THIS is truly a singular head for an article, but the subject to which we have to advert is perhaps no less singular.
John M. Peck, now associated with J. L. Waller, R. B. C. Howell & Co., in conducting the Banner and Pioneer, of Kentucky, has poured forth nearly three columns of foaming wrath upon the Old School Baptists in their Fourth of July number. He charges us with forgery in appropriating to ourselves the name “Old School,” and attempts a justification of the charge by alleging that the Philadelphia Association, the Old English Baptists, and some Welsh Baptists, have in some instances so far turned aside from the divine rule as to practice some of those things which we, as bible Baptists, debounce; and having from history found men in the Baptist connection, in England, Wales and America, from 1654 extending to 1801, capable of projecting and practicing such innovations on Baptist doctrine and order, claims the appellation of “Old School” as belonging to the practices which they advocate.
Having, as he appears to suppose, stripped off our covering and shown that we are not twenty years old, (and so the appellation cannot belong to us,) his benevolent soul (moved perhaps with compassion) has dealt out to us a volley of epithets; but as all of them, strung together, would make rather an inconvenient jingle, perhaps he only intends we shall wear them one at a time. Henceforth all who take John M. Peck as their oracle are to recognize us as the hyper-Calvinistic, Antinomian, Excrescence of a Party, a most unpleasant and cumbrous excrescence, Monstrosity, Snake Species, New Cohort, New Test Party, a mere fragment of a party, a few scattered fragments, a clan, not twenty years old, misnamed Old School Baptists, of the Lawrence, Beebe, Trott and Dudley stripe, Lickingites, base metal, deceptive, counterfeit, &c. How forcible are right words! And with what ample profusion has this learned and polite New School editor lavished on us those flattering titles! Well, we care but little what they call us. Our divine Master was called hard names; and for want of arguments the enemies of the cross have often resorted to a similar course. We only wish it recollected that the Old School Baptists (and particularly our paper) are charged with scurrility, and with using harsh expressions. Suppose we copy some of the above gentle, soft and charitable terms from this organ of New Schoolism.
As to the instances adduced by Mr. Peck, in which professed Baptists of by-gone days have turned aside from the good old way, they only show, if true, that there was then, as there is now, corruption in the nominal kingdom of the Redeemer; but the imperfections of those of former times can no more justify us in departing from the laws of Christ than the present corruptions of New Schoolism can justify those of generations to come in following their pernicious ways.
Who the legitimate successors of the Philadelphia Association, of the English Baptists, or of the Welsh Baptists are, is not the question with us; but the grand point is, Who are followers of the Lamb? Who are walking in the footsteps of the primitive church? Who are teaching for doctrines the commandments of men? These references to the history of Baptists of a few centuries past have been often met and refuted. We have often informed the New School that anything short of the apostolic age is too late to have weight with us. The foibles of professed Baptists three hundred years ago are entitled to no more consideration with us than those of yesterday. But as Mr. Peck says all genuine Old School Baptists were missionary Baptists, from their own mouths we will judge them. Let us sum up the testimony and strike the balance.
The Philadelphia Association, just seventy years ago, approved the establishment of Rhode Island College (now Brown University); directed collections to be made to it in all the churches; and all the ministers pledged themselves t& promote the object. In 1767 this venerable association sat in legislation over the churches, and supplied them with laws. concerning family prayer. In 1670 collections were made for certain students of Rhode Island College. In 1754, and subsequently, sent out missionaries under pay, viz: Gano, Miller and Van Horn. In 1775 seventeen shillings were contributed for Rhode Island College. In 1778 more money was collected for preaching the gospel in destitute places. Further testimony from this deponent, Mr. Peck thinks unnecessary; he will, we presume, now suffer us to cross-question his witness.
Question. By what divine authority or New Testament rule did the Philadelphia Association engage in these anti-christian practices?
Answer. This deponent saith not.
Q. Did the Philadelphia Association ever organize missionary, Tract, Education, Sabbath School, Temperance, or even Bible Societies, by selling membership, directorship, and other high sounding titles, to professors and non-professors) and by electing presidents, treasurers, agents, &c., until within the last twenty-five years?
A. They did not.
If the present race of New School Baptists are the regular successors of the Old English and Welsh Baptists, and of those of the Philadelphia Association of 1707, why have they, within a few years past, discarded the Old Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith, which was originally adopted by the Old English Baptists?
Will John M. Peck have the assurance to tell us that the present Philadelphia Association has not discarded the old published a new and improved edition - an altered edition, more congenial with the doctrines of the new order? We think he will not.
In looking over the April number of the Baptist Record, (so called) we are greeted with a copy of the speechifying of some of the great men of New Schoolism, at their spring anniversaries in Philadelphia; of which, as they will serve to help us out in showing the antiquity of New Schoolism, we will notice a few specimens.
Baron Stowe, of Boston, offered a resolution in favor of the Tract Society; and during his remarks in support of his motion, it is said adverted with peculiar feeling to the origin of the society; the honored names of Davis, Knowles, Staughton and Reynolds, who were engaged in it. They were all there then. But fifteen years have passed away, and all these are gone! Only the brother who first spoke and himself were now here of all its founders! Having assisted in rocking the cradle of the society, (how appropriate the idea to lull the little new comer,) in its infancy, he felt a very strong desire to see and to aid it now in assuming the manly attitude of mature years.”
New School institutions, like mushrooms, are soon matured; hence J. M. Peck may plead for the antiquity of Tract Societies as fifteen years of age. The American and Foreign Bible Society held her second anniversary also in Philadelphia last April; so we may venture to put down her age at about two years and three months. A very reverend set of digniare now engaged in rocking its cradle; but, poor thing, it must either be very weakly, greedy or ill-natured, for with all their rocking, it continues to cry, like the horsleech’s daughters. As for the old American Bible Society, which the New School Baptists have helped into being, and which they assisted to rock for several years, they have at length found out that it is an Ishmael; so they have weaned it and sent it forth into the wilderness.
The same paper from which we have collected the above items, being a kind of family record of New Schoolism, has put down the age of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society at twenty-five years. Mr. J. M. Peck, as we have noticed, very sneeringly asserts that the self-styled Old School Baptists (as he calls us) are not of lawful age, not twenty-one years of age. What will he say of this ancient institution at the very advanced age of twenty-five years, when he reads the following extract which we make from the report of its board of cradle-rockers, viz: “The time is not come to restrict our operations. The work is only begun; the laborers are few. From almost every mission the cry is help, and helpers are waiting to be sent. Let the advance be made. Let fervent unceasing prayer ascend to God, and prayer lead to effort,” (i. e., cradle rocking,) “earnest, united effort, that the treasury of the Lord may be full.”
The receipts of the Board of this institution for the year ending April 15, 1839, were 888, 240 73, and the expenditure for the same period $110, 190 74; and yet, like Pharoah’s lean kine, this gormandizing pet, with all their nursing, rocking, &c., continues to cry for help.
We might go on and give, from documents by them furnished to our hand, the birth, age and insatiable appetites of the Sunday School, Education (for the ministry) and Temperance Societies, and every other institution belonging to New Schoolism, and we should find that the most aged among them all has not yet numbered forty years; and the fullest fed among them have never been satisfied, nor is there the least prospect they ever will be. Their revenue now, we believe, exceeds the expense of our national government. So much for the antiquity of New Schoolism among the Baptists. The most ancient horn by which they are distinguished from the church of Christ is not yet thirty years old; yet they claim to be the Old School, and denounce the disciples of Christ as a “New Test Party,” to which epithet we would not object if they would not abbreviate it; we claim to be a “New Testament Party,” and the only test of fellowship we admit is that of the New Testament.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
August 15, 1839.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 516 – 521