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The People Called Baptists

By George F. McDaniel, 1919



      When one reflects upon the assurance with which informed and loyal Baptists hold their tenets to be scriptural, the wonder arises how so many devout Christians justify themselves in not subscribing to Baptist views. Upon investigation, using only books immediately at hand by non-Baptists, it is highly gratifying to find the substantiation of our doctrines by numerous historians and commentators. This increases surprise at the position of our Pedobaptist friends. Their own writers, by direct statement or implication, admit much for which Baptists contend. Non-Christian authorities are equally explicit. Reference to other libraries than my own would have in- creased the number of authorities indefinitely. By using second-hand data the task could have been performed quickly. Ignoring all quotations from books by Baptist authors, or quotations of Pedo-baptists by Baptists, this independent investigation was

made. The results, not to repeat matter used elsewhere in this book, follow.

Views of Three Encyclopedias.

      1. American Encyclopedia Britannica.
"The Baptists were the first denomination of British Christians that undertook the work of missions to the heathen, which has become so prominent a feature in the religious activity of the present century. As early as the year 1784, the Northamptonshire Association of Baptist Churches resolved to recommend that the first Monday of every month should be set apart for prayer for the spread of the gospel, a practice which has since, as a German writer remarks, extended over all Protestant Christendom, and we may add over all Protestant Missions." Vol. II, page 796.

      2. The Jewish Encyclopedia.
"A Christian denomination or sect denying the validity of infant baptism or of any baptism not preceded by a profession of faith. Baptists and their spiritual progenitors, the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century (including the Mennonites), have always made liberty of conscience a cardinal doctrine.

Balthasar Hubmaier, the Anabaptist leader, in his tract on "Heretics and Their Burners" (1524), insisted that not only heretical Christians, but also Turks and Jews were to be won to the truth by moral suasion alone, not by fire or sword; yet as a Catholic, but a few years before, he had co-operated in the destruction of a Jewish synagogue in Regensburg and in the expulsion of the Jews from the city. * * * The Mennonites of the Netherlands, who became wealthy during the seventeenth century, were so broad-minded and philanthropic that they made large contributions for the relief of persecuted Jews. In England, Henry Jessey, one of the most learned of the Baptist ministers of the middle decades of the seventeenth century (1649 onward), was an enthusiastic student of Hebrew and Aramaic, and an ardent friend of the oppressed Hebrews of his time." Vol.II, page 501. This article, written by Newman, has the imprimatur of the Hebrew editors.

      3. The Catholic Encyclopedia.
"The Baptists consider the Scriptures to be the sufficient and exclusive rule of faith and practice. In the interpretation of them

every individual enjoys restricted freedom. No non-scriptural scheme of doctrine and duty is recognized as authoritative. General creeds are mere declarations of prevalent doc- trinal views, to which no assent beyond one's personal conviction need be given. * * * Baptists hold that those only are members of the Church of Christ who have been baptized upon making a personal profession of faith. They agree in the rejection of infant baptism as contrary to the Scriptures, and in the acceptance of immersion as the sole valid mode of baptism. All children who die before the age of responsibility will nevertheless be saved. Baptism and the Eucharist, the only two sacraments, or ordinances as they call them, which Baptists generally admit, are not productive of grace, but are mere symbols. Baptism does not bestow, but symbolizes, regeneration, which has already taken place. In the Eucharist Jesus Christ is not really present; the Lord's Supper merely sets forth the death of Christ as the sustaining power of the believer's life. It was instituted for the followers of Christ alone; hence Baptists, in theory, commonly admit to it only their own
church members and exclude outsiders (close communion). Open communion, however, has been practiced extensively in England and is gaining ground to-day among American Baptists. In church polity, the Baptists are congregational, i.e., each church enjoys absolute automony. Its only officers are the elders or bishops and the deacons. The elder exercises the different pastoral functions and the deacon is his assistant in both spiritual and temporal concerns. These officers are chosen by common suffrage and ordained by "Councils" consisting of ministers and repre- sentatives of neighboring churches. A church may, in case of need, appeal for help to another church; it may, in difficulty, consult other churches; but never, even in such cases, can members of one congregation acquire authority over another congregation. Much less can a secular power interfere in spiritual affairs. Vol. II., page 278.

The Initial Ordinance.

      Neander, converted Jew: "In respect to the form of baptism, it was in conformity with the original institution and the original import of the symbol, performed by immersion. * * * Baptism was administered at first only to adults, as men were accustomed to conceive baptism and faith as strictly con- nected. We have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic institution, and the recognition of it which followed some- what later, as an apostolical tradition, serves to confirm this hypothesis. "History of the Christian Religion and Church." Vol. I., pages 310 and 311 1. Cunningham Geikie, Episcopalian: "John resisted no longer, and leading Jesus into the stream, the rite was performed * * *

      Holy and pure before sinking under the waters, he must yet have risen from them with the light of a higher glory in his countenance." "Life and Words of Christ," pages 413 and 414.

2. Neander, converted Jew: "In respect to the form of baptism, it was in conformity with the original institution and the original import of the symbol, performed by immersion. * * * Baptism was administered at first only to adults, as men were accustomed to conceive baptism and faith as strictly connected. We have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic institution, and the recognition of it which followed somewhat later, as an apostolical tradition, serves to confirm this hypothesis. "History of the Christian Religion and Church." Vol. I., pages 310 and 311.

      3. G. Campbell Morgan, immersed Con- gregationalist: "He (Jesus) left the seclusion and the privacy, and standing on the threshold of public work, with the waters of a death baptism, which he had shared in the grace of his heart with man, still clinging about him, the silent heavens broke into the

language of a great music, as the Almighty Father declared, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" "The Crisis of the Christ," page 136.

      4. Dr. Phillip Schaff, Presbyterian: In the encyclopedia of which he was co-editor, he secured Dr. Osgood to write the article on Baptism (The Baptist View). He follows that with a lengthy discussion by himself. Though differing from the "Baptist View," his scholarship compelled him to say, "There is no trace of infant baptism in the New Testament. All attempts to deduce it from the words of institution, or from such passages as 1 Corinthians 1:16, must be given up as arbitrary." "Baptism in the early church was a triple immersion." "The Council of Ravenna (1311) was the first to allow a choice between sprinkling and immersion." Vol. I., page 200-ff.

      "Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen and Chrys- ostom had Christian mothers, but were not baptized till they were converted in early manhood." Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Vol. I., page 210.

      Dean Stanley, Episcopalian: In a graphic:

description of baptism in the patristic age, says, "They then plunged into the water. Both before and after the immersion," etc. "Christian Institutions," page 5.

      5. H. M. Gwatkin, Presbyterian: "We have good evidence that infant baptism is no direct institution either of the Lord himself or of his apostles. There is no trace of it in the New Testament. Every discussion of this subject presumes persons old enough to have faith and repentance, and no case of baptism is recorded except of such persons, for the whole 'household' mentioned would in that age mean dependents and slaves as naturally as they suggest children to the English reader." "Early Christian History, A. D. 313." Vol. I., page 251.

      6. John Wesley, Methodist: He was indicted by a grand jury at Savannah August, 1737, upon ten counts; the fifth arraignment was that he had broken the laws of the realm by "refusing to baptize Mr. Parker's child, other than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak, and not able to bear it." "The Heart of Wesley's Journal," page 21.


      7. Dr. William Sanday, Episcopalian: "Baptism has a double function: (1) It brings the Christian into personal contact with Christ so close that it may be fitly described as union with him; (2) it expresses symbolically a series of acts corresponding to the redeeming acts of Christ.

      Submersion - Death.

      Submersion - Burial (the ratification of death).

      Emergence - Resurrection.

      All these the Christian has to undergo in a moral and spiritual sense, and by means of his union with Christ." "The International Critical Commentary on Romans," page 153.

      8. Jas. Cardinal Gibbons, Roman Catholic: "For several centuries after the establishment of Christianity baptism was usually conferred by immersion; but since the twelfth century the practice of baptizing by infusion has prevailed in the Catholic Church, as this manner is attended with less inconvenience than baptism by immersion." This paragraph occurs, to be sure, in an argument for baptismal regeneration and for the discretion of "the Church" in adopting the most convenient

mode; but it is striking that the distinguished Cardinal felt constrained to concede so much to immersion. ("The Faith of Our Fathers," page 277, eighty-third edition.)

Church Officers.

      1. The noted skeptic and historian [Edward] Gibbon: "The primitive bishops were considered only as the first of their equals, and the honorable servants of a free people. Whenever the episcopal chair became vacant by death, a new president was chosen among the presbyters by the suffrage of the whole congregation, every member of which supposed himself invested with a sacred and sacerdotal character. Such was the mild and equal constitution by which the Christians were governed more than a hundred years after the death of the apostles. Every society formed itself within a separate and independent republic; and although the most distant of these little States maintained a mutual as well as friendly intercourse of letters and deputations, the Christian world was not yet connected by any supreme authority or

legislative assembly." "Roman Empire," vol. I., page 413.

      2. Professor Kurtz, Lutheran: "It is unequivocably testified by the New Testament, and, as appears from the First Epistle of Clement of Rome (ch. 42, 44, 57), the fact had never been disputed down to the close of the first century, that bishops and presbyters are identical. The force of this objection, however, is sought to be obviated by the subterfuge that while all bishops were indeed presbyters, all presbyters were not bishops. The ineptitude of such an evasion is apparent. In Philippians 1:1, the apostle, referring to this one particular church, greeted not one but several bishops. According to Acts 20:17, 28, all the presbyters of the one Ephesian church are made bishops by the Holy Ghost. Also Titus 1:5, 7 unconditionally excludes such a distinction; and according to 1 Peter 5:2 all such presbyters should be episkopountes. In opposition to this theory, which received the sanction of the Council of Trent, the old Protestant theologians maintained the original identity of the two names and offices. In support of this they could refer not only to

the New Testament, but also to Clement of Rome and the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, where, just as in Philippians 1:1, only bishops and deacons are named as church officers, and as appointed by the free choice of the church. They can also point to the consensus of the most respected church fathers and church teachers of the later times." "Church History," pages 54 and 59.

      3. H. M. Gwatkins, Presbyterian: "That the 'bishops' in the New Testament were not what we call bishops is proved at once by the single fact that there were sundry of them at Philippi. They evidently stand in close relation to the elders. Thus the elders of Ephesus are reminded that they are bishops, and the qualifications of the bishops and elders as described to Timothy and Titus are nearly the same, and point to oversight certainly, and to the same sort of oversight, but to oversight which is pastoral, not what we should call episcopal. Again, St. Paul's argument from the bishop to the elder would be no argument at all if the bishops were already no more than a small class among the elders. The rough general equivalence of

bishops and elders in the New Testament has very seldom been disputed since the controversies of the seventeenth century. * * * We find no trace of bishops in the New Testament." "Early Church History to A. D. 313," vol. I., pages 69 and 72.

Church Government.

      1. Viscount Bryce, Episcopalian, tracing the rise of the hierarchy, draws an analogy from the growth of the empire and gives a passing notice to the freedom of the earliest churches. "And, just as with the extension of the empire all the independent rights of districts, towns, or tribes had disappeared, so now the primitive freedom and diversity of individual Christians and local churches, al- ready circumscribed by the frequent struggles against heresy, was finally overborne by the idea of one visible catholic church, uniform in faith and ritual." "Holy Roman Empire," page 30.

      2. Jefferson, Unitarian, may not have gotten his scheme for our government from a Baptist Church, but he wrote a fine definition of church government. "Each church being

free, no one can have jurisdiction over an- other one." "I cannot give up my guidance to the magistrate, because he knows no more the way to heaven than I do, and is less concerned to direct me right than I am to go." "The Writings of Thomas Jefferson." Library Edition, Vol. XVII, 9.

      3. Professor Kurtz, in his monumental work, shows the equality of believers in the churches: "As in those Hellenic associations all ranks, even those which in civil society were separated from one another by impassable barriers, found admission, and then, in the framing of statutes, the reception of fellow members, the exercise of discipline, possessed equal rights." "Church History," page 54.

      4. A Congregationalist author, in a recent illuminating book, when discussing the early churches in the Roman Empire, says: "These churches, for many years, were little independent democracies, with no special distinctions between laity and clergy; there were no real clerical orders for a long time. Their officers were elective, and subject to removal by popular vote. The various churches were

bound together by brotherly feelings, but no coercion was exercised by one church over others." "The Winning of Religious Liberty," by Joseph H. Crooker, page 18.

Religious Liberty.

      1. Thomas Jefferson, to his neighbors, the members of the Baptist Church of Buck Mountain, in Albemarle, April 13, 1809: "We have acted together from the origin to the end of a memorable revolution, and we have con- tributed, each in the line alloted us, our en- deavors to render its issue a permanent blessing to our country. That our social intercourse may, to the evening of our days, be cheered and cemented by witnessing the free- dom and happiness for which we have labored, will be my constant prayer. Accept the offering of my affectionate esteem and respect." He wrote five letters to Baptist churches and Associations.

      2. George P. Fisher, Professor at Yale: "A Baptist committee laid their complaints before the Massachusetts delegates in the first Continental Congress at Philadelphia. The support which the Baptist lent to the

patriotic cause, and the proclamation of human rights which was made on every hand won a hearing for their demands and rendered them, after tedious delays, successful. In Virginia Patrick Henry, Jefferson and Madi- son enlisted in their favor. In 1785 the statute of religious freedom was adopted, of which Jefferson deemed it a great honor to have been the author, by which intervention in matters of faith and worship was forbidden to the State. All denominations were thus put on a level, and none were taxed for the support of religion." "History of the Christian Church," page 560.

      3. Parton, after mentioning the address from the Baptists to the Virginia Convention, August 16, 1775, petitioning that four Bap- tist ministers should be allowed to preach to Baptist soldiers, cites the Convention's resolution which both granted the request and conceded the principle: "Resolved, That it be an instruction to the commanding officers of regiments or troops to be raised that they per- mit dissenting clergymen to celebrate divine worship, and to preach to the soldiers, or exhort, from time to time, as the various

operations of the military service may permit, for the ease of such scrupulous consciences as may not choose to attend divine worship as celebrated by the chaplain." He then adds a striking sentence: "Thus began religious equality in Virginia." "Life of Thomas Jefferson," by Parton, page 174.

      4. Leonard Woolsey Bacon, Congregationalist: Discussing the establishment of the American principle of the non-interference of the State with religion and the equality of all religious communions before the law, concludes: "So far as this work was a work of intelligent conviction and religious faith, the chief honor of it must be given to the Baptists. Other sects, notably the Presbyterians, had been energetic and efficient in demanding their own liberties; the Friends and the Baptists agreed in demanding liberty of conscience and worship, and equality before the law, for all alike. But the active labor in this cause was mainly done by the Baptists. It is to their consistency and constancy in the warfare against the privileges of the powerful 'Standing Order' of New England, and of the moribund establishments of the South that

we are chiefly indebted for the final triumph in this country of that principle of the separa- tion of Church and State which is one of the largest contributions of the New World to civilization and to the church universal." "A History of American Christianity," page 221.

      5. "In England, from the time of Henry VIII to William III, a full century and a half, the Baptists struggled to gain their footing and to secure liberty of conscience for all. From 1611 they issued appeal after appeal, addressed to the King, the Parliament, and the people, in behalf of 'soul liberty,' written with a breadth of view and force of argument hardly since exceeded. Yet, until the Quakers arose in 1660, the Baptists stood alone in its defense, amid universal opposition * * * Among the Baptists Christian freedom found its earliest, its staunchest, its most consistent, and its most disinterested champion. * * * Not less powerful has been the influence of the Baptists in the United States. * * * Persecuted themselves, they never persecuted others. * * * The paths of the Baptists

are paths of freedom, pleasantness and peace." (Appleton's American Encyclopedia, Vol. II, page 293-f.)


      Joseph H. Crooker, Congregationalist: "The Baptists are the least sacramental and the most scriptural of the Protestant denominations." "Winning of Religious Liberty," page 204.


[From George W. McDaniel, The People Called Baptists, 1919, pp. 105-123. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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