Baptist History Homepage

What Baptists Have Done for the World
By John T. Christian, D.D.

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      This subject is presented for the purpose, if possible, to stimulate our people to loftier devotion and to nobler deeds of usefulness. I honor every man who has been true to God and labors for the up-building of our race. I especial1y love the history and traditions of Baptist peop1e. I shall not in this paper undertake to say anything of the origin and history of the Baptist churches. As interesting and instructive as this would be I prefer to discuss another question. Have the people called Baptists been of any service to the world? Have they been bearers of fruit? One hour of service is worth an age of being.

     I would have our young peop1e, and our older ones too, to know something of the thrilling deeds of our fathers. The wor1d has always been interested in history, arid men are better when they hear of good deeds. The Iliad of Homer is but a recounting of the deeds of Grecian heroes. The books of Joshua and Judges are records of the martial deeds of the Jews. Full many a time an old soldier sits down, draws around him his children and grandchildren, and fights over his, battles again. The outlines of the story which is set before you,

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if studied in fullness and detail, would be of the sublimest interest to all. What have the Baptists done for the world? I answer:

     1. Baptists have stood for the supreme authority of the Word of God. They do not acknowledge the binding authority of creeds, Their Confessions, from that of Schleitheim to the New Hampshire, are valuable as literature and as a historical statement of truth. They do not recognize as authoritative the historic practices of the church nor appeal to the decrees of the councils. The sayings of the fathers are no more than historical statements. Their appeal is not to the "fathers," but to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Their sole recognized authority is the written word of the eternal God. All a Baptist desires to know upon any point of faith is, is it taught in the New Testament, and when God's mind is known on a point nothing more is needed. They think the Bible is a plain book, designed for common people, and may be understood by all. They do not think that it requires commentaries and an infallible Pope in order to understand Christian duties. They think the Bible is the impregnable Rock of Ages and stands-four square against every wind that blows; and, to use the words of another, "We congratulate ourselves that our campaign document is the most widely-circulated book in the world."

     The Baptists have translated the Bible into more languages than any other body of Christians. More than half the inhabitants of the globe are dependent upon Baptist translations for their knowledge of the

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Word of God. William Carey translated the New Testament into Bengali, and a similar blessing was conferred on China by Joshua Marshman, on Burmah by Adoniram Judson, on the Karens by Francis Mason, on the Assamese by Nathan Brown, and on the Telegus by Lyman Jewett. I am persuaded that Doctors Cone, Conant, Armitage, Wycoff, Everts, Hackett and others, through the Baptist Union, and the more recent agitations among Baptists, were largely influential in giving to the English-speaking people the Canterbury revision of the Scriptures. Thus the Baptists have made no small showing in Bible revision and translation.

     Baptists have done equally well in the promotion of the circulation of the Scriptures. Joseph Hughes, a Baptist preacher, from Wales, originated the plan of giving the Bible to the world. He founded, originated, fostered and named the British Foreign Bible Society. Some one has quaintly said that "he was the hands and feet, as he had been the head of the institution." The missionary work of Carey had given a wonderful impetus to Bible circulation. He and his coadjutors, Ward and Marshman, made great progress in the translation of the Word of God, English Christians became much interested in these translations and large sums of money were contributed for their publication and circulation. This led to the foundation of a Bible Society for the world.

     Dr. Christopher Anderson, of Edinburgh, while tracing the influences which led to the formation of

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the British Foreign Bible Society, says: "Such an enterprise (as that of Carey's), so warmly supported from home, could not possibly fail to have a powerful reflective influence on the mother country, and more especially on the healthiest minds throughout Britain, who grounded their chief hope of permanent good on the sacred volume alone." Dr. Thomas Scott, the son of the great Bible expositor, in his memoir of his father, says of Dr. Carey: "He is perhaps better entitled than any other individual to the praise of having the first impulse to the extraordinary exertions of the present age for the propagation of Christianity in the world." It is then to these four Baptist ministers, Dr, Carey, the Oriental Polyglot, and "Tindal of our times;" Dr. Marshman, the accurate and pioneer translator of the whole Bible into the Chinese; William Ward, the finished printer in twenty oriental languages, and Joseph Hughes, the founder of the Bible Society, that this mighty work of Bible distribution, in foreign lands, has been accomplished.

     The Baptists were also the early promoters of the American Bible Society. In a few months after its organization they contributed no less than $170,000 to that society. And they only withdrew from it because the society adopted what Baptists regarded as a narrow and sectarian policy, which was in direct violation of the plain principles of its organization.

     2. Baptists have done a great thing for the world in preserving pure the ordinances of the gospel.

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This may not be the greatest achievement of the Baptists, but it is greatly worth the doing. They have constantly called a forgetting world back to the Word of God. The Baptists have retained in the western world, what the Greeks have done in the eastern, the act of Christian baptism. I shall permit a few scholars to testify on this point:

      Dr. John F. Hurst, the leading Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, says:

"With respect to the mode or baptism, on which there has been much discussion, there can be no doubt in the age immediately succeeding the apostolic, immersion in water was nearly, if not quite, the universal custom." (Short History of the Christian Church.)

     In the Douay Bible, with Haydock's Notes, which received the official indorsement [sic] of Pope Pius IX., and is therefore the highest possible Roman Catholic authority, is the following comment on Matt. 3:6:

"Baptized. The word baptism signifies a washing, particularly when it is done by immersion or by dipping or plunging a thing under water, which was formerly the ordinary way of administering the sacrament of baptism. But the Church, which cannot change the least article of Christian faith, is not so tied up in matters of discipline and ceremony. Not only the Catholic Church, but also the pretended reformed churches, have altered the primitive custom in giving the sacrament of baptism, and now allow of baptism by sprinkling or pouring water upon the person baptized; nay, many of their ministers do it nowadays by fliping a wet finger and thumb over the

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child's head, which it is hard enough to call a baptizing in any sense."
     All the Jewish rabbis and Hebrew scholars admit that baptism is an immersion. This is the declaration of Rabbi Wise, of Cincinnati; Felsenthal, of Chicago; and Moses, of Louisville. Rabbi Moses says: "There is no doubt that the Baptists are right on that point." Prof. Franz Delitzsch, the renowned professor of Leipzig, wrote me just before his death that baptizo "signifies to immerse." Prof. S. R. Driver, perhaps the foremost Hebrew scholar in England, says of the word: "It is rendered to plunge," and this is "the meaning recognized by all authorities. The word does not mean to pour or to sprinkle."

     All of the late Greek critical scholarship is favorable to the Baptists. The professors in all colleges, in this country and Great Britain, of every denomination, recognize the seventh edition of Liddell and Scott as the best classical lexicon, and Thayer's New Testament lexicon as the best on the Scriptures. Dr. Gross Alexander, Vanderbilt University, commends Liddell and Scott and Thayer. Dr. Hodge, Princeton, says: "The best classical Greek lexicon is Liddell and Scott's. The best New Testament lexicon is Thayer's edition of Grimm." Prof. A. S. Wilkins, LL.D., Owens College, England, says: "You may fully trust the account you find in Thayer." Prof. G. E. Marmdin, Esq., M. A., Examiner of Greek in the London University, says: "I think you will find a perfectly correct account

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of the classical use of baptizo in Liddell and Scott's lexicon."

     Now these two dictionaries, which are regarded as the standards by all scholars of all denominations, should satisfy all honest inquirers. Liddell and Scott define baptizo "to dip in or under water." Thayer's definition is:

"Baptizo, to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge. In the New Testament it is used particularly of the rite of sacred ablution, first instituted by John the Baptist, afterward by Christ's command received by Christians and adjusted to the nature and contents of their religion, viz.: an immersion in water."

     But does not some other good lexicon define baptizo "to sprinkle or to pour?" This is a natural and pertinent question, since many persons are known to practice sprinkling and pouring; which is called baptism. Can it be that such practices are without the support of one authoritative lexicon? I have abundant material at hand to answer this question. The following question was asked of a number of Professors of Greek in this country and in England: "Is there an authoritative Greek-English lexicon which defines the word 'to sprinkle' or 'to pour?'"

     American answers were as follows:
     Prof. H. W. Humphreys, then of Vanderbilt, now of the University of Virginia, says: "There is no standard Greek-English lexicon that gives sprinkle or pour as one of the meanings of the Greek word baptizo."

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     Prof. W. S. Tyler, Amherst College, says: "I do not know of any good lexicon which gives sprinkling as a rendering of baptizo."

     Prof. D'Ooge, University of Michigan, says: "There is no standard Greek-English lexicon that gives either sprinkle or pour as one of the meanings of the Greek verb baptizo."

     Prof. Flagg, Cornell University, says: "I know of no lexicons which give the meanings which you speak of for baptizo, not even the lexicons of the Roman and Byzantian periods."

     The English were as follows:
     The Rev. H. Kynaston, D.D., Professor of Greek and Classical Literature, University of Durham, says: "The word baptizo means 'to dip, or sink' into water -- not sprinkle, which is raino. I know of no lexicon which gives 'sprinkle' for baptizo."

     Prof. G. C. Warr, M.A., Professor of Greek in Kings College, says: "Certainly the classical meaning of baptizo is to dip, not to sprinkle or to pour."

     Prof. John Stracham, M.A., Owens College; says: "I never to my knowledge met with the word in the literal sense of 'sprinkle,' and I doubt if it has any such meaning."

     Prof. A. S. Wilkins, Litt. D., LL.D., Professor of Greek New Testament Criticism, Owens College, says: "I do not think that any lexicon of authority gives the literal meaning of 'to pour.'"

     Prof. G. E. Marmdin, University of London, says: "I do not know of any Greek-English lexicon

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which gives the meaning 'to sprinkle' or 'to pour' - if any does so should say it makes a mistake."

      Prof. R. C. Jebb, University of Cambridge, says: "I do not know whether there is any authoritative Greek-English lexicon which makes, the word mean 'sprinkle' or 'pour.' I can only say that such a meaning never belongs to the word in classical Greek."

     It is then a most significant fact that the prevalent practices of sprinkling and pouring are not sustained by a single standard Greek-English lexicon. Baptists are laboring in a good cause when they urge upon all men to restore the primitive act of baptism.

     3. Baptists have done a great work for the world in emphasizing the personal element in religion. They have always insisted upon individualism. They declare that a man should possess personal faith and decide all questions of faith for himself. They offer the protest of reason against authority, of prose against poetry, of the Word of God against custom.

     A direct sequence of individualism in religion is a converted church membership. Baptists think that every man should give a personal account of himself to God. Hence they insist upon spirituality in the churches. This has ever been the faith of the Baptists. This was the contention of the Anabaptists. Jorg testifies that the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century desired "an entirely new church, a church of believers." Hast also observes:

"The doctrine of spiritual regeneration, the soul of Christianity,

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has perhaps never been taught with deeper feeling and adhered to with greater zeal than by the despised Anabaptists. Their aim was the highest possible -- a church of saints. Nowhere in church history is found such a subjugation of all other motives to the religious, such an approach to the order and life of the church of the apostles."

     A declaration of the faith of the Anabaptists has reached us, and no Baptist would dissent from the following declarations taken from it:
     "1. The Scriptures are the only authority in matters of faith and practice.
     "2. That personal faith in Jesus Christ alone secures salvation; therefore infant baptism is to be rejected.
     "3. That a church is composed of believers who have been baptized on a personal confession of their faith in Jesus Christ.
     "4. That each church has the entire control of its own affairs without interference on the part of any external power.
     "5. That the outward life must be in accordance with such a confession of faith, and to this end it is essential that church discipline should be maintained."

     Individualism has been one of the marked features of the Baptists of the United States. Joseph Cook, the great Boston lecturer, says:

"I remember where I am speaking; I know what prejudices I am crossing; but I know that in this assembly, assuredly, nobody will have objection to my advocacy,

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even at a little expense of consistency with my own supposed principles, of the necessity of spiritual church membership. If I say that a certain denomination, represented by that man who was driven from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, has, in spite of all that we hear in criticism about one of its beliefs, been of the foremost service in bringing into the world, among all Protestant denominations, an adequate idea of the importance of a spiritual church membership. I know that no generous heart or searching intellect will object to this statement."
     The New York Tribune recently said:
"THE BAPTISTS HAVE SOLVED THE GREAT PROBLEM. They combine the most resolute conviction, the most stubborn belief in their own special doctrines with the most admirable tolerance of the faith of other Christians."
     This exaltation of individualism in religion cuts away every support for infant baptism. Baptists think that the Bible requires that every man shall give an account to God for himself. They do not think that an infant is capable of choosing for itself, and so they defer baptism, and all other religious ordinances, to a maturer age.

     Their interpretation of the Word of God, in this particular, is backed by the foremost scholars of the world. There is only space for a few Pedobaptist authorities, but their testimony is ample.

     Dr. T. O. Summers, Methodist, Professor in Vanderbilt University, says: "It is not said, indeed, in so many words in the New Testament, that the Apostles baptized young children."

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     Dr. Wall, an Episcopalian, says: "Among all the persons that are recorded as baptized by the Apostles there is no express mention of infants."

     Dr. George Edward Steitz, Lutheran, says: "Among scientific exegetes it is regarded as an established conclusion that not a trace of infant baptism can be discovered in the New Testament."

     Dr. A. T. Bledsoe, Southern Methodist, says:

"With all of our searching we have been unable to find in the New Testament a single express declaration, or word, in favor of infant baptism. We justify the rite, therefore, solely on the ground of logical inference, and not on any express word of Christ or his apostles."

     Here is a point worthy of the loftiest consideration. Baptists have brought the whole world to recognize the importance of a converted church membership.

     4. Baptists have done a great work in giving to the world soul liberty. This has been their peculiar honor. They have ever stood for the separation of church and State and for absolute liberty of conscience for all. In Germany the despised Anabaptists plead this cause. Hans Denck says: "In matters of faith everything must be left free, willing and unfettered." Belthazar Hubmeyer bore testimony: "Hence it follows that the inquisitors are the greatest heretics of all, since they, against the doctrine and example of Christ, condemn heretics to fire, and before the time of harvest root up the wheat with the tares. * * * And now it is clear to

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every one, even the blind, that a law to burn heretics is an invention of the devil. Truth is immortal."

     We can trace the Baptists all through the liberties of England.

     The Nonconformist and Independent, London, gives this summary of their work: "To the Baptists must be credited the proud distinction first of doctrinal relationship to the earliest Christians in Great Britain; and secondly, their priority in asserting the principle of liberty of conscience. Their essential doctrine was held firmly by the Christian communions which St. Augustine found in England when he arrived on his missionary enterprise, and no efforts of his could convert the Baptists to the ecclesiastical polity of the church of Rome. Coming to a more historical period, 'it is,' says Mr. Skeaats, in his 'History of Free Churches,' 'the singular and distinguished honor of the Baptists to have repudiated from their earliest history all coercive power over the conscience, and the actions of men with reference to religion. * * * They were the proto-evangelists of the voluntary principle. * * * From the remote period referred to above, the principles of the Baptists have more or less permeated and leavened the religious life of England. The Lollards are said to have held their views. And Wickliffe is claimed as one of the early adherents of their theory of Christ's teaching. * * * They have had to endure imprisonment, pain and death for their rejection of the supremacy of the crown, and their assertion

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of a doctrine which cut at the very root of priestism.'"

     The part Baptists took in establishing the liberties of England has never yet been fully acknowledged, but it will be done some time. Leonard Busher, in 1614, presented to the King and Parliament of England a treatise entitled: "Religious Peace, or a Plea for Liberty of Conscience," supposed to be the first regular discussion of the subject in the English language. When we take all of these things into consideration we are not astonished at the statement of the distinguished John Locke when he said that the Baptists were "the first and only expounders of. absolute liberty, -- just and true liberty, equal and impartial." We may also understand the attitude of William Penn, the founder of the Quakers, when we remember that he came of Baptist parentage.

     In the United States the first to preach and practice soul liberty was a Baptist, Roger Williams. He was banished from Massachusetts on account of this view, and set up in Rhode Island the first democracy in America. In this colony a man was allowed to maintain any religious dogma that he pleased, and all men were welcome.

     Judge Story, the most distinguished of American jurists, says:

"In the code of laws established by them in Rhode Island we read for the first time since Christianity ascended the throne of the Caesars the declaration that the conscience should be free, and men should not be punished for worshipping God in the way they were persuaded he requires."

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     We cannot stop to show that religious liberty, in almost every State, was won by Baptists, but attention is called to a few general laws of the United States which the Baptists were influential in having passed. When the first Continental Congress met in 1774 the first petition presented was for religious liberty, and it was presented by a committee from Warren Baptist Association of Rhode Island. The Rev. Isaac Bachus was chairman. As a result we have in our Constitution: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

     When the Constitution of the United States was adopted there was doubt whether it secured liberty or conscience for all. A general committee of the Baptists of Virginia met at Williams' meeting house, Goochland county, March 7, 1778. The first question discussed was: "Whether the new Federal Constitution, which had now lately made its appearance in public, made sufficient provision for the secure enjoyment or religious liberty; on which it was argued unanimously, that, in the opinion or the general committee, it did not." Upon consultation with Mr. Madison they presented a memorial to George Washington and secured the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom or speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for the redress of grievances."

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     The answer of Mr. Washington was so favorable and complimentary that the reader will doubtless be glad to hear a few words from it. He says:
"I have often expressed my sentiments that every man conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable alone to God for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping according to the dictates of his own conscience, while I recollect, with satisfaction, that the religious society of which you are members have been throughout America uniformly and almost unanimously the firm friends of civil liberty, and the preserving promoters of our glorious revolution, I cannot hesitate to believe that they will be faithful supporters of a free, yet efficient, general government. Under this pleasing expectation, I rejoice to assure them that they may rely on my best wishes and endeavors to advance their prosperity."

     It is scarcely needful to say that such deeds should be recorded.

     5. It is claimed that Thomas Jefferson modeled the Constitution of the United States according to the Baptist plan of church government. He was in the habit of attending the meetings of a small Baptist church not far from his residence. It is said that the pastor, Rev. Andrew Tribble, asked Mr. Jefferson one day how he was pleased with their church government. Mr. Jefferson replied that "it had struck him with great force, and had interested him much; that he considered it the only form of democracy that then existed in the world, and had

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concluded that it would be the best form of government for the American colonies." This was several years before the Declaration of Independence. In the same line is a letter of Mr. Jefferson's which he wrote to the Baptist Church, Buck Mountain, Va., in 1809. He said: "We have acted together from the origin to the end of the memorable revolution, and we have contributed each in the line allotted us our endeavors to render its issues a permanent blessing to our country."

     I recently marked this statement from Prof. Austin Phelps, of Andover Theological Seminary: "Even Thomas Jefferson confessed that his first clear conception of a republic came from the polity of an obscure Baptist church in Virginia." My Portfolio, p. 125.

     6. A Baptist deacon divides with Robert Raikes the honor of originating the Sunday-school work. Indeed, William Fox was scarcely less distinguished in this work than Raikes himself. The Sunday-school Society of England, which is still a useful organization, was founded by Fox. And when the Sunday-school as organized by Raikes on the plan or hired teachers was doomed to failure, it was a Baptist, Rev. William Birdie Gourney, who saved the work and organized Sunday-schools upon the present plan. Another Baptist, Mr. B. F. Jacobs, of Chicago, originated the present system of International Sunday-school Lessons.

     7. Baptists are maintaining in the world sound evangelical doctrines of faith. They believe in the

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fundamental doctrines of grace and preach them. In a generation which is honeycombed with error it is a good thing to have one denomination which holds to the old faith. In a recent letter to Dr. Strong, of Rochester, that stalwart Presbyterian, Dr. William G. T. Shedd, says:
"Among the denominations we all look to the Baptists for steady and firm adherence to sound doctrine. You have never had any internal conflicts, and from year to year you present an undivided front in the defense of the Calvinistic faith. Having no judicatures, and regarding the local church as a unit, it is remarkable that you maintain such a unity and solidarity of belief."
     The following extract was recently taken from the Nashville Christian Advocate, the leading Methodist paper in the South: "The Baptist church is very strong in the Southern States. In many communities it takes the lead. During the past twenty-five years it has made a wonderful advance in the education of its ministers and in other important particulars. We are not jealous of our 'submersionist' brethren, though we take exception to some of their exclusive ways. They preach a sound, honest gospel, and go after the masses of the people. The only thing about which we are careful is that they may not take our crown. Let the Methodists bestir themselves."

     In a letter to myself Dr. Theodore Cuyler, the great New York Presbyterian, said:

"Allow me to express my devout gratitude for all that the great Baptist Church is doing for the maintenancy of

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sound evangelical doctrine and for the spread of the Kingdom of Christ."
     8. Baptists are second to none in educational facilities. There are no people in this country who have more fully met the educational needs than have the Baptists. Our ministers in the point of education stand with the first in the land; our schools are second to none. They have always been the advocates of higher education. The oldest and largest university of the United States is Harvard. The first money it ever received as an endowment was from a Baptist, and the Hollis family -- Baptists -- were its most munificent benefactors.

     It was named after a Baptist preacher. Its first two presidents -- Henry Dunster and Charles Chausey -- were deeply impregnated with Baptist principles. President Quincy said of them: "For learning and talents they have been surpassed by no one of their successors."

     Of Mr. Thomas Hollis, Mr. Quincy, the historian of Harvard, says:

"Attached to his Baptist faith, with a firmness which admitted neither concealment nor compromise, he (Mr. Hollis) selected for the object of his extraordinary bounties an institution in which he knew those of his faith were regarded with dread by some, and with detestation by others, and where he had reason to think, as he averred, that the very portrait of a Baptist, though of a benefactor, would be the subject of insult. Yet he suffered neither his affection nor his charity to fail, being actuated by the elevated motive, that it was more

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catholic and free in its religious sentiment than any other institution existing at that period. In establishing, conditions for enjoying the benefit of his bounty, he claimed no concession, he made no exclusion. He required only that the Baptist faith should not be deemed as a disqualification for partaking of his bounty, or for being a candidate for his professorship. In order to place an insurmountable barrier against the imposition of artificial creeds, woven in words of men's devising, he made the simple provision that the only article of faith, to which the Professor of the Divinity foundation, which he established, should be required to subscribe, was his belief that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only perfect rule of faith and practice." A professorship on the Hollis foundation is still retained in Harvard, and at the present is filled by Prof. D. G. Lyon.
     The Baptists assisted Franklin in laying the foundation of the University of Pennsylvania, and have been among the first in aiding all State institutions. As early as 1764, when numbering in all America only sixty churches and about 5,000 members, the Baptists founded their first college, Brown University, in Rhode Island. Now they have twenty-eight chartered colleges, over 200 academies and seminaries and nine theological seminaries. They have in the United States more money invested in colleges and endowments than any other denomination of Christians. They have given in the last ten years for education more money than all other denominations combined.
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     It may also be noticed that what has grown into the public school system was founded by Dr. John Clarke, a Baptist, of Rhode Island.

     9. In the domain of letters the Baptists hold a very honorable position. A book that has attained a circulation next to the Bible was written by a Baptist -- John Bunyan -- and it has been translated into almost every language of earth. John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, held many Baptist principles. Macaulay calls these the two original minds of the century. Gill has not been surpassed as a commentator; and the critical Baptist scholar, Tregelles, must not be forgotten. John Howard, the great philanthropist, was a Baptist. Among the great preachers of the world one can mention Fuller, Robert Hall, Haldane, Spurgeon, Broadus and others.

     The Baptists have taught us to sing: "Blest be the tie that binds," "Did Christ o'er sinners weep," "Majestic sweetness sits enthroned upon the Saviour's brow," "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord," "All hail the power of Jesus' name," "Saviour, thy dying love," and "My country, 'tis of thee." These hymns which they have written with others of faith and hope and love, give them a right to exist.

     I can therefore use the very graceful compliment of Dr. Chalmers, and it applies to the Baptists of America as well as to those of England. He says:

"Let it never be forgotten of the Particular Baptists of England, that they form the denomination of Fuller and Carey and Ryland and Hall and Foster;

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that they have organized among the greatest of all missionary enterprises; that they have enriched the Christian literature of our country with authorship of the most exalted piety, as well as with the first talent, and the first eloquence; that they have waged a very noble and successful war with the hydra of Antinomianism; that perhaps there is not a more intellectual community of ministers in our islands, or who have put forth to their number a greater amount of mental power and mental activity in the defense and illustration of our common faith; and, what is better than all of the triumphs of genius or understanding, who by their zeal and fidelity and pastoral labor among congregations which they have reared, have done more to swell the list of genuine discipleship in the walks of private society -- and thus to both uphold and extend the living Christianity of our nations." -- (Com. Romans, Lec. 14, p. 76.)
     The Baptists have more newspapers in the United States than any other denomination of Christians. The figures are, Baptists, 181; Methodists, 173; Roman Catholic, 134; Episcopalians, 76; Presbyterians, 73; Lutherans, 59; Congregationalists, 33.

     10. The Baptists were the first to inaugurate the colportage work. This honor belongs to the American Baptist Publication Society. Dr. Schaff, shortly before his death, gave the Society full credit for this great work. When we come to consider the mighty power of the printed page, and how its use can be facilitated by colporters, we can see some of the far reaching results of this work.

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     11. Baptists have been the pioneers, in modern times, of foreign missions. In 1792, under Carey, the Baptists founded the first missionary society to the heathen. When Carey first made the proposition to send the gospel to India, Dr. Ryland was astounded at the audacity of Carey. But the Baptist cobbler became the forerunner of the mighty missionary work of today. It came to pass that the first churches founded in India, Burmah and China were Baptist churches.

     We thank God for a history so full of thrilling deeds. But it is not for Baptists to turn their eyes to the past. They are to take inspiration from the things already accomplished, and onward press their way. Mr. Froude said: "The Baptists were the most thorough going of all the Protestant sects." The great Neander remarked that it was the "one denomination that had a future." Shall that future be filled with overflowing blessings? If we rely on the past, we shall and ought to die; if we seize the opportunities which God has thrown in our pathway, our history will grow brighter till the blessed day. May God fill the Baptists with zeal for his glory.


[From Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, Ben M. Bogard, editor, 1900. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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