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Baptists In All Ages: Chapter XIX PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.S. Newman   

The Baptists in the United States. 

Mr. Backus, in speaking of what the first Baptist Churches believed in the United States, said, "In particular, they believe:

"lst. That God set Adam as the public head of all mankind; so that when he revolted from heaven, and seized upon the earth as his own, all the human race fell in him, and all bear his earthly image, until they are born again.

"2nd. That in infinite mercy the eternal Father gave a certain number of the children of men to His beloved Son before the world was to redeem and save, and that He, by His obedience and sufferings, has procured eternal redemption for them.

"3rd. That by the influence of the Holy Spirit, these persons individually, as they come into existence, are effectually called in time, and savingr renewed in the spirit of their minds.

"4th. That their justification before God is wholly by the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ received by faith."--Vol. 2, p. 232.

I have before me a copy of the minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association from 1707 to 1807. The Baptists who at first belonged to this association emigrated to the United States from England and Wales and came directly from the Baptists whose history you read in the first part of this book. On page 150 we have this statement:

"That God, the supreme, who is self-existent, and every way an independent sovereign, the Creator of all things, hath an absolute right to dispose of all His creatures, and before His works of old, to appoint and determine all things to a certain end. This article of our belief, both scripture and reason, do jointly and sufficiently confirm. The rule of His fore-appointment of what shall come to pass in time, is the wise counsel of His most holy will and pleasure. In accomplishing His purpose, no violence is offered to the will of the creature, good or bad, nor the use of means taken away; neither is God, in any wise, the author of sin, though He decreed to permit it. When all the human race, by the sin of the first man, were involved in guilt, and fallen under condemnation, and all become the children of wrath, it would manifestly be doing them no injustice if they were, every individual, left in that state and eternally punished for their sins. This would have been their proper desert, their just reward; but God, out of His mere free grace and love, without any moving cause in the parties chosen, hath predestinated some unto life, through a Mediator (without any wrong done to others), together with all the means subservient to this end, viz., their redemption by the blood of Christ, and renovation by the Spirit of holiness, to the praise of His glorious grace; the others left to act in sin to their final destruction, to the glory of divine justice."

On pages 177 and 178 we read: "From the whole, then, we see that there was a counsel held in eternity, even from everlasting, respecting the recovery of man; that the Triune God did then contrive, find out, adjust and settle, speaking after the manner of men, the whole plan and scheme of that great and glorious work, who should be saved, by what means, and after what manner; that the Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity, should be a Mediator, should undertake for His chosen ones as their surety, and should assume human nature, that He might make satisfaction to divine justice in their behalf; that all the gifts and graces necessary for the purpose should be treasured in Him. *** Thus, dear brethren, we have4 briefly laid before you the plan of our redemption, as concerted in eternity and brought into effect in time. You see the glorious covenant of grace, which was well ordered in all things, and sure. you see the Son of God appointed to the mediatorial work, and all grace treasured up in Him for that purpose; you see Him undertake, go through with it, and the Spirit cooperate to accomplish the wholly; you see the dispensations of grace to man are free, absolute and unconditional; the gifts of God dispensed in a testamentary way, free and firm. Nothing of works, but all of grace. Nothing of the will of man, but all of the will of God; that we might all, and at all times, cry, 'grace, grace,' and whosoever glorieth, might glory in the Lord."

The doctrine in this long quotation is in perfect harmony with the Holy Scriptures, and exactly what the Primitive Baptists believed then, as well as what they now believe. Yes, this was the doctrine of Jesus and the apostles and the martyred thousands of our people, who chose death rather than deny the Lord who loved them and gave Himself for them. This is the doctrine of the Primitive Baptists of our day, and will be their theme till Jesus comes again.

The Ketocton Association was organized August 19, 1766, with four churches which formerly belonged to the Philadelphia Association. I have before me Elder W. Fristoe's history of the Ketocton Association, from which I wish to quote a part of the articles of faith upon which the churches first then the association was constituted:

"Art. 5. That in eternity, God, out of His own good pleasure, chose a certain number of Adam's progeny to eternal life; and that He did not leave the accomplishment of His decrees to accident or chance, but decreed all the means to bring about the event; therefore, they are chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Their calling was decreed in the purpose of election. It is said, when called, that they are called according to His purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began, and all in order to manifest the glory of His grace.

"Art. 6. That the covenant of redemption was between the Father and the Son--that the elect were given by the Father to the Son to be by Him redeemed, and finally saved; and that the Son, as Head and Representative of His people, engaged to perform everything necessary or requisite to carry their complete salvation into effect. It is called in scripture 'a well-ordered covenant in all things and sure.'

"Art. 7. That in the fullness of time, the Son of God was manifested by taking human nature into union with His divine person, in which capacity He wrought out a righteousness for the justification of His people; yielding a perfect and spotless obedience to all the requisitions of the divine law, and submitted Himself to a shameful and ignominious death on the cross, as an atonement for their sins, and reconciliation of their souls to God.

"Art. 8. That those who are redeemed by Christ are, in due time, called to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, embracing Him as the only way to God, and Saviour of poor sinners. This effectual calling is accomplished by the agency of the Holy Ghost operating in a free, irresistible and unfrustratable manner."

The Kehukee Association was organized about 1765. See page 36, of Burkett's History:

"Art. 3. We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for a purpose of His own glory, did elect a certain number of men and angels to eternal life; and that this election is particular, eternal and unconditional on the creature's part.

"Art. 9. We believe in like manner, that God's elect shall not only be called and justified, but that they shall be converted, born and changed by the effectual working of God's Holy Spirit."--pp. 51-53.

I have before me the history of the Mississippi Baptists by B. Griffin. The first Baptist Church that was constituted in Mississippi was Salem Church, on Cole's Creek, in Jefferson County, in 1795. The first association was the Mississippi Association, and was organized with Bethel Church in Wilkinson County, September, 1807. Here is what they believed:

"Art. 4. We believe in the everlasting love of God to His people; in the eternal, unconditional election of a definite number of the human family to grace and glory.

"Art. 6. We believe all those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, are in time effectually called, regenerated, converted and sanctified, and are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

"Art. 7. We believe there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who, by the satisfaction which He made to law

and justice, in becoming an offering for sin, hath by His most precious blood redeemed the elect from under the curse of the law, that they might be holy and without blame before Him in love."--pp. 77, 78.

"It will be necessary here to take some notice of Dr. James Mullin, a Baptist preacher, who moved into the territory about 1797. The doctor contended and preached for the general atonement system, which was so contrary to Regular Baptist doctrine and the articles of faith, on which the Baptist churches in the territory had been constituted, that he was unable to obtain membership."--p. 74.

I have before me the history of the Georgia Association which was the first body of the kind in Georgia, and is thought to have been organized in 1784. Their articles of faith tell the story as to what kind of Baptists they were when first organized as churches and as an association:

"Art. 4. We believe in the everlasting love of God to His people, and the eternal election of a definite number of the human race to grace and glory; and that there was a covenant of grace or redemption made between the Father and the Son before the world began, in which their salvation is secure, and that they in particular are redeemed."

On page 56, we read: "The Georgia Association was thus, in the year 1815, resolved into a missionary society." At the time this "resolve" occurred, they were just what Primitive Baptists are today.

I have before me a copy of John Taylor's history of the Kentucky Baptists. On page 137 we find this statement:

"Art. 4. That according to God's foreknowledge, previous to time He did predestinate His people; and being chosen in Christ before the world began, He died as our second Adam, the Lord from heaven, assumed human nature, vet without sin, and by His obedience, in His incarnation, making an atoning sacrifice for sin, brought in an everlasting righteousness for the rebellious; and when said blessed merit is imputed, or applied to them through faith in His blood, they are thereby justified before God, and being effectually called by His grace and Holy Spirit, shall finally persevere therein to happiness and eternal glory."

Mr. H. C. Vedder, in his history of the Baptists of the middle states, in speaking of the objection of some to come forward to be prayed for that they might be born again, says on page 152: "The objection to it really rested on a theological ground. The Old School, extreme Calvinists, were not willing to allow that the human will had any self-determining power. In their belief, conversion followed in regeneration, a mysterious process wrought immediately by the Holy Spirit on the hearts of the elect."

I have before me a book containing the history of the life and belief of John Kershaw, of England. On pages 34, 35 we have this language: "The elect are God's people, whom He hath loved, chosen in Christ from 'before the foundation of the world, and ordained them unto eternal life and salvation through Christ; and He has done this according to His good will and sovereign pleasure, as He has said to Moses: 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and compassion on whom I will have compassion.' 'So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.' Thus you see, it is those whom He has loved and chosen and ordained to eternal life that will be saved, and none else; and as Paul says in Rom. xi. 7: 'But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.'"

From a copy of Benedict's Fifty Years Among the Baptists, which I have before me, I find the following on page 135:

"Forty years ago large bodies of our people were in a state of ferment and agitation, in consequence of some modification of their old Calvinistic creed, as displayed in the writings of the late Andrew Fuller, of Kettering, England. This famous man maintained that the atonement of Christ was general in its nature, but particular in its application, in opposition to our old divines, who held that Christ died for the elect only."

On page 138 Mr. Benedict says: "In my early day the Associated Baptists were all professedly Calvinistic in their doctrinal sentiments."

On page 140 he says: "On the introduction of the Fuller system, a very important change followed on the part of many of our ministers in their mode of addressing their unconverted hearers on the subject of repentance and believing the gospel."

On page 141 we find this statement: "The Fuller system, which makes it consistent for all the heralds of the gospel to call upon men everywhere to repent, was well received by one class of our ministers, but not by the staunch defenders of the old theory of a limited atonement. According to their views, all for whom Christ suffered and died would certainly be effectually called and saved."

I have before me the articles of faith of the Strict Baptist Churches of England, a few of which I will copy:

"Art. 3. We believe in the everlasting and unchangeable love of God, and that before the foundation of the world the Father did elect a certain number of the human race unto everlasting salvation, whom He did predestinate unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will; and we believe that in fulfilling this gracious design, He did make a covenant of grace and peace with the Son and with the Holy Ghost on behalf of those persons thus chosen; and that in this covenant, the Son was appointed a Saviour, and all spiritual blessings provided for the elect, and also that their persons, with all the grace and glory designed for them, were put into the hands of the Son as their Covenant Head and made His care and charge. And we believe that by the fall, all men were rendered both unable and unwilling spiritually to believe in, seek after, or love God until called and regenerated by the Holy Ghost. We *** believe that this human nature (of Christ) was not sinful, peaceable or mortal, though capable of death by a voluntary act, but essentially and intrinsically pure and holy, and that in it He really suffered, bled and died, as the substitute and surety of His Church and people, in their room and stead, and for no others. We believe that the eternal redemption which Christ has obtained by the shedding of His blood is special and particular; that is to say, that it was intentionally designed only for the elect of God, the sheep of Christ, who therefore alone share in the special and peculiar blessings thereof. We believe that the justification of God's elect is only the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ imputed to them, without consideration of any works of righteousness, before or after calling, done by them, and that the full and free pardon of all their sins, past, present and to come, is only through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of His grace. We believe that the work of regeneration is not an act of man's free will and natural power, but that it springs from the operation of the mighty efficacious and invincible grace of God.

"Art. 9. We believe that all who were chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son, and no others, shall at the appointed time, certainly be convinced in their hearts of sin by the Spirit be brought in guilty before God, and made the recipients of eternal life, coming to Christ for salvation, and believing on Him as the Anointed of the Father, and the only Mediator between God and man; but that none can spiritually come to Christ unless drawn by the Father, and that all the elect shall be thus drawn to Christ, and shall finally persevere; so that not one of the elect shall perish, but all arrive safely in glory."

I have before me a book written by Elder James Osborne in 1818, and published in 1819. On page 74 the writer said:

"Thou (God) lovest me (Jesus) before the foundation of the world. If this be true, He loved the Church before the foundation of the world; and that she was chosen in the Son and loved by the Father from the same date is plain from what is written: 'According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.'"

On page 119, in speaking of the work of the Spirit in regeneration, he said:

"For such is the natural depravity, and bias of the human heart, that they will not, nor cannot come to Jesus for salvation without the irresistible operations of the Holy Ghost."

The above is what our people believed in 1818, as well as from the days of our Saviour to that date, and it's what we believe in 1912. On page 149 we have this language:

"If Christ died for more than will be saved, God loved more than will be saved, anti-Christ intercedes for more than will be saved, for He died for no more than His Father loved, and He intercedes for no more than those for whom He died. The resurrection of Christ is another conclusive proof that all, everyone for whom He died, will be eternally saved."

I have before me a copy of the history of the Mississippi Baptists, by Benjamin Griffin, and wish to quote a paragraph from the Union Association, which was organized in September, 1820, and was the second association constituted in the state. On page 155 we find the following:

"Secondly, we now proceed to notice another heretical doctrine propagated by those who call themselves Baptists, viz: A general atonement, but especially applied (Fullerism, alias Missionism, alias New Schoolism), which is such a contradiction in itself that a hope in Christ may see its fallacy. The error in this place must be in the term general; for Christ saith, 'All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me,' from whence it follows that the receipts of the Saviour will be equivalent to His purchase. And if the atonement be general, why did Christ refuse to pray for the world? Why did He say to the Jews, 'Ye are not of my sheep, my sheep hear my voice?'"

I will quote next from the Yazoo Baptist Association, which was organized November 2, 1832, with churches out of the Union Association:

"Art. 4. We believe in the everlasting love of God to His people; in the eternal, unconditional election of a definite number of the human family to grace and glory.

"Art. 5. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is unto all and upon all them that believe.

"Art. 6. We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, are in time effectually called, regenerated, converted and sanctified; and are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation."--p. 160.

The Primitive Baptist Association of Mississippi was organized on Friday before the fourth Sunday in April, 1837, and on page 176 the association said: "We object to the doctrine of general atonement; and that, too, for no other reason than because it is contrary to the Word of God. A general atonement would be a general forgiveness; and all who will search the scriptures, except those who are willfully ignorant, must see the fallacy of such an idea. And notwithstanding you may nurse it in your bosoms, we boldly affirm that it will die on your lips, together with all your (the historian has reference to the Missionary Baptists.--J. S. N.) unscriptural doctrines and practice."

I will now add a few quotations from the Missionary Baptists to show that they are not in line with the ancient Baptists, whose history I have chronicled in the previous pages: "The extent of the atonement has been, and still is, a matter of honest but not unkind difference. Within the last fifty years a change has gradually taken place in the views of a large portion of our brethren. At the commencement of that period, Gill's Divinity was a sort of standard, and Baptists imbibing his opinions were what may be called almost Hyper-Calvinistic. A change commenced upon the publication of the writings of Andrew Fuller, especially his 'Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation,' which, in the northern and eastern states, has become almost universal. The old view still prevails, if I mistake not, in our southern and western states.--Waylan , p. 18

Dr. Alvah Hovey, who was then president of Newton Theological Seminary, said, "For it is plain that God purposed from the first to save certain persons of our race; that these persons were given to : Christ, in a special sense, to be His flock, and that He had particularly in view their actual salvation when He laid down His life. Thus far, at least, it would seem as if there could be no question as to the sense of the scripture. But this is not all. We are taught by the Word of God to say, in the second place, that the atonement was it meant by its Author to be a provision for the salvation of every man who would repent. In other words, it put out of the way every obstacle to universal pardon, except that of unbelief. And in this sense, Christ died for all; not only was His expiatory sufferings a sufficient reason for the pardon of all mankind, in case of repentance, but it was meant to be this."--Seven Dispensations, by J. R. Graves, p. 105.

On page 106 we find this language: "We come back, then, to the obvious meaning of the apostles' testimony, and conclude that some for whom Christ shed His blood upon the cross will perish at last. And if He died for some who will perish, it may safely be inferred that He died for all. Nor can it be said ;hat His intention was in part defeated, for His atoning death was not, strictly speaking, meant to effect the salvation of all, but to remove any obstacle existing outside of their own hearts to their salvation; and this was fully accomplished.

The Missionary Baptists, in the first place, teach in the above extracts that the atonement was made to "save certain persons of our race;" and in the second place, they teach "that the atonement was meant by its Author to be a provision for the salvation of every man who would repent."

W. M. Barker, editor of The Flag at the time, said: "The Hard-shells endorse the London Confession, just like Campbellites endorse the Bible, and one has adhered as closely to his creed as the other." Again the writer said: "If Christ died for only a part of the race, and all He died for will be saved, whether they hear the gospel or not, why preach the gospel? *** The Hard-shell brethren and a little company of the kind among us, will have to abandon either special atonement or the general judgment. They must also either abandon unconditional salvation or the efficacy of the gospel in the salvation of sinners."

Ben Bogard, D.D., editor of Arkansas Baptist and debater, said: "The doctrine of unconditional salvation is a Hard-shell doctrine. Before refuting this paralyzing doctrine from the pit (hell), we will say that all Missionary Baptists are supposed to believe in the doctrine of election and predestination and foreordination.*** Of course, God foreknew all things; and one of the things He foreknew was that man should be free to accept or reject salvation. Men are free to accept or reject salvation because God decreed that they should be. We base man's freedom on God's decree. God foreordained, decreed, foreknew, predestinated that men should exercise a free will in the matter of accepting or rejecting salvation. Nobody ever thought of any other construction of these doctrines among Baptists until Daniel Parker began to preach unconditional salvation about one hundred years ago."

For a refutation of the statement made in this last quotation, that Daniel Parker originated the doctrine of unconditional salvation and unconditional election, the leader is asked to reread this chapter. H. D. Duggan, of Iola, Kansas, said in the Flag of December 10, 1910: "We frankly admit that the Bible speaks at large concerning the elect, and we know, therefore, that the elect exist, and we know that such could not be the case until an election was held; and we know that such an election could not be held without voters; and we know from the Word of God that there are but two voters, and: man is one of these, and God is the other. How do you like that? Hard-shells all deny this, but all sound Baptists know that it is very true. The Bible teaches that man must first cast his vote, and then God votes just as the man voted. If I vote to accept Christ as my Saviour, and believe in His name, God will vote in the same way, and I will be elected to eternal life by faith in Jesus. Upon the other hand, if I vote to reject Christ, and will not receive Him, then God will vote the same way, and I must then die for the sins I have committed, for the only reason that I was not elected to eternal life. If you will pry open the lid of your thinking box and drop this one idea into it, you will then say: "Farewell forever to the doctrines of Hard-shells.*** It is just as easy to overthrow the Calvinistic system of grace as it is any other doctrine taught by the devil."

According to Missionary Baptist doctrine, when the sinner votes for God, then God votes for him, and the sinner is then elected. Before the sinner voted he was neither an elect or non-elect, for he is not rejected until he votes against God. If the sinner should die before he votes for God, I don't think he would go to heaven, for all who go there were elected. I hardly think he would go to hell, for none go there except the condemned, and they are not condemned till they reject Christ. This is Missionary Baptist doctrine.

I hope the reader will read this booklet in the same spirit it is written.

February 1912.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 September 2006 )
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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.