In his number of the Cross and Journal of the 5th inst., Mr Stevens has published and commented upon the Minutes of the Scioto Association of Old School Baptists; and among many things too wonderful for his comprehension, found in the said Minutes, he says:
”It is exceedingly singular that in their letter of correspondence, they speak of adhering to “old Baptist principles,” when nothing can be more incontestibly a plain matter of fact, than that they have trampled old Baptist principles in the dust. The missionary principle is among the old Baptist principles. The most conclusive proof of this has been given in our columns?”
Now is this true? Has Mr. S. given the most conclusive testimony through his paper, that the Scioto Association, or the Old School Baptists, have trampled old Baptist principles in the dust? Pray, what, does he understand by old Baptist principles? Or what has he proven? Why, he has brought forward some statements; but on what authority he has not informed us, that certain Baptists in Wales, in 1689, resolved to raise funds to assist the churches that were not able to maintain a minister, that their ministers might be encouraged to devote their time exclusively to the work of the ministry. But will Mr. S. dare to assert that the Old School Baptists have trampled such principles as these in the duet? This is a gross misrepresentation. We deny the implication. The Old School Baptists have never, to our knowledge, objected to assist the churches in sustaining those among them whom God has called to the gospel ministry. If this conclusive proof proves anything, it proves what Old School Baptists have never denied. Where then is the cause for puffing? But again. He tells us that in 1653, delegates of churches met in Wales, and collections were made and a fund raised, to send out missionaries! Should we admit this testimony, it would prove nothing in favor of Mission Societies. Those in Wales met and acted as delegates of the churches; not as members of Mission Societies where their memberships had been purchased with money.
If indeed the churches in Wales delegated away to certain men their power, should such a circumstance be quoted as a uniform practice of the primitive church of God? By no means. We challenge Mr. S., or any other champion of new measures, to show from the New Testament that Christ has ever indued his church with any power to delegate to others. Hence, if the statement be true, it only proves a blemish on the Welsh Baptists of 1653, and cannot be admitted to answer the purpose of Mr. S. As well might we attempt to prove that the primitive church enforced their sentiments on the world by the edge of the sword, from the circumstance of Peter’s using a sword, when he emote off the ear of a servant of the high priest.
Once more. Mr. S. has not room in his Cross to quote the “well known testimonies in proof,” &c., from the three oldest associations (we were not aware of the existence of so many oldest associations) in the United States. But suppose he had room according to his strength, what would he, what could he prove? Why, perhaps he might prove that, notwithstanding their general steadfastness in the faith and order of the gospel, they had occasionally stepped aside from the divinely authorized rule; but this would by no means establish his position. If he feels disposed to contest our claim to the distinction of Old School, or Primitive Baptists, he must go back so far as to show examples of Mission Societies in the apostolic age of the church; nothing short of this will answer. Almost any error in faith and practice may be proven to have existed at soms period of the church; but to establish their claim to antiquity, they must give us something from the scriptures of truth. What might have been done in Wales during the dark ages of Papal superstition, or even what might be extorted from the history of Mr. Stevens’ three oldest associations in the United States, will only be sufficient to satisfy those who are predisposed to leave the New Testament as an all sufficient rule, and seek a precedent from the foibles of earlier transgressors.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C,
January 20, 1838.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 408 – 410