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Written by J.S. Newman   

The Division of 1832. 

I have before me a copy of a small book called "Christian Union," written by Ben M. Bogard. I wish to quote the following from page 56:

"Before the year 1832 the Baptists believed and practiced the same things. At that time (1832) they divided on the following questions: Missions, salary to preachers, boards, conventions, schools and colleges, etc. Previous to this all were one, and such a question, as who were the Primitive Baptists, was never asked, because they were all primitive. Whatever ;vas practiced and believed before the year 1832 by the Baptists was the practice and belief of Primitive Baptists. Those Baptists who do not teach the doctrines which Baptists taught before the year 1832 are not Primitive Baptists."

I wish to place before my readers another quotation from a Missionary Baptist:

"For it matters not which party is in the majority when a separation occurs, it is always true that the party which departs from the faith has fallen away."--Ray's Baptist Succession, p. 160.

If we can find out what the Baptists believed before 1832, and then can find a group of Baptists believing the same things now, they are Primitive Baptist; and those who do not believe the same doctrine, are not Primitive Baptists. Crosby. the English Baptist historian, observes that "there have been two parties of Baptists in England ever since the beginning of the Reformation--those who followed the Calvinistic scheme of doctrine, and from the principal point therein, personal election, have been termed Particular Baptists; and those who have professed the Arminian or Remonstrant tenets, and have also from the chief of these doctrines, universal redemption, have been called General Baptists."

Speaking of the doctrine held to by the Baptists prior to 1832, Smucker, in his history, p. 40. says:

"The doctrinal system of this denomination of Baptists is Calvinistic and orthodox. They believe in the eternal decree of God, in reference to the salvation of the elect, and hold that such as have been predestinated to be saved from the foundation of world shall be saved, and no others."

This is what the Baptists believed before the division in 1832. If the Missionary Baptists believe this doctrine they are Primitive Baptists. If they do not believe this doctrine they are the fallen away party and are not Primitive Baptists. Ben Bogard says they are not.

I have before me what is known as the Benjamin Keach's Catechism. Elder Keach was born in 1640 and died in 1704. Elder Hanserd Knollys was born in 1598 and died in 1691. These two, with thirty-five other Old Baptist ministers have their signatures signed to the old London Confession of Faith, published first in 1643 by the authority of seven Old Baptist churches and last by the authority of upwards of one hundred Old Baptist churches in 1689. These churches were from England and Wales, and they unanimously asserted they did not believe in a general atonement or the Arminian doctrine. The Missionary Baptists have never met denying the general atonement doctrine, therefore the "upwards of a hundred" congregations could not have been what is now known as Missionary Baptist churches. The catechism of Elder Keach may be found in D. C. Haynes' Church History, p. 76:

"Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery ? Answer: God having, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some Lo everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation, by a Redeemer."

Elder Keach. being a Primitive Baptist, did not hesitate to say that God saved His people through His Son. If he had been a modern Missionary Baptist he likely would have said, "It has been a glorious work, this work of saving the lost through the preaching of the blessed gospel, a work that the angels of God would delight to do. But what a small part of this work we are doing! As we look over the reports from the churches of the year's work our hearts are saddened at the thought that so little is being done by us to save the world for Christ."--Minute of Oconee Association of Tennessee, 1896.

The Missionary Baptists tell us that they are our father; and as it is a fact that parents are older than their children, we children want to call our parents' attention to what they taught before they made us. Of course the "upwards of one hundred congregations" that met in London in 1689 were our parents--the Missionary Baptists. We are going to let our parents tell what they believed before they made us: "God hath decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever come to pass; vet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin. nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away. but rather established, in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree."

This is a part of the doctrine our parents said they believed before they gave their children being. And now they denounce their children as Hyper-Calvinists, Antinomians, Do-nothings, Anti-Missionaries and Hard-shells. But let me quote some more of the doctrine our religious parents left on record for their children:

"As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath by the eternal and most free purpose of His will foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only."

I will quote from the Articles of Faith of the Strict or Hyper-Calvinistic Baptists of England, as our so-called parents, the Missionary Baptists call them:

"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 particular blessings thereof."

This is what the Baptists believed before the division of 1832, and the Baptists that believed the above doctrine then still believe as they did then. If Fuller & Company had believed the doctrine they found the Baptists contending for when they joined them, they would not have wanted it changed. Fuller and Carev did not change the doctrine and practice of the church they joined. They introduced new doctrines to correspond with the new practices they introduced into the Church. The Missionary Baptists have not the same doctrine and practice the Baptist Church had before the division of 1832; therefore, they are not Primitive Baptists, they themselves being judges. "We believe that the justification of God's elect is only by 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."

But let me quote again from the Old English Baptists:

"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." "And we also believe that man's works, good or bad, have nothing to do with his call, or being quickened, by the Holy Spirit."

Article 12 of the faith subscribed to by Gill, Gadsby, Philpot and others reads: "We believe in the effectual calling of all the elect vessels of mercy out of the ruins of the fall in God's appointed time, and that the work of regeneration, or new birth, is the sovereign work of God, and His work only, the sinner being as passive therein as in his first birth, and previously thereto dead in trespasses and sins." Article 24 says, "We believe that the invitations of the gospel, being Spirit and life, are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Saviour, and to repent of and forsake their sins." "We deny that Christ died for all mankind."

I have before me a copy of J. C. Philpot's Meditations. On page 171 he says, "The determinate choice of the members of this mystical body, which we believe to have been not general and indiscriminate, not national as to privileges, not with respect to faith and obedience foreseen, as any other such scheme as the wit of man has devised to nullify or render palatable a doctrine offensive to the carnal mind; but an election personal and individual; in other words, an absolute, unconditional, and distinct choice of every individual member, so that there should be. in their totality neither more or fewer than should make a perfect body. This personal and individual election is intimated in the words. 'According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.'--Eph, i. 4.

At about the age of 18 William Gadsby baptized John Kershaw. I have before me a copy of the history of the life of Elder Kershaw, from which I wish to make a few quotations. On page 34. we have this language:

"The elect are God's people that He hath loved and 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 I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. *** Thus. you see, it is those whom He has loved and chosen and ordained to eternal life that will be saved, and none else."

The Gospel Standard Strict Baptists of England most nearly of all the people in England resemble the Primitive Baptists of the United States. They have Sunday schools in which they teach their children to read the Scriptures. They do not claim that the Sunday school is a nursery of the church, as the Missionary Baptists do. They do not practice feet washing as a literal observance in their churches. They condemn theological seminaries. They do not have associations as our people do in the United States. They do not send out men to preach, neither do they contribute to missionary societies. I aim to show that the early Baptist churches in the United States were not modern Missionary Baptist churches either in doctrine or practice. I am aware of their claims to being the original Baptists. and that is the reason why I wish to prove that their claims have no real foundation. There is no doubt about many of them being the children of God. and if they only knew it they are really Primitive Baptists at heart. I hope to be able to reach many of that class of their members. and should my writings on the church question be the means of saving just one from the error of his way, I shall be remunerated for my labor of love.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 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.