A Confession of Faith, Delivered at His Ordination,
by Abraham Booth, February 16, 1769
"AS it has been customary on these solemn occasions, to set forth in order a declaration of faith, things which are most surely believed amongst us; and as I am now called upon, in this public manner, to make a free and open confession of my religious prinicples, I would look up to the Father of lights, and the Spirit of truth, that I may be able to make a good profession in the presence of many witnesses, in the presence of God, of angels, and of men.
"As the evidence of a Supreme Being, and our dependence upon him, is the basis of all religion, whether natural or revealed; I thererfore do, first of all confess my belief of that great fundamental truth.
"That there is a God, all nature proclaims aloud through all her works. The countless tribes of animate and inanimate existence, from the highest to the lowest vast chain of finite beings, pour in their attestation to this most interesting truth. The meanest insect, the smallest spear of grass, the
minutest grain of sand, these all bear the signature of an all-wise Creator.
"But though the existence of a Supreme Being may be clearly seen by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead; yet the circumstances of mankind have ever been such as to render it necessary that a more positive and explicit revelation of the perfections and purposes, of the works and ways, of the great Creator shoudld be given to them. Infinite wisdom saw it necessary, and divine goodness would not withhold the benefit. Such a revelation, I believe, God has in fact given. This revelation, I am fully persuaded, is contained in the writings of the Old and New Testaments, which constitute the book, which is by way of eminence called the Bible; rejecting all those writings which are commonly called apocryphal, as making no part in that revelation which God has given to mankind.
"Many are the reasons and various the considerations which induce me to receive the Bible as a divine revelation; among which the following are none the least: The sublimity and spirituality of its doctrine. The purity of its precepts. The prophecies contained in it, many of which have been punctually fulfilled, - especially those relating to the Messiah, the calling of the Gentiles, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Church-State, and the dispersion of the Jews. The character
of its penmen. The perfect harmony of its design fulfilling amongst them and the grandeur of that design. Their unreserved freedom in relating matters of fact, even when their own reputation, or the reputation of those whom they greatly revered and dearly loved might seem to be injured by such a procedure. And the long series of uncontrolled miracles that were wrought in proof of its doctrines being divine. When to these things I add the consideration of that amazing success which attended the preaching of a crucified Messiah and his resurrection from the dead by a few illiterate, despised fishermen of Galilee; men of little art or address, and possessed of no civil power or authority, and this notwithstanding both Jews and Gentiles have been long in possession of an established religion, of which they were tenaciously fond; in vindication of which, and in order to crush the Christian cause in its infancy, they both agreed to use all their power and policy, all their art and sophistry, and every oppressive measure, against the preachers and worshipers of the crucified Jesus.
"When I reflect upon those complicated sufferings and continual hardships which the first preachers of the gospel underwent, and that without the least profit of any temporal emolument, for all their pains and sufferings, for all their labors and hardships, yet doing all, suffering all, with a meekness
and patience astonishing to their very enemies; when I consider, that all these labors and suffereings were performed and undergone by them, in order to propagate a system of doctrines and practices directly opposite to all the prejudices of their own education, to all the fond hopes they in particular, and the Jews in general, had conceived concerning their long-expected Messiah, for whom they had been taught to look under the character of a secular prince, one whose kingdom should be of this world; when I consider the apostles, who were all Jews, as entirely renouncing their national prejudices, and acting under the uniform influence of such maxims as were diametrically opposite, yet perfectly agreeable to what had been often repeatedly foretold by the ancient prophets, I receive additional confirmation. When I further consider what stupid ignorance has universally prevailed as to the interest of religion and the important concern of the soul, even to the most polished nations in former or latter times, where the Jewish and Christian revelation has not been at all known or regarded; when I consider the moral state of mankind in general, and that of my own soul in particular, and compare it with those descriptions given of it in that ancient volume, together with that provision which I am informed from thence God has graciously made to supply all my spiritual wants; finally, when I consider the holy influence which
the sincere belief of its doctrines has upon the moral conduct of all those who conscientiously adhere to its sacred dictates, and how its precepts and prohibitions are uniformly adapted to promote the good of civil society and the best interest of mankind; I say, when I attentively consider these various particulars, with others which might be mentioned, I cannot hesitate a single moment to pronounce it a divine revelation, and every way worthy its infinite author. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, containing a well-attested revelation from God, my Maker and my Sovereign, I therefore look upon and receive as the only rule of my faith and practice.
"This divine book, this heavenly volume, I accept with humility and gratitude from the hand of my adored Creator, as a gift of inestimable value; and, considering it as the grand charter of my eternal salvation, I cannot but esteem it as my indispensable duty implicitly to submit to its sacred dictates in every affair of religious concernment.
"And it is because I am fully persuaded that the following doctrines are contained in those oracles of eternal truth, that I embrace them, as articles of my faith, as the foundation of my hope, and as the source of all my spiritual joy.
"I acknowledge myself deeply indebted to the inspired volume for my clearest apprehensions and most satisfactory discoveries of the Divine Being.
It is from hence I learn, with undoubted certainty, that there is but One God; that he is possessed of absolute and infinite perfection; and that he governs the world; his providence extending to all his creatures and all their actions.
"From the same source of heavenly intelligence I am informed that in unity of the divine essence there are three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are all represented as bearing divine names, possessing divine attributes, performing divine works, and receiving divine honors, consequently must be one in essence and equal in glory, whatever inferiority there may be in respect to office in the economy of redemption. The reality of these things I firmly believe on the authority of God's own declaration, though their particular modus greatly exceeds my feeble comprehension. I believe, wonder, and adore. I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, with all their numerous inhabitants. Last of all, and nobly conspicuous amongst the amazingly diversified productions of his almighty power and infinite skill, being little inferior to the angels in light, he created man and constituted him lord of this lower world. Male and female created he them, after his own image and in his own likeness; upright, innocent, and holy; capable of serving and glorifying their bountiful Creator. On the same divine warrant I believe
that man did not long continue in these holy and happy circumstances, but, being left to the freedom of his own will, he transgressed the law which his maker and sovereign had given him, in consequence of which he fell into a state of guilt, depravity, and ruin. And as he was not only the natural but federal head and representative of his unborn posterity, he sinning, all his offspring sinned in him and fell with him, the guilt of his first sin and a corrupt nature derived to all who descend from him by natural generation. Hence it is that all men are by nature the children of wrath; averse to all that is spiritually good and prone to evil; dead in sin, under the curse of the righteous law, and obnoxious to eternal vengeance, from which conditions of complicated misery there is no deliverance but by Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
"On the authority of the unerring word I further believe that the eternal soveriegn, before the world began, of his own good pleasure and to manifest the riches of his glorious grace, foreseeing the fall of man, chose a certain number of this apostate race to eternal salvation, whom he predestinated to the adoption of children of Jesus Christ according to his own sovereign will; and, in pursuance of this grand and gracious design, he entered into a covenant of grace and peace with the Son of his love on their behalf, in which a Saviour was appointed and all spiritual blessings provided for them.
"In order to accomplish these gracious purposes of infinite mercy and eternal love toward apostate, miserable wretches, I believe that the Son of God, being appointed from everlasting the mediator of the covenant and having engaged as surety on the behalf of his people, who were become his care and charge, did, in the fullness of time, become incarnate, took upon him the form of a servant, paid the most consummate obedience to the divine law, perfectly performed the will of his Father, and, finally, having all the sins of all his people imputed to him and charged upon him, he died the ignominious, the painful, and perfect death of the cross, pouring out his blood, yielding up his life, and offering his very soul a sacrifice, a vicarious, atoning sacrifice for their sins and to expiate their innumerable and enormous crimes. In these sufferings of the Son of God on the cross I behold in the clearest light the infinite evil of sin displayed and the awful wrath of God revealed against it, the law magnified, justice satisfied, and God himself well pleased.
"I believe that Jesus the crucified arose from the dead the third day, by which he gave the highest possible evidence that the debt that he became responsible for was perfectly paid, the sins for which he suffered entirely expiated, the divine law and divine justice fully satisfied, the powers of darkness vanquished, and death itself overcome, at
the same time declaring, in a way superior to all the power of language, that the sleeping dust of his saints shall be raised to a state of immortal life and endless glory.
"I believe that, in order to the perfect performance of the various branches of his grand undertaking, having given undeniable evidence to his selected few that he was risen indeed, and, having imputed to them the necessary instructions before his final departure, he ascended triumphant to the right hand of the majesty on high, where he shines and reigns the incarnate God. There he is exalted as head over all things for the good of his church, having the reins of government in both worlds put into his hands, so that he is not only to be acknowledged as king of Zion and ruler in his church, but also as the God of providence and governor of the world. There also, as our ascended Redeemer, our exalted Head, having entered those blissful abodes as the forerunner of his people and taken possession of them as their representative, he ever lives to plead all his merits, to improve all his influence as a faithful intercessor, as a prevailing advocate, on their behalf. Hence it is that our faith in the time of trial shall not entirely fail, that our prayers are heard and our praises ascend with acceptance before the eternal throne. According to the same sacred canons of my faith and practice I believe the justification of sinners in the sight of
God is purely, solely, entirely by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, without the consideration of any holy qualities wrought in them or by any works of righteousness performed by them either with or without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
"I believe the absolute necessity of regeneration in order to eternal life, and am fully persuaded that without holiness, that is, a real love of God producing cheerful obedience to his commands, no man, whatever his religious pretensions or professions may be, shall see the Lord.
"I believe that regeneration, faith, and sanctification are not the produce of a man's free will and power, but the effects of a divine agency by the word of truth.
"I believe the certain, infallible perseverance in grace to glory, of all those who are regenerated by the Spirti of God, and justified by the obedience of Christ; they being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
"As Jesus Christ, the great head of the church, has instituted various ordinances to be observed by his people until his second coming; which are designed, under a divine influence, to promote their edification in all the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit; so, I believe, he has appointed two positive institutions, the observance of which he has in a particular manner enjoined upon all his
followers: that is, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; and the former as previously necessary to the latter.
"I believe that baptism is immersion in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and is a lively emblem of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as the representative of his people; and of their being cleansed from sin in the fountain of his blood, their dying to it, and rising again to newness of life. The requisite qualifications for this ordinance are, I further believe, faith in the Redeemer, and a possession of it. Nor does it appear from the command of Christ, or the practice of his apostles, that we have any authority to administer this ordinance in any other way than immersion, or to any other subjects than such who appear, in a judgment of charity, to be thus qualified.
"The Lord's Supper is an ordinance in which, by receiving the elements of bread and wine, according to the appointment of Christ, we show forth his death. And is designed, I am persuaded, to impress our minds with a lively sense of the evil of sin, the sufferings of Jesus for it, the benefits derived to us through those sufferings, together with that union and communion we have with him, and one with another.
"It is appointed for man once to die; and as at death the body is resolved into its primitive dust, so the immortal spirit returns to God who gave it.
The souls of believers being dislodged from their earthly mansions, and made perfect in holiness, do, I believe, immediately enter into glory; but those of the wicked are immediately transformed into the abodes of darkness and despair, and are reserved under everlasting chains with apostate angels till the judgment of the great day.
"I believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and that God has appointed a day in which he will judge them in righteousness by Jesus Christ. At which awful and glorious period all nations will be convened before his great tribunal. Then will Jesus, the judge, make an everlasting separation between the righteous and the wicked, awarding eternal life and infinite happiness to the righteous, but everlasting death and never-ending torment to the wicked. The equity of which sentence on either part, I am fully persuaded, will be admitted and applauded by all holy intelligences, and acknowledged even by the damned themselves to their aggravated woe. The sentence passed, speedy execution shall follow. For at the conclusion of the august, the solemn scene, the wicked shall go away, appalled and reluctant, into everlasting burnings; but the righteous, cheerful and exulting into eternal life.
"Such are the leading articles of my faith; such the sentiments of my heart. These things, as a Christian, I again declare I believe, and trust that
in some degree I have experienced their powerful, comforting, sanctifying influence on my own soul. Such also are the doctrines I am determined, but divine assistance, to preach, and to make the important subjects of my future ministrations. Notwithstanding, as I pretend not to infallibility of judgment, or to know all that is to be known in the present imperfect state considering Christ or his kingdom, I desire ever to have a mind open to conviction and susceptible of truth, by whatever means it may please God to inform me of it; and when known to communicate it to others as cases and circumstances may require.
"Further, I acknowledge it as my indispensable duty to cultivate a friendly freedom and brotherly affection with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and bear his image. Such, of whatever denomination they be, I desire to esteem as brethren, members of the same mystical body, and fellow-heirs of the same eternal inheritance.
"And now to him who purchased the church with his own blood, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and exercises a tender care over the weakest of the flock; to him I say, and for the edification of his people, those especially of this congregation, do I now desire to devote my strength, my life, my all, to be employed now, and as long as his unerring wisdom shall direct and appoint.
"And the Lord grant that I may obtain mercy to be found faithful in that ministry I receive from him, living under the habitual rememberance of that awful account I am to render to him; that so, after I have preached to others, I myself may not become a castaway; being fully persuaded that a damned minister of the gospel is the most shocking character in hell; but, taking heed to myself and to my doctrine may be enabled to give up my accounts with joy in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ as his coming. And it is in him I desire to be found at the last, the universal audit; so it is in his name I humbly go forth to the improtant, the arduous, the honorable work. On him I depend for assistance in it; to him I look for success in the performance of it. O my God, my adored Redeemer, my infinite, eternal all, let my soul, and the souls of my hearers, be ever precious in thy sight. And grant that after the exercise of much fervent, mutual love, and the enjoyment of many comforts, in these thy lower courts, we may finally arrive at those blissful regions, where love is perfect, and joy perpetual; where hymns of holy wonder and songs of devout praise shall be our uninterrupted and everlasting employ. Amen and Amen." 1 _______________
1 Abraham Booth is known to be one of the ablest men whose character and writings adorn Baptist history. He is the author of "Reign of Grace" and "Pedobaptist Examined." The foregoing is from a pamphlet printed by a member of the Old Goodman Fields Church, London, soon after Mr. Booth's ordination. It was found by me in a bundle of old pamphlets in a large second-hand "book shop" in the neighborhood of the old church, and is, so far as I could learn, the only copy extant. - S.H.F.
[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]
Return to American Baptist Histories
Return to Baptist History Homepage