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     Editor's note: The following excerpt is from the book, Old Landmarkism: What is It? by J. R. Graves, written in 1880. He quotes a letter from Spencer H. Cone, Pastor of FBC, NYC. This church was established in Pre-Revolutionary War days and previously pastored by John Gano.

Pastor Spencer Cone's Statement on Irregular (AKA = Alien) Baptism

      I conclude the discussion of the question of "old" Baptist usage, with a letter from Bro. Spencer Cone, for many years the pastor of the First Baptist Church, New York City. His statements of facts will be received, and his opinion, as a sound Baptist, should certainly be regarded:

"Dear Brethren:
      "The question you ask was presented to me in July by Brother J. Tripp, Jr., of your church. I replied that, in my opinion, valid baptism could only be administered by a duly authorized minister; and stated my impression also that the 'regular Baptist Churches

[p. 138]
of England and the United States' had long held the same sentiments. I wrote in the midst of numerous calls, and without dreaming that the hasty line was to appear in print, but make no complaint. My Baptist sentiments are public property, for in things pertaining to faith and practice I have no secrets.

      "First, then, what has been the sentiment of 'regular Baptist Churches' in England and the United States upon this subject? The ministers and messengers of more than one hundred baptized congregations of England and Wales (denying Arminianism) met in London, July 3-11, A.D. 1689, and published what they call 'The Confession of our Faith,' and recommended its perusal not only to the members of our churches, but to all other Christians who differ from us. Among these ministers you have the names of Knollys, Kiffin, Keach, Collins, Harris, Gifford, Vaux, Price, Finch and a host of others, whose praise was in all the regular Baptist Churches - viz., such as was opposed to 'general redemption and open communion.' Under the head of baptism, among other things, they stated that 'it is to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called.'

      "The Philadelphia Association was formed in 1708, and adopted, with alteration, the London Confession of 1689; so that in this country it has gone by the name of the 'Philadelphia Confession of Faith;' and since that period most of the Associations in the Middle States have been formed upon the same platform. The New York Association, organized in 1791, has always held the views I advocate. In 1821, the particular point before us was discussed and settled, in answer to a 'query' from one of the churches similar to that contained in your letter. Mr. Parkinson was appointed to write a circular letter on baptism, in which he maintained the 'immersion of professing believers, by a baptized minister, as essential to gospel baptism.'

      "After the adoption of this circular, a resolution was passed, stating that although they considered the query sufficiently answered in the circular, nevertheless they record the opinion of the Association, that Baptist Churches had better never receive persons, either as members, or even as transient communicants upon such baptism - viz., by unimmersed administrators. Many reasons are embodied in the resolution to sustain the opinion given, as 'the disunion, inconvenience, uneasiness, etc., which have always arisen in churches receiving such members.' But the basis of their opinion is thus set down in plain words - 'Pedobaptist administrators, as far as we can see, are unknown in the Holy Scriptures.' And that is just as far as I can see, and no farther.

[p. 139]
      "The First Baptist Church in this city, of which I am pastor, was founded in 1745, and as the Bible has not changed, she still adheres to her original confession of faith. The article on baptism closes thus: 'That nothing is a scriptural administration of baptism, but a total immersion of the subject in water in the name of the Holy Trinity, by a man duly authorized to administer gospel ordinances' (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 2:40-42). The action of this church for one hundred years has been to reject as invalid baptism administered by an 'unimmersed administrator.' During my residence in Maryland and Virginia, the Baltimore, Columbia, and Ketocton Associations (which I attended for eight or ten years, and was personally acquainted with every minister belonging to them) held the same sentiment. The subject was called up in the Associations while I was pastor of the Alexandria Baptist Church, D.C. - thus: a Mr. Plummer, from down East, a Free-will Baptist or 'Christian,' as he called himself, immersed a number of persons in Virginia, and formed a Baptist Church. He baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and yet denied the divinity of the Son. In a year or two he departed from our borders - his disciples were scattered. Some of them were really converted, and wished to unite with some Baptist Church in the vicinity. The church and pastor in Alexandria being satisfied with the Christian experience and deportment of two of them, I baptized them into the name of our God, Father, Son, and Spirit - coequal and coeternal - and we no more considered their baptism by Plummer as Christian, than we should if they had been dipped by a Mohammedan into the name of his prophet. These Associations, then, held that valid baptism must be administered, not only by an immersed minister, but also one in good standing in our denomination.

      "In the early part of my ministry I was intimately acquainted with Gano, Baldwin, Holcombe, Staughton, Williams, Richards, Fristoe, Mercer and many others, now gone to glory; and I never heard one of them drop a hint, that baptism by a Pedobaptist minister opened the door into a regular Baptist Church. Indispensable engagements compel me to close. That there are now many pastors and churches opposed to my views, I know - painfully know - but all this does not convince me that our fathers were wrong in this matter. I must be made over again before I count that to be 'valid baptism' when neither the administrator nor those who ordained him, believed immersion of believers any part of their commission, and never submitted to it themselves in obedience to the command of the King in Zion.
      Affectionately, your brother in gospel bonds,

NEW YORK, September 30, 1845.

[J. R. Graves, Old Landmarkism: What is It?, 1880, pp. 137-139. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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