MR. SANDS, of the Religious Herald, Richmond, Va., in remarking upon a letter of Mr. John Ogilive, says that “Winchester, the sixth town in the state (Va.) in commercial importance, and the seventh in point of population, has never had a Regular Baptist Church. A small anti-mission body has existed for several rears, exercising no influence on the community, and has now we presume become extinct.”
It would seem from this extract that no church is considered regular unless she unites in the missionary operations of the New School Baptists. We believe the Baptist Church at Winchester is among the oldest churches in the State of Virginia, and for more than half a century has been recognized as a member of the Ketocton Association, and at the last (77th) session of that body represented eighty-four members under the pastoral care of Eld. Wm. Marven.
If modern missionism is to be the test of regularity, what claim had the primitive churches of our Lord Jesus Christ to that distinction? Or, what claim had any church in the State of Virginia to the standing of a regular Baptist Church forty years ago? According to the standard of decision set up by the New School party, there were no regular Baptist Churches in the apostolic age – none until the missionary touch of the nineteenth century was given by the inventive genius of men.
If the Baptist Church at Winchester has exercised no influence on the community, how has she provoked the wrath of the New School? Why did their hired mendicant, Crane, complain of their existence in a late number of the Religious Herald?
Mr. Ogilive publishes that the meeting-house of the Old School Baptist Church at Winchester has been recently purchased by Mr. Joseph Baker, a clergyman of the New School order; and the editor of the Herald seems to exult in the embarrassment of the church which compelled them to sell their meeting-house to cancel the debts that were held against it. So much for New School benevolence. We doubt not that they would gladly dispossess every Old School Church in the United States of its place of worship, if it were in their power. Mr. Baker has hitherto professed to be an. Old School Baptist himself, but has uniformly acted with the New School party, and by his tact at changing his colors, has been able, to some extent, to sow discord among some of the members of the Winchester Church. The discords produced through his instrumentality, have unquestionably contributed largely, if not entirely, to the production of the embarrassment of the church, which has compelled them at length to relinquish their meeting-house.
But let not the New School exult; let not the disciples of Jesus despond; God will overrule this event and all others for the good of his people, and the declarative glory of his great name. The New School propose to hold a protracted meeting at Winchester, and to have it conducted by some of their most efficient spirits; they will undoubtedly make converts enough to form a party, and if there be any rotten materials in the old church, the new party will present such attractions as will be likely to draw them out; while the depression of the old party, being driven from their old place of worship to hold their meetings in. private rooms or in the open air, will favor the sifting, and render the church, more pure The line of discrimination will be drawn between those whose faith stands in the wisdom of men, and those whose faith stands in the power of God. We rejoice in the stability manifested by the church in her hour of trial, that she will give up her meeting-house and suffer reproach rather than yield the ground of truth, or sell her order for the smiles of the enemy or golden bribes which are held out to her. Let the saints not be disheartened: “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion that cannot be removed.”
New Vernon, N.Y.,
November 1, 1843
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 351 – 353