How did Paul regard,
and how did he teach the churches he planted, to regard teachers of false
doctrine??How did he instruct the early Christians and churches to
treat them? ?Associate with, or withdraw from, and avoid
them?? Can it be supposed that they
invited them into their pulpits, and to the Lord?s
Supper, though those teachers belonged to the church at Jerusalem?
"?;but there be some who
trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. If we, or an
angel from heaven, preach otherwise unto you than that which we have preached
unto you, let him be accursed."
"I would they were cut
off who trouble you. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who walks out of order, and not
according to the instructions which you received from us. And if any one obey
not our word by this epistle, point him out, and do not associate with him, so
that he may be ashamed."?Paul.
"It is affirmed that our
position as Landmark Baptists, of non-association with the teachers of
acknowledged and dangerous heresies ministerially, and the non-recognition of
their societies ecclesiastically, is contrary to the teachings of
This charge is most persistently
made by those Baptists who advocate and practice affiliations with Pedobaptists
and Campbellites, and recognize their ordinations and immersions; and, by such
misrepresentations, they prejudice us in the eyes of our own brethren and the
world, as bigots and sectaries.
Now, I propose to show the reader
that the Scriptures are not more opposed to rantism, or infant baptism, than it
is to association with those ministers and teachers who teach things contrary to
what the apostles taught, and that no one feature more characterized Baptist
Churches, from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries, than their refusal to
recognize, in any way, the teachers of acknowledged heresies, and those
organizations claiming to be churches, yet, in their estimation, human
societies, and apostate from the truth. This charge must be the offspring of the
most willing ignorance, or unprincipled opposition to truth and consistency.
1. What are the teachings of
(a) This much will
be admitted by all Baptists, that our churches are scriptural church
organizations. If so, they alone constitute the visible kingdom of
Christ, which is the antitype of the kingdom of Israel, in the Old Testament.
Paul and Peter distinctly affirm
this, (Heb. 12; 1 Pet. 2:9) and the teachings of the type should find a
fulfillment in the antitype. What were those teachings? God of all nations
selected but one to be unto him "a peculiar treasure above all people, a
kingdom of priests, a holy nation," and he straightway commanded them that
they should not affiliate with the nations around them in their religious rites
and ceremonies, neither "walk in the manners of the nations;"
for, by so doing, they would render themselves idolaters, since the worship
of those nations was purely human, and corrupted the religion which he had given
them. The churches composing the antitype must, therefore, keep themselves
separate and distinct from all human organizations and societies claiming to be
churches, and, in no way, affiliate with them or their teachers, or recognize
their rites and ceremonies, which are human inventions, and by so doing admit
they are divine, and thus make themselves idolaters. This is the
teaching of the type, and upon it the apostles base their earnest exhortations
to churches: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a peculiar people," etc. (1 Pet. 2:9).
But teachers of false doctrine
abounded in Paul?s day, for the mystery of iniquity had already commenced
working in his day; and, let us mark how he taught the churches to regard every
one who preached contrary to the doctrine he had taught them. By his teachings,
the charge of our opposers must be tested, and our own practice as Baptists
determined, whatever may have been the practice of our historical ancestors. It
should be borne in mind that these teachers, who subverted the faith of many by
their false doctrines, were not heathens, nor infidels, nor heads of alien and
formidable organizations, set up in direct opposition to the churches of Christ,
as all Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are, but what made it more delicate
and difficult to fix relations and determine the character of the intercourse,
they were Baptists?influential members of the church at Jerusalem, and of
churches which he himself had planted. They did not teach the churches to
substitute sprinkling for the act Christ enjoined, nor to baptize infants, nor
that baptism is "the law of pardon," nor "a seal and
sacrament essential to salvation;" and thus subvert the gospel of Christ,
and make the law of God of none effect by their traditions; but these teachers
did it quite as effectually and far more plausibly, and, if
charity should be extended to false teachers, it should have been to those whom
Paul antagonized. Those teachers, like Pedobaptists, taught that the covenant
made with Abraham was binding upon Gentiles, as well as Jews?was the covenant
of Grace?and, therefore, unless all were circumcised, and kept the law, as
well as the requirements of the gospel, they could not be saved. There were many
thousands of these Judaized brethren in the church at Jerusalem, even after that
church with the apostles and elders had answered the question sent up by the
church at Antioch, that the Gentiles were free from the law of circumcision; for
teachers from Jerusalem had troubled this church with this doctrine: "And
certain men, which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except
ye be circumcised, after the manner of Moses, ye can not be saved" (Acts
And when this question was raised
in the church at Jerusalem, the record reads: "But there rose up certain of
the sect of the Pharisees which believed [i.e., in Christ, and were members],
saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the
laws of Moses" (v. 5).
Paul, in his letter to the
churches at Galatia, thus speaks of these brethren: "And because of false
brethren, unawares brought in, who came privily to spy out our liberty,
which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To whom we
gave place by subjection, no, not for one hour, that the truth of the gospel
might continue with you. But of these, who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever
they were, it maketh no matter to me, God accepteth no man?s person), for they
who seemed to be somewhat in conference, added nothing to me, but
And in this language he taught
these churches to regard them and their teachings: "I marvel that you are
so soon removed from him who called you into another gospel, which is not
another; but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of
Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you
than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. . . . I would they
were cut off who trouble you"? [excluded from the church, which it was
not in Paul?s power to accomplish, but he could wish and advise it.]
"Behold, I, Paul, say unto
you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. . . . Christ is
become of none effect unto you . . . Ye did run well; who did hinder, that ye
should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
And there was another element in
this doctrine that made it popular, besides that of its being held and taught by
those metropolitan ministers, who came down from Jerusalem and
taught them to despise Paul, which Baptists of this age should notice.
Let Paul state it: "As many
as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to
be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of
Christ! And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer
persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased."
Thousands and tens of thousands
would he "Old Landmark Baptists" today were it not for the Overweening
desire "to make a fair show in the flesh," and to avoid the odium and
persecution that the consistent advocacy and practice of Baptist principles
would bring upon them. Every strict, consistent, faithful Baptist knows, full
well, that the days of persecution have not passed, and they know, like Paul,
something of the "perils among false brethren." I must be allowed to
add that the above language of Paul ought to settle the question concerning
intercommunion among the apostolic churches. Many of them, like the church at
Jerusalem, were corrupted by these false teachers whom Paul calls "leaven,"
and he specifically commands the church at Corinth to purge out all leaven
that the feast might be kept pure.
To the church at Corinth he wrote
thus: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is
transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his
ministers [these brethren were not aware that they were the ministers of
Satan] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be
according to their works."
Can it be that God ever allowed a
true child of his to live and die in the service of Satan? Those who
teach doctrines that subvert the gospel, Paul declares to be the ministers of
Satan, and that their end will he answerable to such a service! Was he
uncharitable? Not only Paul?s usefulness and happiness were measurably
destroyed, but his very life was put in peril by these false brethren. (2 Cor.
To the church at Philippi he
wrote thus: "For many walk, of whom I have told you before, and now tell
you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is
destruction" (Phil. 3: 18).
2. How did he instruct the
churches to treat these false teachers, though professed Christians and
Did he exhort them to be liberal,
and very charitable, and associate with them as brethren beloved? and did he
advise Timothy and other ministers to affiliate with them, invite them into
their houses to teach their people, as so many of our prominent ministers now
To the church at Rome he wrote:
"Now I entreat you, brethren, to watch those who are making factions and
laying snares, contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and turn away
from them; for such like ones as they are not in subjection to our
anointed Lord, but to their own appetite; and, by kind and complimentary
words, they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting."
And, alas! how successfully do
they do it in this age! Can a Baptist possibly misapprehend this language? Will
our churches refuse to listen to so earnest an entreaty? Then let them heed the
emphatic command of Paul to the church at Thessalonica: "Now we charge you,
brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every
brother who walks disorderly, and not according to the instruction which you
received from us. But if any one obey not our word, by this letter, point
him out, and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame."
We ask our brethren if
Pedobaptists and Campbellites do teach the doctrine that Paul taught, and walk
according to his teachings? and if it is "withdrawing from and putting them
to shame" to invite them into our pulpits, to preach, as ministers of
Christ, to our people, and associate with them in "Evangelical Pastors?
Meetings," "Evangelical Alliances," and "Young Men?s
Christian Associations?" Brother, you may treat this question lightly at
your peril; for Christ has said: "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of
my words in this age, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh
in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
That I have not an improper
construction upon these Scriptures, the testimony of A. Barnes and Adam Clark
will convince all Pedobaptists upon Paul?s advice to Timothy (1 Tim. 5:22):
"He was not to invest one with the holy office who was a wicked man, or a heretic;
for this would be to sanction his wickedness and error. If we
ordain a man to the office of the ministry, who is known to be living in sin [disobedience
to the commands of Christ is sin], or to cherish dangerous error,
we become the patrons of the sin, and of the heresy. We lend to it the sanction
of our approbation, and give to it whatever currency it may acquire from the
reputation which we may have," etc.
Now every thoughtful reader will
see the principle is all the same whether we are personally instrumental in
putting a man, whom we know to be living in the sin of disobedience or who is a
heretic, into the ministry, or whether we sanction and encourage his being in
it, we equally indorse his errors and make ourselves partakers of his sin. It
matters not one whit whether we engage him to preach for us once, or one hundred
times, or continually, as our pastor, we can not divide a
principle. If it would be right in us to introduce him into our pulpit to preach
once, it would be just as right for us to employ him to preach for us always.
Adam Clark says on v. 22:
"To help him forward, or sanction him in it, is to partake of his
sins. Will any one presume to deny that we do sanction a heretic?s being
in the ministry, and "help him forward in it," when we invite him to
preach and attend upon his ministry?
Mr. Clark says on 2 John 1:10,11:
"For if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into your house; neither bid him God-speed." "He that
acts toward him as if he considered him a Christian brother, and
sound in the faith, puts it in his power to deceive others by thus apparently
accrediting his ministry. "No sound Christian should countenance any
man as a gospel minister who holds and preaches erroneous
Do not Pedobaptists and
Campbellites hold and preach erroneous and dangerous doctrines? I can prove it
by themselves. The Presbyterians and Campbellites will affirm that
the Methodists do. The Methodists and Campbellites will agree that the
Presbyterians do; and both Presbyterians and Methodists stoutly declare that the
Campbellites do; and all Baptists know that they all do. But hear Mr. Clark
further, and then show what he says to your Methodist friends, who think you are
too strict and bigoted.
"Nor can any Christian attend
the ministry of such teachers without being criminal in the sight of God. He
who attends their ministry is, in effect, bidding them God-speed, no
matter whether such belong to the established church, or to any
congregation of dissenters from it" [Italics his].
Barnes quotes and indorses this
view, and says: "It is as applicable now as then."
This is farther than many
Landmarkers have generally gone, but I believe it is the true ground upon
which we all ought to stand undeviatingly. Does not our crowding their places of
worship constantly with our families apparently accredit and sanction
their ministry, and encourage them in their work? Let every Baptist settle this
with his own conscience before his God. We must not bid them God-speed, or we
become upholders of their errors and partakers of their sin.
How the early churches understood
the instructions of the apostles with respect to those who "taught contrary
to the apostles? doctrine," we learn from Prof. Curtis? statement, who
examined the history of those times upon this point, and is undoubted authority.
"In former ages of the
church?that is, from the close of the second century downwards until
heathenism was obliterated?it was generally supposed by almost all, that
Christian fellowship, or communion, consisted chiefly in praying together.
Christians would never unite in saying, ?Our Father, who art in heaven;?
would not even pray in the same house of worship, with those whom they did not
consider orthodox Christians. Heathens, unbelievers, heretics, persons
suspended, or excommunicated. . . and members of other sects, were
admitted to hear the Psalmody, and reading of the Scriptures, and the
discourses, but were invariably excluded from the building before the prayers of
the church were offered" (Curtis on Com., p. 80).
This testimony establishes beyond
controversy two facts:
(1). That any practice looking
toward "open communion" at the Lord?s table received no countenance
in those early ages.
(2). That there certainly could
have been no "pulpit communion, no exchange of "ministerial
courtesies,"?as the exchange of pulpits, inter-preaching between the
orthodox ministers of those ages and the teachers of manifest heresies, even
though the latter belonged to orthodox churches?as the false teachers in
Paul?s day did?much less when they belonged to opposing sects.
3. That the orthodox ministers
and churches in those ages certainly held no "union meetings," did not
labor together in public worship, or co-operate in the preaching of the gospel
and promoting the spread of Christianity generally with those ministers and
members who preached, or held, doctrines contrary to the teachings of Christ,
and, therefore, subversive of it. How could two consistently walk or work
together unless they were agreed? and from the teachings of the apostles, the
early Christians understood that they did, by their act of worshipping, even in
prayer together, say to the world that they were in fellowship with their
doctrine and religion.
Who will say, with the teachings
of the apostles and the facts of history before their eyes, that the apostolic
churches, and the orthodox churches of the earliest ages downwards, were not
"Old Landmarkers" of the strictest sort? Let the candid Christian
reader decide between us and those "liberal" brethren, who say that we
are trying to bring in new customs and ways of our own invention, unsustained by
the Word of God, and unknown to the Baptists of the earliest ages.
I. It would have been in open
violation of Paul?s instruction. for the primitive churches to have invited
all members of other sister churches, to participate with them in the
celebration of the Supper, since all those "false teachers, ministers of
Satan." "enemies of the cross of Christ," subverters of the
gospel "leaven"?the very characters he commanded them to
"withdraw from," "avoid." "have no company with."
"not to eat," belonged to Baptist churches. There could have been no
intercommunion among Baptist churches in Paul?s day, or association in
preaching the gospel, or in gospel work, with teachers of false doctrine.
II. It is as unscriptural and as
sinful in this age for us. as for Baptists in that age, to violate these plain
instructions. Verily, those who do so God will judge.
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