Baptist History Homepage

Edited by James Robinson Graves, James Madison Pendleton, Nathaniel Macon Crawford

Review of W. B. Johnson, D. D.

      In my fourth number on the Evangelists,” two questions came up for consideration. The first was answered in the same number. The second was postponed, which is as follows: “Has the unbaptized Evangelist authority to baptize believers?”

      In discussing this subject, I shall necessarily repeat some things that I have said before.

      The Savior said unto his apostles, in the solemn hour of his leaving them - “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; Go ye, therefore, and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In conformity with these directions, Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and made about three thousand disciples, who were baptized, and added to them, the hundred and twenty who were all with one accord, in one place, on that memorable day. They were not added to them by baptism, but were firstbaptized, and then added. Philip, the evangelist, went down to Samaria, preached and baptized those that believed. Shortly after, we read of a church in Samaria. A great persecution arose against the church of Jerusalem, which dispersed all the members, except the apostles. They that were scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the word; and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number turned to the Lord. In a little time, Paul and Barnabas were sent upon a missionary tour, through those regions, and found many churches, over whom they ordained elders. Peter went to Cornelius' house, where a company was assembled, and preached to them. The Holy Spirit fell upon them all, and he commanded them to be baptized, and a church was formed at Caesarea, the residence of the centurion. Paul baptized believing Corinthians. We thus see that apostles and evangelists — Preachers of the Gospel - are the baptizers of believers. But these were themselves baptized. How, then, can a baptism by one, himself unbaptized, be valid? Light will be thrown on this subject by first ascertaining whether one can be an evangelist, or a preacher of the gospel, who has not been baptized. This is a question of fact. It is too obvious to need proof, that Jesus Christ makes the evangelist or preacher, and not man. It is equally obvious, that the only mode in which we ascertain a preacher is by his qualification and desire for the office. John the Baptist did no miracle to prove his appointment to the ministry, yet he was a preacher of Christ, though he did not as fully preach the h of Christ, as it was preached after His resurrection. We know that John was not baptized, and yet, by his qualifications he was recognized and received. Martin Luther, John Knox, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, preached the gospel of Christ with a power and success, unsurpassed by any preachers since the Apostle's day. Who made them such preachers? Who blessed their labors so wonderfully? Not man, but the Lord Jesus, the King in Zon. And there have been thousands of unbaptized preachers in Pedobaptist societies, who have faithfully and successfully preached the gospel of Christ. Can we say that they are not preachers of the Lord's making? Surely not. Have we not endorsed men as preachers, though unbaptized, by asking them into our pulpits, and receiving persons for baptism, and afterward into our churches, who were awakened and converted to God through their agency or instrumentality? Did we so endorse them as made by man? No. But as made by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus and His Father. Now if our King has dispensed with the baptism of these preachers or evangelists, whom He has put into the ministry, and has blessed their labors in doing His work, on what ground can we object to this exercise of His sovereign will ? And if He commands His preachers to baptize believers upon a profession of their faith in Him ; and those whom He has made such, preach and baptize believers though themselves unbaptized, on what ground can we refuse to receive their work in baptizing, as well as in preaching, and in conversion, since it was by his Spirit's influences that they did both? That Paul regarded baptizing as a work inferior to preaching, is obvious, as he says, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanus. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” That baptized and unbaptized evangelists do preach the gospel, and that by means of their preaching, souls are alike savingly converted to God by his blessing on their labors, cannot be doubted. If one converted by the preaching of an unbaptized Evangelist, [he/she] should apply for baptism to a baptized Evangelist, would he not, if satisfied of his fitness for the ordinance, administer it to him? And would not this one, upon application for admission into a Baptist church, be received upon his faith and baptism? Most assuredly. Now surely conversion is a greater work than baptism. Well! The Lord, not man, makes the evangelist, and commissions him to make and baptize disciples. If the work in conversion be valid, why not the work in baptism also? Especially as the work in conversion is the greater of the two, and the same authority commands the same officer to do both. There is another view of this subject worthy of attention. A distinction is made by our Lord between His kingdom and His churches on this earth. To Pilate He said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” The Savior evidently meant, that his kingdom, though extending over this whole earth, was not of a worldly nature, being governed neither by worldly principles, nor sustained by worldly measures. To the apostles He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” And then with kingly authority he commanded them to go into all the world, and make, and baptize disciples, adding, “And lo! I am with you always to the end of the world.” Both the language to Pilate and the commission to the apostles were spoken before any churches existed; and therefore the kingdom of Christ and his churches are not identical. Of the kingdom, the apostles were the chief officers; next, the seventy disciples, and now the evangelists. The world is their field. Itinerating, as heralds of the cross, as they go, they preach the Lord Jesus, and wheresoever any become his disciples, they immerse them into the name of the Triune God; and these immersed disciples are the materials of which the churches are formed. It thus evidently appears that evangelists are officers of the kingdom of Christ. When a sinner is truly converted to God, he is a spiritual subject of Christ's kingdom. By baptism he becomes visibly such. As Christ only makes and appoints the evangelist, if He is pleased to dispense with his submission to the ordinance of baptism, it is His sovereign act; and we have no right to object to His act. The evangelist, who comes bearing the broad seal of his Master's appointment in the qualifications by which he is to be known, should be received, and his work also, when done in obedience to the commission of his Lord. Hence the immersion of a professed believer in Jesus Christ, administered by an unbaptized evangelist is a valid baptism. It is urged as an objection against the validity of such a baptism, that the baptizer would have a right to administer the Lord's Supper to believers also, and hence we should have such administrators brought into the churches as partakers, likewise of the ordinance, and thus mixed communion would be introduced amongst us. Let it be observed in reply, that a right to baptism and the Lord's Supper, stands upon different grounds. Faith in Christ gives the right to baptism. Church membership - the right to the Lord's Table. The evangelist is commanded to baptize, but not to administer the Lord's Supper. Baptism is committed to ministerial hands - the Lord's Supper is not. Baptism is a personal, individual ordinance: the supper is a social church ordinance. The one is the ordinance of the kingdom of Christ; the other, of the churches of Christ. The evangelist is an officer of the kingdom, not of a church of Christ. An evangelist may become a bishop of a church, and thus be her presiding officer. An unbaptized evangelist cannot become an officer of a church of Christ, for he cannot be a member of a church. He, therefore, can neither preside at the table of the Lord, nor be a partaker of its rich fare. There is, then, no danger of the introduction of mixed communion into our churches, on the ground of the validity of a baptism under the hands of an unbaptized evangelist. The only objection against the validity of a baptism by an unbaptized evangelist, that has any force, is, that he himself is unbaptized. But this objection lies with equal force against his authority to preach, which is a much higher work than to baptize. It lies also with equal force against the claim of any unbaptized professor of religion to be a Christian; so that, to carry out the principle, we should not receive an unbaptized evangelist as a preacher of the Gospel into our pulpits, or recognize him in any way as a minister of Christ; neither should we recognize any unbaptized person as a Christian. Are we prepared for such a course of treatment to all other denominations of professed believers in our Lord Jesus Christ? After all, the essence of true spiritual gospel baptism consists in the immersion in water, of a spiritual believer, upon a profession of faith in Christ, by whomsoever the ordinance may be administered. After such an immersion, its repetition would be another baptism, for which there is no authority in the scripture. The requirement of an immersed administrator as indispensable, then, throws us back upon the apostolical succession, so that no Baptist could prove the validity of his own baptism, unless he could go back through a line of baptized administrators to one of the apostles. And let me ask - through what line of ministerial ancestry will he undertake his task? Roger Williams was ordained in the Church of England. He afterwards embraced Baptist principles. Banned from Massachusetts for his peculiar views, he settled in Providence, Rhode Island. There he baptized Mr. Holliman, who had embraced the same views, and then Mr. Holliman baptized Mr. Williams, who afterwards founded a Baptist Church in that city. And the extraordinary and blessed results that have followed, will be fully understood in eternity only. What Baptist would go back some two hundred years, and undo the mighty work that followed the labors of Roger Williams, on the ground, that though a preacher of the gospel, he had no right to baptize, because he was himself unbaptized, and therefore his baptism of Holliman and all other baptisms resulting from that, were null and void. - W.

      * We copy Elder Johnson's article on Unbaptized Evangelists from the Southern Baptist. VOL. IV, 1.


      In the discussion of questions of this kind it is essential that we have some settled and admitted principles upon which we may base our arguments. If there be at the bottom of our reasonings only the loose and ever-shifting sand, it matters not how firmly our conclusions may be built upon our premises, for the premises themselves have no stability, and the whole fabric will tumble together into ruin. It will avail us nothing to tie our vessel to a floating wreck. If we should, we will not know where we are and whither we are drifting. Our first object, therefore, must be to fix upon some settled and admitted truths which we can make the basis of our reasonings. Such truths I take to be the following, viz.:

      1st. ALL the authority which ANY ONE can have to baptize must be derived from the Word of God. To the Bible, and the Bible only, we must all appeal. Whether baptism be regarded as an ordinance of the Church, or of the Kingdom of Christ, it is equally an ordinance of the New Testament. To this, and this alone, we go to learn what baptism is. To this, and this alone, we go to learn who are to be baptized; and it is from this, and this alone, that we must learn who are authorized to confer baptism. If we leave the written Word, and permit ourselves to be decided by the dictates of uninspired reason, uninspired tradition, or uninspired conjectures as to what is right and authoritative in the Kingdom of Christ, we are, at once, at sea without a pilot or a compass, and know not whither we may float.

      2d. If the above be admitted (and we do not think that “W.” or any other Baptist will think of disputing it), it follows, that if the New Testament has not given authority to “unbaptized Evangelists” to baptize, then “unbaptized Evangelists” have no such authority. The question before us, therefore, is reduced to this: Does the New Testament any where, by precept or by example, or by any fair and legitimate inference, confer on “unbaptized Evangelists” the “authority to baptize believers?” - And here, it seems to us, the whole discussion might be, at once, cut off by asking one simple question : Is there any such a being as an “unbaptized Evangelist” recognized in the New Testament? Is he ever described? Is he ever mentioned? Is he ever alluded to as having either a present or a prospective existence? If he is not known to the Scriptures, it follows, of course, that he has received no authority from them. Now let “W.,” or any one else, take his Bible and his Concordance, English or Greek, and make diligent search from the first of Matthew to the last of Revelations, and if he can find the slightest allusion to any unbaptized Evangelist, in the sense that “W.” uses the terms, he will, in our opinion, be entitled to take rank with the discoverers of things before unknown. This unbaptized Evangelist, the reader will observe, to accord with “W.’s” description of him, must be “an officer in the [visible] Kingdom of Christ;” yet he is one who “can not be a member of a Church of Christ,” and can “neither preside at the table of the Lord, nor be a partaker of its rich fare.” He is one who is authorized to preach to others that believers must be baptized according to Christ's law, yet he himself claims to be a believer, and will not be baptized. He is authorized to make disciples, and teach them to observe all that Christ commanded, yet he himself will not observe the very first of all the things which Christ commanded to a believer: “Believe and be baptized.” But for the fear that we might be thought unwilling to do full justice to all the arguments by which “W.” has attempted to sustain his positions, we would stop here and wait with patience until some one shall show us the chapter and the verse where this strange compound of faith and disobedience, having authority from Christ to preach what he will not practice, may be found. If he himself can not be discovered in the Word, we surely need not waste our time in looking for his “authority to baptize believers.” But if we should discover the “unbaptized Evangelist” to be a veritable existence, clearly recognized as having life and breath, and holding office in Christ's Kingdom, as that Kingdom is described and bounded in the Word of God, then we will have this other question to decide, viz.: What are the duties which the New Testament imposes upon this “officer of the Kingdom,” or which it authorizes him to perform? He may be an officer, and yet not have, by virtue of his office, any authority to baptize. Deacons are officers, yet it does not certainly appear that it was any part of the duty of their office to administer baptism. Here, therefore, is the burden which devolves on “W.” before he can make good his position. He says that unbaptized Evangelists have authority to baptize believers. We simply deny. It then devolves on him to show that there is in the Kingdom of Christ an “officer” called an “unbaptized Evangelist,” who is not known to the Scriptures, and who, of course, has no scriptural authority; or else that this “unbaptized Evangelist” is known to the Scriptures, and DID receive “authority to baptize” from Christ, as the source of all authority in his Kingdom. As we regard the Kingdom of Christ as a scriptural kingdom, concerning which we have no other source of information as to who are members of it, or who are officers in it, or what are the privileges or duties of members or officers, we must confine our investigations to the teachings of THE written WORD ; and if he will not open the flood-gates to all manner of error and superstition, he must submit to meet us on the BIBLE PLATFORM, and be content to abide by the decisions of the Word of God. He must therefore show us in the Word where his unbaptized Evangelist is found, and where, and when, and how he received his commission from the Lord of the Kingdom to baptize believers. “To the Law and to the Testimony; if he speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in him.” Let us then inquire, is there any “precept,” any commandment in the Word requiring “unbaptized Evangelists” to baptize believers? Was the great commission, which is commonly thought to contain the only authority which any person has to baptize any body, given to “unbaptized Evangelists" “W.” makes no pretension that it was. Unbaptized Evangelists can not act under this commission, for, if they be believers, it requires them to be baptized. With what face can they preach, “believe, and be baptized,” when they despise and repudiate the ordinance? But “W.” says “John was not baptized, and yet by his qualifications he was recognized and received.” Excepting only this case of John, he does not present from the Scriptures, any shadow of authority conferred on any unbaptized man to baptize believers. There was no command given to any such to do it. There is no example of any such who did it. No other dared to do it; nor would John, had Christ not given him a personal commission. As an unbaptized baptizer, John stands alone. This is an admitted fact. It was impossible but that some unbaptized man should begin the work. And Christ sent John to do it. He had a special commission to introduce the rite, and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And if “W.’s” “unbaptized Evangelists” have a similar commission from Christ to introduce the rite where it does not exist, his case may be referred to as a precedent for their's; but certainly not otherwise. The previous submission to baptism could not be required as a qualification in John - because there was no one who could confer it upon John. After it became possible to receive it, however, Christ would not exempt even himself from its reception. When John began to baptize there was no law requiring him to be baptized. He was no rejector of Christ's ordinance, as every unbaptized Evangelist now must be, and must then have been, had he existed. The command, therefore, which authorized John, is no authority to any other unbaptized person to baptize believers.

      But failing of precept or example, have we any fair and reasonable inference & here “W.” makes a better showing. “Baptism” is of less importance than “preaching,” and hence we may infer that all who are authorized to preach are also authorized to baptize.

      We might grant this, and the question would still be undecided. For it would still remain to be determined whether, according to the scriptures, any unbaptized man is authorized to preach. But it is not true that the right to baptize is of necessity included in the right to preach, even though preaching may be more important than baptizing. The greater does not include the less, except the less be a constituent part of the greater. A man may be authorized to act as Governor, and yet have no authority to receive taxes, although his office is more important than that of Tax Collector. Christ might have authorized thousands of people to preach whom he did not authorize to baptize. Some people think he did. They say that all who hear the gospel are duly authorized to preach it. “Let him that heareth, say come.” But they do not pretend that every man who hears the gospel is authorized to “baptize believers.” Some people say that preaching the gospel is giving religious instruction, and that it is the privilege and the duty of every one who is competent to do so, to give religious instruction. Yet they do not pretend that every one who has the capacity to teach another something about religion, is on that account authorized to “baptize believers.”

      If, however, it be said that the commission to preach and to baptize was given to the same persons, and that consequently all who are authorized to preach, are by the same commission authorized to baptize. We grant it. But then, this joint commission was not given to the unbaptized. It conferred on such, no authority either to preach or to baptize, or do any thing else but to believe and be baptized. If this commission, therefore, is the only authority for preaching, it is certain that they have no authority either to preach or to baptize. It is not enough for “W.” to show that some preachers baptized, and that an unbaptized man might preach. He must show that unbaptized preachers were authorized to baptize. Let him show in the Word of God, a commission authorizing one who would not himself be baptized, to go and * others. Until he has done this, his argument stands thus :

      Baptized preachers are authorized to baptize believers. Unbaptized Evangelists are preachers. Therefore, unbaptized Evangelists are authorized to baptize believers. A school girl would laugh at such logic, unless it were given as an example of false reasoning. If unbaptized Evangelists have any scriptural authority either to preach or to baptize, they certainly must derive it from some other passage besides the commission, since this, it is admitted by all parties, was given only to the baptized. We come now to “W.’s” great argument. The Evangelist is an officer, not of a church, but of the Kingdom of Christ. The churches are one thing, and the Kingdom is another. “Of the Kingdom, the Apostles were the chief officers next the seventy Disciples, and now the Evangelists.” Let us admit all this, and what will follow? The Kingdom of Christ, as he established it, was designed to have a set of officers called “Evangelists.” What of it? These Evangelists could preach and baptize. Well, what of it? We freely grant all this. But then we ask, were they “unbaptized Evangelists?” If they were, then the case is decided. Then he has found the thing we have been looking for. Then we have an unbaptized Evangelist in the scriptures, and learn what he was authorized to do. But until it is determined that these Evangelists were unbaptized, we have made no progress whatever. Till then, our argument stands thus: Baptized Evangelists were officers in the visible Kingdom of Christ, who were authorized to baptize believers, and are so recognized in the Scriptures. Therefore, unbaptized Evangelists who were not officers in that Kingdom, and had no authority to do any thing, are now authorized to baptize believers. The very point upon which his whole conclusion rests, he does not even attempt to decide. He does not so much as try to prove that Philip, the only example of these Evangelists whom he mentions, was an unbaptized preacher of the gospel. He does not pretend that Philip “could not be a member of a church,” preside at the table of the Lord, or partake of its rich fare. It is a matter of no consequence at all to the argument before us, whether baptism is an ordinance of the church or of the Kingdom, or whether the Evangelist is an officer of the church or of the Kingdom - unless it shall first be proved that baptism was not just as much a prerequisite to membership and office-holding in the Kingdom as it was in the church. And “W.,” so far from attempting to do this, expressly recognizes baptism as the initiatory rite, the door of entrance into the Kingdom - though not into the churches. And now if it be true that baptism is the initiatory rite of Christ's visible Kingdom, and if it be true that the members of Christ's visible Kingdom are all baptized persons, and that the “unbaptized Evangelist” is an officer in that Kingdom, then it follows that he is an officer of a Kingdom in which he is not a member. It follows that Christ has placed the great initiatory ordinance of his Kingdom in the hands of those who have so great a contempt for it, or so little regard for him, that they will not submit to it themselves. He has given the door of entrance into his Kingdom into the hands of those who will not enter it. He has the right to do such things if he should choose, but “W.” has not shown us in the record, any testimony that he has done so. But some one may say the “unbaptized Evangelist” is a member and an officer in the “invisible Kingdom.” But the invisible has no organization, no ordinances and no officers. But if we suppose that he is the officer of the invisible Kingdom, we shall only be driven back to the Word, to see when, and where, and how it was that Christ appointed him and gave him authority to “baptize believers.” But “W.” says No. We need not go to the Scriptures at all. We find the evidence of their authority in their work. If Christ is willing to dispense with their baptism, why need we be troubled? And Christ shows that he is pleased to dispense with their baptism by blessing their labors. His Spirit calls them to preach the gospel. They do it, and souls are saved. Witness Whitfield and Knox, Wesley and Edwards, Calvin and Luther, and a host like them. Who will deny that Christ has sent them? Who will deny that Christ, the King, is pleased to dispense with baptism in such holy men as these? We only reply, that although Christ may see fit to dispense with their baptism, he has not authorized his churches to do so. He is sovereign; He does what He will. We are His subjects, and must be ruled by His law. The churches are the executive in his Kingdom, and they must execute the law. They have no rule for their official conduct as His CHURCHES BUT HIS WRITT EN WORD. And if they can not find there, that they are to receive the baptisms of all those who may be instrumental in converting souls, then they are not at liberty to receive them. If “W.” will show us such instructions in the Word, we yield the case. To the Law and to the Testimony – show us the commandment. But let us, for a moment, grant all that “W.” contends for on this point. What will be the logical result? The argument stands thus: The conversion of a sinner is more important than his baptism. These men have converted sinners, and therefore they are authorized to baptize them. “If their work in conversion be valid,” says “W.,” why not the work of baptism also,” and “especially as the work of conversion is the greater of the two, and the same authority commands the same officer to do both ?” We have been accustomed to regard conversion as God's work, and have supposed that when the churches received it, they received it as his work, and not the preacher's, and we suppose that “W.” means only to say that they were instruments in the hand of God in the conversion of these men. - And now the question is, whether, according to the Scriptures, any person who is the means of another's conversion, or of the conversion of many persons, has on that account the “authority to baptize believers?” Has he even the authority to baptize his own converts? Grant that he has and see where we will stand. That gentle girl who plead so earnestly with her father to turn and live, is authorized, if her sex do not forbid, to lead him into the water and bury him in baptism, and the church must receive her work in baptism as it would her work in conversion. That young man, just now himself converted, and who has yet made no profession of religion, but has gone to his former companions in sin and warned them of their danger, and they have turned to God, is an authorized administrator of baptism. No church would refuse to receive his work of conversion, this is a greater work than baptism; how, then, can they refuse to regard him as one authorized by the Scriptures to baptize believers. Nay, more. There is a wicked wretch, who prays God to damn his own soul. His companion is struck with wonder at the prayer - feels that there is danger in such companionship - prays God to save his soul, and he is saved. Now is not this swearer authorized to baptize believers. The church will receive his work in conversion. Why not in baptism? And “after all,” in the language of “W.,” the essence of true spiritual gospel baptism consists in the immersion in water of a spiritual believer upon a profession of faith in Christ, by whomsoever the ordinance may be administered.” “W.” doubtless thinks so, or he would not have said it. But genuine churches of Jesus Christ will be very slow to admit that every one whose efforts have been blessed of God to the conversion of souls is on that account authorized to “baptize believers.” God may bless his Word in the mouth of a child or an infidel to the conversion of men, but in doing so he does not commission them to administer the ordinances of his Kingdom. And so he may bless it largely in the mouth of an Edwards, a Whitfield, or a Wesley, and yet, by doing so, confer on them no authority to administer a rite which they will not receive, or give his churches any permission to lay aside his written instructions in regard to the reception of members. To say, as “W.” does, that any objection to receiving one's baptism, lies with equal force against his authority to preach, is simply to assert, that none are by the Scriptures authorized to preach but those who are also authorized to baptize. If this be true, it only proves that the churches of Christ should no more recognize the unbaptized as preachers than they should as baptizers. And it must be true, if the commission were given only to the baptized, unless there be some other authority for them to preach. Whether there be or not we do not now inquire. To say that “it lies equally against the claim of any unbaptized person to be a Christian, is simply to assert, that if we deny that Christ has authorized any one to baptize believers before he has himself been baptized as a believer, we must also deny that he has authorized any one to believe on him before he has been baptized as a believer. It is strange that any one who thinks should write such a sentence, Christ says, believe, then be baptized, then preach and baptize, as you were baptized, those who believe as you believed. In regard to Roger Williams and his Church, “W.” asks, “What Baptist would be willing to go back two hundred years and undo all the mighty work that followed [its organization], on the ground that, though a preacher of the Gospel, he had no right to baptize ?” We answer that nothing of the sort is necessary. The mighty result which has followed, has had no official connection with Roger Williams or his Church. That so-called Church lived a sickly life for a short time, and died. Other Baptist churches existed before it, and others have been formed since, without the slightest connection, direct or indirect, with that little anomalous affair which the Pedobaptists are so fond of designating the Mother of the Baptist denomination in America, but which every Baptist ought to know was an accidental and temporary organization, disconnected with the regular Baptist churches. We may freely admit that their baptism was null and void, without any serious detriment to our denominational order.” But granting that baptism conferred by the unbaptized, and without church authority, is invalid, that is, unscriptural and illegal, must not every Baptist be able to trace his baptismal pedigree back to the Apostles before he can be assured that he has valid baptism. This question we have treated of in another chapter; and will here only say, that if this were necessary we had rather undertake to do it than to recognize the official authority in the Kingdom of Christ of men who are not in that Kingdom, and to whom Christ in his Word has given no authority. I dare not change Christ's laws for the sake of avoiding difficulties. If Christ, IN HIS WORD, authorized those who would not obey his law and be baptized, to baptize others in obedience to his law, although it would look very strange to me, I would not utter a word of dissent or remonstrance. He is the Lord. Let him do what seemeth him good. But since he has given them no such authority, I will not knowingly receive their baptisms, even though I may not be quite certain that they have not imposed them on me. They may put them upon me in the dark, but I will not receive them with my eyes wide open in the broad daylight. If it be true that some time or other, nobody knows just when or how, somebody or other, no one can say just who, in some place or other, nobody can say just where, conferred illegal baptism on some one now forgotten, and by bare possibility my baptism may have been derived from this illegal source, I will rest under the uncertainty which this implies, rather than satisfy my doubts by admitting that any man has authority to baptize believers to whom Christ gave no such authority in the Scriptures. Must a Free Mason admit that initiation into Masonry, whether conferred in a Lodge or not, whether authorized by the Lodge or not, is a valid initiation, on the ground that there have been some spurious initiations and some illegal Lodges, and he cannot therefore know that either he himself or any one else has been truly initiated, unless upon the supposition that all who claim to confer the degree really do confer it. Will a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows feel that he is under the necessity of conceding that the initiatory rites of that order may be lawfully conferred by one not a member of it, because he cannot trace the official pedigree of those who were concerned in his initiation back to the founders of the order. * See “Trials and Sufferings for Religious Liberty,” which, by authentic over settles this question, and should be understood by every Baptist. - ED [James Robinson Graves is one of the three editors].

      Does a Son of Temperance feel that he must be able to trace the official pedigree of those concerned in his initiation back, step by step, to the founders of the order in New York, and prove that there has not been an illegal or irregular link in the succession, before he can be assured that he is a Son of Temperance? When will men learn to use their common sense in matters of religion as they do in other things? But for a full examination of this point, see the Review of Waller.


[From the Southern Baptist Review, Volume 4, January, 1858, pp. 1-14. From Google On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Baptist History
Baptist History Homepage