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Irvine Association of United Baptists
Held With The Drowning Creek Church
Madison County KY.
Sept. 25. 26 and 27th, 1879.

OFFICERS: N. B. JOHNSON, Moderator, Waco, Ky.
T. G. PARSONS, Clerk, Laurel Creek, Ky.
J. F. HERD, Assistant Clerk, Traveler's Rest, Ky.

Circular Letter
Prepared by Elder N. B. Johnson

      Dear Brothers and Sisters composing the Irvine Association:

      As it has been our custom to close our Minutes with a Circular Letter, we have chosen the following subject, viz.: "Communion." You will remember, what a source of regret it was to the great Apostle to the Gentiles when he learned that there were dissensions among them in the Church at Corinth. We also regret to learn that upon the subject of Communion there are some divisions among you; but we are happy to know they are to a very limited extent. We, therefore, in addressing you, have selected this subject, hoping that it may prove a blessing to us all, and be the means of establishing us more firmly in the faith. We shall first quote from Dr. Breaker, an eminent Baptist minister of South Carolina. He says the general practice of the Baptists, in this country, is to decline a participation in this ordinance with other demoninations. For this they are much censured by many in those denominations as being illiberal, uncharitable, and bigoted; but we, as Baptists, believe that upon the subject of Communion we are are right, according to the teachings of God's word, for we assume if Christ established a certain social organization called a church, it is certainly wrong to call anything else a church but that very thing.

      There is just as much Scripture authority for a plurality of true gospels, or true faiths, or true Mediators, as for a plurality of true Church institutions or orders. A plurality must involve a departure from the Divine model; and every such departure makes a false, rather than a true Church. No one believes that Christ established a Baptist Church, and a Presbyterian Church, and a Methodist Church, and an Episcopal Church, and a half a dozen other Churches of different names and orders; but each one of these Churches or orders claims to be a faithful copy of the original Divine model. If it dare not claim this; if it dare not profess to be an embodiment of the Scripture teachings, but conceeds that it is a different thing from the Church of the New Testament, then it at once forfeits all title to the name of a Church of Christ, and if it does claim and profess this conformity to the Scripture model, then by that very claim and profession it denies that the other Churches are true Churches, but holds them to be false and spurious precisely in proportion as they differ from it. This is practically asserted by each Church or denomination of all the rest in the act of its organization and perpetuation. Why, for instance, did the Episcopal Church, which dates to the time of Henry the VIII, its founder, withdraw from the papal supremacy and iustitute a new Church order, if it was not because it regarded the Romish order an unscriptural one, and the one it established the scriptural one? If not its establislunent was an act of chism, and it is itself in that case a mere schismatic off-shoot from the parent-body, with no sort of title to be called a Church; and why docs this Church or order still continue since the rise of other orders, if it is not because it still regards itself right and all the others wrong? An Episcopalian therefore, cannot, with any propriety or consistency, partake of the Commnnion with the members of other sects.

      If there is a necessity, or a suflicient reason for maintaining a distinct existence and separate Church order, there is a necessity or sufficient reason for confining their Communion or Church affiliation to themselves. The same may be said of the Presbyterian Church. Why did Calvin and his coadjutors establish this new order if it was not that they deemed this the Scriptural and

right one, and the Romish and the Episcopal unscriptural and false? And why do Presbyterians perpetuate this order, since the rise of other and new orders, if it is not that they still deem theirs right, and the others differing from theirs wrong? If so, then they cannot with any propriety commune and thus affiliate with other denominations. The Methodist Church, which sprang up under John Wesley, a little. over a century ago, must have grown out of a conviction on the part of 1ts founders that the then ex1stmg Churches or orders were not true and Scriptural ones, for they established one differing from them all. If they did not judge thus, then they too were manifestly schismatics. If they did then they cannot, without gross inconsistency, affiliate by the act of Communion with members of bodies whom they practically and emphatically declare to be no true Church.

      The same may be said of the Reformed, or so-called Christian Church, which sprang up under the auspices of Alexander Campbell, about fifty years ago. The inquiry, says the late John G. Waller, respecting the propriety of holding sacramental Communion with our neighbors of this current Reformation, is one of more difficulty, in the estimation of some, than that respecting the Pedo-Baptists; but to our mind the path of duty is very piain and obvious. The Reformers do not regard the Baptists as members of the Church of Christ. They proclaim us to be schismatics or sectarians; they affirm that we have built upon another foundation than the sacred Scriptures; that we are one of the daughters of mystical Babylon. Hence, their chief work has been to reform us. If they regard ours as Churches of God, then they are guilty of an egregious wrong in producing schism in the body of Christ, which they everywhere attempt, and if they do not regard ours as Churches of God, then they cannot, according to the Bible, which they profess so dearly to reverence wish sacramental Communion with us. In many of the Reform congregations, too, are persons who have been excluded from the Baptist Churches for sundry misdemeanors and immoralities, and yet have been taken into the brotherhood of the Reformation. Such examples unfortunately exist too abundantly. Do not Baptists, then, in fellowshiping such at the Lord's table, and as true Church members, proclaim their own want of ecclesiastical existence? Is it not an admission that they have no scriptural right to receivce [sic] and exclude members? Is it not, in short, an acknowledgement as palpable as it is humiliating, that every thing which the Reform proclaimers have preached and published respecting our sectarianism and our kindredship to the Papal harlot, is just and true? As matters now stand between ourselves and the Reformers, it would be far better for us to become members with them, than to Commune with them; that would be more consistent and manly. It is better and more honorable to surrender our cause than to betray it. For many of the Reformers, individually, we cherish the kindest Christian feelings, but when we are called upon to recognize them as a body, the case is materially altered, to say nothing further respecting their cause as a denomination towards us. Such is the legitimate result of mixed Communion; it is deadly hostile to the peace and existence of Baptist Churches; it is more destructive to them than all the engines of persecution ever wielded against them. In our humble opinion, one of the essentials of a true Church is, that its members shall all have been Scriptnally baptized, that is, immersed in water, on a profession of their faith in Christ, by a duly qualified gospel administrator. The late Dr. Griffin, an eminent Pedo-Baptist

minister, fully understood and admitted the beardng of this question, and expresses the conviction of all intelligent and candid Pedo-Baptist, when he says in his letter on Communion: "I agree with the advocates for close Communion in two points: 1st. That baptism is the initiating ordinance which introduces us to the fellowship of the visible Church. Of course where there is no baptism there is no visible Church. 2nd. That we ought not to Commune with those who are not baptized, and of course are not Church members, even if we regard them as Christians."

      Dr. Doddridge says: "As far as his knowledge of primitive Christianity extends, no un-baptized person ever received the Lord's Supper." Dr. Dwight expresses the same sentiment. Dr. Wall, another emminent Pedo-Baptist, says: "It is an absurdity for a person to partake of the Communion before he is baptized." "If our Baptist brethren," said Dr. Beecher, "are right on the mode and subject of baptism, they are right on the question of Communion." Now, dear brethren, do you believe that any thing is baptism but immersion? And that any person is a fit subject for baptism but a believer? We are sure you will answer, No. - This then settles the question, and settles it forever. We, as Baptists, have ever taken the Bible, the inspired word of God, as our guide, and according to the teachings of God's word, it is the duty of all sinners, first to repent, then to believe, then to be baptised and then to commune, because Christ has made it so. But it is their duty to do these things in the order in which Christ has commanded them. The position that the Baptist[s] occupy, we think, is fully sustained. That baptism is, under all circumstances, an indispensible condition of Church membership and prerequisite to communion, and however highly we may esteem our Pedo-Baptist brethren, yet, as we cannot but regard them as unbaptized, we must of necessity consider them as disqualified for an approach to the Lord's Table.

      We say this with the fullest confidence of its truth and importance, but with no feeling of unkindness or uncharitableness toward them, or any one who may differ with us. With many of them we should be glad to be able to partake of the Sacred Supper. We love them for the love they have to our common Master, and hope to Commune with them in a far higher sense in Heaven; for the same cross is their salvation as well as ours; but our love and allegiance to Christ will not permit us to alter his laws nor to change the terms of Communion, as he has enacted them. Nor would such a treatment of Christ's laws tend either to the furtherance of His glory or the true welfare of those with whom we may wish thus to Commune. The views that our Pedo-Baptist friends take of the mode and subject of baptism is the great and fundamental cause of our separation in Communion. Infant baptism, says Dr. Waller, is a doomed institution. The evangelical current is sweeping it into the ocean of things that were. It is rapidly passing away. It is the chief support of all that most hinders the progress of the Gospel. By it is made the mixture of iron and clay, of Church and state. In the vision of the prophet, the mysterious stone is smiting it to dust. The Lord will consume it by the brightness of his coming. Even so come quickly. Amen.


[From Minutes of the Irvine Association of United Baptists, 1879, pp. 6-8; via Boyce Digital Repository; Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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