The Work of the Baptists an Urgent Work
By Elder J. S. Coleman, D.D., of Hartford, Ky.
[Sermon delivered before the Daviess County Baptist Association, August 14, 1888.]
"The King's Business Required Haste." - I Samuel 21:8
Notwithstanding their distinguishing independent, democratic form of church government, their personal liberty and freedom of soul, yet Baptists are not free in the sense that they have a right to do as they please, unless they please to act in conformity to the will of their King, for they have a king; but they have but one king. He is a living and a reigning king: "The LORD of LORDS and the KING of KINGS," possessing an inalienable right to reign and rule over His servants, whom He has purchased by the shedding of His own blood.
Yes, Baptists are the subjects of one Master, one Lord, one King, who is their only authoritative law-giver and exemplar, and to whom they acknowledge supreme allegiance; and as the first qualification of a loyal subject is obedience to the King's authority, Baptists should constantly illustrate their fealty to Christ by their unswerving fidelity to His government.
I. Our high calling as Baptists is to attend to our King's business.
We are not our own. We are bought with a price, that price having been been paid by our King.
Hence our first and paramount concern in life should be to do His bidding, by consecrating ail our powers and all our resources to the promotion of His Kingdom among men.
1. Whatever brought our King into the world, also sends us out into the world, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." Our business, as his servants, is to seek and to save the lost, in the use of the agencies and instrumentalities that he puts within our reach. Each should employ his abilities, as God has endowed him, to their uttermost for the accomplishment of the object of Christ's mission to this world.
2. Our King came into the world to bring the world back to his Father. The whole world had gone away from God, insomuch there were none that "Sought after God," "none that did good, no, not one," "all had become unprofitable."
Our business is to bring the world, even the whole world, to Christ the Son of God, that He may, according to the covenant made before the world was, bring the world back to His Father again. What a grand mission is ours! To work with Christ to bring a lost world to God, "that the world through Him might be saved." Does it not invoke and deserve the consecration and devotion of all our ransomed powers? And shall any of us prove recreant to our high calling by employing anything less than the full measure of our several abilities in our endeavors to achieve the purposes of our King, in his mission to this sin-cursed earth of ours? "She
hath done what she could" was the grandest encomium ever pronounced by Divinity upon humanity, and yet it only expresses the true boundary of Christian obligation and duty. What we possess ability to do, we can do, and what we can do, the law of Christ makes it our duty to do, that the world through Him may be saved. How exalted and how sublime is our high calling.
II. Our King proposes to save this world through the agency of organizations which He denominates His churches, and by the instrumentality of the people of whom He has been pleased to compose His Churches. 1. The first of these churches was organized by our King himself, and to that church, through His Apostles, was the law given teaching them how to institute or organize other churches. This law we denominate "The Great Commission," which is more fully quoted by Matthew than by any of the Evangelists. (See Matthew 20:18-20.) This statute of our King contains and confers all the power, all the authority and all the prerogatives necessary to be employed by His people, in all time to come, for the fulfillment and consummation of His and their mission in the world. No need of any further legislation, by way of amendments, changes, substitutions or otherwise; it being the simple duty of all church builders, in all the ages to come, to strictly adhere to the pattern here given, by executing the plan and exercising the authority herein conferred. To this people, thus called, qualified and sanctified,
and their successors, who shall possess similar endowments, both spiritual and ceremonial, is this great statutory law given, by the King, and to none others. It is not the right of every ecclesiastical adventurer, or every church cobbler, who may choose to experiment in holy things, to come along and assume to institute organizations under the authority of this law, and dignify them by calling them churches. Such authority belongs only to such people as possess such qualifications as distinguished those to whom it was first given.
If this world is ever evangelized, and saved from the pollution and guilt of sin, and the thraldom of religious superstition and error, it must be done through the agency of such organizations as the first church, and the labors of such people as those who composed the first church. The task enjoined in this commission is such an one that no other institution or people can hope to accomplish.
3. But the question arises in the mind of some (not in ours), where are such organizations and such a people to be found in this age?
We answer without doubt, wavering or equivocation that such organizations and such a people can alone be found among the Baptist churches and Baptist people of the present age. If proof is demanded, here it is: (1) This is a commission which enjoys first the making of disciples. (2) The baptizing of those who are made disciples. (3) Their instruction in all the subsequent duties pertaining to their profession.
From this brief analysis of the commission it must be seen that the Baptists are the only people whose practice is in accord with its requirements, and hence they are the only people who can execute it without the destruction of their own theory and practice. If this is a commission to baptize believers or the regenerated only, which seems to be clear, then it follows inevitably that those who baptize in order to the remission of past sins, and those who baptize unconscious infants, cannot be the people who are authorized to act under this commission, nor can they execute it in harmony with their views of the subject and design of gospel baptism. Moreover, if the baptism enjoined in this law is immersion, as we unqualifiedly hold, then it follows that no people who hold that baptism is rightly administered by sprinkling, or pouring, can be the people to whom Christ has entrusted the responsibility of converting this world under the provisions of this law.
For these reasons, and many others that we might mention, we hold, and believe, that the commission to evangelize this world was given by the Lord Jesus Christ to an organization and a people, who are now only rightly represented by BAPTIST CHURCHES AND BAPTIST PEOPLE.
In taking this position we are not to be understood as either holding or saying that there are no Christians outside of Baptist churches. We cannot if we would hold such a position, since we insist that every one must first be made a Christian before he can scripturally receive baptism, or become a
church member; hence we are the last people under the sun to be accused of unchristianizing any one because he is not a Baptist, since we hold that none are fit to become Baptists who are not first made Christians. Therefore we recognize the claims of all who profess to be Christians, especially if they illustrate the fact in their lives, and for them we cultivate Christian fellowship, but we do not admit their claim as constituting gospel churches, or as possessing the right or scriptural authority to administer under the commission, whose provisions and requirements they both ignore and contradict; nor do we believe that such institutions or societies can ever succeed in the world's conversion. With what awful and solemn responsibility are we as Baptists invested, if it be true that to us the great King has intrusted the great enterprise of bringing a lost and ruined world back to God and eternal salvation. And yet it is upon this ground that we are compelled to stand, by the very force of the doctrines that we hold and teach. May the Lord make us "sufficient for these things."
III. The King supplies His people and His churches with all the means necessary to the accomplishment of His business.
1. Are numbers necessary to success? While we need not insist that our strength consists in numbers, for our King can make the few and the weak equal to any task He may assign them, yet we must not ignore the fact that there is a degree of power in numbers. Well, these we have in ample sufficiency;
if they were only properly and earnestly consecrated to their work, what might we under God achieve?
Here in our own beloved District Association we have nearly six thousand communicants, where forty-eight years ago a few feeble churches, with only about six hundred members, associated themselves under the name of the Daviess County Baptist Association. "What hath God wrought in our very midst?"
We have here in our own boundary numbers sufficient to occupy every inch of our territory with Baptist preaching, Baptist Sunday-schools, and Baptist churches, were we only devoted to our Master's business as we should be.
But how is it in our old beloved and honored. Commonwealth? The same may be said of our own association. From only about thirty-five thousand fifty years ago we have increased to 1,818 churches and 202,264 communicants, while we baptized in the last year in Kentucky alone 12,426. With this mighty force we should occupy every valley and hilltop, while the praises of our King should sweep and sway the mountains of Eastern Kentucky like a breath from Heaven, and every desert and solitary place be made to bud and bloom like a rose.
Then extend your survey to our Southern sunny land, and see two millions and a quarter of our brethren and sisters composing 14,874 white churches, with a net increase last year of 528 churches, and a net increase of membership of 50,105; while the total number of churches, white
and colored, in the South, is 24,205, and the total number of baptisms last year 121,578.
Now extend the width of your observation and embrace the United States and we find 31,891 churches aggregate nearly three millions membership.
Then widen your view and take in the world and learn that we have 37,354 churches, comprising a membership of almost four millions, constituting by far the largest converted membership of any sect or denomination on the face of the earth.*
2. Are learning, gifts, talents and genius necessary to enable us to accomplish the business of our King?
These we have now in full proportion to our numbers. Once in this country we were branded with such epithets as "low," "ignorant" and "vulgar" by the aristocrats of the State establishment, who arrested us, and imprisoned and whipped and fined and banished us, adjudging us far more worthy of such treatment than of church privileges and communion tables, but now the complaint is that we will not recognize their churches and ordinances and commune with them. What a change has come over the spirit of their dreams.
Now we have not less than 125 chartered institutions of learning in this country, with property valued at more than twenty-five millions. We have also in this country not less than one hundred religious and denominational newspapers and periodicals,
* These figures have been greatly increased since this sermon was preached. There are now full 5,000,000 Baptists in the world [B.M.Bogard, 1900].
read, it is estimated, by nearly or quite half of the entire population, while the attainments of our scholars, and the gifts, talents and genius of our orators and ministers would lose nothing in comparison with the most polished and gifted sons of this continent.
3. Is wealth necessary to the world's conversion? We have it also in full proportion to our numbers. Baptists own more acres in the bounds of the Daviess County Association than any other people. They possess greater wealth than any other denomination in the State, while in the whole South there is no other sect that can compare with us in the extent of our worldly possessions. What we want is not more wealth, but a higher, deeper and stronger consecration to our King's business, in a more liberal use of the means that He has given us.
4. Is it necessary that our principles and practices be universally admitted by other religious sects in order that we lead a fallen world to Christ? This we enjoy in a measure, and to a degree that no other party in religion can boast. What is it that we hold and teach in religion that is positively denied by any of the so-called evangelical sects?
Can you call to mind just one of our denominational peculiarities which is not admitted to be true by any of our sectarian adversaries? When we affirm our doctrines and practices, who is it that says we are wrong? Let us recall just a few of our most prominent peculiarities in teaching and practice, that we may see how the case stands.
What is it more than anything else divides the so-called orthodox sects? It is the question of baptism as it relates to the subject and action. What do Baptists affirm, or rather what are they required to affirm on these points? Certainly nothing more than what they believe and do. Well, what do they believe touching the subject of baptism? They affirm that a true and penitent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a scriptural subject of Christian baptism. Who says they are not? Not one, since all agree that a believer ought to be baptized according to the Scriptures, and hence all religious sects which practice water baptism baptize believers whenever and wherever they have the opportunity.
Take next the action of baptism, upon which Baptists are objected to because of the narrowness of their opinions. What do they affirm concerning the mode or action of baptism? Why, simply that immersion in water is scriptural baptism. Where is one to be found, whose opinion is worth a farthing, who does not admit the truth of what we affirm? He that would negative this proposition is either ignorant or dishonest; hence in either case his opinion would not be entitled to respect. In confirmation of our positions on the subject and action of baptism we might quote a volume of the admissions of those who baptize infants and substitute sprinkling and pouring for baptism, but neither time nor space will allow. Suffice it to say, however, that our religious adversaries do not object to what we believe and do in these matters, but rather to
what we do not believe, and to what we do not practice. Therefore, in all controversies with, Pedobaptist sects we have never yet found one sufficiently presumptuous to negative what we affirm on these questions. Hence we see the high advantage ground occupied by the Baptists, made doubly strong by the universal admissions of our opponents. These admissions greatly facilitate our work in bringing the religious world back to correct religious opinions and practices.
5. Is a united Christian sentiment necessary to the accomplishment of our King's business in the world? We answer frankly that such seems to be the emphatic teachings of the Word. Our Lord's great intercessory prayer, as we have it in the 17th chapter of John's gospel, is full of this sentiment; hence such petitions as the following abound in that prayer: "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are" - John 17:11. "That they all may be one, even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me," "And the glory which thou hast given me 1 have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me" - John 17:21, 22, 23.
From these passages it is easily inferred that it is the great desire of the heart of our King that His people shall be one, and that He conceived such
unity among His people would facilitate the world's conversion. Hence the subject of our present inquiry is eminently pertinent, which is "a unified Christian sentiment necessary to the accomplishment of our King's business." Now, in view of what has been said in the preceding arguments, and in order to obviate the necessity of a protracted argument here, we will simply affirm, and leave the reader to make the application and the investigation, that the Baptists are the only people on the face of the earth who hold siich principles of faith and practice in religion as enable them to present such terms of union to all true Christians as all can accept, and that, too, without the least sacrifice of principle or conscience. Here we might illustrate elaborately, but content ourselves by simply asking what sacrifice has a true Christian to make in accepting and doing that which he already admits is true and right? In asking others to become Baptists we are only suggesting that they take such a step toward the unification of the Christian World, as they already declare to be right, and therefore cannot involve themselves in the slightest sacrifice of principle. Baptists are accused of great bigotry and selfishness, in that they are opposed to all Christians communing together. We are not opposed to the communion of all Christians, but we first desire the union of all Christians in principle and practice, and then there would be a scriptural consistency in our communion at the Lord's table; "for how can two walk together except they be agreed?" So far from our being opposed
to the union of all true Christians, we will make a proposition looking to a universal union of all God's children, which no other denomination will dare make, which is, that if all the Pedobaptist sects will only agree among themselves upon two questions, and that said agreement shall be reached without a solitary dissenting voice, then the Baptists will pledge their sacred honor to accept the agreement thus reached by Pedobaptists themselves as the basis of union among all Christians for all time to come. The two questions which they must settle, and that as a unit, and which, when once agreed upon, will insure a perfect and consistent union among all Christians, are these: (1) WHO OUGHT TO BE BAPTIZED? (2) HOW SHOULD THEY BE BAPTIZED? Let the Pedobaptist world agree upon these two questions and the Baptist shall not ask a question, but simply accept the situation.
And now if Pedobaptists refuse to accept and act upon this proposition, we shall have just grounds upon which to doubt their sincerity in so frequently insisting upon uniting in communion. Now we serve notice upon all Pedobaptists that they must either accept our proposition for union, which all must admit is most reasonable and liberal, or they must forever hereafter close their lips and hush their pretentious howl against Baptists about close communion. Now let us have peace either in one way or the other. We shall see What we shall see, and if we see anything, we shall see all true, consistent and unprejudiced Christians coming into the Baptist
churches, since it will be found to be a moral and utter impossibility for Pedobaptists ever to agree upon the two questions propounded, among themselves, without being forced upon Baptist ground. Pedobaptists are not agreed upon these two questions, nor have they ever been, nor can they ever be, without becoming Baptists.
6. Is access to the nations of the world necessary to success?
Only a few years ago most of the nations in heathen lands were locked up against the gospel, while only partial protection was enjoyed by our missionaries in any of the foreign fields.
We asked God to unlock the doors of the heathen in distant lands, and he has done it. There is now scarcely a nation under the sun to which our missionaries cannot go, and enter and dwell there with reasonable and comparative security so far as the governments and rulers are concerned. Of course there are yet difficulties to encounter after legal obstructions have been removed, arising from the ignorance, superstition and barbarism of the people, but the nations are now accessible to the herald of salvation, so that many of the trials and sufferings encountered and endured by Carey and Judson are now unknown. What hath God wrought in answer to our prayers!
Now nation after nation is wheeling into line and becoming the intelligent and loyal subjects of our King, while still other kindreds and tribes are stretching forth their hands unto God, crying,
"Come over and help us." And while God has opened wide the doors to the nations, by His special providences, and in the exercise of His discriminating grace and power, He is beckoning and bidding us to enter. How certainly is God making us to feel that His business requires haste. How thankful we should be that our King has given us access to the nations.
7. Are educated, pious, consecrated, willing, God-fearing and soul-loving young men necessary both at home and abroad, in order to the success of our King's business in the world?
How deeply we felt this need in the early years of our missionary operations, both in this land and in heathen fields. How fervent and earnest were the prayers of our people only a few years ago to the God of the harvest that He would send more and Ijetter qualified laborers into His harvest, but especially that He would put it into the hearts of young men and women to enter the fields that were already white to the harvest; and how wonderfully has He also answered our prayers by inflaming the hearts of so many pious young people with burning desires to go forth bearing the precious seeds of the gospel. Hundreds of such are saying, in the language of young Samuel, "Here am I, send me." Instead of our having to hunt and seek diligently to find a suitable one to send here, there, or elsewhere, now many noble young men and women, with souls aflame with a holy zeal for God and humanity, are voluntarily offering themselves for the numerous
fields which God, in His providence, has thrown open before them. All that now prevents us from sending a missionary into every open door is the lack of more consecrated Baptist pocket-books and Baptist property. O! that the King may open the hearts of His subjects in this country as He has the doors of the nations and the hearts of our young people.
IV. Baptists have the strongest assurances of Divine favor to encourage them in the conviction that it is the King's fixed purpose tJiat they shall take the lead in every grand movement that shall ultimately result in this world's evangelization.
Let it not be thought that this proposition annunciates merely a vain or fulsome declaration, in the absence of well-grounded reasons to sustain it. "We are not mad, but speak the words of truth and soberness." From the first dawn of the gospel era, and from the first day of the introduction of the gospel dispensation, we have full and incontrovertible proof of this purpose upon the part of the Great Founder of our faith.
1. The first gospel preacher the world ever saw was a Baptist missionary; a Baptist not only in name, but also in profession, faith and practice. The evidences of this fact are sufficient to carry conviction to all unprejudiced minds. His preaching was Baptistic, requiring those who received his baptism first to give evidence of conversion in such penitence as indicated the genuineness of their repentance. No others were baptized by him. When
the proud and self-righteous Pharisee and the self-important Sadducee came clamorously demanding baptism at his hands, founding their claim to the ordinance upon flesh and blood qualifications, they were promptly rejected, and unqualifiedly denounced as a "generation of poisonous reptiles," seeking ingress into a spiritual kingdom upon the ground of natural descent.
It must be clear to every one that the Baptist harbinger did not baptize his subjects in order to the remission of their sins, nor did he administer the sacred ordinance to unconscious infants.
Now of all the church builders that have succeeded him through the centuries, where can one be found steadfastly adhering to John's example, save the Baptist? This being a fact of fundamental value, ought to be sufficient in itself to establish the truth of my proposition, but other proofs of the same fact are not wanting in a still further investigation of John's ministry. The places whither he resorted for the purpose of administering baptism, and his actions, and that of those who received baptism at his hands, seem to indicate that he must have been a Baptist. His resort for the administration of baptism was the Jordan, a flowing river, and to "Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there." Rivers and places where there was much water have, through the ages, been the favorite resorts for Baptists. Why go out into the wilderness, and not only to the river, but down into both the river and the water that was in the river,
as our King must have done, for "He came up out of the water," if baptism could have been properly administered by either pouring or sprinkling a few drops upon the forehead? Who can believe that John baptized in any other way than in the way Baptists now baptize? Well, if he preached like Baptists preach, and required the same qualifications for baptism that Baptists require, and then baptized his converts as Baptists now baptize their converts, why was he not a Baptist? And if he was a Baptist, then it is a thing made out that God designed that Baptists should lead in the great enterprise of converting the world. If this was His purpose then, it is His purpose yet; hence it is vain for others to undertake a work that God intends shall be done by the Baptists.
Moreover, Jesus Christ, the founder of the Baptist denomination, was also a Baptist missionary, as is evidenced by his preaching, by the character of those baptized in connection with his ministry (for they were first made disciples), by the manner in which he himself was baptized, and finally by the great commission he gave for the government of his people in all their movements in the great affair of bringing a lost world to salvation. That commission is the strongest Baptist document, and the most thorough digest of Baptist polity that the world ever saw. The whole of this law of the New Testament is but a divine enunciation of Baptist principles and practices.
2. The first revival at pentecost, after the giving
of the commission, was simply a Baptist missionary meeting, held in Jerusalem only ten days after the ascension of our King from the top of one of the high mountains of Galilee, as is easily inferable from the transactions of that memorable occasion. See Acts 2nd chapter - For proofs of the truth of this statement we need only to compare the transactions of that occasion with the manner in which Baptists usually conduct their meetings. (a) The public services were introduced by the preaching of the gospel. (b) By the power of the gospel thus preached, and attended by the Holy Spirit, those who heard were convicted of sin, and anxiously asked "What shall we do?" (c) Then they were instructed, just as we now instruct the convicted sinner, that was, to repent, confess, obtain the remission of sins, and then be baptized in testimony of the fact that their sins had been washed away by the blood of Jesus, (d) That such only were baptized on that occasion as "gladly received the word " is further proof of the character of the meeting; that is, none were baptized who did not or could not receive the gospel "gladly;" hence they were not baptized in order to the remission of sins, nor were there any unconscious infants baptized. (e) That there was not a word uttered about the Lord's Supper until after the converts were baptized, added to the church, had enjoyed her fellowship, and exhibited their steadfastness in the faith. If this was not a Baptist meeting, then pray tell us what sort of a meeting was it? And if it was a
Baptist meeting, then it supports our claim "that it is God's fixed purpose that we shall take the lead in the propagation of the gospel."
3. As another proof of this same fact it is most certainly worthy of mention that God sent an angel by night and liberated Peter and John from the common prison and brought them forth and said, '' Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." - Acts 5:18, 19, 20. Let it be remembered that Peter and John were two of the Baptist preachers who were engaged in the pentecostal meeting.
4. By visions and revelations one of these Baptist preachers is compelled to go and introduce first the gospel among the Gentile heathen. - Acts 10:1-48.
Here we have another proof of Jthe divine purpose in compelling his chosen ministers and people to take the lead in disseminating the gospel among the nations, insomuch we shall hereinafter see how God has compelled the Baptists to go forth, when they have hesitated to go under the broad commission, the first word of which is "Go." This fact is early illustrated in the divine dealing with the first Baptist church at Jerusalem. It is more than probable that that church would have been content to have reposed upon her grand achievements in her first great revival, and continued to have luxuriated upon the grand victory she had won in a single day, without making any further sacrifices for the further spread of the gospel, but God intended that they
should be missionaries, that they should "GO," and therefore He sent down upon them such a persecution that they were scattered abroad, and it is said with emphasis "they went everywhere preaching the word," but devout men had already carried Stephen to his burial, as the first fruits of the persecution that made all the church at Jerusalem missionaries. Acts 7:54-60; 8:2-4.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them, and it is said, as a result of his preaching there, that "there was great joy in that city,'' for the reason that "the people with one accord gave heed unto those things that Philip spake." Acts 8:5-8. Truly it may be said, in the language of old Watts, "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." His purposes cannot fail; His people must bear the news of salvation to "all nations." But we must take a few examples from God's dealings with the Baptists in more modern times.
5. When in the wisdom of God the time had fully come that He would more directly engage the English speaking race in the spread of the gospel, and his providence contemplated the inauguration of modern missions in foreign heathen lands, he began by first converting William Carey from the errors of pedobaptism to the faith of the Baptists, notwithstanding he had been reared and educated to regard Baptists with supreme and sovereign contempt.
Being endowed with superior intellectual powers, and a most wonderful capacity for mastering the
languages, and with a soul aflame with the missionary spirit, God saw fit to pass by all the crowned heads, mitred brows, of all the thrones and kingdoms of earth, and enter the humble shoe cobbler's domicile and call William Carey to stand in the forefront and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to a heathen world. For many long and weary months he sat upon his shoe bench with the map of the world before him, estimating the vast fields of heathenish night, and the immeasurable extent of superstitious darkness, while his bosom heaved with anxious solicitude, and his heart palpitated with fervent love, while his streaming eyes wet with their tears his hand and hammer as he plied his daily vocation. But he could not remain in that shop. God had another for him. He could not any longer endure the unutterable tortures of a perturbed soul and conscience, while myriads of heathen souls were annually going down to woe. He could contain himself no longer; he must doff his shoemaker's apron and throw down the hammer and last, and appeal to the English-speaking children of God to come to the rescue and save a sinking world.
It was at a meeting of the Nottingham Association on the 30th day of May, 1792, when preaching from the text, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" - Isaiah 54:2, that he divided his subject into the two following heads, which have made his name immortal: 1. "Expect great things from
God;" 2. "Attempt great things for God." With these as his motto and with victory for our King or death upon his banner, he stirred the British Empire from center to circumference, and ultimately lifted the standard of the cross amid the unbroken darkness of the East Indies, and illuminated the Burman Empire with the light of the Star of Bethlehem.
Who, with these facts before them, will dare say that the God of Missions was indifferent as to the faith of the instrument he would at first employ to break the long night of heathenish darkness? Why was it that Carey was not sent without first being made a Baptist?
6. Take another example: When God would awaken American Baptists and engage them actively in the great work of missions, He did it in the most unlooked-for manner by converting two Pedobaptist missionaries to Baptist principles as they were crossing the vast deep on their voyage to the land of heathendom. The reference is to Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice, who having received a most thorough equipment in a finished education, were sent out by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which was a Congregational Presbyterian organization, originated for the express purpose of sending out these young men, whose souls were fired with a holy zeal for the heathen.
Knowing that Wm. Carey and a number of co-laborers were already in the field whither they were going, and knowing that they were Baptists, and anticipating that they would be likely to encounter
their peculiar views on baptism, Judson and Rice deemed it wise to post up on the subject, and hence they made the baptismal question the subject of special study on their protracted voyage. The result was their sound conversion to the faith of the Baptists; insomuch, that upon landing in the heathen field, they made haste to hunt Wm. Carey and his friends and ask baptism at their hands. Mr. Judson received baptism at the hands of Mr. Carey on the 6th of September, 1812, while Mr. Rice received baptism at the hands of Mr. Ward, who was a helper to Mr. Carey, on the 1st of November, 1812. Their change of denominations left them in a foreign land and on hostile shores without support. American Baptists at the time had no foreign missionary organization, but the action of these two heroic young men set on flame the great heart of American Baptists, and the "American Baptist Missionary Union" was called into existence, while Judson soon received assurances of support from his newly-made friends. That was a dark and sad hour when, after Judson and Rice had received gospel baptism on a far distant shore, they sat down to consult as to what they should attempt to do. After much meditation and prayer, Judson said to Rice, "I will go down into the well if you will hold the rope," which meant that he would stay there and take all the risks if Rice would return to this country and endeavor to arouse the American Baptists on missions. He came, and, like a comet, with a lighted torch in his hand, he flew over the States of the nation like
one having the everlasting gospel to preach, and truly the Baptist churches in the United States were set on fire with an all-consuming zeal for the cause of foreign missions. But we can pursue this thrilling story no further at present, but simply haste to draw some practical conclusions from this marvelous record. Who can consider these facts and not see the hand of God in the change of their religious views by Judsoii and Rice? Is it asking too much of our readers that they shall believe that divine providence did interfere to prevent the errors of Pedobaptists from being propagated in the land' whither these missionaries were going? What stronger proof have we need of to satisfy the most skeptical of its being the King's pleasure that the Baptists shall take the lead in all the great movements having for their object the world's evangelization? Indeed, such a conclusion seems to be inevitable.
8. But the most wonderful exhibition that the world has ever seen of God's fixed purpose that the Baptists shall have the lead in all the moral and religious revolutions of the age is to be seen in the miraculous conversion, together with all that led to It, and in the subsequent career of Alberto J. Diaz, of Cuba. Where is there anything like it, either in the history of ancient or modern times? To hear the facts sounds like the recital of a fanciful romance. We can scarcely believe what seems so marvelous, notwithstanding we have the testimony of the most unimpeachable witnesses, who have been
to Cuba and seen the things whereof they affirm. It is truly marvelous in our eyes how this young Cuban drifted into the army of the Insurgents;* was about to be captured, to avoid which he, with other comrades, sought to evade his pursuers by committing himself to the gulf current, floating on fragments of timber, but being drifted out seaward was thus "a day and a night in the deep," but being observed by a passing vessel he was taken aboard, and the vessel being bound to New York, he was lauded in that city; and having hitherto studied medicine, he concluded to make the study of the eye a specialty, but soon fell sick in a private boarding-house in Brooklyn, and being kindly eared for by Miss Alice Tucker, who becoming interested in him when death seemed to be at the door, and being a pious young member of a Baptist church, she frequently read from a certain book, and prayed aloud for him, but by whose judicious nursing the crisis was passed, and convalescing he asked what book it was she read, when she talked to herself, as he called it; being told that it was the Bible, and that she had been praying for him, he very much desired to know more about that book, and the meaning of prayer. Finally a copy in the Spanish language was given him, and by it he was led to Christ, and feeling the love of God in his heart, after diligent investigation, was led to seek membership in the Baptist church presided over by Dr. McArthur, and was by him baptized; and now finding his soul stirred within
* This refers to the Cuban rebellion twenty years ago.
him for the salvation of his kinsmen and brethren after the flesh, he returns to Cuba to tell them what a dear Saviour he has found - surprised at their blindness of mind and stupidity of soul, he is ready to despair, but urged on by his own convictions and experience, he would again face his difficulties, and so persisted through the most formidable discouragements, until under God he has unlocked the doors of Cuba to the gospel, his family has been converted, several Baptist churches organized, hundreds of converts baptized, and now more than eight thousand membership - the galling yoke of Catholic tyranny badly broken - while it is estimated that more than one-half of the inhabitants of the island are under Baptist influence. Naw consider that Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists had before this signally failed to secure a footing in Cuba after large expenditures of money and many self-denying labors, does it not appear that the position taken in this discourse is true; which is, that our King intends that the Baptists shall lead this world to himself? The indications in Cuba at the present time are that in a very short period Cuba is destined to become a Baptist nation. "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
V. The final thought suggested by the text is, that our work as Baptists requires haste. If the positions now assumed in this discourse are well taken, what industry, liberality, self-denial and urgency should characterize our efforts to possess this world for our Master. Surely our work is an urgent business.
1. Because our work is far reaching in its consequences, and so vastly important as it relates to the future religious interests and destinies of mankind. What we believe and do are the powers that must determine the final religious status of universal humanity. If this world is to be enlightened, elevated, liberated and saved, to say the least, Baptists must perform the most conspicuous part. Indeed, it is even questionable whether or not we are being facilitated in our work by what others are doing. How responsible our positions, how solemn our vast undertaking.
2. We should be in haste because the Master seems to be in a heavenly hurry. See how his great and strange providences are wheeling the nations into line. How mysterious are the wonder-working ways of the Almighty God whom we profess to love. What a grand and awful thing it is to live in the present age, "an age on ages telling."
3. We should make haste because the great opportunities and possibilities that now environ us will soon glide away forever. What our hands find to do let us do with our might. '' Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work." There are doors now opened before us by God's own hand, that may soon be closed to us forever. Why stand here all the day idle? Why not thrust in the sickle and reap a sheaf for the Master's use in eternity?
4. We should make haste because the WICKED ONE, together with all his subalterns are making haste to
mislead, deceive and destroy. The devil never sleeps, he is always alert, watchful and vigilant, seeking whom he may devour. While we sleep ho works. While we stand idle he plies all his hellish ingenuity to embarrass and hinder our work. While we "forsake the assembling of ourselves together, us the manner of so many of our modern Baptists is," the devil holds high carnival in every city, town and cross-roads, aiding and abetting the grossest and most flagrant violations of the sanctity of the Holy Sabbath, by running ponderous trains over almost all the railroads of the country, and by encouraging base ball sports, which is the "abomination of desolation" to the morals of the community, while the laws of the land are impotent to protect good people in the pursuit of happiness, even on the day made holy by Divine command. How long shall the Christian people of this country repose in indolence, while such outrages are being perpetrated against the peace and good order of religious society, and the dignity and sanctity of our boasted civilization? When shall our "King reign in righteousness, and our Princes rule in judgment?" "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean."
5. We should make haste because every form and shape of religious errorists are making haste to propagate arid plant their pernicious principles and doctrines in every community in the length and breadth
of the land. Their success is our failure; their triumphs our defeats. Though a man be soundly converted in spirit, yet if he fall a victim of the misrule of false religious teaching, his second conversion is only made the more difficult, for men are not rightly nor scripturally converted until they are ready and willing to render unqualified and implicit obedience to our King. How important that we enter and occupy every field. Now the doors to many neighborhoods and villages within the boundary of our own beloved Association are standing ajar for the entrance of our principles and faith, while the devotees, of religious error are putting forth every effort to pre-occupy these places. What an incentive for us "to do with our might what our hands find to do."
6. We should make haste because the time in which we can work is so exceedingly short. Already the day is far spent, and the night comes on. Many of our comrades and co-laborers are falling victims to the last enemy, which is death. Look back on the events of the year jnst ending and "see how the mighty have fallen." Where is Baker, and Taylor, and our own beloved Peay? Twelve months ago they stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the service of our King, but now they rest from their labors, and may God grant that their works may follow them. Many of us are standing upon the brink while the hoarse waves of the Jordan murmur at our feet. O, my brethren, what mean these numerous frosted heads before me to-day? Ah! these are the blossoms of eternity just lingering on the shores of time, waiting
to be transplanted into the better land. O! my brethren, let us "awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Let us remember that "the King's business requires haste." May the God of all grace be with you all. Amen.
[This sermon has been published in tract form and has had a good circulation.]
[From Ben M. Bogard, editor, Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, 1900. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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