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Written by Sylvester Hassell   

 

THE GOSPEL MESSENGER—January 1899

Bible Baptists are those who consider the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the only infallible and authoritative standard of faith and practice, and who honestly and earnestly endeavor to conform all their faith and practice to the teachings of the Scrip­tures, and not to conform the Scriptures to their faith and practice. For this purpose they implore the Lord for the guidance of His Holy Spirit, and they reverently,. prayerfully, and carefully search the Scriptures daily, or as often as they can, ‘to learn their perfect and holy teachings, and to subordinate their own as well as every other human being’s opinions to the pure and eternal truth of God. In their view, the infinite wisdom of the Written Word of God far outshines the most brilliant speculations of human philosophy and the most splen­did inventions of human genius. To their minds, that Word is effulgent with the glory of the Great Creator, Upholder, and Governor of the Universe, and its truth will stand unchanged and unchangeable when heaven and earth shall have passed away. And the wisest creature is he who is most thoroughly imbued with the teachings and the Spirit of that Holy Word. The wisest man that ever trod this globe was the man Christ Jesus, and His mind and character were wholly pervaded by the matter and manner of that Word. He was, indeed, the incarnation, the fleshly embodiment, of the Word of God. With the Lord Jesus the word of man was nothing, and the word of God was everything. In every thought and word and deed He not only professed but lived that Word. He was the great and perfect Exem­plar of all Bible Baptists.

 

Primitive or Old School Baptists profess to be Bible Baptists; and the most of them, in most of their faith and practice, seem to me to be more truly so than any other religionists on earth; but they are far from hav­ing attained to the standard of the man Christ Jesus, whom they call their Lord and Master. They do not reverence or love or search or live or teach the Scrip­tures as He did; they often prefer the opinions of falli­ble men to the infallible wisdom of the Scriptures; they sometimes presume to add to or to take from the In­spired Record; and too often is it the case that, while professing, they do not live, the Word of God. The wisest and best primitive Baptists will freely and hon­estly confess the truth of this remark in their own cases, and their shortcoming is the source of their deep­est sorrow. They1ought to look less to self and to men, and more to God, and reverence the Word of God more, love it more; search it more, live it more, and teach it more, and thus be more like their Head, the Lord Jesus; and thus will they more glorify God and benefit His people.

 

The leading object of the editors of THE GOSPEL MES­SENGER is to set forth, expound, and maintain the pure and perfect truths of the Holy Scriptures. I cannot imagine any higher motive for any periodical. In writ­ing the CHURCH HISTORY, I did not try to make a popu­lar or a salable book, nor to please any one, even my­self, only so far as the truth would please. And so, in the management of THE GOSPEL MESSENGER, I desire to publish pure Bible truth, whether it pleases or offends those who read its pages. I would rather benefit them than please them; and I am sure that the truth is the only thing that will do them any real or lasting, good, and the only thing that will glorify God. I would be sorry-—sorry for their sakes—if, as some of the fickle Galatians seemed to look upon Paul, they regard me as their enemy because I tell them the truth. He who tells me the truth is my real friend, and I ought to thank the God of truth for such a message. But an­cient Israel, when given up to their own hearts’ lusts, not only hated the message of the Lord sent to them by His, servants, but slew the poor messengers, even the Son of God Himself, who, just before His crucifixion, tenderly and mournfully exclaimed, “0, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Be­hold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. xxiii. 37, 38). Forty years afterwards “truth-hating, mercy-spurning, prophet-killing Jerusalem” was visited with the most awful sorrows ever inflicted upon any city on earth (Matt. xxiv). May spiritual Israel today be saved from such carnality and such calamities!

 

While THE GOSPEL MESSENGER circulates all over the United States and in Canada, the majority of its sub­scribers live in the Southern States; I think that I am acquainted with the sentiments of the most of our breth­ren in these States in regard to the leading matters of faith and practice, including Predestination, Feet-wash­ing, Associations, Formal Correspondence, etc., and, by an undiscriminating advocacy of such sentiments, I might perhaps have largely increased the subscription list of THE GOSPEL MESSENGER, but I have preferred, on these as well as all other subjects, to keep closely to the teachings of the Scriptures, believing that such a course would be more glorifying to God and more bene­ficial to His people.

 

As I have said in the Church History: “I lay no claim to inspiration or infallibility. I believe the Old and New Testament Scriptures to be absolutely the only in­spired and infallible book in human literature. By this divine standard I desire all my own writings, as well as every other creatural work, to be finally tested—to be accepted if and when in accordance, and rejected if and when not in accordance, with the standard. He who claims infallibility for himself or for any other man since the Apostolic Age, ceases to that extent to be a Baptist, or a Protestant, or a follower of Christ, and renounces those precious principles of religious liberty in defense of which have flowed rivers of the best blood on earth. Old School, Primitive, or Bible Baptists should be the last people in the world to have a pope or popes among them. No book, no pamphlet, no periodi­cal, no document of any kind must be taken as a sub­stitute for the Bible; and no author, no editor, no preacher, no teacher, no writer, and no body of men must be substituted for Christ, who is the only Prophet, Priest, and King of His people” (Church History, pages viii, viii.).

 

And, in a “Final Notice” on page 964 of the Church History, I have said :—“There is not a single intentional misstatement in this volume. I shall be thankful to any person who may discover errors, and who can prove them to he errors, to address me at Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina, and inform me of such discov­ery and proof, in order that misstatements may be elim­inated from future editions.” And I now say the same in regard to all my writings in THE GOSPEL MESSENGER. If I am wrong in any position, it is not intentional, for I want to he right, and, instead of becoming angry with a brother, sister, or friend for teaching we the way of God more perfectly from His holy Word, I hope to have grace to be truly thankful for the precious favor. I desire to know the scriptural truth on all subjects, and always to speak that truth in love, according to the motto of THE GOSPEL MESSENGER. May the Lord enable all of us, in both faith and practice, to be far more thorough-going BIBLE BAPTISTS hereafter than ever before.     S. H.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 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.