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It has been the pleasure of God to withhold from the curious of the world a history of his church from the apostolic age to the present time. While all the various branches of anti-christ, including the mother and all her harlot daughters, have commanded the admiration of the world, and by alliance with the kingdoms of the earth, patronized by empires, thrones and dominions of the earth, defended by mighty armies in the field, courts of Inquisition, with all their implements of cruelty, with wealth and worldly influence to give them notoriety; the kingdom of our God and his Christ has not come by observation; for “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nearly all Ecclesiastical history for the last eighteen hundred years has been written by the enemies of the true church of the living God, all of whom have given about as unfair and untruthful accounts of the church of Christ, as is generally given at the present time of the Old School Baptists by those who advocate the doctrines and measures which have, like some of the idols mentioned in the scriptures, “come newly up.” For many centuries all truthful history of the church has been suppressed by persecution, and the writers on whom we might rely, with their records, have been committed together to the flames. In wading through the labyrinthian volumes of Ecclesiastical history, anti-christ is presented as the church, and the true church is only incidentally pointed at, and alluded to from time to time by way of reproach, and grossly misrepresented. Her real track is only found by marks of violence and blood. From such data as historians have supplied, but little more of the real history of the gospel church can be collected, than what brother Moorhead has embodied in his short communication.

It is very evident, as shown by our brother, that the church of Christ in the apostolic age, having none to contest her identity, required no distinctive, denominational, or adjective words to distinguish has as the bride, the Lamb’s wife. In the scriptures she is called the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood. She is also spoken of as the elect, the kingdom of heaven, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, &c. Her peculiar characteristics by which she should be known throughout all time are very clearly delineated by the pen of the inspired writers, and by these her identity should be known. That her identity should be contested by the mother of harlots and her prolific brood, was anticipated by those who were inspired to predict the advent of “that wicked,” whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Instead of leaving the children of God to rely on uninspired historians to point out to them the church of the First Born, God has put on her certain distinguishing marks, which shall never be found on any of the spurious organizations that shall ever arise to contest her identity. We have but to examine the New Testament to find the unmistakable marks by which God has distinguished her from all other religious organizations. In coming to the scriptures as a standard, we will freely concede, that if in all, or among all the religious sects and denominations on earth, the true church of Christ can be found, outside of what is at the present time known as the Old School, or Primitive Baptist church, then we are not the church of Christ; and if we are the true church, then all others are false and spurious.

On this vitally important subject we have a sure word of prophecy, to which we do well to take heed. First; we know that the gospel church which was organized on the Day of Pentecost was composed exclusively of baptized believers. Quickened by the Spirit which was poured out at that time according to the prophecy of Joel, they were pricked in their hearts, and made sensible of their lost condition; they pricked in their hearts, and made sensible of their lost condition; they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The gospel of Christ was preached to them, and they that gladly received the word were baptized, and added to the church. They were believers, for they continued steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, which they could not have done if they were not believers. And the Lord added to “the church” daily of such as should be saved. They were then called the church, and at this day they would be called the Baptist church, for none were admitted to the apostles’ fellowship but such as were steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and were duly baptized, and these exclusively, who also continued steadfastly in breaking of bread, and in the prayers and devotional exercises of the church of God.

Second. The doctrine of the apostles which was preached on that day, recognized the foreknowledge and determinate counsel of God in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his resurrection from the dead, and exaltation to his Mediatorial throne as the Head over all things to his church, and through him the salvation of all for whom he laid down his life, as embraced in the promise which was unto them, and unto their children, and unto all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Third. This primitive apostolic church were by the divine command of Christ, in the commission given to them, taught by the apostles to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded them, {the apostles,} no more nor any less was ever to be observed religiously by the church of God, than simply what Christ, the Head of the church, had commanded the apostles to teach them to observe.

In all subsequent ages of the church, in every part of the world, those who bear these indelible marks shall be known as the church of Christ, while all religionists who do not bear them are denominated in the scriptures as anti-christian.

Soon after the apostles’ days, a system of means was instituted for augmenting the number of disciples, by catechisms, and other human devices, in disobedience to the laws of Christ, by which the number of nominal professors was greatly increased; innovations upon the strict order as taught by the apostles were multiplied, until the great apostasy which was predicted, I Tim. 4:1-5, was most fearfully realized, and the party departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, were largely in the majority, and claimed to be the church, and persecuted even to the death those who still bore the essential characteristics of the church of God, by still continuing steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. The apostate party was soon patronized by Constantine and other princes and monarchs of the earth, who by pains and penalties, proscription, tortures and death, attempted the extermination of all who refused to regard this seven headed and ten horned beast, as the Holy Catholic, true apostolic church. And the church, composed exclusively of baptized believers, who refused to receive the mark of the beast, or his image, or the number of his name, were driven by persecution into obscurity, into the wilderness, where God had provided for her a place to be nourished for a time, times, and the dividing of time, from the fury of the beast.

All the Protestant denominations on earth at this time trace their lineage to this apostate mother, and their descent from her is confirmed by the testimony of the scriptures. But the church of the living God has always from her organization, whether in the wilderness or in open manifestation, continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and always will bear the same discriminating marks, which shall distinguish her from all other religious orders or denominations.

To every honest enquirer after truth we will say in conclusion of these remarks; If you would know which if any of those of our day who profess godliness are truly the church of God, try them by the only infallible standard. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isa. 8:20.

The Old School Baptists are charged with opposition to Missionary Boards, Sunday School Unions, Tract Societies, and many other modern institutions which are popular in almost every other religious denomination; try us by the apostolic pattern, and if it can be shown that the church at Pentecost had Mission Boards, or funds, or any of the other institutions which we reject, then it will be clearly apparent that we have departed from the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. And so also let our doctrine and order, our faith and practice, be fairly tested; for only so far as we conform to this pattern have we a right to claim that we are the church of the living God, the ground and pillar of the truth.

Middletown, N.Y.
August 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe