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Written by W.M. Mitchell   

Taking Up Collections
 
The Gospel Messenger--December 1882
 
What! Do Primitive Baptists ever take up collections?” Yes, certainly, if the churches of the apostolic day were Primitive. They did this very thing with great system and order. The "order” established by the apostle for the churches of Galatia was adopted for the church at Corinth. “On the first day of the week let every man lay by him in store as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.”—l Cor. 16.
 
Now, here was gospel order and primitive simplicity worthy of imitation by all churches of the saints. There is no pomp nor show, nor big parade made about it, nor any thing that is calculated to gratify the pride or vanity of the human heart. No lashing up of the human passions by powerful sermons and appeals to the tender sympathies of corrupted nature. No hint is given that thousands of precious souls in heathen lands are dying and going to eternal burnings for the want of money to send preachers to save them. Nothing is said about taking up a public collection to sustain a missionary in foreign lands; nor of wanting money for theological schools to educate “pious young men for the ministry;" nor is it to get money for tract societies. State conventions or any thing of the kind. Money collected for such purposes as these is unknown in the New Testament. It is without the warrant of apostolic authority, and no such “order” was ever practiced by churches of New Testament model.
 
But the collection taken up was, however, of much importance: It was to supply the temporal wants and real necessities of the “poor saints at Jerusalem.” To feed the hungry and destitute, to clothe the naked and furnish homes and shelter for such as had none. This was done by Gentile Christians towards their Jewish brethren, notwithstanding the prejudice that had previously existed between them. They were now made nigh by the blood of Christ, and both Jews and Gentiles were one in him—having “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism; one God and Father over all, above all, and in them all” And so they provided for their own household.
 
A great dearth had come upon them and throughout the world in the days of Claudius Caesar. The Gentile Christians at Antioch, Corinth, Philippi, Achaia, Macedonia, Rome and other places, being fully warmed up with the true spirit of the gospel, which they had but recently received, “determined every man according to his ability, to send relief” unto their Christian brethren in Judea and Jerusalem.—Acts 11; 28—80. “They sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Paul,” and other faithful brethren who were chosen and approved by letters from their respective churches to travel with Paul in conveying their liberality unto the poor and needy saints at Jerusalem.
 
How lovely is this practice, and how beautiful the order thus established in the church of Christ! It is well calculated
to bind Christians together as in a “bundle of love” and fellowship. If they claim to be one in the faith, this shows that they are so in practice. It proves that they love one another, not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Nothing binds a
true Christian more closely to his brethren than to receive timely help from them when he is in distress and affliction. The blessed gospel of the Son of God opens the hearts and hands of those under its influence, to part with such things as God has prospered them with, and bestow upon the poor and needy, or to help the minister on his way “after a godly sort.” “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"—1 John 3; 17.
 
We see, therefore, that such needy cases are sometimes brought before us as a kind of test of the nature of our professed love. If our love to God and his people is only in word, then we will shut up our compassion against the poor; and dismiss them with the cold words, “Be ye warmed, and be ye filled,” while we give nothing to either warm or fill. “What doth it profit?” Does the love of God prompt one to such a course? Or is it not rather the love of the world?
 
Doubtless all Christians have the love of the world to contend against in their fleshly nature, to a greater or less extent. But if that love is the dominant principle, and so regulates the conduct of a man as to form his general character, he cultivates it, carries it out, and shows it in all his dealings, whether with his brethren in need and distress, or towards them who are of the world. You may set it down as a truth, that the love of God does not dwell in that man, no matter how much he may have professed it. Wherever the Lord has written his law of love in the heart, it will be sure to show itself in the practical life of those who have it. When the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she “attended to the things which were spoken of Paul,” and she and her household believed and were baptized, her heart was so enlarged towards God’s ministers, that she immediately said to them: “If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us.”—Acts 16; 15. This is the effect and fruits of the gospel of Christ, when it is received in faith and love. It opens the heart unto liberality to the poor and needy of the household of faith, and to do good unto all men.—M.

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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.