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VIEWS ON I COR. 8:11 &
THE ORIGIN OF THE AMERICAN BAPTISTS.

BROTHER BEEBE: - Please publish in the SIGNS your views on 1st Cor.8:11, which reads thus: “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died.”

Also, tell me if there is any such thing as a history of American Baptists. It is said in my hearing, that American Baptists originated with Roger Williams. I have never seen a history of American Baptists. Do not know that there is any. If so, where can it be found? Yours truly,

Martha Linley.

REPLY. It would afford us pleasure were we able to give a clear, scriptural, and satisfactory solution of every portion of the word on which our views are called for, but such ability we have not. The scriptures are given by divine inspiration. Holy men have written as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost. God has spoken to the patriarchs of the Old Testament by the prophets, and unto us who are of the gospel kingdom and gospel dispensation, by his Son. But this revelation is not made to the carnal reason or natural intellect of mankind. To all our natural mental powers the scriptures are a sealed book, the seals of which cannot be removed, so as to disclose the spiritual testimony to the enquiring mind of any of the sons of men by any finite being in heaven or earth, or by any other than the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He alone, by his Spirit, can make us wise unto salvation.

We have many appeals for our views, to a very few of which comparatively we are able to respond. We are glad to witness a spirit of enquiry after the truth, but wish it distinctly understood that we can only give such views as we have, and all correct views of spiritual things must be supplied to us, as to all our brethren, by the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.

Sister Linley has requested our views on I Cor. 8:11. Also as to the origin of the American Baptists. The words of Paul to the Corinthians are these: “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died.” Corinth was a Grecian city, and the popular religion of that period was pagan. Yet God had raised up a church in that idolatrous place, composed of such as were sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints. Of those thus called, sanctified, or set apart as his peculiar people, as in all the churches, there were some that were weak and others strong, according to the diversity of gifts bestowed on them respectively for the profit of all. The apostle Paul had been with them personally laboring in the gospel for their edification and instruction. Yet situated as they were in the midst of pagan superstition and idolatry, it is not strange that in his absence many perplexing difficulties should arise, and they should require the salutary provisions of the law of Christ, that the strong should bear the infirmities of the weak. Illustrative of this, many incidents are recorded of this church, and among others that concerning the eating of meats that had been offered in sacrifice to idols. On this subject it seems they had appealed to Paul, and the words of our text are a part of his reply. His decision is that the meat is not affected by the idolatrous mummery of the pagans. The idols to which it had been sacrificed had no power to make the meat either better or worse, for they who had knowledge knew that “the idol was nothing in the world.” That is, it was not a God, it had neither power to bless or to curse. The meat was no less nutritious and healthy, nor was it improper for them who had this knowledge and understanding to eat of whatsoever was sold in the shambles, or market, provided that they did not eat it in honor of the idol, nor yet in such a way as to mislead the weaker brethren. They need have no conscientious scruples, or ask any questions, as to whether it had been offered in sacrifice to idols or not, for conscience sake. But great care should be taken by those who have understanding, lest the weak brother should be led to infer, when seeing his strong brother eating in the idol’s temple, that he was eating in honor to the idol, and thereby through his ignorance and misapprehension he should be misled to pay some homage to the idol. Christ died for all his members, as well for the weak as for the strong, and the apostle reminds us of this, that we should be the more careful in using our liberties which we have in Christ Jesus, that our indulgence should not become a snare or offence to the weak. If Christ loved them, and demonstrated his love by dying for them, we can well afford to dispense with even such privileges as are lawful, rather than to cause them to stumble or be defiled. The apostle, to illustrate, supposes a case. A brother that can discriminate, has knowledge, goes into the idol’s temple and sits at meat, or eats meat which has been offered to the idol; the weak brother seeing him so eating, concludes that his brother to whom he looks for instruction is eating in the idol’s temple, it cannot therefore be wrong for him also to mingle with the idolaters in their festivities; he is emboldened, and his conscientious scruples in regard idolatry are quieted, and his conscience is defiled.

“And through thy knowledge,” but in his ignorance, “shall thy weak brother perish.” Through thy knowledge, which he does not comprehend, nor understand, he plunges into idolatry, and thereby perishes. How? Not in the sense in which our Lord has said his sheep shall never perish; but as a member of a living body, when paralyzed, or activity is suspended, so that for the time being the member is not actively partaking of the vitality of the body, does not grow with the growth of the body, but dwindles, becomes inactive and offensive. Only in this sense can any member of the body of Christ perish, for whom Christ died.

The Gentile world at the present time is overrun with idol temples. Every religious organization, except the one apostolic church of Christ, is an idol’s temple. To illustrate our subject more clearly, we will suppose a strong brother who is well instructed in the truth, should be seen by his weak brother going into any one of these tents of wickedness, although the strong brother can discriminate between truth and error, and does not go to mingle with the enemy in their will-worship; but the weaker brother seeing him there, is emboldened to go and identify himself with them, and is thereby defiled and involved in disorder. Paul said he would not, at such expense, eat meat while the world standeth, if it should cause his brother to offend.

As to the origin of “American Baptists,” we are aware there is an organized body in our country who claim that national appellation. Of their origin and destiny it may not be expedient for us at this time to give an opinion, but we presume their father was an Amorite, and their mother a Hittite. But the church of God is not of this world; she is not reckoned among the nations, she dwells safely alone, her place of defense is the munition of rocks, the eternal God is her refuge, and underneath her are his everlasting arms. Her witness is in heaven, and her record is on high. She has no national appendage to her name. Her boundaries extend from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth. She has no geographical or political restrictions; she knows no North or South, no East or West. She is beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion, on the sides of the North, the city of the great King. The beloved John has testified that he saw her descending from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. This holy city, New Jerusalem, is a Baptist church; for none but baptized believers are admitted to her communion; but she is not an American, or European, Asiatic or Ethiopian Baptist church; for she is not of this world. Her members are redeemed out of every kindred, tongue and people, and are no more of this world, because their Redeemer is not of this world. But they are many of them at present sojourning in the world, having no abiding place or continuing city in any earthly locality. Some of them in the apostles’ time were driven from their homes by persecution, and went everywhere preaching the gospel. Some were in Pontus, Galatia, Capadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as some at the present time are in America, and in other parts of the world. Their glorious Founder and Builder was in the world, and the world was made by him, yet the world knew him not. None of the princes of this world knew him, for if they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; so his people, because they are the sons of God, “therefore the world knoweth them not, because it knew him not .” I John 3:1.

There are several histories purporting to give account of the Baptists, and in which much is said of the Baptists in America. Backus, Benedict, and others have published histories; but, so far as we have perused them, they have eulogized the popular tribes of Missionists and Arminians who seem to take pride in being recognized by the world as American Baptists, and but little more is said of the true church of God, than to incidentally allude to her, as a people hated and despised of all men.

In Brown’s Encyclopedia Of Religious Knowledge, on page 190, it is said that Roger Williams embraced the sentiments of the Baptists in Salem, Mass., in the year 1639, and founded the first Baptist church in the United States; but on the same page we are told that a Baptist minister by the name of Hanserd Knolleys settled in New Hampshire, and took charge of the first Baptist church in Dover, in 1635, four years before Roger Williams left the Puritans.

Not far from the same time, a Baptist church was organized in Wales, and embarked in a ship and came to this country, and located on a tract of land near the city of Philadelphia; of this church the Old School Baptist church at Welsh Tract, in Delaware, was formerly a branch. The old Kehukee church of North Carolina, if we mistake not, was organized at about the same time also. It is a matter of very little importance to the saints which of all these churches were organized first on the American Continent. Among the early emigration from Europe to this country were many Baptists; but their emigration and location has nothing to do with their origin as churches of Christ, any more than the scattering of the primitive Christians by persecution had to do with their origin as the people of God. The origin of all genuine Baptists, as an organized gospel church, extends back to the day of Pentecost. Then the Spirit of God was poured out, sinners were quickened and made to cry out, “What shall we do?” The gospel was preached to those quickened penitents, and they that gladly received the word, or gospel, were baptized and added to the church, and they continued steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.

There were many Baptists before the organization of the church on the day of Pentecost. The first record given of them states, “ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” The scriptures testify that he was a Baptist, and of his origin there need be no doubt. He came from God. Many were baptized by him in Jordan, and consequently they were Baptists. Our Savior also was baptized of John in Jordan, and said, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Yet though Christ and all his disciples were Baptists, still the Baptist church was not organized in her gospel organization until after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. They could not enter into the liberty of the gospel until they were redeemed from under the law.

Let it be remembered that Christ has but one church in earth and heaven. “His Beloved is but one.” She is his bride, she is the Lamb’s wife. Let it be proved that any one of the hundreds of religious organizations on the face of the earth is truly the church of Christ, and we shall at once withdraw our claim that the Old School, or Primitive order of Baptists, to which we belong, and identified with, which are all our hopes of immortality, are in any wise a church of Christ. If we are not identified as the church which was organized at Pentecost, our claim to be the church, bride, and wife of Christ cannot be sustained. Neither Roger Williams, nor any other man on earth, can be the founder of a church of Christ, nor of any branch of the church of Christ, for this good reason: If the church be not founded by and built upon Christ, as its only founder and its only foundation, it is not the church of Christ. If Roger Williams founded a church, it is the church of Roger Williams. Whatever may be its creed or practice, it is the church of its founder. If Roger Williams, when he left the Puritans, applied for membership to any legitimate branch of the church, and was duly received on profession of faith and baptism, then he was properly a member, but not a founder of that church, and if ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, according to the laws of Christ, in the fellowship of the church, then he was competent to preach and baptize, such as gladly received the word. But this would not be setting up or founding an independent church.

Luther and Calvin are called Reformers, and undoubtedly were, but they were reformed Papists. They never applied for admission into the church of Christ, which had existed in organic form and apostolic order from the day of Pentecost. Instead of coming into the church of Christ, they proceeded to found a new order, to be known as Protestants, and clearly answered to the figurative import of the beast which rose up out of the earth, {not the Jerusalem which came down from God out of heaven} and with Luther and Calvin as its horns, or strength, or founders. Although these popular reformers protested against many popish abominations, and contended for much of the important doctrine taught in the bible, still they exercised all the power of the first beast, and spake as a dragon. This reformed beast, with all its reformation is but a beast, and has constantly developed its hereditary lust for worldly power, state patronage, and papal relics brought out with and still retained by them.

Those who from time to time by apostasy left the church of Christ, and founded independent organizations, though some of them may retain some of the distinguishing sentiments and ordinances of the true church, are no part of the true church, for he that is joined to an harlot is one flesh. The New School Baptists of the present age, hating formed alliance with the daughters of Babylon in their doctrine and mission, and other humanly invented institutions, are one flesh with those with whom they have joined affinity, can no more be recognized as the pure and undefiled sister and spouse of our Redeemer.

We have dwelt more lengthily on this subject, as we deem it important that all should know that there has been no church of Christ founded on the earth since the God of heaven set up his kingdom, and set his King upon his holy hill of Zion, according to Daniel 2:44, and Psa. 2:6.

Middletown, N.Y.
May 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe