next centennial celebration. God grant that there may be fewer if any destitute places in Georgia at that time. Then when our work on earth is done, God grant that we shall be gathered in peace to the saint's rest with our fathers, where congregations shall never break up and Sabbath never end. And with the redeemed and sanctified and the countless number of happy harpers, we shall have a never ending eternity in our Father's house,
"The far away home of the soul,
Where no storms ever beat on the glittering strand,
While the years of eternity roll."
to ascribe ceaseless praise to the triune, God through Christ the Captain of our Salvation.
We welcome you here, but on your entrance into that glorious inheritance, uncorruptible and undefiled, you shall receive a more glorious welcome by the celestial choir which will voice in jarring hosannas the sentiments of heaven, and added to this will be the benignant smiles of God the Father and the plaudit of Christ the Son, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord." Then will your welcome, borne to you upon the melodious songs of seraphs, be more pleasing, charming, inspiring and infinitely more lovely and rapturous. While we watch, wait, work, pray and hope for this, let me bid you thrice welcome to all of the joys and comfort in our power to give you now. In Jesus' name we make you welcome ye servants of the Lord.
Rev. C. T. Walker was next introduced to preach the introductory sermon.
The Rev. Mr. Walker opened the service by singing a hymn which he had prepared for the occasion. This hymn was sung by the vast multitude in such a way that the scene beggars description. The bosom of the air never bore off sweeter strains and the golden rays of the sun never kissed more pleasing faces.
The following is the hymn:
By C. T. WALKER.
Oh God, who hast Thy people led
For these one hundred years,
A gospel table thou hast spread
Amidst our flowing tears.
We've come through deserts dark and drear,
Through sorrows and through fears,
Of mercies past we've come to talk
And still renew our walk.
Our church was planted in this State
A hundred years ago,
And at Thy feet we've learned to wait
Until we've seen her grow.
Our fathers trusted in Thy name
And built upon Thy truth,
Grant us Thy aid to do the same,
And teach it to our youth.
Thy kingdom, Lord, is spreading wide
From mountain to the sea,
Still let us in Thy truth abide
Till all the world be free.
Oh God, we thank Thee for this day
That celebrates our birth,
May it inspire us on our way
Until we leave the earth.
Oh Thou, who hast Thy people led
Through these one hundred years,
Inspire our souls, dispel our fears,
Feed us on heavenly bread.
Rev. C. T. Walker then preached the following sermon:
Numbers xxiii, 23: "According to this time it shall be said, 'What hath God wrought?' " We stand to-day upon an eminence from which we may take a retrospective view of one hundred years' journey of our grand old denomination in Georgia. A glorious day. We have come to celebrate the progress and triumphs of a century. The cause we represent is a blessed one. We are here to speak of the vicissitudes through which we have passed, the conflicts we have encountered, the obstacles we have surmounted, the success attained, and the victories already achieved. We are here to pass up and down the line of march from 1788 to 1888.
Old fathers, worn and weary with the burden and care of a long and useful life, their heads whitened by the frost of many winters, infirm and superannuated, they have come up to shake hands with the century, to bid God-speed to their brethren, and, as Simeon of old, to exclaim: "Behold now, Lord, I have seen Thy salvation, now let thy servant depart in peace!" Young men have come to get inspiration from a review of the work of the fathers and to return to their various fields of labor stimulated, electrified and encouraged to make the second century far more eventful in the propagation of the gospel and subjugation of the world to Christ than the first.
The colored Baptist family of Georgia, representing 166,429 communicants have met in the Forest City of Georgia, at the close of one hundred years, to give thanks to God for what he hath wrought. The great leaders of the Israelites, Moses and Joshua, were very solicitous to implant in the minds of the people a perpetual remembrance of God's kindness. They, therefore, marked the stations and stages in their progress with monumental circumstances and objects. They erected monuments, built altars and anointed pillars to be memorials of some remarkable transaction. It is our duty to use every possible means of turning the past into lessons of solemn admonitions. A reflective, conscientious, serious spirit will exhibit the intense illuminations of divine truth that kept the old ship together all these years; we will have illustrations of divine guidance, and receive strong manifestations and enforcements of future duties and increased responsibilities incident thereto.
I. We shall discuss what God hath wrought in the permanent establishment of this church. The illustrious kingdoms of the world were founded by the world's renowned men. The Babylonian empire, the Grecian, the Medo-Persian and Roman empires owed their foundations to their kings and emperors. There is a prophetic description in Daniel of a stone being cut out of the mountains without hands--that is, without human agency, and that that stone smote the feet of the image, shattered it into fragments, and the stone became a great mountain, filling the whole earth. This stone rolled forth from Mount Zion and raised a dust, which darkened the very heavens. It has rolled and demolished its most powerful antagonist, and has become a great mountain that shall fill the whole earth forever. The founder of the true church is Christ. He is the Son of Abraham, according to the flesh, and He is also the true God and eternal life. Two natures and three offices mysteriously meet in His person. He is the blessed, bleeding sacrifice, the sanctifying altar, the officiating priest, the prophet of Israel, the prince of peace and the author of eternal life. He is the foundation of His church, the chief corner-stone, the law-giver in Zion. He hath given us a kingdom that cannot be moved. He is the king of Zion who liveth forever. He himself is the father of eternity. He began in Asia to ride in the gospel chariot, sent out twelve small boats, and on the day of Pentecost added 3,000 to the number, and in 1630 sent Roger Williams over to America. He, in the spirit of his master, planted churches in New England, and the stone continued to roll until it reached the sunny South. There the oppressed, rejected and enslaved brother in black, in A. D. 1788, for the first time in Georgia, lifted the Baptist flag under the leadership of Andrew Bryan; here the handful of corn was sown, not on the high, wild, rocky, uncultivated mountain, but on the seaboard, and the wind carried the seed to every part of Georgia, and the barren rocks and sandy deserts became as Jordans of the Lord. From the handful of corn have sprung more than 1500 churches, 500 ordained preachers, and 166,429 communicants. The little one has become a thousand to-day. She is the mother of thousands of children born in a century. While Satan has tried to destroy the true church of God because he sees in her the artillery of heaven playing upon his fortresses of idolatry, skepticism, atheism and infidelity, the captain of our salvation, in the formation of His church, laid the foundation deep and well. Having routed the powers of darkness, on Calvary captured the captain of the opposing host, he mounted the white horse of the gospel and will ride from conquer to conquer until he has put the last enemy under his feet: too wise to err, too powerful to be overcome. The cause he has espoused must triumph. Let the Baptist family of Georgia, on this auspicious day, break forth in the soul-inspiring song: "Arise, shine, for the light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Gentiles shall come to her light and kings to the brightness of her rising. Her sons shall come from far, and her daughters shall be nursed at her side. The glory of the Lord shall be displayed and all flesh shall see it together." The progress of the Baptists in this country is due to the earnest, faithful and simple preaching of Christ crucified by the fathers. They did not preach philosophy, nor did they strive to reach the people with rhetorical strains of eloquence, but by preaching the truth. The gospel declared in its simplicity and truthfulness will make Baptists.
There is about one and a quarter million colored Baptists in the United States. In the "Story of Baptist Missions in Foreign Lands," by Rev. G. M. Hervey, and in "Jamaica, Past and Present," by Rev. W. M. Brown, M. D., all give an account of a noble colored preacher, by the name of George Leile, who was brought from Virginia to Savannah, Ga., where he remained until the close of the Revolutionary war. His master was a British officer, and when the British evacuated Savannah his master fled to a more congenial clime and took with him his servant George to the West Indies. They settled in Jamaica and George Leile began to preach in Kingston and vicinity, and founded the first African Baptist church ever established in the West Indies with five Afro-Americans, George Leile himself being one. No Protestant mission, except that of Monrovians, which had been formed in 1754 in Jamaica, but had made slow progress. Leile baptized 400 converts in eight years, and in ten years there were 500 members. It has been claimed that the first Baptist church in the West Indies was established by the first missionary of the Baptist Missionary Society of London; but George Leile was preaching in the West Indies, assisted by Moses Baker, George Gibbs and others, as far back as 1793, and when the missionary of the Society of London reached the island in 1814 there were not less than 3,000 Baptists on the Island. Bryant Edwards, the historian, gave him a contribution amounting to ?900, which was spent in erecting a chapel. He was thrown into prison for preaching, loaded with irons and tried for his life. We find the following in "Jamaica, Past and Present."
"Owing to the fearful state of Jamaica at that time they baptized and administered the Lord's Supper at night in unfrequented places sought the swamps and grounds covered with trees and bushes to evade arrest; but they were found, and called to undue punishment, the bitter effects of the same spirit that kindled the fires of Smithfield and originated the cruelties of the inquisition. Jamaica has furnished as noble a band of martyrs to the truth as any part of the world of similar extent and within the same period of time since the sixteenth century."
These were colored martyrs, and among the first of the moral heroes of the pioneers was George Leile, a negro Baptist preacher from Georgia. George Leile lived until 1822, and went to his grave full of years and good works, like a shock of corn fully ripe in its season. Historians, blinded by prejudice, have tried to rob the brother in black of the honor conferred upon Leile. The honor can not belong to the Missionary Society of London, for it did not exist until 1792, and the Baptist membership in Kingston then was over 400. It can not be given unto the American Baptist Missionary Union, for it began in 1814. It can not be given to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, for that began in 1845. It can not be given to the African Baptist Missionary Society, of Richmond, Va., for it began in 1815. But the planting of the first Baptist church in the West Indies, so far as human agency is concerned, was inaugurated by George Leile, the black apostle of Georgia, who planted the standard of christianity in the far-off West Indies, and despite opposition, oppression and persecution, he saw the church strengthened, prosperous and flourishing. So Georgia numbers thousands of sons and daughters in the West Indies who are bound to us by the triple declaration of one Lord, one faith and one baptism. Well might the church sing to-day, "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, oh thou most mighty, and in thy majesty ride prosperously because of righteousness, truth and meekness." Our fathers had in mind the fact, as is beautifully expressed by the poet:
"A sacred burden is this life ye bear:
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly;
Stand up and walk beneath it steadfastly.
Fail not, for sorrow falters not for sin,
But onward, upward, till the good we win."
II. God hath wrought wonderfully in the foreign fields. God put the magnificent and stupendous enterprise of modern missions
in the heart of William Cary a hundred years ago. Dr. Somerville says:
"In the case of William Cary we have the example of what a single laborer in Christ's field may effect. Poor in worldly circumstances, without academic culture, with nothing to prompt or guide him but the inspired word of God, without sympathy from churches, in the face of doubt, incredulity and disheartening apathy on the part of christian ministers and people, but with a courage that never blanched, a resolution that nothing could withstand, a faith that never faltered, and with a humility that made him the lowliest and loveliest of men, he set his face towards British India, which then, and long after, scowled all missionary enterprise. Thirty-four translations of the Holy Scripture fell from his pen, twenty-seven mission stations and hundreds of schools were established. He aroused the entire christian world to its duty to the heathen, and he has given an impulse to mission work that will never die. The Bible is being issued by the million in more than 340 languages. The ordained missionaries in the fields of heathenism and Mohammedanism exceed 3,100. More than 2,300 women have consecrated their lives to the work with woman's tenderness and affection, with woman's unswerving fidelity, and with woman's measureless love. So that the number of missionaries, British, American and Continental, exceed 5,000 with the 30,000 native helpers. All in a century. The Baptists of Georgia are helping by contributions to give the gospel to the heathen, and especially has the grand old First Baptist Church of Savannah acted nobly her part in disseminating the gospel. Behold what God hath wrought in this century. Nations will still fall down. before him and empire upon empire will be conquered, and christianity will spread from clime to clime, and from pole to pole, until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters doth the mighty deep, when there shall be one people and one God. The trump of jubilee shall sound and countless numbers of the redeemed shall sing aloud, Hallelujah, God omnipotent reigneth. This gospel, which is God's lever, whose fulcrum is the Rock of Ages, will lift up our degraded, sin-cursed earth and produce God's glory over the creation."
2.--WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT PROVIDENTIALLY?
The history of my people.--This century was one of hardship, oppression, persecution and sore trial. We were slaves, enslaved bodies and enslaved minds. No moral training, no intellectual advantage. It was a crime to read a book, patrolled, Spanish-bucked, run by blood-hounds, whipped to death, put on the auction block, sold from parents like cattle, husbands and wives separated, must get a ticket to go to church, get permission to join the church, and in many instances not allowed to use your own choice about what church you should join.
Slavery was wrong. God was against it, and He who presides over the destinies of nations in His own good time removed the foul blot from the national escutcheon. Some attribute their freedom to Abraham Lincoln and the Union armies, but we received our liberty, like Israel of old, from the great God of heaven and earth. God's operations may be slow in the incipiency, but the triumph is sure and not distant.
After four years of the saddest, severest civil war, slavery fell, like Dagon before the Ark, and we were free. Emancipated without a dollar, without experience, without education, without friends and without competent leaders. Like Ishmael and Hagar turned out to die, driven into the wilderness. When Prussia emancipated her slaves they were given a start in life, and when the Queen Regent of Spain emancipated the Cuban slaves they were given something as a reward of their past faithfulness. We were turned loose, unaided as we were, were vested with the right of citizenship at a time when we were unprepared for it; but despite all obstacles the negro in Georgia has ten millions dollars' worth of property and has proven himself worthy of citizenship. Take our intellectual advancement. There are in the public schools of Georgia thousands of children, and two-thirds of them are Baptists. We have a number of high schools owned and controlled by our associations, besides the Atlanta Baptist Seminary and Spellman Baptist Seminary under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Our men will be found in the legal fraternity, the medical professions, professors in our colleges, in the legislative hall, or the list of authors, skilled musicians, polished scholars, journalists and theologians.
The Baptists of Georgia are placed under lasting obligations to the American Baptist Home Mission Society for their support and to the Baptist Publication Society for Baptist literature. The name and memory of the venerable Dr. Joseph T. Robert should be cherished by every Baptist in Georgia for the work he accomplished in preparing the leaders for the next century. God hath wrought wonderfully among us. God is still opening up a way for the spread and propagation of the gospel. The way has been opened for a great outpouring of the spirit on the Congo valley. We have come to a period of culmination. The cry is loud and long for consecrated workers. The harvest is truly great and the laborers are few. Take a retrospective view of the work accomplished in one hundred years under such adverse circumstances. This meeting should inspire every disciple to go to his field of labor with renewed energy and courage to extend this kingdom, disseminate the gospel until every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of God the Father. I have three propositions to make:
1. Systematic work and giving.
2. Prayerfulness for the success of the work.
3. Earnestness in the proclamation of the truth.
1st. Systematic work and giving.--We are living in an age of mental activity; an age of invention and wonderful development; a busy, progressive age; a wonderful century. No century of the past has been so remarkable with results as the nineteenth. The church is the advance guard of civilization and must disseminate the word of life which is like a purifying bath and the gently distilling rain. The church has sufficient material resources but they are locked up, and system and order are necessary.
Christ in order to feed the hungry multitude with five barley loaves and two small fishes required order and system. He commanded them to be seated in groups or companies, and when there had been an orderly and systematic division of the multitude[.] He said to His disciples, "Give ye them to eat." We are in the midst of a hungry multitude. The marvellous resources of the church are locked up within the domains of the church. The command of the Saviour is ringing out loud and clear, all along the line, "Give ye them to eat." The dark continent of Africa, with 192,000,000 of people, and only 2,000,000 have ever heard of Jesus. Stanley has traced the Congo from its source in Eastern Africa to the Atlantic, a distance of 2,800 miles, with 1,000,000 square miles of territory and a population of millions. What is this but a great door-way for christianity? Let the progress and success of the past give us fresh inspiration for the future. Let Christ's love for us, and our love for Him in return, and by our obedience to his commands, devotion to His cause, advance His kingdom by devising systematic plans to feed the hungry in multitude and make ready a people for the coming of the Master. Hasten, Lord, the glorious time.
2d. Prayerfulness for the success of the work.--While the Council of Nuremburg was signing the edict that gave the Protestants their freedom, Martin Luther was away off in a room by himself praying for its accomplishment. Though there was no line of communication between the place where the council was assembled and the room where Luther was praying, yet Martin Luther suddenly arose from prayer and said: "It is accomplished. The Protestants are free. Victory! victory!" He received what he asked for. Like Daniel, we are to pray with our face towards Jerusalem. Like Stephen, looking up into heaven. Like the Publican, with our hands on our heart. I heard Mr. Andy Comstock, of New York, say last fall while speaking before the New York Baptist Ministers' Conference, that the night the Comstock bill was passed by Congress he was in his room at the hotel praying for its passage the very hour it passed, and though he was not informed of its passage until the next morning, he was conscious something would be done. Our own blessed Saviour, who entered fully into humanity, entered into our sorrows, our woes and agonies, prayed earnestly, tenderly, affectionately, and yet argumentatively, for the preservation of his people, for their unity and sanctification. Cold mountain and the midnight air witnessed the fervor of His prayer. If it became Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners to spend whole nights in the mountain praying, how much more important is it that His followers spend much time in earnest prayer to God for divine guidance in discharging the weighty and responsible duties devolving upon them as representatives of their Master whose glory they must exhibit, and who must overcome the world by the blood of the Lamb through the word of God, and by the word of their testimony. Mr. Spurgeon says prayer is the rustling of the wings of angels that are on their way bringing us the boons of heaven. Even as the cloud foreshadoweth rain, so prayer foreshadoweth the blessing, even as the green blade is the beginning of the harvest, so is prayer the prophecy of the blessing that is about to come. So pray, brethren, pray.
3d. We need earnestness and simplicity in proclaiming the word.--Daniel Webster said he did not go to church to hear studied oratory but to hear the gospel. Our fathers were men of one book; they received power by prayerfulness, and proclaimed earnestly and plainly what they understood. Like Paul they said: "Though I preach the gospel I have nothing to glory of, necessity is laid upon me, yea woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel." The gospel is an intervention of Jesus Christ to save lost men and must be given to every creature. It is heaven's appointed remedy for man's malady, and the directions for taking the medicine must be so plain that the fool may take it assured of the fact that he will be healed. The gospel is a ship loaded with bread of life, and must be brought so near the landing that the hungry can reach forth and take the bread of life. The gospel is the announcement of reconciliation between God and the sinner, a message of mercy, the history of the advent of Christ, His life, miracles, death, burial, resurrection, ascension. and intercession. The gospel is the Messiah's conquering, triumphal car. There is power and magnetism about. It is to be preached in its purity and its truthfulness. It is the gospel of which Christ and heaven are interested.
"In heaven the rapturous song began,
And sweet seraphic fires
Through all the shining legions ran,
And strung and tuned the harp.
Swift through the vast expanse it flew,
And loud the echo rolled,
The theme, the song, the joy was new,
'Twas more than heaven could hold.
Down through the portals of the sky
The impetuous torrent ran,
And angels flew with eager Joy
To bear the news to man."
Man has been honored in being chosen of God to carry this holy message. Beginning a new century in the history of our denomination, let us carry this message with the same earnestness as did our fathers. Discourage inactivity, coldness, indifference, formalism, and this kind of spasmodic religion. Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Contend for those principles that have been the very life of the Baptists. This gospel must go, like the sun shining in his strength, scattering all clouds from the face of the world until the moon and stars shall be lost in its effulgence. It must fly until, in the language of Christmas Evans, living waters flow through the channels of mercy in summer and winter, not frozen by the cold nor evaporated by the heat. It must go until the cause of Christ shall be pre?inent in the estimation of mankind. It must fly until the instrument of war be turned into scythes and ploughshares, and nations learn war was no more. It must go until the ferocious wolf dwells with the innocent lamb, the furious leopard lay down with the kid, the cow and the bear feed in the same pasture, and the little child leads the lion by the mane. Onward, christian soldiers, on, on to victory. The struggles of a hundred years have ended in a victorious triumph. Hannibal and Hamilcar lead the armies of the Carthaginians; Victor Emmanuel led the armies of the Italians; Tamerlane led the armies of Asia; Gustavus Adolphus, Xerxes, Alexander and Washington led battalion after battalion. It is estimated that in all the wars from scriptural times more than thirty-five billions of men have fallen in battle. Soldiers and commanders have received honors from the world. Sky-towering monuments have been erected to their memory. But the men who have been engaged in a holy war, leading a crusade of virtue against vice, an army of righteousness against sin, the harbinger of peace, the bearer of good tidings, the watchman on Zion's holy mount, they were instruments in saving instead of destroying life. And yet their graves are unmarked, no tombstone marks the place where many of them rest. But "God, my Redeemer, lives, and often from the skies looks down and watches all their dust till He shall bid it rise."
Georgia owes it as a sign of recognition and appreciation of their services to erect a monument in this city to the memory of the Baptist leaders who fell during these one hundred years. Our captain is now riding on his white horse giving orders to the armies to move forward. He said to Andrew Bryan one hundred years ago, "Go forward." He speaks to all of you brethren as you move off in the second century. Go forward, let the universal moving of the footsteps of the army of Zion be heard in the camp of the enemy. In the language of Daniel Webster at the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker Hill monument: "Let it rise. Let it rise. Let it rise till it meets the sun in his coming. Let the early light of the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play upon the summit." So let the gospel star-spangled banner rise. Let it rise. Let it rise until its magnetic influence shall draw all men to Christ. Let it soar till the attention of the African shall be called from his devil-bush, the Arab from his tent and the Jew from his wandering. Let it rise until the shouts of our triumphs be borne aloft to the ear of the redeemed as they shout from their high citadel of triumph. We want angelic messengers who come as the representatives of heaven to this centennial celebration to report to the heavenly hosts we are moving forward; to tell Andrew Bryan, Marshall, Campbell, Kernel, Glen, McCrady, Golphin, Jacob Walker, Kelly, Lowe, Peter Johnson, Henry Johnson, John Cox, Joseph Walker, Rucker, Quarles, Frank Beale, George Gibbons, Henry Watts, Arrington, Allen Clark, John A. James, Arthur Johnson, Alfred Young, I. C. Houston, F. D. Williams, J. M. Jones, Henry Williams that we are holding the fort, and that they are still joined to us by all the glorious recollections of the past and the still more glorious anticipation of the future, and ere long we will take our places by their side, and we shall review the grand procession of the Baptists from the chancels of glory, at the close of another century, as our departed heroes reviews us to-day. Let the gospel banner rise. Let it rise! Let it rise!
A CENTENARIAN AT THE CELEBRATION--117 YEARS OLD.
Mrs. Mary Jackson, who was baptized by Rev. Andrew Bryan nearly an hundred years ago, was presented to the centennial celebration by Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., as a living witness of the organization of the First African Baptist Church. When she was asked did she know anything about when the First African Baptist Church started, she replied, "Yes; I was there the very Sunday evening it first started." "Well, mother, who baptized you?" asked Rev. Alexander Harris. "Daddy Bryan," was the prompt reply. "Where did he baptize you?" "In the river. If you will carry me there I will show you the place." "Who baptized old Daddy Bryan?" "A young man who was his friend, but things are so tangled up now I can't get 'em. straight"--meaning that she could not remember his name. Mr. George Liele is the young man referred to, who was then about 37 years old. This is not at all strange, when it is remembered that he was not located permanently in Savannah. He was at work down the river, and very soon left for Kingston, Jamaica, in the West Indies. This old lady, has a vivid recollection of the organization of the church, being 17 years old at the time. She is well preserved for one of her age. She can remember and tell of every pastor the church has ever had. She was born on Bull Island, in South Carolina, in 1771, and belonged to Mr. John McQueen. Some of the old members were called, that it might be learned if they knew anything about her. They testified that they knew her over forty years ago, and thought she was dead forty years ago, as she then looked old enough to them to have been dead from old age. Many things tended to corroborate the old lady's statement. When she was asked where did Father Bryan live, she replied: "Right on the way as you go to the baptizing ground." She could tell of many old people who lived in that day. She could tell of Father Bryan's wife and his brother Sampson.
There are several persons still living who remember the old man. Among them are Mother Bryan and Mother Delia Telfair. The latter was 15 years old when Father Bryan died. Rev. Andrew Neyle was eight years old when the old man died, and remembers him quite distinctly.
But to Mrs. Mary Jackson, the subject of this sketch. She is living about fourteen miles from the city, a member of the First African Baptist Church, but she is unknown to the majority of the members. Even the old members thought she was dead over forty years ago. This, perhaps, is due to the fact that she lives in the country. It is possible that in a church of 5,000 members that many would not be known. So far as can be known she has lived a consistent, Christian life for 100 years. Having never been disciplined by the church she, however, would never have become distinguished but for her age. Her life has been of the humble, retired order. Having been a slave, she cannot be noted for great intellect, her greatest blessing being that God has spared her life for 117 years.
No wonderful event in her long life leads us to suppose any reason for its preservation. The only reason that can be given is it pleased God to do so. Her faith is strong in the Saviour. He has kept her for some reason best known to Himself. It was a source of great joy to the church to have a living witness of its organization and an eye-witness to its eventful career for one hundred years. She spoke of Rev. Father Marshall as "Young Marshall, who took old Dady Bryan's place when he died." She knew nothing of dates, when certain events transpired, but had a clear knowledge of certain things which prove conclusively that she is a centenarian. She remembers the trouble of 1832, and when "Young Marshall," as she calls him, carried the church from Yamacraw.
In connection with this living relic, Mr. Love showed the congregation the chair in which Rev. Bryan used to sit while presiding over his church conferences, the dish out of which he used to eat, and the table at which he ate, and a large oil painting of the venerable hero.
The occasion can never be described. The centennial celebration of our church can never be forgotten. The sermons, addresses and papers from the different brethren tended to incalculably indoctrinate and strengthen us in the faith. It was a feast of good things; it was a theological school to our preachers. There were five States represented--Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Alabama and South Carolina. There were services three times daily--morning, afternoon and night. Each of these services were pretty largely attended, the members of the First African Baptist Church forming the largest quota from the churches of the city. People for ages to come will point back to the great Baptist centennial. Children will date their birth from the centennial; lovers will date their acquaintance from the centennial; old men will date their marriage from the centennial year, and other great events will be spoken of as having occurred in the great centennial year.
So as a snow-ball the great Baptist Centennial will continue to increase in interest and magnitude as the years roll by, and what to us may seem but a trifling affair will be wonderful in the next centennial celebration. Again, this centennial celebration laid the foundation for the next one. Those who will be living at the next centennial will have what we have written of our church and the fathers, and it will then be dim with having been transmitted to them from the fathers. Orators will then move their vast audience as they speak of us as the fathers. The youngest of us will then be called fathers. If any one who could remember this centennial should be there he or she would claim the profoundest consideration and receive the attention of an angel visitor. Indeed, we have done more than we are apt to think of at first. But as the ages pass by more learned men will write of it, and could we be here to the next centennial celebration we would be surprised to know how this centennial celebration had increased in every way. We would feel then that we had only been looking through a glass darkly.
In closing this part of our work upon the centennial celebration, the writer feels that he has not been able to remove the curtain just enough for those of us of to-day to get a peep into the future to even divine what the greatness of this celebration will be in coming ages. But having used the light that is given us, we shall feel content. It is not duty to do what one can not do--and since we can do no more, then we have done, our duty is performed. We feel that it was our duty to do what we could to guide those who are coming after us.
BY REV. S. A. McNEAL, OF AUGUSTA, GA.
To the President and Members of the Centennial Committee of the Negro Baptists of Georgia, and of this Grand Mother Church Of Negro Baptists:
We are assembled here to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the negro Baptists of Georgia. All grand institutions that have ever accomplished great and grand results have had to pass through many fiery ordeals and encounter many conflicts upon life's tempestuous sea, which have put to the severest test their strength and durability. If their make-up had not been genuine, they would have gone to wreck. So it has been with this old gospel ship, which has been sailing on the ocean of time for an hundred years, and has weathered many storms. But to-day she stands safe and sound, and a thousand times more glorious than ever, though she has been buffeted. She is sailing still heavenward, whose colors are floating freely and grandly, praised and admired the world round, and her power for good is known and felt even where her colors are not seen. Her moral, religious and financial condition to-day surpasses any church among the negroes of this country, and is ahead of many churches of that race whose advantages have been superior to ours.
But, coming to the subject, let us ask why is all of this? How came she so safely through the perils and dangers of the past? I answer because it was first founded right. Its foundation was right, and hence its success. We are here to-day to speak on this particular line, "Baptist Doctrine." What other foundation could have given rise to this success but Baptist doctrine, or Baptist belief, or the doctrine as believed and practiced by the Baptists? Every grand and laudable institution has had at some time its grand days or great epoch, and so the church of Christ.
We are assembled as a great people to do Him honor who has safely led this grand church along through the past century. It is the grand doctrine of the Baptist church that has given rise to this grand church and great Baptist denomination of Georgia, whose churches are known by the hundreds, and whose communicants are numbered by the thousands. Her sons are now in the various parts of the known world, publishing the glad tidings of the blood-spattered cross--even Calvary. We speak of the doctrine of the church as its foundation, and greater foundation can no man lay than that which is already laid. We speak of the doctrine or principles of the church as the foundation, for it is the foundation that gives power and durability to the superstructure.
What the bones, sinews, nervous system and the blood are to the physical man, so are the doctrines to the church. What the roots of the tree are to the trunk, to the boughs and to all of its branches, so the doctrines are to the church. And as it is impossible for the building to stand the wreck and hardships. of time, etc., without its foundation, so it is with the church. As the tree cannot bear fruit without its roots, so it is with the church. Had not the church been founded upon the foundation of God's word, which is the true principle of the divine Architect of the church, its grand achievement would not have been. But all of these grand results have come to the church because it was founded upon the foundation of Christ and His apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.
We wish to speak in particular of the Baptist doctrine as being identical with the word of God, for there is no creed nor even shadow of a creed of this church but that of the word of God. It is the main doctrine of the Baptists to proclaim nothing but the Bible and that pure and simple. Upon this every one who has risen against it has had this accusation, that we stick too uncompromisingly to the scriptures, and will admit of no modification or even shadow of turning.
The doctrine of the Baptists is the doctrine of the Bible. Upon it all of our fathers stood, fought, conquered and died. Upon it we are standing to-day. The stand which the Baptists have taken for the leading doctrines of the Bible has been as a beacon through all ages in giving and preserving the truth in the world and of keeping a pure faith and church. Though they have not always been known to bear the name of Baptists, there have always been those who have believed and practiced what the Baptists do.
It is quite encouraging to know these two things about God and His people, Christ and His word. The first is God's word has always stood since He first spoke it. The second is since the days of Jesus Christ. His people have always been loyal to the truth as is believed and practiced by Baptists. Hence He has always had a church to worship Him on the earth and a people to believe His word just as He has given it to them.
Sir Isaac Newton says: "The Baptists are the only body of Christians that have not symbolized with the Church of Rome." Jesus is the Son of God, hear ye Him. Christ is the head over the church and its law-giver. The New Testament contains his law which is our infallable guide and supreme standard by which all church doctrines and rites are to be tried. Those are Christian churches strictly speaking that correspond with the New Testament pattern, and Baptists have always appealed to the New Testament as furnishing the only true authority for the faith and practice of the churches. The great Erasmus says: "It is not from human reservoirs pregnant with stagnant waters that we should draw the doctrine of salvation but from the pure and abundant stream that flows from the word of God." And since Christ is our law-giver whom shall we obey? Who is supreme, Christ or the church? Where did the church get the authority to substitute something else in the place of that which Christ has ordained? There we are to learn our duty in all things of faith, etc., that which He teaches is all-sufficient for all times and places. What He commands we are to do. From his decision there is no appeal. Apostles, ministers nor churches can not alter or amend, but must submit, and grace suggests that our submission be heartily and cheerfully. Since we have the law-giver and the law let us acquaint ourselves with that law of Christ, and say, in all things, "Oh God, Thy will be done."
Our principles of obedience to Christ make us first Baptists ourselves, and immediately set us to making Baptists of others. We become Baptists, and we become propagandists of Baptist views by one and the same almighty, creative acts through all ages. The Baptists have adhered most strictly to the doctrines that are taught in God's word. So that obedience has been ever the leading idea with Baptists. They hold that obedience is better than sacrifice. And upon that fact they have ever stood contending, and to-day they are conquering the world upon that ground. For the world is asking every day, "What says the Bible?" and when told, they are saying "It is better to obey God rather than man." And behold, many are coming into the grand army of the Lord every day. When you ask me why is this, I tell you it is because of that longing in the converted heart to obey God. So, to obey, the Baptists have always held to be a sacred duty. So very jealous are they of the obedience which they are disposed to render to their Lord and Master, should they find in their book one page, one chapter, one sentence, or even one word that did not in every way comply with the sacred word of God, they would cast it out and leave that space vacant. If asked about it, they would with great delight give their reason for its abstraction. Then they would even go beyond that. They would brand the writer as ignorant or a heretic. What Baptists mean, so far as in them lies, is to go to heaven through obedience to God and faith in His word. Our fathers did it in all of their ignorance. And what else can we, as their children, do? Our fathers had masters who were Episcopalians, Methodists, and even Catholics, but they turned their backs on their masters' religion and profession, even when it was more convenient for them to follow their masters, and have spiritual liberty to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. They have even been rejected from meeting with the church, because they would not join the church of their masters. But what did they do in that instance? Why, they suffered, prayed and waited until God opened the way for them. But obey God they would, must and did under all circumstances do, and so it has always been, and even more so must it continue to be, for obedience has been the pride of Baptists of all ages. The negro Baptists have preferred to be in fellowship with God rather than man.
It is strange how Baptists, even in their ignorance, have withstood all of the eloquence of learning and strength of science and of logic and stuck to the plain Bible and its doctrines. While they have had all of the polished scholars and preachers to contend with, they, in their ignorance, have stood alone with the Bible in their hands and whipped the world thus far. They had even the Church of England and the Church of Rome to withstand, and in defiance of all the pomp and splendor of these powers they have stood the test of time and to-day their colors are lifted to the breeze, and heaven hears the sound, and angels lend influence and glory to this occasion as we stand under this hallowed roof, made so by the grace of God and sanctified and made most holy to us by the prayers, tears, sweat and blood of Bryan, Marshall, Campbell and Gibbons, and now being honored by his reverence, the worthy Emanuel K. Love, D. D.
You ask me, how was it that though slavery raged in all of its horrors, destroying and debauching the moral character of every being that came within its reach, why, you ask, did they allow these negroes to have a church, make rules, and discipline members, etc., and from whence came all of these glorious things seen among negroes who came out of that cursed and damnable institution, slavery? My answer is that, first of all, their foundation was laid deep in the doctrine of God's book. Like Peter, they had learned obedience to their Lord and Master, who said, when faith had been tried and found sincere, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Who said again, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you."
Their legal privilege was granted them by the Constitution of the United States as the result of an application made to Congress to grant religious liberty to all men to worship God after the dictates of their own conscience, and not be molested or made afraid.
Baptists believe that the Bible is the only rule of faith, and should be practiced by all men. That it is the right of every man to interpret that book for himself, and in doing so he should be allowed to worship his God in his own quiet way. The supreme legislature of the country, nor the lowest officer in the community, nor any one else, should do the least thing to disturb him in doing this.
Baptists believe in a separation of church and state. They also believe in a democratic form of government, or a government by the people, for the people, and with the people--that is, a congregational government, or a majority rule, governed by the Bible.
The Baptists in all things hold that obedience to the law and testimony is supreme in conscience.
Therefore we appear here to-day, having rested upon this immovable foundation, which is stronger than the hills of old, and will abide when the rocks of Gibraltar shall fail, which have been standing the raging billows for centuries in the past, and yet they are the same.
Had it not been for the all-abiding principles of Baptists we would have been driven to climes unknown. Every denomination has its peculiar pride or religious forte. The Catholics have stood because they had the power over man and coerced them into their pale; hence all that they have done. The Church of England had the money; hence all men gladly bowed to her footstool. It is said of the Presbyterians that because of their education and high doctrine that none could comprehend but the learned. Of the Methodists it is said that they have sung their way around the world. But Baptists have gone into many parts of the world, and all the places where they have not gone they will go upon the word of God. Baptists have come through fire and water and sailed through blood by faith and obedience. When tried, their faith would not yield. On being asked concerning the things of God, even if they believed something that they did not fully understand, they have taken great pleasure in replying: Great is the mystery of godliness. God manifested in the flesh the secret things belonging to God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children.
Baptists believe that repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first duty of man. The second is like unto that. Baptism is the second duty of every man. He who believes in the name of the only begotten Son of God believes and knows that immersion in water, when performed upon a proper subject and by a proper administrator, is the only thing that constitutes christian baptism. These few but sublime doctrines constitute the great foundation of the Baptist church. Upon these principles all of the apostles, martyrs and ancient worthies lived, fought, died and went to heaven. There their happy souls wait and rest until their fellow-servants, slain as they were, shall come.
Our church has come through trials and persecution in all ages, from the days of Christ till now. For there never was a time since our blessed Lord said to Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," but that there were men and women practicing and believing just what Baptists are practicing and believing to-day. Though it cost them their lives, yet they have in all ages contended for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Our fathers believed in the Baptist form of government and they stuck to it, though their masters were members of another church. When they would feel a change of heart and wish to unite with the church they would have to get a pass from their masters. When asked to what church they wished to connect themselves, and the Baptist church was named as the church of their choice, they were then asked, "Why can't you join Mr. A.'s or Mr. B.'s church." When better reasons and privileges were given to join the church named by their masters, they could only say, "I want Mr. D. or E. to baptize me." After being denied for no good reason at all, and made to suffer the awful consequences of laying off from the church for months, and sometimes for years, they nevertheless, like the impassionate widow, continued to seek until, for some reason, they were granted the privilege of joining the church of their choice by undergoing some hard treatment. They chose to take punishment rather than join any other than the church of their faith, the Baptist church. The suffering of God's children has often brought others to be His disciples, for God has often seen fit to cast us in the furnace of affliction.
Baptists believe in giving to God that obedience that takes in all his word. Faith and obedience are inseparably connected. The Baptists also believe that he who truly believes God's word will obey Him. And he that believes is made a new man in Christ Jesus, born again, or made after the new man created in righteousness. So he that is created in righteousness will yield implicit obedience to God. Our blessed Lord and Master said: "To whom ye yield yourselves to obey, to him ye are servants." Jesus said: "If ye do whatsoever I have commanded, ye are my friends." So friendship with God depends upon our obedience to Him. When Abraham obeyed, it was accounted to him for righteousness. Hence he was called the friend of God. "If ye believe in me, ye shall know of the doctrine." Christ says, belief and obedience make, first, children of God; secondly, and as children of God we are Baptists, or those who side with Baptist doctrine.
I have been puzzled to know how any man can claim to be a child of God, and live in actual disregard of God's law, and worse still, set up a system of doctrines or opinions contrary to those set up by the God of the church, or to adopt those set up by men. I ask, can such men plead ignorance? Can a man who takes the opposite side of a question, ever get to the place where he can plead his ignorance? Can any man who is wise enough to build up doctrines contrary to those established of God, ever plead his ignorance and thereby be pardoned? I trow not. The name, "Baptist," originated not with them, but with their opponents. The main difference between Baptists and other denominations centers in the ordinance of baptism. Not that Baptists are erroneous in their views, but that others are not willing to follow the divine rule on this fundamental doctrine. In this they are willing to substitute this ordinance for the tradition of men. Yet they profess to be the children of God. They delight to live in open rebellion to the government of God. Let us obey God, that good may come to us. Then we can say, as another:
"Now liberty is all the plan,
The chief pursuit of every man whose heart is right.
One word into your ears I'll drop,
No longer spend your needless pains
To mend and Polish o'er your chains,
But break them off before you rise,
Nor disappoint your watchful eyes.
What says great Washington and Lee?
Our country is and must be free.
What says great Henry Pendleton
And Liberty's minutest son?
'Tis all one voice--they all agree,
God made us and we must be free.
Freedom we crave, neither envy's breath,
An equal freedom or a death,
If needs there be--yea, tax the knight,
But let our brave, heroic minds
Move freely as celestial winds;
Make vice and folly feel your rod,
But leave our conscience free to God.
Leave each man free to choose
His form of piety, nor at him storm;
And he who minds the civil law,
And keeps it whole without a flaw,
Let him just as he pleases pray,
And seek for heaven in his own way.
And if he miss, we all must own,
No man is wrong but him alone."
HISTORY OF THE COLORED BAPTISTS OF GEORGIA.
BY REV. G. H. DWELLE, AUGUSTA, GA.
Dear Chairman and Brethren of the Centennial:
I have been appointed by your committee to deliver an address before this christian body, which has assembled here to celebrate the one hundredth year of our existence in this State. Who is able, who is adequate, who can know the history of the colored Baptists of Georgia? Where are their records kept? Who has been their recorder, writing the true history of the pioneer fathers who have passed on before? No one, and a full and true history can never be known on earth! Some parts may be gathered, but the full and complete history has passed away with those faithful heralds for Jesus into the spirit world. Here and there we have caught a faint glimmering of the greatness of those faithful pioneers of our denomination in Georgia, and of their labors.
We will say a word touching our history, which begins with Rev. Andrew Bryan, who organized the First African Baptist Church in this city one hundred years ago, and was its first pastor. In the early morn, before it was yet light, he came to this field with seeds from the granary of heaven, given him from the Master's own hands, to sow. "They were sown in weakness; they were raised in power." They took root downward and sprung upward and brought forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold, to the honor and glory of God.
Soon after the Lord sent another into the field, Rev. Andrew Marshall, a strong man for God and his cause, who worked faithfully in this part of Georgia.
The work began spreading toward the interior, borne along by Revs. Robert McGee, C?ar McGrady, Jesse Peter, (sometimes called Golplin), Kennard, Ghan, Jacob Walker, Henry Johnson, Joseph Walker, Henry Watts, Ephriam Rucker, Frank Quarles, Frank F. Beal, William J. Campbell, Tellinghast, Pope, Romulus Moore, John A. James, Henry Williams, Allen Clark, David Hill, Prince Williams, Thomas Hardwick, Joe McGrady, George Gibbons, Abraham Burk, Louis Barber, Jerry M. Jones, P. B. Borders, Jerry Freeman, George Jones, George Bull, and hundreds of others that I cannot now remember. They all labored faithfully in their Master's cause, and to-day are rejoicing in heaven with their Master, whom they served on earth even till called away by their Lord. Who can tell the sufferings, privations and hardships which these men of God endured during the early days of our church.
In those dark days when the servants of God had been laboring hard and speaking for Jesus, they would sometimes receive, some fifty and others an hundred lashes or more for speaking for God. To say all were whipped for preaching would be untrue; but to say that none were whipped for preaching would be a lie. It is said that some white Baptists have been whipped for preaching; then think you the negro could escape? Nay, he had his share doubled; but our God saved them all. Those were hard times in Georgia; but the seed were good, right from the Master's hands, handed down to his faithful servants to be sown on the seacoast, swamps, mountains and valleys broad-cast--scattered all over the land. It must have been good seed to yield 166,429 living souls, to say nothing of those already gathered from the field, and that through the storms of adversity, the floods of affliction and the draughts of persecution. Surely God was with the sower and in the seed. Yes, the faithful men toiled on at great disadvantage, illiterate, fettered, deprived at times of food and clothing. Still, through the darkness and gloom they toiled on, singing:
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus leads,
I'll follow where he goes;
Hinder me not, shall be my cry,
Though earth and hell oppose."
They went on, but not alone; one was with them who said: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee: lo, I am with thee to the end of the world. Amen." And to-day in every valley and plain, on every hill and mountain you may traverse in Georgia, lo, the Baptists are there. Thus the kind hand of God has led us along and here are we to-day, with gratitude giving praise to our God, "from whom all blessings flow," and we would shout and say,
"Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
We now stand at the cradle of the Baptists of Georgia. We have come from all parts of the land to lift high and throw to the breeze the Baptist banner that was borne aloft so faithfully in the darker days by those veterans, and has never been allowed to trail in the dust for one hundred years in this grand old Empire State of the South. That banner will ever stand, all stained with hallowed blood, marked, "Salvation's free to all the world through the blessed Son of God." We would not forget our brothers of the white race, who kindly assisted us and cheered us on to greater efforts of success, helping us to organize and set up churches, and in prosecuting the work. They rendered much valuable help in the establishing and building of the 1500 churches, with 500 ordained ministers and 2,000 licensed preachers, presiding over the 166,429 members, all springing up from the little seed planted one hundred years ago.
As to culture and refinement, these can be found in large numbers in our ranks. For thrift and wealth, there are many with us. We have towering churches and fine seminaries, and school buildings as good as are found in the land. As to intellect, morals and spirituality, we have some second to none in this country, especially our young men and women coming out of our schools and seminaries. Of them we are truly proud, and will ever thank God for them. Our press is making rapid progress, and now ranks with the best in all the South. Able men are the editors, and they are a power for good to the denomination and our people. Yes, dear brethren, for nearly seventy-six years the colored Baptists of this State toiled and labored under many disadvantages; but when it pleased the "Supreme Ruler" of heaven and earth to blot out human slavery, the curse of this American land, the negro Baptists of Georgia came at once together as one man to prepare for the new order of things pertaining to our denomination. They had the interest of the race and the cause of Christ at heart. The education and moral training of the young men and old ones--the spiritual good of all was before them. These were thoroughly and minutely considered and discreetly prepared for by our leading brethren. A number of them met at Hilton Head, S. C., and organized the Zion Baptist Association, and then there was a move all along the line. The brethren met at Augusta, at the Springfield Baptist Church, to consult about forming the Ebenezer Baptist Association, which was formed after this meeting. Then followed the Shiloh Association, Mount Olive, and in all, to-day we have some fifty or sixty more associations, all prospering and doing much good. They are dotting every nook and corner of our State, and our work is advancing.
In 1870 there was a call made by the brethren of Atlanta and Augusta for brethren of the State to meet at Augusta, with the Central Baptist Church, for the purpose of organizing a State Baptist convention. Accordingly, a large number of brethren met, and on May 17, 1870, organized the Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. Its object was to establish a normal and theological school, and to support missionaries in the State. At the meeting we enrolled eighty-four delegates, and their names are recorded as the founders of our State convention. Before this, however, our associations were sending out missionaries in the field. Especially do I remember Rev. J. C. Bryan, Henry Morgan and A. De Lamotta, who were sent by the Ebenezer Association to the upper part of the State, while I believe brethren in this part of the State were equally as active.
In 1874 the convention sent out Rev. W. H. Tilman. Soon we could hear of missionaries all over our State. As time rolled on, the American Baptist Home Mission Board, the Georgia Baptist Convention (white), the American Baptist Publication Society, all took hold to help us, and there was much good done by these faithful missionaries in our State.
Early we began to invite help in our educational work, and the American Baptist Home Mission Society heard our petition, learning through Rev. W. J. White our needs, and came to our relief. They gave us the Augusta Institute, which was moved to the city of Atlanta about 1879, and is now the Atlanta Baptist Seminary for young men.
This did well for our young men, but where, oh where, were our young women? To what place were they to be gathered for training? The brethren decided there must be provision made for them, and in answer to prayer to God from those christian hearts help came. While Rev. Quarles was on his knees praying, God, through the Home Mission Society, sent Misses S. B. Packard and H. E. Giles to our aid. They opened school in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, in the city of Atlanta, and began work April 11, 1881. They began gathering our old and young women for training, and little by little they grew till what was a school of fifty, or a little more, can now call a roll of 600. Thus beginning lowly, God has raised our Spellman Seminary and made it a school second to none in all the South. Our different associations are building high schools in their bounds which can and will become good feeders to our two seminaries, meeting the needs of our people, and thus God is with us in our work.
Passing through the last twenty-four years we come to our centennial. Not that we entered this work one hundred years ago as our fathers (then the slaves of the State), but as free, twice made free, free from sin and death and American slavery. If the Son makes you free, ye shall be free indeed. What negro Baptist here to-day is not proud of the little record that can be gathered of our fathers, who, with heavenly weapons, fought so bravely the battle of our Lord, finished their course, kept the faith and now have the sure reward. I know, dear brethren, you do rejoice in your hearts. If this little history which we have be so grand, what must their true history have been. Where is there a people afflicted under like circumstances who can produce a record more rich with fruit for Jesus? Ah! the full and complete history is kept by the Judge who will do right, and to-day we should move with new impulse to achieve greater victories, and move on the Baptist chariot, conquering and to conquer, until we shall plant the Baptist church upon every mountain, hill-top and valley, from shore to shore, from pole to pole, until we can truly say Satan's power and his kingdom on earth are demolished, and all the world shall belong to Jesus. And when our next centennial comes, and the colored Baptists of Georgia are assembled, we that are here to-day to speak of those who sleep the long sleep of death, with no towering monuments, no shaft lifting its head to the skies, to mark the place or to speak of their deeds. Some of their graves are not known. But God, their Redeemer, lives and ever from the skies looks down and watches all their dust till He shall bid it rise. We who attend the meeting to-day, if our eyes were not holden, I imagine might see bending over the battlements of glory our beloved fathers, who, we imagine, are saying with their heavenly voices, be faithful unto death and come, we await your coming. We who meet here to-day in friendship and brotherly kindness shall be able to read without error our true history at home in our Father's house above, where there shall be no more parting, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. They sowed the seed on earth, and the harvest has been great. Surely
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercies and will break
In blessings on your head."
BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY.
An Address Delivered by Rev. W. H. Tilman, Sr., of Atlanta, Ga., Before the Negro Baptist Centennial.
My object in this discourse shall be to locate the church of Christ. Whatever church we shall find, founded by the great head of the church is the church of Christ. These questions are often asked by persons not acquainted with Baptist history: Where did the Baptists originate? How old are they? These might be considered as secondary questions, and of no importance at all to a Baptist. Their history is not more peculiar than the practice of that which they believe. Their faith is important, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world. Even our faith."--I. John, v, 4.
God is the author and head of the church. He is the head of every family in heaven or on earth. What skeptic will deny God named the Baptist? Neither Zachariah nor Elizabeth named John; but God sent his name as John from heaven by an angel, and the Spirit has been pleased to leave on record John the Baptist. What skeptic will deny that Christ, the great head of the church, was baptized by John? Who will deny that this was John's special and only mission? Before Christ was baptized, John baptized multitudes, and many afterwards. John diminished, but Christ increased. His preaching was to awake the world from its sleep. Christ's baptism was to set the example of practice and give the world the needed light of his church and to quicken the elected stones for the Master's use.
2d. As to the Baptist Church History. It may be said, as God said to Abraham, "Can you count the stars of heaven or number the sands on the sea shore?" This is admitted to be an impossibility. So with the history of the Baptist church, the church of God, I ask you can you read the dust of the earth, the smoke of the past century? Or can you analyze the sands of the ocean's depths, or call from the graves, the mountains and deserts and eaves, the millions of charred and bleached bones that have gathered from the days of the elect Able down to the last martyrs?
Do you say this account reaches back too far? Not as far as we are authorized to go. Hear the word of Jesus: Matt., xxv, 34: "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Here is the demonstration of the truth that God's first designs are lastly carried into execution. He made a world, then made man to occupy it. He prepared a kingdom, a church for his own glory, then elected man to occupy it until he comes again. John, xvii., 5: "And now, oh, Father, glorify Thou me with Thine Own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."
At what time and on what occasion was this prayer made?
After he had brought that needed light and the world had seen and owned it to be a light from God. Yea, devils had tested it and trembled, because it was that light which shone in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. Note the occasion when the broken link was mended and the capital of the broken column, which had so long lain moulding beneath the debris and rubbish of ages, was found, raised and stood upon its foundation, the rock of faith, and pointed heavenward. A watcher was placed on the pediment and ordered to turn his face to the four parts of the heaven and the earth and cry, saying, "God was in Christ from all eternity reconciling the world unto Himself." In looking down the unknown ages the crier spied the church of Christ in its primitive glory. Filled with amazement and holy awe, he said, "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?"--Song of Sol., 6-10.
3d. Christ says to His church, "Ye are in the world, but ye are not of the world, for there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three are one."--I. John, v., 7-8. Was not Christ our witness in the world? Though the world was made by Him, did the world know Him? No, no. Has the world any better knowledge of him to-day than it had then? No. The world has a better conception of His will and purposes as it grows wiser, but not of Him. The world's wisdom is foolishness. Christ's church and Himself are one. If the world does not know Him, it cannot know His church, for what He saith of Himself is synonymous of His church.
4th. The Baptist church history, we claim, is written in blood. During all the world's dark ages they were preserved among all the nations and called by all manner of names--heretics in the first two centuries. They mingled with the Messalians, Euchites, Montanists; in the third, fourth and fifth centuries with the Novatians, and Donatists; in the seventh with the Paulicians; in the tenth, the Paterines; in the eleventh century, the Waldenses, Albigensis, Henicians and Christians. They have ever been in principle and spirit really the same people. These sects grew and flourished, though they suffered great persecutions.
The story of the slaughtering is enough to curdle the blood in the veins of a demon, yet they faltered not. They contended for the faith, and that faith was that the church founded by the great Baptist leader had not for its foundation, "gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble (I. Cor., iii. 12),["] but that Christ might dwell in your hearts by faith; to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which, from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ. To this intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. The church, then, is that source of light to the world, and the hope and joy of its members. The world is dependent upon the church for this light, each member of this mystic body being a small principality in himself. Each is accountable for his portion to be done. Do we know what we should do, and when we have done enough? The good book tells us, "What your hands find to do, do it with all thy might." Much is yet to be done. One hundred years have passed since this Southland, this State of Georgia, learned to their astonishment that the negro had knowledge of his election, by God's grace, unto salvation through Christ, and courage to tell it.
Andrew Bryan lifted the light, unfolded the Baptist banner, with a handful of ignorant slaves to hear his words. No doubt, many times he knew not what he should say to the few. But 100 years have told a wonderful story. The ignorant hearers have passed away; their places are filled with bright, intelligent listeners. And while Father Bryan, the pioneer, patriot and hero of a hundred years ago, compelled by death to vacate his pulpit, what has been the result? Of what have we to boast to-day? A grand army, a full corps of students, well equipped, holding in their hands the gavel of the church and the sword of knowledge, they are clothed in beautiful regalia, 166,429 strong.
From the mountain to the seaboard the line is unbroken. No discord in our song, no uncertain sound in the written edict, one Lord, one faith and one baptism. Again, old and young have learned to chant the song that Father Bryan sang in his day:
"Shall Wisdom cry aloud,
And not a speech be heard?
The voice of God's eternal word,
Deserves it no regard?
"I was His chief delight,
His everlasting son,
Before the first of all His work,
Creation, was begun.
"Before the flying clouds,
Before the solid land,
Before the fields, before the floods,
I dwelt at his right hand.
"When he adorned the skies,
And built them I was there,
To order when the sun should rise,
And marshal every star.
"When he poured out the sea,
And spread the flowing deep,
I gave the flood a firm decree,
In its own bound to keep.
"Upon the empty air
The earth was balanced well;
With joy I saw the mansion where
The sons of men should dwell.
"My busy thought at first
On their salvation ran,
Ere sin was born or Adam's dust
Was fashioned to man.
"Then come, receive my grace,
Ye children, and be wise;
Happy the man that keeps my ways,
The man that shuns them dies."
The first thought of Christ from creation was to save, then to prepare a plan of salvation, then to prepare a kingdom, both in heaven and on earth, to keep securely the saved. Then created he the subject, man, from whom he would make his selection. Lastly, he elected them for his own glory.
Who are they that are elected to grace?
Hear the answer: All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called.
According to God's purpose. For whom He did foreknow He also predestined and foreordained. Christ did foreknow His people; not simply knowing them, but His foreknowledge of them as His people included the gracious purpose of bringing them into a state of salvation, not for His church, but through His church. All who are saved shall be saved through His well-ordered plan, His church. Moreover, whom He did predestine, them He also called; and whom He called he also justified; and whom He justified He also glorified. And to such, tribulations, nor distress, nor persecutions, nor famine, nor nakedness, peril nor sword--not if all the human powers of earth and demons of the infernal regions, nor death itself--every angel of the paradisaical world should come down and stand in the pathway of Christ's church, the Baptist church, they would fail to separate us from Him. He has called us, and to Him we must go.
8th. Our peculiarities--The Baptist church practices.
It may be said those sects heretofore mentioned did not claim the name Baptist. We will admit that. While minus the name, see their practice:
1. No man could join the band until he could give the necessary proof of a regenerate heart.
2. He could in no wise be received into fellowship until he had passed into the door baptized by immersion.
3. They had no desire for amalgamation with any others.
Like some rivulet which pursues its way from the mountains to the sea, parallel to, but never mingling with the broad and turbulent stream, they have come down from the first ages of christianity preserving and transmitting to posterity the finest form of practical godliness and gospel faith known to history during those long succeeding centuries of darkness and corruption. Are not these the same peculiarities of the Baptist church to-day? We have no objection to exterior, yet we are more than jealously concerned about the interior. All who favor the band and join it must give good satisfaction of being born again. There are 80,165,000 christians in the world who speak the English language. The Baptists number among them 8.06 per cent. of the whole number. After more than eighteen hundred years of fire, sword and starvation, after drenching hills and valleys of every land, America not excepted, with the blood of untold millions, yet the Baptists live and are not a barren waste. The life and spirit of her captain are infused into every fibre. They rose like the green bay tree planted by living waters; her leaves will not wither. Like the poplar tree her beauty. Like the cedar of Lebanon her strength. She lives because Christ lives. She is beautiful because she is dressed in her bridal robes. She is pregnant with strength because she is held by the law and gospel. So she has a wall and a cannon loaded with sixty-six deadly missles--the whole Bible. The Baptists have eaten the whole book. Part of it may be bitter, yet there is sweetness enough in the twenty-nine new books to assure the Baptist there is no danger.
"One army of the living God,
To His command we bow,
Part of the host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."
THE HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS.
BY REV. LEVI THORNTON.
Dear Brethren of the Baptist Family of Georgia:
In appearing before you on this auspicious occasion I feel deeply grateful for the honor conferred upon me in being invited to speak on this occasion.
1st. We will speak of the faithfulness of our fathers, who, being called of God to enter into their fields of labor, did it faithfully, believing that they built on the foundation which was laid by Jesus Christ. They were faithful in preaching the gospel of Christ as they understood it. They lived in the dark age of the world, yet they held fast and struggled for liberty. They, faithful to their principles as Baptists, did not let the banner of the Lord Jesus trail in the dust.
2d. Their Christian zeal. They were zealous in the cause of the Divine Master. Though their enemies were strong and active, they remembered the words of the Apostle Paul, "Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
3d. Their trials and long suffering. In 1630 Roger Williams established a Baptist church in this country, but not without great suffering. He contended for soul liberty. The Baptists have furnished quite their share of martyrs and fully their quota of able men fighting for the divorce of church and state, and contending that man should worship God according as he understood the dictates of the gospel. All through the winding ages the Baptists have been called to endure keen sacrifice and terrible suffering. Their suffering has tended to develop their strength, and made them search the scriptures, which they have used to the discomfort of their opponents. Let us rejoice that there has been no disposition upon the part of Baptists in any age to shun the hallowed road of suffering, which is the King's highway. For 100 years our denomination has been contending with wickedness in high places. At times it seemed that the hallowed old ship would go down, but it was upheld by a hand divine, and for an hundred years she has been contending with the mad billows of life's tempestuous sea. Our fathers planted the banner of the Lord here, and we are determined that it shall not trail in the dust. A century has demonstrated the fact that their labors were not vain in the Lord; neither shall ours be.
Father Andrew Bryan, in much trouble and sheer suffering, planted the first negro Baptist church in this State an hundred years ago. He was whipped until he bled profusely, but his blood was but an heaven-born fertilizer, to enrich and make grow the heavenly plant. His tears were bottled by a covenant-keeping God, and his groans a loving Jesus heard. From four, the church soon numbered hundreds, and later on, thousands. "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." Father Andrew Marshall followed him only to suffer as he did for the same cause. He was a great man, and the people, white and black, felt him. He swayed an influence second to none over men. The people would obey him at will. Soon after this Father C?ar McGrady, of Augusta, came forth bearing the olive branch of peace, and the Springfield Baptist Church, of Augusta, Ga., came forth fair as the morning. Rev. Jacob Walker, Rev. Kelly Low, Rev. Cyrus Thornton, of Augusta, and Rev. W. J. Campbell, Henry Cunningham, of Savannah, are also among those who did valiant service in the cause of Christ among our people. To this list of worthies may be added Revs. Frank F. Bealle, Peter Johnson, Henry Johnson, Henry Watts, of Augusta, Frank Quarles, of Atlanta, Rev. Jacob Wade, of Thomasville, Rev. Owen George, of Atlanta, E. Rucker, of Columbus, and a host of others who have been long since gathered in peace to the saints' rest. "These all died in the faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
The church edifices an hundred years ago were very common. They could not have been otherwise. They were built by poor slaves who could not control a moment of their own time. It is a wonder that they built any at all. It is wonderful how God blessed and led along our fathers in those dark, bloody days. They preached with a burning eloquence that did as much to astonish the slaveholders in those days as did the ignorant Galilean fishermen in the early days of christianity. The fathers have a very few of their representatives now living. Deal tenderly with them, young men. Do not run over them because you are educated, young and strong. Nothwithstanding their superstition, the people are living in them. Take time, the field will be cleared quite soon enough, and waiting for you before you are ready for the work. These fathers will soon join the flock above, and you will have all the room you want.
Just twenty-three years ago God tore loose the iron bars of slavery and set us free. Many of the fathers prayed for this but did not live to see it. They look down from the upper world upon 166,429 negro Baptists in Georgia. From four they have come. George Leile, Andrew Bryan, Jesse Peter, Andrew Marshall, Henry Cunningham, Jacob Walker, C?ar McGrady, and all of our fathers must be looking down from the balconies of the New Jerusalem rejoicing with us at the glorious success that has attended the army of the Lord for these one hundred years. A little while, dear fathers, and we will be there with you. A few more battles, and the captain will call us off of the field of battle to join the flock above and the church of the first-born that is written in heaven.
"O when, thou city of my God,
Shall I Thy courts ascend.
Where congregations ne'er break up,
And Sabbaths have no end."
THE WANTS OF THE COLORED MINISTRY.
By Rev. W. H. McIntosh, D. D., Theological Instructor of the Negro Baptists of Georgia under the State Mission Board (White), Macon, Ga.
By this I understand what is necessary to an effective ministry among the colored people, and to this I reply, Just what is requisite to an effective ministry among any other people. The gospel is intended for all men; there is no respect of persons with God (Rom., ii, 11). All men are sinners; all men need salvation; all men are saved in the same way, by repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The qualifications of a minister are given in the Scriptures, and so clearly that there need be no misunderstanding: "No man taketh this honor unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron."--Ex., 28; I. Heb., v, 4.
I believe that God calls men to preach, and when he calls them he makes it apparent to them and to their brethren. What, then, are the qualifications of a minister of the gospel? A regenerated heart, a heart that has experienced the power of God's spirit in the renewal of his nature. As the new birth is the condition of entrance into the kingdom of God, so is it preeminently essential to him who is to lead others into that kingdom. This is so plain that I need not dwell upon it further than to say it is now so easy to get into the church that it becomes us to be doubly guarded, in setting apart men to preach, that they give good evidence that they themselves "have passed from death unto life," who are to be the guides and instructors of others. But all regenerate men are not called to preach. The desire of a good man to preach is not the only thing to be considered. David desired to build a house for God. It was a good desire. God accepted the desire, but not the work. That was reserved for Solomon, David's son. "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."--I. Timothy, iii., 1. Then follows the qualifications. Of the existence of the desire the candidate himself is the exclusive judge, but of his fitness for the office, the church and those who are called to lay hands upon him and set him apart to the work, are the judges. Let us look at these qualifications. "A bishop must be blameless," of irreproachable character for truth, honesty, chastity--in a word, an upright, godly, godlike man; "the husband of one wife," vigilant, circumspect, watchful over himself as well as others; "of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach," having the ability to impart instruction to others. He is a teacher and must have something to teach. This implies a knowledge of the scriptures and a disposition to acquire it. "Study to show thyself approved unto God. A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."--II. Tim., ii, 15. "Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed to thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shall both save thyself and them that hear thee."--I. Tim., iv, 13-16. Now what does all this teach? Why, that the man of God must have a knowledge of the things God has revealed in His word; for "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."--II. Tim., iii, 16. Here is the foundation of spiritual knowledge open to all, and he is wise who drinks of the pure water of life.
There is no prescribed amount of learning of the schools which qualifies a man for the ministry, but he must have a knowledge of the scriptures--a knowledge of the things he is to teach others. There is a thought with some that if a man wishes to preach the church should ordain or license him; that his desire constitutes a call. I do not find it so in the word of God. There must be a desire on the part of the candidate, and the apostles say it is a good desire, but he lays down other qualifications quite as important. Now when the candidate has a desire, of which, I'll repeat, he is the judge, and the church finds him qualified by moral character, and other requirements, among them ability to teach, where the church can approve him as a good man and capable of instructing men in the way of salvation, and the judgment of the church and his convictions of duty coincide, I think that may be regarded as a call to the ministry. In substance, these are the views of that good and wise man Andrew Fuller. I commend these thoughts to your consideration. Not my suggestions, but the thoughts of the holy spirit; the rules which he has given in setting apart men to preach the gospel, by the observance of which you may have an effective ministry. Do not ordain a man to the ministry simply because he wants to be ordained. Do not ordain a man whose character is not above reproach. Do not ordain a man who is not "apt to teach." Yet if he had all the learning that all the schools and colleges in the land could afford, if he had the wisdom of Solomon, but did not give evidence of a regenerated heart and a consecrated spirit, no consideration could induce me to lay these hands on him and set him apart to the work of the ministry.
Sanctified learning is a blessing to its possessors, and to those who are brought under its influence, whether he be a preacher or a private member of the church. I do not know that ignorance is a blessing to any one, and yet there are some who seem to set a premium upon it. They have the idea that the apostles of our Lord were unlearned and ignorant men, and therefore that ignorance is not only no bar to the ministry but a recommendation to it. It is true the apostles had not what we would call a liberal education. They had not like Saul of Tarsus (after his conversion known as Paul) been brought up under the teachings of the wise men of that day, but they could read and write. Two of them--Matthew and John--wrote the gospels bearing their names. Peter wrote two epistles, and shows by his preaching that he was a man of remarkable ability. John wrote in addition to the gospel bearing his name three epistles and the Book of Revelations. James wrote one epistle, and Paul wrote and preached with power that made kings tremble. These men were inspired, but they were men of good common sense, and were for three years (except Paul) under the "Great Teacher," the wisest teacher the world ever saw, who "spake as never man spake." They witnessed His works, they heard His words and were His daily companions.
Who ever had in the world's history such a teacher? And then on the day of Pentecost, by the miraculous gift of tongues, the ability to speak languages of which hitherto they were ignorant, they preached the gospel to Parthians and Medes and Elimites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in India, and Cappadocia, and Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia, about Cyrene, strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, who heard in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. I tell you they were the most learned ministers in everything pertaining to the subject of salvation and in human learning necessary to convey to others the knowledge of God and Christ, and heaven and eternal life, that the world ever saw or ever will see again.
God does not work miracles now in the bestowment of such gifts upon men, but he does require them to study His word, acquaint themselves with His will therein revealed, that they may be wise to win souls. "The entrance of the word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple."--Ps. cxix, 130.
The men who preached the gospel in the early history of Georgia were not men of great learning, but like Apollus they were "mighty in the scriptures." They had few books, but they had the book, the word of God, and they drank in its divine lessons as a thirsty man drinks water. They studied the Bible on their knees and when they went before the people they carried a message of divine truth to be enforced by the power of the holy ghost. I point to these men as illustrations of what may be accomplished when men are consecrated to God and do the best they can with their opportunities. Many of our early preachers preached all day, and by the light of pine-knot fires studied such books as they could get, but chiefly the Bible. I hold in reverence the men who in heat or cold, in poverty and persecution, with apostolic zeal preached the gospel and laid the foundation of denominational prosperity in which we rejoice to-day. The progress of Baptist principles in Georgia, expressed by figures, counts up: White Baptists connected with the conventions, 103,232; friendly to, but not connected with it, 27,286; anti-missionaries, 12,000; total, 142,518; total colored Baptists, 166,429; grand total, 308,947.
"So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."--Acts, xix, 20. Among those of the colored preachers who deserve special mention, and who have done good service in the cause of Christ in this part of the State and in this city, were Andrew Bryan, the first pastor of this church, Andrew Marshall, Henry Cunningham, and, in later days, Cox, Campbell and many others occupying less prominent positions who were godly men, laboring in word and doctrine, were true to God and man. I mention these because they were identified with the origin and growth of the denomination before and during the times of the old Sunbury Association. There are others as prominent in parts of Georgia, but I have not the record of their labors.
This church enjoyed for many years the labors of Andrew Bryan and Andrew Marshall. The latter I knew personally. He was a remarkable man and wielded a large influence, as did also Henry Cunningham. They were good men, useful in their day, "and their works follow them."
The opportunities of colored preachers of to-day are far greater than theirs. You have schools and books and a seminary especially for young men looking to the ministry. If to obtain an education you have to practice self-denial, let me say to you, an education will be worth all the sacrifices you may make to secure it. To the young men I would say, do not be impatient to enter upon the work of the ministry before you have made the best preparation that you can make. If you have not the means to pay your way at school for a year, work half the year and go to school the other half. Better live hard and dress in plain clothes, like John the Baptist, than to rush into the ministry without any preparation for it. A man who resolves to have an education, I mean a young man unincumbered with a family and has the pluck in him to endure hardness, will accomplish his purpose. And do not be in a hurry to marry. "Marriage is honorable," but an education is indispensable to him who would "make full proof of his ministry." But there is a number who are not able to take advantage of the schools. They have families dependent upon them, and some are advanced in life. What can they do? I am glad to testify to the self-improvement of many of this class who are studying the Bible and getting books as best they can, and who are anxious to receive instructions by means of institutes and in every way in which it is accessible. You want help. Your white brethren are deeply concerned about you and earnestly desire to extend the helping hand in every practical way.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION.
"The report of the Committee on Colored Population was submitted by Dr. Sydnor, of Virginia. The report expressed conviction of the importance of fraternal relation between the two races, and the duty of the whites to extend a helping hand to the colored people. In some respects the condition of the negroes is better, and in some respects worse. The negroes prefer their own people to minister to them, and our effort should be to help them with counsel and money. The committee approve of the work the Home Board is doing in this direction.
"Rev. Miller, of Arkansas, approves the report, and speaks words of commendation of the work the negroes are doing. He urges that we help them.
"Rev. Booker, colored, of Arkansas, speaks to the convention. He is not here to speak on social or political questions, nor an exodus movement. He is here to present the claims of the colored Baptists. We are one denominationally and sectionally. You are ahead of us, and we need your help. Especially I speak on education. In Arkansas we have established a colored Baptist college. The past year we had forty-five preachers at our school. What we need is your help. We need light among our people in Arkansas. It is your interest to help us."
REPORT OF THEOLOGICAL INSTRUCTOR APPOINTED BY THE GEORGIA BAPTIST CONVENTION.
"The interest of the preachers is unabated, and they express gratitude for the service rendered. Many of them exhibit a commendable desire for improvement, and receive gladly such aid as I can give them in procuring books. This I have been enabled to do to a limited extent by recommendations to the American Baptist Publication Society for Ministers' Libraries, which are furnished gratuitously by the society. The colored Baptists of Georgia are preparing to celebrate by appropriate services the hundredth anniversary of the organization of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah. It is worthy of record that this church, with others subsequently organized, was recognized by their white brethren as a regular Baptist church. As such it united with the Sunbury Association, and in its ministry and work in the cause of true religion has an honorable history. Upon the whole there are hopeful signs of progress in the ministry of the colored Baptists of Georgia."
It will be seen from the extracts which I have read that you have the sympathy of your white brethren; that they are ready to help by counsel and with money as far as they are able. The Georgia Baptist convention and the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention have shown their willingness to aid you, not only by co?eration in the work of missionaries but by the appointment of a theological instructor, whose exclusive business it is to hold institutes for the benefit of your preachers and deacons and all others who choose to attend. Our Northern brethern have established a seminary in Atlanta, to which I advise every man, young and old, who can attend it to do so. Take every opportunity to get knowledge that will enable you to understand God's word under the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit. If you cannot go to Atlanta, do the best you can at home.
A minister is said to be a workman. Paul says, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon."--I. Cor., iii, 10. These words should ring in the ears and fill with trembling the heart of every man who stands before the people as a messenger from God. As a workman you cannot be too careful of the doctrines you preach and the materials you bring into the house of God. An intelligent consecrated ministry is the most important factor in the elevation, physically, intellectually and morally, of any people. You have opportunities never before opened to your race. Great opportunities bring grave responsibilities. With you preachers rests largely the future destiny of your race. You are their chosen leaders; you mould their opinions, and give tone to society. You need to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." It is a tremendous responsibility that you bear; not only their well-being in the present life, but you are dealing with souls that shall live in heaven or hell forever.
"Tis not a cause of small import
The pastor's care demands,
But what might fill an angel's heart
And filled the Saviour's hands."
I pity the man who preaches for the praise of men, who fails to declare the whole counsel of God lest he offend his hearers. He will get his reward, but it will not be the "Well done, good and faithful servant," from the lips of the Master and the final Judge. The man who preaches for filthy lucre's sake, "supposing that gain is godliness," will receive his wages, but it will not be the "crown of life" that Paul expected. "To this man will I look, saith the Lord, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."--Is., lxvi, 2. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."--Zech., iv, 6. I have confined myself to this particular view of the subject because I regard it the very foundation of an effective ministry, and an effective ministry as an absolute necessity to the progress of your people, socially, morally, and in their material prosperity.
We view with heartfelt gratification the evidences of progress and prosperity manifest on this occasion. This is but the beginning of your career. What its future history shall be must depend chiefly upon yourselves. As the years roll on may they find you "forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." And when the warfare of life is over may each of you, preachers and people, be found in Christ and receive "the crown of life."
THE WANTS OF THE COLORED MINISTRY.
An Address Delivered by Rev. Alexander Ellis at the Centennial Celebration, June 7th, 1888.
This is rather a comprehensive subject, and to some extent it is fraught with vagueness. Our wants are many and varied. Some are reasonable while others are unreasonable. One minister may want a house and lot; another a horse and buggy. One a new suit of clothes; another a few books. One may want popularity; another only a little rent-money, etc. Indeed it would be a difficult task to find any two men who want precisely the same thing.
But as our subject is a comprehensive one, and as our time is limited, we will confine ourselves to one aspect of it, and so endeavor to suggest a few thoughts relative unto and deducible from it.
In order fully to appreciate and discuss this subject, therefore, let us consider a few things pertaining to the Present Age and the Christian ministry suitable for it.
We are living in an age which is unquestionably the ripest in the history of the world. It is an age laden with all the forms of good--civilization, freedom, religion, virtue and happiness, all of which have been growing and accumulating from the beginning. This is an age richer in knowledge, experience and all the means of enjoyment than all the former ages taken together. It is richer in hope and expectation, because it is nearer the millennial day than any other age. It abounds in schemes and agencies for realizing this epoch more than any other. Moreover, it is the age in which we live, which has made us what we are, on which we reflect the influence of our character and doings, whether for good or evil, and which we are bound to render mightily efficient in ameliorating and blessing the ages which are to come.
Many are the hearts at this moment beating and panting, and many are the minds which are eagerly contriving and resolutely determined to do something which shall not only benefit and adorn the present age but create for it a perpetual claim on the warmest gratitude and sublimest admiration of coming generations. Legislators and politicians, philosophers and men of science, moralists and religionists, are all intent on a new and better order of things and the best method of achieving it.
The elevation of the country and the world in intelligence, in justice, in liberty, in moral improvement, and in all the means of private and social happiness is a subject which is occupying a greater number of ardent and generous spirits to-day more so than at any former period. As a matter of course our sympathies are chiefly with the religionists, those who profess to have no hope of the true advancement of either the present or any future generation save on the basis of a genuine christianity.
In common with other Protestant denominations, as Baptists we believe, and do insist, that the true enlightenment, renovation and happiness of this or any future age is absolutely dependent upon the deep and wide diffusion of the religion of Jesus Christ, which calls for a ministry "worthy and well qualified" to preach its doctrines and precepts and administer its sacred ordinances. But to do this we must have a ministry much better reinforced in mental strength and vigor, as well as in more varied attainments and in more liberal temporal provision. Churches and communities are to-day calling for a ministry better able to meet all the requirements of the present age, and ministers are looking for churches better able to compensate them for their devotion and service, their capacities and gifts, so that they may live above penury and want. A hungry minister cannot preach. An untidy preacher cannot fitly represent the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the quintessence of purity.
A preacher may not necessarily be profoundly versed in all sciences and literature; he may not be a master of all languages, not even those which are called sacred; he may not have threaded all the labyrinths and mazes of history; he may not be able to discuss the principles and deductions of philosophy; he may not have slaked his thirst at all the fountains of poetry, whose pellucid streams flow from the verdant land of imagination, emptying themselves into the ocean of the soul, where the tranquil breeze of love regales its recipient into the ecstacies of devotion; he may not have thoroughly studied and mastered the dogmas and tenets of all religions, and he may not be equipped for encountering and successfully repelling every conceivable objection against christianity; but he wants, and should have, the grand prerequisites of natural capacity, good common sense, and, above all, genuine piety. He should know the word of God, and be respectably read in general literature. In a word, he should have a mind to understand, a heart to feel, a tongue to speak and a message meet to be delivered. This last is a stern necessity.
In one respect, therefore, and that a deeply vital one, there is a demand on the present ministry of all denominations to see to it that its mental and spiritual life be of the strength and energy commensurate with the progress and calls of this present age. There are certain characteristics of the period which can be successfully dealt with by no ministry of ordinary mental vigor and attainment. Spiritual life, in its proper and normal degree, consists of love to God for his adorable perfections and benignant acts, of grateful devotedness to Christ for his matchless condescension and self-sacrifice in the work of our salvation, of an insatiable hungering and thirsting after righteousness in all its forms for Christ's sake, of warmest benevolence, in imitation of Him, for all our brethren of the human race, and of readiness to do or suffer whatever may savingly befriend them. It starts at the touch and thought of sin, is smitten and captivated by the beauty of holiness, and longs to be pervaded and clothed with it. It is familiar with the glories of the invisible world, is not seduced into a false estimate of the specious shadows of terrene things, sees with instant and piercing glance the priceless worth of souls, and is persuaded that in heaven, as well as upon earth, there is no work so angelic or God-like as to labor for the salvation of mankind.
Now it may be doubted whether the piety of the ministry in any section of the christian church is at present of this divine order. Otherwise, how is it that their labors, so extended and multiplied, not only from week to week, but from day to day, and seconded by all the manifold auxiliaries and agencies which they have created, gain so little on the irreligion and worldliness of the multitudes whom they are endeavoring to quicken in the life of godliness? Is it not the universal feeling with themselves and all who are interested in their success that there is a mournful disproportion between the efforts made and the results obtained? that for one who is rejoicing because his labors are richly blessed, there are twenty discouraged and perplexed by the fact that, while they have prophesied to "the valley of dry bones," there has been no divine breath to revive and animate them? And nothing would be more hopeful, whether for present or future progress, than for the whole ministry--of whatever rank, or race, or religion--to lay this matter to heart and to ask God, in deep humiliation and earnest prayer, that He would be pleased to shed light on their counsels and doings, and so replenish them and their labors with the grace of His holy spirit that in ardor of zeal and strength of faith, in personal sanctity and unsparing devotedness, and in quenchless sympathy with the utmost claims of their momentous vocation, they might resume their labors and find in them an unwonted refreshment, recompense and gratification. This would put them into harmony with the wants of the age, and give them power over whatever may have thus far resisted them, more so than the largest endowment of learning, knowledge and eloquence, by an increase and quickening of their spiritual life. They would have an instinctive perception of the truths most proper to be taught and enjoined; would deliver them with the divine and captivating unction which surpasses all the arts of rhetoric, and with the conscious presence of the Holy One granted only to lowly self-distrust and prayerful reliance on His aid. Nor would they have to lament that but few of superior capacity and gifts aspired to share the responsibility of their sacred office. Their improved and enlightened ministrations would infuse fresh life into their flocks, and thus yield a far greater number of pious young men, who, abandoning the medi?al rant and cant, would show themselves "worthy and well qualified " for their high christian service by the intelligence of their utterances and the gravity of their demeanor, while their own commanding example, now attracting so much veneration and love, and adorned with the fruits of holy usefulness would fire those youthful aspirants with a hallowed and noble emulation to be admitted to their priestly ranks without any other lure or compensation than the smile of their Saviour and the opportunity of serving his divine cause of salvation and benevolence.
And such a ministry whose spiritual life had been raised to that vigor and energy worthy of the faithful service of Christ, and our obligations to him would be unquestionably equal to the necessities of this day and generation. Shall we not, therefore, arise and watch and pray? Mourning over our deficiencies, humbled on account of our past failures, surveying the urgent claims of the multitude around us, and knowing wherein our chief strength for answering them lies, shall we not betake ourselves to the throne of grace and plead mightily for such a baptism of the holy spirit as shall conquer self and make us instrumental in effecting the salvation of others? So shall we best serve our age and realize in its sublimest sense the double benediction of being "blest and made a blessing."
THE WANTS OF THE COLORED MINISTRY.
BY REV. W. G. JOHNSON, AUGUSTA, GA.
The first thing necessary to prepare a man to preach the gospel of Christ is to receive the gospel himself. The apostle says, "First take heed to thyself, then to the doctrines." The preaching of the gospel is the proclaiming the news of salvation through Christ. No man can recommend Christ well except he knows Him. It is the religion of Christ that gives to the minister that burning eloquence that no training can give. Religion makes the flash of the eyes, the enthusiastic gestures, which are great auxiliaries in producing the desired effect. True religion alone makes a man a true representative of Christ on the earth. A distinguished divine tells of a missionary who preached in a desolate country the glorious gospel of the kingdom, where the people could not understand the many doctrinal truths related, but the fiery zeal with which he spoke moved thousands to believe.
The next very important need is good morals. Even a christian with corrupt morals will fail to accomplish much good. Of the minister it ought to be said, "Behold an Israelite, indeed, in whom there is no guile." These prerequisites in ministerial character are not more wanting in the negro's ministerial qualification than that of any other people. But there are two things necessary that are more wanting generally in the colored ministry than in many others.
Education.--The indispensable need of ministerial education can't be too much emphasized. Education, according to Webster, is the cultivation of the mind and the training of the manners. Education is not the learning of a few Greek sentences, or to solve a few mathematical problems, but it is the result of these investigations upon the mind. It causes the mind to expand, and enables it to grapple with thousands of mysteries. Had we continued perfect as God created the first man, perhaps the perfection of our nature could have supplied in itself a sufficient tutor. As sickness and disease have necessitated the use of medicines and physicians to restore nature to its normal state, so the only end of education is to restore our natural nature to its proper state. Education is reason borrowed, which goes as far as possible to supply original perfection. It has been said that as physic may justly be called the art of restoring health, so education should be called the art of recovering to man his rational perfection.
2d. The manners are very essential. To this end, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and all of the ancient instructors labored. They endeavored to teach their pupils the nature of man, his true end, the right use of his faculties, the immortality of the soul, the agreeableness of virtue to the divine nature, the necessity of temperance, justice, mercy and truth. Education that does not refine the manners is not worth having. Education cultivates the mind, polishes the manners and opens up an avenue of new discoveries. It gives the possessor a keen-eyed, quick perception and a wonderful power of speech.
If education is so necessary for the lawyer who represents our interest at the bar of legal justice, how much more necessary is it for him who must grapple with the deep mysteries of God and who must be the counselor of our souls to be educated. No class of men appear before the public from two to three times a week as the clergy. No class of men appear before so large a number of persons at one time with original discourses as the preacher. Often the minister is called upon to speak upon the spur of the moment, hence the need of preparation. When disease makes an inroad upon the system and preys upon constitution, prostrating its victims, how we seek the skilled physician. How the physician trembles in dealing out the remedies, seeing it is a dangerous case. Since the physician for the body must thus be prepared, how much more should the prescriber for the soul be. A very distinguished divine once said: "I can meet the arguments of my opponent and look him in the face, but I can't walk up my pulpit stairs without my knees striking together in fear."
Oh, how vast and important the work of saving souls. The scriptures say, "He that win souls is wise." The gospel must be preached sublimely though simply, and simply though sublimely. We live in an age of progress, in an age of mental excitements, and he that doth not heed the mandate "get knowledge," must take a back seat. The vast number of men and women coming from our schools each year sets forth most strikingly the urgent need of an educated ministry. Water will seek its level. Other denominations are educating their ministry, and if our pulpits remain unfilled by intelligence, our own children will leave us and be caught in other nets. The apostles were not ignorant men; they were in advance of the masses. Besides, the need of education could have been more easily dispensed with, since they walked in the immediate presence of Christ.
The fathers, whose names we revere and whose memory we cherish, have done well. They have accomplished much. We love them for it, and when they are gone and our kindness prompts us to look over the graves where their bodies shall lie, we will moisten their dust with our tears and exclaim, "Thank God the fathers lived." We must recollect that the fathers lived in a time when there were only two successful denominations, Methodist and Baptist, and as the Baptists had the Bible on their side they easily predominated. But things are changing. Silver-tongued orators of other denominations are trespassing on Baptist ground, and stealing the hearts of our young people.
Catholicism is growing into popularity among the negroes. The fathers did not have this to contend with. The Catholic church is building schools, teaching our children, riveting their doctrine in them so strongly that it will not be easily removed. All they ask is to get the young, and they will have the future church. As our people become educated, they will seek the educated pulpit. Atheism, skepticism and Catholicism, all make it more important to have an educated minister.
The educated mind is always in search of truth. Always thirsting for more knowledge. Always exclaiming, "Give me understanding, for education is the only means of ascertaining that all men are fools." One book read again and again may lose its nutriment and become dry. We need good libraries containing books upon such subjects as we are compelled sometimes to handle. Each minister ought to have such a library. If he alone cannot buy it, those in his community ought to raise a fund and secure it for him. The American Baptist Publication Society has done much to aid the poor colored ministers in securing books. Many hundreds of dollars have been given to Georgia in this way.
The minister is the greatest officer under heaven. His calling is of God. No position should be so respected as his, for it is written, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth tidings of good, that publisheth salvation and saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth."--Is. lii, 7.
Notwithstanding the dignity of the minister, the immensity of his work and the indespensible need of performing this task, he is the most poorly paid officer under heaven. The common idea among men is that the minister must necessarily be poor. The lawyer charges his fee and it is paid. The physician makes out his bill, presents it, and it is paid, but the poor minister, who is the spiritual counselor and soul's physician, must allow some one else to make out his bill, which is paid or neglected.
The colored ministry is suffering for want of means to-day, and especially the Baptists. He is poorly promised and poorly paid. He is not promised much and not paid what he is promised. Many people think that the minister ought to suffer; that his wife ought to go half-dressed; that he ought to be equal or below them in the financial situation in life. The very class who holds so tenaciously to these base ideas, are those when they see the minister in good circumstances, if erecting a dwelling, or accumulating property, however great was the sacrifice made to do this, will deny him their support and will implore others to do likewise. Hence we learn the rule to do well is to suffer, to have money is to lose friends, honor and salary. If the minister is expected to feed his flock with spiritual food then they must furnish means for him to support his family. It is said in the scripture that he who will not provide for his house is worse than an infidel. Oftentimes the minister can not preach because he is confused about his temporal affairs. This spirit among our people is very damaging to ministerial success. The servant is worthy of his hire.
THE RELATION OF THE WHITE AND COLORED BAPTISTS.
BY REV. T. J. HORNSBY, OF AUGUSTA, GA.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Great Centennial of the Colored Baptists of Georgia:
Among others I have been appointed to address you at some hour upon the "Relation of the Colored and White Baptists of Georgia, As It Was in the Past, Is Now, and As It Should Be in the Future." According to the assignment of my name, I find it my duty to speak mainly of the relation as it was in the past, or the days that preceded emancipation. The white Baptists embraced, believed and preached the same doctrine that they embrace, believe and preach to-day, contending most sternly for a converted membership and the solemn immersion in water of the professed believer in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost by a properly authorized administrator. The colored Baptists embraced, believed and preached the same, yea, the very same.
One might suppose from the non or faint association of the white and colored Baptists in ante bellum days, that there was no relation existing between them, but when we examine the basis of their hope in Christ and ferret out the principle of each, we find them the sons of the same Father, operated upon by the same Spirit, redeemed by the same Saviour, therefore they must have been brethren. The white Baptists believed and preached the very same doctrine that the apostles believed and preached, and the "brother in black" believed the same. Hence, before God they were brethren, and, as the apostle says, there was no difference. If the brother in white was drawn to God by the influence of the gospel, and by accepting Christ as the Redeemer, was adopted into His family, and thereby became sons of God, the brother in black was likewise drawn and adopted, placed in the same category, with the same identical relationship to God.
On account of condition or circumstances one may ignore a brother by actions, and refuse to accord to him a brother's recognition, but it does not destroy the relationship. In the by-gone days the Baptist church was entered by white people by repentance, regeneration and baptism by a properly authorized administrator. The colored people did the same, or entered the church the same way. I assure you, that with your humble servant there is nothing pleasant in recalling the past, fraught with such indifference as may appear in discussing this subject, but history says that we are now 100 years old, and the world presumes that when one has lived so long, when he talks the truth should be told. So, if in this discussion you should get a glimpse of anything dark and unworthy of a Baptist, you will pardon your servant, as this is the first hundred years he has seen.
In most of the white churches there was a colored element attached, who had sought the same Saviour under trying circumstances. They came with fear and trembling and related their experience, and if it met the approbation of their owners, who sometimes were Baptists and sometimes strangers to my God, they were given a pass and allowed to unite with the church, and thank God, sometimes indorsing him or her as a good, obedient "nigger." Before the church they professed Christ; in the sight of the people they were buried in baptism, which made us brethren, and the white Baptists knew it, and they also knew that we as a mass didn't know it. So the time of our ignorance God may have winked at, but it left us brethren still, and sons of the same God.
If I may speak of individual treatment of this fraternity, the negro Baptists were quite as kind and polite as the white brother, for in the week the white Baptists called him Pete, Hamp and Bill, but sometimes on Sunday they would say Peter, Hampton and William, while this negro Baptist, in his presence, would invariably use the same title, "Master," (behind his back something else, of course). Neither was perfect.
Where the colored people existed, their converts were baptized by the pastor in charge, who was (of course) the white Baptist. When he had gotten through dipping the white converts, in walked the colored proselyte and was buried in the same water; yea, sometimes in the same spot.
They worshipped in the same church edifice, occupying the seats in the rear. They sang the same songs the white Baptist sung, listened to the same sermon, joining in the service of song; but, I tell you, in this capacity they were not near so noisy as in these latter days.
After the white Baptist had been served with bread and wine, it was taken to the brother in color. Though a little late, it was the same supper prayed over by the same pastor.
Sometimes in the summer, when the days were long, the pastor would preach especially for them on Sunday afternoon, allowing them to advance nearer the front, and, if time allowed, they were permitted to offer public prayer, and this to our ancestors was a jubilee, to know that sometimes they could call on their God at church.
The pastor would preach to them earnestly and faithfully, and at times growing truly eloquent in his discourse, and, among many other good things, he would not forget to exhort them to obey their masters, to be honest and industrious, for this is your reasonable service. And, I tell you, the doctrine to the brother in color was both appropriate and timely.
When services closed they were quietly dismissed, and they hurried home on foot to take their brother's horse and bring him cool water to drink; but I can't say in the name of Christ. O! yes, the colored brother was ready and willing, when duty came, to brave it like a man. If allowed to pray, he would arouse you with his pleadings; if called upon to preach, he would astonish you in doctrine, and if let loose to sing, he would charm his more favored brother until tears fell from his eyes. In other parts of the rural districts, where the population of the colored people would warrant, they were permitted to have a house of their own. They gladly siezed the opportunity, felling the trees and hewing the timbers by night, singing:
"Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?"
They were in these houses of worship preached to mainly by white pastors, but sometimes by a minister of their own color, such as Rev. Joseph Walker (deceased), Revs. Nathan Walker, Stepney Martin, Lewis B. Carter, E. C. Crumby, Father Bealle and some others. When this liberty was used they were overseed by a white man, perhaps a white Baptist.
This intimidated him, but being zealous of good works he prayed on. In this city, Macon, Atlanta and Augusta, they had hours of worship apart from the white Baptists, whose pulpits were ably filled by such pioneers as Andrew Bryan, Andrew Marshall, Campbell, Tillinghast, Frank Quarles, Peter Johnson, Henry Watts and Henry Johnson. These men stood in doctrine shoulder to shoulder with the white brother, holding up the gospel banner, crying, "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism."
Their churches with them contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. They required a converted membership like their brother; baptized like him, but quicker; sang like him, but louder; prayed like him, but in more haste; preached like him, but under greater embarrassments, for they feared God, their masters and the devil.
There were among the white Baptist family good men who helped the brother in black, such as Rev. J. H. T. Kilpatrick, Sr., deceased, the lamented son of Mercer, Rev. W. H. Davis, Rev. E. R. Carswell, Sr., and Rev. W. L. Kilpatrick. I say they have rendered valuable service in due time.
Our brothers' situation and circumstances were better than ours, as they possessed capital, culture and land, while we had neither. But bless God, the same being was our Father and the same heaven our home. O yes, in the same length of time, with the same means, we can do all that our brother has done, except it be to persecute and ignore a brother and think that we are doing God's service.
See we stand here to-day frank enough to acknowledge our brother's intellectual superiority, humble enough to confess his financial gain over us, yet bold enough to say that we are equals before God and one in His church--one common family of the living God, to His commands let us bow. Part of this host have crossed the flood and we are crossing.
Oh, astonishing oneness, in which I see the Father in His manifold wisdom, Jesus in love that passeth all understanding, the Spirit in grace, which defies all the power of earth and hell to make void the place occupied by the colored Baptists of Georgia, or resist the influence which is being so powerfully exerted by this grand old army.
We are sorry to say that while we have been brethren for the last century, the world hasn't been able to discern that brotherly affection which characterizes brethren. Apart from selfishness, bias, prejudice, animosity, with hatred toward none, but charity for all, let us grasp our brother by the hand and say to him: "You are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; you are our brethren. We saw your track an hundred years ago, but you had ascended the hill of intelligence and the ladder of fame. Ever since Andrew Bryan espied you we have been trying on your clothes, and they have fitted many of our rank, and they appear perfectly graceful in them. A hat like that one you sometimes wear has been put on the head of Rev. E. K. Love, and we can justly hail him D. D., so that in earnest, in faith and in love we offer you our hand. Oh, brethren, for 100 years we have been trying to catch you. We really thought sometimes that you were running from us instead of running toward us. However, while we were perplexed, we kept our hope. Though distressed we have not despaired. We swam rivers, ploughed valleys, scaled very high mountains. We sang the songs of the Lord; we prayed, we preached, we cried, we fought the devil, we called for help, we have been bruised soldiers fallen on the field; the enemy tried hard to cut off our communication, but thank God, we are by your side at the age of an hundred years. You were our brethren in ante bellum times, you are our brethren now, and you will be our brethren to-morrow. Where you live we will live, where you die we will die, and by your graves will we be buried; and when the records of our earthly career shall have utterly perished, our work shall fill heaven with its wonders and eternity in praise to God."
Let the spirit of God shine until the world shall see no difference; shine until this knotty question shall no longer be discussed. Shine, spirit; shine until this Baptist influence shall not only be felt in Georgia, but all over God's universe. Shine, great spirit; shine until the white and colored Baptists of Georgia, locked arm in arm, shall tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Oh, God, let thy spirit shine until this great united army shall be saved in heaven with Thee, and be permitted to lift the glowing strains:
"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, ye creatures from below;
Praise Him with us, angelic host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
THE RELATION OF THE WHITE AND COLORED BAPTISTS IN THE PAST, NOW, AND AS IT SHOULD BE IN THE FUTURE.
BY REV. G. S. JOHNSON, THOMSON, GA.
To this General Baptist Family:
DEAR BRETHREN.--What does all this mean? From whence cometh this people that compose this choir, which renders the sweet music which fills our hearts with praises and gratitude to God? Is it possible that this despised race has come to this? Is the oppressed just freed, and have made this wonderful progress? My thoughts have taken a retrospective view of the past, and have traversed Bethlehem's plain, where God's Son was born, and when that angelic choir sang in the air the sweetest music earth ever heard--"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men." We are but out upon the plains; we have just caught the ball that our fathers started to rolling an hundred years ago. Though they were illiterate, they preached the gospel of the Son of God as best they could. They understood clearly this truth: "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism;" and, bless God, in one hundred years we have caught the sweet old story.
All nationalities have days to celebrate in honor of some historical event. The negro Baptists of Georgia were organized into a church in this grand old Forest City one hundred years ago, and we have come from the mountains and from the valleys to celebrate it with thanksgiving to God for keeping an oppressed people, and enabling them to "contend so earnestly for the faith that was once delivered to the saints." I feel highly honored to be thought worthy to take part in such a grand affair, though I feel my inability to perform the task that was assigned me. While I attempt to discuss this topic--the relationship that now exists between the white and negro Baptists--I am here with prejudice toward none, but brotherly love for all.
Israel of old was persecuted and ostracized, but the God who has always fought the battles of His chosen, and caused them to be victorious over all their oppositions, was with them. Our God fought our battles through the darkest days of slavery. We are not the only people who have undergone religious persecution. As far back as 1535, when the Roman church attempted to persecute the Huguenots, the priests obtained the "royal edict" from the King to totally suppress the printing of the Bible. Their effort to turn the world back failed then, and will fail now. Furthermore, I would not attempt to discuss the subject of social equality. No, not I. I am only here to speak for an oppressed people, and of our religious affiliation. We are brethren of the same family.
There is one thing you'll not find among the negro Baptists that is found among the white Baptists. Among the negroes there are very few Free Will Baptists and open communionists. They believe that the Lord Jesus instituted the supper for none but converted and legally baptized disciples, that is, by immersion, and this baptism must be performed by the proper administrator--one who has been legally baptized according to the faith of the gospel. Have you not seen, in all of your life, in a family, two brothers, one blessed with this world's goods, and the other seemed as if fate was against him? And on account of popular sentiment that brother who was blessed with this world's goods scorned the brother who was not blessed with the same, but through whose veins ran the same blood, for he was the son of the same father and mother. Yet he could not resist popular sentiment, and had to treat him as though be were not. And when he had company, instead of his unfortunate brother feeling welcome to come in at the front gate was forced to go in at the back gate. Instead of being permitted to enter the house to engage with the guests upon the subjects under consideration, was debarred from these privileges.
Our white Baptist brethren do not deny our relation through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but popular sentiment is so much against social equality that our brethren are afraid to allow us religious affiliation for fear that it might be termed social equality. Yet they do recognize us as brethren, for we are one in doctrine and church ordinances. Not that I don't believe that our white Baptist brethren are interested in us; far be that from me; for they have shown their interest by the appointment of Rev. Dr. McIntosh to labor among the ministers and deacons of our churches, and his work has redounded to the glory of God and to the uplifting of our people, for which I say, "Bless God."
In their co?eration with our Conventional Board at the last session of the Southern Baptist Convention held in Baltimore, Md., a resolution was passed looking to the establishment of a better feeling between the white and negro Baptists of the South, for which we are grateful. But take us in our religious assemblies, such as our conventions and associations, where fraternal delegates or corresponding messengers are sent. When they send them to our bodies we receive them gladly and accord them brotherly affiliation; but when we visit their bodies in like capacity, instead of being treated as brethren our names are received and we are given back seats as usual. Dear brethren, I say this not in a harsh mood, but my authority for entertaining this as a breach of our relation as the great Baptist family of this grand old Empire State of the South is from the great head of this family.
St. John, xv., 12-17: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: and whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."
This is my authority. I am sure that the Lord Jesus Christ hath given this world into the hands of his recognized church. I believe He hath divided it off geographically, and commissioned his church, irrespective of color, to take the part allotted them--the north her part, the east her part, the south her part and the west her part; and this Baptist banner must wave over this world, as the star-spangled banner waveth over these United States. But we cannot conquer, and carry this world to the Lord Jesus Christ, while we allow these little petty differences to separate us. "In union there is strength." In armies the generals should be in union, and should meet and consult with each other as to the best way of attacking their enemies. The Lord Jesus has committed His church into the hands of the ministry, and they must watch for souls, as to the Master they must give account.
Now as to the white and colored pastors: Do we meet in council, and advise one another relative to the work of the Master, or do we stand aloof from each other? Do we grasp each other by the hands as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, or do we pass each other as mere strangers? In large cities, to some extent they meet their brethren in council, when called on, and if not in company, on the streets they will speak; but in most of the smaller towns, where prejudice runs higher, they pass you by as a mere stranger. I have lived in towns in this State where a white pastor who had negro members in his church passed them by as mere strangers. But I must speak of a model pastor, Rev. J. H. Kilpatrick, D. D., pastor of White Plains Baptist Church, who would not pass his brethren by without a word of advice and brotherly greeting. Rev. Mr. Eden and a few others have the same christian spirit.
The success of our cause depends largely upon the generals; therefore there should be perfect love in our ranks, as we are commanders-in-chief, for love among the generals will create love among the soldiers. I now close by reading you the following poem, composed by Mr. P. R. Butler, of Augusta, Ga.:
"Let us, brethren, live together
In the vineyard of the Lord;
Let there be no strife among us;
Let us rest upon His word.
"Let us battle for Christ's kingdom,
Battle 'gainst the powers of hell;
Let us follow in His footsteps;
Let us fight the Infidel.
"Let us not stand idly waiting,
Grasping ostracism's hand;
Let us clasp our hands in union;
On the solid rock let's stand.
"Christ has no respect of color,
Therefore, let us stand for God;
Let us follow in the footsteps
That our Master's feet have trod.
"Let us fight for lovely Zion;
Christ, our Lord, is looking down.
Let us stand, and fight, and conquer,
For the world in sin is drown'd.
"Enemies attempt to bribe us,
Let us fight until we die;
Let affection dwell among us;
Angels watch us from the sky.
"We are one in Christ, our Master,
Then united let us stand;
We're the people of His pasture;
Holy angels round us stand.
"Friendship, love and truth let's cherish,
Till the evening shadows fall;
If we are His true disciples,
Let us hearken to His call.
"Let us, on this field of battle,
Stand for God till time shall end;
Let's tear down the thrones of darkness
For our King, our dying friend.
"Let us rally for the Bible;
Let the Church of God hold sway;
Let us stand for Christ and Jordan,
Till that awful Judgment Day.
THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY AND ITS WORK FOR THE COLORED PEOPLE.
BY REV. E. K. LOVE, D. D.
There have arisen in the North many societies looking to the amelioration of the condition of the negroes in the South, the abolitionists and other kindred associations. They have done a good work, for which we are profoundly grateful; but that society which endeavored to give us the word of God and thereby educate our morals, sweeten our character, and lift up our people to heaven and God must be greater than them all.
Among the institutions that have done most for us in this line is the American Baptist Publication Society. He who protects my manhood commands my respect and admiration; he who ameliorates my condition should have my support; he who refines my manners and trains my thinking faculties makes me a better citizen; he who educates me arms me for future usefulness to mankind, adds new charms to civilization, and lends science a welcome student and advocate; he who gives me money adds to my comforts; he who gives me water slakes my thirst; he who gives me a home shelters my body; he who gives me raiment protects my body, but he who gives me the Bible puts eternal life in my reach. He brings God nearer to me, he draws me nearer to God. He protects and defends my soul. He gives me the bread of life, of which if a man eats he shall never hunger. He gives me the water of life, which shall be in me a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. He gives me that which shall build me up and which forms the basis of true character and manhood. Any structure which is not built upon the word of God will crumble and fall and be forgotten.
The American Baptist Publication Society has been for many years scattering broadcast over this land the word of God. Just what we would have done but for the American Baptist Publication Society we do not know, except that God would have in some way provided Himself a way of communicating His truth to fallen mankind. But since He has seen fit to use the American Baptist Publication Society as a mighty instrument in flooding the country with a knowledge of Jesus in many tracts and the Bible, pure and simple, let us support the society by patronizing it in the purchase of all of our religious literature and bless God for its existence. It is our society. We have never been ashamed to beg it, and the society has never been above helping us.
Many of our preachers have received libraries from this society, and hence the society has preached the gospel very effectually in Georgia through them. The more we support this society the stronger it will grow, and therefore be the better prepared to preach the gospel in Georgia, and doubtless will preach more effectually the glorious gospel of the Son of God in Georgia. The society has been scattering seeds of kindness for many years, and we must leave the grand story for eternity to tell of its pleasing, munificent and glorious harvest. Thank God, that this society did not forget the negroes while it was scattering blessings all around. The work of the society has been of incalculable good to the negroes, and should, as it does, form a very important part in our history.
I look forward with pleasing anticipation to the day when, in our Southland, the Publication Society will have a branch house in all of the large Southern cities, managed by competent, honest and faithful negroes. This state of things will not come in the natural order of things. It is too pure a gem to be found lying promiscuously around on the ground. It must be dug up, for it is deep down, locked in the womb of the future. I confess that we have not deserved this recognition yet, but as we are the children of the future, it is not, in my opinion, raising the standard too high to aim at it. I oppose unmerited recognition in church or state. I think it is injurious to the recipients and unwise in the bestower. We can merit it, and whatever we merit we can demand. We need a wiser organization and concentration of our forces. We need more system in giving. We must urge a constant giving. The work of the Lord is a life-time business, and however much a person may do to-day there is something for him to do to-morrow, except he dies. We must cure our people of a spasmodic giving. The christian's work is no more spasmodic than his life is. No people have gone to success in a day. No person can enjoy what is given as he can that which is earned.
We ought to set apart a day, at least once a year, to take a collection in all of our churches for the Publication Society. When our patronage to the society and our wisdom to manage affairs shall be fully attested, I doubt not the inevitable conclusion that the recognition about which I have spoken will follow, as the irresistible fruit of well-doing. The churches should be very careful about the character of literature that is used in their Sunday schools. The society is endeavoring to put the gospel in reach of the children, to do which it has employed missionaries in almost every State to do Sunday school work. The work done among children in the Sunday school promises to yield the richest harvest. Those who reach the children with the gospel reach and bless the nation at home. The society is doing this, and hence is reaching the children at home early in the morning before they go out to play, and to prepare them for bruises, temptations and duties of the day. This is almost saving the nation in the cradle. The man who is leading this great society is the Rev. Dr. Griffith, whom I now, with unfeigned pleasure, present you as the speaker of this hour. May God bless you, my brother, and the great society he has called you to lead. May your fruit abound unto holiness, and the end an everlasting life, and when on earth our work is done, may we be gathered home to the saints' rest, where the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together. Then shall you and the faithful host you have and are leading never regret your labors in the vineyard of the Lord. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." God bless your labor, for Jesus' sake.
THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY AND ITS WORK FOR THE COLORED PEOPLE.
BY REV. N. W. WATERMAN, OF THOMASVILLE.
Brother Chairman and Brethren of the State Baptist Centennial Committee of Georgia and Friends:
It becomes my duty this morning to address you upon the subject, "The American Baptist Publication Society and its Work for the Colored People." This institution is the offspring, or grew out of the Tract Society, established in 1824, as the result of the mature consideration of earnest and faithful-hearted men and women, of what was then regarded as the great need of the Baptists. For the establishment of the Tract Society a meeting was called. Only eighteen men and seven women responded; and there, in that meeting, after prayerful deliberation, the Baptist General Tract Society, now the American Baptist Publication Society, was formed. Perhaps those noble-hearted pioneers had no greater object in view than the issuing of tracts for the special benefit of the unsaved, and to unify the Baptist family the land over. But God, in whose name the work was begun, granted His benediction upon the feeble undertaking, so that this and still other objects have been successfully prosecuted by it. That the formation of this institution is the work of God through human agencies we cannot have the least hesitation, if its history is to be considered. Its existence, seemingly, is proof of its continuance, though in the beginning it had very severe trials. At times its dissolution seemed sure and sudden, because of financial embarrassments. While those christian brethren, then in front of the institution, saw the almost inevitable catastrophe that hung just over this well-begun work, they were about to abandon hope. Doubtless they prayed to God for help, and in answer to their prayers, from some unexpected and perhaps unknown sources money was sent them for the prosecution of their work. Then there began to beam a ray of hope, that nerved them to more determined efforts. The work was God's, and He raised up friends everywhere to come to its rescue, till, in 1840, when was felt the need of increasing its labors, the name of the "Baptist General Tract Society" was dropped, and the society began to exist under the name of the "American Baptist Publication Society," assuming, at the same time, the great work of caring for the Sunday schools and the publication of books. Under that name it still exists, being under the skillful management of wise and faithful men, led, as was Israel of old, by a pillar of cloud by day and by a pillar of fire by night, until it has become the pride of the Baptist denomination in America.
The organization of the society was as the seed sown in good ground: it sprung up; though surrounded by thorns and thistles, it grew; the winds blew upon it and shook it, but its roots clung downwards firmer and firmer to the ground, taking hold on rocks, and its branches reared toward heaven. The thorns, thistles and tempest served to strengthen it, till at last we have an institution--in respect of its growth, its success in furthering its object, and the good accomplished by it--that stands peer to any institution of its kind anywhere. It unmistakably meets the great exigencies of the Baptist denomination. Its books, tracts, periodicals and papers ought to be found in every home, Sunday school and church of the Baptist family.
Books are to man as company. How many characters trained in the right direction have been switched off the track by associating with bad company? And how many weak Baptist parents and children have been led away from the faith of the Baptists by studying at their homes and Sunday schools literature other than Baptist? To check this tide of floating annoyance we must place into the hands and homes of our great denomination literature that breathes the very doctrines and sentiments of the Baptists. This emergency the American Baptist Publication Society meets. Its publications are strictly Baptistic, and tend to unify the Baptist family in doctrine and sentiment. Its accomplishment in this direction cannot be reckoned. Who can realize the good that results from the distribution of religious tracts and the thousands of Bibles given away by this institution to poor individuals and schools annually. By these means thousands of souls have been converted, and have become faithful and conscientious members of the Baptist church. An exceeding great multitude of immortal souls snatched from eternal ruin, stands to evince the incalculable worth to the denomination. Ministers of the gospel and Sabbath school workers have received from the society gratuitously many very valuable books, which have been of great worth to them in the prosecution of their work. The Sunday school literature published by the society, such as the international series, have been and are of inestimable worth to the denomination, not only in leading the young to Christ, but in establishing them in the doctrines of the Bible and instructing the old, so that they are not to be moved by every wind of doctrine.
The society has not manifested prejudice in its methods of work. Its labors are not confined to the American soil, nor to white Baptists, nor to negro Baptists. Its motto has been "Onward to Conquest." It has pushed its work across the ocean into Sweden, France, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, Africa and other countries, so that on every hand they are constantly cheered with the news of the glorious results of their labors. The society's work among the negro Baptists of these United States, according to their ability, has been cheering. They have given our Sunday schools thousands of dollars' worth of Bibles and other reading matter. They have now in nearly every State and Territory missionaries and colporteurs traveling in every direction, and everywhere preaching the gospel and organizing Sunday schools and churches, giving to those not able to buy the Bible the Word of God. Who can estimate the good done by this institution for our people? Only God. Here we were when emancipated with but a small percentage of general culture. Though we were Baptists, we were unintelligent. A compromising, a sort of anything-will-do-Baptists. With such to contend with, there is no telling where we would have landed. Perhaps we would have lost our substance, having nothing left us but the mere hull or name Baptist. Doubtless we would have been a little of every denomination. We can but thank God for the successful work of the society among us as negro Baptists in assisting us to do our work intelligently. It has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. When we laid by the wayside, torn, bleeding and powerless, gripped in the poisonous talons of ignorance and superstition, the society, Good Samaritanlike, took us up, and is still strengthening us in our weakness to go forward in the great work assigned us. It is everywhere dispensing its liberalities, leading a host to Christ and the doctrines which he has taught.
Never should we allow ourselves to think that this noble institution belongs to the white Baptists of America alone, but to us as well, though managed by white brethren. Its books, periodicals and other literature are as accessible to us at the same charges as to them. Its charities are as freely extended to us as to them. It can and has already done more for us than it can ever hope to be remunerated, and is still making greater efforts to build up our people.
Its object being to promote evangelical religion by means of the Bible, printing press, colportage and the Sunday school makes it an institution unfounded upon financial consideration to benefit a few. It is not to enrich a few but to bless the people. Every negro Baptist in America should feel proud of the society. Every Baptist Sunday school and church should be encouraged to use their Sunday school supplies and books. Not only that but they should be called upon to give donations to the society, and thus assist them to further prosecute their grand and glorious work. Whatever we might now be able to do for the society would be but a scanty return. Let us hold up its arms, give our patronage and donations, our sympathy and prayers, that it may live till the end of time a mighty agent in the hand of God for the promotion of evangelical religion and bringing back all sects and creeds to the doctrine of one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
THE BIBLE AS BELIEVED BY BAPTISTS.
BY REV. J. C. BRYAN.
This presumes that Baptists believe the Bible in a peculiar manner, or in an altogether emphatic sense, and this is true. This is the very matter of my contention.
All christians profess to believe the Bible, especially the Protestant christians.
Chillingworth's immortal words have been accepted as the motto of nearly all denominations--"The Bible! The Bible!" the religion of Protestants, and yet the motto belongs to Baptists with a propriety which other bodies of christians can not claim justly.
Baptists found their pretensions on the Bible, derive from the Bible their tenets, and appeal to the Bible as the justification of their practices.
To go into particulars, Baptists believe
1. That the Bible is truly inspired, that it is God's own book--God breathed. They believe that holy men of old wrote it as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. They do not hold it simply the best of books, the greatest of books, but as a divine book. They maintain not simply that it contains a revelation of God's will, but that it is such a revelation. I do not mean to enter upon theories of inspiration, whether oral or dynamic, whether sacred writers were simply the penmen and amanuenses of the Holy Spirit, or wrote freely under a simple divine illumination and impulse. All that I insist on now is that the Bible is truly the Word of God, and as such, is distinguished from all other books.
No work of human genius approaches it or is like it. Some parts of the Bible no doubt are more valuable than other parts, but this is no disparagement of it as being inspired throughout.
The Baptists believe that the Bible is a finished book--that the sacred canon is completed. They do not believe in a progressive revelation or a progressive orthodoxy. They grant, indeed that the Bible may be more truly interpreted, but they deny that additions have been made or will be made to the substance of its teachings.
Not a few so-called christians in our day hold that the Bible is inspired only as all works of high genius are inspired, such as those of Shakspeare and Milton. Far away from this opinion is the Baptist estimate of the Bible.
2. Baptists believe that the Bible is the sole and sufficient directory in religious faith and practice.
Roman Catholics believe in the Bible, but they put the church and Pope above it. Many exalt what they call the "Christian consciousness" above the Bible, or to a level with it, and practically say that we are to believe the Bible only so far as it harmonizes with our own judgment and feelings. We cannot help thinking and saying that it is through an imperfect faith in the Bible with some denominations that sprinkling has taken the place of immersion in the act of baptism, and that infants' baptism has been introduced into the church, and that aristocratic forms of church government has been allowed to supplant the simple democracy of the New Testament.
Baptists reject all human authority on the formation, creeds and rules and conduct, and claim that the Bible is the first and last appeal in religious matters.
3d. Baptists believe that the Bible is a simple book, easily understood by persons of the right spirit. The Bible is its own interpreter. Hence, Baptists believe in the right of private judgment, the sacred and inviolable rights which they have been the defenders of unto death.
Let us beware of making the Bible an idol or of thinking that its mere presence in the house is enough. Baptists believe, as to the Bible, that it will be of no avail unless it pass into practice, etc. We thank God for the Bible and for salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the gift of the holy spirit to enlighten our minds. May our centennial celebration be one of success and great joy, and redound to the glory of God, and to the advancement of our Redeemer's kingdom on earth.
THE BIBLE AS BELIEVED BY BAPTISTS.
BY REV. G. M. SPRATLING, BRUNSWICK, GA.
Having been invited by your committee to speak on this important subject, I cheerfully comply. Baptists are often asked for information respecting their faith and distinctive practices. We must give the Bible for our answer. The Bible "was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, truth without mixture of error for its matter. It reveals the principle by which God will judge us, and therefore shall remain to the end of the world the true center of christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creed and opinions shall be tried."
Let us begin with the New Testament before us. Who can read that blessed book with serious attention without coming to the conclusion that the religion upon which it treats is that which Baptists believe and practice? It is personal and voluntary. None are worthy to be called christians but those who worship God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.--Phil., iii, 4.
When Moses addressed the Israelites and exhorted them to obedience, he included their children in his exhortation, because the children were in the covenant. Judaism, with all of its privileges and responsibilities, was hereditary. The rights and duties of the parents became the rights and duties of their offspring as such. It is not so now; I mean under the new dispensation. We are not born christians nowadays, and neither can there be born such; but they become christians when they repent and believe the gospel. The Apostle John makes known that fact (chap. i, 12-13): "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Judaism was a national institution, but christianity is an individual blessing. The Jews were a nation--dealt with as such, and separated from all other people by their peculiar rites and ceremonies; but christians are believers, and made fellow-citizens of the household of faith. By reading the New Testament, we find that "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."--Col., iii., 11.
Hence when the apostles wrote to christian churches their mode of addressing was altogether different from that adopted by Moses. They did not say you and your children, or represent the children as in covenant with God, and therefore entitled to certain rights and bound to the performance of certain duties. The churches to which they wrote their epistles were spiritual societies, that is, associations of individuals professing repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom they had surrendered themselves. If those individuals were parents they were taught to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of God; but mark you, their children were nowhere classed with them in the New Testament as the children of the Jews were in the Old Testament. Nor could they be till they themselves repented and believed the gospel. It is easily seen that no modern society deserves to be called a christian church which is not founded upon such principles as these. If you were to place a New Testament in the hands of an intelligent, impartial person who had never heard of our divisions and denominations, what idea would he be likely to form of the spirit and design of christianity and the christian church? Would he not see in every part of this book appeals to men's understanding and emotions, and such requisitions as could only be addressed to those who were capable of thinking and acting for themselves? Would he not conclude that christianity has to do with the mind and a christian must be a person of faith, and that a church is a voluntary society formed and made up of such persons?
We now come to the question of baptism. What is baptism? "It is the answer of a good conscience toward God."--I. Peter, iii, 21. "It is putting on Christ."--Gal., iii, 27. It is the voluntary act of a believer; an act of obedience, of self-dedication, for such is the uniform meaning of the term. "And there went out unto Him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of Him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins."--Mark, i, 5. So the Samaritans, "But when they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."--Acts, viii, 12.
Mark well, men and women. No infants believe in Christ. The profession of faith was held to be essential to baptism and to church fellowship. None could profess faith who were incapable of exercising it. The act of profession doubtless implied understanding, approbation and choice. This, then, is the test point. Here is the beginning of the history of the Baptists, with the New Testament only before us. We find baptism connected with profession of faith. It is a voluntary act, and such acts only are illustrative of christianity of the nineteenth century. There is a service of another kind. That is sprinkling, and not immersing; and the subjects in many cases are infants, and not believers, which service is in opposition to the teaching of the New Testament; not in opposition to the Baptists' doctrines and practices only, but to Christ, our wonderful Teacher. We find, by attentive researches of the New Testament, no such thing as baptizing and receiving infants into the church before they have sense enough to think and act for themselves. As Christ only gave those whom He sent permission to baptize such as had sense enough to believe the gospel; so we read in Mark, Preach the gospel, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. I believe it is treason against heaven and an insult to God to so daringly oppose His command. It is also an imposition upon the pure, helpless babe to pour water on it and receive it into a certain society without allowing it to grow large, old or wise enough to think for itself. It is, in substance, but a gag law upon humanity, and a death blow aimed at true christianity. There are a few historians who wrote of infant baptism. But there are a great many others who deny and denounce infant baptism. Thus you may see that a large majority of historians oppose it. Therefore, Justin Martyn and Ireanus are assuredly standing in the side-track, for their assertion is not in accord with the New Testament, and when history does not accord with the Bible, it is bogus, so far, at least, as christianity is concerned. All lexicographers, all encyclopedias, and almost all historians, Baptist and pedo-Baptist, and a large majority of the best commentaries are in sympathy with Baptist doctrine, or Bible doctrine; not because of its weakness, but of its strength; not because of the church recruit or organization, but because of its primeval existence. The Bible and history, according to that, bears out the Baptists.
We read in the Song of Solomon, vi, 9, these words: "My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one." Although the church underwent severe changes through the severest dispersions, that of patriarchal and Mosaic, but not enough to destroy it. Christ was watching His church, for she was His choice, and He brought her through the darkness until He saw fit to identify Himself with His church. Isaiah saw Him "coming from Edom. with dyed garments from Bozrah." He was then on His way to meet His church. He identified Himself with the Baptist church in baptism. He was also identified in that of close communion and in repentance, for He preached it.
The identification of the Saviour is in our favor. The Bible is full of such doctrine as the true God, the fall of man, the way of salvation, justification, the freeness of salvation, repentance and faith, God's purpose of grace, of sanctification, the gospel church, baptism and the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Day, righteousness and wickedness and the world to come.
If I am to name the church it is the Baptist church, for she has one Lord, which is her great head, law-giver and judge. One faith, which is her escort into the kingdom of heaven, and one baptism, which is her divine ordinance, introduced by authority of heaven and by the Father loudly thundering through the Holy Ghost in the River Jordan, when John baptized His Son, "Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
The Baptists believe that the Bible teaches a democratic form of church government. Popes, bishops and elders, as practiced by other denominations, are entirely unwarranted by the New Testament. Baptists believe that the Bible forbids prayer or homage to departed saints or angels. Rev., xix, 10: "And I fell at His feet to worship Him. And He said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
The Baptists believe simply this: What the Bible forbids, Baptists reject, and what it teaches they accept as the word of God. Would that the world reverenced the Bible as the Baptists. Amen.
THE QUALIFICATION AND DIGNITY OF THE MINISTRY.
BY REV. CHARLES H. BRIGHTHARP.
I feel myself somewhat flattered in having been called on to speak on so grand and momentous a subject as the gospel ministry.
Permit me to say the called minister of God stands paramount to all men in Christendom.
The Governor of State, the President of States, Kings of their domains, and the Queen, with her crown, must adhere to the humble minister of Christ. For it is by him that the word of God must be preached. This being a fact, he ought to be a man of character. When I use the word character, I mean as referred to men. Character is what the man is, and stands far above reputation, which men will give and seek to take away. Character is a God-given property, and every person once in life has it. In speaking of character, I mean all the adjuncts that go to form it--virtue, sobriety and integrity. These must need be in every preacher who would succeed.
1. I now call your attention to an example found in the Bible. Barnabas, who is worthy of emulation, is called the son of consolation. During the terrible persecutions in the days of the Martyrs, Stephen and the brethren were scattered abroad. The church at Jerusalem sent their son of consolation, for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith, and much people was added to the Lord.
If the standard of the ministry was lifted higher, by having good men, full of the Holy Ghost and faith, thus with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost on our side, we cannot but succeed to wage war against sin and the devil.
2. I mean to say that he was not only a christian, but good in the common sense of the word. He was eminently good. This epithet is often given as a sneer. But not so with Barnabas. He was good in principle. He, like the Apostle Paul, did not value himself upon those things wherein he differed from other men, but gloried in those principles which he possessed that were common to every good man. The inspired apostle says that he gloried in those things which he had that were common to all men--charity, (that is, love), as used in the new version. "Wherever there is love, goodness is her eldest daughter." Barnabas loved God; hence he was willing to do good for the cause of Christ. The people heard him, because he was a good man, working for a good cause. Let us, like Barnabas, be ready for every good work, and then churches will look for us, and save us the embarrassing trouble of looking for them.
Brother ministers, the chief thing we should value is character. All men should keep a circumspect eye over it. We live in a busy age, in which the snare of the great arch fiend of hell may take us unawares. A nail driven through a plank knocks out nature's grain, and all the putty and paint the most skilled chemist may make cannot put nature's mark back. Nor can a fallen minister fully reach the place from whence he has fallen. One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stay up, and you will not have to get up.
Character must be valued at home in your own family circle. If you walk not close with God there you will not be able to work for him elsewhere. It is at home and around your own fireside that true judgment is set.
I. Goodness is one of the strongest attributes that goes to make character, and beyond a doubt every minister ought to have this epithet attached to his name. Shakspeare says there is nothing in a name, but Solomon says a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.
II. Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit, and so must he be who heralds this glorious gospel of the Most High God. The Holy Spirit sometimes denote His extraordinary gifts, as in Acts, xix, where the Apostle Paul puts the question to some believers in Christ whether they had received the Holy Ghost. But here it signifies His indwelling and ordinary operation, or what is elsewhere called an unction from the Holy One. It is very needful, my brethren, that he who preaches the word of God should be filled with the Holy Ghost from on high. God is a spirit and seeketh such to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Unless the man of God is spiritually minded he can not communicate with God, Who is all spirit. He who metes out the word of life must live nearer to God, that he may be well qualified to teach his fellow-man the deep things of God, which are only discerned by spiritually minded men. This is a fact that can not be eradicated. The man who bears this heavenly news to lost sinners must be richly imbued with the vital spirit from heaven. He will guide the subservient minister in the way of truth.
III. The minister of Christ who wills to succeed must be full of faith. The word "faith" is difficult to understand, though it has been used ever since the fall of man. It is hard to ascertain with precision the real meaning and extent of this term. We have it " trust," "confide," and, in Hebrew, "to lean on." Therefore he who teaches the gospel of the Son of God must lean on Him for succor, for He is a present help in the time of need. We must pray to God and read the Bible with faith that we may be well-gospeled ourselves.
IV. The ministers of to-day must be educated, or they will be forced from their pulpits by the rising pews. The negro ministers of this period fill a peculiar office. One part of their congregation is not educated. The other wants to hold to old custom. The third part has some education, or are educated. They all must be reached. The old fathers and mothers who have gone before us have laid well the foundation for us to build upon; therefore they must be kept alive. The young must be trained, for they are our future hope of the negro race. The old saying, "Open your mouth and God will fill it," will not do for this progressive age. He who preaches the gospel must know how by ardent study. The inspired apostle, moved upon by the divine inspiration, said to Timothy in his last writing: "Study to show thyself a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The minister should be well informed before he enters the pastorate. The word of God must be a living power in the minister, that he may be elected, and thereby elect his fallen brothers, who are sailing over life's ocean amid the breakers that may cause an eternal wreck. Long-winded tales, false zeal and stamping of feet will not preach the gospel, my brethren. Thus saith the word of holy writ: "If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he is a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master's use, and purified unto every good work."
"So let our lips and lives express
The holy gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all divine."
V. Dignity.--This means "above," and as the ministry is a high calling, it behooves the minister to be dignified. God has called him out of darkness into light; therefore, He Who is Light, has called the minister to walk in the effulgence of the Son of God. Dignity is not fine apparel nor flippant speech, but it means a rounded man, filled with all the principles that constitute a minister. The servant of God should do right at all times. "Be sure you are right, and then go ahead," ever holding to your integrity. Christ has committed to his preachers his church. They stand next their Master, Who is pure and holy, and calls upon us to be holy, as He is holy. God has opened the way for his preachers. They tell the people how to come, that they may receive them.
"Come as a teacher sent from God,
Charged His whole counsel to declare,
Lift o'er our ranks the prophet's rod,
While we uphold their hands with prayer.
"Come as a messenger of peace,
Filled with the spirit, fired with love,
Live to behold our large increase,
And die to meet us all above."
THE DUTY OF BAPTISTS TO HOME MISSIONS.
BY REV. E. J. FISHER, LAGRANGE, GA.
Mr. President and Brethren Composing the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Negro Baptists of Georgia:
It affords me no small degree of happiness to have the pleasure of even appearing before this intelligent, heaven-bound denomination, for the purpose of speaking a word. There have been many important subjects under discussion, which were handled with ability, and others to be discussed, among which there is one appearing on the programme with vital import, viz.: "The Duty of Baptists to Home Missions," and among the other names, I find E. J. Fisher, of LaGrange, and that happens to be my name.
Therefore, allow me to quote you a passage of scripture, which can be found in Joshua, xiii, 1, where the Lord said unto him: "Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." He was a man of obedience. God sustained and blessed his efforts. He was also about one hundred years old. Nothwithstanding he had taken many cities and lands, still there were many more to conquer, viz.: the southland, governed by five lords, and westward, as far as Sardonia. It was his duty to go, because God sent him. In like manner, Jesus, after he had arisen from the dead, and was about to make His ascension back to heaven, told His disciples to "Go ye therefore and disciple all nations."
Looking this commission in the face, seeing it comes to us as to them, since we claim that we are keeping pace with His teaching and the practice of His disciples, it becomes more imperatively the duty of the Baptists to do mission work than any other denomination, for our message is of God and of His Christ. Therefore, the saving of the world is upon us. And, as the disciples were to begin at Jerusalem, ours is to begin in Georgia, and continue throughout these United States. For no other can stand as do the Missionary Baptist, and cry, "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism." And, as we are the sent of God, the duty is not a small one. Hence, this army is to go on crying until Georgia is saved totally, and then reach out to save the world.
Since the Baptists believe the whole counsel of God, and that counsel is truth, and as the world is to be saved by the same, it follows that the Missionary Baptist is to do this home mission work; for they are better prepared to do it than any other, because they have what is necessary for its accomplishment, save the money which we are making great efforts to get. May the Lord assist us in getting the needed amount of money to carry it out. Since we have the men and the food we only need the train. Let each of us see that it is supplied. Now, I appeal to every Baptist, since it becomes our duty to do the mission work. As we are called of the Lord to do this work, I ask, Shall we have the train for conveyance, which is money, since we can not do without it?
Listen. Before the birth of Christ, at the call, when the prophet said he saw an angel with six wings flying from the altar with a live coal in a pair of tongs, which he took therefrom, and came and touched his tongue, then there was a voice heard saying, "Who will go for us, or whom shall we send?" Isaiah answered and said, "Here am I, send me." In like manner when God called about one hundred years ago this army under the leadership of Revs. Leile and Bryan answered the same, and to-day we are still declaring one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
THE EVILS OF INTEMPERANCE.
BY REV. S. D. ROSIER.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Among the many things which call forward the men of this generation upon the stage there is nothing more important than the temperance movement. And as the sacred duty of speaking to you upon so important a subject is imposed upon me, I purpose to speak to you of the evils of intemperance.
Intemperance is one of the most formidable agents the devil has ever commissioned; the principal outcome of the pandemonium council of hell.
In 1865 the proclamation of peace and freedom was published throughout the land. The tolling bells pealed forth the glad news in almost human tones. Nor scarcely has the foot of man trodden upon the battle grounds of that eventful crisis that he has not thought of the precious blood that was shed for the purchase, of peace and the stability of the Union. It was a hot struggle, and all but exhausted the fount of American tears. All this, remember, was but for the adjustment of the government of the nation.
But even when this was done, there still remained a rotten beam in the fabric of the nation's fame--Intemperance; for the untamed flames of this infernal fiend still burns in our famous cities, humble hamlets, and prosperous communities, and by which judges, lawyers, doctors, statesmen and clergymen are being consumed.
We may boast of our halls of science, art, and literature, and of the ten thousand temples which rise and point to heaven, silently proclaiming man's fellowship with angels in the skies. We may boast of civilization, and of such triumphs and trophies as the earth has never seen amid the countless number of thrones and empires of glorious birth. But, sir, until this blighting curse is removed, our social and national greatness is at stake.
Considering the present state of society, where shall we go to find peace and freedom? The tippler and rum-seller may cry, "Here is peace," or "There is peace;" but there is no peace where men live within the "iron grasp" of this diabolical foe. They plead the rights of personal liberty. I am on the side of every man who pleads the rights of personal liberty, provided he agrees to abide the divine law of personal liberty. That law prohibits an infringement either directly or indirectly upon the rights of other men. And, if I could speak of personal liberty as the boundary of the United States, I would say personal liberty is bounded on the north by the rights of others, on the east by the rights of others, on the south by the rights of others, and on the west by the rights of others. Cross this boundary line, and you affect the moral and social progress of humanity. Sir, if this is not the condition of America, I beg leave to be silent.
There need be no display of hygienic knowledge to prove the evils of intemperance. Go where dwell the victims of intemperance, and there you will see "houses without windows, gardens without fences, fields without tillage, children without clothing, schooling, morals or manners; and could the ghosts of many a lost son and daughter come back to earth to-day, they would never rest until they clenched their fiery fingers into the souls of their drunkard fathers and mothers, and drag them down among the damned and doomed. Look at the dynasties it has overthrown, the nations of which it has been the downfall, and by which the church has lost many of her brightest sons and daughters. Dionysius, King of Syracuse, went to the expense of his throne and lived a slave to the disgraceful habit of drinking. Alexander, when he had conquered the world, and prayed for more worlds to conquer, at last, conquered by intemperance, went from the imperial throne down to a drunkard's grave. Shakspeare, Byron, Burns, Lamb, Goldsmith, and many others of like ability, died slaves to the cup. These are a few examples of the past, but let us return to the occurrences of our own time.
The expense of making and selling intoxicating liquors in this country is enormous. In 1880, the expense of manufacturing and selling intoxicating liquors, the cost of time and money lost by the drinker, and the accidents it caused, was estimated at the sum of $1,200,000,000 per year. Do you ask, "Who were they who expended their time and this vast sum?" I answer, that class of people who constitute the staff of this country-- the laborers. But who can tell the number of the infinite millions lost? Of "years, fortunes, talents, honors, positions, characters, homes, comforts and lives lost?" Heaven alone knows the awful record.
Intemperance is nine-tenths the cause of murder, criminality and pauperism, the insanity of powerful minds--minds which might have moulded and shaped the opinions of nations--and could we but redeem the financial results of this black demon, and call the slumbering drunkards from their graves, we might repeople an empty world, make states, build kingdoms, erect religious and social institutions, and dedicate them to the honor and glory of God. But alas, they are forever beyond the confines of time.
It was the rum traffic which deprived us of our freedom in our fatherland--the dearest pledge of our existence. It has been the price of the negroes' influence in the government of this great republic, the perversion of legislation, and a bar to the administration of justice. Shall we undervalue these God-given powers and exchange them for the "fool's pence?" Can we afford to sell our "birthrights for a mess of vile, blood-red pottage?" God forbid! The voice of mothers, widows and orphans now pleads for freedom at the bar of civilization; they bend the knee at the feet of statesmen on the very threshold of the Senate chamber. Can we hold our peace? Exterminate this hydra-headed monster, and society will be renovated, public school houses, colleges, universities and churches will rise upon its ruins, more means and men will be raised for the redemption of fallen humanity.
This is the individual, public, national and religious battle of the nineteenth century, and we must stem the current, however rapid, and under the white banner of prohibition lift men and women above the billows of drink, and with dauntless courage of duty make the world ring with our repeated strokes until this worst of foes lies vanquished at our feet. Then may we sing to the Author of Liberty sweet freedom's song from pole to pole.
ARE WE ADVANCING AS A DENOMINATION?
BY PROF. M. P. M'CRARY, VALDOSTA, GA.
Mr. President, Friends and Brethren:
In submission to the request of the "Centennial Committee" I address you.
That we are advancing as a denomination is known and acknowledged in all christian lands. And this fact the world sees, and is fast learning how and why it is that with such rapidity we do move on to a glorious victory. I am on board the ship of this progressive and advancing denomination. The question comes to us to-day, "Are we advancing as a denomination?"-- a question of great and vital importance, the answer to which I shall give, backed by truth, in the affirmative, in behalf of not only a few, but millions.
To advance is to move forward, to rise, to increase. Therefore, I would say as a denomination these are some of the characteristics that mark our numerous attainments and very rapid progress. The wonderful increase, numerically and financially, the pleasing moral and intellectual advancement exhibit a noble picture in favor of the denomination's progress. I would declare most emphatically that our advancement as a denomination is plainly marked and indelibly stamped upon the pages of history. But to prove whether or not an organization is advancing, be it a religious body or otherwise, it is very essential, I think, first to prove or know its foundation, the source of its origin, whether it be a rocky or sandy foundation. It is indeed quite requisite to know the legality, or illegality of the organized body.
I said just now that as a denomination we are advancing. Now to avoid any one asking me, now or hereafter, why do I say so, please permit me just here to state my answer:
1st. The Baptist denomination is founded upon the rock Christ Jesus.
2d. Christ is the legal authority of the denomination.
3d. Christ was a member of this denomination because he founded it and submitted to it ordinances.
4th. Christ is the life and success of this denomination.
Lastly, it has lived over eighteen hundred years and made its advent into most all the world. That these are facts indisputable you will all agree.
Now, then, if Christ is the origin, the base and rock upon which this pure and grand old Baptist denomination stands, it is quite evident that it has an infinite, living source.
It has been infallibly established that the Baptists began their denominational life under the ministry of our Saviour, hence its rapid growth, fine health and universal acceptance to-day.
Allow me just here, my friends, to state this fact. It is the true and living beginning received by Christ, our great founder and leader, that promoted our growth and predicts our future triumph.
Another grand evidence of our certain and decided progress is that during the dark, gloomy and critical ages of the past, amidst danger and even death, appearing, as it were, amid the wreck of matter and the crush of crumbling worlds, we flourished and grew but the more. I say, as a denomination we are advancing most assuredly. The past has recorded plain testimonies in proof of this fact, the present confirms and more fully establishes it, and the future awaits, with infinite gravity, to welcome the consummate development and victory of the denomination.
Judging from the past and the present, we can but feel that as a denomination we are destined to spread over all the world, and unfurl the banner of truth and victory over every home and heart of Adam's family, upon which the finger of inspiration has inscribed the words, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
Dr. Cathcart, in speaking of the Baptist denomination, has with ability and truth said that the Baptists "are the parents of absolute religious liberty wherever it exists in christian nations." They are the founders of the first great Protestant missionary society of modern times. The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed by the counsels of a Baptist, and in which every Bible society in the world felt an interest. These are plain proofs of our advancement.
Another reason for our so advancing is that we have the Bible, which is the book of God, the book of books, the revealer of God to man, His interpreter as the God of nature. This is the great light by which we travel in this world, and through which we inherit our religious advancement.
As a denomination dating further back than any other can, every month, every season, every year and every century unfolds the rapidity, the grandeur and glory of the advancement of this old and true denomination.
While the denomination's growth and advancement have been astonishing as it has come through the ages, it is well to state that it did not escape persecutions nor fail to meet the most stubborn objection and suffered punishment of the most cruel nature. Yet the height, depth and width of its growth, advancement and achievement are the tokens of pre?inence and complete victory.
Thanks to the Father, the giver of every good and perfect gift, that this grand old denomination of which our Saviour was a member has by means of grace broken down and surmounted the greatest of its obstacles, and that the least as well as the greatest must bow to its God-given power and lie vanquished at its feet. Seeing, therefore, as a denomination, that we are advancing we have a right to rejoice and be glad, the right to be here to-day celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of our existence.
Oh! hearer, think for a moment of those dark, gloomy and bitter years of the past, and imagine the denomination as it struggles for religious liberty, and see its bold and wearied travelers almost fainting on the way, its leaders, some of whom fell as martyrs to the enemy, dying, giving their lives for the spreading of the gospel of Christ to every creature, and contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. And then come with me again, not in imagination, but in reality, to this glorious present, and see if you do not see a pleasing, grand and glorious future. It gives us joy to say that we are advancing. We may say, "We are coming, we are coming, we are coming, blessed Saviour; we are coming, we are coming, we hear Thy welcome voice."
The Baptists have more than fifty colleges and theological seminaries, and numerous and splendid academies, all of which show their amazing progress and deep interest in education. These schools, together with our several great societies, such as the American Baptist Publication Society, and Home Mission, Foreign and other societies, with their mighty influence upon the human family, show conclusively the wonderful progress of our denomination.
The numerical standing of our denomination is not silent in evidence of our advancement; for in this country there are 26,060 churches, 16,596 ministers, 2,296,327 members, and in all lands there are 30,699 churches, with 2,769,389 members. It is also estimated that more than 8,000,000 persons belong to the Baptist denomination; and besides these, our principles are extensively held by members of other communities.
The establishing of Sunday schools, and their rapid and continued increase, also go in as prominent factors to demonstrate the appreciable increase and onward march of the denomination. The Baptist Sunday schools of America have grown with such rapidity that they number, so far as reported, more than 13,493, with 116,355 officers and teachers, and 1,000,000 scholars. This, alone, tells for us great success and progress. And who can value its lasting influence upon society in its instilling of christian doctrine, and in training the young in the path of rectitude? That we are advancing as a denomination, and that with inconceivable velocity, is self-evident.
One of the peculiarities of the Baptist denomination is, that whenever and wherever she is planted, she lives. We are advancing, and our source is sufficient for the perpetual progress of the denomination. Illustrative of the advancement of our denomination, consider the small seed planted here in Savannah, January 20th, 1788. Did it die? Was it plucked up and destroyed? No. It lived; it grew and became a mighty tree, yielding abundant fruit every season, some of which have ripened, and are now gathered into the garner of the Lord. This tree having grown exceedingly large, its branches extend now into every conceivable part of this grand old empire State, and are no less fruitful than their parent tree.
While the ripe fruit has been gathered into the Master's garner, this mother tree represents to-day, in the State of Georgia, 1,500 branches, or churches, with 166,429 members. Behold, what a number! Baptists, we are advancing; we are marching on to greater achievement; yes, to victory. The grand conclusive evidences that we are advancing, through Christ, our great leader, our 30,699 churches, with 20,000 ministers and 2,769,389 members; our 13,493 Sunday schools, with 116,355 officers and teachers, and 1,000,000 scholars, and our fifty colleges and theological seminaries, and numerous academies, are living proofs. With these we have all that is needed. And we may, advancing as we are, safely hope for a victorious future, as signal and pleasing as it will be glorious.
Feeling assured that as a denomination we are truly advancing, I conclude by saying:
"Onward christian soldiers,
Onward to the fight,
Hold the banner firmly,
Battle for the right.
"Hold the cross of Jesus,
As your banner, high,
Never must you falter,
Never must you fly.
"Jesus is our captain,
And we'll surely win,
If we do His bidding,
We may conquer sin,
"Clad in heavenly armor
We'll o'ercome the foe,
Triumph o'er the tempter,
Jesus tells us so.
"Then when warfares over,
When the fight is done,
When the foes are vanquished,
When the victory's won.
"Laying down your armor,
Clad in snowy white,
You shall reign with Jesus,
In eternal light."
THE DUTY OF THE PASTOR TO THE CHURCH.
BY REV. J. W. DUNJEE, AUGUSTA, GA.
Mr. President and Fellow-Christian Workers of the Centennial Celebration of the Baptist Church of Georgia:
I am, by the appointment of your committee, to address you at this hour on "The Duty of the Pastor to The Church," but in order to define that duty, we must define the true relation between the pastor and the church. This can be done only by first clearly understanding the terms of the contract between the church and the pastor.
Therefore, if the church has the right to make a contract with the pastor, that right must depend upon the legal and lawful existence of the church itself as God's agent. This position must be defined in accordance with God's word. Dr. J. N. Brown says: "A gospel church is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, observing the ordinances of Christ, governed by His law, and exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His word."
It is clear that the only scriptural head or leader of the church is a trained bishop, elder or pastor, whose qualifications, claims and duties, are defined in the epistle of Timothy and Titus, (I. Tim., iii, 1-8): "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, less being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
Titus, 1:5-8: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre."
These two passages, with many others that might be quoted, are conclusive evidence that the office of the ministry is of divine appointment; the great duty of the pastor is to pasture or feed the flock of God--the church.
Having shown that the office of pastor is one of divine appointment, we will now endeavor to define the word "Church," employing the language of some of the best writers.
The Greek word for "church" signifies generally an assembly, either common or religious, and it is sometimes so translated, as in Acts, xix, 32, 39. In the New Testament it means a congregation of baptized believers in Christ, as in Matthew, xvi, 18: "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." This reference must be to the christian church of baptized believers, regularly and orderly constituted after the divine pattern. Heb, xxii, 23: "To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all."
It seems to me useless to quote other passages to prove that the church and ministry are of divine appointment. This fact is accepted by the christian world.
The christian minister, with his divine commission in his hand, and the church, as God's only instrumentality in the conversion of the world, are to be married to each other in divine and christian wedlock, in accordance with the divine plan, which was ordained of God from the foundation of the world, as the best and only way of converting the world from sin unto salvation. The divine order, then, is church and pastor.
This relation should always be formed in the most prayerful and deliberate manner. Out of the union thus entered into arise the responsibilities and duties of the pastor to the church. He in no sense holds the relation of a mere hireling, who is to perform a certain amount of work for so many dollars and cents, and if he happens not to please the deacons in everything is to be discharged at their will. While the pastor should always be well paid, the relation goes beyond dollars and cents. It is a moral and spiritual relation of the deepest and most sacred character, which is sanctioned and approved by the great Head of the Church.
The minister is the under-shepherd, overseer, leader and bishop of the flock of God. Acts, xx., 28: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood." Now, out of this most beautiful and tender relation above stated, grows the duty and responsibility of the pastor to the church.
1. It is the pastor's first duty to the church to feed the flock with spiritual food, by the constant and faithful administration of the word of Christ, without regard to favors or frowns.
2. He is bound to discharge his duty as pastor to every family in the church, rich or poor, by keeping a zealous watch over their spiritual welfare, in their homes and also in the church, and assisting in the settlement of all difficulties in the spirit of Christ, as far as it is possible for him to do.
3. The pastor has a special duty to the poor and sick, whom he should never overlook in his most tender spiritual administration.
4. It is the duty of the pastor to overlook all of the affairs of the church, and keep himself informed as to the condition of every department of church work, and, from time to time, make such recommendation as will, in his judgment, improve the condition of the church, either spiritually or financially.
5. It is the duty of the pastor, under the authority of the word of God, to take the entire leadership and oversight of the church, and, if by any rule of the church, he is deprived of his gospel rights, he is not in the truest sense pastor, but merely a "supply."
6. It is the duty of the pastor to give to the church, on each Lord's day, carefully prepared sermons; he should never go before his people without thorough preparation.
7. It is the duty of the pastor to cultivate a spirit of love and kindness toward all the members of his church, with a view of making his administration as pastor a blessing to the cause of Christ.
8. It is the duty of the pastor to so conduct himself in all of his dealings with the church as to hold the confidence and respect of the whole church, if it be possible; but it is not his duty to relinquish the high responsibility of his office to please a few church "cranks" and constitutional grumblers, which may be found in all churches.
9. The true pastor of the church, divinely called, and placed over the church by God's authority, who is head of the church, never should be removed from that position, except Divine Providence indicates that such separation is for the good of the cause of Christ; and this separation should be brought about by the same christian deliberation which was used in forming the union when he became pastor of the church.
THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH TO THE PASTOR.
BY PROF. ISAIAH BLOCKER, AUGUSTA, GA.
Without argument to prove it, were that argument necessary, let us agree that the church is a divine organization; that it is a body of organized christian believers; that it is more than a mere society, more than a simple lodge, or order of whatever character. It is not only after the divine pattern, but it is that pattern. Regenerate believers in Christ, "those that gladly received His word," compose the church. It is not complete in its organization without a pastor. No body of christians, calling themselves a church, has the right to dispense with the services of a minister. Not any more could a church do so than it could dispense with religious worship, or the other officers of a church.
In life, men sustain relationships. We all are debtors, one to another. Men are mutually dependent. Man is only partially an independent being; for most of his life he is dependent on his fellow-men. But there is no relationship more important and sacred than that which exists between a church and its pastor. A true pastor is a friend, and a true friend is a rare possession. The relationship between friends is essentially close.
"There is no friend like the old friend,
Who has shared our mourning days!
No greeting like his, no homage like his praise!"
The relationship of husband and wife is sacred. They are one, and yet they are two. Both the same, and yet both different. But these relationships between friend and friend, husband and wife, suffer somewhat in comparison with that relation subsisting between the pastor and the church. The marriage estate is for this life alone. The relationship between pastor and church is spiritual; hence it has to do with the future state--eternity--and in this is superior.
Every church has the right to elect its own officers. So also ought every church have the right to choose its own pastor. It is not true, however, that all churches have this prerogative. Among Baptists this right is inviolable. Possessing the freedom of choice, and having made selection of its pastor, a church owes him duties and obligations far-reaching in their character. The church is the first party to the contract, as the man is to the marriage contract, it having made the proposition for the agreement, which makes them one in interests, and mutually obligated. And, as a man or woman should look well and rationally and prayerfully before marriage, to ascertain the similarity of age, oneness of tastes, equality of position, harmony of mental calibre, and that physical prerequisites are found in his or her life's companion, so ought also a church, before making choice of a pastor, to look well into the character of the man who would be their shepherd, trusting to Divine guidance.
That which a person is bound by moral obligations to do or not to do, is a sufficient definition of duty. A pastor is an elder, a shepherd, a commissioned officer of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a servant and an embassador for Christ. His office and duty may be briefly defined in this passage from I. Peter, v, 1-4: "The elders which were among you I exhort, who are also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
To "feed the flock of God," and "taking the oversight thereof," are the duties of the shepherds. "Ensamples to the flock" they are to be. "Lords over God's heritage," they are not to be. Feeders and overseers are their offices. "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Apparently, the world does not understand what is meant by being a servant. Could church members, and people in society generally, be brought to understand that those among them who work, who serve, will be chief, will be most respected, and most beloved, and most honored, there would be fewer drones in church and in state.
What, now, is the duty of the church to him who feeds her, and who overlooks her affairs spiritually? The first duty I shall mention as being due a pastor, is the reverence and christian love of his flock. He should enjoy their entire confidence. The reward, and the chiefest reward, he might hope for in this life is the love and reverence of his people. The constant companionship and friendship of the church officers and the Sabbath school superintendent would be an inspiration to him. Among the numerous duties which are due him by his congregation, I ought not to fail, in passing, to mention the apparently insignificant duty of visiting him and his family.
We can not help him unless we feel an interest in his work. It is not the duty of the church to expect him to do everything. It is not just nor right that the officers and members should leave the financial burden of the church to the pastor. To themselves, to their pastor and to God, church members owe the everywhere-neglected duty of becoming intelligent Bible christians. Among those who can read, just the same as among those who are unlettered; with the white people, as with the colored; in churches for white people, as in churches for colored people; so far as I have been able to observe, there is a woeful neglect of Bible reading, and in cases, too often, there is the absence of the Bible itself from the church members' homes. If we knew more about the "Thus saith the Lord," our pastors' sermons would be more helpful, and we would praise where we now frequently censure. We would note and appreciate God's providences, where now we trample His mercies under our feet. If we wish to aid our pastor, we should study our Bibles. He knows a Bible student within his fold, and rightly values his industry and the earnestness with which he listens to his sermons.
Whether close communion is right, or whether open communion is wrong; whether theater-going, dancing, or card-playing be wrong or right; whether being temperate or a total abstainer is right, or whatever question, you will have no trouble to determine, should you study your Bible, nor would you give the pastor or the church any trouble. Let us know our doctrine. "The word of God is the only rule of faith and practice," "Be not forgetful to strangers," and "Use hospitality one to another, without grudging," are passages which must suggest to the thoughtful virtues, the value of which always will be properly estimated by a true minister.
I wish I could dwell longer on this point, but I cannot. Indeed, the cultivation of any christian grace is a help to the pastor. And could christians be brought to the fullest point of development in the exercise of every talent and liberality, no trouble would be experienced with regard to the pastor's support, the last point on which I shall speak.
Let us all understand that surprise parties cannot support a pastor; that a minister should live of the gospel the scriptures most clearly and conclusively teach. And his support should be ample. His entire time should also be devoted to the "ministry of the word."
But the grasping, digging spirit in any minister will hardly be gratified.
Every church should have a pastor who should preach to that church every Sunday. It is a most serious mistake to have preaching only once a month, and it is a worse mistake for one minister to have often as many churches to serve as there are Sundays in each month. There is little or no growth in such churches. As a rule, the people are running astray, and I doubt if there is a more serious error in the management of our churches (country churches, as well as city churches, if you please) than that of having preaching once a month, thus making it possible for one minister to serve two or three bodies. Look into this a little, and we shall not be long in discovering that the laborers are not quite so scarce as to require this practice, and that there are many worthy christian men who would show themselves qualified to preach to these churches, if given a chance. The trouble lies, I believe, in the fact that they do not wish and will not support a pastor. They prefer that three churches undertake the work of supporting one minister to having one church do that same work. Liberality is what is needed.
The apostle said: "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."
Paul said: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Or, "I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same, also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of His hope."--I. Cor., ix, 6-10. "Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Phillipians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account as a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God."
You will observe that these scriptures fully demonstrate that a pastor must be supported--supported by the church to which he preaches. No member of a Baptist church who wishes to do his full duty, can read these scriptures and not feel that he violates the commands of God, if he does not, to the extent of his ability, aid in the support of the pastor of the church to which he belongs. It is the experience of every church, that a few liberal members bear all the burden in the support of the church. The young members, somehow, think they might spend their earnings in every other way, and for every other conceivable purpose, than that of helping to sustain the church.
But the pastor must visit all the sick and distressed, bury all the dead, and pray for all the children and all the sinners in a community, the young folks and old folks, and receive little or no salary. It is a common practice, also, to give the minister or the church that which we, ourselves, do not want. When the month expires, the pastor wants his salary, as every man does. It takes as much to maintain his family as any other family. He should practice economy, and lay by some money, as other men. Why not? But that humble, and faithful, and self-sacrificing minister, who does his duty and gets little pay, and whose family is in sore need, is to be prayed for and to be beloved.
Many people have mistaken views with regard to God's word in its teachings on this subject. People give in proportion as they love. Love lies at the base of all christian giving; and it would be a safe rule to measure a christian's love by the willingness with which he gives, and the amount which he gives. Have first the willingness, and secondly the industry and frugality, which will afford us the means to contribute.
In Luke, xxi, 1-4, we find this passage: "And He (Jesus) looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
"The first of the fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God."--Ex., xxiii, 19.
"All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the first fruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord."--Num., xviii, 12.
"And to bring the first fruit of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the Lord."--Neh., x, 35.
"But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand."--Isa., xxxii, 8.
These passages are from the Old Testament.
In I. Cor., xvi, 2: "Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him."
II. Cor., viii, 12: "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
II. Cor., ix, 7: "Every man as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Just one word more.
"Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
From these passages we ought to see our duty to the pastor, to the church and to Christ. If these do not teach us our duty, no further words from me will.
DUTY OF THE CHURCH TO THE PASTOR.
BY DEACON R. H. THOMAS, OF SAVANNAH, GA.
What is the duty of the church to the pastor?
First, let us see the relation between the church and pastor.
It is said that the pastor's duty to the church is parallel to that of the shepherd in the eastern country, whose duty it is to feed the sheep, lift up the fainting, care for the sick and infirm, take up the tender lambs and fold them in his arms. It is the duty of the pastor to care for the sick and bereaved, and, best of all, should bring them a fresh supply for every day's want.
Therefore, the church being the recipient of his labors of love, it is her duty to reciprocate the same.
Therefore, the church is under many obligations to her pastor, because he is a messenger sent from God, and ought to be so regarded by the church and the community at large. It is the duty of the church to seek of its pastor spiritual instruction. The church should regard him as her spiritual director, and show her appreciation of the instructions given, by putting them into practice. It is also her duty to seek spiritual guidance of him, not only for herself, but also for others.
It is not the duty of the church to attempt to teach him, but to be taught of him. He is supposed to be God's representative, acting and pleading for God. Hence, it is her duty to obey and be governed, and not to govern.
It seems to be prevalent to-day that nine-tenths of the churches attempt to dictate, to lead and teach their pastors, and not to be led. Two-thirds of the church troubles of to-day arise from just such causes. It is also the indispensable duty of the church to watch carefully against caucusing parties against the pastor. Sometimes the truth becomes too strong to be tolerated by some of the members. I am sorry to say so, but it is found to be true. Sometimes he is too strict for the committee on finance; sometimes the trustees will not work, because they can not do as they please, and too often the deacons, like Peter, want to fight, because they cannot invite their friends to preach at their will in the pastor's pulpit.
Sometimes when the pastor is from home laboring for the church in some way or other there comes along a preacher, if you please, and you get him to preach once or twice, and he wants the pastorate right away. He has gained a few friends and now he wants the church.
There is another class of preachers in the church who are too lazy to work up for themselves a congregation. Watching the pastor, hoping that he may soon get sick and die, so as to take his place. It is the duty of the church to guard her pastor in all of these points, and to see to it that all of the implements necessary for the discharge of his duty be put within his reach, that the best men be selected out of its number to serve as deacons, as trustees, and good, honest men for the committee on finance--men that do not have tar on their fingers nor leaks in their hands, if so, the pastor will starve and the church go down. She should select as deacons men that will fill the office as the original calling would indicate, giving active service to both church and pastor. When they fail to do so, whether it is by inability or duty neglected, they ought to at once be removed and their places filled by others. Let me urge this point, that it is one of the highest duties of the church to its pastor that the best qualified men be chosen to labor with the pastor, both for the good of the pastor and the good of the church, and for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom on earth--men who are full of the Holy Ghost and blessed with the happy grace of self-denial for the cause of Christ.
It is also her duty to see that the pastor has sufficient light; that is, books, and a good choir that will give music for his help. The church should pay her pastor promptly. No church ought to pay off its pastor in promises, but rather pay him his salary as contracted; for the Bible tells us, "He that laboreth at the altar shall also partake of the things of the altar;" "the laborer is worthy of his meat;" don't muzzle the ox that treadeth over the corn.
It is also found in the covenant of the church, "That we will strive together for the support of a faithful, evangelical ministry among us." These are the teachings of the Bible, the "book of books," which has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, unmixed with error, for its matter.
I believe that most of you are familiar with the science of agriculture, and hence will agree with me that in order to reap a liberal harvest, three things are necessary:
1. Good ground.
2. Good seed.
3. Faithful work.
Let us say that the church is the good ground, the work the good seed, and the pastor the worker, while we all join him. We are to hold up the pastor's hands while he wrestles with God and we contend with the enemy. Hence, the church can not and must not become inactive, because of its good name. The pastor cannot live on the church's good name. He must be cared for as other men. It is true love to see his faults. The church that loves her pastor truly sees his faults, and ought to make them known to him in a loving, christian way. I believe that it is also the duty of the church to watch her pastor with the eye of christian love; not only to guard, but also pray for him, that he be able to better discharge his duties. The Bible tells us that while Peter was in prison, the church met and prayed for him, and that while they were yet praying he was delivered unto them.
It is also the church's indispensable duty to watch her pastor with a spiritual eye, both for her own good and the good of the community at large, and to see that he does not divert from the path of virtue, love and truth. So soon as he desecrates his high calling, it is the duty of the church to leave him to himself until he repents.
One of the great evils of our day, that has destroyed so many of our churches, is that the church puts sympathy in the place of justice in some of the blackest crimes. Sympathy has predominated in the face of right, and it is more frequently practiced in the little country churches, where the people depend upon a few leaders for light. Once the pastor gets himself into the sympathies of the church, he feels himself safe to carry her to honor or down to shame, at his will. It is the duty of the church to guard against this evil.
There is a man who meets his friend while on his way to church, and asks him to go with him to church. "No," says his friend, "I do not wish to go." "Why not?" "Well, because every time I go to church, since I and the preacher fell out, he takes his text on me, and when he ends, he ends on me. When I go to church I want to hear the gospel preached to me, and that will make us better, if anything will, and not be picking at me, because I cannot answer him back.["]
Let it be known that it is the duty of the church to have a pastor who knows the gospel, and not only knows it but will preach it at all times and under all circumstances.
Our blessed Lord said: "When I am lifted up I will draw all men unto me." St. Paul also said: "I desire to know nothing among you save Christ and Him crucified."
The churches of this age want men to know the Bible, and that will teach the Bible, and not only teach but also let the Bible be the rule of their lives. This age of progress demands money and an enlightened ministry, and the ministry is demanding better pay and better treatment.
WHAT IS OUR DUTY TO THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE COUNTRY?
BY PROF. H. L. WALKER, AUGUSTA, GA.
Mr. Chairman and Honored Sirs:
The question which your committee has assigned me for treatment at this hour is one which so impresses me with its profundity that all of my powers are invoked to impress you with its importance. In the midst of this nineteenth century, an age of religious tolerance and denominational activity; an age when christendom is at rest, and not convulsed by the throes and horrors of a French revolution, or the ascendency of Catholicism over Protestantism; an age when all denominations are energetic, and seeking by conquest to make proselytes of the Gentiles by planting every corner of the globe with their emissaries; an age when a desire to open up commercial intercourse with the unexplored heathen lands is screened behind the efforts of the various denominations to plant missionaries; yea, at a time when pious, well informed christian young men and women are in demand--it is in the midst of such circumstances and under such influences that I find it impossible to suppress the interrogation, "What is our duty toward the Baptist institutions of our country?" In this centennial year of the colored Baptists of Georgia, and at this very moment, I hail this occasion as one for veneration and congratulation, to stand in the presence of these old fathers and time-honored Baptist veterans, to whom the solution of this question is an issue of most vital concern.
The first duty we owe, therefore, to our Baptist institutions is to see that they are officered by a faculty of christian men and women thoroughly indoctrinated in Baptist principles and possessing a high order of intellectual ability, and that general fitness for the profession of which allows no embarrassment when they are thrown into competition with the other denominational and educational institutions of our country. Such an institution, so officered, and so planted upon the hill top of Georgia, will be like the handful of corn upon the top of the mountain, yea, it will serve as a sentinel at the doors of ignorance, and the matured fruits thereof shall shake like Lebanon dispensing their heavenly benedictions throughout the land.
All institutions must grow or they will retrograde into obsolete insignificance. A grain of corn must be brought in contact with the elements of the fertile soil, receive the farmer's cultivation and care, receive the fruitful seasons and the early dews from heaven before we are permitted to behold the appearance of the shoot, the stalk, the blade and the full fruitage of golden corn. The benefactions accruing from our Baptist institutions are not unlike the grain of corn in the needs and dependence for parental care as they move from the stage of incipiency into that of efficient manhood.
That we may be the better instructed as to our duty toward our Baptist institutions, let us ask ourselves the questions, "How stand our schools, and what influence are they exercising throughout the United States?"
According to the educational report of Dr. Henry L. Moorhouse, we have denominational schools planted at Washington, D. C.: at Richmond, Va.; at Raleigh, N. C.; Columbia, S. C.; Atlanta, in Georgia; at Live Oak, in Florida; Selma, in Alabama; at Nashville, in Tennesse; at Louisville, in Kentucky; Natchez, in Mississippi; New Orleans, in Louisiana; Marshall, in Texas, and at Tahlequah, in the Indian Territory. All of these schools are doing much to materialize that portion of the Master's vineyard in which they are most fortunately planted. But noticeable among them in efficiency and utility, we can point with pride to the Wayland Seminary, at Washington, the Shaw University, at Raleigh; the Roger Williams University; the Spellman and Atlanta Baptist Seminaries, both of which are situated at Atlanta. These institutions are sending hundreds of trained young men and women into all the avenues of life, and, as teachers, ministers, mechanics and master-hands in the different professions, they take very enviable rank, and the presence of this august, venerable and grave assemblage of Baptists, with the men and women trained at our schools prominent among its leaders, claim this to be ample attestation of the fact that our schools are doing a work that shall yet tell in ages--tell for God.
Again, we must congratulate ourselves upon the fact that all these institutions are located in the South, where colored Baptists propagate, promulgate and multiply in a ten-fold ratio. They are placed, as it were, at our doors in easy access to all of our Baptist families. Such is the advantage of the present age over the past. But with all of these advantages, we must yet ask the question, have these institutions done all they could, and if not, what is still our duty toward the Baptist institutions of our country?
One of the primal duties of the Baptists of Georgia is to supply our well-equipped institutions with a larger amount of raw material, in the shape of untutored boys and girls hailing from Baptist families.
The newest statistical reports give to our State above 166,000 Baptists. Let us suppose one-tenth of this mighty army is composed of Baptist children, and we shall have above 16,000 Baptist children to fill our universities and seminaries.
Again, according to this census, the school population of the State of Georgia alone was 520,416. It is reasonable and fair to suppose that the children from Baptist families constitute at least one-tenth of the school population, and we should have for our institutions above 52,000 Baptist children. Suffer me to advance still another supposition. Suppose circumstances rendered it possible and practicable for but half of this 16,000 children to attend our seminaries, we should then have 8,000 children growing up at the feet of Baptist Gamaliels, learning wisdom.
But the facts show in regard to the education of our boys and girls that at the Baptist Seminary this scholastic year, about 150 pupils were enrolled. At the Spellman the enrollment reached 600 girls; in all about 750 pupils at our two schools. Not 1,000 boys and girls in our Georgia institutions. Where are the Baptist children of our State? Is it not possible that more can be done to fill our seminaries? Fathers, mothers, and lovers of this glorious cause, we are in a large measure responsible for the attendance at our schools.
In the United States there are 18,000,000 children of school age. As Baptists, let us see to it that a fair and substantial number of this throng is captured by our denominational schools. But, venerable sirs, our institutions will not stand alone, if they are not fostered by the maternal care of that people by whom and for whom they were created. And in order that their years may be crowned with goodness, and that their paths may flourish and drop fatness, so that they may be potentialities, energizing the communities in which they are planted, the chief articles of sustenance which they need to strengthen their vitality are dollars and prayers. Dollars, in order that the temporal prerequisites and the wants of the physical may be fully met; prayers, in order that divine unction from heaven may be distilled, like early dews, to bless the efforts which our schools and seminaries are putting forth, to garner in a large harvest for the Baptist church and for God. And may we not conjecture that when the great day of reckoning shall come, when the quick and the dead shall stand before the Great Judge, to have their records reviewed, may we not indulge the conjecture that denominations, as well as individuals, shall be held accountable for the work they have done?
Let it not be said of us: "You wicked and slothful Baptists, depart from me." Many of our churches are calling for trained ministers, deeply steeped in all scriptural knowledge, and with an appointment from above. For such a class of workers the demand is far greater than the supply. As Baptists, let us train up a greater supply of ministerial timber. The hour is at hand when many of our churches are calling for a better-informed ministry. Yea, the things and empty customs of the past have passed away. And the present, with all its modern demands, is upon us. These recruits to our ministerial ranks must file in from our schools. Each Sunday school, each church, each benevolent society should be interested in some worthy and promising member, or members, of their organization, and shoulder the responsibility of sending them to our seminaries, and furnishing them with a liberal supply of dollars and prayers. It is only in this way that the latent elements are to be drawn out.
A larger number of our girls and young women must be entered at our schools, so that from there shall spring up larger numbers of well-ordered, well-regulated christian families, that shall render very substantial aid in making the civilization of this nineteenth century the grandest that the pages of history have yet beheld; for woman, in her sphere, is like a diamond in the jeweled crown of a King, and a civilization without her work is woefully, grossly incomplete. Our Sunday school and our secular need the work of our trained young women, and these must come from our seminaries. Hence, arises the imperative duty of sending our girls to our schools, and supplying them with a full quota of dollars and prayers. Our institutions of learning are our "lambs," which, in Holy Writ, we are enjoined to feed.
Prominent among the reasons which make it imperatively necessary for us to guard with a zealous care the education of our children, is the fact that all the other denominations are energetic in christianizing the world in the tenets of their individual dogmas, and their missionaries are finding their way from pole to pole and from sea to sea. It is this denominational competition which must energize all and give vivacity to our trade. Shall we lie supinely by and refuse to send laborers into the Master's vineyard to possess the land? Let us not be deluded, sirs, with the siren songs of such culpable inactivity. We can not afford it. In the evening of this nineteenth century the Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists and Catholics have their denominational schools planted all over this Union and thronging with numbers as they vie with each other in legitimate warfare for the mastery of the world. The footholds that the Catholics are gaining in this country draws the most serious apprehension and the profoundest concern, and these demonstrations are not only energetic but they are surprisingly sagacious and diplomatic. The Catholics of to-day have much to do with the body politic and the shaping of American politics. The President of the United States has just sent to the Pope of Rome a present in the shape of the constitution. This act of recognition of the Pope has no small significance.
In this literary convention among the leading denominations of the world let not the great Baptist family of this country seem remiss in planting her schools upon every hill top and in every vale, so that they may tower toward heaven with goodness and may herald the dawn of the millennium on earth among men when God's kingdom shall be fully come and His will performed in their hearts.
Finally, using our schools as a powerful instrument, our denominational family is to wage an uncompromising war with superstition, beat back the forces of Paganism and make religious conquests in China, in Japan, in Asia, in Africa, and even in Rome, the very heart of Catholicism. When we remember that of the one thousand and four hundred millions of souls belonging to the human family only one-fourth of them profess the christian religion, and when it is remembered Mohammedanism, with its sword and its Koran as the ensign of its power, holds powerful sway in the Southwestern part of Asia and a large part of Africa; yea, when our missionaries in foreign fields must admit the fact that the followers of Buddism and Brahminism comprise more than one-fourth of the inhabitants of the globe, and that the Roman Catholics, with their order of Jesuits overrunning every portion of Africa to which they can gain access, then you will not fail to be impressed with the magnitude of the obligation which lies at the doors of christianity, and how herculean must be the efforts on the part of the Baptists of this country to subdue and supersede the various forms of pagan religion as they flourish in heathen lands.
Christianity alone is responsible for the subjugation and the checking of the spread of these empty relics of heathen worship, and reclaiming the world for Christ. And, my honored Baptist fathers and veterans, may this centennial celebration be to us as the great day of Pentecost, the tarrying at Jerusalem, as our Mecca, until we shall be endowed with wisdom from on high, and then, from this point as a century, let us radiate, with a view to making conquests at home and abroad, and with this motto "The World Must Be Ours."
"From Greenland's icy mountains,
From India's coral strand,
Where Afric's sunny fountains
Roll down the golden sand;
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from errors' chain."
THE IMPORTANCE OF PURE BAPTIST LITERATURE.
BY REV. E. P. JOHNSON, PASTOR CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH, MADISON, GA.
Says a noted writer: "Literature is, excluding the recorded knowledge of positive science, the entire result of knowledge and fancy preserved in writing. Literature proper is addressed to man as man, and is catholic, universal, not exclusive.
The importance of literature is very apparent to all thinking minds. What the mighty rivers and water courses of a country are to its fertility, productiveness and prosperity, that literature is to the inhabitants thereof. Indeed, we might liken the great thinkers and writers of any age, country or clime to high hills and lofty mountains from whose bases flow the clear, sparkling, limpid, crystal streams of literature to elevate, enlighten and instruct the minds of the people, to make glad their hearts and to better their condition financially, mentally and spiritually.
What the silver, twinkling stars are to the natural world, that literature is to the mental and spiritual world. The student of the world's history looks back to the time when the world as to literature was as dark, gloomy and foreboding as the heavens at night would be without a single star. Each religious denomination, each political party and each section of all enlightened countries show their appreciation of what they call pure literature by establishing and supporting papers, journals and periodicals proclaiming and advocating their respective views.
We must now hasten to the discussion of the subject under consideration. By pure Baptist literature is meant the writings of eminent Baptist scholars in prose and poetry touching Baptist faith and Baptist views.
1. It is very important to have pure Baptist literature, to show and demonstrate that we are the only New Testament church on the face of the globe, and thereby proving our identity with the apostolic church, and our right, therefore, to exist as a separate and distinct denomination, and "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints."
2. By New Testament church is meant a church ruled and governed according to Christ's teaching and that of His immediate followers, and whose offices are such as accord therewith. In order to show this great fact, it is very important to have pure Baptist literature, to present to the world our distinct tenets and doctrines in clear and unmistakable terms, and yet in so simple language that the most illiterate may understand them. In the second place, it is very important to have pure Baptist literature, to prove the unbiblical stand taken by other denominations, and to show the errors in their tenets and doctrines, and the great evils resulting therefrom; to show the rise of popes and bishops, the sprinkling and pouring of adults and infants, and their attendant train of evils. These innovations create new positions, these positions give new authority, unwarranted by the Holy Scriptures; the suppression of personal liberty, because man was not allowed to reason or think for himself; finally there was a union of state and church, and at last came the dark ages, that hung for many centuries like the appalling darkness of Egypt.
3. We need to have Baptist literature to help conquer the world for our blessed Master. We need it to help herald the glad tidings of the rich, free and glorious gospel of Jesus, the Christ. The walls of China have fallen; the interior of Africa is being explored; the heathen gods are tottering on their thrones. Mexico, handicapped for centuries by priesthood, is crying for help to break the chains. Cuba and the Isle of the Sea are trying to rise and throw off their galling and oppressive yoke. The whole European continent is like the great tempest-tossed sea, that cannot rest. All of these circumstances and events are calling in thunder tones for pure Baptist literature to help solve the problems of the world.
4. In the fourth place, the Baptist being the only aggressive denomination that has no taint, no savor of Roman Catholicism about her garment, like some lofty mountain detached from all others, she stands alone, towering up through the centuries, and at the same time, like some lighthouse by the deep, dark seas of human woes and human depravity, sending forth the clear electric light of God's word, saying to poor lost man: "This is the way the King of glory went; follow Him."
5. We need pure Baptist literature to help mold and shape public opinion, and thereby help to give to the world laws and governments for the betterment of man.
Be it ever remembered that these United States, the greatest, the grandest and freest country on the face of the globe, owes its greatness to the Baptist idea of civil and religious liberty. The Puritans, with all their purity, with all their love of God and man, with all their longings and struggles for freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, were not willing to accord the same privileges to others. This was because they were laboring under the smoke and cloud of the Church of England. The Baptist church may be considered the church of the people, for the people, and by the people, under the direction of Christ, their head.
6. The fact that we are living in an age of progress, in an age of scientific investigation, in an age of schools, colleges and universities, in a thinking and reading age, bespeak the grave importance of pure Baptist literature.
The day is coming, and I think I see its dawning in the near future, when the great mass of common people will read and think for themselves, unbiased by the commands of bishops or the edicts of popes. Give this vast host pure Baptist literature, and they will throw off all forms and come to the New Testament idea of church and worship.
Come, blessed Jesus, help us hasten forward the ushering in of that glorious day, when there shall be but one flock and one shepherd.
THE WORK AND PURITY OF THE CHURCH.*
BY REV. HENRY JACKSON, OF AUGUSTA, GA.
Dear Brethren of the Baptist Family of Georgia:
In discussing the subject that has been assigned me by your committee on programme, I ask your attention to James, ii, 22: "Seest thou how faith wrought with His works, and by works was faith made perfect."
Here the purity of the church and its works are indicated. The church must first be pure in its faith. If the faith of the church is not pure its works can not be, since faith actuates to works. If the church would be pure in its faith its doctrines around which faith must twine must be pure. The center of the doctrines of the church must be Christ crucified. If the church would be pure in its faith it must cling eternally to this. The church can not be pure in its faith if it countenances affinities. The church should not tolerate members who believe in and work for societies.
The great subject of the gospel is the history of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this wonderful personage we have a character which stands alone in all history the most spotless, the sublimest, the brightest and best. The life which He led was the most wonderful and blameless. The morality, which He taught was the purest and most elevated. The death which crowned His wonderfully useful life was the most shameful, agonizing, and yet most sublime the world has ever witnessed. So He laid the pattern for all the faithful who would in all ages follow Him. He has not led the way into affinities, and how dare His followers to go into them and covenant with unbelievers without His example. By the power of the example of Christ, the triumph of His death, He has laid the foundation of a kingdom the working and purity of which embraces the strength and commands the homage of every civilized nation upon the globe, and against which the powers of hell can never prevail.
All the acts and purity of Jesus are wonderful, indeed, and hardly less wonderful are the purity and works of the true gospel church. Anti-Christs may rise to annoy and destroy the church, but it shall stand upon its pure foundation, upon Christ, the solid rock. The Baptist Church is the best prepared to give the world the pure gospel, as it is in Jesus. The church is to fight against impurity, and, therefore, should itself be pure. The church cannot be pure and have fellowship with the lodge. The ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ should not be members of the lodge, if they want a pure church. That the lodges are sapping the very life of the church, is a stubborn fact, and that ministers are taking part in them cannot be denied. What can be the object of these societies? Are they intended to glorify God? Are they of divine origin? Are they auxiliaries to the church? If so, who made them thus? Is not the church adapted to the wants of mankind, and is all that God wanted it to be? Has He required help at our hands by organizing secret societies? These societies and the church conflict, which is the surest proof that the societies are not divine, for there is no conflict in divine institutions. Government, both civil and ecclesiastic, are of divine origin, and these work together and accomplish different ends, but all to the good of man and the glory of God.
To claim that the lodge is of divine origin is simply preposterous, and wholly without foundation, as all authentic history will attest. Since the lodge is of human origin, it may go beyond the aims and purposes of its originators, and be productive of great evil; for man is a creature of mistakes. God alone makes no mistakes. Is the lodge the handmaid to the church? Is it the friend of the church, or is it antagonistic to the church? Does the lodge promote the morals of the people? Does it advance the spiritual interests of men? Does it work in line with the church in promoting man's truest and highest interest, or does it antagonize it? I assume, as is universally admitted, that the purposes of the church are right. I do not design to arraign the Almighty by so much as a question of its right and adaptation to an end worthy of its infinite Author. To antagonize the church is war upon the throne of God, and rebellion against His most righteous government.
Masonry claims to be a religious institution. It even claims universal adaptation to the wants of man--not as the christian religion and the church, suited to all classes, climes and countries--but adapted to all religions--open to receive Jew, Gentile, Greek, barbarian and Turk, and mass them in one conglomeration, without leavening them with the leaven of righteousness. It makes no claim to christianize. It rejects the cornerstone, elect and precious, upon which the church of God rests. It claims to be religious; that is all. As the play of Hamlet, with Hamlet left out, so is the lodge christian, with Christ left out. Rejecting the only foundation of the church, the antagonism is appallingly serious. The oaths required for persons to take in the lodges upon being initiated into the different degrees in Masonry is contrary to the spirit and genius of christianity. While I have referred to Masonry particularly, as the great parent of all secret associations, my remarks are applicable to all such secret, oath-bound associations. They all impose an oath of secresy to obey a code of unknown laws.
Let us consider the object which the church is seeking to accomplish. What does God mean by gathering His people and organizing the church? Manifestly to bring man back to his pristine allegiance to Him, that His throne might be established in the earth, and the rebellious subjects made to bow to His loving scepter. He would have prominently among these the elevation of men, the refining of their minds, giving them very exalted views. To magnify the Lord, and to worship Him in the beauty of holiness is the work of the church. The church is to exalt the glorious name of God in the world, by teaching the people of God to reverence His name, obey His word and observe the ordinances of His house.
But what says Masonry? (See Mackey's Manual of the lodge, page 57). "Speculative Masonry, now known as Free Masonry, is therefore, the scientific application, and the religious consecration of the rules and principles, the technical language and the implements and materials of operative masonry to the worship of God as the grand architect of the universe."
Israel in the plains before Mt. Sinai's rugged, cloud-capped summit did no more idolatrous and rebellious work in making the golden calf than is this deed of Masonry. It exalts its rules above the Word of God and appoints its implements, its square and compass, as symbols in the worship of God, or, in other words, it sets at naught the teaching of God for the commandment of men. This is high-handed wickedness and unwarranted by God or the want of man., Masonry claims that it is an institution of God whose duty it is to transmit the miraculous works of God, that is, practically to assume the place of the Old Testament church, and yet with such arrogant claim it rejects the name of Jesus Christ and exalts nature to a supreme place.
The end sought by the pure church is more than the mere literary or scientific or moral elevation of man. It seeks to change his heart and make him a new creature in Christ Jesus. The church teaches perfect obedience to God. This requires more than an intellectual or formal politeness. The church aims to give back to man that he lost in the fall by pointing him to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. This the lodge can not do or help to do. It is not befitting for members of the church to declare in the church that salvation is in none other but Jesus and then go into the lodge in the presence of Jews and pagans and dare not open their mouths of Jesus or breathe His holy name.
The work of the church comprehends much nowadays. It consists of bazars, grab-bags, neck-tie festivals, church suppers, fairs, cake-walks, broom drills, ice cream festivals, and I don't know how many other things. The more attention that is given to the purity of the church the less use we will have for these things, and money for church work will be raised from a principle. Then shall the church become the glory of all the earth. Let us guard the purity of the church, and the Lord grant us understanding in all things.
MONEY AS A FACTOR IN CHRISTIANIZING THE WORLD.
BY REV. W. R. PETTIFORD, BIRMINGHAM, ALA.
Looking from the pre?inence of christianity, which it has attained in eighteen hundred years, our eyes naturally turn, with marked eagerness, in search of those things which have contributed to so noted a growth. But a few centuries ago the world looked upon christianity in its infancy. The little group of twelve disciples, almost penniless, were faithful adherents to their Lord and Master, who had not where to lay His head.
Notwithstanding the great motive which led the Lord to leave heaven and come to the earth to execute the plan by which man might be saved, and notwithstanding He had called men from among their followers, He inaugurated a system that seemed as a vehicle to disseminate the power of the gospel to all the world. The opposition which was met was then, as now, disguised and deeply seated. Judaism, which had given birth to christianity, positively refused to give place to the latter. The high priests and rulers found pleasure in asking sharp questions to entrap our Lord. The Sanhedrim sought not only to paralyze the cause, but to blot out the name and influence of Christ. Their orders were to Peter and John not to preach or teach in His name. The lawyers appeared in garbs of deception, and loaned the aid of their will to the existing opposition, which threatened the overthrow of the blessed cause. The immorality of the age served as a great fort of defense for the cause of the enemy. But Christ, with His everlasting love for fallen humanity, and His powerful way of demonstrating it, as in His humiliation at Bethlehem, His zeal and energy as a Missionary, His agony in Gethsemane and His death on the cross, soon began to draw men to him by a powerful and silent influence that the world knew not of.
From these humble fishermen and the despised Nazarene, who gave their lives for the cause they loved, has gone out to every nation the good tidings of the way of salvation. And it is truly said:
"The morning light is breaking,
The darkness disappears,
The sons of earth are waking
To penitential tears.
Each breeze that sweeps the ocean
Brings tidings from afar,
Of nations in commotion,
Prepared for Zion's war."
Money, the great commercial medium of the world, has contributed more to the growth of this cause than any other known article of civilization.
1. Money as a convenience.--Those who obeyed the great command, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations," were dependent upon the commodities of civilization for the comforts of the body, as upon the Lord Jesus for the comforts of the soul. As money is a medium in the commercial world, it also serves in a similar capacity for the cause of the religion which we love. Remove the monetary system, and that itself brings into existence the barbaric system which has had its day. In building the tabernacle in the wilderness, the people were required to bring gold, silver and brass, not as money, but as material, along with the ram skins dyed red, and badger skins, and blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen. Instead of our taking up lumber, brick and mortar, when we go to build a house for God, we use money, with which we may more conveniently do our part. This valuable agent is one of the greatest blessings God has given to man through the hand of civilization.
In Old Testament times money both coined and uncoined found its place in the furtherance of salvation. By its use we may help the missionary, on both the home and foreign fields, bringing souls to Christ. It brings to these faithful laborers of the Lord the sympathy of their brethren in a tangible form--for there is no earthly sympathy like this for a poor, hungry and naked missionary. We may sing, "From Greenland's icy mountains," or, "Over the ocean wave," and pour out long and elaborate prayers for the servants on the field, but nothing helps him so materially as to send him money. Hence you see money is the scale upon which we weigh our sympathy for the toilers of God. It is the rule by which we can measure our devotion to the cause. It is the medium through which we can express our gratitude to God and love for His cause, and no man should hesitate to lay down his money for that which his Master laid down His life.
2. That money is an important factor in christianizing the world--the request of our Lord that we should give it, not spasmodically, but systematically--The Scripture gives us a complete system of raising money. God says to us in Mal., iii, 10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Observe, that God asks for the tenth part of all that comes into our possession, with a promise of a blessing that shall overflow our capacity to hold it, and the threat of a curse if we rob him.
The New Testament also calls for systematic giving. I. Cor., xvi, 1, 2: "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." These scriptures show that we are not only to give the tenth of what we make but that we are to give it weekly--the first day of the week.
The rich and poor were to give according to what they had received. Let every one of you lay by in store. You are not only to give the tenth weekly but you are to delight in giving. 11 Cor., ix, 7: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver." We are to give the tenth of what we make; we are to give it weekly. We are to give it cheerfully, not because the church needs money, nor that the pastor is to have his salary, but for greater reasons still, we are to give because God commanded us to give, and that giving is worship. No amount of money in the treasury, or the wealth of the pastor, will excuse us from giving.
The tax collector calls upon us for our taxes if there is money in the county treasury, and when they collect our tax we make no complaint that there is money in the State and county treasury, but we pay it cheerfully. How much more so should we pay our money into God's treasury for the support of His earthly kingdom.
3. God blesses the giver.--First He lays down a proposition that is full of encouragement to those who desire to do their duty in giving. Christ said, as quoted by Paul in Acts, xx, 35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." In proof of this you will notice that there is a great deal said in the Bible about the giver but a very little is said about the receiver. In Luke, vi, 38, we are informed that giving has a tenfold blessing, also, as a reward: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom." It is said that Abraham presented the tenth of all his property and even the tenth of the spoils from his victory to Melchisidec. Jacob, after his vision at Luz, devoted a tenth of all his property to God in case he should return home in safety, Who were blessed more than they, both spiritually and temporally? In this God has put himself on record that he will keep faithfully his promise, and that if any man will accept the proposition in good faith he cannot but be blessed.
4. Again, God has wonderfully blessed the use of money in the christian world, in erecting houses of worship all over the land. Money has played a conspicuous part, upon which rests the eternal blessing of God. It has fed the hungry family of the preacher, and relieved the burdened pastor of his obligations. It has made glad the hearts of the sexton and organist, and turned the church creditor home with light steps. Money has taken the missionary to the homes of pagans in foreign fields, clothed and fed him while he broke the bread of life to the perishing multitudes. It has directed the stream of the waters of life upon the scorching and sandy deserts of sin. By its use, God has overthrown idolatry, and established instead thereof the worship of the living God. By its use God has caused empires and kingdoms to tremble, fall and give place to the kingdom of our God and His Christ. Money has been the forerunner of christianity, to make the hilly way level, and the rough way smooth. It has been the wings upon which the good cause has reached every nation under heaven, and made known the Messiah's name. It is the great driving wheel of the old ship that shall take us all home.
Now, since there is no wickedness on the part of man more paralyzing to the cause of Christ than his refusing to properly give of his earnings, let us see to it that there is a reformation in this part of our worship. Let us first, as ministers, take up the system which I have tried to show, and teach it to our people, and it will not be long before every church will be out of debt, every pastor will receive regularly his salary, the places of worship will be beautified, and the missionaries' support will be all that is desired, and we will be multiplied an hundred times. Then the kingdom of Satan shall be overthrown, and christianity shall sweep the land as the mighty floods. Who of us will not be contributors to the coming of the millenium, when Christ alone shall reign?
No one thing would retard the progress of the christian work more than for men to lock their hearts and pocket-books to the call for means. And no people should be prouder than should we to rise up as one man, and bless God for the money that has been given for the education and christianization of our race. Let us swell the stream of liberality until every nation under heaven shall know Jesus, our Lord and Master, whom, to know aright, is life eternal. "The wise men presented to the newborn King of the Jews, the Lord from heaven, gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh."--Matt., ii, 11.
BAPTIST CHURCH GOVERNMENT.
BY REV. J. L. DART, CHARLESTON, S. C.
If a Romanist, Episcopalian, Methodist, or a member of any other prelatical church, were asked to give a brief statement of the rule and government of his church, he would at once refer to the decisions the several general councils and conferences, as well as to the rulings of the various ecclesiastical dignitaries of his respective church.
Likewise, if a Lutheran or Presbyterian be asked for a statement of the principles governing his church he would at once turn to the laws and regulations established by the several assemblies and synods of his church. But when a member of a Baptist or Independent church has to unfold the principles and laws which govern his church he must immediately turn to that sure word of prophecy, for the New Testament is the rule both of the faith and practice of his church.
The mark that distinguishes the Baptist denomination from any and all other evangelical churches is its tenacious hold of the plain and simple teachings of the New Testament touching all matters of faith and practice. The Baptists regard the scriptures as being pre?inently their chart and compass, and they profess to be strictly a Bible-obeying denomination. Their churches, are governed by no popes, cardinals or bishops; their churches are regulated by no ecclesiastical councils, assemblies, presbyteries or human traditions; but the creed and constitution of their churches are found in the New Testament. With the Baptists the question always is: "What saith the scriptures?" "How readest thou?"
In speaking of this complete dependence of the Baptist denomination on the teachings of the New Testament in matters of faith and practice, Dr. Francis Wayland says: "The fundamental principle on which our difference from other evangelical denominations depend is this: We profess to take for our guide, in all matters of religious belief and practice, the New Testament, the whole New Testament, and nothing but the New Testament. Whatever we find there we esteem binding upon the conscience. What is not there commanded is not binding. No matter by what reverence for antiquity, by what tradition, by what councils, by what consent of any branches of the church, or of the whole church, at any particular period, an opinion or practice may be sustained; if it be not sustained by the command or the example of Christ, or of His apostles, we value it only as an opinion or precept of man, and we treat it accordingly. We disavow the authority of man to add to or take from the teachings of inspiration as they are found in the New Testament. Hence, to a Baptist, all appeals to the fathers, or to antiquity, or general practice in the early centuries, or in later times, are irrelevant and frivolous. He asks for divine authority as his guide in all matters of religion, and if this be not produced, his answer is, 'In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.' "--Principles and Practices, p. 85.
It is the aim of this paper to show that the independent form of church government, as held by the Baptist denomination, is more in accordance with scriptural teaching, and comes nearer to the practice of the early christian churches than any other form of church polity.
In considering the subject of Baptist church government, we shall be greatly aided in the discussion by deciding first the question, what is the pattern of a church, as laid down in the New Testament? How was an apostolic church constituted and governed? For, according to this divine and inspired pattern, all christian churches should be remodeled. The examination of the Greek word, ekklesia, which is translated "church" in the New Testament, throws much light on this matter of New Testament church polity. This word is derived from a Greek verb, meaning "to call out or forth," and the gathering of those called out from their places of abode may be either for a political or religious purpose. A careful study of this word will lead one to the following conclusions:
First, that this word is used to denote an assembly of the people, convened at their public place of council. In Acts, xix, 39, we are told that the Greeks were accustomed to determine an important matter of state in a lawful assembly (ekklesia).
Second, that in all the uses of this word, excepting two, made by New Testament writers, and where it is rendered in the English version by the word "church," it signifies a company of christians, or, as Grimm says, "An assembly of christians gathered for worship, observing their own religions rites, holding their own religious meetings, and managing their own affairs according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake." As the final step in dealing with an incorrigible brother, Christ says, "Tell it to the assembly." When Paul and Barnabas had ordained elders in every assembly (ekklesia), they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.
Third, that in two passages (Acts xix, 37, and I. Cor., xi, 22), the word refers to the house in which the worshippers assembled.
Fourth, that the word in the singular is never employed in the New Testament to denote several churches or assemblies in a large city or district, but, on the contrary, when the number of christians in a community is so large as to render their assembling in one place impossible, the word is used in the plural, indicating separate local assemblies. We read of "the churches throughout Judea," "the churches of Galatia," "the churches of Macedonia."
Fifth, that, as a consequence of what we have said respecting the New Testament use of this word, the use of the English word "church" in such forms, "The church of England," "The church of Rome," "The Presbyterian church," "The Methodist church," is altogether foreign to the signification of the original Greek word, ekklesia; since these organizations, having their members widely dispersed over large extent of territories, can never literally, but only representatively, assemble in one place.
It is evident, from our investigation of this important word (ekklesia) and from a consideration of several passages of scripture, some of which have already been referred to, that an apostolic and primitive church was an independent body of believers in Christ, maintaining his doctrines, administering the ordinances of baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper, governing itself, having two orders of officers (elders and deacons), and full and final powers of discipline.
But some one may object to this doctrine of the independence of the apostolic and early churches by referring to the meeting of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, mentioned in the fifteenth chapter of Acts. The three main things taught in this passage are: (1) That the Gentile christians in Antioch were perplexed and divided by the teaching of Judaizing parties from Jerusalem. (2) That Paul and Barnabas were sent by the church at Antioch, and by divine command, to confer with the apostles and the elders and brethren of the church at Jerusalem. (3) That the decision of the assembly was arrived at first by James, the same having been proposed merely as his opinion, and not as any authoritative dictation on his part, and moreover, this opinion was concurred in by the apostles, and elders and "the whole church at Jerusalem."*
Since there were only two churches represented on this occasion, this assembly was simply an advisory and informal council, such as are held in these days by our churches. It was not the first christian and ecclesiastical council as it is sometimes called. We do not find that the apostolic and early christian churches were accustomed to hold general ecclesiastical councils, nor that these churches were organically united in one ecclesiastical body, superintended by several orders of officers subject to one supreme human head. Church history clearly shows that the prelatical form of church government, which gave rise to many corruptions, was introduced by men into the church in later years. Dr. Dagg makes the following quotation from Gieseler's Ecclesiastical History to show the gradual progress of infringement on the original church order, with respect to the independence of the early churches, the equality of the bishops, and the right of the people to elect their church officers. The historian considers it a progress and improvement rendering the churches "better organized and united," but we think it a progress toward popery:
"The influence of the bishops increased naturally with the increasing frequency of synods at which they represented their churches. Country churches, which had grown up around some city, seem, with their bishops to have been usually, in a certain degree, under the authority of the mother church. With this exception, all the churches were alike independent, though some were especially held in honor, on such grounds as their apostolic origin, or the importance of the city in which they were situated. We have seen that the sphere of individual influence amongst the bishops was gradually enlarging, many churches in the city and its vicinity being united under one bishop, a presbyter, or a country bishop presiding over them. But we have now to speak of a new institution, at first found chiefly in the East, which had the effect of uniting the bishops more intimately amongst themselves. This was the provincial synod, which had been growing more frequent ever since the end of the second century, and in some provinces was held once or twice a year. By these associations of large ecclesiastical bodies, the whole church became better organized and united."
Rome was made the center of this ecclesiastical organization, because of the political and commercial advantages of that city, and of Peter's supposed labors there.
Both scripture and early church history teach us that a warm, fraternal, and christian fellowship existed among the separate local churches, manifesting itself in the frequent exchange of epistles, borne by friendly messengers, and enabling one church to receive into its fellowship a duly accredited member of another.
But if it be objected to what we have said concerning the independence of the early apostolic churches, that since in other cases God unfolded His plans of operation gradually it is highly probable that in planting the church the principles of church polity were incorporated in the organization to be developed and applied afterwards in the progress of christianity, we reply that while it is conceded that the New Testament contains very little in the form of direct teaching respecting the government of churches, it must be borne in mind that some important instruction in duty was given to the churches by the inspired example and conduct of the apostles no less than by direct command. Christ and the apostles gave us much valuable instruction by their examples and actions on the subject of church government, the formation of churches, the election of officers, the equality and privilege of members, the manner of dealing with the erring.
All writers on this subject of church polity readily admit that a scriptural church practice cannot be arrived at without a careful study of the inspired examples found in the New Testament, which were designed by the Great Head of the church to be in all succeeding ages for the guidance and instruction of the churches.
"If, instead of leaving dry precepts to serve for our guidance," says Dr. Dagg, "the apostles have taught us, by example, how to organize and govern churches, we have no right to reject their instruction, and captiously insist that positive commands shall bind us. The apostles designed that their modes of procedure should be adopted and continued. We arrive, therefore, at the conclusion that, whatever the apostles taught, whether by precept or example, had the authority not only of the Holy Spirit, by which they were guided into all truth, but also of their Lord, Who had commissioned them."
When the apostle commended the church at Corinth for having kept the ordinances (or the traditions, as the revised version has it), as he had delivered them; when we see Timothy left in Crete to ordain elders in every city, and to set in order the things that were wanting--when we hear Timothy exhorted, "The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,"--we understand that the apostle intended that his faithful disciples and their successors should follow his teachings and example in the essential particulars, and not the minor features, in governing the churches. The development in church order, which is claimed by some, has not been a natural and logical thing; it has been rather retrogression than progress, rather a marring than a mending of the divine plan and work; for what development is there in calling a man master, and bowing to a pope as father, when Christ said, "Call no man master" or father, and "Ye are all brethren?" What development is there in appealing to ecclesiastical tribunals, when our Divine Master said to the local church, "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican?" What development is there in having two classes of church members, a converted and an unconverted, when our Lord ordered a regenerated church membership by saving, "Ye must be born again?" Surely, if this is progress, it is in the wrong direction.
This independent and democratic form of church government, which is derived from the scriptures and practiced by the Baptist denomination, has some important advantages, chief among them its being a check put upon the ungodly ambition of the clergy, which, in the early days of christianity, gave rise to the Roman hierarchy.
This independence of the churches leaves no provision for combinations of churches, except as in an associative and voluntary capacity, and which are had mainly to sustain the unhallowed ambition of the clergy, and in which, at times, have been practiced and witnessed the most shameful political methods to secure power and position, such as "wire pulling," "ballot-box stuffing" and the "most bare-faced proceedings," as the New York Herald said in reporting the proceedings and the election of bishops at the Northern Methodist Church Conference in New York, in May last. This principle of the independence of christian churches establishes equality among the ministers of Christ; it fixes the equality and emphasizes the individual responsibility of the members of the churches, and therefore it tends greatly to promote holiness in their lives.
If it be said that this principle of independence has its disadvantages and works some evil as well as good, we would say in reply that this doctrine is not adapted to a self-seeking, ambitious and hireling ministry nor to an unregenerate church membership. Most of us can testify that independence and popular suffrage given to churches whose members and officers are wanting in intelligence, brotherly love, and are without the spirit of Christ, have been abused and made to work the most shameful and fearful results in those bodies. Why are there so many disagreements and clashes between pastors and deacons in our Baptist churches? Why are so many selfish and disgraceful splits so often witnessed in our ranks? These evils are all due to a misconception and perversion of this grand scriptural doctrine of the independence and self-government of the individual church. We take it that it is the solemn duty of every true Baptist to discourage and oppose all crooked proceedings wrought in the name of liberty, especially when these things lead up to church splits. "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." This doctrine, which we regard as forming the very foundation of Baptist church government and being the key to the superstructure built thereon, grows out of such plain and well established Bible principles as these:
1. Religion is a personal matter between the individual soul and God.
2. Every man is free to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
3. God has furnished to us in the New Testament a perfect rule of faith and practice.
4. The scriptures being a revelation to the individual, every man should be free to interpret and understand them for himself.
5. Individuals who have examined the scriptures and arrived at the same conclusions as to their teachings and requirements form themselves into a church for the cultivation of christian graces and the advancement of the cause of Christ. In this church none are superior; but as to their spiritual privileges all stand on the same level, nor has it any human head, for "God hath given Christ to be the head over all things to the church."
It was for holding to these and like principles, upon which is based the independence of the church, that our Baptist forefathers on the old continent and in America, during all ages, were persecuted, imprisoned and scourged. About two hundred years ago Roger Williams was banished from the State of Massachusetts among the heathen of Rhode Island; at the same time Crandal and Clark were fined and Obadiah Holmes was "well whipt," as his sentence read, and all these things were suffered for maintaining Baptist principles.
We come now to inquire as to the officers in the apostolic church. There were two orders, elders or overseers, and deacons. The first class also bore the title of presbyter or bishop. That these terms are the Jewish and Gentile designations of the same office is proven by the fact that they are often used interchangeably in the scriptures. In Acts, xx, 28, the elders of the church at Ephesus are styled overseers or bishops. In I. Peter, v, 2, elders are addressed as having the oversight of the flock, which implies their authority as overseers or bishops. In Titus, i, 5, after the ordination of elders is mentioned, the apostle immediately begins to enumerate the qualifications of a bishop; and the connection plainly shows that these terms were titles of the same office. Several of the christian fathers bear testimony to the same fact. Ignatius exclaims: "What, indeed, is the eldership but a sacred constituted body, fellow-counsellors and judges with the presiding pastor!" Irenaeus, living about a century after the apostles, and writing as "episcopos," or presiding pastor, speaks of this identity; and Jerome argues at length what his predecessors had occasion to allude to, saying: "The elder is the same as the bishop or presiding pastor. Should any one think it is not the sentiment of the scriptures, but our opinion, that the bishop and presbyter are one, (this was the name of the office in that age), let him read again the words of the apostle to the Philippians, Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the sanctified in Christ who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons, grace to you and peace.' Philippi was a single city of Macedonia, and certainly in a single city there could not be several such as are now regarded bishops. But since at that time the same men were bishops as were called elders, therefore he spoke indiscriminately of bishops as elders."
It appears that each church had one or more elders, whose duty it was to "labor in word and doctrine," "to rule well," not as a civil, but a moral officer, exercising no coercive powers, but exacting voluntary obedience. They were under-shepherds, to "feed the flock," and as such they were required to be "apt to teach," from which we infer that teaching was a prominent part of their work.
In order that the pastors might devote their energies to the spiritual service of the church, the office of deacon was originated, whose duty it was to serve tables and to minister in secular affairs. The qualifications of the diaconate, as of the eldership, are of a high moral order, but, as aptness to teach is not among them, they are, therefore, not appointed as public teachers of the Word; but it is evident from the manner in which the deacons are spoken of in the scriptures, that the strongest obligations rest upon them to be forward in promoting the spiritual interests of the church. When a deacon feels that he is called to preach the Word, he ought to resign his office of deacon, saying, "This one thing I do." In this connection, it should be remarked that Baptist churches should exercise very great care in licensing and ordaining candidates for the ministry, as well as in the selection of deacons. Not only moral and theological, but intellectual attainments should be insisted upon in those who apply for ordination.
In many of our churches ignorance holds sway in the pulpit, and it is a sad fact that in some instances grossly immoral men stand before the altar of God, to minister in holy things for the people. The standard of the Baptist ministry should be elevated and kept high. Let no man be set apart for the Baptist ministry unless he is sure that he is called of God; unless he is unquestionably a regenerated man; unless he has an intelligent knowledge of the great truths of the Bible; unless he has a pure personal character; unless he has some knowledge of men and books; unless he truly loves Christ and the souls of men, and, therefore, unless he has "an enthusiasm of humanity," to use a phrase from Ecce Homo, and a burning desire to preach the everlasting gospel of the Son of God. Then the future Baptist minister will be a higher type of a man, and a more useful and acceptable preacher to the people. He will reach the standard mentioned by an eminent divine, in addressing the students of the Boston Divinity School a few weeks since, when he said:
"The future minister will be, in the first place, a man called by God. His call will be known by the fact that he will not be able to choose any other calling. In the second place, he must be a man who appreciates the work of the ministry of the past, yet one living in his own time. He will recognize the spirit of the age, and allow it to help him in his work. He will use art and science in adorning and adding lustre and interest to truth. Thirdly, he will be a preacher of the Book. The most monstrous sham of all shams is a Christless, crossless sermon. Lastly, the future minister will be a man of burning faith and pure character."
Upon the selection and ordination of deacons the same careful and prayerful attention should be bestowed. "Should a church ordain a man for a deacon when he has not reached the required qualifications of the Bible?" is a question for discussion found in the Georgia Baptist a few weeks since. We reply, No. By no means let him be ordained. A good plan has been found to be to try the candidate for a few months, and if he fail to come up to the Bible requirements of faithfulness, gravity, truthfulness, unselfishness, temperance and purity--if in these and other qualifications he is not found blameless, let him be rejected.
The officers in the apostolic churches were elected by popular suffrage. In illustration of this truth numerous scriptural precedents and precepts of significant import are to be traced. We read that when an apostle was to be selected to fill Judas' place, the whole company of disciples was appealed to in common in reference to the election; that when seven men were to be selected to superintend the secular administration of the church, the whole church co?erated in their election; that when Paul and Barnabas were to be separated and set apart as the first foreign missionaries the whole church took part in their election, while the "prophets and teachers" ordained them.
It is disputed whether Paul and Barnabas appointed the presbyters in the case of Acts, xiv, 23, by their own act solely, or whether they ratified a previous election of the church made at their suggestion. This passage (in Titus, i, 5,) decides nothing definite as to the mode of choice, and therefore the free action of the churches is not necessarily excluded. It is reasonable to suppose that Paul, and Barnabas and Titus appointed and ratified men as elders who had been previously elected by the communities. It might be well to state Neander's conclusion on this subject: "As regards the election to church offices, we are in want of sufficient information to enable us to decide how it was managed in the early apostolic times. Indeed, it is quite possible that the method of procedure differed under different circumstances. As in the institution of deacons the apostles left the choice to the communities themselves, and as the same was the case in the choice of deputies to attend the apostles in the name of the communities (II. Cor., viii, 19), we might argue that a similar course would be pursued in filling other offices of the church. When Paul empowers Titus to set presiding officers over the communities who possessed the requisite qualifications, this circumstance decides nothing as to the mode of choice, nor is a choice by the community itself thereby necessarily excluded. The regular course seems to have been this: The church offices were intrusted to the first converts in preference to others, provided that in other respects they possessed the requisite qualifications. It may have been the general practice for the presbyters themselves, in case of a vacancy, to propose another to the community in place of the person deceased, and leave it to the whole body either to approve or decline their selection for reasons assigned. When asking for the assent of the community had not yet become a mere formality, this mode of filling church offices had the salutary effect of causing the votes of the majority to be guided by those capable of judging and of suppressing divisions; while, at the same time, no one was obtruded on the community who would not be welcome to their hearts.["]--Ch. Hist., vol. i, p. 189.*
Lastly, the independence of the church puts all discipline into the hands of the local church. Among Baptists there is no higher body or authority to which appeals can be made. Christ says, "If he will not hear the church." Paul says "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person;" "Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditions which ye received of us;" "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."
Each church, as a distinct and independent christian society, possessed the right to admit or refuse to admit members. In such a voluntary community, exclusion was the ultimate penalty.
These grand principles of independence and self-government, and all that are implied in them, have always been held dear, and sacredly guarded by Baptist churches. Their influence has been and is felt in the civil life of this and other countries; for Thomas Jefferson incorporated them into the very foundations of this government. The great German Krummacher was evidently thinking of the practices no less than the doctrines of the Baptists when, some years ago, he said to the lamented Dr. Sears, "You Baptists have a future." In all our principles and practices let us continue to do and make all things according to the pattern showed us in the Mount.
LETTER FROM REV. H. H. TUCKER, D. D.
To the Negro Baptists of Georgia Holding a Centennial Celebration in Savannah, June 6-18, 1888:
DEAR BRETHREN--I have had the honor of being invited by your committee of arrangements to attend your meeting and to deliver an address before you. To my great regret, circumstances have prevented my acceptance of your invitation; but I beg to submit these lines as an acknowledgment of your courtesy, and also as an expression of my fraternal regard and sympathy.
Some months ago I had the pleasure of furnishing to one of your number, the Rev. E. K. Love, some information of interest in regard to the early history of the Negro Baptists of Savannah. This information was embodied in some historic documents written by my grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Henry Holcombe, who in the latter part of the last century and in the beginning of the present, and while pastor in Savannah, gave much of his attention to the religious interests of his negro brethren, who I doubt not were the ancestors of many of those whom I now address. I am glad I had it in my power, even in this small way, to contribute to the interest of your meeting.
While thus addressing you, I beg that you will pardon me for expressing a few thoughts in regard to the relation sustained to each other by the two great races of men who compose our Baptist Zion in the United States.
As one of the results of the late war between the States, our civil relation to each other has been wholly changed. We are no longer masters and slaves; we are all free alike, and are all fellow-citizens of the great American Republic, whose constitution guarantees to us all, without distinction, equal rights and equal privileges forever. I rejoice in this fact, and I believe it is heartily acquiesced in by all right minded men.
Your ancestors of a few generations ago were either caught or bought on the coast of Africa and brought as slaves to this country. This atrocious crime was perpetrated by Northern men, not by Southern men. Not a solitary Southern vessel was engaged in that traffic, nor yet a solitary Southern man; nor was there a single dollar of Southern capital engaged in the enterprise. The business was carried on either by foreigners or by men of New England. The slaves found ready purchasers in Boston, and elsewhere in the Northern States no less than in some of the Southern States. Experience soon made it plain that the climate of the higher latitudes was not adapted to the negro constitution, and that hence it was not profitable in that climate to hold them as slaves. Their owners were shrewd enough to sell them to those who could own them to better advantage; and thus from no benevolent or philanthropic motive, but merely from self-interest, they relieved themselves from the burden of slavery, and thus the slaves drifted southward. The introduction of slavery was protested against by the authorities of the State of Georgia. Nevertheless, by the avarice of those who imported the slaves, and of those Northern slaveholders who found that in purchasing them they had made a bad bargain, and by the unwise action of our people here who purchased them, many slaves were brought into the State; and in time slavery became a recognized institution, not by law, but by usage established in disregard of law.
There were many who never liked it, but who, nevertheless, after it was introduced and became thoroughly interwoven with the social fabric, defended the position of the slaveholders. I was one of these. I was never in sympathy with those Northern pirates who foisted slavery upon us. On the contrary, I always regarded them and their deeds with abhorrence. But I was born in a State where one-half of the population was held in legal bondage by the other half, and neither half was responsible for the relation in which the two found themselves. I always believed that the slaveholder, who inherited this condition, was as innocent of wrong as the slave, who also inherited it. I am still of that opinion; and, though a slaveholder from birth until the happy demise of the institution, I am wholly unrepentant of the share I had in it, and feel that I have nothing to repent of. If anybody has anything to repent of it is the descendants of those who originated the system of slavery and inherited the money, with its enormous increase, for which the imported slave was sold. In a moral sense, the price of the slave is the slave, and the price of him is all over New England and old England to-day. But I acquit all the living of wrong, whether they inherited the slave or the price of him. Our highly esteemed brother, the pastor of the Baptist church in Beaufort, S. C., (the Rev. Arthur Waddell), was once my property. I think he was as much to blame for being born my slave as I was for being born his master. The truth is that neither of us had anything to do with it. One generation sinned and another bore the penalty. The sour grapes of the fathers set the children's teeth on edge.
Now, that slavery is gone, I know not which to congratulate the more, the slaveholder or the slave; for while it is true that the slave was bound to his master, it is also true that his master was bound to him; and in my opinion freedom from each other was a boon to both, and I think we do well to shake hands in mutual congratulation and cement anew the friendships formed under other conditions, and bless God that he has struck from us all the fetters fastened on us by the slave dealers of two hundred years ago.
But it is well to contemplate the fact that our civil relations are the only relations that are changed. In every other respect we are just what we always were. We are two separate and distinct races. We learn from the scriptures (Acts, xvii, 26), that originally we were all of one blood, and that all the nations on the face of the earth descended from a common ancestry. But this was a long time ago, and since then vast changes have taken place. The origin of the diversity of races is lost in the depths of antiquity; but our inability to account for this diversity is no reason why we should not accept the fact. It is true that the creation of God made us one, but it is also true that the providence of God has made us two; and what God has put asunder let not man join together. As God has made two races of us, there ought to be two; he would not have made two if one had sufficed. If infinite wisdom has thus decided on plurality, it is our highest wisdom to acquiesce in it. If God himself has drawn the color line, it is vain as well as wicked for us to try to efface it. The real well-being of each race, and of the human family at large, is best promoted only when each race preserves its integrity and keeps itself free from admixture with any other. God's plan is the best plan, and His assorting of the races is the wisest, and any attempt to interfere with His purposes must be as disastrous in its results as it was wicked in its inception. Unfortunately, all this has, in many cases, been lost sight of, and an unnatural hybridism is the result. But the sooner the Caucasian blood which has intermingled with yours is so absorbed as to be lost sight of, the better it will be for your welfare, no less than for your honor. It is evidently the Divine intention that like should consort with like; hence, as we find ourselves providentially divided into two races, let us so remain, keeping separate in all our social relations, living peaceably side by side, and each maintaining its self-respect by maintaining its own individuality.
A blessed thing it is that the war has made no change in our relation to each other as friends, while yet it has intensified our friendship. Until the frightful emergencies of war were upon us, we never knew how affectionate and how faithful you were. It took war itself to bring your virtues into adequate notice; nor could anything less than this have ever convinced the world of the genuineness of the friendship between the master and the slave, and of a fidelity on the part of the latter which has never been surpassed. And your unwavering adherence to your masters in those dreadful days is an unanswerable refutation of the charges of cruelty and tyranny so often brought against them. It took the war to bring to the front the good in both races, and the amiable relation which they sustained to each other, and to show to the world how greatly slavery was mitigated by christianity. The spectacle presented to the world was a snblime one, when one race, held in bondage by another, was true in time of peril to the friendships formed during that very bondage, refusing to throw off its bonds when it could easily have done so, and loyal still to the dominant race, gave it, in the hour of its extremity, an unfailing and hearty support. You were in chains, it is true, but they were chains of love. Christian masters and christian servants were never enemies. Never can we of the white race forget who it was that during those awful years took care of our wives and children, and of all our aged and infirm, when they might all have been slaughtered or left to starve to death. Never can we forget whose toil and whose sweat it was that sustained our armies in the field for four years against the most stupendous military power the world ever saw. Remembering all this, we shall never cease to wish you well, and to do what we can to promote your interests.
On the other hand it is well for you to remember, that as God brought good out of evil when Joseph was sold by his brethren into Egypt, so blessing has come to you, by your having been brought from the land of your fathers to this country. Civil slavery was the germ out of which gospel freedom sprang. Here you are civilized, and speaking the English language instead of the gibberish of savages; and christianized, while your cousins across the water, descended from the same ancestors, are to this day idolaters, barbarians, and some of them cannibals. In this case, God, instead of sending preachers to the heathen, has brought heathen to the preachers, and has made the wicked act of man-stealers and pirates the means whereby salvation is brought to thousands and millions of his elect. Thus gloriously has God caused the wrath of man to praise Him. So it has been, at any rate, that the two races have mutually benefited each other in times past, and happily the relations of the two, notwithstanding the persistent efforts of outsiders to alienate them, are still friendly, as they have always been, and our prayer should be that this harmony and kindliness of feeling should be maintained forever.
I regard with great delight the fact that your ecclesiastical relations are just what they always were. A Baptist church is a Baptist church, whether those composing it are white, or black, or brown, or yellow, or red, or in any way intermingled, for, says an apostle "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."--I. Cor., xii, 13.
The original Savannah Association was composed of five churches, two white and three black; and churches once composed almost wholly of slaves, retain their individuality absolutely undisturbed, now that all those once slaves have now become free. No change in our civil relations can change or in the least degree affect our ecclesiastical relations, rights or privileges. "For," says our brother Paul, "He that is called in the Lord being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant."--I. Cor., vii, 22. And again, says the same apostle, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."--Gal., iii, 28.
If you think best to have ecclesiastical organizations of your own, separate and apart from those of the whites, there can be no harm in so doing. But this is only a matter of expediency, and not a matter of principle. Experience shows that those of a kind do best together, and that, as a general rule to which there may be exceptions, the greatest efficiency is attained when the organizations are homogeneous. Still, while thus divided into families, kind and affectionate correspondence should always be maintained.
Above all, brethren, let us remember with rejoicing that our fraternal relations are exactly what they always were. We were brethren in Christ in the days of slavery, and we are brethren in Christ now. One God is the Father of us all, one Saviour died for us all, one covenant--the everlasting covenant between the Father and the Son includes us all; and one heaven, one holy, happy, blessed heaven, is in reserve for us all, where distinctions of race will be forgotten, and where we shall all dwell together forever in the presence of God and of the holy angels.
I dwell with deep gratification on the facts that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of your race have sat under my ministry; that many of them have been baptized by me; that many of your preachers have passed under my instructions, and that I have ordained a number of them to the work of the gospel ministry. Above all am I happy in the belief that some of your people have been brought into the Kingdom as the result of my labors in the Lord.
And now, dear brethren, with heart-felt salutation to your Centennial Convention, I subscribe myself, ever fraternally yours in the faith and hope and love of the gospel of Christ,
HENRY HOLCOMBE TUCKER.*
ATLANTA, GA., June 12, 1888. *The above communication from Dr. Tucker is able and timely. In the main it meets the most hearty endorsement of the editor of this book. The point touched on concerning social equality meets our fullest approval. We have never urged social equality as a prerequisite to negro greatness. We think it rather damaging than helpful to the race. The slave trade is treated of very largely by our venerable brother, the blame of which is largely laid at the door of our Northern brethren. Without questioning what he says, we remark that the South appears to be equal heir to the great wrong done Africa, and suffered in common for this sin, atoning for it with the blood of her noblest and purest and general devastation of property. The Southern white boy, it is true, found himself in possession of negro property, which was not his fault., but so soon as he learned that it was wrong to hold human beings as slaves then it was his fault. The sins of the fathers were visited upon the children, and hence the children were wrong. Dr. Tucker has a record of never having entered fully into sympathy with the inhuman and ungodly system of slavery; but he was a Southern white man, and it required more nerve than nature has favored any one man with, as a rule, to oppose what everybody (in the South, and many in the North) then believed to be a God-given legacy. Such men as Dr. Dagg believed and taught that slavery was the express will of God. We can fully sympathize with our white brethren who grew up under such influences and such teachings. We thank God for the revolution and reaction which He, himself, has brought about.
THE ACT OF BAPTISM.
BY REV. J. H. KILPATRICK, D. D., WHITE PLAINS, GA.
Baptism is a New Testament ordinance. Jesus himself was baptized, and He commanded His followers to be baptized. But what is baptism? If we know not what baptism is, how can we know whether we have ever been baptized, and so have obeyed the Saviour's command? All Baptists, and many who are not, believe that immersion, and that only, is the baptism of the Bible. As a general thing, doubtless, this conviction has come from reading the English scriptures and understanding them in their plain and natural meaning. Moreover, this conviction thus obtained is strong enough to satisfy perfectly the conscience of all who have been immersed, and it may be added, strong enough, also, largely to unsettle the consciences of many who have not been immersed. Since, however, there are various opinions professedly as to what baptism is, and some have alleged that the scriptures properly interpreted do not teach immersion, it is natural that every intelligent and honest seeker after truth, though not a scholar, should yet desire to examine the subject for himself, and for himself see just what the truth is. To assist in meeting this desire is the special object of the present discourse. It has not been prepared for the witless and slothful who blindly follow the say-so of others, but rather for all persons of good common sense who love the truth and desire personally to inspect the foundations of their faith.
And now for our question, What is baptism? As baptism is a New Testament ordinance, of course to the New Testament we must go in order to answer it. But the New Testament was written in Greek, and the most of us have no knowledge whatever of that language. Never mind; if you have common sense, and will exercise it, that will do just as well or better.
Now, remember, our word "baptize" has come from the Greek baptizo, and the real question first is, What does this word mean? that is, in what sense did the old Greeks use it? How can we find out? Just simply by finding out the circumstances under which they used it. That is the way our children learn the meaning of words when they begin to talk. Does a child go to a dictionary before he knows a letter in the book? And yet he learns the meaning of words from noticing how they are used. A little child just learning to talk sees and feels a certain action called "whipping," and it does not take him long to learn what the word means. Now, I want to read to you some instances where the Greeks used this word baptizo, and I will only give those where I, myself, have seen the original Greek.
1. Polybius, a historian, describing the passage of an army through a swollen stream, says: "They crossed over with difficulty, the foot soldiers being baptized (baptizo omenoi) up to the breast."
2. Hippocrates, illustrating the folly of blaming others for what we bring on ourselves, says: "Shall I not laugh at the man who, having baptized (baptisanta) his ship by the abundance of freight, finds fault with the sea for engulfing it?"
3. In ?op's fables we have this: "A mule laden with salt, having gone into a river, accidentally slipped down; and the salt dissolving, he rose up lightened. He perceived the cause and remembered it, so that, always while crossing the river, he cunningly lowered down and baptized (baptizein) the sacks or panniers," which held the salt. Adopting the same expedient for lightening his load when laden with sponge and wool, the poor fellow found the result disastrously different.
4. Strabo, speaking of the march of a certain army between a mountain and the sea, along a narrow beach which was sometimes flooded, says: "It happened that they walked for a whole day in the water, being baptized (baptizomenoon) up to the waist."
5. The same writer, in the same work, speaking of a certain lake, whose waters were probably impregnated with salt or asphaltum, says: "it happens that those who cannot swim are not baptized (baptizesthai), but float like wood."
6. Diodoras, speaking of the annual overflow of the Nile, says: "Most of the land animals being surrounded by the river, perish, being baptized (baptizomena), but some, escaping to higher places, are saved."
7. Strabo, writing about a salt lake in Phrygia, says: "So readily does the water crystallize around everything that is baptized (baptisthenti) into it, that whenever they let down a circle of rushes they drew up crowns of salt."
These examples from classic Greek (and their number might be greatly multiplied), show unmistakably the sense in which the old Greeks understood the word in dispute. But some one may say, these writers were heathens, and unacquainted with the rites and ceremonies of the Jews; might not the apostles, therefore, who were native Jews, have, understood the word differently? Fortunately, and I believe providentially, we have a Greek history, written about the same time with the New Testament, and by a native Jew, and in the very sort of Greek in which the New Testament was written--Josephus' History. In this work the word baptizo frequently occurs, and not once in a sense different from that in the examples already given from classic Greek. We give a few instances:
1. Describing the murder of the boy Aristobolus, he says: "Continually pressing down and baptizing (baptizantes) him while swimming, as if in sport, they did not stop until they had completely drowned him."
2. Narrating the case of Jonah, he says: "The ship being just about to be baptized (baptizesthai), the sailors, the captain and the pilot began to pray," etc.
3. Describing a battle between the Romans and the Jews on the sea of Galilee, he says: "When they (the Jews) ventured to come near (to the Romans), they suffered harm before they could inflict any, and were baptized (ebaptizonto) along with their ships; and those of the baptized (baptisthentoon) who lifted their heads above the water were either killed by the darts or caught by the ships" [of the Romans.]
4. Again he says, narrating a personal adventure: "Our ship having been baptized (baptisthentos) in the midst of the Adriatic Sea * * * we swam during the entire night."
But why multiply these instances? I will give but one more from Josephus:
5. Describing the manner of purifying the people during the thirty days' mourning for Miriam, he says: "Casting a little of the ashes [of the red heifer] into a fountain, and baptizing (baptizantes) a hyssop branch, they sprinkled" (errainon), etc.
6. And now, just one more to conclude, and this from the Greek translation of the Old Testament: "And Naaman went down and baptized himself (baptizeto) in the Jordan seven times," or as it is rendered in your family Bibles, "Dipped himself seven times in the Jordan."
Now, friends, you have examples of Greek usage of this much controverted word baptizo, and you can judge for yourselves the meaning of it. You need not go any more to lexicons, or commentaries, or to learned men. Your own eyes have seen, as in a picture, just what the Greeks meant when they said a person or thing was baptized. And you are now prepared to try the rights of proprietorship in this word. There has been a number of claimants. The most common are sprinkle, pour and immerse. In the light of the preceding examples, is it possible to doubt for a moment which claimant has a right? And not a single witness has yet been found in the whole range of classic or Hellenistic Greek literature that utters a discordant voice. Here are the witnesses. You have heard their testimony. Nay, by their graphic witness, they have carried you in person to the lakes, the seas, the rivers, and given you the evidence of your own eyes, enabling you to see, as in a panorama, things animate and inanimate, ships, men, animals, etc., sinking beneath the waters.
If this testimony does not establish the right, title and, claim of the word immerse as the legitimate heir and successor of baptizo, then it is useless to try to prove anything; and if this testimony will not convince, neither would people be persuaded though one rose from the dead. To make the case stronger, though, if such be possible, we need only bring sprinkle and pour to the test of these examples. Try them as translations of the word baptizo, and if there had been a lingering doubt before, this practical test will drive it away as chaff before the wind. (Here make the test of a few--say Nos. 1, 2, 3 in classic Greek, and 1, 2 and 4 in Josephus).
But enough; if the Greek word baptizo does not mean immerse neither does immerse itself mean immerse. And if the Greek baptizo can be made to mean sprinkle or pour, or pour upon, so also, and just as easily, can the English word immerse--no more, no less. Now this word baptizo, an acknowledged member of the Greek language, and proved by incontrovertible evidence to mean immerse, and nothing else, (for if it bear any other meaning in the whole range of the Greek literature extant when the New Testament was written, the instance is yet to be found), this is the very word adopted by the holy spirit to designate and describe the act of christian baptism. The command, therefore, to be baptized is a command to be immersed, and nothing else will fulfill it. If Jesus intended for us to be sprinkled, what possible reason for not using a word having that meaning? If Jesus intended for us to have water poured upon us, what conceivable reason for not using a word that said so? If He did not intend for us to be immersed, why did He use a word that means immerse? These questions are simply unanswerable.
Right here this discussion might legitimately stop. The question, "What is the act of baptism?" has been answered. Since Jesus in commanding us to be baptized has used a word signifying immerse, this should settle the whole matter--both the question of fact and also of duty. Nothing remains but to accept the fact--immersion the baptism of the Bible, and fulfill the duty--receive this baptism, if not already baptized.
"But," says some one, "don't words change their meaning?" So they do, but there is not one particle of proof that baptizo changed its meaning when introduced into the New Testament.
And says another, "I don't see how immersion could have been performed in every case of baptism mentioned in the New Testament." And must your inability to see how a thing could be done 1800 years ago outweigh and set aside the explicit command of your Lord and Master? Grant that there were a thousand difficulties, there still stands the command in letters of living light, "Repent and be baptized," and there is still the inspired testimony "Then they that gladly received His word were immersed, and the same day, there were added unto them about 3,000 souls." But I do not grant that there are any difficulties at all in the way of understanding immersion to have been the one and exclusive baptism of the Bible. The difficulties (and they are many and insuperable) are all the other way--sprinkling and pouring, as christian baptism, are not only without the shadow of a foundation in the original, but they are utterly inconsistent, both with scripture language and scripture facts. But let us go to the New Testament and take a search for these wonderful difficulties; and just remember they must be proved:
1. "Such vast multitudes could not have been immersed by John." Answer--(1.) John may not have baptized personally one hundreth of them. (2.) It cannot be proved that such "vast multitudes" were ever baptized. The Jews as a nation rejected both John and Jesus.
2. The 3,000.--"Their baptism was impossible. (1) The apostles could not. (2.) Not enough water. (3.) The Jews would not let them use it, even if it were there." Answer--(1.) No proof that all were baptized in one day. (2.) No proof that the apostles were the only administrators; (3.) Even if they had been they could have done it, and in three hours. (4.) History records two cases of three thousand in one day by immersion, and within the last few years the Baptist missionaries to the Karens baptized in one day largely over two thousand. (5.) The objectors must prove not enough water; but modern researches have proved that there was scarcely a city in the world better supplied. (6.) As to the Jews not letting them use the water--no proof of it, but the contrary.
3. The jailer.--"The jailer could not have been immersed at midnight, and that, too, in the jail." Answer--No proof that it was done in the jail, but the contrary. As to facilities, no proof that they were not ample. You must prove the difficulties real--imaginary ones are worthless.
4. The beds and tables.--"Impossible," one says. But you must prove it impossible, and that is impossible. But reliable Jewish writers say the Jews did do these very things.
5. "The Red Sea baptism, was that immersion?" Yes, an immersion. They went down into the sea; the waters were a wall on right and left, and the cloud was overhead--they were hidden from sight. A beautiful figure of believers' baptism!
6. "The Spirit's baptism."--Just remember that when the writer said "pour" he used a word that meant it. The pouring took place and then the baptism.
Here, again, this discussion might stop. We find nothing in the New Testament necessarily inconsistent with immersion, and so must accept it. Baptizo in the New Testament, as well as out of it, means immerse, and immerse only; and so immersion, and immersion only, is the baptism of Christ's appointment. If there were no further evidence on the subject, what has been already adduced should be sufficient for all who desire to know and to do the will of their Lord and Master. As if, however, to put the matter beyond even the shadow of a doubt, the Holy Spirit has introduced into the sacred volume facts and circumstances which unmistakably point to immersion and to nothing else.
1. Going to the water, and not bringing the water. "But what of Cornelius' baptism? Did not Peter say, 'can any man forbid water?' i. e., to be brought." And if it had been the way some people baptize (so called), the water would have been brought. The subsequent command proves that baptism could not be conveniently attended to just then, and so could not have been sprinkling or pouring.
2. Going to a place of "much water," (1) Enon; (2) the Jordan.
3. Baptizing in the Jordan--the Greek en and eis.
4. Going down into the water, and coming up out of the water.
5. Baptizing in water; the element water opposed to the element Holy Spirit.
6. The natural meaning to all the words gives immersion--baptizo, eis, ek and en. Now, while we adopt the natural meaning of all these words, affusionists, on the other hand, have to adopt rare and far-fetched meanings, if they be meanings at all, and even these they have to vary from time to time, sometimes making the same word have different meanings, and sometimes different words the same meaning. In the case of baptizo, while agreed in forsaking the natural meaning, they can by no means agree among themselves what unnatural meaning they shall adopt. The prepositions eis, ek and en suffer like violence at their hands. In order to keep Philip and the eunuch out of the water they plead for to as the meaning of eis. When, however, they come to the baptism of Jesus, as narrated by Mark, to say "baptized to (eis) the Jordan" would make nonsense, and so they have to adopt at. So also with en. John did baptize in (en) the wilderness. Here they admit the natural meaning. In the next verse, however, this natural meaning would give us "baptized in (en) the river Jordan." But this points too plainly to immersion, and therefore the unnatural meaning at is brought into requisition. In verse 8, this same troublesome preposition en comes up again, but here at will not serve the affusionists. "Baptized you at water," "baptized you at the Holy Ghost"--this would be too incongruous, and so with is resorted to--"baptized you with water"--" with the Holy Ghost." Now, what do we see here in the space of a few verses? In verse 4, en is admitted to mean in; in verse 5, it is said to mean at; in verse 8, with is claimed as the meaning, while in verse 9, the meaning at, which had just been given to en, is ascribed to eis, which latter preposition, mind you, in the case of Philip and the eunuch, is alleged to mean to.
Alas! what hopping and skipping we have here. What shifting and veering and dodging! And can it be that the truth requires the assistance of such tactics? Take a single one of these little prepositions in its natural and common sense meaning, and the spell is broken, and we have immersion as the baptism of the Bible. Take them all in their natural sense, and the proof of immersion becomes cumulative and overwhelming. That even one of the words in dispute, baptizo included, should be used unnaturally in a plain narrative of important gospel history, would be strange, but that they should all be thus used, surpasses belief. And yet this wonderful thing, for which there is not one particle of evidence, must be received as true, before the claims of immersion can be set aside. Verily, it is not saying too much when I solemnly declare that the system of interpretation which has been used in this baptismal controversy by the opponents of immersion, if applied elsewhere, would destroy every doctrine and change every command of God's word.
7. The testimony of Rom., vi, 4, and Col., ii, 12.--The testimony of these two noted passages is so plain and so generally admitted that I need not dwell on them. The learned and the unlearned of every age and country have found immersion taught here. "Buried by baptism," "Buried in baptism," this seems to be the very thing itself. To see immersion here, one only needs to look. Not to see it requires tedious and tortuous processes of reasoning, a continual struggle against the testimony of one's own eyes. But let us stop a little while.
1. In Romans we have these words: "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death," and in Colossians "Buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye also are risen with Him through faith of the operation of God." Combining these, they declare that we are buried with Christ by baptism and in baptism, and in it raised up again. Being a declaration of scripture, this must be true. But how? It can not be true literally, for in a literal Sense the Saviour was alone in His death, His burial, and His resurrection. To suppose that baptism puts our bodies in Christ's literal grave and raises them up again, is too absurd to think of. Neither can it be true spiritually, except indeed we should adopt the dogma of baptismal regeneration and say that the new birth takes place in and by baptism. For, mark, it is distinctly stated that this burial and rising again take place in baptism and by baptism. And if this be true in the spiritual sense, then we have baptismal regeneration full and complete, there can be no escape from it. If we reject the literal theory as self-evidently false, and the spiritual one as plainly subversive of vital scripture truth, the only alternative is to understand the apostle to be speaking figuratively--just as Jesus did when he said, "This is my body." He did not mean that the bread was actually His body, but that it represented or symbolized His body. So Paul did not mean that we are actually buried with Christ by baptism and with Him raised again, either in a spiritual or literal sense, since baptism, however important in its place, does neither one; but that the ordinance of baptism, including as it does our immersion in water and our subsequent emersion from it, represents our spiritual union with Christ in His burial and resurrection, thereby proclaiming to the world our own death to sin and resurrection to newness of life, both of which really come through "faith of the operation of God."
2. We reach identically the same conclusion by a different and independent line of argument, thus: In combating the licentious principle that we may live in (sin) in order to make more conspicuous the forgiving grace of God, Paul refers to the fact that all believers are dead to sin, and in proof that they to whom he was writing, themselves, recognized this fact, he alleges the testimony of their own baptism. Still further explaining and emphasizing this point, he continues: "Therefore," because of this death to sin, "we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Now, to make Paul reason logically, our baptism must testify that we have died to sin with Christ, with Him to have been buried, and with Him risen again.
But how can baptism give this testimony? Baptism has no voice, but it has a form, and its form must speak, and this it does most expressively and impressively when we are buried beneath the waters "in the likeness of His death" and raised up again "in the likeness of His resurrection."
Understand baptism to be immersion, and Paul's reasoning here is clear and forcible. Reject immersion, and the whole becomes hopelessly involved and confused. Hence the justly celebrated work of Conybeare & Howson says, (and mark, they were not Baptists, but Episcopalians): "This passage cannot be understood, unless it be borne in mind that the primitive baptism was by immersion."
And this closes our reference to the New Testament proofs of immersion. More might have been said, but let this suffice. Really, the demonstration was complete without any of this corroboratory testimony. The Greek word baptizo having been shown to mean immerse, when it was adopted by the Holy Spirit to teach the ordinance, of course it must be understood in this sense, without some clear and unmistakable proof for another meaning. Examining the inspired volume, however, we find not only nothing against this meaning, but abundant and decisive evidence for it. Immersion, then, and immersion only, must stand as that "one baptism" of the Bible.
THE TESTIMONY OF FACTS.
The argument for immersion is complete--it needs no supplementing. Like a demonstration in Euclid, it proves itself--as soon as it is seen, it is seen to be true. Some, however, will not look at it. To arrest the attention of such, and show them that the truth certainly does lie on the side of immersion, the following facts are presented. Now mark: These facts form no part of the argument for immersion. That would remain just as complete and conclusive if not a single one of these facts were in existence. But be it also marked, that while these facts form no part of the argument for immersion, they do testify in trumpet, nay, in thunder tones, to its validity. If the argument for immersion were not so overwhelming, these facts would not exist. But now listen to the facts, and judge of the worth of their testimony:
1. It is a fact that while immersionists have not a particle of doubt or difference as to the meaning of baptizo in the gospel ordinance, anti-immersionists seem utterly at sea. Some make it " sprinkle," some "pour," some "pour upon," some "purify," some "wash," and so on; and some claim that while meaning none of these, it may yet include them all! Now, why all this? Why are learned affusionists so bewildered as to the meaning of a simple Greek verb? Why are some clinging to this meaning, and some to that, and some to no meaning at all? Just because they are on the wrong side, that is all.
2. It is a fact that while immersionists generally, and Baptists in particular, are fond of talking about following the Saviour in the ordinance of baptism, "being baptized just as he was," "imitating the example He set us at the Jordan," etc., our allusion brethren don't do it. At least, I never heard it. On the contrary, they quite generally oppose the idea that we are to look upon Christ's baptism as a model for ours. Why this difference? Suppose we grant that Jesus was not baptized just to set us an example. He commands us to be baptized, nevertheless, and his own baptism furnishes a decisive illustration of what baptism is; and is it not sweet to feel that we are walking in his footsteps, and receiving the very same rite which he hallowed by submitting to it himself? Why, then, should affusionists so generally endeavor to turn away the eyes of the people from the Saviour's baptism? I can think of no reason but a consciousness, more or less distinct, of contending for something as baptism which they do not believe their Lord received.
3. It is a fact that while Baptists universally press the duty of strict compliance with scripture command and scripture example in the matter of baptism, affusionists are notoriously given to pleading for christian liberty--"that it doesn't matter about the quantity of water, so the heart be right." Why such talk, if they do not feel that they are not following the sacred scriptures?
4. It is a fact that Baptists are perfectly satisfied that they have been scripturally baptized. Multitudes who have been sprinkled or poured upon are to this day dissatisfied. Why this?
5. It is a fact that many are coming to us every year from the Methodists, the Presbyterians and other affusion denominations, because of dissatisfaction with their baptism. It has not come to light that a single one has left our ranks because dissatisfied with his immersion. I do not say that none leave us, but they do not leave us because dissatisfied with their immersion. Why this great difference, if it be not that there is an overwhelming evidence for immersion as the baptism of the Bible?
6. It is a fact that many who fail to seek immersion nevertheless have a notion that it is the primitive baptism, and they only fail to seek it because they think it is not essential to salvation. How often do we find the last resort of the hard-pressed affusionist to be, "O well, I think I can get to heaven without being immersed." But who ever heard of a Baptist solacing himself with the thought that he could get to heaven without being sprinkled or poured upon? They don't talk that way. Well, why not? Most undoubtedly this pleading that immersion is not essential to salvation is proof that those who make the plea nevertheless believe that it is the baptism of God's word. It also proves that if the reception of the identical baptism of the New Testament were essential to admission into heaven, many more would be found seeking a place of "much water." Yes; suppose an angel should be sent from heaven, and that all knew of a truth that he was so sent, and this angel, by God's authority, should make a proclamation that all who did not receive the identical baptism of the scriptures within a week's time, should infallibly be lost, not giving us any further light than we now have, well, I don't know what would happen; but is there any harm in telling what one believes? I'll do it, then. While I do not believe that a single Baptist in all the earth would seek to be sprinkled or poured upon, I do verily believe that the affusion brethren would quite generally betake themselves to the water; yes, and among those thronging multitudes would be found the most, if not all, of those venerable divines who have written and preached so learnedly against exclusive immersion. I think they would reason thus: "Affusion may do, yes, may be so, but if I have got only one chance for my life, let me be on the safe side and take immersion."
7. It is a fact that while witnessing the ceremony of aspersion or of affusion has never been known to convert any one to that way of thinking, the witnessing of the ordinance of immersion has oftentimes so disturbed people's minds that they could not be satisfied until they themselves went down into the water.
8. It is a fact that many pious and ardent affusionists who have undertaken the investigation of the baptismal question for the special purpose of disproving the Baptist view, so far from converting others from that faith have converted themselves to it. I am not referring to the many who have studied the subject because of their own private dissatisfaction and their honest desire to know and obey the truth, and as a consequence have espoused our views, but I refer especially to those who were put forth by their people, or came forth of themselves, as leaders of their hosts and champions of their faith. Such men, for example, as Milo P. Jewett, a learned author and educator, who being requested by his church to preach on the subject of baptism "to silence the immersionists" and settle the disturbed minds of some of their own members, determined to go into an original and thorough investigation of the whole matter, and in consequence, contrary to his expectation, his interests, his desires and his predilections, became a convert to the very views he set out to disprove. Or Alexander Carson, the world-renowned critic and philologist, who thought before he tried it, to use his own words, that he "could demolish the arguments of the Baptists as easily as one could crush a fly." After investigating and writing for a whole month, he threw all his work in the fire, and to the amazement of his people announced himself a Baptist.
Take just one more case: Burmah's great missionary, Adoniram Judson. Young, pious, gifted, zealous for the custom of his Puritan fathers, went forth to the heathen, bearing a commission from the most ancient, and probably, at that time, the most honored affusion denomination in America[.] In a little time, much to his own surprise and the surprise of the world, we find him, like his celebrated prototype, joined to the sect everywhere spoken against, and "preaching the faith which once he destroyed." How did this marvelous change come about? It is substantially the same story that has been told in a multitude of other cases. Mr. Judson, expecting to meet the Baptist missionaries at Serampore, "felt it important, for the honor of his denomination, to be able to defend its sentiments." He had been taught from childhood to believe his system correct, now he essays to prove it so. But alas for the cherished faith of his childhood! and alas for his own peace of mind! The more he examined the subject, the more he became conscious that both as to mode and subjects of baptism he was in error. A painful conflict at once began between principle and preference. He did not want to be a Baptist. His whole soul shrank back from it, but the truth was his object, and the truth made him a Baptist. I earnestly commend the case of Judson to every pious and intelligent opposer of immersion. His conversion to the Baptist faith, under the circumstances, is truly wonderful. Just see: Judson's piety and indomitable energy had given birth, under God, to the foreign mission enterprise in America. To sustain him and his associates, the first American foreign mission society had just been organized; and he was the chief spirit, the very soul of that first missionary company which had ever left the shores of the New World. To him all eyes were directed, and in him all hearts confided. Surely, in his case, self-interest, reputation, family, social and denominational attachments, the memories of the past and the glowing hopes of the future--nay, every conceivable earthly motive--all combined to keep him where he was. Judson, then, must have believed that truth lay on the side of the Baptists, else he had not joined them.
But now (and here comes the test question), how could he have thus believed, under all the circumstances surrounding him, unless compelled by the irresistible force of the truth? Every possible influence tending to prevent an impartial judgment of the issues involved was against the Baptist side, and in favor of his own. And be it particularly observed, that he began the investigation with all the burning zeal of a youthful partisan, anxious to establish and defend the faith of his fathers. That such a one, under such circumstances, with such antecedents and such surroundings, should have come to the conclusion that the "immersion of a professing believer in Christ is the only christian baptism," seems little short of a voice from the skies, saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it."
But some one may say, "What about conversions from the Baptist view? What do they prove?" I cannot tell; for I have never heard or read of any such as I have described, and many others that I might give. There may be, and doubtless will continue to be, many departures from the Baptist ranks, and for various reasons. Unfortunately, many people do not make denominational connection a matter of principle, but simply of pleasure or of policy. But if there has ever been a case where a zealous Baptist, of undoubted piety and intelligence, after a thorough and prayerful examination of the subject, and with no conceivable motive but love of the truth and loyalty to Jesus, came to the deliberate conclusion that he had never been baptized, and therefore went over to the affusionists, asking for scriptural baptism--why, let it be produced. But no such case has ever occurred, or will ever occur, and nobody expects any such to occur.
Well, why this great difference? No one can naturally prefer immersion, but the contrary; for it is decidedly more inconvenient, to say nothing else. And so, if there were no preponderance of evidence for immersion, every one would eschew it and adopt affusion; and particularly those whose interests and prejudices were already on the side of affusion would be sure never to give it up. How comes it, then, that so many of every age and sex and rank, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, teachers and the taught, in spite of the inconvenience of immersion, in spite of their early training and consequent prejudice against it and in favor of affusion, in spite of the natural shame of confessing one's self wrong, in spite of the powerful influence of family, social and religious ties, and the frequent jeopardizing of important temporal interests, how comes it that so many in the face of all this array of opposing motives give up affusion and adopt immersion as the only christian baptism? There is no possible explanation but that on the side of immersion is found the truth. And now, christian friends, you who have repented, and yet up to this hour have suffered yourselves to put up with something which your conscience told you was not the baptism the Saviour received, what are you going to do about it? "Well," some of you may say, "good and great men have believed in and practiced affusion, is it not safe to follow them?"
The question is not what have good men believed, but what does the Bible teach? Not what good men have done, but what has your Lord commanded? Will you follow men or Christ? Whose example is the more precious to you? "But baptism is nothing but a ceremony, it doesn't matter much whether we submit to it or not." Baptism is a ceremony, but not a mere ceremony. It is a ceremony, it is true, but it is one of God's selection and appointment--to neglect or despise it, is to treat with contempt the One who ordained it. "But you Baptists do not believe that immersion is essential to salvation, we can be saved even if we do not go under the water." Ah! here is your final refuge; when routed from every other place you hide here. Here you think you can rest in peace. But what a resting place for a christian! You have a strong conviction that immersion is the baptism taught in the Bible, that Christ was immersed, and that the apostles practiced immersion, but because you think you can be saved without it, you let it alone! To save your souls you would be willing to submit to immersion, but to be immersed in order to obey Christ and to follow His example, you are unwilling. And yet you claim to love Jesus! Jesus says: "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."
Obedience is the final and best test of love. Whatever we do or don't do, let us be sure to "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; for God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Amen.
NOTE.--Much of this is but an abstract of Dr. Kilpatrick's able discourse. Much of it was delivered extemporaneously.
BY REV. J. H. KILPATRICK, D. D., WHITE PLAINS, GA.
NO ROYAL ROAD* TO CHURCH PROSPERITY;
Or, The Necessity for Patient Continuance in the Scripture Plan of Promoting the Prosperity of Our Churches.--Ps., xxxvii, 34.
Every lover of Christ must desire the prosperity of His churches. All pious hearts are one here. Moreover, when the question is asked, "How is this prosperity to be secured? what is the best plan?" doubtless all will readily agree that the best plan is the scriptural plan, whatever that may be. The object of the present endeavor is to ascertain this scripture plan, and to urge upon all its adoption and a patient continuance in it.
Church prosperity may be viewed in two aspects--the internal and the external. Churches are composed of individuals, and these individuals should be new creatures; and these new creatures should, day by day, be growing up into Him who is the head, in all things, and ever walking as becometh His gospel. Now, in proportion as churches are actually composed of such new creatures, thus growing and thus walking, in like proportion may they be said to be in a prosperous condition. This is
INTERNAL CHURCH PROSPERITY;
and it is to be sought (1) by making our churches accord with New Testament antecedents in members, officers, operations, doctrines and ordinances; (2) by cultivating, as individuals, a high degree of personal piety, striving to bring every thought and feeling and affection and principle into complete and loving subjection to Jesus, and manifesting this subjection of our hearts by the blamelessness and consecration of our lives; and (3) as promotive of the foregoing, by maintaining a godly discipline. This is internal church prosperity; and this is the scriptural plan for attaining it. If we desire the prosperity, let us adopt the plan.
But it is mainly of the external church prosperity that I wish to speak. Of course, our churches should earnestly seek after internal growth and prosperity; but this is not enough, and it should not and can not satisfy them. The internal is really but a base, upon which and out of which is to rise a higher and nobler prosperity--the external. Botanists divide plants into two classes--those which grow within, and those which grow without. The churches of Christ embody both in one. The Saviour's kingdom is to be advanced not only in individual christian hearts, but also in the world; and it can only make progress in the world by conversions from the world. This growth of the churches by accessions from the ranks of the ungodly is
EXTERNAL CHURCH PROSPERITY.
And here let us dwell at greater length.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And those who are found and saved forthwith desire to be instrumental in finding and saving others. This is the law of the new creation. He who is saved by Christ is at once brought into fellowship with Christ, and so into a cordial sympathy with the object which brought Him into the world. The saved soul not only desires an increase of the Saviour's dominion in himself, but that it should extend over others. Now the churches of Christ, normally and properly, are but communities of these saved souls--not only themselves saved, but ardently desiring the salvation of others. And churches were originated not only for the development and growth in truth and holiness of their individual members, but that thus these might labor more efficiently in bringing the outside world to Jesus. In this latter purpose of a church's organization is found its highest and last subordinate end; and thus only, according to the divine plan, can the kingdom of Christ, in its present state, be perpetuated from generation to generation, and all the number of the redeemed be finally brought in. Hence it is that the Lord's people are said to be the light of the world; but if none are guided by them into the way of life, is not their light virtual darkness? And so they are said to be the salt of the earth; but if none feel their salvatory influence, wherein is the fleshly mass of humanity the better for their existence? While, therefore, churches should assuredly seek after the largest inward development--the completest conformity, in heart and in life, in faith and in practice, to the divine requirement, they must not, and surely they can not, be satisfied with this: the culmination of all church progress, the final results of all healthy and matured church life, must be looked for in a spiritual posterity rising up around them to take their places and perpetuate their name.
And as it is natural and right that churches should desire to see souls converted, so they ought to expect it; and when these desires and expectations are not realized, as they so far fail to accomplish the end of their being, they should distrust the healthfulness of their condition. Surely there must be a cause for this abnormal state of things. And we should not too soon fly to God's sovereignty to find a solution. May there not be some cause personal to ourselves? Some derangement, organic or functional? Some obstruction? Some lurking disease, which demands attention? Brethren in Christ, churches of the saints, if souls be not converted in connection with our labors, we should suspect the presence of evil somewhere, and should earnestly search for it, and finding it, should earnestly set about effecting its removal.
But let us suppose that we are measurably prepared for the great work of leading sinners to Christ. And we must work in this way, whether fully prepared or not. Laboring to rescue others will help to rescue ourselves from the dominion of sin, and increase our efficiency for further labor. The great law of the Kingdom of Grace is, "He that watereth shall be watered also himself." While striving to save those without, reflex benefits will flow in upon our own souls.
But how shall the churches best fulfill this their great mission? In other words, what is the
NEW TESTAMENT PLAN OF SEEKING THE SALVATION OF SINNERS?
An attentive consideration of the teachings, the lives and the labors of the Saviour and His apostles, shows that this plan involves two, and only two, essential points: First, the earnest, faithful presentation of the truth, especially the truth concerning Christ and Him crucified. Secondly, sincere prayer for the Spirit's power to accompany the truth so presented, preparing the way for its reception, and making it effectual to the salvation of the soul.
Under the first of these two may be mentioned, especially, the public preaching of the Word--this justly occupying the foremost and highest place. Nearly allied to it is the presentation of gospel truth and gospel motives to sinners under any circumstances, and by anybody--whether parents, Sunday school teachers, or any other lover of Jesus and of souls. Here, also, must be included the circulation of the scriptures, religious books, tracts, and all publications which unfold and enforce the truth as it is in Jesus. In short, the sinner and the gospel must be brought together. If he will not come to it, we must carry it to him; and if he will not hear it from living lips, we must try to get him to read it from the printed page.
The second part, prayer, of course implies an antecedent--faith in God, and a firm reliance upon Him, and Him alone, for success, and includes all earnest, believing prayer, whether going up in breathings and ejaculations from amid the pressure of daily business, or in more deliberate and formal manner, from the closet, the family altar, the social prayer meeting, or the public congregation.
THE SCRIPTURAL PLAN OF PROMOTING CHURCH PROSPERITY.
The preaching of the gospel, therefore, or the presentation of the truth as it is in Jesus, and prayer to God, may be called the New Testament plan of laboring for the salvation of sinners; and this completes the scriptural plan of promoting the prosperity of our churches. Let all workers for Christ adopt it.
But before going any further, let us mark this: To adopt and truly carry out this plan requires self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-consecration--a high sense of individual responsibility, followed and thus verified by earnest individual effort, and the expenditure of time, and talent, and strength, and fortune, in the service of the Master, and that according to the measure of the ability and the opportunity. And very especially (and here is revealed the grand instrumental power for the conversion of the world, but alas, greatly wanting in these latter days), it requires not only that the gospel be presented to the ungodly, but that it be lived before the ungodly. In a word, it requires on the part of both preachers and people, a close walk with God--earnest, faithful living and working for God--abiding trust in God, and constant, importunate prayer to God.
Now we are ready to consider the
NECESSITY OF PATIENT CONTINUANCE IN THIS SCRIPTURAL PLAN OF PROMOTING CHURCH PROSPERITY.
A number of scriptures clearly present and enforce the thought here suggested. "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."--Heb., x, 36. "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."--Heb., vi, 12. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."--Gal., vi, 9. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."--Ps., xxxvii, 7. And especially our text, "Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land."
The tenor of these scriptures, taken as a whole, is about this: Adopt God's way; continue in God's way patiently; a patient continuance in God's way will lead to success. The plan which we have just been considering is God's way to church prosperity--no so-called "royal road," widened and smoothed down and paved to suit the demands of princely ease, and indolence, and self-indulgence, and worldly lusts, but the true royal road, the King's highway of holiness, along which the ransomed of the Lord shall be led upward and onward to prosperity and usefulness here, and to glory and happiness hereafter.
1. Let us adopt it. It is God's plan. Every deviation from it springs from a sinful deference to fleshly pleasure or fleshly wisdom. It is simple: involving no complex machinery, the youngest child of grace can understand it. It is practicable: its requirements fall within the capacity of the weakest and obscurest saint, while yet they give full scope to the learning and zeal of a Paul or the eloquence of an Apollos.
2. Let us not only adopt it, but hold on to it, and hold on to it patiently. A patient holding on implies an actual and earnest desire to see the end attained--souls saved, Zion prospered, God glorified. And it implies a desire to bear a part ourselves in securing this end. Some seem quite anxious to see the cause prosper, but they are more anxious to see others do the working and spending and sacrificing. A patient holding on to God's way implies not only a willingness to be personally employed, but much employed--to work and to work hard--to toil and toil on--to make sacrifices, and to make many and great sacrifices. We may desire the end, and even desire to do something to secure it, but our desires may not be strong enough to overcome our natural love of ease, or other selfish propensities. Especially, a patient holding on implies and requires a controlling sense of obligation to obey God, and an unfaltering trust in God, let the immediate issue be what it may. Any of us can work pretty well when we see the fruits of our labor quickly following. To work and wait, to toil and not faint--this requires not only an ardent desire for the end, but a strong faith and a heroic obedience. He who patiently keeps God's way will often be compelled to walk by faith, for sight will fail him. Like Moses, he will have to endure "as seeing Him who is invisible."
3. A patient continuance in this plan will be sure to have a happy issue, and nothing else will. "My soul, wait thou only upon God." "Wait on the Lord and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land."
And right here my discourse is complete, so far as the line of thought is concerned. But in the times now upon us there seems to be special reason for emphasizing this patiently-holding-on idea, and that is just what I desire especially to do.
A RESTLESS AGE.
Our lots have fallen in a restless, impatient, greedy, and yet ease-loving age. Railroads, telegraphs and the like have been begotten by, and in turn have begotten, a general demand for short routes and quick results. Air lines, lightning expresses and close connections are the order of the day. The old paths are being forsaken and new ones opened up. Rivers are bridged, mountains tunneled, continents cleft in sunder. And it is not only nigh cuts and short routes that are called for, but easier routes and cheaper routes. Time, and money, and labor, all must be economized; and time-saving, and money-saving, and labor-saving machines and devices are in the ascendant.
Now, why should the children of this world ever be wiser in their generation than the children of light? Modern christianity seems determined to wipe off this old reproach. It means to keep abreast with the times. While everything else is moving, must it still be hampered and retarded by the cumbrous and flesh-mortifying methods of eighteen centuries? Shall commerce, and manufactures, and agriculture, and education, and even the art of human butchery, be emancipated from the moss-grown systems of the past, and religion have no part in the general jubilee? Not so; the religion(?) of this progressive era claims equal rights and concurrent immunities--yes, the churches (many of them) have manifestly caught the spirit of the age, and disdaining the slow and plodding processes of prayer, and work, and self-denial, and self-sacrifice, and patient waiting, have struck out for quicker methods and easier routes to the salvation of souls and the prosperity of Zion.
THE ECCLESIASTICAL SHORT LINE.
Some seem to have had wonderful success in running the short-line schedule. Others have looked on. They are unwilling to be distanced in the race. They covet the glowing results, and yet they are not disposed to toil and pray and wait, do their duty, and leave the event with God. The pressure is heavy upon them. Their own restless hearts cry out for results, and an impatient world demands results; but the results don't come. What shall they do? The only alternative is to forsake the old path, and take a nigh-cut.
How is it with our churches--aye, Baptist churches? Have they escaped the infection? Is it not largely true that where not shamefully indifferent to the prosperity of Zion, as many of them are, they are seeking out methods which will necessitate the smallest possible outlay of faithful, self-denying labor? We want prosperity; we want to see souls converted and the cause advanced. So far, so good. God's plan is to accomplish these ends through the prayers, and efforts, and sacrifices of his people. But this doesn't suit the carnal nature. It requires too much self-denial; too much closet religion; too much every day religion. Besides, it takes too long. Can we not think of some shorter and easier way? Here then come in various nigh-cuts and short roads--by-ways to avoid the "hill of difficulty."
1. Is the protracted meeting. Now hear before you strike. I do not object to protracted meetings as such. There may be occasions when they would be eminently appropriate, and, if properly managed, eminently useful. And I am not now objecting to their customary management, which in the main is exceedingly unwise, and generally quite disastrous in ultimate results. What I am objecting to is the foundation principle upon which they are usually based--the immediate, underlying motive which too often induces us to desire them, and to hold them.
Just see: A church is in a cold--it may be, a declining condition. No new recruits are coming in; things drag heavily; other churches and other denominations are outstripping. What is to be done? Instead of purifying their ranks and purifying their hearts--cutting off evil doers from their fellowship and forsaking their own covetousness and worldliness, and numberless inconsistencies--rooting up the thorns and noxious weeds, and breaking up the fallow ground, and casting in the pure seed, and watering it with their prayers and tears, they conclude to have a protracted meeting and do the work of a year, or ten years, in a week or two. And it will be well if, even during the meeting, a tithe of the members can be induced to lay hold and work. They want to see the cause prosper, oh yes, and they want the protracted meeting, but they don't want to work in it. They favored it under the idea that it was a labor-saving device; and now that it is started, they expect the preacher or preachers, and a few singing and praying brethren and sisters, to do the work. They look on; discuss the propriety or impropriety of what others do; it may be, enjoy the season somewhat, and at the close are perfectly free to disparage and condemn the whole, if unsuccessful, but if successful, quite ready to talk of what a glorious meeting we have had.
Mark: I am not arguing the protracted meeting question; much might be said on either side. I have simply instanced this case to show the false and ruinous principle upon which protracted meetings largely proceed. They are often, though perhaps not intended so to be, really and actually substitutes for duty--substitutes for duties slighted, for duties neglected--substitutes for the slower and more laborious and flesh-mortifying methods which God has marked out, and to which our carnal nature is averse--nigh-cuts to church prosperity--labor-saving machines in the Kingdom of Jesus. In no other way can we reconcile the vast number of protracted meetings and so-called revivals with the general low state of practical piety in the land. Whatever protracted meetings might be made--whatever they may be intended to be made--in most cases they are made substitutes for that life of labor, and prayer, and self-denial, and godliness, which the Bible requires. And hence, we find churches whose members are notoriously loose in their lives, many of them paying their debts neither to God nor to man--spending their money as free as water, it may be, for worldly lusts and pleasures, while doling out but a bare pittance for the support of the gospel at home and its extension abroad; and yet, they are able to get up a rousing revival (so-called) every twelve months. Let protracted meetings be, as they should always be, simply times of special prayer and effort for that zeal and love which are ever seeking after and improving opportunities of service--chosen seasons for extra toil in seed-sowing and in reaping on the part of those, who, day by day, sow beside all waters--and some who now favor them most will be the last to hold them.
"But even as now commonly originated, don't they do some good?" So they may. But so often as they are made the occasion of fostering the false and corrupt principle just pointed out, they are sure, in the end, to do more harm than good. Pastors and churches have quite largely come to rely on these meetings to do that which consistent and consecrated piety, patient toil, and importunate prayer alone, under God, can accomplish, and the consequence is the churches generally have sunk into a state of chronic coldness and barrenness, relieved only by these annual, or biennial, or triennial arousements, whose apparent success largely tend to produce and perpetuate the very evils under which we are already groaning.
It must be borne in mind that when anything, however good in itself, comes to be the occasion of neglecting something vital and indispensable, it thereby and therein becomes a positive evil. Commercial fertilizers are, doubtless, a good thing; but when they are relied upon to the neglect of a thorough preparation and cultivation of the soil, and a diligent gathering and application of home fertilizers, they prove a curse. Cotton is a good crop, but when it is relied upon to the neglect of all other branches of husbandry, it surely leads to poverty and final bankruptcy. It is well for the farmer to especially bestir himself at certain seasons--to put forth extra and protracted efforts when the interests of his business require, and a favorable opportunity presents, and sometimes even to call in his neighbors to help him; but he who sits idly down the most of the year, and expects to make up for his idleness by these occasional efforts, will certainly come to want. Let the children of light learn wisdom. Whenever and wherever protracted meetings are relied upon, as they now largely are, to supply the place of daily prayer, and labor, and self-denial, and faith, and patience, and holy living, in all such cases will they be curses to the churches.
THE EVANGELIST SHORT ROAD.
2. Next is the resort to evangelists or revivalists. A church wants to make headway in the world--may be really desires a revival, and doubtless does need one. The scripture plan, however, requires sins confessed and sins forsaken, and time and talent consecrated to the Master. Work is required, and much work, and patient work; prayer is required, and earnest and constant prayer. The demand is too great. Even a respectable protracted meeting requires more than they feel willing to undertake. What is to be done? Why, send off and get some noted revivalist or evangelist, prepare the way for his coming by a series of meetings, but expect nothing, really pray for nothing, until this mortal man shall come and take matters in charge, and "deliver them out of their distresses."
Now, let no one misapprehend me. There can be no kind of objection to proper persons traveling through the country, stirring up the churches and preaching the gospel to the masses; it is scriptural. But the special need now is for some one, or rather a good many, to go up and down in the land, calling upon the people of God to return to the "old paths," and to do their own work, yes, and their own praying, too. There is too much reliance upon other people's labors and other people's prayers--too much looking to man, and not enough looking to God. At the present time, in many places, there are more earnest desires and prayers for the coming of some of the great evangelists of the day than for the descent of the Holy Spirit; and manifestly the expectations of success center in their coming rather than in the attendant presence and power of the Spirit. Am I mistaken? Wherefore, then, such elation when their speedy coming is announced? Wherefore such despondency when their coming is delayed? Verily, this looking to men, and running after men, and crying unto men, is not only dishonoring to God, but even to our own christian manhood. What! is not Jehovah our God as well as theirs? Have we not the privilege of access to Him as well as they? Is it possible God will not hear us as readily as them? And will He not bless our labors as well as theirs? And will He not own His Word when spoken by us, though we be unknown to fame, as well as when spoken by these whose praise fills the land? I do not say that God will thus do; but if not, the reason is to be found in our and our church's unfaithfulness, and indolence, and worldliness, and unbelief; and it is vain to think to escape the legitimate consequences of our sins and failures by flying to others, however good or great, or even successful they may be. Yes, these evangelists may all be godly men, and, for aught I know, may be very successful in leading sinners to Christ, as doubtless some of them have been; but those pastors and churches who sinfully neglect their own work, and then expect to evade the just consequences of their shortcoming by calling in the aid of men, thus virtually hoping to circumvent the Almighty, sooner or later will find out their mistake.
THE NEW PREACHER SHORT ROAD.
3. The same general desire to abridge labor and self-denial has opened up the new preacher short road. The affairs of a church are unsatisfactory, and perhaps they ought to be; but, instead of rallying around the pastor they have, and going to work themselves, they set longing eyes upon some new man, whose past reputation for building up churches excites the hope of similar results with them. Some way or other, no matter how, the old preacher is gotten rid of, and the new one called. For a little while everything moves on swimmingly; their hopes are bright; at last they have got the man they were so long wanting--i. e., the man to do his work and theirs too. In another little while, and a change comes over the spirit of their dream. They find their condition essentially the same--it may be, worse--it is reasonable that it should go from bad to worse. They soon conclude it is the preacher's fault--they mistook the man, or he has run his course. And soon again they are without a pastor, and still again are they in search of the man who shall be able to do what God never meant to be done, and still are destined to disappointment.
But there is another view to take of short pastorates, which, though not exactly in the line of the present thought, yet merits a passing notice. It often happens that the pastor himself, anxious for quick returns, or impatient of hard work, is unwilling to stay where he is. Permanent church prosperity is largely dependent upon permanent pastorates. As a general thing, however, long pastorates require of a minister much patient and self-denying toil--brain work, heart work, life work. Many are not disposed to honor the draft, and so they look out for other fields, more fertile, it may be, or more easily cultivated; at any rate, fields where the well-worn plow-shares of many furrows may still do creditable service; yes, and where the same system of superficial tillage will in turn be followed by the same results. The condition of many of our churches is remarkably like that of many of our farms, and the same desire for easy methods and quick returns is largely responsible in both cases.
Now I do not say that ministers should not sometimes change their fields of labor--doubtless they ought; but I will say, they should never do so simply because they want to escape hard work or patient waiting. And I do not say that churches should not sometimes seek a change of pastors, but certainly they should not do so under the vain hope of finding a man whose piety, or zeal, or eloquence, or other qualification shall absolve them from the duty or the necessity of earnest consecration to the Master's service.
And here is a good place to call attention to a wide-spread evil. Our churches, whether they retain the same pastor from year to year, or frequently change pastors, still, all alike, are depending too much on their pastors to do whatever is necessary to bring prosperity to Zion. It is not exaggeration to say, that as the "eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress," so quite generally the eyes of churches are directed to their pastors. They are largely looking to these pastors not only to do their (the churches') work, but even that of the Holy Spirit. There is a great and calamitous mistake just here. The churches know better. They know that Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but that God alone can give the increase. And yet, practically and actually, they are looking to their pastors for the increase. My brother in Christ, esteem your pastor; esteem him highly; esteem him very highly in love for his work's sake, this is the divine command; but when you place such reliance upon him--when you look to him to do your work, and even that of the Spirit too, you lay on him a load of responsibility that may well crush him to the earth. And it is not, perhaps, too much to say that the consciousness that the churches are thus looking to their pastors, and leaning upon their pastors, and expecting success at their hands, is even now pressing the very life out of many a devoted pastor in the land. He feels his utter inability to meet the demand upon him and is sinking beneath the burden. O brethren, look to God--trust in Him.
THE WIDE DOOR OR LOW GAP DEVICE.
4. It only remains to notice the wide door or low gap short-road. This is the final nigh-cut towards which all the others incline, and falling short of which they largely fall short of fatal injury. The others, when not pursued as nigh-cuts, may not be in all respects evil; but this is evil in itself--it is evil, and only evil, and that continually. A church longs for the prestige of numbers--the eclat of large and frequent additions. Great is the pressure upon the pastor for this proof of his success, and his heart, quite likely, beats in unison with the hearts of his people; and it is right to want to see "much people added to Lord." O that we all were ten-fold more anxious for this! But God may not see fit to give immediate success in the way of additions. More generally, perhaps, pastor and people have not been willing to live, and labor, and pray, and trust, and so come within the pale of the divine promises. But still they want success, and that means numbers. They conclude to make special effort, and that means a protracted meeting. They send for some noted revivalist, or perhaps, the pastor gets to help him some warm revival preachers from around. The meeting begins, and the meeting goes on, and a goodly number profess a hope and knock for admission into the church. Now mind you, the desire for members is still strong. Numbers are still the adjudged proof and measure of success. The pressure upon the pastor is still unabated, and his heart still yearns to gratify the longings of his people. Besides all hearts are now warm and generous--love is glowing, and feelings generally have reached melting heat. Is it strange, then, that under the circumstances, the procrustean rigidity of the old standard of admission should be relaxed, and a lower gap, or a wider door offer easy ingress to the thronging applicants? "What! give up a converted church-membership!" "O no; hold on to that. But, you inveterate old fossil, don't let us put up the fence so high as to keep out Christ's lambs. Besides, you need not expect everybody to be converted. Was not Judas one of the twelve? Did not unbelievers creep in, even in the apostles' day? Does not the gospel net gather of every kind? Don't be so very particular. Don't pry so closely into the experiences of the professed converts. Don't expect babes in Christ to be old theologians.*
Do not count an applicant not converted until he gives some proof that he is; but rather count that he is converted until he proves that he is not. And then, do not require an intelligent and spontaneous profession of faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, as evidence of a changed heart; but reverse the order, and accept the profession of a change of heart as proof of the possession of faith. Finally, remember that people are timid, and if they can not tell a consistent and satisfactory experience help them out a little, or may be, tell all for them by asking questions which suggest the proper answer."* The immediate results of all this are seen in the vast and rapidly increasing array of formal professors, whose influence rests as a fearful incubus upon the life and power of the churches. The final results eternity alone can reveal.
Now all these devices, and others which might be mentioned, proceed from the same evil root, namely, an eagerness for success which centers more in self than in God, and a consequent dissatisfaction with God's plan and God's time, and the success which God sees fit to give. Success is wanted, and success we feel we must have; but we are not willing to work for it, we are not willing to wait for it.
Such unworthy feelings and motives are referred to in the preceding discussion, that careless thinkers may be disposed to question their existence in the hearts of God's people. Well, God's people ought to be free from such, but, unfortunately, many of them are not. Besides, none are without sin; and sin is essentially selfish and deceitful, even though found in the heart of a christian. A cursory examination will not always reveal to one's own consciousness the motives which determine conduct. Let the best man among us actually explore the recesses of his heart, and he will there find principles and motives just as reprehensible as those here condemned. And a part of our business in this life is to drag out into the light these hidden abominations, whether found in ourselves or in others, and hew them in pieces before the Lord. So have I endeavored to do.
1. How vain the hope of finding an easy way to church prosperity! The ingenuity of man has done much, but it can not override a divine law. Man's wisdom is displayed in discovering God's laws, and in adapting himself to them. This is the secret of the success and usefulness of all the great discoveries and inventions of these latter days. But there has not yet been discovered, nor will ever be, an easy road to heaven, or an easy road to church prosperity. The reason is found in the fact that the carnal mind is enmity against God; and so, that which accords with it must, for that very reason, be opposed to Him. Accordingly, when we seek for flesh-pleasing methods in serving God, we seek for an impossibility. Deny thyself, and take thy cross, are the inexorable terms of discipleship. And so long as self-denial, cross-bearing, the crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts enter into christian life and christian duty, just so long will it be vain to expect to achieve purely spiritual successes and yet listen to the demands of the flesh. These things are antipodal, and the endeavor to bring them together is worse than futile. It is but the old, oft-repeated, century-stricken, but hopeless and ruinous, attempt to combine the service of Mammon with the service of God.
2. How vain the hope of finding a shorter way to church prosperity than that which God has marked out! It is a true proverb, that the longest way round is often the shortest way through. Even in this day of steam and lightning, we still sometimes see that "slow and sure" go hand in hand. Quick results are quite often as worthless as quick. God seems to have intended to teach us this truth in nature. The insect comes to maturity in a few days, while man, the noblest work of the Creator, requires long years. The mushroom springs up in a night, while the lordly and valuable oak grows for centuries. But let nature's lessons be what they may, God's plan for bringing prosperity to His churches is fixed, and we might as well undertake to heave the sun from its place in the sky, as to reach real church prosperity in any other way.
3. Why can we not be content to work for God in His own way? Is not His way the best way? Are we ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Is the simple, unmethod-trammeled preaching of the cross no longer the power of God unto salvation? Has this fast, progressive age, outrun the divine wisdom? "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" Yes, verily; and quite signally do the failures of latter-day wisdom attest the fact. Rest assured, my brethren, it still pleases God "by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."*
*Not long before his death, Dr. R. Fuller, of Baltimore, wrote thus: * * * "Some evangelist is called in to arouse the slumbering energies of the church; and then 'many are added.' But alas! how few of these are truly converted, the melancholy history of six succeeding months most sadly testifies. Moreover, evangelists would soon forsake their calling if they were required, like the apostles, to rely upon their sermons. We rejoice in the good they accomplish, but the measures they adopt are an acknowledgment that the 'foolishness of preaching' can no longer avail for the conversion of souls to God."
4. And why can we not be content to abide God's time to reap the fruit of our labors? Why this restless, feverish impatience for results? Can we not trust God to fulfill His own promises? Is the prosperity of the cause dearer to us than to him? Are we more jealous of His honor and more concerned for His glory than Himself? Let us not deceive ourselves. This demand for quick results is not all zeal for God. It is rather a selfish impatience of the very toil, and sacrifice, and self-denial which he requires, and which we want to escape. Zeal for God? Nay, nay, but for ourselves. A single eye to His glory would make us choose His way and abide His time.
5. How dare we not be content to work for God in His own way, and then leave the issue with Him? Do we not belong to Him? Has He not the right to command our obedience? If He should see fit to require us to toil all our days, and still see no fruit, is that our business? We are His--the kingdom is His--the power is His--the glory is His--all is His. Who are we that we should dare to be dissatisfied with what pleases Him?
6. These nigh-cuts do generally give apparent success. But when we contentedly go on in them, neglecting the heaven-appointed highway, it would seem that in realizing apparent success we attain that which we are really seeking after, and like the hypocrites of old, have our reward. But apparent success is only apparent after all. It may deceive us and flatter our vanity--it may deceive the world and give us their applause, but sooner or later its real character will be developed. It contains the elements of its own overthrow. The higher and grander the tower, the more certain its fall, if it be not well founded and well built. And the more a church has of merely apparent success, only the more certain, the more signal, and the more disastrous its final shame and ruin.
7. If we can not have real success let us have none. The semblance of success attained, often so deceives and satisfies as to prevent our seeking after that which is real. But real success comes from God, and from Him alone, and must therefore be sought in His way.
My brother, my Christian brother, whoever you be, do you want success? Do you want real success? Do you want real and permanent success--a success that will abide the winds and floods of time, and the fires of the great day? Wait on the Lord and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land. Amen.
THE DUTY OF PARENTS TO SUNDAY SCHOOLS.
BY PROF. JAMES ROSS, PRINCIPAL OF EAST BROAD STREET SCHOOL, SAVANNAH, GA.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On such an occasion as this, where so many parents are present, I should not judge it out of place to speak to you something concerning your relation to the Sunday school. There is no greater institution in modern times than the Sunday school, and more hearts are being educated within its consecrated walls than anywhere else. It is the most God-like institution we have and is the very embodiment of law, having a profound respect for morality and religion without which freedom would have no lasting foundation and no certain protection.
The Sabbath should be a day of rest from worldly cares and pleasures; a day for the study of God's Word; for the discussion of the highest themes that concern immortal souls. On every side we observe disaster, discomfort, sorrow and death, in many cases properly attributable to the botching of life by not having sufficient truth instilled into the tender ones' minds to guide them along the path of rectitude.
We were placed here, just a little lower than the angels, to live a life useful to God and to man. How much of that life we live depends largely upon how much we know about life and how much of it we execute. "He most lives who acts best, feels noblest, and that life is the longest which answers life's purposes best."
More interest in your children's welfare will make less candidates for the prisons. Teach your children more studious habits, in attending Sunday school, by more deeds than words, and they will honor you in old age and heartily indorse your judicious management. Urge upon them the imperative necessity of punctuality, diligence in pursuit of the great riches found in God's Word, and they will reflect much credit upon you, congratulating you for building lasting monuments for future generations as criterions by which to test the abstract excellence of all pure christianity.
Your interest in the Sunday school will encourage the teacher as a gospel herald, tendering good tidings of great joy to all who will receive the grand blessings embodied in their message. I shall not presume it out of place, just here, to say that too many grown persons think they are too old to improve, so they draw themselves within their encrusted shells and presume their work is done. Many excuses can be found or framed for negligence, but remember this is an age of sentimentality, and there are people who would attempt to render an excuse even for Judas, whose name has been a synonym of infamy. Have you thought how cheerful and happy is old age to him who has kept life green and realized the importance of his mission of usefulness until God called him beyond this veil of tears?
Let us be not careless about our duty any more, let us breathe not the malarial air from the surrounding fields, let not the deadly sewerage gas come into our homes by modern conveniences, let our children no longer be dragged about the streets on Sundays by some one they call friend, but let us manage our own affairs while on earth we stay. Some one has said, "If the effects of carelessness came upon us like a deadly serpent we could avoid it, if, like the north wind, we could shelter ourselves from it, but its footsteps unheard creep silently and cautiously upon us, and, ere we are aware of the danger, our whole system has been poisoned," making us unfit to live in this world or the world to come--a sight only to make hell laugh and heaven weep.
The church has now largely over 5,000 members. This makes it the largest negro church in the United States, and in all probability, in the world. It is an interesting, orderly, intelligent church. It is perfectly devoted to its pastor. The church never denies him a request. Whatever he intimates that he wants he can get it, regardless of the cost. His influence over the members is simply amazing. The church, however, is not more devoted to him than he is to them. They will make mutual sacrifices for each other. This is just as it should be. There never was more unanimity of opinion and concert of action in any church than that which characterized this church in its endeavors to extend its house of worship. In revivals the church comes together in such a christian-like manner that the influence upon sinners is wonderful. The church is very polite to strangers and everybody visiting the church is made to feel at home. The choir is good, and visitors are generally charmed by their singing. The Sunday school is without a single exception the largest and best in the State. Most of the most substantial members of the church grew up in the Sunday school. The church is justly proud of her Sunday school and her noble corps of humble christian teachers.
This church, notwithstanding her great troubles, has been as a city that is set on a hill, which cannot be hid. Her good works have been witnessed far and wide and many thousands have been led to a saving acquaintance with the gospel of the Son of God. For one hundred years she has been battling with sin and Satan, winning glorious victories all the way. Notwithstanding all the bitterness she has been called to taste, she has scattered seeds of kindness for the reaping by and by. She has always conquered her enemies and heaped coals of fire upon their heads. God has caused her to pass under the rod because He loved her. He has made her go through the fire to purify her and to refine her as gold is refined. She has put her trust in Jesus and He has never allowed her to be confounded. That church which has leaned on Christ for repose He will never desert to her foes. That church, though all hell should endeavor to shake, He will never forsake. Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.
This church has organized many branches. In fact, all of the churches in this part of Georgia must trace their origin back to this church. She is their legitimate mother. Her children, many of them, have done noble work, but they have not equalled the old lady. Her strength and influence have increased with her age. She has constantly contended "for the faith once delivered to the saints." She has walked alone when she felt that she was not in company with the right. When others would walk with her in the same happy road she has rejoiced.
This church has buried four as noble men as pastors as ever graced the pulpit; some as noble men as deacons as have ever honored the christian church, and some as grand men and women as ever lived. The writer has not the power to do justice to the history of this grand old church. No church has been more prosperous than this church. Like a mighty army she has gone forth, locking the powers of darkness to her chariot wheels and conquering in the name and strength of Christ her Lord.
It would require volumes to do justice to the history of this church for the last one hundred years. Most of these years were spent in the dark days of slavery when the right to worship God after the dictates of the gospel was denied them. They preached a gospel of freedom on Sunday which they dared not attempt to practice on Monday. Yet the church was signally blessed of God. The members of the church were man's slaves but God's freemen. It does appear that the services which were held under fear were much sweeter then than now. The sermons were much more earnest and tender, the prayers were clothed in simpler language, and were uttered with more zeal, and fervor, and pathos, and the singing was less artificial and was more of the character of humble praise in which the soul soared in unspeakable gratitude in search of its God. Those who enjoyed the services of those days might crave a return of service but for the horrors of slavery which characterized those days.
The church, however, is more cultured, and there is more intellectuality in the church now than then, but, perhaps less spirituality. The people of the long ago knew no better than to serve God with all their hearts. That ignorance is bliss which knows no hypocrisy. That weakness is strength which can not do wrong nor mistreat a brother, but simply lean upon God. The church is wonderfully successful. When her toils on earth are over and she shall have landed upon the glittering shores of the heavenly Canaan, then sweet and glorious will the harvest be.
She shall not regret her sufferings here when she shall be invited to lay her burdens down and at Jesus' side sit down to receive palms of victory and crowns of glory. Then shall she sit forever around the throne of God, and basking in the sunlight of eternal peace smile over the troubles through which she has come, and count them as nothing compared with infinite rest in heaven. There is a grand future for the church here, and a more pleasing, holy, charming and glorious inheritance on the ever green shores, "where no storms ever beat on the glittering strand while the years of eternity roll."
The glorious time is swiftly rolling on when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be the glory of all the earth; when from the least to the greatest shall hear of Jesus the mighty to save. This must be accomplished through the church as his instrumentality. God grant the church grace and strength to do His will in the world in such a manner as to honor His holy name, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
*The majority of the hearers being members of some societies, this address was not enthusiastically received, and Rev. Jackson could not finish his speech as prepared. This is greatly revised.--ED.
*Says Dr. Samson, in this connection: "The purely moral or advisory character of the decree is manifest throughout the letter, declaring their decision in such expressions as these: 'It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord;' 'It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burthen than these necessary things;' and in conclusion, 'from which, if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.' "
*All these testimonies lead us to the same conclusion as that of Dr. G. W. Sampson, when he says "that the official heads in the christian church are the selection of its membership, having only advisory authority as agents of the church; while the church has no other province than that of watchcare over the spiritual life of its members, and the securing of co-operation and christian effort for others. It seems apparent that associations of churches are made up of representatives selected by individual churches; that their authority is simply advisory, and that it relates only to such subjects as belong to the christian advancement of those already believers, and union for the extending of the gospel to those that either have not heard or have not believed the Word."--Essay on Church Polity.
*As to the expression, "No Royal Road," to give its reputed origin will best explain its meaning. It is related that Euclid was once asked by a certain king, Ptolemy Lagus, I believe, whether there was not a shorter and easier way to a knowledge of geometry than that which he had laid down in his Elements; whereupon the great mathematician replied, in words which have been stereotyped for all coming time, "No; there is no royal road to geometry," meaning that there was no short and easy method for him, a king, any more than for others; that the same need of toilsome, patient effort pressed upon all alike. What was then and is now true of a knowledge of geometry, is also true of church prosperity.
*This is no fancy sketch. These very things have been said to me by pleaders for more laxity, and in most cases, in these very words.
*If pastors would require applicants to tell their own experiences, and then require, in these experiences, reasonable proof of an intelligent apprehension of faith in Christ crucified or as the way of life and trust in Him, Improper persons would seldom come in.
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