committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

CHAPTER V.

THE CAUSE OF DIVISION, BENEVOLENT AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, "IRREGULAR BAPTISTS."

 

Up to the year 1844 there was no line dividing the white Baptists into Northern and Southern Baptists, but at that time the anti-slavery question became so pronounced that it was impossible for the church to keep a neutral position, and the result was two organizations.

The heart of Christianity in the North, influenced by the growth of the anti-slavery sentiment, began about 1820 to be aroused against the cruel and blasting institution of human slavery. For a decade the fires of opposition to it smouldered, and then fanned by the winds of agitation of the immortal Wm. Lloyd Garrison, with his paper, "The Liberator," they burst into flames that could not be quenched. Every effort was made by both the Northern and Southern churchmen to prevent division. In the General Convention the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

"Resolved, That in-co-operating together as members in the convention work of foreign missions, we disclaim all sanctions, either expressed or implied, whether of slavery or anti-slavery; but as individuals we are free to express and to promote elsewhere our views on this subject in a Christian manner and spirit."

But a righteous sentiment is never content with neutral opposition; it contends for utterance and is aggressive.

The dividing wedge

Southern Baptist Convention organized
Questions of policy with reference to missions finally proved to be the rock upon which hopes of unity were wrecked. Notwithstanding the fact that the Convention positively urged the Executive Board to maintain a neutral position at all hazards, very soon afterwards, in the latter part of 1844, the Board felt it their duty to take a firm stand. In reply to a question addressed to it by a Southern organization with reference to the appointment of missionaries, the Board reported in substance that it would not appoint any person as a missionary who owned slaves. That there could no longer be any question as to the Board's attitude this extract from their report shows: "One thing is certain, we can never be a party to an arrangement which would imply approbation of slavery." The following year (1845) the American Baptist Home Mission Society found itself involved in the anti-slavery crusade, defined its position as follows: "We declare it expedient that members now forming the Society shall hereafter act in separate organizations, at the South and at the North, in promoting the objects which were originally contemplated by the Society." The next month, May, 1845, several hundred Southern delegates met in Augusta, Ga., and organized the Southern Baptist Convention. Thus is the awfulness of the curse of slavery emphasized. We are indebted to Vedder's Short History of the Baptists for the main facts on this subject of separation.

Baptist educational institutions in the U. S.
The most prominent educational institutions conducted by the white Baptists of the United States are here given with location and date when founded: Brown University (the oldest Baptist university in the United States), Providence, R. I., founded 1764; Newton Theological Institute, Newton Center, Mass., founded 1826; Colby University, Waterville, Me., founded 1820; Madison University, now Colgate, Hamilton, N. Y., founded 1814; Rochester Theological Seminary, Rochester, N. Y., founded 1850; Chicago University, Chicago, Ill., founded 1890; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., founded 1858; Richmond College, Richmond, Va., founded 1832; Vassar College (for young women) Poughkeepsie, N. Y., founded 1861; Denison University, Granville, Ohio, founded 1832; Baylor University, Waco, Texas, founded 1861.

Baptist journals
Among the most influential Baptist papers are The Standard, Chicago, Ill.; The Baptist and Reflector, Nashville, Tenn.; the Western Recorder, Louisville, Ky; The Baptist Argus, Journal and Messenger, Granville, Ohio; The Standard, Dallas, Tex.

In the foregoing we have referred only to the regular Missionary Baptists in America. We shall now call attention to others known as "irregular" and "anti-missionary" Baptists. While they are so designated, they are recognized as Baptists on the ground as given by Vedder, that "Any Christian body that practices believers' baptism meaning 'baptism' immersion, and by 'believer' one who gives credible evidence of regeneration is fundamentally a Baptist, by whatever name he may be called, or whatever may be his oddities of doctrine or practice in other respects." We give a brief sketch of the most prominent organizations.

Six Principle Baptists
The Six Principle Baptists had their origin in the seventeenth century (about 1639. They are a small body represented only in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Their creed is derived from Heb. 6:1, 2, and contains the six doctrines stated in that passage, hence, their name. They have two yearly conferences, one in Massachusetts and the other in Pennsylvania. The former held in 1670 was the second organization of its kind to be formed.

Freewill Baptists
The Freewill Baptists in North America had their first church organization in 1780, at New Durham, New Hampshire. They differ from Regular Baptists in that they respect the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, and consequently hold that the regenerate may "fall from grace." They also practice "open communion." The fact that they were strongly in favor of the abolition of slavery confined their following almost exclusively to the Northern States.

Primitive Baptists
Primitive Baptists are known as old school and anti-mission Baptists. The principal difference between them and Regular Baptists is that they reject the agencies of Sunday-schools and missionary, educational and Bible societies. They declare themselves as opposed to all of these "contrivances which seem to make the salvation of men depend on human effort."

Seventh Day Adventists
The Seventh Day Adventists were known in England as early as the sixteenth century. In the United States they seem to have had an origin independent of the English body of the same name, their first church being founded in Newport, R. I., in 1671. Their distinctive doctrine is the observance of the Sabbath day, and on that account, prior to 1818, were called Sabbatarian Baptists. They are not restricted to any section of the country, but have their largest following in the State of New York.

Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists
Old Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists derive their name from the doctrine that there are two seeds, one of evil, and one of good. They owe their origin to Elder Daniel Parker, a Baptist minister who taught that a part of Eve's offspring were the seed of God and elect to eternal life, and that the other part were the seed of Satan and foreordained to the kingdom of eternal darkness. Many of them reject a paid ministry and agree with Primitive Baptists in their attitude toward missionary, evangelistic and educational agencies.

Church of Christ
Baptist Church of Christ, originating in Tennessee in 1808, being confined to the South, it holds to a general atonement and a mild Calvinism. They also hold firmly to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and practice feet-washing.

The government statistics published in 1909, give the following figures of these organizations: Six Principle Baptists, 16 organizations, 685 members, 8 ministers and 14 church edifices; Freewill Baptists, 608 organizations; 40,280 members, 600 ministers, 556 church edifices; Primitive Baptists?2,922 organizations, 102,311 members, 1,500 ministers, 2,003 church edifices; Colored Primitive Baptists?797 organizations, 35,076 members, 1,480 ministers, 501 church edifices; Seventh Day Adventists?77 organizations, 8,381 members, 90 ministers, 71 church edifices; two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists?55 organizations, 781 members, 35 ministers, 38 church edifices; Baptist Church of Christ?93 organizations, 6,416 members, 99 ministers, 86 church edifices.

In both sections of the country Baptists have well-established agencies for doing Christian work to which we call brief attention.

The American Baptist Missionary Union, organized in Philadelphia in 1814 for the purpose of sending the gospel to foreign countries. Its success has been marked.

The American Baptist Publication Society, an outgrowth of the Baptist Tract Society, organized in Washington, D. C., in 1824. For all these years this society has been furnishing Baptist Sunday-school and church literature. It now owns splendid property and a publishing plant in Philadelphia.

The American Baptist Home Mission Society organized in 1802 in Boston as the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society, with executive offices located in New York City, has been a great power for good. It is now engaged in missionary work proper, planting and sustaining churches, building chapels and church-houses, and the support of schools among the colored people of the South, Indians, Chinese and Mexicans. The fact that a large per cent of the educated colored Baptist preachers and teachers are the products of academies and colleges organized and conducted by this society is proof of its usefulness.

The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in Augusta, Ga., in 1845. Under its guidance all of the general Baptist work of the South has been carried on. It has a Foreign Mission Board with location in Richmond, Va., a Home Mission Board, with headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., and a Sunday School Board, located in Nashville, Tenn.

The Baptist Young People's Union of America was organized in 1891. Its headquarters were at first located in Chicago. Its work is now operated in connection with the American Baptist Publication Society at Philadelphia and is doing much to develop the young Baptists in religious knowledge and Christian culture.

 
 
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