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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow History of the Ketocton Association-Chapter 9
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Written by William Fristoe   

 

 The light in which good works is considered by the Churches in this Association.

WE deem it consistent with our history, to give the reader an idea of our opinion of good works, for what they are performed, and what purpose they are to answer. The more so, because it is often said, we have adopted a system, and hold principles that exclude good works, and render the doing them of no avail.

It is a received opinion with us, that the salvation and entire saving of the soul is a work of sovereign free grace, in which creature performances form no part -but we do not conclude from hence, that good works are unnecessary, in other respects, but answer valuable purposes in their place: that is, we hold that the love of God to His chosen people, was voluntary, sovereign, and free –that He is of one mind, and none can turn Him, nor anything out of himself can control nor influence His eternal mind, nor alter, frustrate or disappoint His divine purpose -and that the whole reason why He has mercy on any is because He will have mercy -out of pure love He sent His dear Son to perform the great work of redemption for sinners -out of love He sends His gospel to call in His people, under the preaching of which Christ calleth His sheep by name and leadeth them out -out of love the Holy Ghost is sent by His renewing operations, to create the soul anew in Christ Jesus.

Justification is God's act, it is God that justifieth, and that through the Lord Jesus, the great and precious promises by which they partake of the divine nature, on which they rest, and by which they are supported, through the whole of their warfare, are said to be given. Grace is given to them here, and glory reserved for them hereafter, all bestowed freely, and comes to them by way of gift -and the reason why they shall certainly arrive in glory is, because it is their "Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom." The scriptures assure us, that salvation is of the Lord, from first to last, and will admit of no co-partnership, nor dependent on human performance as a condition, but accomplished wholly by sovereign grace.

And it is so far from lessening our obligation to perform good works, and yield obedience to Christ, that of our being saved by grace, that we are laid under greater obligation by far from the consideration of the freeness of divine love, from their being called by unfrustrable grace, and from the certainty of their by and by possessing the heavenly inheritance. -They are so frequently exhorted in scripture to diligence; "seeing ye are bought with a price, glorify God in your bodies, and your spirits which are God's;" the glorifying of God was not to procure His favor, but being redeemed by the blood of Christ, and called by grace, adopted into God's family, subjected to the divine government, and brought into a spi ritual relation to God; all this being done for them by an omnipotent hand, it was reasonable God should have His own, and body and soul be rendered up and employed in good works.

On the same principle the apostle exhorted his brethren to set forth the praise of Him, who had called them out of the darkness into His marvellous light, that since God hath illuminated your dark minds, and gave you to see His glory in the fall of His dear Son, it is reasonable you should, and it is obligatory on you to set forth His praise -their title claim to the divine favor was not founded in part nor in whole, upon their setting forth the praise of God -but flowed as a natural consequence upon their receiving mercy. Again the apostle enjoins diligence in seeking those things that were above, under the consideration, that they were risen with Christ from a spiritual death and that their life was hid with Christ in God, and that when Christ appeared they should appear with Him in glory -when the apostle Peter, wrote of the dissolution of the present heavens and earth, and then according to the promise, they looked for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelt righteousness. -Under a view of your happiness being secure, the place of your residence will be where righteousness dwells, completely delivered from sin, and all the miseries attending it. Let the view of these things and the certainty of their accomplishment, stimulate and excite you to holiness of life and conversation: so that whenever good works or obedience is enjoined, it appears with no view to procure salvation, or to have been done as a condition of it, which leads us to consider what they are done for. 

We will enquire first, what qualifications are necessary to the performance of a good work, a work acceptable to God?

First, it is necessary the Holy Spirit should be the influencer of the soul, for no man can call Jesus the Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Paul describes the worship he performed in these words: "I will pray with the spirit and with the understanding, and I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding;" no worship meets with acceptance, but what is performed in spirit and in truth.

A second ingredient, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ -for without faith it is impossible to please God -for where faith is wanting the worship meets with a rejection, as in the case of Cain, when he offered sacrifice with his brother Abel; "and numbers who heard God's word, were not profited, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

Third thing necessary, to constitute a good work is, a view singly to the glory of God; the exhortation is, that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, all ought to be done to the glory of God; the direct opposite of this, is depraved man, while in a state of nature -instead of looking to, or depending on, a supernatural influence, he relies on the poor feeble arm of flesh: as to exercising faith in Christ, it is far from nature; while a strong inclination leads them to count upon merit in the performance, that there is some good in the duty, for the sake of which, they must be the more acceptable with God; as for the seeking the glory of God when complying with the duty, is a growth nature never produced: all being done by a person void of grace, from a principle of self, and with a view to serve his own purpose, either to still the gnawing and distresses of his troubled conscience, to atone for his gui1t thereby, or to appease wrath, and render Jehovah propitious. It is as impossible for a person with an unsanctified heart to perform an act spiritually good, as it would be to form a world, or take wing and flyaway to heaven -for an unclean thing has never yet, nor never will, produce a clean thing: a bitter fountain cannot yield sweet water, nor a bad tree good fruit, and figs might as soon be gathered of thorns, as for a natural man to perform, what is spiritually good.

But although good works cannot atone for sin, procure a pardon, nor justify our souls, cannot purify our hearts, nor melt us for the kingdom of heaven –yet they are of great importance in other respects, and answer very valuable ends, and therefore ought not to be omitted, for the following reasons:

God hath enjoined on His people the performance of good works, and the walking in all His commands and ordinances blameless, throughout the sacred writings; and reasonable it is, obedience should be yielded, when the sovereign of heaven and earth directs it to be done. For if a father is right he should be honored, and if a master he is much to be feared: when the great Lawgiver, who always does right, issues His commands, due subjection is to be exercised by His rational creatures; it is wicked to enquire into the reasons why such a  command, or refuse obedience to it, for the right of commanding is with the Almighty, who does His pleasure, in the armies of heaven, and inhabitants of the earth.

Another reason why commands are to be obeyed, ordinances walked in, and institutions complied with: God hath ordained and appointed them as the means and way by which He is pleased to make himself known and reveal His gracious designs to His people. The revealing the divine law, God manifests - the holiness of His nature, the inflexibility of His justice, and His almighty power to execute His purposes of vengeance -by this means, a discovery is made of the perfections, and attributes of deity, which we must have remained ignorant of, had not such revelation been made -and lessons are taught there which we could not have learned, from the wide extended creation, with all its contents; in the gospel a gracious God is pleased to make still clearer discoveries of himself, as a God of love, as well as a God of holiness and justice; by means of these  sacred gospel pages Jesus arises with His refulgent beams, and cheering rays, to expel and burst in sunder the lowering clouds and thick darkness in which all the progeny of Adam are fallen. In this gospel the grand source of rich grace is made known, and God's loving gracious design, in saving sinners, made manifest –by the gospel the remedy is pointed out, a remedy for every disease sin has brought on us -this blessed volume brings sweet intelligence of an eternal life, and a blessed immortality, and many other important and interesting truths are made known by the gospel, which we could never have learned from the works of nature. When the naturalist carries his researches and philosophies on the creatures to the greatest extent, what has he learned? at most that an almighty hand formed them, and acknowledges a grand display of infinite wisdom in the order, harmony, and convenience of the whole system -a system bound by unerring laws, so that confusion cannot take place, but entire harmony continue while time endures, both in the terrestrial and celestial regions -but after all this improvement and discovery, the wise man may know nothing of the way, in which the love of God is manifest to the soul of a rational creature, know nothing how he, an offender, is to be reconciled to an offended judge, be ignorant how his sins are to be pardoned, and he stand justified at the bar of a God of inflexible justice.

Nature, it appears, was never designed to teach these things, and therefore infinite wisdom saw fit to give a law, and send His gospel -now if hearing and perusing the divine law -if attention to the gospel, a frequenting the place where the word is administered, a trying to understand it and derive instruction from it, be deemed a good work, there can be nothing meritorious in the creature's act, when he consults the law, or hears the gospel, nor once to be thought of, as a condition of salvation -but being God's method of revealing himself, He is pleased in instances beyond number, to bless His appointments, attend His law with energy, and shew the sinner his condition, and the need he is in of a cure - the gospel brings forth the healing medicine and makes application of a Saviour's benefits, and leads the soul to embrace Christ as his all in all.

From this consideration, there appears reason sufficient, why we should wait upon the Lord, and attend on His institutions, as the means of receiving the blessing -the same may be said of public worship, when congregations meet, to preach and hear, to pray and praise; we have no idea of carrying money, or price along with us to purchase the blessing: but view the rich feast, and reviving entertainment provided by the great ancient of days, flowing through Jesus Christ, as the mediator, and elegantly brought forward in the rich variety of gospel doctrines, and all the spiritual sons and daughters, welcomed to eat and drink abundantly, being the subjects of Christ's love -when the gospel doctrines are illustrated, we receive food for the soul flowing as a free gift from God –when attempting to pray, we just form a position and open the heart to receive a blessing, no more of merit in it, than in a poor destitute beggar asking alms at a benefactor's door, and every person must know that a beggar's asking and receiving a blessing, is no compensation or reward to the giver. But shall we conclude, since there is no merit, in our presenting ourselves before the Lord, no condition of our salvation, our going to, and joining in worship -why go at all? There are good reasons why; we are not only in God's appointed way and under the means of His grace, but God's glory is thereby set forth, the manifestative glory of God is set forth in this world by the instrumentality of His church and people, when they unite to preach, and hear, and comply with every institution appointed in God's lower house, and unite their voices in the solemn praise of God -it is the grandest performance rational beings are capable of, from which glory redounds to God.

The glory of God being the great end for which man was created, and continues to exist, let none say it is to no purpose to serve God if our works are no condition of our salvation -when baptism is submitted to, there is no merit in it -but being an institution of Christ's, it becomes a duty incumbent on a believer, thereby the death and resurrection of Christ is represented, and the death of the old man in the believer and his resurrection to newness of life -so of the Lord's Supper, nothing of merit in it, but the pleasing lesson concerning the Saviour's death is taught, redemption by the shedding of His precious blood, and the interest every believer has in His mediation.

As to hospitable acts, there is nothing of merit in them, it is praiseworthy among men, but adds nothing to God; when gifts are bestowed on the needy, it is no more than duty calls for, seeing the great proprietor of the world, has lodged in the hands of individuals, the good things of this life, and enjoins it on them to act as faithful stewards -these things have often been good and profitable unto men, and therefore the omission ought not to be allowed.

From what has been said, there appears reason sufficient, why good works should be maintained, although they form no part as a condition of salvation - but complied with, because commanded, and used as a means that God is pleased to bless, in the use of which He affords His people communion with himself - and in their compliance with duty the glory of God is advanced.

But we are told by some, that if they are not rewarded they will not work -we do not dispute the truth of what you say, it is the language of nature; but true as this saying is, it shews that such a person never saw himself -such answers the character of a slave, and not a son; one thing we are conscious of, we never served God as much as we ought to do, although no justification by the deeds of the law, yet from a child-like love they serve God.


An account of Elder James Ireland.

ELDER JAMES IRELAND was born and raised in Scotland, until a man grown -at which time providentially he removed to Virginia, and became a resident here. -Serious reflections occupied his breast, and as he had a natural turn for poetry, he set about composing some verses, which were of so serious a nature, that upon perusing, and considering them, and the importance of what was contained in them, occasioned heavy distress to fall on his mind, and awful apprehensions of the ruined state to which sin had reduced him. Conviction for the sin of his nature, and the guilt contracted by the fall, together with the guilt of his actual transgressions, ran him into a state of almost desperation -under this view of his state, he wandered from place to place, feeling himself justly condemned, until his bodily powers were much afflicted, and grief of mind with difficulty supported up under; under which he must have sunk, had not an omnipotent hand afforded relief: but at God's appointed time he was delivered of his burthen (burthen), his guilt removed, and his desponding soul set at liberty - clouds and darkness expelled, by the bright rising of the sun of righteousness - soon after which he felt himself much impressed with a sense of the duty of preaching the gospel, and before he joined society he used at different times, to exercise his gifts publicly which were satisfactory to his hearers. About this time it appeared his duty to be baptized; he accordingly related his experience to a Baptist minister and was baptized -soon after which he met with encouragement by the Baptist church, and he set forward as a minister of the gospel –in which work he continued till death. His manner of preaching was very agreeable -he was much of an orator -in good language and well chosen words he communicated his ideas -he was close to his subject, and produced pertinent proofs to confirm the doctrines advanced -his sermons were well calculated to feed the church of God with knowledge and understanding, being delivered with so much warmth, and filled with useful instruction. After nearly forty years' labor in the work of the ministry, he was removed by death, in the spring of the year 1806 -and it is no wonder, that Zion trembled and felt her distress, when a pillar of this description fell -but happy for him, an exchange of the transitory things of time, for an enduring substance above, a putting off this tabernacle, and putting on an house from heaven.


The worldly circumstances of those, in general, that have become Baptists in this Association.

WE shall here give the reader an account of the condition of those whom the gospel, in a gelleral way, proved most effectual to. In a general way, those among us who have been wrought upon under the preaching of the gospel, and professed conversion to Christ, have been of the mediocrity, or poorer sort among the people -instances have been very few, of persons being called who were rich in this world -and we have been encouraged to believe that it gave clearer proof of the genuine quality of religion among us -for in times of the promulgation of the gospel it was the common people that heard the truth preached with gladness -when the Lord Jesus called a few disciples, and sent them to preach, wonders, were effected under their ministry, and though they were unlearned, the devils were subject to them through Christ's name. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank the Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes -even so Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight. When the apostle Paul wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth, he brought to their remembrance that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called -but that God had chosen the poor, the weak and base things, to confound the rich, the mighty, and the wise, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Not that we suppose that poverty in itself is any qualification for embracing the gospel, or the reception of grace, neither does their being poor, lay the Almighty under obligation to bestow His grace upon them -neither do we suppose, a person being rich in this world, though surrounded with the most valuable property, can be a preventative to their conversion, if God should see fit in His good pleasure to operate on them by His unfrustrable grace.

But God is a sovereign; governs all creatures, and all events, in the dispensation of His providence -and affords to mortal man the effusion of His grace, in His own sovereign way, none can stay His hand, nor say, What hast thou done? Why it is so, is not our province to account; but that it is a fact cannot be denied, that the poor have the gospel preached unto them; by this means human pride is brought down, and all the glittering world must stand abashed.

For what is the acquired knowledge of all the arts and sciences, the ingenuity and invention of the mechanic, the wisdom of the politician, the industry, observation and improvement of the agriculturalist, the close study, enlarged discoveries, just calculations, and exalted ideas of the philosopher, in comparison of that wisdom, that comes from heaven, those divine teachings, and bright illuminations the soul receives from God?

Persons under disadvantages of poverty, destitute of education, rude and uncultivated in their manners; when such are wrought upon, their manners are reformed, the stubborn wills subdued, their hardened tempers melted down in pious grief, their dark minds enlightened, Christ becomes the object of their highest love, and foundation of their hope -their conversation sensible and intelligible on topics truly sublime; how evident that it is the Lord's work! how illustriously does His wisdom and power appear! And it has been the case among us, that by the means of such as above described, God has been pleased to carryon, and promote the interest of His spiritual kingdom, in defiance of all the rage, and combined malice of earth and hell.

The glory of God is not only conspicuous in the effectual calling, and enlightening of the poor of this world, but His manifestative glory is much more promoted by them in their manner of life, and conduct afterwards. When in a few, and very few, instances, the rich have made profession of religion –there are so many temptations to divert them from their religious duties, it is wonderful for such to be ornamental to the cause they profess: unless such have a great degree of humility at their entrance into a gospel church, they are apt to think themselves superior, and their poor brethren inferiors, and of course themselves are entitled to honor, for their sphere in life, and their better information claims it, and they are often offended if it is not allowed them. Another disadvantage, their estates are large and unwieldy, calls for so much thought, and engagedness, to carryon business to advantage, so as to improve the living, for almost anyone has got to know, that if a living is not improved it will lose. Their circumstances, being raised in the world, it naturally leads to associate with those of like circumstances; and as it is seldom, the rich have the fear of God before their eyes, the conversation turns on subjects in their nature quite trifling and light; the visit closes, and they come to a farewell; but when will you repay this visit? O, make it convenient soon! By and by the visit is returned, with the addition of several others of the quality; then must come on a genteel parade, the poor domestics are hurried until almost surfeited, credit must be supported, and what is deemed a complacent behaviour, kept up, lest they should give an offense. -Where the pride of life has been so predominant, and courting the favor of the great, many of whom are scarcely moral, and very far from everything truly religious, it is not to be expected that such professors will cut any great figure in the religious world, nor enjoy the life of religion in their own souls; for it is impossible to court popularity and the friendship of the carnal world, and enjoy communion with God at the same time.

And as it is common where persons are raised in good circumstances it is their desire their children should enjoy every advantage of advancing their fortunes; they meet with indulgence, visit and resort with those in high life, who are freed from hard labor, by having slaves to labor for them; when the children of professors mingle with others -soon they resort to balls, and every place of sport and diversion, until some have arrived at great  lengths of dissipation; for where balls and sports are carried on, it diverts the mind from everything serious; it is opposite to, yea the avowed enemy of devotion; and though mirth is often plead for, there are none of its advocates would approach a ball-room provided they knew death was near, which they might do as well as be elsewhere, were there (as they say) no harm in it; besides, we have lived to see and hear of numbers who have been addicted to sport, when taken sick, and when struggling with the pale king of terrors, ever called for one of their jovial companions, with whom they used to meet at balls, to pray for them and give them some profitable counsel; but rather those of a graver cast who had always been cautioning them to abstain from such practices.

When professors of religion, suppose they gain credit by conforming to the world, they take up with a mistaken notion; our neighbors are too well informed, they know that a person that professes to be born again ought to live circumspectly; and it is bartering at sad rates to lose the comfort of religion, incur the hard thoughts and censures of the men of the world, be light in the esteem of God's people, and indulge the family in the practice that leads to greater dissipation, and all, for the mere prospect of getting worldly honor and greatness.

We do not suppose there are any of Christ's followers without having trials while in this tenement of clay; but by a comparison, between those ill middling circumstances in the world, and the rich, the poor will be found to have fewer trials, and a fairer opportunity to adorn his profession, especially where each possess grace.

The person that possesses but little worldly property, has not so much anxiety, over reaching, and striving after wealth, (as those who have got and in the way of getting) for their circumstances being such, and the means of acquiring wealth so few; they feel discouraged in the attempt, and that evil is escaped; their company is not solicited by the world, and especially those in high life, by which they often escape a great deal of light and unprofitable conversation; their little in the world is within a small circle and under their notice, and affords greater quiet to the mind; and as they are accustomed to plain and cheap clothing, it is easy procured and at a small expense, and by the by they escape a gaudy, superfluous appearance, a stream whose rapid current has swept the polite world away.

Persons thus circumstanced enjoy a life of solitude, and the opportunity is fair for self-examination and enquiry into the state and condition of their souls; whether their manner of life is worthy the Christian name, whether their conscience is freed from guilt, by any late application of the precious blood of Christ, whether their prospect is clear of the heavenly inheritance, and their title to it well founded.

Retirement being a great friend to devotion, the heart of such are much engaged at a throne of grace, imploring the increase of grace in their own souls, the advancement of spiritual knowledge, deliverance from temptations, the mortification of his inordinate affections, and that strength may be equal to his day; he forgets not to pray for Zion's prosperity, and the increase of her converts. Being freed from anxious cares, leisure time offers for the searching and perusing the Holy scriptures, that grand source whose salutary streams make glad the city of God, whose variety of doctrines afford a feast to the mind, and whose interesting lessons mark out the pathway of duty; whose opening pages bring sweet intelligence of a blessed immortality, and leads the soul to desire the possession of their final rest in the ultimate glory.

Care, in some good degree, dismissed from his mind, and his daily labor not so urgent, when there is an appointment for worship he repairs to the house of God, to be taught of His ways and to walk in His paths, accounting one day in the house of the Lord, better than a thousand elsewhere; for by experience he knows that while enquiring in the temple he has to behold the beauty of the Lord, and his soul made like the chariot of Aminadab; when duty calls he can furnish something of his worldly property, for the purposes of religion and the honor of his great Lord and Master; when necessity leads him into company he is cautious lest he act imprudent; grave, expressive of God's fear, being before his eyes. Happy the man, though poor in this world, who is rich in faith and an heir of the kingdom of heaven.


 
Reasons why the Baptists, generally, espouse Republicanism.

IT is well understood by our neighbors, that the Baptists with us are generally Republicans, and we suppose it consistent with our history, to assign our reasons for adopting that policy. We have numerous reasons for it, but we will comprise the whole in as few as possible.

When duty was laid by act of parliament on articles imported from Great Britain to the United States of America, and the purchaser compelled to pay the duty, although the then colonies had no representation in parliament, nor ever consented to it; this conduct appeared so arbitrary in the British government, Americans took the alarm, and after petitioning and remonstrating without success, the alternative was a resort to arms, and a manly resistance of such usurpation and tyrannical procedure. The amount of taxation as yet might have been borne, but it was the assumption of power claimed by them to tax us in all cases whatever. As parliament claimed that power, had it been given up none could say where it would end; in process of time every article imported might have been loaded with an enormous tax, and if in all cases, a duty might have been imposed on home manufactures as well as on imports, a compulsion might have been for our furnishing for Britain, from American citizens, a large part of the British army, to be taken to remote and distant parts of the world, build and equip a great portion of her shipping, and so tax after tax, until the load would have been insupportable, and we reduced to abject slavery. Human foresight could not tell the length it would go, or where the oppressive measures would terminate. For monarchial usurpation cannot be glutted, it never cloys; the desire of pomp and enlargement of empire has never met with an entire gratification.

Things being thus circumstanced, the Baptists took an active part with their fellow citizens in opposing British usurpation and aiming to secure our just rights which we deemed right then, and we have never retracted since.

 

The procedure of monarchial government, as above stated, leads us clearly to decide in favor of a government by the people.

A second reason, it is the people that is to bear the expense of government, to expel an enemy when their country is invaded, and suppress insurrections among themselves, should they arise. This is not done by an individual despot, nor by a limited monarch, nor by a senate, but by the people -and therefore reasonable the people should be represented, by those of their own choice, and so have a voice in government -it is not to be expected that a perfect government, free from errors will ever be composed by frail man, but it is most likely to be freest from blemishes when composed by the representatives of the people, and should there be defects it will be submitted to with greater care and may be remedied as soon as the public mind can be collected.

Besides, the wisdom of a nation, is contained in the great body of the people; man in high life, and live as they suppose, at the source of information, may conclude wisdom dwells wholly with them, and better for individuals to judge for, and govern the nation, than for the people to govern themselves -but this cannot be admitted in a country where they enjoy the freedom of speech, and of the press, the means of aiding their enquiries and investigating and discussing political questions, and a free communication of their sentiments to each  other on points interesting to the nation. By these means the wisdom of the nation is collected and the representatives of the people are the better fitted to legislate, knowing the sentiments of their constituents.

For after all the clamor, tyrants designedly have made about government, supposing it wrapt up in obscurity and hid from the people, there are but two leading portraits in the system of policy, first to have a government so formed that will secure the protection of the persons, and property of the citizens: -

And secondly, at as little expense as will answer the purpose, pursue these two leading objects, and the other parts of a well directed government will of course take place; we therefore think it most safe to leave the government with the people, and that it will be less subject to corruption.

A third reason that determines us in favor of a government by the people is, we have not lost the remembrance of the hardships and persecutions we endured under monarchial government and the oppressive measures exercised on us by that government; our desire is that such times may never return; it is natural for burnt children to dread the fire -monarchial government, and an establishment of religion, are twins; wherever the one is, the other appears. To talk of a national church is so far from the construction of Christ's church in primitive time, that it appears no more than a name; it is in fact a church in name adulterated into a wicked nation, and the ruling power in such nation becomes an engine of oppression and cruelty, and all that cannot conform to the established system, and the rules of the established church, must reconcile themselves to suffering, for it is sure to be their portion. –

A fourth reason is, our religious education agrees with and perfectly corresponds with a government by the people; for where men possess capacity to form a system in their own minds, or a mind strong enough to digest a written system, it has ever been, and will continue, a coincidence and agreement between their religious and civil systems, as much so as temporal and spiritual things can agree.

Facts are stubborn, and it is a fact that cannot be denied, that where unlimited monarchy prevails and a single despot governs a nation, that establishments have been set up and the clergy possessed with an unlimited control over the church, and it never has failed that where the civil power exercised unlimited control, and the clergy considered absolute, where these two have united it has ever terminated in the deprivation of the rights of the subjects, and the loading them with enormous burthens (burthens), and the shutting them up in gross ignorance. When we cast our eyes abroad and carry out enquiries into distant countries we find a similarity between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities; for instance, despotism in the civil, and supremacy in the ecclesiastic, limited monarchy and some small checks to the ruling clergy, a people governed by a senate, and the church by the clergy in general -where things are thus circumstanced, the body of the people have no hand in the governing themselves as a nation nor have they a voice in governing the church of which they are members -all that is expected of them is due subjection to the decree, proclamation, or council, if the ruling authority, be it civil or ecclesiastic; and if there should be a turning aside by any of the people or a complaint uttered, they share the fate of the poor innocent beast on which wicked Balaam rode.

When we consult the divine oracles and draw our conclusions of the form of Christ's church as described in the gospel, it appears to have no connection with the world; for Christ has declared His kingdom is not of this world, His people being called out from the world and fitted by grace for a spiritual house, when compacted together becomes a standing temple for the divine residence, and will remain an everlasting monument of His rich, free, and unfrustrable grace; it would be degrading the bride, the Lamb's wife, for her to draw her maxims and rules of government from worldly policy, for the church of Christ is the highest court God has established on earth, her code of laws were given her by the King of Zion, the Lord Jesus Christ, in which every instruction is given that is necessary for the furnishing the children of God to every good work; the head of the church is a spiritual King, His subjects are spiritual, His laws and ordinances spiritual, and it is the province of Christ's subjects to worship God in spirit and truth –the church being purchased by the precious blood of Christ are all renewed by the same efficacious grace, and born heirs of the same heavenly inheritance, and of course have an undoubted right to a voice in the church of Christ; the New Testament clearly decides in favor of a free and independent government by a congregational, constituted church, from whose bar there is no appeal to any higher court; this independence of church government and the right each individual member has to a voice in such government, appears from many passages in the New Testament; the apostle's instruction to the church at Jerusalem was to choose out from among them, men possessed with necessary qualifications, that they might appoint to the office of serving tables; this power of choosing their first officers rested wholly with the church: it appears the prerogative of the church and the church alone to exercise discipline on an offending  member or one who had trespassed against his brother; the right of excluding disorderly members from church fellowship, is given up by the apostle to be vested in the church. When the members of the church at Corinth met together, having the apostle's judgment with them, they were to deliver the wicked member to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus; and the apostle takes care in his second epistle to the same church, (where signs of repentance appeared in the  excommunicated person) to confirm their love to him, for the punishment inflicted by many was sufficient; and it became their duty to take him into brotherly affection and restore him to his former privileges in the church, it follows, the right both of exclusion from, and reception into, rested with the church -it further appears by the instruction to the church, that if any member be a fornicator, profane person, or drunkard, or liar, or extortioner, no, not with such an one to eat, they ought therefore to purge out the old leaven that they might be a new lump: from these passages the power was vested in the several members of the church, united in one religious body, to choose their officers, to exclude disorderly members or receive them in.

Christ has so tempered His mystical body and united the several members, that they form but one body, and all are designed for usefulness; in this congregational form Christ's church appeared in the apostolic age, and the grand reason why we admire it in later days.

Taking into view the ruin and destruction that has been brought upon so many different nations in different ages, by usurping tyrants, leads us to admire the easy government under which we live which extends privileges to us which the subjects of tyrants never enjoyed the sweets of. -It appears that despots and kings have ever been a curse to the nations of the world -their thirst for the extension of empire, and to immortalize their memory, have led them to every excess. Armies have been raised by them and millions slaughtered in the field or drowned in the deep, while laborers at home have been burthened (burthened) with taxes until life has become burthensome (burthensome); populous countries have become thinly inhabited, and productive fields turned into barren deserts; while we set under our vine and fig tree, quite tranquil, and none to make us afraid. Taking a view of the whole ground, and contrasting despotism or monarchial government, with republicanism, the depriving the people of their rights, the burthens (burthens) with which they are loaded, and exaction of everything their monarch requires, and not even allowed to complain -a government by the people is very different, no ambition for empire, but what they honestly purchase; no going to war, but on the defensive, and when under absolute necessity, for the safety of our persons, and our property. The right of expressing our sentiments, wherein the national good is concerned, in petitioning to government for redress of grievances, and the repeated elections of men into the national councils that are avowed advocates for equal liberty , the encouragement such a government gives husbandry and manufactures, trade and commerce, and hangs our premiums to discoveries and inventions, merit, and not high birth, weighs heavy in the scale of public opinion, and the applause of the wise. Put all these things together, attaches us to our republican form of government, and it is our desire it may long continue in its purity, free from corruption; that the administration may be in wisdom, and her councils filled with such as fear God. –May peace and prosperity long spread her beneficial wings over these united and confederated States! 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 November 2006 )
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Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.