Denominationalism
Put to the Test

By

SELSUS E. TULL

 

Upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell SHALL NOT PREVAIL against it—Matthew 16:18.

 

These two addresses are offered to the public only after urgent request by many brethren who have heard them delivered on several special occasions. By a rising vote of the Murray Bible Conference of Murray, Kentucky, February, 1912, these addresses were formally asked for publication. They are sent to the printer as they were prepared for public delivery.

 

This writer hopes that the publication of these ad­dresses may of least serve to provoke some one else, more able than himself, to give the matter herein so hastily discussed the thorough discussion that it de- serves. It would be a matter of peculiar personal de­light to me to read a defense of the right to a sepa­rate denominational existence by some representative of each of our modern Christian denominations. If denominationalism is scriptural, then it is best for Chris­tianity: if it is best for Christianity, then so-called "Christian Union" is wrong. If denominationalism is unscriptural, then it is not best for Christianity; and if it is not best for Christianity, then separate denomina­tional existence is a sin against the cause of Jesus Christ. If modern Protestant denominations each have a right to a separate existence, would not a thousand more have the same right?

 

I have used only ten denominations in the following discussion. I did not have time to consider others. The ones that are used are well known and are typical of all others.

 

In fixing the date for the founding of the denomina­tions herein considered, I have endeavored to use the earliest possible date upon which a real separate exis­tence could be said to begin. Any reader will under­stand that the present creeds and systems of govern­ment for modern denominations were a matter of pro­cess and growth which took present shape, in many respects, after they became looked upon as separate from other peoples. Authorities may differ as to dates,

but the point at issue is whether any date since the day of the personal ministry of Jesus Christ were a time when any man had the scriptural right to build up an ecclesiastical system and call it a "Christian Church."

SELSUS E. TULL.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTORY

 

DENOMINATIONAL laxity is manifest every­where. Church affiliation, as a rule, is deter­mined by caprice, whim, or environment. The question of principle, to an increasing number, is never raised. It is taken for granted that one denomination is as good as another, and on this principle Church membership is determined by social ties or other purely personal considerations. Protestant denominations, with a single exception, have placed the stamp of approval on this assumption. The mutual transference of mem­bers, by letter, has long since ceased to be a novelty—it is now taken for granted. The pastor of a church in which a union meeting was held, at the concluding ser­vice, pointed to an adjoining edifice and said, "The only difference between that church and this one is in a name." This amazing declaration was instantly approved by the other pastor. The debt on these respective churches was $10,000 and $21,000. The sale of one would have almost liquidated the debt on the other, and their union would have made a strong congrega­tion; yet for a mere "name" they were willing to stag­ger under debt and compete with each other in the same territory.

 

The hour has come when denominationalism should be put on trial. Simple fairness demands that each denom­ination give a valid, a scriptural reason for its exis­tence. When one Christian body by co-operation, fel­lowship and transference of members places the brand of approval on another, from such a course it is evi­dent that a union should be consummated. To main­tain a separate existence is to be guilty of creating a schism in the body of Christ.

 

The Baptists are now and ever have been free from this charge, the following pages amply demonstrate. In keeping with their time honored traditions they, as heretofore, are willing to be put to the test.

 

Historians, other than their own, frankly accord to Baptists Apos­tolic origin. And through the succeeding centuries they have stood for the fundamental truths of the Gospel. At the present time there is a marked and world-wide ten­dency towards Baptist principles. Still their mission is not complete, nor will it be 'till the principles for which they contend are universally accepted. Till then, as loy­al subjects to their King, they will maintain a separate existence.

C. M. THOMPSON.

 

 

 

 

 

THE ORIGIN OF DENOMINATIONS

 

A BRIEF SURVEY of the civil conditions of the times will give us an understanding as to the origin and final establishment of the Roman Papacy. Constantine, the Great, whose life spanned the years from A. D. 274 to 337, was the first emperor to be con­verted to Christianity. He made Christianity the reli­gion of his almost universal empire. When Constan­tine died, he divided the Roman Empire between his three sons. This act broke up the political strength and governmental solidarity of the great empire. The di­vided political powers of the Roman world made the way easy for the invasion of the empire by the bar­baric hordes -by northern Europe- which no longer could be beaten back. About the middle of the fourth century, the impending storm of savage greed and revenge broke over the frontier of Roman civilization, and spread po­litical chaos over the face of Europe. The Goths, Van­dals, Huns, Teutons, Saxons, and all the rest, held high carnival in the palaces of kings, and sported in savage revelry with the sacred treasures of a mighty civilization which lay helpless at their feet.

 

The Christianity of these terrible times met a su­preme test, the wrecks and deformities of which, she, in many respects, has never survived. In a despairing effort to hold some power over these heathen invaders, the Christianity of the times assumed to play upon the superstitions of the uncivilized hordes. This was suc­cessfully accomplished in many ways, principally by claiming great spiritual powers for the bishops, by im­posing severe penalties upon the violators of Christian precepts, and by overawing the uncultured mind with mysterious ceremonies and gilded pageantry. It was this misguided effort to convert the barbarians that gave rise in those awful days to the fanaticism which finally stretched its pall over the middle ages and prostituted the simplicity of Christianity into a mighty system of sac­erdotalism and ritualism.

 

Ridpath says, on page 520, Vol. 4, in speaking of the times of Charlemagne: "The Holy See at this time made the discovery that the presentation of moral truth and obligation to the barbarian imagination was less ef­fective than splendid shows and gilded ceremonies. She, therefore, adopted pageant instead of moral ex­postulation and converted the barbarians with spec­tacles." It was through these means and under these conditions, that the Church was able to gradually as­sume her control, until she grinned and subdued the po­litical as well as the religious powers of the people.

 

The actual establishment of the Roman Papacy was accomplished by Gregory the Great, in the year A. D. 590. On page 418, Vol. 4, Ridpath says, "This epoch in history should not be passed over without reference to the rapid growth of the Papal Church, in the close of the sixth century and the beginning of the seventh. Most of all by Gregory the Great, whose pontificate ex­tended from 590 to 604, was the supremacy of the Apos­tolic See asserted and maintained. Under the triple title of Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy, and Apostle of the West, he gradually by gentle insinuation or bold asser­tion, as best suited the circumstances, elevated the Epis­copacy of Rome into a genuine papacy of the Church. He succeeded in bringing the Arians of Italy and Spain into the Catholic fold, and thus assured the solidarity of the Western Ecclesia." From this time forth to the Reformation, a period of quite nine hundred years, the Roman papacy held her despotic sway over the map of Europe. She seized the sceptre of state and made the kings of earth her servants. She grew rich with wealth and became drunk with power. She committed for­nication with kings, and made the inhabitants of earth drunk with her whoredoms. She was "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Ignorance, lust and fanaticism ran riot under her dominion. Her history is written in fire and blood, and is stamped with the curse of God. The historian calls these centuries of papal dominion the "Dark Ages." The cross of Jesus was lost to the gaze of a despairing world, while the "deceiver of nations" glutted herself in fatness. At her hands the true followers of Jesus suffered “trials of cruel mockings and scourging, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goat­skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy.”

 

However, the light of modern civilization broke with the beginning of the sixteenth century. With the dawn of the Reformation, we have the rise of modern denomi­nationalism. This period seems to have been God's time to wake the nations out of sleep. The intellectual, po­litical, and religious mind of the world was ready for a new order of things, and the people were prepared to welcome any leaders who could teach them to walk in new paths.

 

All great movements converge their forces into the personality of some one man. Martin Luther, a Catho­lic monk, whose life spanned the years from 1483 to 1546, became the religious leader of the new day. Luther saw the general catholic degeneracy and dissolution, and organized a movement for reform. He had no avowed intention to break away from the Church; his idea was simply to reform the practices of the Church. His at­tacks upon the rule of the Pope, and his defiance of the Pope's edicts brought him under the anathema of ex­communication. This situation forced Luther and his followers into a separate organization in the year 1520.

 

*Professor Kurtz, in his Church History, in speaking of the final break between Luther and the Catholic Church, says, "Mean­while Eckbad issued the bull. (The papal bull of excommuni­cation against Luther.) Luther published a scathing polemic against it, and renewed his appeal, made two years before, to an ecumenical council. In Saxony, Eck gained only scorn and reproach with his bull; but in Lyons, Main; Cologne, etc., Luther's works were actually burnt. It was then that Luther took the boldest step of his whole career. With a numerous routine of doctors and students, whom he had invited by a notice posted on the blackboard, on the 10th of Dec., A. D. 1520, at the Elater Gate of Wittenburg, he cast into the blazing pile the bull and the papal decretals with the words, 'Because thou had troubled the saints of the Lord, let eternal fire consume thee.” It was the utter renunciation of the pope and his Church, and with it he cut away every possibility of a return."

 

A close study, however, of Luther's doctrines, and the polity of the church he organized, and which bears his name, will show that he was not strong enough to carry his movement back to the New Testament; and his work, after all, was only a partial reformation. Luther was but a part of a general movement, peculiar to the times, and we find that the sixteenth century, and particularly the first half of it, is noted in history as the birth time of Protestantism and the beginning of modern denominationalism.

 

In 1509, Henry the Eighth was crowned King of Eng­land. Henry was only twelve years of age at the time. He was married the same year to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand, and widow of his brother Arthur. Twenty years later than this, when Henry came to ex­ercise his own prerogative in personal matters, he deci­ded to divorce Catherine and to marry Anne Boleyn, an English girl, who had been reared at the court of Charles the Fifth of France. This question of Henry's divorce raised a great discussion in the Church, which was finally carried to the Pope of Rome for settlement. The Pope decided against Henry. Realizing the political im­potence of the Pope to interfere in England's political affairs, Henry thereupon took matters in his own hands and proceeded to put away Catherine and to marry Anne, notwithstanding the Pope's pronounced interdiction. This defiance of the Pope caused Henry's excommunication from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement the Seventh, 1534. Accepting the situation as an opportunity to rid himself completely of all political alliances with the Pope, Henry immediately convened his Parliament, and on November 23rd, of the same year, 1534, caused his Parliament to pass an act known as "The Act of Su­premacy," which declared Henry the Eighth to be "the Protector and Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England." Thus it was that on the 23rd of Novem­ber, 1534, "The Church of England" was set up, with the profligate, adulterous, murderous Henry as its foun­der and head. Brought into existence in a day by the power of a political fiat, the Episcopalian Church started on its career as a "Christian" denomination.

 

The success of Luther's Protestantism on the conti­nent gave liberty for other like movements. John Cal­vin, who was born in the year 1509, the same year that Henry the Eighth was crowned King of England, who was educated for a Catholic monk, joined hands with Luther, and aided the Reformation. In some respects, Calvin's ideas of both doctrine and polity were dif­ferent from those of Luther. For this reason, Calvin's reform fell into distinct channels and crystallized into an independent organization, and because of their form of church government, Calvinists became known as Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Church began its sep­arate denominational existence in the year 1536.

 

Thus we find that the Lutherans, Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians, are the three great Catholic-Protes­tant denominations. There are today two great denomi­nations who protested from the Episcopalians. We will now proceed to narrate their history briefly.

 

There lived in England in 1580, an Episcopalian preacher by the name of Robert Brown. He started a movement in opposition to the State Church. He ad­vocated a congregational form of church government, and greatly opposed sacerdotalism. He got a following who called themselves "Independents." Robert Brown organized the first Independent Church in 1580. After­wards, Brown repented, made confession of his mistake, went back to the Church of England, and died in that faith. His followers, however, continued the move­ment, and became known as Congregationalists.

 

One hundred and fifty years later than this, another Protestant movement was started in the Episcopalian Church. This movement was led by John Wesley. Wes­ley never intended to organize a separate Church. He would not even dignify his organization by allowing it to be called a church. He preferred that his movement should be known as a "society." But his ideas were rad­ical, and his followers very naturally became looked upon as a distinct denomination of Christians. So un­der Wesley's influence, the Methodist Church was for­mally organized in the year of our Lord, 1740.*

 

•Professor George P. Fisher, in his "History of the Christian Church," regarding the circumstances leading up to the founding of the Methodist Church, says, "Methodism arose within the bor­ders of the Episcopalian Church. By the force of circumstances, and contrary to the original intention and preferences of its foun­ders, it drifted into a separate organization. The principal orig­inators of the great religious revival of which Methodism was the off-spring, were John Wesley and George Whitefield; but to the indomitable will and organizing genius, joined with the re­ligious fervor, of Wesley, its existence as a distinct and influential body is chiefly due. It was no part of Wesley's design to build up a sect, or to break in any way the connection with the Church of England. With all sincerity, to the end of his life, he abjured such an intention. Not many months before his death, he said, 'I declare once more that I live and die a member of the Church of England, and none who regard my advice will ever separate from it.' This is but one of numerous declarations of the same purport. Charles Wesley was even more resolute in holding this position. But John Wesley, much to the disgust of his brother, felt impelled to take a course which legally and actu­ally involved separation. He became convinced that presbyter and bishop are of the same order, and that he had as good a right to ordain as to administer the sacrament. He ordained Coke, and authorized him to ordain Asbury as superintendents of bishops for the Methodists in America. He ordained preachers also for service in Scotland and in other foreign places. He was ultimately obliged, moreover, to register his chapels in order to protect them, according to the provisions of The Acts of Tolera­tion. He gave them, by a deed of trust, into the charge of one hundred preachers. He thereby conferred upon the Methodist body a separate legal status. Thus the instrumentalities which had at first been created as ancillary and supplemental to the Church of England resulted in being given to a distinct and com­pact ecclesiastical body."

 

In the year 1788, there was born in Ireland to a dis­tinguished Presbyterian preacher a son, whom he named Alexander. This son grew up and also became a Pres­byterian preacher. In a few years the family came to America. The young Alexander Campbell, after com­ing to America, fell into very independent thinking. He quit the Presbyterian ministry and joined the Baptists. Finally he fell out with the Baptists. He outlined a system of faith and went out as an independent preach­er. In the year 1827, Alexander Campbell organized a Church of his own. This Church has grown on ever since, and one of her greatest struggles for recognition has been directed against the name of her founder, which name has rather naturally followed her up. Thus arose the Campbellite Church, which protested both from the Presbyterians and from the Baptists.

 

In Fayette, New York, in the year 1830, there lived a very simple-minded, uneducated man who passed among men by the very commonplace name of Joe Smith. Joe Smith stole a posthumous manuscript from his former employer and benefactor. He fabricated the story that he had received its matter in a revelation from the angels. He caused the book to be published, and went to preaching and got a following. As soon as the public became aware of his polygamous teachings his fel­low-townsmen ran him out of the country. He and his following migrated to Kirkland, Missouri. Being forced from that country, they returned to Illinois. Here they set up a New Jerusalem, and defied the interference of the State authorities. The State militia was ordered out to suppress the riot which followed. Joseph Smith met his death in a battle with the State militia of Illinois. His followers migrated to Utah. This was the beginning of the monstrous, adulterous Mormon Church.

 

Even during the lifetime of the writer, there lived a woman who has written a book, entitled "Science and Health," which has become the Bible for a new “Christian” denomination. In the year 1884, Mrs. Mary Baker Glover Eddy founded, in Boston, Massachusetts, a school for the purpose of teaching her system of scientific healing. She charged great prices and soon found herself growing vastly rich. She built a tem­ple and enlarged her business. Today her movement is known as the "Christian Science Church."

 

Now, we come to the Baptist denomination. Who or­ganized the first Baptist Church? What was the date of its establishment? Who formulated its articles of faith? In answer to these questions, I assert that the first Bap­tist church was organized by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, during His personal ministry on the earth; time and place recorded in Luke 6:12-16; Mark 3:13-19; Mat­thew 10:1-42. The Baptist Church has Jesus for its founder, the Holy Spirit for the administrator of its activities, and the New Testament for its articles of faith and laws of being. Throughout the Christian ages, the pure Baptist teaching has survived. The "gates of hell" have not and shall not prevail against it.*

 

"A few historical quotations on this point from prominent men in other denominations establish the historical fulfillment of the statement of Jesus in Matthew 16:18. Mr. Alexander Campbell said: "The Baptists can trace their origin to apostolic times, and produce unequivocal testimony of their existence in every century down to the present time. We can show that from the earliest
times there has existed a people, whom no man can number, that have earnestly and consistently contended for the true faith once delivered to the saints. From the Apostolic age to the present
time, the sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced." President Gregg, a noted Presbyterian, says of Baptist ancestry, "Mission­aries sent from
Rome, in the apostolic days, planted Churches in the valleys of the Alps.  When others yielded to the Roman See, these spurned the yoke of the church of the Seven Hills, and kept their apostolicity intact. They were never subject to Rome. Rome changed, not they. If it had not been that the towering Alps were their fortresses, they would have been speedily crushed." Dr. Alexis Masstin hears this testimony, "They are, in our view, primitive Christians, or inheritors of the primitive church, who have been preserved in these valleys, and it is not they who separated from Catholicism, but Catholicism from them." Reinerius, a Roman inquisitor, in speaking of those whom he was charged to destroy: "They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolic authority."

 

 

THE HISTORICAL TEST

 

Such, in brief, is the historical origin of these different Christian denominations under consideration. The ques­tion may well be asked: Did Jesus Christ give any his­torical test by which His true churches can be distin­guished in their priority over all other institutions which might claim religious recognition through the ages? Most certainly He did not leave this all impor­tant matter in uncertainty. If Jesus were silent here, then He Himself were responsible for the present di­vided condition of the Christian world as seen in our modern denominational life. Jesus laid down the his­torical test for His true Churches in Matthew 16:18. Here Jesus said to the twelve apostles, who them­selves composed the first church organization, after they had confessed him on this occasion as "The Christ, the Son of the living God," "Upon this rock, I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Two historical tests are clearly defined in this ex­pression of Jesus. The first is that the only true Church was founded by Jesus Christ Himself—"I will build my Church." The second is that the organization which Jesus calls "my Church" shall never cease to exist throughout all the ages—"The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." To this same body of apostles, who composed the organization which Jesus founded, Jesus said, on the day He ascended to the Father, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the ages."

 

It is clear to anyone that the Church which cannot bear this historical test which Jesus Christ Himself laid down can never successfully claim to be "The Bride of Christ." It is impossible for any organization failing to meet this historical test to be the Church which Jesus founded, which is His "body" and of which "He is the Head."

It follows, therefore, that the Catholic Church, which was founded by Gregory the First, five hundred and ninety years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own his­torical test, as to origin and perpetuity, and is there­fore not the true Church of Christ, The Lutheran Church, which was founded by Martin Luther, fifteen hundred and seventeen years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test either in origin or perpetui­ty, and is therefore not the true Church of Christ. The Episcopalian Church, which was founded by Henry the Eighth, fifteen hundred and thirty-four years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test, either in origin or perpetuity and is therefore not the true Church of Christ. The Presbyterian Church which was founded by John Calvin fifteen hundred and thirty-six years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test as to origin or perpetuity, and is therefore, not the true Church of Christ. The Congregational Church, which was founded by Robert Brown fifteen hundred and eighty years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test as to origin or perpetuity and is there­fore not the true Church of Christ. The Methodist Church, which was founded by John Wesley seventeen hundred and thirty-eight years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test either in origin or perpetui­ty, and is therefore not the true Church of Christ. The Campbellite Church, which was founded by Alexander Campbell, eighteen hundred and twenty-seven years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test either in origin or perpetuity, and is therefore not the true Church of Christ. The Mormon Church, which was founded by Joe Smith, eighteen hundred and thirty years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's own historical test either in origin or perpetuity, and is therefore not the true Church of Christ. The Christian Science Church, which was founded by Mrs. Mary Baker Glover Eddy, eighteen hundred and eighty-four years after Christ, cannot meet Christ's historical test either in origin or perpetuity, and therefore is not the true Church of Christ.

 

It thus follows, so clearly that no man can fail to see it, that to accept these man-made institutions as the true churches of Jesus Christ, is to rob Jesus Christ of the Headship of His Churches, and make the Son of God a liar when he said His Church should never cease to exist.

 

 

THE DOCTRINAL TEST

 

There is a doctrinal test equally as important as the historical test to which we will now subject these modem so-called churches. The Church which Jesus founded has certain well-defined doctrinal characteristics laid down: in the New Testament by which it may be forever recognized and distinguished from all apocryphal institutions which may through the ages arise to call themselves Christian Churches. Let us now proceed to a brief doctrinal comparison of these several denominations under consideration.

 

In making out this doctrinal comparison, I want to set forth this proposition and then proceed to demonstrate it: The greatest antithesis in Christian doctrine that can be found in the world of Christian thought is discovered in the two positions of the Baptists, and the Catholics. The two extremes of Christian doctrine rest with the Baptists on the one hand and the Catholics on the other. All other denominations come in between these two positions. We will find by comparison that all other denominations have more in common with the Catholics than do the Baptists. We will also find that most of the other denominations have more in common with the Catholics than they do with the Baptists, Let us, then, state the position of the Baptists, and of the Catholics on certain great Scriptural doctrines, and then see the relative position anti kinship of all other denominations to either the Baptists or the Catholics, on these great doctrines.

 

(1). The Baptists believe in the Bible as God's final and complete revelation to man and, as His unchangeable law, is the only source of doctrine and the only word of authority for the individual Christian and for Christian churches.

 

The Catholic position regarding the Bible is the exact opposite to this. Catholics believe in the Pope as the absolute source of all doctrine. And the exclusive arbiter of all practice, governing individuals and churches; that the "Church" may create doctrine, suspend or enforce practice at any time, arbitrarily without respect or regard for the unchangeable words of Scripture. Take the other denominations, and compare their stand on this all, important doctrine. The Lutheran Church is an episcopacy with legislative powers governing both the doctrine and polity of churches and of individuals. The Episcopalian Church is an episcopacy with legis­lative courts, which frame doctrine and legislate con­duct for the churches and for individuals. The Pres­byterian Church is a centralized aristocracy, composed of a series of legislative courts with a gradation in author­ity from the session of the particular Church to the General Assembly of the whole denomination. The General Assembly is the "supreme court" which passes on all questions of doctrine and Church government, from which there is no appeal for the churches or for individuals. On the Baptist principle of the Bible as the only source of doctrine and of polity for churches and for individuals, the Presbyterian Church has a poor substitute for Episcopal hierarchism. On this prin­ciple the Congregational Church measures nearer to the Baptist position, but we will find them less of kin on other doctrines. The Methodist Church is an episcopacy with ample legislative powers to fix doctrine and to govern a system of ecclesiastical machinery by which the particular congregation is ignored and the individual is lost to view. The Campbellite Church has the semblance of Congregational government, and claims the open Bible as its rule of faith. In formulating its system of faith, Alexander Campbell learned that much from his brief association with the Baptists;—only in the matter of church government, he gave congregations the right to vote away their powers in calling a pastor by vesting the pastor with episcopal powers to receive members into the church without a vote of the congregation, and to arbitrarily exercise certain sacerdotal functions. The Mormon Church is an absolute despotism in government and a usurper in doctrine. In these things it is more like the Catholic Church in form than any of the Protestant Churches. The Christian Science Church is to be classed with the Mormons in matters of doctrine and government. Both have a Bible of their own making, and their presidents assume to promulgate "revelations" of doctrine, and to issue edicts of law governing abso­lutely their whole apocryphal and blasphemous organ­isms. It is rather remarkable that under a democratic government, where the principles of civil liberty and re­ligious freedom have found their fullest expression, that these two despotic religious systems should have had their origin and built their churches. Let us observe the full force of this comparison on this one New Testament doctrine by a few illustrations in point.

 

A Church of England preacher a few years ago came to America. He was received into church con­nections by the Episcopalian Church in this country, and was given the rectory of a parish in one of our southern states. He became greatly enamoured of our American institutions. He had never known much about the Baptists. One Monday morning on the street, he approached the Baptist pastor in his town, and with evident concern, inquired: "Is it true that Baptist church­es are democratic in their local government, and that the Baptist denomination has no federal government bind­ing the different local churches into a system? Is it a fact that Baptist churches have no book of law save the open Bible; and that you, as a pastor, have no author­ity over you governing your preaching and pastoral ac­tivities; that you can preach like you please and pray like your heart dictates? Is it true that you are at liberty to lay down your work here and take up labors else­where, without reference to any higher Church author­ity than your local congregation?" To these earnest questions, the Baptist pastor replied, "You have been very correctly informed about the Baptists. I can reply to all your questions most heartily in the affirmative, sir." The preacher from England thereupon exclaimed, "My dear sir, you Baptists are certainly very Ameri­can in your Church life!" A shadow fell over his face, as he remarked with evident seriousness: "It is quite different with our Church. Why, sir, yesterday morn­ing at my services, I felt really devout, and desired to pray, and in that prayer express my real emotions of soul to God. I laid aside my prayer book and led an ex­temporaneous prayer. But, sir, if my Bishop finds that out on me, I will be subject to reprimand from him.'.'

 

Can Romanism be worse than that? Can Romanism at its worst, do worse than strangle the voice of true prayer to God? "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."

 

The town papers announced the resignation of the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church to accept a pastorate in another state. The speaker met this re­signing Presbyterian pastor, and expressed regret at losing him from the city. The resigning pastor re­marked: "Well, I feel that I could not do otherwise. I have prayed over this matter very earnestly, and I am convinced that my going is the leading of God's Spirit." This man's resignation was sent up to the Presbytery to be passed upon. The Presbytery decided against the change, and sent this pastor back to his old task, not­withstanding, that after prayer, he believed that God's Spirit was directing the change!

 

Yet, it is a fact that the Presbyterian Church is not governed by a hierarchism as severe as rules in Metho­dism; but we see that Presbyterianism has the power to usurp the functions of the Holy Spirit. Paul said to the pastors of his day and time, "Take heed, there­fore, unto yourselves, and to the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers; to feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you."

 

(2). Let us take another New Testament doctrine by way of comparison: The Baptists believe that A Believer in Jesus Christ is the Only Scriptural Sub­ject for Baptism, and that No One But a Converted and a Regenerated Person Should Be Baptized.

 

The Catholic Church invented baptismal regeneration, and set up the practice of infant and unregenerate baptism. On this point of doctrine, the Baptists stand absolutely alone… Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, all baptize babies as do the Catholics; and in fact, stand squarely with the Catholic Church for un-regenerate baptism. Mor­mons, Campbellites, and Christian Sciences stand with the Catholics for baptismal regeneration.

 

(3) Baptists believe that New Testament Baptism is Immersion. The Catholics believe with the Baptists, that immersion was the New Testament usage, but con­sistent with their stand on other Scripture, the "Church" arbitrarily set aside the New Testament usage and substituted, sprinkling for baptism. Lutherans, Espicopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationists, Methodists, all accept Catholic, instead of New Testament baptism, and therefore practice sprinkling. Mormons, Campbell­ites, and Christian Scientists, refuse Catholic baptism in form, and in formulating their practice of the ordi­nance, adopt the original New Testament form of immersion.

 

(4). Baptists Believe that Salvation is Purely of Grace, That the Vicarious Death of Jesus is the Only Means of Redemption for any Human Being. There­fore the Baptists hold that the Ordinance of Baptism is only a Symbol Setting Forth a Believer's Death to Sin, His Regeneration by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and that the Act of Baptism Has in it No Sav­ing Efficacy or Sacramental Grace.

 

The Catholics believe that salvation is not purely a work of grace, that the death of Jesus Christ is not the only means of salvation, but that the ordinance of Baptism is efficacious, contains sacramental grace, and is essential to salvation. On this doctrine, again, the Baptists stand alone, and all others hold the position of the Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, hold squarely to the Catholic position that infant baptism contains sacra­mental grace; while the Mormons, Campbellites and Christian Scientists, hold that baptism by immersion is essential to salvation.

 

For fear some may find fault with me for classing them with the Catholics on this doctrine of baptismal regeneration, I will quote from the law of some of the other churches on the subject. Unless Church legisla­tors have changed the law very recently, the following obtains among the churches named, and is a fair sample of the position of all covenantal churches on this doctrine:

 

The Episcopalian Catechism says:

"Baptism is that wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."

 

The Presbyterian Confession reads:

"Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and a seal of the covenant of Grace, of his engrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ to walk in newness of life."

 

The Methodist ritual reads as follows:

"Sanctify this water for this holy sacrament, and grant that this child, now to be Baptized, may receive the fullness of thy Grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children."

 

In a city where the speaker was laboring in the Gospel, the pastors of all the churches in the city came to­gether one morning to consider the propriety of in­viting Dr. R. A. Torrey to conduct a city-wide evan­gelistic meeting. To that Pastors' Conference, came the Episcopalian rector of the city. The rector asked to make a statement. He proceeded as follows; "I want to put myself right before all you pastors of the city in my relation to the proposed evangelistic meeting. I cannot co-operate with you in the movement, and I want you to understand my convictions in the matter. I do not believe in what is known among you as evangelism. I do not believe in what you call conversions under the spontaneous operation of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. I believe in covenantal grace, and that people become Christians by baptism and confirmation into the church. Believing as I do, I cannot consistently engage with you in your proposed evangelistic campaign." All this, the rector said very frankly and earnestly. Then, in seeming justification of his position, after a mo­ment's hesitation, he continued: "I want to say to you Presbyterian pastors here, that if you live up to the covenantal teachings of your Church, you cannot en­gage in an evangelistic meeting. I will say the same to the Methodist pastors also, that if you live up to the covenantal teachings of your Church, you cannot consis­tently engage in an evangelistic meeting. You should either abandon your covenantal teachings or quit hold­ing evangelistic campaigns. By undertaking to carry out both, you make two plans by which men become Christians. As I see it, these Baptist preachers are the only preachers in our city who can consistently car­ry on an evangelistic meeting. They do not believe in covenantal grace, but they consistently hold every man to a personal experience of religion which they call conversion and regeneration."

 

(5). Baptists Believe in the Equality of Church Members in the Privileges and the Government of the Churches.

 

Catholics give church members no privileges but to obey the "Church" and no voice whatever in the gov­ernment of the Church. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Pres­byterians, Methodists, Mormons, Christian Scientists, stand with the Catholics on this doctrine in varying degrees, while the Congregationalists and Campbellites submit some things to a vote of the congregation.

 

(6). Baptists Believe in the Absolute Freedom of the Individual Conscience.

 

Catholics give the individual no personal prerogative. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregation­alists, Methodists, stand close to the Catholics because of their practice of infant baptism; while Mormons and Christian Scientists stand squarely with the Catho­lics because of their despotic constitutions. Camp­bellites put an ordinance between the sinner and his Saviour, and thereby forbid his unlimited approach to God.

 

Infant baptism is a manifest subornation and usur­pation of the function of personal will. If a ques­tion of state law were involved in the act of infant baptism, every bishop, priest or preacher who per­forms the act could be indicted by the court for subor­nation of perjury, convicted as a felon for the crime of intimidating or usurping the function of individual will upon the part of the child, in robbing him of the prerogative of personal obedience to the command of Jesus. On the same principle, every god-mother or god­-father who aids, assists or abets the deed could he con­victed for accessory to the fact.

 

 

THE DIVIDING LINE

 

Thus it can be easily seen that the Baptists and the Catholics hold nothing in common; and, that all other denominations hold a middle ground somewhere be­tween the Baptist and the Catholic positions. I believe that the time is now on when the Christian world is going more completely to divide itself between these two great extremes in doctrine. Some are going to drift nearer to the Catholics, and finally be absorbed by them; while others are going to drift further front the Catholics, and come to accept the Baptist position. The final grand definition of Christian theology will be expressed in terms of New Testament authority on the one hand, as held by the Baptists, or the edicts of the Catholic Pope on the other. The Catholics are intol­erant to any organization or power that disputes the authority or right of the Pope to govern the religious or civil thoughts of men. On the other hand, the Baptists are intolerant to any organization or power that dis­putes the authority of Jesus Christ as expressed in the New Testament Scriptures, and the God-given right of men to worship God for themselves.

 

What the last great struggle between these two in­tolerant positions will mean, only the mind of God can know. Yet, I think that the word of Jesus and the prophecies of Revelation, give hope to the Baptists that their age-long contention will finally triumph. On one glad day God's angel from Heaven shall an­nounce to the world that the day of Baptist martyr­doms to the Truth is passed. "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of Earth" is fallen! "The kings of earth, who have committed for­nication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning." "Rejoice over her, thou Heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her."

 

 

THE BAPTIST DEFENSE FOR A SEPARATE DENOMINATIONAL EXISTENCE

 

THE PROBLEM of Church Union is becoming a question of general religious discussion. So far, the practical solution of the question has taken no definite form nor shaped itself into any lines of procedure. The popular idea of Church Union com­prehends the breaking down of the standards of mod­ern denominational individuality, and the merging of all kinds and character of professing Christians into one, big Church. The idea of one Church for all Christians is undoubtedly Scriptural. The ideal of Scripture certainly does not give place for the present number of so-called churches which maintain a separate existence in the world today. It is obvious to any thinking man that the multiplicity of Christian denomi­nations, in the maintenance of their separate institu­tions and mission activities, is un-scriptural, un-eco­nomic, contrary to the will of God, and greatly detri­mental to the successful propagandism of the Gospel of Jesus Christ both at home and among the unevan­gelized nations.

 

For years, the question of denominational union has been discussed. In these later days, however, the idea has taken serious hold in the councils of many denomi­nations: and preliminary steps have been taken by some looking to a world-conference, in the near fu­ture composed of leaders from all denominations who, it is hoped, may succeed in formulating some system of "faith and order" which all the Christian world could accept and unite upon. The contemplation of such a gigantic consummation of faith and fraternity is indeed fascinating and thrilling in the extreme to the heart of every faithful child of God.

 

The Scriptural argument for denominational union is as plain and is as broad and deep as the intercessory prayer of Jesus recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. The fraternal argument for such union is intense and touches every sentiment of Christian affection. The economic argument for denominational union, based upon the facility and advancement of the kingdom, is sane and convincing beyond dispute. Surely the obvious need for denominational union is beyond denial, and the imperative demand for such union must be acknowledged by every deliberate Christian mind.

 

The Christianity of today is standing before the ac­cusative eye of modern intelligence unable, in her pres­ent aspect, to defend herself when the reasonable and just demands of modern thought ask why the divided, inharmonious, and even acrimonious and mutinous con­ditions of her adherents are allowed to exist.

 

The time has come when no longer will religious sen­timentality and tolerant indulgence give sufficient ground for the useless and extravagant expenditure of great money and religious forces in the multiplicity and duplication of work for the accomplishment of the same professed aim. The religious exigencies of the hour demand of every Christian denomination a reason­able and convincing argument for a separate denomi­national existence. The problems of the mission fields of the world, as well as the ever-increasing needs of the home land, all cry out against the needless delay of the message of life incurred by the followers of Christ by piling up their millions of money and wasting God's hours of opportunity in duplicating church institutions at the expense of both harmony and advancement.

 

A fair and unprejudiced comparison of the articles of faith of the modern evangelical Christian denomi­nations will show that on many, and that the seemingly most vital and essential teachings of Jesus, they are al­ready agreed and theoretically united; and that the points of widest Separation are those which would appear the least essential to constitutional Christianity. These vital doctrines on which the evangelical churches are already tacitly at union, stand out prominently as com­prehending the very foundation upon which any state­ment of Christian faith must ultimately rest, his fact should provide a working basis for a program of inter­denominational union.

 

All evangelical churches, upon very slight differences of interpretation, accept:

 

1. The divine inspiration of the Scriptures.

2. The divinity and messiahship of Jesus Christ.

3. The vicarious death of Jesus as the only remedy for sin.

4. The resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

5. His ascension and mediatorial reign.

6. The personality and office work of the Holy Spirit.

7. The necessity and repentance and faith to divine acceptance.

8. Church membership, the duty of every professing Christian.

9. Baptism, a prerequisite to church membership.

10. Church membership, a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper.

11. The Gospel, God's plan of evangelizing the nations.

12. The evangelization of the nations, the supreme business of the Churches.

13. Hell and eternal punishment for all the rejectors of Christ.

14. Heaven, the blessed eternal home of all the saved.

 

Since these doctrines are absolutely essential to the constitutional life of a Christian Church, and since these doctrines are professedly accepted by all evan­gelical Christians, then no man can object to an at­tempted. Church Union when all these doctrines are in­corporated in the articles of federation, unless there is something more essential than these left out or unless, by incorporating other teachings in a proposed state­ment of doctrine for possible union, these doctrines should be obscured or devitalized.

 

The Baptist denomination is in hearty accord with the idea of Church Union, and looks with prayerful hopes toward a future which may see all denominational lines wiped out, and the whole Christian world stand a mighty, militant, united people, once more upon the "foundation of Christ and the apostles." The Baptists offer their best services for the promotion of this mighty Scriptural consummation. In the eyes of all the world, and before God's judgment throne, the Bap­tists would stand adjudged guilty of a colossal fail­ure of duty, if they should stand loose from a complete  union of all Christian denominations because of a prejudicial contention for any non-essential point of their peculiar doctrine or polity. If the Baptists should stand uncompromisingly upon the doctrines which they hold, in the face of a general demand for Christian Union, they must do so upon principles that cannot be successfully assailed either from Scriptural or histori­cal grounds.

 

With all these things clearly before me, and duly con­sidered, I come now to assert that the Baptists have no articles of faith to surrender or modify, or principles of Church polity to give up or compromise in making out a program for interdenominational Church Union. Their very doctrines themselves hold the Baptists to an immutable position, and their constitutional life forbids the possibility of organic union with any organiza­tion new or old; because, there is no possible way to modify or alter their doctrine without marring or de­stroying the doctrine itself. It is a dominant principle a­mong Baptists that there is no such thing as organic de­nominational union binding their own churches into a system of government. They have no ecclesiastical courts or legislative parliaments for the purpose of making laws and issuing mandates to the particular churches. It were therefore impossible to legislate agreements or sign articles of federation that could bind the Baptist churches of the land for a day. If such were done, the Baptists would be forced to veto the act on the consti­tutional ground of their complete Church autonomy.

 

In other words, the Baptists are bound in their exis­tence by certain fundamental and constitutional laws of being which make them what they are, and these laws of being forbid the possibility of their being legislated out of existence without destroying the only material out of which the doctrinal structure of a New Testament Church could be formed. To the Baptists, a New Test­ament Church has certain well defined characteristics which make up its personality; destroy those characteris­tics, and you have dissolved the personality, and are left with nothing.

 

The Baptists, therefore, have a defense for their sepa­rate denominational existence which they shall never hesitate to plead in the face of every possible claim of expediency, and before the highest and most numerous ecclesiastical tribunals that may assemble on earth.

 

In making their defense for a separate denominational existence, the Baptists, in the first place, renounce any and all responsibility for the present divisions in doc­trine and polity which have brought into existence the numerous Christian denominations of today. I grant that this renunciation of responsibility does not relieve the Baptists of the other responsibility of trying to rec­tify conditions as they present themselves today; but this is only to affirm  that this latter responsibility the Baptists have never failed to try to discharge.

 

The Baptists renounce the responsibility for the pres­ent divided condition of the Christian world because the Baptists were here when all other denominations came into existence, and the constitution and faith of all other churches were formulated by leaders who re­jected the Baptist position and set up their ecclesias­tical systems over the protests of the Baptists, and that with the full, knowledge of the doctrines which the Baptists hold. The value of the Baptist priority of ex­istence over all other evangelical denominations was purchased at the cost of blood and martyrdom suffered by thousands during the dark night of the Middle Ages, and their title to every doctrine which they hold was written in blood in the days when they alone kept alive, even in the dens and caves of the earth, the only true evangelical teaching which the Protestant Churches, in a brighter day, came to profess in part.

 

Modern denominationalism had its birth in the Re­formation in the beginning of the sixteenth century. That date marked a period of general awakening, intel­lectually and religiously. The world was ready to shake off the sleep of the Middle Ages, and to arouse herself from the religious nightmare of Catholic superstitions. Martin Luther stood forth as the leader of a new reli­gious order. The break with the Catholic Church was general and widespread, the loosening of the grip of the Pope on the civil governments of the time gave the Re­formation its greatest promise of success. The Pope marshaled all the civil and ecclesiastical forces at his command to suppress the impending war against Catho­lic despotism and degenerate practices, but he was im­potent to stem the inevitable tide of religious revo­lution. The Reformers were thrown out of the Catho­lic Church by excommunication, but this served only to crystallize their doctrines and to solidify their follow­ers into formal organization. The Baptists of the time came out of their hiding places and exiles, whence they had been driven during all the centuries of Catholic dominion, and welcomed the light of the new day as a time for the restoration of primitive Christianity. The Baptists held out to the reformers the open Bible and urged them to adopt it as their only rule of faith and practice, and to cast away forever and completely every vestige of Roman sacramentalism and sacerdotal­ and thus make their reform a complete return with simplicity of the New Testament order.

 

Professor Kurtz, in his Church history says of the Baptist attitude towards Luther and the other reform­ers: "The representatives of the Baptist movement showed their ultra-reforming character by this, that while at one with Luther and Zwingli in seeking the overthrow of all views and practices of the Roman Catholic Church regarded by them as un-evangelical, they characterized the position of the Reformers as a halting half way, and so denounced them as still deep­ly rooted in the anti-Christian errors of the papacy. They were especially indignant at the position of the reformers for not rejecting with scorn the help of magistrates in carrying out the Reformation move­ment for recognizing, not only the right, but the duty of civil rulers to co-operate in the reconstruction of the Church to exercise control over the ecclesiastical and religious life of the community as well as each indi­vidual, to see to the maintenance of Church order, and to visit the refractory with civil penalties." In a further summary of Baptist doctrine advocated insis­tently during the Reformation, Professor Kurtz says that they believed in freedom in matters of conscience, religion, worship, and doctrine as a fundamental axiom which forms the primary privilege of the Christian re­ligion. They contended for the Bible "as the only un­conditional valid legislative code for Christians." They stood for a strict converted church membership, regen­eration before baptism; and declared infant baptism to be of the devil.

 

Since such was the contention of the Baptists in the days of Luther, no man can undertake to say that the Baptists failed in their duty in seeking to prevent divi­sions in Protestant Christianity. There is no possible estimation of the consequences which would have en­tailed in blessings from the Reformation, if Luther and Calvin had accepted the Baptist contention at the time, and had planted their churches squarely upon the New Testament. If no mixture of Catholicism had clung to these first Protestant organizations, the cleavage would have been complete, and there would have been no fur­ther excuse for other Protestant bodies. Yet, it is written of Luther, that he hated the Baptists hardly less than he hated the Catholics.

 

Furthermore, it may be said with equal emphasis, that the Baptists are not responsible for the continuation of the divided conditions of the Protestant world. Bap­tists are not Protestants. They have ever been the eter­nal enemies of Romanism. At every break in the, ranks of Catholicism, as well as the reforms that have taken place in Protestantism out of which new denominations have been formed, the Baptists have stood by with the open Bible inviting the dissenters to a full return to apostolic practices, and a complete renunciation of every semblance of Catholicism. In all the history of Pro­testantism, the Baptists have insistently pleaded with the Christian world to come back to the Bible and to re­store entirely the New Testament doctrines and usages. This age-long plea of the Baptists, they offer, no less insistently today, and this plea must yet be heard by the Protestant Churches before the Baptists shall cease to contend for a separate denominational existence.

 

Again, the Baptists assert that they have ever held through all the Christian centuries every essential and evangelical doctrine contained in the creeds of any and all other denominations. The Protestant denomina­tions would not have to surrender one single New Test­ament teaching in accepting the Baptist position. On the other hand, Baptists could not modify or compro­mise their doctrine in any respect without devitalizing, or surrendering altogether, the plain commands of God. That which Protestant denominations would have to give up to accept the Baptist position are only those tenets which Protestants have retained of Catholic teach­ing and practice, which Baptist growth and perpetuity as a denomination have demonstrated absolutely are not essential to the vitality or propaganda, of Christian truth. No Protestant denomination would lose one crumb of truth or quench one spark of spiritual fire in surrendering their sacramental and sacerdotal sys­tems, abolishing their ritualism and formalism, swing­ing dear from every vestige of medieval ecclesiasticism, and planting themselves upon the New Testament as the "only valid, unconditional legislative code for Chris­tians." On the other hand, to unite with Protestantism would mean for the Baptists that they must leave the foundation of Christ and the apostles, and don some of the scarlet of Rome, which refusing to do in the Middle Ages, cost them blood and martyrdom.

 

The question of Church Union is an impossibility with Baptists on simple practical grounds. Baptist churches are not organically or legally united among them­selves. Because of this fact, it were impossible for them to become such with other peoples. The complete autonomy of Baptist churches precludes the possibility of any federation of their churches that would bind for a day the Baptist denomination as a whole. Baptists have no "Congress of Bishops" or "Chamber of Depu­ties," or other ecclesiastical courts who may frame laws and issue orders to the particular congregations.

 

Furthermore, the Baptists are possessed of no consti­tuted books of church laws, disciplines, prayer books, confessions, or other legal formularies, to offer for mod­ification or repeal by some ecumenical council on Chris­tian "Faith and Order." Before such an ecclesiastical assemblage, the Baptists would be forced to appear with the New Testament as their only book of law, to be submitted to their censorship for reconstruction and amendment.

 

Among many other doctrines which the Baptists honor, and cherish dearer than mortal life, there are three dis­tinguishing and determining Baptist principles which the Baptists offer to the world as absolutely essential to the life of a pure Christian Church, patterned after the order of the apostolic churches. These three principles the Baptists shall never surrender. They offer them to the Protestant world as a reason and a defense for a separate Baptist denominational existence until the Chris­tian world comes to their acceptation. We shall see in the discussion of these three distinguishing Baptist prin­ciples that their acceptation by all Protestant Churches would solve the problem of Christian union, and place all the followers of Jesus on a common ground of doc­trine and brotherhood.

 

(1) The first of these principles is, The Bible, the Only Source of Doctrine and the Only Governing Law for Christians and for Christian Churches.

 

To accept this great principle looks easy; not to ac­cept it would seem a Christian paradox; but to apply this principle literally, would work devastation and ruin to the Church creeds of the world. The operation of this principle would destroy every legislated creed that has ever been formulated by the ecclesiastical councils of the world. It would abolish every ritual, liturgy, or other formulary that has ever bound the devotions of a worshipping people. It would repeal and, nullify every act of ecclesiastical legislation that was ever enacted by a denominational court for the governing of churches, and leave the Christian world with no religious code, save the New Testament as a law of life and conduct.

 

(2) The second determining and distinguishing Bap­tist principle which would help to solve the question of Christian Union, if accepted by all Churches is, The Scriptural Interpretation and Administration of the Ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

 

The unscriptural interpretation and administration of these two ordinances laid the foundation for the vast system of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism which per­vades the whole theology of Roman Catholicism, and which has left its stamp upon the life of all Protes­tant Churches.

 

The New Testament teaching and practice regarding these two ordinances are gloriously simple and clear. Each of these two ordinances is symbolical and monu­mental in teaching and observance. Nowhere in the New Testament usage are they observed with anything more than symbolical intent. That these two pictorial symbols contain sacramental grace and saving efficacy is an endowment which has been vested in them not by Scrip­ture, but by the fiat of the ecclesiastical legislature of Rome.

 

To accept the Scriptural interpretation of Baptism as only symbolizing the believer's regeneration by the Holy Spirit, setting forth his "death to sin" and his resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus, as Paul states in the sixth chapter of Romans, would mean the complete overthrow of the practice of infant baptism. There is no argument that can be rendered in favor of the practice of infant baptism except that which the Catholic Church boldly asserts, which is that baptism cleanses the infant from Adamic sin and makes him a child of God. Many of the Protestant Churches which practice infant baptism deny that they do so with the sacramental interpretation of the Catho­lics. In such denial, they put themselves in the atti­tude of destroying the Scriptural symbolism of a be­liever's baptism. To apply baptism to an infant is either to destroy the symbolism of the ordinance or to regenerate the baby. If it is applied to regenerate the infant, it is manifestly unscriptural; if it is applied with any other intent, it becomes destructive of the Scriptural symbolism, and its performance is absolutely meaningless, if not sinful, and is, therefore, superflu­ous. There is no possible ground upon which to justify the practice on either hand. Baptism is an ordi­nance to be performed upon a regenerated soul, and its teaching to the world is made void when it is performed upon any other than a regenerated person. It would be a long step in a return to apostolic usage if the Pro­testant Churches should step out of the shadows of mediaeval sacramentalism and cast from them forever the destructive and sinful practice of infant baptism. They could then stand squarely upon the New Testament ground of believer's baptism and a converted church membership. To reject infant baptism, would be to re­pudiate also the vain tradition of covenantal grace ob­tained in church membership; and thus further ad­vance the process of elimination which must take place if Church Union is ever made possible.

 

Again, the Scriptural administration of the ordinance of Baptism would bring the Christian world to an­other unit of doctrine. No intelligent Scripture stu­dent today will dispute that Scriptural baptism is im­mersion. The Protestant world in retaining affusion for baptism has held onto a purely Catholic institution, and has set up an immutable barrier to Church Union. The Baptists will never acknowledge the right of a Catho­lic Pope to change the command of Jesus Christ and subvert the example of the apostles regarding the ad­ministration, of the ordinance of baptism. The fact that all Protestant denominations will in these latter days, accept the baptism of immersionists, and will practice immersion themselves, when to fail to do so would be to lose an adherent, is an acknowledgment of the scripturalness of the age-long Baptist contention. Since they have come thus far, it is certainly no longer a mat­ter of conscience with them. It should, therefore, be an, easy thing for them to surrender, for harmony's sake, whatever remaining traditional reverence they might have for the old Catholic institution of sprinkling, and return entirely to the New Testament prac­tice. The most glaring inconsistency which the Protest­ant world presents to view today is the attitude of Pro­testant Churches to the administration of the ordinance of baptism. They apply it to the unconscious infant, and to the man of gray hairs. They apply it by sprink­ling, by pouring and by immersion. They accept it administered by a Catholic who administers it upon the unregenerate in order to save him, or by a Baptist who performs it only after credible evidence of regeneration. If there were no Scripture governing the practice of the ordinance of baptism, any intelligent mind would re­nounce the idea that two or more things meant the same thing, or that two acts, directly opposite in performance and intent, are in obedience to the same law of com­mand. The Baptists have for all ages withstood such ludicrous and criminal travesties upon the command of Jesus Christ and they will hail the hour when the Pro­testant world will turn its back against the treason of the Pope of Rome, which he perpetrated against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, when he set aside the com­mand of God, and the example of Jesus Himself, and instituted affusion for Christian baptism.

 

The memorial supper of the Lord has been made by the Catholic Church to serve as a sacrament of grace. Protestant denominations still retain a sacramental super­stition regarding the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. The fact is seen in the wording of their rituals and in their notorious contention for privileges at the table of the Lord.

 

The surrender of sacramentaism would mean also the throwing overboard of all sacerdotalism. If there are no sacraments, then is the priest without an office. The New Testament knows no priest save Jesus Christ. It names no sacrifice save his own precious body. Jesus is the only Priest of the New Covenant. He, "through the eternal Spirit offered up Himself without spot to God." "For this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called, might receive the promise of eter­nal inheritance." “For Christ is not entered into the holy place made with hands, which are figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the pres­ence of God for us:” "But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able to save unto the uttermost all them that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make inter­cession for them."

 

From these Scriptures, it is clearly seen that to as­cribe sacramental grace to any thing except the blood of Jesus Christ is to deny the sufficiency and exclu­sive power of His atonement for sin; and, to vest any man with sacerdotal functions is the climax of human presumption and constitutes the foulest desecration that could he attempted against the priesthood and interces­sory office of the Son of God. A return to the Scrip­tural interpretation and administration of the ordinan­ces which Jesus set in His Church would blast out the very bed-rock of sacramentalism, and tear down the al­tars of the sacerdotalist, and help mightily in prepar­ing a way for a Scriptural union of all those who love and honor the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and in truth.

 

(3) The third distinguishing and determining Bap­tist principle which must be obtained if, ever Church Union is made possible is, The Absolute Equality of All Men Before God in Salvation, and the Equality of All Chris­tians in the Privileges and Government of the Churches.

 

The doctrine of the equality of all men before God in Salvation, forever does away with all covenant reli­gions, and deals a death blow to the superstition and fallacy of inherited grace. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace, and not of blood or ancestry. The kingdom of grace is composed of those "which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." No child upon whom the ordinance of baptism was ever performed in infancy, as a seal of a supposed covenant of grace, has any merit before God in salvation that the child of heathen parentage may not claim. No child born of Christian parents has any inherited participation in the saving grace of God that the Scriptures do not guar­antee to even the un-named and un-claimed half of the slums. "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him." "Think not to say within your­selves, we have Abraham to our Father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham." "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ."

 

The Scriptures speak nowhere of inherited grace, but they speak mightily upon the doctrine of inherited de­pravity. The idea of inherited grace and the value of covenant religion are a league with the devil, because they deny the doctrine of total depravity of the human race, and dispute the universal necessity of the atone­ment of Christ. It took even the Apostle Peter some time to learn that "God is no respecter of persons," and that grace knows no aristocracy of human blood.

 

It would mean a mighty shaking up of foundations in the denominational life of Christendom if inherited grace and covenantal salvation were stricken from the creeds of modern churches. However, it would restore the authority and vindicate the claim of the New Test­ament, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only hope of salvation for a totally depraved and otherwise hopelessly lost race.

 

The principle of the equality of church members in the privileges and government of the churches, would, at least, add the finishing touches to a glorious picture of Christian Union. The acceptation of this New Test­ament doctrine would mean the disbanding of every ecclesiastical, hierarchical system of Church govern­ment in the world. Popes, prelates, cardinals, bishops, priests and presiding elders would have to disrobe, and all lay their vestments and official insignia upon the al­tar of a common Christian Brotherhood. Ecclesiastical legislatures and parliaments would have to adjourn to meet no more forever; and all Church dignitaries, whose mediaeval ecclesiasticism and sacerdotalism have parad­ed in lordship over the followers of the lowly Jesus, would have to return to walk in the paths of the com­mon saints of God!

 

Such a mighty revolution of religious thought, such a breaking off of the bands of tradition and superstition, such a unification and mobilizing of the armies of the King, under the banner of "One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism," were a religious pageant whose splen­dor would dazzle the eyes of wondering angels, and wake their harps to martial airs!

 

Until we shall see a glorious day like that, the Bap­tists have a mission in the world, and a mighty defense to plead for a separate denominational existence. The Baptists are set eternally for the defense of the right of Jesus Christ to be the only Lord in "The household of faith," and the only "Head of the Church" for which He died. For this great contention, the Baptists have suffered much at the hands of those who would usurp the authority of their Lord. They stand today willing to repeat the martyrdoms of the Middle Ages, before they will suffer the kingly robes of their only Master to trail in the dust, or swear disloyalty to the absolute Lordship of Jesus over His Churches! If by such a stand, the Baptists be accused of dividing the Christian world, their defiant reply to the accusation is, we had rather divide the so called Churches of the world, than to divide the authority of Jesus Christ with modern Church Ecclesiastics! If this be treason, then make the most of it, but as for the Baptists, give them the Bible, and they shall be content, if they must, to go their way alone!

 

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

They have already come;

'Tis Grace hath brought them safe thus far,

And Grace will lead them home.