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Written by R. Anna Phillips   

 

CHAPTER IV—UNITING WITH THE MISSIONARIES, DOUBTS, &C

Several had joined the church (I say “church” in the common acceptation of the term) and were to be baptized in a stream not far from my home. As I saw one another buried in and raised from the water, I for the first time saw it as the symbol of death burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who had actually fulfilled its substance to save a poor sinner like me. I had often beheld a like scene, but with far different feelings. It would be impossible to describe my feelings. The scene was one of beauty as showing the infinite love of Jesus that led to this depth of sublime humiliation of burial to his body crucified and broken to save his people—to save me: which became a power so strongly drawing and urging me as crucified with him and be also buried with him; and so strong was my desire to be baptized that I scarce could refrain the cry, “what doth hinder me?”

That evening the same preacher to which I referred—eloquent and mighty on the Scriptures—went home with us; and again we talked of Christ and the things of his kingdom; and again he urged me to join the church. I regarded him as a minister of the gospel and his zeal to gain members to be a zeal for Christ; and received his instruction with gladness and credulity. My heart turned to the Primitive Baptist in that love born at their meeting referred to: but their regular meeting was weeks off; how could I wait so long to be baptized? How to resist the strong combined influences around me? And what difference did it make which church I joined? (I thought they then were churches.) These were surely Christians and did seem to be more loving and caring for the peace and comfort of such as I who need some one to instruct and guide me. So the next day, my sister and I joined the Missionary Baptists and were baptized. And truly I think I felt the answer of a good conscience. I believed I had obeyed and followed Christ.

I want right here to say to Primitive Baptists. Remember I stood as a little child, if indeed born of God. A little child needs nursing and guiding. Do you say the Scriptures are both? Then lead them to the Scriptures in their true meaning. I was most susceptible to impressions—to outside influences’ my eyesight was not yet perfect for “I saw men as trees walking” so towering I thought it a privilege to follow them. I was deeply concerned about the way I should go. I desired with all my heart and soul to obey and follow Jesus, but who would place and help me in the way? I was watching within and listening without. At that “Missionary protracted meeting” I saw Primitive Baptist among the members seemingly feeding upon the preaching.  This to me was to sanction the doctrine and recognize the church. A prominent deacon came six or eight miles and declared he heard the “true doctrine” or gospel preached there. This made an impression on me very favorable to the Missionaries while my secret undisturbed heart turned to the Primitives in spite of my natural objections to them. When we find one born into the kingdom—a little child yet keenly alive to outward influences, shall we let them crawl about and in their hunger eat bread, stones, meat or what not, as they happen to find it? Or should we not rather take them to our arms and impart the milk of the word? Again, when we see them around the tents of Israel stumbling about in the dark, subject to be captures by the roving bands we know are nigh seeking whom they may capture and carry to Babylon, should you not with loving voice warn them? yea by all means of law and love invite them--help them into the safe tents of Israel? How many children of God are this day in Babylon sighing for the city of God? How many captives mourn there feeding upon husks while their Father’s house abounds with bread? While the malls there are feeding upon the pomp, worldly glitter and eloquent theoretical platitudes flashing around and referring to the Gospel, Christ’s own little ones are perishing for simplicity of the Gospel. Are you clear of their bondage?

After I was baptized I freely communed with this people, and especially that preacher whom I so loved; all told me for I questioned them--that I had undoubted evidences of being a Christian and that I did my duty as to a public profession of Christ, and now my duty was to go immediately on into the fields of mission work. What a vast field was presented to my view? And how my heart swelled with joy that I was not without worldly means; and above this, that I who had obtained everything of the Lord in salvation, thus had the privilege of making returns in duty or .work;. my heart leaped for joy at the thought.

But for this, and for all my confidence in them, there came to me the shadow of a disturbed forbidding spirit. A short while afterwards I was married to Dr. J. H. Phillips and went to a new home. Before starting my father said as a public professor of Christ and as a, wife I had taken great responsibilities--was I equal to them? Instantly a. strange glad feeling flashed over me, I felt Christ present, in power, and that he was not only to live but to walk in me as my strength, and that in his strength I could do any and all things required.. These thoughts flashed so rapidly that my mind seemed to grasp and comprehend this whole system of ideas in an instant. And I answered “Yes” without the ability to explain. Indeed, I did not then know this new-born: power within was faith. Had he asked me instead--”have you faith?” Doubtless I should have answered “No.” Had he asked, “What is faith?” I suppose I should have replied like this--”faith is a divine principle direct from God--a knowledge confirming the soul born of God --a power showing the prints of the nails in the hands and feet of Jesus and the wound in his side, and saying by these I know thou art my Lord and my God.” How ignorant I was even of the literal significance of the term! But as yet I had thought but little of its nature and meaning, or otherwise, except in its (them unknown as such) effect. For all I then enjoyed was of faith. It was the substance of things not seen; that is, of Christ my salvation whom my soul had appropriated Without seeing naturally:--was the evidence of my naturally unseen death to the world and to sin and resurrection to life in Christ, And hence in evidencing the life of Jesus in me, it evidenced all the properties of that life abiding in me and enabling me to manifest it in my mortal body, or in my practical outward walk. So in looking at these responsibilities referred to, I could say, “Yes, I feel equal to them,” as looking to and trusting in that wonderful tower of strength felt to be mine and abiding in me; yet in name unknown. And oh, how precious and supporting it was to me--thus brought to light and consideration--in that hour of great responsibilities indeed! and--let me add--all my life since.

And that faith in free exercise will manifest its life-principles--which is the same as Jesus--”in our mortal bodies” or outward walk, just as it did in the body or walk of Jesus. And thus having received him we walk in him as commanded. That implicit confidence in God that takes us from thinking of ourselves as any strength at all, takes us from all confidence in flesh, and makes us lean and look all helpless on Christ, and go out, not knowing whither in obedience to his word, is a pure living faith directly from God, and will do to live and die upon. And a faith not strong enough to act upon--not strong enough to go out hand-in-hand with works, is as good as no faith. But that faith (so-called and synonymous with “religion”) that people boastingly claim and flaunt about as a regalia, or commands as a servant or is put on or off as a dress, to suit the season, that is fitted to fads, and made play to emergencies, is apt to be second-handed from a parent or teacher, is a handy myth in time and no better substance or evidence in death.

When established in my new home I found much spare time, which was eagerly devoted to reading the New Testament. What a new and wonderful book of light and love! The very written name of Jesus held a sweet charm. And to such phrases as “the precious blood of Christ” my glad heart confirmingly responded. How precious was that name and blood to me! Precious as my own eternal salvation wrought through them. And how strange! The book was full of just such things as were within me! It invited me, to the very things I would go to: it forbade me the very things I would shun. It may have been presumption, but this book did seem written expressly for me so well was it adapted to me, or I to it. Was I a sinner? Christ died for sinners. Did the law demand upon me? He was the end of the law. Was I lacking wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption? God made Christ my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Was I weak? His strength was made perfect in weakness. Was I fearful I would fall and miss my eternal inheritance? I was kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. But would not, might not I, a poor little weak creature of dust, forfeit this loving care and lose at last ? Life and death, principalities nor powers, nor things present nor to come, nor any creature or power should separate me from the love of God in Christ. And my life ? My life was secure as hid with Christ in God. So everything just fitted and suited me and provided for me; even my weakness and infirmities insured me the strength and perfection of Christ. No wonder I, such a corrupted, lost and ruined sinner otherwise than by him, loved him.

My joy and peace in faith continued for about three months almost undisturbed; if a doubt from within or a trouble from without assailed me, resort to the Scriptures soon put it to flight: for, if a doubt, something read there to which my spirit would bear witness confirmed me in faith again; while if a natural trial or trouble, reading what Jesus had endured for me, made me so willing to bear it that it ceased.

It now seems strange to me that the peace and joys of salvation continued so long with me without a serious doubt? and that when sustaining erroneous church relation. I have sometimes thought, it was to strengthen and prepare me for the proportional tempest of fear and trouble afterward, as gone down into the deep to do business and see the wonders of the Lord displayed there, where the surging billows upheaved: by the mighty wind raised one up to heaven and then sunk him to hell, as, it were, till he staggered as a drunken man, and at his wits’ end. That is, When God “by his almighty yet unseen hand--to which the wind in the figure answers--would upheave--make manifest--the foundation of spiritual wickedness, and bring down every high thing that exalteth itself against, or contrary to, God, and subjection. to Christ. Or perhaps it was to prepare me also against myself, afterwards so meddlesome in the things pertaining to God. And to remember that in all that time of faith and attending graces, that I myself did not create or control it; and yet I never experienced a more implicit child-like trust in God, and have my will more completely swallowed in that of Christ; nor was I ever so satisfied, everything was Just as I would have it, even that I clung to the cross empty, handed, I never could desire from this world more than was then mine. And how did I get it? Altogether by Christ, I had no part except to receive and rejoice in it. Then, if God should withdraw his presence and cover his throne and leave me in darkness to learn patience and obedience by the things which I suffered, was there any warrant to be drawn from this first experience that I could recall God’s presence, revoke the darkness and call down faith, love, joy and peace in the spirit? Certainly not. Yet I myself, have tried, when thus found afterwards. I have worked as hard trying to buy the favor of God as though I had never received it as a gift without money and price. And I have tried just as hard to produce and exercise faith. I have even thought .hat for doing wicked, God has withdrawn from. me in anger; and then have gone to good works to have joy of his presence restored. And always I have been turned around backward, as it were, and instead of deploring my weakness and emptiness of hand, I in to rejoice and see, as at first; and my emptiness becomes my all-availing plea for his fullness; my weakness for his strength; my darkness for his light; and ere I am well aware, faith exercises me. But for all this--and that repeated--myself; brazen as ever, will come in again with her Arminian creed. Yet perhaps it would have carried me to greater excesses but for this long, heavenly place.

A few members, and especially the preacher, very busy now in leading me into the further works of the Lord, particularly giving money; even the first regular monthly meeting after my baptism. And I was ready and anxious to begin.. But that shadow, as of a forbidding, spirit,, still hovered near. And a few days before this meeting I heard a voice in my heart saying, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I heard it inwardly and in a sense audible, just as I heard the question some weeks before, “For what did Christ come into this world?” Without stopping to tell of their effect, save that I rebuked for my intention to follow a man without knowing whether his words were corroborated by commandments of Christ, I will say that surely above all I did love Jesus; and above all I wanted to obey him--to keep his commandments: for he only had died for me--saved me, and by right my sole law giver. And I did crave an occasion to suffer for his name’s sake as manifesting--proving before the world--my love and gratitude. I was sorry the civil law was so lenient to his doctrine, as otherwise perchance giving me the privilege to show to the world that there was one poor sinner, yet loving subject, in the world, who would suffer for him. For I could say verily believing it, “though all men forsake thee, yet will not I. I will die for thee.” And while I loved all who loved and served him, yet for those--and in proportion--who had known him in the deeper fellowship of his sufferings--who bore about in their body his dying--I had a peculiar, far-surpassing, knitting-together-love, that nothing else in heaven or earth has produced; and I would wash their feet with my tears and wipe them with the hair of my head because in fellowship with Jesus they feel his crown of thorns. And I besought the Lord in prayer the favor of thus knowing and suffering for Jesus. If I only knew what to do--if he would only show me what to do, I entertained no fear of a failure. Poor heart! So utterly ignorant and deceived! Poor soul! So utterly devoid of spiritual knowledge and discernment!

Every day intervening between that small, still voice and the day of meeting I had been searching for a command of Christ to give this money; and though I had not found it. I thought it was there somewhere in the gospel law, and so had my tithes and offerings ready. But the evening before, and when my mind was on other matters, this same voice speaking the same words, came again, and with such power that I must heed it: and making and leaving such impressions as left me astounded, fearful and trembling. Let it suffice that I told my preacher next day at meeting that I must have the commandment of the Lord for it before I could give to any mission, or board, or institution, or enter into any further work. He was much surprised and disappointed and still tried to convince me the command of the Lord for all these things was in the Testament. While I believed it, I dared not act without seeing and knowing for myself. I told him I was a Missionary, and intended to remain one, and nothing else; and asked him to help me find these particular, commands of Christ. So I gave nothing that meeting.

I now began to search the Scriptures in earnest, and particularly to find the commandment of the Lord for Missionary institutions. I wanted to find them; for I wanted, and intended to be a Missionary. I searched and read till I almost knew the New Testament “by heart.” And alas! not only did I not find the commandment of Christ for these institutions, but rather his-word condemning them. My preacher tried to convince me this or that passage would do; but having become so thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures myself, I could and would refute his every point. Then other preachers, and members, around would come and try, for I had told them at the second meeting that I must find these commandments or leave them. Then they got other ministers--the more intelligent from a distance--to come and talk with me, when we would talk all day and more than half the night--once all night in trying to satisfy me. And when they failed, I think it was great a grief to me as it was to themselves; for I desired to remain a Missionary; yet I the more desired the truth established and sustained. Finally they referred me to J. R. Graves, editor of the “Tennessee Baptist,” to whom I wrote freely of my condition and position, and begging him to relieve me, if possible, and who I think entered fully into my case and sympathized with me in that he wrote me a long kind letter, finally saying that as to the commandment of the Lord for their institutions &c., “There is no Scripture for them; the best we can say for them is the ends justify the means.” What! These institutions for the sake of which you severed the sacred bonds of church-fellowship with good, humble, devoted brethren—for which contrary to the law of Christ, you tore churches as living bodies, bleeding apart; that you have no “thus sayeth the Lord?”—no law of the gospel?--no authority from Jesus Christ for their establishment or adoption? That is the best thing you can say for them since “there is no Scripture for them” is that “the ends justify the means! “ Why, the work, name, nor law of Christ needs nor admits a means to justify them. The Lord of heaven had no need to propose ends that man’s inventive ingenuity must needs supply a means to justify. Indeed the law of the Lord, as his work, is perfect; it needs no addition;--it admits of no supplement; and woe to him that would do either! Rev. 22-19. The Scriptures of the New Testament contained the gospel or law of Christ; and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good things.” 2Tim 3:16. And a law of the gospel is that in the mouth of two or three witnesses everything concerning doctrine and practice shall be established. Now, remember, this includes all good works; then if these missionary works are good or gospel works, they are thoroughly furnished—they have two or three witnesses at least; that is, Scriptures authorizing and establishing them as gospel works: for only gospel works are good works. Therefore, since they are not at all furnished, and must resort to men-invented ends to justify them as a means, we must conclude they are contrary to Christ: for what is not for, is against him. Thus, with such arguments as the above I refuted that of those preachers; and finally told them I feared I must leave them. They told me to believe what I pleased and stay with them.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 October 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.