OLD LANDMARKISM exerted no small influence among the Baptists of Kentucky, at the period under consideration. The term was used to express adhesion to certain principles, averred to have been entertained by the Baptists, but to have been ignored at a later period. It was the avowed purpose of the advocates of Old Landmarkism, to restore to the churches the practice of these, now neglected principles of the fathers. Elder James R. Graves (now Dr. Graves of Memphis) was, at first, the principal advocate of this system, but was soon joined by many able writers and preachers of the South and West. Mr. Graves became editor of The Baptist -- soon afterwards called The Tennessee Baptist, -- in 1846. In this paper, which, as the editor claimed, soon attained a larger circulation than any other Baptist weekly in the world, Mr. Graves began the advocacy of the principles of Old Landmarkism, and speedily drew to his aid, a large corps of correspondents. The principles were opposed with warmth and ability. Disputations, on the subject, were introduced in many of the churches and associations, where it was discussed with intemperate warmth. In 1851, a meeting was called to assemble at Cotton Grove, Tenn., for the purpose of investigating these principles. The Convention met on the 24th of June, and passed what was afterwards widely known as "The Cotton Grove Resolutions." These resolutions, as they were termed, were presented in the form of queries, as follows:"1st. Can Baptists, consistently with their principles or the Scriptures, recognize those societies not organized according to the pattern of the Jerusalem Church, but possessing different governments, different officers, different class of members, different ordinances, doctrines and practices, as churches of Christ?These queries were all answered unanimously in the negative.
"2d. Ought they to be called gospel churches, or churches in a religious sense?
"3d. Can we consistent1y recognize the ministers of such irregu1ar and un scriptural bodies as gospel ministers?
"4th. [This queries the propriety of inviting ministers of other religious bodies into Baptist pulpits, or otherwise recognizing them as ministers of the gospel?]
"5th. Can we consistently address as brethren those professing Christianity, who not only have not the doctrine of Christ and walk not according to his commandments, but are arrayed in bitter opposition to them!"
In 1854, Elder J. M. Pendleton, of Bowling Green, Ky., wrote a pamphlet entitled "An Old Landmark Reset," in which he discussed with his usual clearness and force, the question: "Ought Baptists to recognize Pedobaptist preachers as Gospel Ministers?" He answered the question in the negative. His clear reasoning, together with the high esteem in which he was held, gave his little work an extensive influence in the churches. From this pamphlet the term Old Landmarkism was derived, although but one principle of the system was directly discussed in it. The principles set forth in the Cotton Grove Resolutions made rapid progress among the Baptists of the Southern States, and, at present, they prevail, in whole or in part, in nearly all the southern churches. "There is only one Baptist paper [The Religious Herald] in the South, of the sixteen weeklies," writes Dr. Graves, in 1880, "that approves of alien immersion and pulpit affiliation."
Great and long continued as was the excitement, connected with the discussion of Old Landmarkism, it is not known to the author that any church or association, in Kentucky, was ruptured by it. The subject is still under investigation, but the discussion is more calm, and it is hoped that it will continue, in the spirit of meekness, till the churches all come to the unity of the faith, on this subject.
[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. I, pp. 715-716. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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