From the editor of The Tennessee Baptist: "We call attention to the Review of the Old Landmark Reset, by Prof. Drury, late professor in the Western Theological Institute [Covington, KY]. That the practice of inviting Pedobaptist and Campbeliite preachers into our pulpit is inconsistent, appeals to the consciences of all candid men everywhere. The reform, in this respect, is rapidly gaining ground in all directions. We should be happy to receive like favors from Prof. D. frequently."
SUCH is the title of a Tract, issued by the Tennessee Publication Society. On the first page we find the following significant question, to wit: "Ought Baptists to recognize Pedo-baptist Preachers as Gospel Ministers?" To this question I intend to confine my remarks. The Author takes the negative. The question is propounded to Baptists directly. “In all questions appertaining to the Principles and Practice, the Officers and Ordinances of the Church of Christ, genuine Baptists turn from Tradition, Confessions, Disciplines and Creeds to the Word of God, as the ultimate appeal. This question, changed in phraseology, but not in meaning, might read thus: Does the word of God sustain Baptists in recognizing Pedo-baptist preachers as Gospel Ministers? This is a fair question. If the affirmative is true, it is susceptible of proof. It is an important question. No error is trivial or unimportant. It is a discriminating question. The Author recognizes the distinction between preachers and ministers. The preaching of the Gospel is, according to Dr. Wayland, "the oral communication of Divine truth." If this definition is correct, a preacher of the Gospel is one who communicates Divine truth. But a Minister of the Gospel I understand to be one who is authorized not only to preach the Gospel, but also to administer the Ordinances thereof, viz: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The writer of the Tract, if I understand him, concedes that Pedo-baptist preachers may be Gospel preachers, but denies that they are Gospel Ministers, or ought to be recognized aa such by Baptists. The only question to be settled is one of fact. Are Pedo-baptist preachers Gospel Ministers? If they are, the[y] ought to be recognized as such. If they are not, they ought not to be recognized as such, and those who recognize them are guilty of rejecting the word of God for their own traditions If they are Ministers of the Gospel, where did they derive their authority?
I do not speak now of a Divine call to the work of the Ministry. Others, as well as Baptists, believe in this call. But neither Baptists, nor Pedo-baptist[s], believe that this call simply clothes a man with authority to administer the Ordinances of the Gospel. If the Divine call does not constitute men Ministers of the Gospel, I ask again, whence do they derive their authority to administer the Ordinances thereof? In answering this question, it is sufficient for my present purpose to say, that in the estimation of all Baptists, they must derive their authority from the Churches - the highest, the only tribunal on earth recognized by the word of God. Thus far all Baptists are agreed, that the Churches are the only bodies empowered to confer on any man authority to administer the Ordinances of the Gospel. At this point another question arises, viz:
What elements are essential to the existence of a Church built on the principles of the Bible! Pedo-baptists, as well as Baptists, will answer, - baptized believers." For, though Pedo-baptists have in connection with their congregations unbelievers as truly baptized as believers, yet they regard the believers as the living principle of the organization. If, then, “baptized believers" are the essential element in a Church of Christ, when may a believer be said to be baptized according to the command of Christ? This, as it appears to me, is the turning point. I cannot see how persons agreeing upon this question, can take opposite sides upon the question propounded by the Author of the Tract, without doing violence to the plainest dictates of common sense. Every Baptist, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, will reply, in answer to the question, what is baptism? “Immersion, and Immersion only." The venerated Stuart says, All Critics and Lexicographers of any note agree with them. If, then, Baptist principles, backed as they are, by the word of God and all Critics and Lexicographers, (except those of little distinction) are true, not a congregation of Believers, but a congregation of Immersed Believers, is essential to the very existence of a Gospel Church; and consequently all other congregations of Believers are not, and in the nature of the case, cannot be Gospel Churches. If congregations of Believers who have not been immersed, are not Gospel Churches, as they assuredly are not, according to Baptist principles traced to their logical results, they cannot confer upon their Preachers authority to administer the Ordnances of the Gospel, no such power having been vested in them by the Head of the Church. Therefore Baptists ought not to recognize Pedo-baptist preachers as Gospel Ministers.
If, on the other hand, the views universally held by Baptists, viz: That Immersed Believers are essential to the existence of a Gospel Church, are not true, then there can be no difference between Immersion, Pouring and Sprinkling, as an Ordinance of the Gospel, and the existence of Baptist Churches, as separate organizations, is detrimental to Christianity, and ought immediately to cease. If there is any sophistry in the above reasoning. I am unable to detect it.
Such, as I understand him, is Bro. Pendleton's position. All, who are acquainted with the Author of the Tract, will coincide that he is a pious, conscientious man, earnest in his love and defence of the truth. He has not taken his position without patient thought, and hence is not to be driven from it, except by the force of truth. The senseless cry, "High Churchism," will frighten none, except those who have made up their minds in advance, to flee at the first approach of danger. The attempt to assume the pontifical chair, and decide which of Christ's commands are binding and which are not, may, for aught I know, be “worthy of the hearts and heads" of the dictators. But one thing is certain, they are utterly unworthy, of either the head or the heart of any believer in the Inspiration of the Bible. Most of all are they unworthy of a Baptist. It is equally useless to raise false issues, to quibble about words, to utter mournful predictions, and waste such a profusion of Rhetoric.
Here is a question which demands a categorical answer. We must meet the question firmly, armed with the Scripture, and sound deductions of reason, or the "Old landmark," as it has been reset, so must it stand. I have read much in opposition to the "Old Landmark," but hitherto have seen nothing to shake my faith in the truth of its positions. Nor do I expect to see anything of the kind till the foundations of truth are relaid. Still, I would say the “Allied Powers," though as yet have effected no breach, have no cause of discouragement, as they can extend their alliances indefinitely; I doubt not the "Scarlet Lady," with her descendants to the third and fourth generation, are ready to join them.
Covington, Kentucky, Sept 1855.
[From The Tennessee Baptist, September 22, 1855, p. 2. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
(Asa Drury served as Professor of Ecclestical History at Western Baptist Theological Institute, Covington, KY; he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington on two different occasions in the mid-1800s. - jd)
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