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THE OLD SCHOOL DEFINED

FORASMUCH as we have discovered in this city, and elsewhere, a spirit of inquiry into the reason of our being distinguished by the above cognomen, we esteem it not only our duty, but also our privilege, to define our use of the terms; and in doing which, we will briefly state what we conceive to be the real difference between the Old School Baptists and the New School.  Before we enter upon the definition proposed, we will notice negatively a few things which we do not intend by the term.

First.   We do not intend to convey the idea that we advocate any system of mere scholastic divinity whatever.
Second.   Nor do we wish to be understood that from the poverty of bible language we are driven to the necessity of coining words with which to distinguish ourselves from others, as it is only in consequence of the general perversion of the language of the sacred scriptures by nominal professors, that it becomes necessary for us to submit to such names as the scriptures do not furnish, in order to be known in distinction from those who have stolen the livery of primitive saints to serve their own masters in.
Third.   We do not by our use of the term design to be understood as dissenting from the ground which has been occupied by the Regular Baptists from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, but the very opposite, to wit; that we are precisely what all orderly disciples have been in all ages of the gospel dispensation.

With these brief preliminary remarks, we will proceed to our explanation.  The time has been, gentle reader, when the name of a Baptist was an index to the character, faith and practice, of those who bore it; but that, alas! is no longer the case.  We have lived to see the day so long predicted by the apostles of the lamb, in which many should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and by reason of whom the way of truth should be evil spoken of; and in the dreadful apostasy, it has become a matter of no inconsiderable difficulty to know by the profession of a man what he does in reality believe.

At the present moment we have among us, bearing the Baptist name, those who hold nearly every sentiment which has been esteemed heterodox and corrupt by the Baptists of past ages - Baptists who, like the idol gods of which we read, have come newly up.  Witness the Seven-day Baptists, the Free-will Baptists, the General or Open-communion Baptists, the General-atonement Baptists, the Fullerite Baptist, the Campbellite Baptists, with many other kinds, whose sentiments are as discordant and confused as that of their more ancient brethren, the builders of Babel.  The above classes, with but very few exceptions, all are united in regard to the popular system of modern benevolence, however much they may differ on other subjects, there are at least some popular idols at whose shrine they can unitedly prostrate themselves.  Nor are there many points in doctrine, or in practice, by which the Primitive Baptists have been distinguished, which some of the above named classes do not openly oppose.  And hence it is that we who cannot conscientiously depart from the faith of the gospel, and the order of the Lord's house, are compelled to draw the line of demarcation between them and ourselves; and as we can no longer be known in distinction from them by the e simple unqualified name of Baptists, rather than to appear amalgamated with them, we are content to be known as Old School Baptists.

The time and circumstances connected with the appending of this discriminating qualification to our name as Baptists, were these:  After the missionary phrenzy had broken out among the Baptists, and the poisonous infection, like an epidemic, had spread itself throughout our churches, and when those laboring under the dire contagion turned away from the word of the Lord, (as their rule of faith and practice) and were turned to fables, those who had remained steadfast in the apostles' doctrine, and had not yielded to the winds of doctrine which had blown tempests of fire-brands, arrows and death among our churches, published a circular to all old-fashioned Baptists n the United States, to convene with the Baptist Church at Black Rock, MD., to take into consideration the trying state of Zion, and to encourage each other in maintaining that form of sound words and practice handed down to us by the grad Head of the church and his apostles, in opposition to the new schemes and inventions of the day, which, like the flood which the dragon poured forth, seemed to be calculated to carry away the woman (church) which had brought forth the man-child who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron.  At the time and place appointed, the chosen tribes went up, the old veterans of the cross assembled - not to organize a convention for legislative purposes, nor to constitute themselves a standing body, in distinction from the church of God, but to worship god, to unite in solemn prayer to God, in behalf of his afflicted Zion, and to take sweet counsel together; and having met, a free interchange of sentiment was obtained, which happily resulted in a unanimous resolution to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and not to be entangled with the yoke of bondage which was then being applied to the neck of thousands who had once ranked with Regular Baptists.  On that occasion it was, upon mature deliberation, thought advisable that we who could not fellowship the new doctrines which had gained among those of our profession, or their newly invented machinery for converting the world, should from every brother that walketh disorderly withdraw ourselves.  And being at the same time unwilling to desert the Baptist name because others had perverted it, or "to give up our choicest flowers because spiders could pervert their sweets to poison."  We selected from the list of epithets which our new-measure brethren had most bountifully bestowed on us, that of "Old School Baptists ."  We also at the same time prepared an address to our brethren throughout the country, in which we fully stated our views, and our objections to the newly invented institutions of the day; and in that address we did most solemnly admonish those of our Father's children who had been beguiled by the new divinity systems which were in being, to return to their Father's house, where there is bread enough and to spare; and warned them of the consequence of their forsaking the Fountain of living water, to hew to themselves cisterns which could hold no water.

In the foregoing remarks we have informed our readers how we came in possession of the title, "Old School Baptists," and that the school to which we allude is none other than the school of Christ, where Jesus our Lord by his word and spirit presides, and teaches his children as never man taught.  It remains for us to point out the difference more minutely between our order of Baptists and those who are in distinction from us generally known as New School Baptists; and we hope that every Baptist reader will, in reading the leading features of the two parties, be able to discover the which company he belongs.  Our object is not to make proselytes to our views; we want none with us except such as are so from principle; yet we desire so to present the real difference, that even the very babe in the kingdom may understand where he is and where he belongs.

The Old School Baptists believe, that God from eternity set his love upon his people, marked them out as the election of his grace, and ordained them to an inheritance of eternal life in Jesus Christ, who in accordance with the purpose and grace of God, in the fulness of time came into the world, was made under the law, to do the will of God, as it was written of him in the volume of the book.  And as this is the will of the Father, that he shall lose nothing of all that was given him, so he shall certainly raise them all up at the last day.  We believe that our blessed Savior has finished the work which his Father gave him to do, that he has saved his people from their sins, {Matt. i. 21} that he has borne their sins in his own body on the tree, has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and brought in everlasting righteousness for all those whom his Father gave him; so that by his stripes they are healed, and by his one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified, or set apart to him in the covenant of peace; and consequently 'All that the Father giveth him shall come to him; and he that cometh to him he will in no wise cast out."  And on the other hand we as firmly believe that "No man can come unto him, except the Father who hath sent him draw him;" and consequently we believe that he pillars of heaven are no more firm than the salvation of all the redeemed of the Lord; and that all the arts, sciences, machinery, wealth, power, influence, or industry of men or angels, can no more increase or diminish the number or safety the people of God, than they can tear him from his throne, or change the thing that has gone forth from his mouth.

The New School Baptists generally profess to believe also that the doctrine of the above paragraph is true, and they often tell us that they believe it as firmly as we do; but yet they do not believe that it is profitable to preach it.  It will, in their judgment, discourage sinners, and lull the saints into a state of carnal security; it will hinder revivals of religion, and stop the progress of the work of the Holy Ghost in the conversion of sinners; hence they do not feel disposed to preach it, nor to countenance those who do.  We say the New School generally hold such language; but some there are, and not a few, who boldly deny the doctrine in toto, and assert that the death and intercession of Christ saves no one; that he did not die for sinners, but for sin; and that he saves none, but has rendered it possible for all to save themselves!  But still there is not so great a discrepancy between these, as one would at first imagine, for even those who in words admit that Christi is ALL, and in ALL, do in works most positively deny him; for the new theory is, that the economy of salvation is a system of means, and that the benevolent (so called) institutions of the day are admirably calculated to enlarge the Messiah's kingdom, and save many, who without these would perish eternally.  Thus, for example, Judson wrote to the American females, saying, "Some, yea many precious souls might have been saved from the quenchless fires of hell, where now they must suffer eternally, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable," &c.  and to this sentiment of infidelity New School Baptists of America have most heartily responded from the pulpit and from the press.

Now if the most orthodox of their party can countenance Judson, and contribute to support him in this his presumptuous stand against the doctrine of God our Savior, and revile us, as they have done most shamefully, for exposing the corruption of the sentiment, can they still consistently believe that salvation is of the Lord?  To admit this heresy, what do we not admit?  If some are now in hell, who might have been saved by the ladies' superfluous dress or jewels, these either were or they were not of the elect of God; they were or were not redeemed by the blood of Christ; they were or were not subjects of eternal love, electing grace, and of the intercession of Christ; hence, if they were of the elect, their being now in hell shows that election saves no one.  If they were redeemed by Christ, it shows that the blood of Christ has no power to save.  If they were the objects of Christ's intercession, if follows that the Father does not always hear Christ, or that eternal love, or electing grace, or both, or all that god has done for the salvation of his people, was infinitely inferior to the vain trappings of our American ladies, since these sinners were interested in all this work, and are in hell notwithstanding all.

Or if our new lights will try the other horn of the same beast, and say that those many precious souls, whom Judson says are in hell, and who might have been saved there from by our ladies, were not eternally loved, chosen, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and that they had no part in the intercession, grace or righteousness of Christ, it follows then, of course, that our New School Baptists do not believe that salvation is of the Lord; seeing they hold that souls for whom he has made no provision in the economy of redemption through the death of Christ, might have escaped the damnation of hell by the sovereign virtues of the ladies trinkets.

Again, the Old School Baptists believe that the scriptures of truth are a complete and all-sufficient rule for the christian's faith and practice.

But the New School believe that the scriptures contain only a general outline of the christian's duty; and the are required to set their wits at work to fill up the blank - see report adopted by the General Convention of New School Baptists, at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1833, as copied in the "Signs of the Times," Vol. II. No. 8.

The Old School believe that God has chosen, appointed and ordained al the means which are necessary for the accomplishment of his purpose in the salvation of his people, and that he will assuredly bring them all into requisition in his own time and way.

But the New School hold that the devising of means to accomplish the work of the Lord, and the bringing of them into requisition, is left with them.

The Old School Baptists believe that the church of the living God, the ground and pillar of the truth, is the only divinely authorized religious society on the earth; and that this community is, according to the word of the Lord, composed exclusively of baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ; and that all other professedly religious societies in the world are not up by men, without divine authority, and are consequently anti-christian.

But the New School believe that it is well pleasing to God and calculated to advance his cause, and that it will augment the number of his elect, &c., for them to go on without precept or example, and institute a number of professedly religious societies, which shall be composed of such as have money, and will pay a stipulated sum into their hands, without distinction of character - none being rejected but the poor and moneyless; and that it is their right to organize such professedly religious institutions, upon constitutions which would exclude Peter and John, if they were destitute of gold and silver as they were at the beautiful gate - Acts iii. 6; or even our Savior himself would be constitutionally debarred from a seat, if he should come to them as empty handed of the glittering dust as he was when called on to pay tribute.

The Old School believe that it would be a violation of the law of Christ as expounded by the apostle James, for us in our religious society to give the preference to the rich, or say to him that comes in goodly apparel, Sit thou here in a godly place, and to the poor man, Sit thou at my footstool.

But the New School will sell birthrights in their religious societies for a stipulated sum; to the poorer class, a simple membership for what they can pay; a life membership to him who can pay more; a directorship to him who can pay a still higher price; and Dr. Ely did go so far, when on a tour of religious mendicancy in Orange Co., N. Y., as to sell for twenty dollars, an everlasting life membership in the Sunday School Union, for a Mr. Powell, who had been dead at that time about two years; this fact was announced in one of the public newspapers of that county, probably with a view of inducing others to come and buy an everlasting religious inheritance for their deceased relatives and friends.

The Old School believe the great Head of his church has reserved in his own hands the exclusive right of calling, qualifying, sending forth, and of sustaining his ministers, of appointing to them the field of their labors, and the term of their service; and that all those professed ministers of the gospel who do not acknowledge Christ in this department of his government, are anti-christian, and are to be rejected from our houses and pulpits in that character, on pain of the displeasure of our gracious Prince and Savior.

The New School, however, are of an opinion quite to the reverse.  They believe that the commission given to the apostles by him who held all power in heaven and on earth, was intended for the church in general, and that even unregenerate sinners (provided they will give money) may unite in the execution of the functions of the great commission; and that the words of the commission, "Go ye," are to be understood, "Send ye."  Hence they feel themselves called on to form themselves into incorporate bodies, for the purpose of taking this part of the divine government out of the hands of Christ; and they hold it to be their privilege to call pious young men who choose to preach rather than to work, and after putting them through their theological machinery, ( a process requiring from three to seven years drilling) appoint to them their field of labor, and the amount of their hire; nothing doubting that one of these philosophical dunces or learned novices of their own production is worth at least one dozen such as the God of heaven has called, and qualified, and sent to the work of the gospel ministry.

Old School Baptists believe that the effectual calling and spiritual birth of all the ransomed of the Lord, is the work of the Holy Ghost alone; that it is the Spirit that quickeneth, and the flesh profiteth nothing.

But the New School believe that the conversion of sinners is a work which is to effected by the use of certain means lodged in their hands, and consequently that the flesh profiteth a great deal; but they will condescend to admit, that where the sinner proves too obstinate for them, they are at liberty to call to their aid the work of the Holy Spirit, never forgetting, however, to direct the Spirit when to come, what to do, and how to do it; and lest there might be some misunderstanding, they will generally arrange the sinners whom they have predestinated to life and salvation, upon consecrated seats, or anxious-benches; and when they have got all things in readiness, they will assay to notify the Spirit, and call him to finish the work which they have so graciously begun.

The Old School believe that the atonement made by our Lord Jesus Christ was for the elect of God exclusively; and that all for whom the blessed Savior died, shall and will assuredly be saved with an everlasting salvation.

But the New School are divided among themselves on the subject of the atonement; some of them holding that it was universal, and others, with Fuller, that it was sufficient for all mankind; yet considering the atonement, or word of Christ in the matter of saving sinners, a subject of minor consideration, they put it down in their list of non-essentials; and notwithstanding their differences, all unite in carrying on their work, agreeably to their general plan of operations.

The Old School Baptists believe it to be their duty to withdraw their fellowship and nominal connection from the New School, as from disorderly walkers.

But the New School remonstrate, and say, Only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach, and we will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel.

In the foregoing remarks we have stated some particulars in which the Old Fashioned Baptists differ from the New.

Reader, to which side do you belong?

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Alexandria, D.C., January 27,1837