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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow My Seventy-two Days' Tour In The Middle States and In Canada
My Seventy-two Days' Tour In The Middle States and In Canada PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   

NOTE: The beginning of this article has not been located.

VIII.—NEW AND YET OLD BOOKS.I purchased, at a Hebrew book-store, 53 Division street, New York City, a Jewish-English Bible, a new translation of the Old Testament into English, by Isaac Leeser, a Jew in England, adopted by the Jews of England and the United States, the chief object of which seems to have been the industrious perversion (either by the rendering or by notes) of all the Messianic prophecies, so as to prevent an appearance of their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth. And I examined, in the Astor Library, New York, and have since purchased of H. L. Hastings, 47 Cornhill, Boston, (price by mail $2.50), James Murdock’s translation of the Syriac Peshito version of the New Testament into English— the first, and clearest, and most important version of the New Testament ever made—two or three hundred years older than the oldest Greek Manuscript of the New Testament that has come down to us. On my trip I showed some of the brethren a copy which I had lately secured of Edward Irving’s “Orations for Missionaries after the Apostolic School,” to which I have made allusion on the 610th page of the Church History, and which contains the most powerful and unanswerable vindication of the scripturalness of the Primitive Baptist position in regard to Missions that I have ever seen. John B. Alden & Co., 57 Rose street, New York, have now in press, and expect to issue this year (price $5, besides postage or expressage), James Strong’s Bible Concordance and Lexicon, the only complete Concordance of the Bible ever published, containing absolutely every word in the original Scriptures, translated and pronounced, with a Hebrew and Greek Lexicon, and a comparative Concordance of the Old and New versions (all in one large quarto volume of 1,720 pages), putting the English student of the Scriptures more nearly on an equality with the Hebrew and Greek scholar than any book over before published.


The Northern Associations were formerly (about 35 years. ago) held on Sunday, and as now generally in the South, large promiscuous crowds attended and disturbed those who wished to hear the preaching; but since they have been changed to the week, very few go who do not wish to hear preaching, and quiet and order prevail; and the visiting ministers preach at the churches on the intervening Sundays. Each Association has a short business session each of the three forenoons; then there are two sermons; then an intermission of an hour or two for refreshments, which are spread in common upon tables in the grove, or in a neighboring house; then follow two more sermons in the afternoon, and often another at night; and the messengers can hear all the preaching. After the first sermon on the second day, contribution baskets are passed around, and a collection is thus taken up for defraying the traveling expenses of visiting ministers. These baskets are also used after the sermon at the separate meetings of the churches, to collect funds to help the visiting ministering brother on his way; and the contributions for this purpose are generally liberal. The pastors of churches are also generously aided, during the year, by the donations of their members and congregations; and they are thus able to devote a good portion of their time to the service of the churches, and the latter are correspondingly benefitted. The membership and congregations, with a few exceptions, are small, and generally decreasing; so that a leading minister there thinks that the church will lose its visibility in the North. The churches are more widely separated than in the South, and have meetings two or four Sundays in each month, whether they have a minister present or not; in his absence, two or three of the male members read a portion of the Scriptures and make some comments, and lead in prayer. On Saturday afternoon, or at some other time in the week, a Conference or Covenant Meeting is held, at which all the members, both male and female, as well as other persons who may be present, are at liberty to speak of their spiritual exercises, and suggest hymns to be sung or read. Among the Covenanted Baptists in Canada, the Church Conferences are held with closed doors. In the North, the order of Divine service id the same as in the South, except that a second hymn is sung between the prayer and the sermon; and in Canada the order is prayer, praise, preaching, praise, and prayer. During public prayer our members in the Northern states sit erect in the seats’ and in Canada, likewise t he Presbyterians, they stand up. Family worship, except grace at meals, seems almost entirely abandoned, the excuse being that it tends to formality; but the same reasoning would do away with thanksgiving at meals and stated public and private prayer. The Covenanted Church in Canada has about 150 members in four meeting houses 20 or 30 miles apart, at each of which the pastor preaches once a month. The meeting houses there are kept insured; and most of our members in the North insure their property. Voting in the churches is done by raising the right hand (as in the Apostolic churches, see Church History, pages 291, 292 and 304, as indicated by the Greek verb cheirotoneo).Deacons are not now ordained, but simply chosen by the churches. Families, generally have few children in them. Ministers are usually referred to as Elders, and brethren and sisters as Mr. and Mrs. The meeting houses are painted and comfortable, and frequently have connected with them good stalls for horses. In one of our meeting houses in Maine, I learned that an organ is used to aid singing.


I am very glad to say that i did not hear any anti-trinitarianism, or dualism, or fatalism, or pantheism preached; but one or more of some other extremes and dangerous innovations were either advocated by one or more of the ministers present, or reported to me as being advocated by others of our able ministers—such as the apparent denial of any real fundamental change in regeneration or the new birth; the applying of every passage in the Bible to none but the children of God (calling the wayside, the stony ground, and the thorny ground hearers, the parable of the Sower, the five fooling virgins, the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, persons accepted by the dog and swine, the idolatrous, the unbelieving, the infidel, the blind, the lost, the damned—calling those who still maintained the odious and horrible characters children of God); the declaration that the whole object of preaching is to comfort the children of God (just as though such passages as 2 Tim. iv 2, 1; Thess. v. 14, 1; 1 Tim. v. 20; Tit. i. 13, ii. 15; Rev ii. 5, 16 and iii. 19 were not in the Scriptures), and that the exhortations of the New Testament are not meant as exhortations, but simply as parts of the experience of believers, and that it may partake of legalism to enjoin them, as some do, upon Christians; the apparent denial of the personality of Satan, and of the literality of the resurrection of the body, and of a general judgment (though few things are more plainly revealed in the Scriptures, or more emphatically declared in Primitive Baptist articles of faith than the resurrection of the body and a general judgment); the denial of any hell after death (thus amounting either to Universalism or the annihilation of the wicked at death) and the limitation of the scriptural passages heretofore thought to refer to the heaven of immortal glory to the present scriptural enjoyment of the believer (insomuch that the beloved and venerated Eld. Thomas Barton of Delaware, now deceased, said before his death that he was afraid his ministering brethren would not have him any heaven to go to).

The new and brilliant discoveries, theories and imaginary revelations seem to me to be luring on some of our able ministers and the churches that follow them to the Niagara of Infidelity. I dare not, neither do I wish top fall in with them. I prefer to remain on the eternal rock of plainly revealed truth; to abide in the good old restful paths trodden by the poor ignorant and despised saints of by-gone days; who sought not to be wise above what is written, but was content to live and die in the faith of God’s elect. As I have said in The Old Paths, “a so-called spiritualization that denies the literal truth of Scripture or that makes one Scripture deny another is false spiritualizing and proceeds from a false spirit.” The same system of interpretation that denies the literal truth of the prophesies would if applied to the past, deny the truth of Scripture history, and (like the Dacetism of the early centuries, Church History, pages 242, 246, and 439) would represent the incarnation, life, sufferings, and death of the Son of God as not actual, but only phantasmal and visionary, and would thus undermine the very foundation of the believer’s hope. It seems to me that the excessive materialism of the masses in the wealthy Middle States tends, in its reaction upon thoughtful intellects, by a well-established law of the human mind, to produce this excessive spiritualism of many of our brethren there. May the Great Builder and Keeper of the Church save His people from this rising tidal wave of refined, mystical unbelief. The salvation which the Lord Jesus brings His people is, I believe, a real, a holy, and an everlasting salvation; otherwise it is a delusive and detestable nonentity; and like the universal skeptic, David Hume, we may reduce all beings and all events, to shadows and dreams; and like the unprincipled diplomatist, Charles M. Talleyrand, we may consider all language as meant to deceive.


A German brother, a private member, who lives in a city distant from his church, said that when he returned to his place of residence, he felt home-sick, and sat down on the steps and cried, thinking of his brethren and sisters from whom he was separated.

Another German brother remarked to me that something inside of him kept telling him he was a hypocrite; but he felt that he would rather be nothing in the world than be a hypocrite.

A gentleman in New York City, alluding to the Convention of the so-called “Christian Endeavor” people there, and their wearing badges, said that he thought it a good idea for “Christians” to be tagged, as that was the only way of telling them now-a-days from other people.

Half a century ago, said one of our elders, if a farmer wished to borrow a few hundred dollars, he could readily obtain it from his neighbor without even giving his note, and if he failed to pay it back at the time agreed upon, he fell into life-long disgrace; but now, if a man does not avail himself of every legal quibble to avoid paying his honest debts, be is almost thought to be a fit subject for the lunatic asylum.

Eld. H. C. Leachman, of Virginia, a Boanerges in the pulpit, used to say that when he had no liberty in preaching, he went to lampooning Arminians. The most of the religious denominations of this country have such a surplus of what they consider the gospel, that they ship large quantities of it to foreign heathen.

An elder said in his sermon that every true minister was like John the Baptist, and baptized Christ every time he baptized a subject of grace; and another elder remarked privately that, in the same sense, he might be said to baptize the devil at every baptism also.

As Elijah prefigured John the Baptist, so Elisha prefigured Christ; and the little cloud, like a man’s hand, that arose out of the sea (1 Kings xviii. 44), was a type of the Son of God in human form, who sent down a copious rain of grace upon spiritual Israel in His own and the apostolic age. Clouds may represent ministers who filled with grace and wafted by the Spirit of God where He pleases, will yield showers of blessings to the spiritual hearers; otherwise, they will be clouds without water, and will yield no refreshing. The dew may represent the gracious influences of the Spirit apart from the ministry.

Old School Baptists are less numerous than other denominations, because there are no factories (such as human religious institutions) for manufacturing them.
The daisies and buttercups that clothe the hillsides around us with garments of silver and gold, but show the development of the life that God has implanted in them; so the godly walk and conversation of the child of God are but the out-blooming of the Divine life in his soul.

The hand of the little child Jesus (Isa. xi. 1-9), laid upon the otherwise discordant and rebellious faculties of our being, brings them into harmonious and loyal submission.

Jesus is the only real preacher in the church (Isa. lxi. 1-3; Luke iv. 16-21; Psalm xxii. 22; Heb. ii. 12).

A sermon may be like a beautiful, unbroken, white loaf of bread, that nourishes no one; it takes broken bread to feed the multitude.

Waxfruit may seem rich and lovely, but it will not satisfy the appetite; so fine preaching, without the Spirit of life and love, does not comfort us. Dry doctrine, no matter how sound, we cannot swallow, and digest, and assimilate; unless doctrine is preached experimentally, it does the hearer no real good.

True preaching is not from the cold memory, but from the warm heart.
Others work to get life; and we work because we have life.

The only service that God, who is love, accepts is the service of love.

The precious cause of Jesus is above every other cause in the hearts of His people.

One of our elders said that, when he went to preach on a funeral occasion, he always, on his arrival, asked the family whether they had any text that they desired to be used, and if so, he took that text as his subject. Another said, that when he arose in the pulpit and took a text to preach, he did not know, any more than any one of his audience what he was going to say; and when he ended his discourse, he could hardly tell, as well as any of his hearers, what he had said; and when he had no liberty, he was as well satisfied as when he had liberty, because he knew such was the Divine purpose; and he could fill up any convenient vacancy, desired, whether ten minutes or an hour and a half, and could quit any time. Another elder said that the preaching of this elder was like unstopping a bottle of pearls, which pour forth rich and beautiful, however short or long a time they run. All the children of God, when in the right spirit, said the elder whose preaching was like the flow of pearls, are of exactly the same size—less than the least of all the saints, and there is ample room in the church for any number of them; but when one of them grows large, the church is too small to hold him, and he has to flop out in order to develop his proportions.
He whose name is Holy, and whose dwelling place is Eternity, gives to His people his incarnate Word to be expressed in their lives for His glory (Psalm lxviii. 11).

The child of God, if allowed the privilege of receiving one of the strokes of the cruel lash that tore the flesh of his dear Redeemer, would consider it a greater honor than all the glory of this world.


The almost universal unrest pervading the physical, political, business, social, scientific, and religious world has reached the Old School or Primitive Baptist churches, so that within their ranks are found persons having different views on almost every point of doctrine and discipline, and on almost every passage of Scripture; yet I believe that those entertaining novel and extreme views are largely in the minority; and that, in all the great essentials of doctrine and practice, the majority are united; that this majority are more nearly like the Apostolic churches than any other people now on earth; that they have a much larger percentage of regenerated members than any other communion; that they are united in their views of the salvation of Jesus, an experience of grace, and the practical teachings of the Spirit of God, and the great fundamental scriptural truths of the total depravity of the natural man, and the unconditional election, special redemption, effectual calling, and final perseverance of the saints to glory By the grace of God, and for His glory, and the good of their fellow-mortals, may they stand in the ways and see and ask for the good old paths and walk therein, and thus find rest for their souls; contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints; mark and avoid those who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which they have learned; and walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, remembering that there is one body and one spirit, even as they are called in one hope of their calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all; and may He turn them again, and cause His face to shine upon them, and re-weld them in stronger bonds than ever of Divine love and fellowship, and consecrate them more fully to his holy and blessed ser vice, and to Him alone shall be all the glory to eternal ages.—Amen. SYLVESTER HASSELL

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 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.