Almost all the Anti-papist denominations date, either directly or indirectly, from the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The Protestant Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian Churches, came out from the Roman Catholic Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church came from the Protestant Episcopal Church.
The Baptists, however, do not date from the Reformation. Though Anti-papists, they are not, in the technical and historical sense of the word, "Protestants," though they have ever protested, and do now protest, against the heresies and abominations of the Romish Church. Just before his ascension, Jesus said to his disciples:"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway. even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28: 18-20; and Mark adds, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16: 15-16.The requirements of this Divine Commission, are -
1. To preach the gospel to all nations.
2. To baptize those who believe.
3. To teach those who believe to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded.
This the apostles did. That the churches they founded were believed to be composed of regenerated persons, is evident from the fact that they addressed or referred to them as "believers," "saints," "quickened." "the faithful," "the redeemed," "the sanctified," "the saved," etc. The apostolic churches were also independent bodies; that is, separate from the State and from each other, and self-governed. They are spoken of individually as, "the church at Jerusalem." "the church at Antioch," "the church at Smyrna." They are spoken of collectively as, "the churches," "the churches of Macedonia," "the churches of Asia," "all the churches."
They are represented as electing their own officers, admitting, expelling, and restoring members, and acting as distinct, independent bodies.
There is a remarkable similarity between the apostolic churches and the Baptist churches of to-day, in their modes and forms of worship.
The apostolic churches were distinguished for the plainness and simplicity of their worship. "They had no magnificent cathedrals, gorgeously arrayed priesthood, no prescribed ritual, no splendid religious shows, no pomp of music, no parade of images and paintings."
Quietly, and unostentatiously, they met in some "upper room," or other humble sanctuary, to sing, to pray, to read and expound the Scriptures, and to exhort one another to faithfulness in the Christian life.
[Clarence Larkin, Why I Am a Baptist, American Baptist Publication Society, 1887, pp. 7-9. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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