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SCRIPTURE AUTHORITY.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - As many seem desirous to ascertain the reasons why the Old Baptists are so very particular as to require Scripture authority, justifying the faith and practice of such as wish to unite with them, I have been impressed of late to write some on this subject, as I have noticed with great interest the movement of things among those claiming the name of Baptists for a little more than thirty years.

In the articles of faith, as published to the world, all, {so far as I know,} have an article like the following: “We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God and the only rule of faith and practice.”

Those who claim this article, and publish it as their faith, must either tell the truth, or a falsehood. Well, it is bad enough to tell a falsehood in a private way, and it must appear more ridiculous to publish it to the world, and the only way we can determine the faith of any people is by their works, for by works faith is made perfect, or manifest. The church of Christ, in its gospel organization, was made up of baptized believers, such as were buried with Christ by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead, so they also should walk in newness of life. This position, I presume, no one, claiming to be a Baptist will deny. Of course then, none are entitled to the privileges of the Church of Christ in her militant state, but such as have been regularly buried with Christ by baptism. But what does it take to constitute a regular gospel baptism? 1st. The Church must be not only by profession, but by practice, established in the faith or form of doctrine once delivered to the saints, as written in the only rule of faith and practice. Then a subject satisfying the church that they are born of God, and believe in Jesus Christ, is a fit subject for baptism, and then a regularly ordained minister of that church, or some other of the same faith and order, is a proper administrator to baptize, by burying in the water, such a subject, for the church, in the name of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A church thus established, with a minister, the subject of baptism, and the mode, constitutes a gospel baptism, while, if the church, minister, subject, or mode, is not such as I have described, it is not a gospel baptism; in this conclusion I think every consistent man will agree with me.

Then we will proceed to notice the condition of those claiming to be regular Baptist Churches, and ministers, in this day. Somebody is wrong, for a division has taken place, and the fellowship and communion is broken, a large majority claiming to be Missionary or Means Baptists. These, in mass, are advocating and supporting the numerous modern institutions, such as Bible and Tract Societies – Baptist Publication Societies – Sunday School Unions – Foreign and Domestic Missions – with their boards, and agents, hired and paid regularly for their services, and this whole machinery is dependent in its operation upon what they have begged or may beg, from all such as have been, or may be moved by their importunities, from pulpits, presses, through tracts, books, minutes, and in fact every channel of communication they have, continually crying, Give, Give! While this is the case, but few of their ministers will dare to speak against their popular institutions, knowing that they would incur the displeasure of many among them, who claim to be great, wise, and very pious. Yet all these, so far as I know, have the same article of faith published to the world. “We believe the word of God to be the only rule of faith and practice.” And now I will ask every candid reader {I will not say Baptist.} Do you find even a shadow of authority in the Scriptures for such societies or such proceedings? Can you believe them sincere while they profess and have published to the world that they believe the sacred Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice, and then preach doctrine and support religious societies or institutions unknown to the Scriptures? And while some among them are candid enough to confess that their whole mission machinery is unknown to the gospel they still move on gently with them. I will here give you a short extract from the writings of two very distinguished ministers, among them, Mr. N.M. Crawford of Mercer University, Ga., in the TENNESSEE BAPTIST of September 4, 1858, speaks thus, “In the split between us and our brethren, whom we call Anti-missionary. There was right and wrong on both sides. We were right in supporting Missions; they were right in maintaining that our mission machinery was unknown to the gospel.” In reply, Mr. Graves, the editor, says, “We, no more than brother Crawford, believe that our missionary machinery is scriptural or expedient. The scriptural plan is clearly exemplified in the New Testament, and it is simple and efficient, and the sooner we return to it as a denomination the better for us and for the world.” I am truly glad to read such candid and open confessions from such distinguished men, but would be abundantly more glad, if they would, like faithful soldiers of the cross, carry out by works what they have acknowledged by words. But I leave that for you, and them, to reflect on, and proceed to notice those claiming to be Old Baptist, or Baptists of the primitive faith and order. These are greatly in the minority, and quite unpopular, so much so that they are every where spoken against; and though popular denominations may differ in many things, yet they all agree in opposing the few Old School Baptists that yet preach and believe in the doctrine of sovereign electing grace – that salvation was secured to the heirs of promise with all spiritual blessings given them in Christ Jesus, in who they were chosen, before the foundation of the world, and that Jesus Christ has redeemed them by or with his own precious blood, and that they shall, every one, be called effectually, regenerated and born of God, and then persevere through grace, so that not one of them shall be finally lost. Therefore we suffer no uneasy hours, for fear some of the heirs of promise may be lost through our neglect, neither do we think it right or necessary for us to use means or invent plans, or societies, which the Scriptures do not authorize, for fear God will not do what he has promised. In so doing, we should show to every body that we did not believe God would do what he has promised, unless we did something he has not commanded or required us to do. Therefore, believing as we do, that the Scriptures is the only rule of faith and practice, we conclude the gospel church is the only religious society that Jesus Christ has authorized and established. He has given no authority for any auxiliary society. For this reason we believe God’s children are offenders or transgressors of the Scriptural rule to join or support by their presence, or money, any other society, or institution, claiming to be religious, or claiming to be auxiliary to the Church of Christ; and whenever professed saints individually or collectively, unite with or support any such professed religious societies or organizations, it places them immediately in gross disorder, and proves a departure from the faith, and that they are following the doctrines and commandments of men. In this disorderly state all they do, is in disorder; if they receive and baptize thousands, it is all wrong, because such subjects were received and baptized by a people in gross disorder; and no doubt many of God’s children, not knowing the state of things now existing among those claiming to be the Church of Christ in gospel order, have joined in with such as are advocating and supporting the unscriptural institutions of the present day, and afterwards become convinced of the error, or mistake they have made. Some such have come out like soldiers of the cross, told their experience, and been baptized with the Old School Baptists, just as though they had never before united with any people claiming to be the Church. This subject has caused considerable investigation, and many have thought very hard of us, for requiring such as have been received and baptized by the Missionary Baptists since the division, to join us by experience and baptism. This subject is easy to be understood when we remember that the division of the Baptist denomination, amounted to exclusion both ways. Of course, since that time, nothing one party does religiously can be good order for the other party. Every one knows, that if a Church excludes, say ten members, one of them a preacher, they go off and claim to be the Church, receive and baptize members, those baptized call for letters, and go and offer to join the original Church, they cannot receive them except by experience and baptism; for if they receive them by letter, they at once recognize as an orderly Baptist Church, those they had excluded for disorder. This case would equally apply to both parties of the Baptists since the division, each excluded by the other; therefore what one party does in receiving members, or anything else, cannot be considered by the other, as done in gospel order. I feel glad that to receive by experience and baptism such as they have received since the division is now an established practice among the Old School Baptists, for the following reason. 1st. It is strictly scriptural. 2nd. It prevents any from uniting with us, but such as do it of necessity, from a felt sense of duty to God. 3rd. It saves us from being crowded with unbelievers, the Missionaries have received and baptized since the division, in their many protracted and excited meetings, where they have generally received all they could persuade, or even scare up, to their anxious benches. In this way they have been able to boast of their numbers, and speak contemptibly of the Old School Baptists as being but few, and receiving but few comparatively. Yet the Old School Baptists have nothing to glory in, save the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, while they have stood aloof from every new and unscriptural institution, trying to discharge the duties their Lord and Master, has enjoined upon them, thus proving that they do believe the Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice.

Before I close this letter I will call the attention of readers to a few questions for their reflection. 1st. Is it possible anyone can believe the word of God, and at the same time believe that sinners are lost in heathen lands, or anywhere else, because they could not hear the gospel preached by one of God’s ministers? 2nd. Is it possible anyone can believe the word of God and at the same time believe that God requires his people to qualify and send ministers to heathen lands, or anywhere else to preach the gospel? 3rd. Is it possible anyone can believe the word of God, and at the same time believe that with the use of men and money enough, souls can be saved that otherwise must be lost? 4th. What is the difference between Catholicism, that claims to pray off sins, or pray departed spirits out of purgatory for money enough, and Protestantism, that claims to be evangelizing the world and saving sinners from hell by the use of men and money? Do not both alike deny the Lord Jesus Christ, and his efficacious power to save sinners? 5th. Can one believe the word of God, and at the same time believe that God designs the salvation of the world, but fails to accomplish it because men will not discharge their duty, or because sinners will not submit to him when he strives with them by his Spirit? 6th. Can one believe the Scriptures, and at the same time believe that the main object to be accomplished by the preaching of the gospel is the salvation of the world? 7th. Is it possible for people to believe the Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice, and at the same time believe it to be right to hire ministers to preach by the day, month, or year, and the amount to be paid, to be understood and promised before such hired preachers commence their services? 8th. Is it possible for any people to believe the Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice, and at the same time believe it to be right, after they have had the services of ministers to carefully neglect to administer to them liberally of their temporal things? 9th. Can a people believe the Scriptures and at the same time believe it right to fail to administer to the poor saints that are in suffering circumstances? 10th. Can a minister believe the Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice, who will hire himself to preach to a Church, or people, and have the amount to be paid him, made secure by promise before he preaches to them?

With the foregoing plain questions, I will hasten this letter to a close by saying that we have lived to witness the truth of what the inspired Apostles have written, in the following quotations: II Tim.4:3,4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Titus 1:10,11 – “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” II Pet.2:1,2,3 – “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of; and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

May God deliver us from every false way, and may he speedily rescue such of his children, as have been caught in the delusive net of anti-christ, and cause them to return to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, proving by their works that they do believe the Scriptures to be the only rule of faith and practice.

Yours in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, Nov.25, 1858.