In our recent travels we were introduced to many persons as "Dry Baptists;" and as we have found them to be quite numerous, it has occurred to us that some notice should be taken of this hitherto neglected portion of our friends. But first, it may be proper for us to give a brief description of them. They are not called Baptists to signify that they baptize, as did John the Baptist, nor that they have themselves been baptized, as were John's disciples, or the primitive disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are not therefore entitled to the name of Baptists in any scriptural sense of the word; for practically they are not Baptists at all. Nevertheless by a sort of common consent, the term as qualified by the adjective dry has been used to denote a peculiar description of persons who evince a strong attachment to the people of God, attend strictly on the public ministry of the word, seem to receive the testimony of truth with avidity, are always ready to defend the cause of truth so far as words or arguments are concerned, can tell what is regarded by saints as a Christian experience, and can be satisfied with nothing short of the children's bread, and yet manage so as to keep out of the water. In their walk and conversation and in all respects except the ordinance of baptism and those privileges to which gospel baptism is a prerequisite, they are agreed in sentiment, sympathy, and feelings with the Baptists. They are somewhat deficient in confidence in regard to their vital interest in the blood and righteousness of the Son of God. They firmly believe that it is the privilege and duty of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ to be "buried with him by baptism," and really feel that it would be a delightful privilege to them if they could only see their way clear; but alas! When they would do good, evil is present with them, and how to perform that which is good they find not, but they find a law in their members warring against the law of their minds, and bringing them into captivity; and from all that we can learn from them, we are led to conclude that if they could be perfectly satisfied that this law of their members was slain, and that they should never be plagued any more with it, and that they were truly subjects of grace, and that they could do honor to a Christian profession, they would gladly obey the command of Zion's King, and be baptized and unite with his church.
Having thus briefly described the characters to whom the appellation at the head of this article is given, and informed our readers that there are many of them scattered over all our country, we will say something of the advantages and disadvantages of their rebellious course. They are not subjected to so much persecution and reproach for righteousness' sake as they would be if they were obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ. For if any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution; and of course, as they are living in disobedience, it is reasonable to conclude that they will escape at least some of the persecutions which the saints are subjected to. The faithful admonitions of the saints to church members when they walk disorderly are rather mortifying to the flesh, but all such mortification the Dry Baptists escape as they are not under the watch care of the church; and even the world will look very differently on their foibles if they make no public profession of religion. They will also be very likely to escape the charge of hypocrisy and of having a name to live when they are dead. These are some of the advantages, if they may be so called, which the Dry Baptists enjoy; but against these there may be some offset in the disadvantages of this rebellious course.
In contemplating the disadvantages, we shall find that the way of the transgressor is hard, for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and idolatry. He that knoweth his master's will and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; and we conclude that God's children who have experienced the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, who have felt the bitterness of sin, the fiery indignation and wrath of the law, and the efficiency of the Savior's blood applied for the remission of sin - those who have felt the joys of salvation and the love of God shed abroad in their souls do know from painful experience something about the stripes and chastisements which the faithful God inflicts on his children when they forsake his law and walk not in his commandments. They feel an uncomfortable consciousness that all is not right; something whispers to them that their course betrays a want of gratitude to God their Savior, and when they mingle with the children of God, they manifest a shyness as though they were intruding, yet their hearts seem to go out after the society of God's people. The language of their hearts is "Entreat me not to go back;" but the language of their practice is "Urge me not to go forward," and so between a will to do and a want of confidence or energy to obey the commands of Christ, they tarry long in their disobedience. As their rebellion is in Scripture compared to the sin of witchcraft, it often brings them on to a sort of "enchanted ground," where they "spend their money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which satisfieth not," instead of hearkening diligently unto the authority of Christ, eating that which is good, and enjoying the sure mercies of David. (See Isaiah 55:2&3.) What they are vainly laboring for they can never attain unto, for they seem determined to walk by sight, whereas God has ordained that his followers shall walk by faith. If they could see their way clear, that is, if their natural judgment could be convinced that there were no impediments in the way, that they would never meet with anything to cause them to regret it, they would at once ease their consciences by taking Christ's yoke on them.
What we have written above is about the Dry Baptists; our intention was to address a few words to them. And as we feel duty bound to preach to sinners, we know of no class of sinners to whom we can address ourselves with more propriety than those described above. But how shall we address them? Shall we call them brethren? We hope they are born of God, but Jesus has said, "Except a man deny himself and take up his cross and follow him, he cannot be his disciple:" and "If ye love me keep my commandments." We doubt the propriety of calling them brethren so long as they disown Sarah as their mother. We do not find it in our heart to call them reprobates, for we believe they are bought with a price and will ultimately reign with Christ in immortal glory. Well, for want of a more appropriate name we will call them by the name by which they are frequently designated.
Ye Dry Baptists, are you satisfied with the leeks and onions of Egypt? Are you willing to live and die in disobedience to him who has loved you and given himself for you? Have you ever reflected that Jesus your King has placed the ordinance of baptism as the very first command that is binding on heaven born souls? This command, being the very first enjoined, must be obeyed before you can obey any other. It is in baptism that the children of God take on them his yoke, and until they are yoked they are not qualified to serve him. Nothing that you can do religiously before you are baptized can be in order, for in the order of his government, that ordinance stands first. So long, therefore, as you neglect it after having passed from death unto life you are living in a state of open rebellion. May we not say to you as Laban said to Abraham's servant, "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without (Genesis 24:31)." If you have passed from death unto life, you belong to the household of God, and the church has a claim on you; whatever gift or talent for usefulness you may possess is the property of the church. Why then, will you persist in your wicked course, and rob the church of what belongs to her, and your own soul of the privileges which are prepared for you in the Zion of our God? And above all, why will you transgress the law which your covenant God has written in your hearts, and rank yourselves with the enemies of the cross of Christ? "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city; for without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Revelation 22:14,15)." Will you - can you - dare you say that those who are without are your companions, your associates, and your chosen company? Your practice says all this, let your practice then no longer belie the language of your hearts.
New Vernon, N. Y.
October 15, 1847
Elder Gilbert Beebe