Spread of Baptist Prinicples
BAPTISTS are in fact, and have been so regarded through the ages, a peculiar people.
This is especially so in two respects - they are intolerant as to error, and are uncompromising as to Christ's teachings.
With charity to all, and advocating the fullest soul-freedom to all, and ready to aid in and to rejoice over the gospel by all, they have ever felt it an imperative duty to walk ALONE, with unbending fortitude, in the maintenance of the teachings of the Lord Jesus and his inspired apostles, and the observance of the ordinances as delivered to the saints.
Baptist Prinicples These may be summed up in four, we might say, self-evident propositions, viz: 1. Only disciples of the Lord Jesus should be baptized and received into church-felllowship or membership.
2. That dicipleship involves the profession of repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. That a figurative burial (as) with Christ Jesus in baptism, an immersion in water, is the only baptism which is commanded and is exemplified in God's word.
4. That each church is an independent, self-governing body, with no head or legislator but the Lord Jesus.
These cardinal principles are summed up in the apostolic aphorism, one Lord - of the conscience, of the soul, of the destiny. One faith - in the one Lord as mediator, in his teaching, in his blood for the remission of sins, in his promise of salvation to the uttermost. One baptism - to show forth his atoning work, his death, burial, and resurrection, and to show forth the oneness of his people with him, and the one hope, the resurrection from the grave to untold etenal glory.
Baptists have ever denied that baptism was a seal or a pledge, or a means of remission of sins, or of regeneration, or a "translation" from Satan's kingdom into the kingdom of Christ. They have ever denied that magistrates or kings or legislators have any connection, as such, or have any control or rulership with or over the church of Jesus Christ. In brief, Baptists have learned from divine teaching that it is through Christ - THE ONLY DOOR - to baptism, through baptism to CHURCH-fellowship or membership, as a necessary prerequisite, and through the church, in its fellowship, to the Lord's Supper.
The time was, and indeed till recently, when these principles were denounced as religious and politicl anarchy, and punished with deadly penalties. That time, thank God, is passed. Every one of these cardinal principles is acknowledged if not fully put in practice in every non-Romanist community or "church."
The growth of the Baptist brotherhood, or denomination, during the past century against adverse surroundings, proclaims trumpet-toned the vitality of these principles and the approval of the their Lord.
In 1800 they numbered about one hundred thousand in the United States. At the close of 1900 they numbered more than FOUR MILLIONS AND A HALF.
The population of the United States in 1800 was seven millions. It was in 1900 over seventy-two millions - ten times what it was in 1800. What a growth! Immigration, of course, greatly helped this astonishing increase. But the Regular Baptists, during the same period, with but little help from immigration, increased not merely ten times, as did the population, but SIXTY TIMES. That is, Baptists have multiplied during the pas tcuwenty FIFTY TIMES more than the population has, and their incrfese during the past year (1901) exceeded their number at the commencement of the century.
Putting this increase in another aspect, the Baptists in 1800 numbered (approximately) one hundred
thousand; the population, seven millions. That is ONE Baptist (not counting adherents) to every seventy persons of the population. The Baptists now number over four and a half millions, and the population some seveny-five, that is, ONE Baptist to every sixteen of the population. Think of it! One to every seventy THEN, one to every sixteen NOW.
Truth is might. God's breath is in it. Chains cannot bend it, nor opposition crush it. The "eternal years are hers."
But Baptists do not record this spread of their principles and this increase in their number as reliable proofs that they are right. They rely alone on God's word. They go back to it for their authority. From that they admit no change, and no emendation. On the impregnable, moveless foundation of God's word, they take their stand, confident, fearless, and assured of victory. Fellow-Baptists, brethren and sisters in faith and fellowship, let the examples of our brethren through the ages - their steadfastness, their deeds of noble daring - invoke us in silent eloquence to be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." =============
[Samuel H. Ford, Baptist Waymarks, ABPS, 1903. Typed from the original document by Linda Duvall; the document was provided by Pastor Steve Lecrone, Burton, OH. - jrd]
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