Near Lexington, Ky., April 9, 1868.
MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I have read with interest the communication of Brother W.J. Purington, and, with your permission, propose subjoining some remarks on a subject immediately connected with the closing part of his communication.
That the “Old School Baptist Church” is “The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” to the exclusion of all other organizations, claiming that high and honorable distinction, I have not one doubt.
“My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, the choice one of her that bear her.” “There is one body, and one spirit; even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that body being many, are one body; so also is Christ.” “Come hither and I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” “And I beheld the Holy City, the New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.” “Thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
I am aware that there are those who claim so much charity, as to acknowledge that we are a “gospel church,” but say they, we are a gospel church too; while there is no more fellowship between them and us, than between “righteousness and unrighteousness, no more agreement than between the temple of God and idols.” “No more concord than between Christ and Belial.” What would be thought of a man who is found using one member of the body, to wound other members; and to mutilate, yea, to destroy the body? Guilty of suicide? What has been the course of the Old Mother “clothed in scarlet,” and of all her protestant daughters and grand-daughters, towards Old School Baptists, but to employ themselves in persecuting and putting to death, yea, exterminating them, wherever they had the power; and yet they seek union and correspondence with us? “Like their relatives of old. “Let us build with you, we seek your God, even as ye do.”
I am forcibly reminded of an occurrence which took place not many miles from my residence a few years since. A certain D.D. claiming to be a “United Baptist,” delivered to his flock a series of lectures on the doctrine of Predestination and election, which were listened to by several intelligent Old School Baptists, one of whom remarked to a member of his flock, “If your preacher will continue to maintain the doctrine he has been preaching in these discourses, we shall claim him for an Old School Baptist.” The member replied, “Wait a little and he will show you where he is.” At perhaps the very next meeting, the D.D. remarked in substance, “I have been preaching a series on the sovereignty of God – the doctrine of Predestination and Election, which is true. But another system of salvation is taught in the Bible which is true also;” and preached directly in opposition to what he had been preaching. He took up the “Circular on the Origin, Nature, and Effects of the Christian Warfare,” and fought, not it, but a man of straw, he manufactured, and most violently. One of our brethren, who had been listening to him attentively, remarked to the D.D. that he had most grossly misrepresented brother Dudley, and that I would reply to his attack. Our brother informed me of the attack made on me, when I requested him to call on the D.D., and inform him that I would answer his attack on a certain given day, and that I specially invited him and his congregation to be present and hear the reply; and further, that I asked of him the notes or manuscript he used on the occasion, as an act of justice to me, as he had attacked me behind my back. On the day before I had appointed to reply, I received a paper of some twenty-two pages manuscript, purporting to be a synopsis of his two discourses, making the attack. A grosser perversion of truth I believe I never saw.
The time to reply arrived, when I met a very large audience, composed of members of the various denominations, including a large number belonging to the same order of Baptists with the D.D., with very many non-professors, when I proceeded to take up his faith as disclosed in the synopsis, his perversions and misrepresentations, and to answer them as fully as the time I consumed [about three hours] and my strength would allow.
I called special attention to his assertion, that “no man ought to be allowed to occupy the pulpit who is not a theological scholar.” I proceeded to remark, that the scriptures of the Old Testament were written or printed, originally, in the Hebrew language; those of the New Testament in the Greek language, neither of which languages do I understand. But let us test the Doctor’s theory. Go to Millersburg, where there is a college, whose professors and teachers tell you that they understand those languages. What is taught there? Methodist theology. Come to Georgetown, where we have another college, whose professors and teachers say they understand the original languages in which the scriptures were written. What do you get there? Fullerite Baptist theology. Go to Danville, where we have another college, whose professors and teachers tell you that they also understand those languages. What do you hear there? Old School Presbyterian theology. Go about ten miles North, to Harrodsburg, where we have another college, whose professors and teachers, like the others, tell you that they understand the languages, and what do you hear? Modern reform theology. Go a few miles West, where we have still another college, whose professors and teachers insist that they understand those languages. What is taught there? Roman Catholic theology. Go still a little farther West, to Princeton, where there is another college, whose professors and teachers say the same thing. What do they teach? Cumberland Presbyterian theology. Come up the Ohio river to Louisville, to Bishop Smith’s college, who claim to be the church, and to understand those languages. What do they teach? Episcopalian theology. Here we have seven different churches, so called, whose leaders assure you that they understand the original Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the scriptures were written, take the same Bible and give you seven different interpretations of the same text. I asked, is not this confusion worse confounded? I maintained the Bible is its own best expositor, and recommended its teaching rather than theological schools. The occurrence reminded me of the prophet Isaiah, and I thought I saw the prophesy fulfilled. “And in that day seven woman shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.” Isa. 4:1. Yet am I censured because I am unwilling to profess union, communion and correspondence with such people! If they feel safe in their own boat, I do not desire to interfere with them. Having no misgivings that the Old School Baptist church is, legitimately, the church of God, and that all others claiming that prerogative are spurious. We, the Old School Baptist, being built after the Bible model, I am exceedingly desirous that our people shall “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all loveliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Let us, dear brethren, heed the holy admonitions with which his word abounds.
Brother Purington, and some other brethren, have dwelt, as I trust, profitably, on the duties devolving on God’s ministers, to “preach the word,” “preach the gospel,” “to be in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” To “feed my lambs, feed my sheep;” to “feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.” To “let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the gospel.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “Give thyself wholly to the work.”
Has it not occurred to you, dear brethren, that a compliance with the duty devolved on the ministry, and which is made imperative, that time, labor and toil are indispensable, to “make full proof of their ministry?” That they are men of like passions with other men? That they have needs which must be supplied; that they watch for your souls, that they must give account to God, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief? And are there not corresponding obligations devolved on the church towards those watchers?
The duty to minister to the poor saints is plainly laid down in the Bible, but is it more plain than the duty to minister to the Lord’s watchmen of our carnal things? Listen to the teaching of the inspired word of God. “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charge? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written; that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” I Cor. 9:7-18. On another occasion the apostle, alluding to the same subject, observes: “Not that I desire a gift, but fruit that may abound to your account.” The inspired volume tells us, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
While I bear cheerful testimony to the observance of the duties enjoined, including the above, on the part of many members, yet I fear that others have not this fruit, which may abound to their account; that they have been unmindful of their interest and duty in this behalf.
I recollect, many years since, hearing the remark made in reference to a minister: “We will keep him poor; the Lord make him humble.” I am glad they were not Old Baptists. Let us not, dear brethren, demonstrate that we are of that class who “muzzle the ox.” I have known some cases within the last forty-eight years where the neglect of churches caused a minister, or perhaps ministers, who had families to care for, feeling it to be their duty to leave the churches they supplied, and seek a new field, where they could meet the temporal wants of their families, and minister to the spiritual wants of brethren.
While I loathe and abhor the practice which prevails so generally, except among Old School Baptists, of professed ministers auctioning themselves off to the highest bidder, and thus assuming the character of “hirelings,” I nevertheless am freely persuaded that when the church fails or neglects her duty in this matter, the ministration of God’s servants fails to afford that comfort, instruction and encouragement they would otherwise derive from their labors. In such cases the ministry becomes to such as “dry breasts.” Let us bring the matter home to ourselves, and ask, Would we be willing to leave the little comfort we enjoy in the bosom of our family, our domestic concerns at home, by which a competency is secured for those committed to our charge, and labor, and toil for the encouragement of others, while we are pained to witness how indifferent they are to our comfort, and the comfort of those near and dear to us?
Brother Beebe, I have regretted to find some of our brethren in the ministry so tender-footed, [as they say in the West,] on this subject.
Brother Beebe, let us try to imitate an inspired apostle, who said, “I have not kept back anything that was profitable unto you.” Again, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Let us clear our skirts, whether others hear or forbear.
The remark may be repeated, “Ah brother Dudley is scolding again.” I have this consolation, if they complain, it is a sign of guilt, and that they are not quite dead, or as Paul said, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” God grant that each and all of us may come home, and revive our own hearts, in the light of the “candle of the Lord,” and ask, Am I delinquent in duties? And pray that in the future we may be enabled to walk more as “the children of light.”
God bless you, my dear brother, and all the household of faith.
Thomas P. Dudley.