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Written by R. Anna Phillips   



The Missionary Baptists called the Primitive Baptists anti-missionaries. From which I had supposed they (Primitives) were opposed to the spread of the gospel. But I found this a mistake; and that they were not opposed to missionaries called, qualified and sent of God, and as such authorized and sustained by the churches, as were the Apostles; but to those after the manner and method of their outside new-made systems. Their mission work must be church-work. Therefore the Primitives were first called anti-missionaries in the general acceptation of the term as opposing these outside methods. Christ was not opposed to the law of Moses; but to the pharisaical interpretation thereof: and while magnifying that law in true interpretation and appliance, the Pharisees denounced him as opposed to Moses. Just so the Missionaries denounced the Primitives as opposed to Missions.

I found also that after setting up as an independent church they claimed the Primitive or old school Baptist history. The Primitive characteristics as abiding in the unchangeable gospel will ever be the same, however their name may be changed--as changed it has been through the ages. The Missionaries had departed from this unvarying standard. And how they could renounce a church as denouncing her main characteristics and then claim her history is a mystery to me unaccountable save the necessity of pretending to trace back by some history. Yet one in reading Orchard’s history of the Baptists--their adopted Standard--would never be reminded of the Missionary Baptist. The church portrayed by Orchard excluded “inventions of men” and “all philosophical subtleties, and hence all these missionary auxiliaries and systems, &c., &c., are most emphatically denounced; and the word: of God declared to be her one only rule of faith and practice: Every one familiar with his history knows how fully and truly the Primitive Baptists correspond in all these distinguishing characteristics; and that they find answer in them only. And, though manifest in spirit long ago, the principles comprising these issues--these “inventions of men” did not result in a separation till a few years back, when the Missionaries set up as a church and claimed a. history of eighteen hundred years, though that history condemns them and declares for the Primitives as “yesterday, today and forever;” the same in faith and practice and holding to the scriptures—how old fashioned and behind? as her only rule of faith and practice. And these evidences never were, nor will be found save in the true church of Christ.

Besides, another Bible evidence of true identity is that the church is denominated a Remnant. Isa. 1: 9; Ez. 3: 8; 2 Rom. 11:5. Also she has in her fold not many wise, rich or great men of the world. 1Cor. 1:26; Mat. 11:25. What would the Missionaries do without these; however they condemn her? I found the Primitives a few, generally poor and ignorant as to the wealth and wisdom of this world, plain, honest unassuming lowly walking people, tenaciously adhering to what so ever the Lord commanded; discarding all else, having no fellowship with the world or institutions of the world; asking no favors of the “powers that be” save the Bible and liberty of conscience to worship God accordingly. And I observed this spirit and rule manifested a meek, lowly and quiet mind and heart that esteemed a brother better than themselves: and resulted in equality and unity forbidding strivings for the mastery. And having one law, forbade all changing of methods and operations, and hence, what men called advancement of the kingdom. Their one unchangeable law made them one unchangeable people in faith and practice. They found all the good ethics in outside institutions contained in the gospel law, and observed it as unto the Lord. For all of which they were called slothful and behind the age. As if Jesus was not behind this age, and everywhere men “spoken evil against,” as Jesus said would be.

And this was the people, who having sealed their allegiance to their one Lord and their obedience to his law whom now for their beautiful simplicity of implicit obedience to him only, the Missionaries offended, wounded, deeply to gain fellowship with the world that Jesus said was an enemy to him; yes, for the sake of these inventions, doctrines and commandments of men—these gilded auxiliaries as helpers to the work of Christ’s already finished salvation they severed these sacred ties. And thus, ‘however, put off the unsightly face of the general character of this true church; which must ever be that of Jesus while in the flesh--covered with shame and reproach; as it were, smitten of God and marred more than any--a dry root out of ground that has no comeliness that it should be desired by the World or worldly-minded churches. But this, is the character of the Primitive Baptists now and ever; who prefers giving this express image of Jesus; and so rejects these fleshly garments, as it were, that would not only hide this image, but defile and dishonor this holy seal.
And when established as a church so-called, she called to the world and the world heard her. But Jesus one with his church said “he that is of the world heareth not me.” In contrasting these denominations the difference was as great seemingly as between darkness and light. The wisdom from above, which among other things, is pure, peaceable, and without partiality,. Seemed to rest upon the one--the Primitives--as “the fruits of righteousness sown in peace to them that make peace.’“ While upon the other rested confusion and strife as springing from worldly gain, wisdom and glory as the prolific source of all bitter envyings striving for the mastery—for high and for salaried places, we see so common—So prevalent among them to-day. And where these are there is confusion and every evil work. James 3. Every charge laid to the wisdom of the world, I found among them. Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said “I thank thee, oh Father, Lord of heaven and earth that thou hast hid these things [of salvation] from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes”.

 Where are the babes among the Missionaries? There m no occasion to ask who is greatest here; it is the most worldly-wise and plausible among the preachers. And the richest in dollars and contributions among the laity. They say to the rich the great and titled “sit ye here in a high place;” while to the poor and ignorant, however pure in spirit, “sit ye there in a low place.” They take occasion of the gospel to gratify the lusts of the flesh--yes, use its liberty to gain filthy lucre. The lusts of the flesh are manifest; I saw among them hatred, variance, emulation, strife, sedition, heresy, &c. An apostle says “they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

But if all things else were right, their age their day of beginning or “setting: up” would condemn them; for they are but little older then I. Had Jesus been all these centuries without a visible church on earth? He said he would build it, and prophecy said it would be in the days of the Caesars: So it is not me :but the word of the Lord that condemns them; and me also if found identified with them, for thus I would be partaker of their deeds and penalties. How dare I stay with them, though loving and hating to leave them?

But as the only written difference between them is “Institution of the day,” let us apply their own professed test--the word of God and notice these separately.

A school established to educate and prepare men to preach the gospel of the Son of God., Remember, no fruit is good, or no work can be truthfully called a gospel work unless authorized by the Scriptures and done in faith. The Missionaries say the word of God is their rule of practice. Then these schools must be furnished with a gospel law for construction and operation. For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and thoroughly furnishes a law for all good works, that the man of God may be without doubt as to any work, whether for doctrine, reproof, correction or instruction, 2 Tim. 3:16. These schools are for instruction--to teach one how to preach the gospel. I have told you I had read the New Testament till I could almost repeat it “by heart;” but never have I been able to find one inference, even authorizing such a school. So that I affirm that instead of a “thus saith the Lord” for them--instead of being “thoroughly furnished,” they are not furnished at all. Them can they be of God and operated in faith ? Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, nor can please God. Jesus says a work is clean when it has “the washing of water by the word” or is according to, as sanctioned by the word. Can this be called clean when not thus sanctioned? Yet they dare call this, born aside from faith, a good work. The faith of Jesus always accords with the word of God.

But how could they live and thrive without them when most; of their churches are stylish and will not hire a preacher not thus regularly qualified? City churches must have them; and country churches imitate these more than Jesus. How vastly important not to have a gospel command? Anything so absolutely essential to the very existence of the churches should have some gospel, support from their only rule of faith and practice. But J. R. Graves said the best that could be said of them was that “the ends justify the means,” with the inference between the lines that he doubted their propriety.

Then let us notice the “ends” that justify this means: The worldly wise element in their churches, I repeat, requires worldly wisdom, for Jesus says, “it beareth not Me.,’ And this wisdom must be proportioned to that demand, Their membership comprises a high grade of intelligence that naturally requires a like hand to minister unto it. Pride and thirst for power and dominion and superior excellence is inherent to man. And these feeling and prizing the high position to which education has advanced them, and knowing nothing of, or suppressing that lowly spirit of Jesus that brings down every thing that exalteth itself, they will not come down, but have the servant come up to them--in educational attainments--and minister the gospel food in scientific platitudes and niceties, spiced with the richest grade oratory and eloquence. And thus the food is made to their fleshly appetite; besides being congenial, attractive and inviting to the higher intelligence of mankind; and thus renders them popular with the world and all fashionable so-called churches. So you see the importance--the paramount importance of an educated ministry--the ends that justify means. That there are some among them who are meek and lowly in spirit, is true, as that these are hungering for the simplicity the sincere milk, of the Gospel, yet, though they perish, these great, rich and wise ones must be ministered unto, for they are the supporting base of church and institutions.

Then you see the necessity of these schools to make preachers to order. But they say the gospel is taught to whom God has called to preach. If this is to say that God can call, but schools must qualify, I come in with Job, who said “I know that God can do everything.” If iris to say that God calls and ordains, that schools qualify, I answer, give me his word ordaining for anything so essential to the church, should have a plain unmistakable word of command. Or as without a command is it a chance “ends”?-or chance school left to chance hands? Is this why eighteen centuries passed before this church established them? What did the church do till then? Or is the science of the gospel hidden since in these schools? And now God may call, but the gospel--the power of God unto salvation--lies hidden and awaits the man to come--and find it by the aid of teachers. Your student doubtless wants it unto salvation. But when was this power committed to a school or made to hinge on education? Certain it is, if these schools do have and impart it, it is made a traffic--bought and sold.

And when made, what a make are some of their preachers? They do not even remind me of Jesus—or his disciples:--they do not seem as if standing in his stead crying “I beseech you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God.” Nor does what they preach seem “glad tidings to the poor.” Look at one dressed in the latest approved style for the clergy, with city airs and well guarded smile of complacent languor; look at his graceful self-satisfied leisure of clerical walk. How plain he tells you whence and what he is? And there is no mistaking the premises as to business, his perfect ministerial mould tell you plainly you must pay to get his services as pastor. For so much money secured to him he will serve you as pastor a year, each Sunday he enters the stand, reads a sermon and one installment of his gospel is paid in, and so on will he read his own or another’s sermon till the end. A minister of Jesus’ Gospel said “I certify you brethren that the gospel which was preached by me, is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Gal. 1:11, 12. Notice, not the bare call, but also, qualification to proclaim ,”when it pleased God to reveal his Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were Apostles before me(yet there was a theological school there). Then as to preaching--”A vision appeared to Paul in, the night---not in the light of a salary, there was a man of Macedonia saying “come over and help us” And after he had seen the vision--not secured the pay--”he endeavors to go to Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called him.” Act 16: 9, 10. Again when he was minded to go and preach to Rome, he prayed for a prosperous journey “ for I long to see you”--not the pay—”that ~I may impart some spiritual gift,” Rom. 1:9. He went to see them and impart some spiritual gift to them. How does this correspond with the other kind? Their request was to secure the pay before the journey began and was it to impart spiritual things, or to fill a monied contract? There must be a difference in their make, seeing the fruits are so very different. There is a great difference between the divine revelation of God and a theological school. Perhaps we would see as great between this school-made preacher and Paul if we could see them sitting together in the same stand; or is this too separate to be conceivable?

But Paul you say was already educated. Yes, and who objects to any preacher being already educated? If God wants a Paul, or Apollos, or Moses, or any one already educated, may he not call them? rather may he not have them educated by the world before he calls them? But the world is more advanced—enlightened--the age requires that the gospel in proclamation be advanced to meet these advanced- requirements. But the gospel, by revelation of Jesus Christ is like himself indeed, in a sense is himself, and is so immutable—the same “yesterday, to-day and forever.” And hence the Apostle says, “If we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than that we have received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8. Yet there are plenty who would pervert the gospel to gratify and feed the carnal appetite. Well, the element proven carnal must be fed. But Paul said, “Do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men I should not be the servant of Christ.” Who will dare assert our college-made preachers do not seek to please men? as also glory in the surpassing excellency of human over secret revelation, in preparing one to preach to the present generation? Yet, alas for the poor! If this were the gospel.. But God hath chosen the weak, foolish things of this world to confound the things of the worldly-wise and prudent; that no flesh should glory in his presence.” I Cor. 1: 25, 29.

But your men already educated must still attend a theological School and with other necessary things, must learn to deliver a set sermon before an imaginary audience until his teachers--judges declare his style, address, emphasis, articulation, gesticulation, and even set of countenance are perfected after the modern fashionable demand. Just to think of such modes and manners in connection with the gospel of the meek and lowly Son of God! Oh yes, already educated, but he must learn to adapt the gospel to the fashionable demands, or else not please men.

Paul was “set for a defense of the gospel” of Christ: and while his great learning--as God saw--as necessary to meet and contend with great men of different nationalities and languages, he says “my preaching was not with the enticing words of man’s Wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power;[of the spirit] that your faith [to the churches] should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. But he said, “we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, yet not the wisdom of the world, nor of the princes of the world, that comes to naught, but the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world was to our glory.” Theological Schools seem late. Also, he tells the brethren “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of man, the rudiments of the world and not after Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,--not much if any left for schools—”and this I say lest any man should beguile you with enticing’ words,” and “as allowed of God [not schools] to be put in trust with the gospel; even so we speak, not as pleasing men but God which trieth the heart.” (1Cor. 2 and Col. 2; and 1Thess. 2; read all). Again in speaking of his  ministry “‘written not in ink [as the school-made do] but with the spirit of the living God, not “on tables of stone [or paper as some do] but on the fleshly tables of the heart. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God [in receiving and delivering], who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.” 2 Cor. 2: 3, 6. So we see his education already was not a ministerial qualification: for men taught him that, and God this. How comprehensive was his schooling -as taught of God? But a school of men is the sufficiency of a DD, who must still toil and make up and then write down on paper to be sure of delivery.

 But the days of miracles are passed,--Paul was inspired, you say, now when one called is but a common man he must use all means possible and not presumed on the Lord. He that was set for a defense of the gospel meets that too, in saying “though we walk, in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God.” But these grasp instead the fleshly weapon of education found in schools of men--they war after it, and with it, nor will war at all without it:--they glory in it. While the same defender said “if I must needs glory he had many great worldly attainments I will glory in the things concerning mine infirmities.” In another place he said I will glory in the cross of Christ,” and in that particular sense wherein offenses came rejecting doctrines and traditions of men, that were so men-pleasing; for, he continues, “Christ sent me to preach the gospel not with the wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect: for the preaching of the cross to them that perish, is foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God and the wisdom of God;” who said “I will bring to naught the understanding of the prudent” (that prudence making provisions for the gospel, as these schools). Still the Jews require a sign and the Greek seek after wisdom, but an apostle adds “we preach Christ crucified unto the Jews a stumbling-block; and unto the Greeks foolishness;” but unto the Called of God both Jew and Greek, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God: because the foolishness of God [as apparently displayed in the weakness of his ministers] is wiser than men: and the weakness of God [displayed in the same weak vessel] is stronger than men: for ye see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath called the foolish to confound the wise; and the weak to confound the mighty: so that if one glories “let him glory in the Lord.” 1Cor. 1:19, 27. Does this description correspond to the Missionary or Primitive Baptist preacher?

 Then if the world by wisdom--human learning knows not God nor his  gospel, of what utility these schools ? Why resort to them ? Why build them ? As pretending to teach or to advance the true gospel, they falsify the word of God, as quoted; or rather we should say that falsities their pretensions. If to teach another gospel an Apostle says, “let them be accursed.” It does seem to me their object is to promote and please men--preacher and hearer--lest the cross be of effect. See Gal. 6: 12.

But you may say the above defense was particularly for that age and environments of the church. An Apostle meets this and says that it was for all time--”that in the ages to come he might [still] show forth the exceeding riches of his grace [over all works] in his kindness toward us,” &c.

Now, mind you, I do not object to, depreciate or disparage in the least education--as we are accused--I consider it a great blessing and advantage to the natural man; I am glad when God calls an educated man to the gospel. But what I oppose is the idea of educating one after he is called and to make him more proficient in preaching the gospel. If already educated, good and well; if not let him not confer with flesh and blood; and let God the more display his power and grace through him as unlearned. Else with all highly educated as a first requisite, it would in demonstration soon bring that of the spirit into insignificance as a second great factor in its power and proclamation. Also, the meanest impostor if he chanced to be the most profound in human learning, would represent the gospel, and perchance lead the church to heretical destruction; or if otherwise to glory and honor, the glory would redound--not to Jesus or the. spirit--but to education. Perhaps Jesus thought of such when he rejoiced in spirit and thanked his Father for having hid these things from the wise and revealed them unto babes.

No, let the spirit rule in all things pertaining to the church. Let God call and qualify the learned and the unlearned and Peter will preach as well and truly as Paul. When God calls an educated man, I think it is not so much to preach the gospel to the church as to defend her and it from outward assault. Besides a gospel preacher can but speak the things he has seen and heard, or from his own experience that none but God can give: and how closely in connection with the gospel; as how Jesus died, was bur. led, and rose again the third day, is “how that he was seen of Cephas” and others, as in heart, experience of the same? 1Cor. 15: 5. Thus he in a sense partakes of the gospel: and all direct from God, so that he is “co-laborer with God” in the gospel. While these school-made ones seem like--as it were, commissioned dealers in it, whose ‘main work is to secure their per cent. Years back it took seventy-five per cent of all mission money to pay the board men and agents to pass it along to the heathens.

You poor, hard-run widow, who having heard one of these agents with streaming tears tell of the awful condition of the heathens, and of the awful responsibility to God in not sending money to save them from eternal death, has stinted, and saved, and given your hard, earned dollar; did you know. they would take seventy-five cents of it?--The Primitive Baptists are anti-missionaries. In ancient times there were two who ran to bear tidings to the king: one by direct authority from the captain, the other of his own accord: which last out-ran the other; but when he got to the king he could give no definite tidings of the great battle; he had seen “a great tumult,” but “I knew not what it was,” he said. And the king commanded him aside. When the authorized runner came up he gave clear tidings of the battle. 2 Sam., 18. These Missionaries in preaching will tell you of the great battle fought and won by Jesus Christ, and that he was more than conqueror, and hence salvation is by grace according to the doctrine of election--an article of their written faith--and then turn at once and say that thousands are going down to hell for the want of money and missionaries to carry them the gospel, &c. If this does not convey the idea of confusion, or that they had only “seen a great tumult but knew not what it was,” I am no judge. And this missionary thus prepared and secured in ample salary, will sail away over the seas in the favor, pay and patronage of a powerful and rich denomination, with nothing to fear and much to enjoy. But it would seem from Bible precepts and examples that God’s missionaries always go in bonds--always in the prison-bonds of spirit, to which were often added literal bonds, secured by civil prosecution and persecution, as did Paul, the great pattern in all things, to ministers. In this age, more apt than any way, they---like Paul--will see a night vision or dream, which in detail stamps the heart-impression that thus the Lord bids them go: and these impressions growing deeper, “they endeavor to do so, gathering assuredly the Lord is in it.” Yet for all this they go in fear and trembling and bound in spirit. And as they go, one church helps to another, till sometimes they go thousands of miles and never lack. The Primitive Baptist are not anti-missionaries. Many are surprised to hear they ever went on missions. They do not publish it to the world; a work unto God never concerns itself to let the world know.

But, like the preaching of the true gospel--how foolish and superstitious these heart-impressions do appear to the worldly-wise! But God sent even his Son to Egypt by a simple dream. And more than any other way he visits his chosen in dreams. Not, however, that his ministers always receive instructions or impressions through dreams; but in a diversity of ways; yet ever by his spirit; and ever without glory to man or means. So when you see glory and honor redounding to men, you know them not of God. God’s operations are spiritual, and the natural mind cannot discern them; hence it is written “the Kingdom of God comes not with observation.” Ah yes! the spirit-impressions, these undefinable inward promptings and ceaseless groanings are unknown to the school-made preacher; he laughs at them he feels the advantage of his make and the possibilities of his commission too well for these foolish things; his gospel is a tangible speculation--no dreams no spiritual-impressions for him, too uncertain of pay; he holds auction and sells to the highest bidder; a sure and rich field, or none, for him; he has worked too hard for the applause and praise of men and money of the world, to be turned about by a dream.
And to see how hard he still works to retain, and still gain more of these, you should see him at one of their annual or biennial conventions in the city when public conveyances bring in so many of their great ones. Here in convention--the power to reduce or raise salaries. Have you been there and heard and seen the commotion, tumult, confusion and uproar that often lowered to jest and smart witticism and repartee in begging for money?--money to raise a salary to prop the Sunday-school--to strengthen a board--to help a mission to send the gospel, &c. Does such a convention with such principles, modes and methods, involving such a scene, find fellowship and agreement with Christ and his gospel? Suppose, as when on earth, Jesus had entered into the midst and had surveyed the scene. A work “unto the Lord” need never fear, but welcome him. Or suppose he should enter one of their magnificent churches on a Sunday morning; would the D. D., so far in advance of that old time, so richly and stylishly dressed in clerical robe, gladly invite him to a seat beside him in the stand? Or would the contrast be too great? Or can you conceive of Jesus, poor and plain, seated on the rostrum beside a stylish Doctor? If so, do they appear as fellow laborers in the same spirit of the same gospel? In scanning their respective daily walk and conversation do you note a difference?

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.