Lexington, Ky., March 27, 1873.
To the Editor of the Western Recorder:
My attention has been called to a series of articles over the signature of “Old Flint,” published in your paper, the first, of date Feb.1st, the second, Feb.22nd, and the third, March 1st, in all of which he labors hard to establish his claims to the title of Old School Baptist. He is not possibly aware that the old flint lock was found unreliable in warlike contests; that it has been very generally superceded by the percussion cap. He may yet learn that it is equally unreliable in contests of a different character, especially when brought in contact with that harder material which is announced on very high authority; “Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh a rock in pieces.” Jer.33:29. I have shown in a former communication that the commission given by the Lord Jesus is silent as death on the subject of Missionary, Bible, Tract and Temperance societies, and Sunday Schools, with all the modern inventions originated by men as aids in evangelizing the world; and that the teachings of his inspired apostles are equally silent; furthermore, that the London and Philadelphia Baptist Confessions of Faith urge no duty on the church to rear and sustain those inventions. So far from it, the Confession of Faith assumes and insists that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and the only certain and infallible rule of faith and practice; that they contain “everything for us to know, believe, or do in the service of God.” Is he prepared to ignore the preaching of Christ and his apostles? If not, why seek to make additions? He has set out with false assumptions and seems determined to adhere to them. Has he read in the divine record that, “everything that a man hath will be given for his life, skin for skin?” Whether he has read it or not, he seems determined to carry out the principle. He reminds me forcibly of the witness who shore the horse was seventeen feet high.” The counsel attempted to correct him by saying seventeen hands. The witness replied, “Did I say feet?” “Yes,” said the counsel. “Then,” said the witness, “I stick to it.”
“Old Flint” insists that the pioneers to the dark and bloody ground were missionaries. I have already shown in a former communication that the only attempt to introduce missions and missionary societies in the Elkhorn Association, previous to the year 1808, when the Association split, fell still born. I will now show the action taken by Licking Association, of which were members the following pioneers who did not wait to contract with a missionary board for a stipulated salary, but labored faithfully in the gospel of Christ, and were as eminently useful as the best of the “Old Flint’s” missionaries, with their stated salaries, namely; Ambrose Dudley, Corbin, Redding, Price, Bainbridge, and perhaps Barrow. Here is an extract from the Licking Association in 1814: “Monday, 5b – Letter from Elder Luther Rice, respecting missionary business, called for and read. Agreed to send brother Rice a friendly letter and return to him the money for the pamphlet that he sent us; but we do not join in the missionary business in its present form.” Who are we to believe, “Old Flint,” or the messengers from eighteen churches composing the Licking Association? Assuredly the latter. He seems to belong to that class of whom the apostle speaks: “Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” He seems to be very shy of the “hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.” Hence you do not hear him speak of Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, Jude, Timothy or Titus, as missionaries advocating the modern inventions of men for the purpose of evangelizing the world; but rather of those “pioneers” who did not profess apostolic inspiration. Suppose for argument that those pioneers advanced what we believe to be error, would he have subsequent ministers to follow in the propagation of such error? He seems to have become desperate in the fear that he will be unable to rob the name of “Old School” from those to whom it legitimately belongs, and from his hiding place makes personal attacks on Elder Johnson and myself. He would seem to belong to that tribe of whom we read in the Bible, who said, “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.” We shall presently learn his success. The charge that I deny the doctrine of the Regeneration and the New Birth, will be pronounced by thousands of honest, truthful Baptists, in and out of Kentucky, who are acquainted with my religious views, an unmitigated slander; in that number I include many intelligent Baptists of Elkhorn Association. What, suppose you, the churches at Elizabeth, at Bryans, Bourbon county, at Mount Carmel, Clark county, and at Georgetown, Scott county, where I have preached regularly for the last fifty-two years, will say to the charge? They will at once say that the charge proceeded from a disordered intellect, or else from a calumniator.
His endeavor to make the impression that the doctrine we maintain now is not that which was taught in 1786 and instances the doctrine of the eternal union of Christ and his church as taught by Elder J.F. Johnson and myself. He, with all his hosts, cannot successfully controvert that or any other doctrine we maintain. Let it be remembered that in the purer and better days of Elkhorn, and before Elder Luther Rice and others drugged to intoxication that association with the poison of missionism, she adopted and printed in her minutes of 1796, a circular written by the late Elder John Gano, [one of the pioneers,] on the “unity of Christ and his church,” in which he maintained substantially the doctrine we maintain. The Confession of Faith maintains it; and above all, it is the doctrine of the Bible.
But he says, “those claiming to be” Old School Baptists, deny the universality of the gospel; or that the gospel should be preached to all men. I know not what he means. If he means that we do not preach the gospel to the comprehension of the unregenerate, I plead guilty. My Bible teaches me it is the gospel of the kingdom; that it is hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes; “that it is to the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” I give the practice of the Savior, whom I desire to follow, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare their name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee; again, I will put my trust in him; and again, behold I and the children thou hast given me.” Heb.2:11,12. I will dismiss “Old Flint’s” third number, notice of which is not appropriate just now.
“Old Flint” invites attention to the history of Licking association, showing her decline in numbers rather exultingly, and would seem to indicate, as the cause of that decline, her opposition to missionary societies and their kindred institutions. That decline is owing to several causes. Death has removed very many in half of century, removal from the vicinity of a number more, want of ministerial aid, perhaps some others. The candle stick has been removed from several localities. But thank God, those who remain are of one heart and one judgment, as is confidently believed, having sweet union, love and christian fellowship. If there is one dissenter I do not know it. Such union, harmony and sweet fellowship as many who are not of our body, in our own and other States, who have visited our associational meetings, proclaim they have never seen in any other body of the same size. It is most true that we do not boast of what we have done, are now doing, and intend doing for the Lord. We leave those who seem not so poor, helpless and dependent on sovereign, rich and reigning grace as we feel; but rather “speak of the glory of his kingdom,” and talk of his power, to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by him, being drawn by his irresistible power. Had we been presumptuous enough to suppose, or claim to be “co-workers with God himself, in laboring for the eternal salvation of our apostate world,” and resorted to exciting meetings, telling sympathetic tales, whispering persons into the church, who gave no evidence of obtaining fellowship for them, we know not to what extent we might have reported our numbers. But believing that “salvation is of the Lord,” it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy; that our God cannot be hastened, and glory to his name, he cannot be hindered in developing the heirs of glory in his own good time. Having no desire to see our churches crowded with a brood of persecuting Ishmaelites, who do not with the heart believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth make confession unto salvation, “whether brought from Sunday Schools,” which some esteem “the pillow to the church,” much as we desire a refreshing from the presence of the Lord, we have to await God’s time. We are not so presumptuous as to suppose that we can change God’s purposes; that we can make ourselves or others “heirs of God, and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Mine own arm, said Jesus, hath brought salvation, and of the people there were none to help. Some are curious to know what amount of capital missionary and other kindred institutions contribute to the firm of “their God & Co.,” in laboring for the salvation of our apostate world. Our God tells that he is the “author and finisher of our faith,” but their god would appear to require aid in carrying out his system of proselytism. Hence it is evident that “their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges,” and yet they would be called by thy [our] name to take away our reproach.
I am now done with “Old Flint,” at least until I shall deem it necessary in the defense of truth, which I sincerely hope may not be the case. I bear him no ill will, but should be much gratified to have better evidence than I yet have had that he is “born of God.” In conclusion, I have to say that I have many times publicly declared that I would as soon expect to get to heaven without redemption as without regeneration and the new birth. I had no desire, if it were possible, to get there in the absence of either.
Thomas P. Dudley.
P.S. - Experience and observation of more than fifty years, have satisfied me that where Andrew Fuller's system, in which he attempted to harmonize the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners, with what they call “free moral agency;” or that the atonement is infinite or indefinite, and the application is special or particular, thus attempting to harmonize that which the apostles taught was wholly irreconcilable; namely, “If it be of grace, it is no more of works, otherwise, grace is no more grace; and if it be of works it is no more of grace otherwise, work is no more work,” - prevails, it has only widened the flood gates of error, and furnished an apology for the introduction of means, or instrumentality of the preacher, for the living word in giving life to the sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, and thereby producing the New Birth, without which none can "see the Kingdom of God." They seem to say, the preacher is the instrument, and the preached gospel the means, of the eternal salvation of our apostate world? I however, have not so learned Christ. I hold that it is not less possible for God to change, than for the blood of Christ to secure the eternal deliverance of all for whom it was shed. “He, by one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” “He entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Fuller's system, as I understand, would “tread under foot the Son of God; and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.”