Brother Beebe; Having finished the business part of my letter, I will write a few things on the subject of Baptism, as many in this country who are with the Missionary Baptists seem willing to unite with the Old School Baptists, but cannot see the necessity of being baptized again. Four things, as I conceive, are necessary to constitute a gospel baptism. First, a gospel church, standing firm in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Second, a regularly ordained minister of the gospel, in fellowship with the church. Third, a believer in Jesus Christ, making confession of faith in Christ. Fourth, the ordinance administered by the minister as above described, immersing or burying the believer in water, and raising him up. If either of these are lacking, no matter about the motives or feelings of the subject taken through the form of baptism, it cannot be gospel baptism. I think there is no mistake that in the division of the Baptist denomination in this country within the last half century, a large majority of them departed from the faith of the gospel, which they manifested by following the doctrines and commandments of men, which things indeed had a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, [or church, bringing in distress and division] not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh. Col.2:22,23. Such as Bible, Tract and Temperance Societies, Missionary Boards and Conventions, selling for money membership. Theological Schools to educate ministers, to better qualify them to preach what they call the gospel. Sunday School Union, hiring men to preach at stated salaries, as domestic and foreign missionaries, claiming for their object, by the use of means in the hands and at the control of men, the evangelization and salvation of the world, all of which are without precept or example in God’s word. Therefore with them the first and second requisitions for gospel baptism are lacking, namely; a church standing firm in the apostles’ doctrine, and a sound ministry. These being deficient spoils it all! In making offerings upon Jewish altars, if they had the right altar, and the right kind of offering, yet if one of another tribe apart from that of Levi went in to make the offering, it could not have been accepted. If any one thing were lacking, and not as God had ordained and directed, the priest, the offering or the altar; all would have been offensive and insulting to God, and unprofitable to the people. Even so in baptism, the subject may be a believer and entirely sincere, the mode of putting under and raising up out of the water, yet if the church and ministry are in disorder, it is naught in God’s esteem. But say some; They continue the same mode of baptism, and the same manner of communion, and that ought to be sufficient. With the same propriety we might conclude baptism would be right administered by a minister who with other members had been excluded for unsoundness in faith or disorderly conduct, but still claimed to be a gospel church, receiving and baptizing all they could influence to join them, and taking the communion in the usual way. In such a case could the church from which they were excluded recognize their baptism and communion as in gospel order? If so, the church ought to confess to the excluded party, and re-unite. In the distressing division of the Baptists, it was equal to exclusion both ways. The fellowship was destroyed and the communion broken. They could not walk together, because they were not agreed. Hence since that time what each have done in religious devotion, receiving and baptizing members, &c., cannot be considered by the other as gospel order. We have never recognized anything they have done since the division as being done in gospel order, because we know, with God’s word in our hands, that they have departed from the faith. And they know we have not; and with all their complaints against us, they have never, to my knowledge, charged us with unsoundness in the faith; and therefore they recognize what we do in receiving and baptizing members as good order for them; and so do other denominations.
To any child of God troubled on the subject of what is called re-baptism, I will propose a few questions. Was the people you joined in gospel order when they received and baptized you? If nay, would it be a disgrace to you or dishonoring to God for you, since you have found out your mistake, to go to the church that has and still does stand firm in the faith, and unite with them, just as though you had made no public profession? Will you, through fear of being reproached, and to escape the mortification and self-denial to be undergone, deprive yourself of the answer of a good conscience before God, and of the company and christian fellowship of those you love in the Lord, and suffer out the remainder of your days in Babylon, or confusion of mind? God yet has a people on earth who are contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and they will have nothing to do with the doctrines and commandments of men.
O that all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity may be gathered together, and live and walk in brotherly love and christian fellowship.
Yours in love,
Near Lexington Georgia, May 29, 1871.