Question 1. Are not Baptists amenable to one another, whether they be members of the same church or not?
Answer: According to the order and usage of the Old School or Primitive Baptists, all are amenable to Christ, and by his laws required to be subject one to another; each esteeming others better than himself. All who are recognized as members of Christ’s mystical body, are required to observe all the laws of Christ, which regulate or enjoin the relative duties of each towards all others, whether they belong to the same distinct church organization or not. If one who is a brother has offended a brother who is a member of another church of the same faith and order, being aware of it, or remembering that his brother has aught against him, he is required to leave his gift before the altar, and go and first be reconciled to his brother, and then come and offer his gift. And if one is offended with the other, he should go and tell him his fault in the spirit of meekness, and labor to restore his erring brother. If he fails to gain his brother by a private labor, he should take the next step; and if still unsuccessful, report the matter to the church of which the offending brother is a member, and submit to the decision of that church, whether it be the church in which one, or both, belong. Every distinctly organized branch of the church of Christ has jurisdiction over her own members. The member of one church cannot be tried by another church, without infringing on the rights and independence of the church to which the accused brother belongs. Yet the relations personally which one brother bears to another, as to relative duties, are the same throughout the kingdom of Christ.
Question 2. If I shall offend a brother of a sister church, or a sister church, is it not my duty to appear in person, and give satisfaction?
Answer: If a brother has committed an offence, whether it be against a church, a brother, or even against one who is not a brother, he should acknowledge his fault, make restoration, as far as possible, and ask forgiveness; but that this obligation requires in all cases the personal appearing of the offender before the offended, is not so clear, as cases may occur where a perfect satisfaction may be given by writing, or by messenger, or in some other way; besides it may not in all cases be in the power of the offender to appear personally.
Question 3. Is it Baptist usage to delegate their power to one or two members, especially where the whole church is concerned?
Answer: The church of God has no power to delegate. The churches of our order in the North, object to the use of the word delegate, for that very reason. We send no delegates to the associations, for a delegate is vested with power. We send messengers with especial instructions from their respective churches, to bear messages, and to transact such business as the church directs, and hold them amenable to the church for their faithful performance of their specific duties. In the apostolic church we have several examples of messengers being sent by the churches, but no delegates. When a difficulty occurs between two members of two or more churches, the churches must either meet in convention, or send messengers to effect a reconciliation, and report to their respective churches. Churches sometimes send messengers to look after delinquent members, and to bear messages of admonition, or to summon them to appear before the church.
On the whole, we conclude, where the spirit of the gospel predominates, those who feel its sacred power will soon find a way to confess their faults one to another, and they will strive together to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. But without that spirit no conformity to even Scripture rule will be of any avail; for the laws of Christ are spiritual, and unless they are written on our hearts, our forms of pretended obedience to the divine rule will lack the one thing most needful of all.
May 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 416 – 418