By Elder P.D. Gold
Joshua Lawrence was raised by Providence to lead the Baptists in the days of strife that rent churches, severed friends and wrought much distress in the land. The participants in that contention have about all been called away from worldly strife. About 75 years ago the division occurred in this country.
The introduction among Baptists of the measures, methods, doctrines and ways of all the other denominations, the efforts of Andrew Fuller and his co-adjutors to lift up and elevate the Baptists, and make them respectable among the nations of earth, occurred in the days that Joshua Lawrence lived.
He appears in the pages of this book under the name of Tom Thumb, a dwarf of very small stature, contending with the wolves for the sheep skin. It is a teeth to teeth struggle. The rugged, stern, character of the man, his profound knowledge of the scriptures, his deep insight into human nature with its devilish, sneaking and cunning traits, his disemboweling of the lusts of men after money, the movable ways of the mother of harlots, or the woman with loud mouth that watches for the halting of the simple, his scathing exposure of false teachers impelled by their lust for money and power, under the guise of religion, are strokes of his unsheathed sword that would make the timid quail, and cause the worshippers at the shrine of mammon to cry out that he is a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition; but a few that love the old, true, tried but much maligned doctrine of salvation by grace will as they read this shout for the battle, and remember the Lord Jesus, the spiritual David that slays all the enemies of Israel.
Matthew, 7:15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves – is the solemn caution of our Lord Jesus to his followers. And again, 10:16: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. And again, Luke 10:3: Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. And again, Paul, Acts, 20:29: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, – (you the gospel church is meant) – not sparing the flock. Verse 30. Also of your own selves (gospel professors are meant) shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Then with such proof as the above, who can doubt of wolf preachers clothed in sheepskin? Who can doubt of wolves in the gospel church? I do not. So then in order to recover the sheepskin and detect the wolves, I shall tug teeth to teeth by scripture for the sheepskin which they have assumed, like the true shepherds of the sheep, in order to devour the sheep thereby. And to accomplish this, I shall briefly treat of six kinds of ministers of the gospel, all of whom wear the sheep skin, whether wolf or sheep underneath the skin. I shall leave you to judge, reader, while I am tugging at the skin and getting it aside for you to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
1st. I shall treat of a self-made minister.
2nd. On men-made ministers.
3d. On devil-made ministers.
4th. On a Christian that makes himself a minister, not being called of God to that office.
5th. On my gentleman preacher.
6th. On God’s ministers. Laying down the marks of each so that they may he known by the church of God .
7th. I shall treat of Theological Schools, that prolific source from which many of these kinds of preachers come, and enquire into the origin of Theological Schools.
8th. I shall enquire into their tendency in countries where they have been established.
9th. I shall enquire whether they can be so conducted as to be serviceable to the church of God , etc.
I have no apology to make for my writings, but wish it fairly understood that I do not write to please nor offend any man or set of men; nor do I write in the fear of man. I have a right to my opinion and you may have yours and welcome from me, and write what you think right; yet I think it is high time for somebody to write, as the dogs are taking the children’s bread and the wolves their clothing – and drum them out of the camp of the saints as they have long since made the house, or church of God, a house of church traffic, a den for wolves, and a lodging for spiritual dogs, and a place of rendezvous for thieves and robbers to divide their spoil.
There are three never-failing marks to know a sheep from a wolf, although a wolf’s whole body may be covered with a sheepskin. The first is, by their trick; the wolf don’t part the hoof like a sheep, but has a foot like a dog; so it is with a wolf-preacher in sheep’s clothing, he don’t in his heart part with sin nor does he in his practice part with the ways of sinners, although he may part with some of the grosser sort of sins; yet I hope to show you as I go along his dog’s foot, although he has a sheepskin on his back he will be sure to have the wolf’s foot – therefore, said the Saviour, by their fruit ye shall know them. The second mark is their food; you know the food of a wolf and a sheep is as different as two things can be. What a miracle it would be to see a flock of wolves feeding in the pastures like sheep, or to see sheep gnawing bones and feeding on dead carcasses: a thing that never was. And there is equally as much difference between the food of a real gospel minister and a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as there is between the food of sheep and wolves. The third mark is the voice; I suppose all the men in the world could never learn a wolf to bleat like a sheep, nor a sheep to howl like a wolf. I may add a fourth mark, and that is, by looking into their mouths; a sheep has no upper front teeth – wolves are like dogs, have a good set above and below, and strong holders in the bargain. These four are never failing marks to know a wolf from a sheep, which you will keep in memory for further remarks.
God, who is rich in mercy and goodness, after man had become fallen and his mind and foolish heart become darkened by reason of sin, hath chosen in his infinite wisdom to communicate light to the human mind by prophets, his Son, apostles, and ministers, and through his medium and the agency of his divine Spirit we stand indebted to him for all spiritual light and life.
Thus Enoch the seventh son from Adam was a prophet, and from him to Malachi there seems to be a succession of prophets to enlighten, guide, warn, reprove, and comfort the people of God, and to warn the world, under both the antediluvian and Jewish dispensations. So, equally so, God has in all ages of the church through his rich and unbounded grace raised up, qualified and sent gospel ministers of his own choosing to guide, warn, feed and comfort his gospel church from her first establishment until now; and I think will do so to the end of the world. Yet with these helps the gospel church has often wandered from the right ways of the Lord, like the Jewish church, and 1260 years is allowed by all as given her to wander in her wilderness state, before she will recover her virgin beauty and pristine excellency in doctrine, ordinance and discipline.
But the wanderings of the Jewish and gospel churches from the plain commandments of the Lord, has not been owing so much to the private members of either church as to two other causes; the first of which is, their connections with the great, the rich, the influential, and powerful men of this world; this in both churches, has been one case in all cases and in all ages of her downfall and deviations from the right ways of the Lord. Witness the marriages before the flood with the family or daughters of Cain, the marriages and alliances of the Jews with the surrounding nations, etc. Witness the Constantine connection, and the connection of the kings and queens of England, etc. And well it may be so, for says Jesus, my kingdom, is not of this world – come out and be separate, says Paul. For so soon as the men of this world, then she must shape her doctrines, ordinances, and discipline to please the taste, the relish, the views and pride and pomp of the men of this world with which she stands connected or dependent in any way whatever; more especially in support of her ministry, then she goes by this connection from the truth and right ways of the Lord and from the good old way of ancient times. And this I pronounce in my opinion to be one of the causes of so much corruption at present in the Baptist churches, it is from the society connection of the day that her doctrines, etc., are corrupted.
The second and worse cause is that of false prophets or false ministers, or wolves in sheep’s clothing. These have been the main, the leading cause in the bosom of the churches; which have led the church of God astray from God’s truth, ordinances, statutes and discipline, to the traditions, doctrines, and commandments of men; for their wolf taste can’t relish the pleasant and fat pastures of the gospel where God’s sheep love to feed; therefore they seek wolf meat, as will be shown in time and place.
Therefore, because these wolves are the main cause of scattering and driving astray and devouring the sheep of Christ, the Old Testament is full of warnings to the Jewish church against false prophets; and equally so in reading the New Testament you find it full of warnings both by Christ and his apostles to the gospel church, to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, or false teachers with their damnable heresies; for here is the church’s greatest danger, in listening to and obeying the plans, doctrines, commandments and traditions of men for the commandments of Jesus Christ. Touch not, taste not, handle not, is the advice of Paul; for all these are to perish. And says Jesus, in vain do you worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. To listen to and do after the doctrines of these false teachers, has in all ages been a curse to the church of God; therefore she is so often and so solemnly warned in the gospels and in all the epistles against the deceivers and ruiners and distressers of the church of God.
Can you think, dear reader, for a moment, that it is impossible for the gospel church to know these wolves in sheep’s clothing from a true minister of God’s making and sending? Surely not. For if it was impossible for the gospel church to know them in any age of the church when she is plagued with them, then those, warnings of the Holy Ghost would have been in an vain, seeing the church could not know them by any mark laid down in those warnings; but one reason why the gospel church knows so little about these wolves is, because she will not take the pains to search out the marks of these wolves, as laid down by infallible inspiration in the New Testament, her chief guide in all matters of religion. And another reason why the gospel church is so backward to do this is, because of that universal charity religion that is pleaded for in this age of the Christian church among professors of religion, saying, let us all be brothers, we are all going to heaven, you by that road of doctrine and practice, and me by this road or way; let us not contend about doctrine, ordinance, or church government, these are all trifles of minor importance; let us unite and commune together, and live in peace and love, for we shall all meet at last in heaven, although you go this road and we that. And so such professors of religion would have the church of Christ unite Christ and Baal, believers and infidels, the temple of God and the temple of idols, truth and error, the works of hypocrites and saints, light and darkness, fire and water, false teachers and true, the ministers of God, men and the devil. What fellowship has this heterogeneous assemblage of hypocrites, doctrines, practices and opinions? Why you must say, none. Then this universal charity religion is a device of the devil, through false teachers to darken the truths of God and corrupt his church and the one pure religion on earth, and in the end make gain to false teachers who preach for pay and divine for honor. Then I pronounce this universal charity religion is a religion of loaves and fishes, and not belonging to the gospel church nor the one pure religion of Jesus Christ nor his apostles; for how can two walk together except they be agreed, and they that are not for the truth must be against it; two opposites can’t both be truth or alike, nor no more akin than fire and water, light and darkness, or God and satan. For it is said of the first saints – and they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine. Then there is but one true doctrine, and all the rest is false; then find out apostolic doctrine, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. And again, John: if any man come unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed – for such, is partaker of his evil deeds. And again, Paul: though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
For if Jesus Christ and his apostles had been of this universal charity religion, then the pharisees and Jewish priests would not have persecuted and killed Christ. But he was not for brothering such hypocrites, but reproving and testifying against their evil deeds and false doctrines; therefore they hated him. Nor would the Jewish and heathen priests have persecuted and killed the apostles, if they would have taken them into brotherhood, and not have contended against their false gods, doctrines and traditions, but said, let us all be brothers, you preach your idolatry, another Diana, another circumcision, another that the resurrection is passed already, and another the law and works, and we Christ crucified; we are all going to heaven, so let us unite and be at peace and love, and hear all and be all in one church and fellowship. This is that universal charity religion. Was the apostles’ of it? No, Sir; they testified against all but the one truth, salvation by grace and faith followed by good works. This made them hated of all that held errors and preached errors and false doctrines. They would be brother to none but those that held the truth, therefore were hated and killed. And such a religion is universal charity, however fine it may appear, it is nothing less or more than the very sink of hypocrisy; and all hands in such a band of brothers must use some of the God-abhorred stuff to get along in this crowd of hypocrites, and assemblage of practices and opinions which true saints in all ages have disdained, though death stared them in the face.
So then the religion of Jesus Christ has no Christian fellowship but with the household of faith, and the believers and practicer's of the truths of God in doctrine, ordinance and discipline, as delivered the saints in the New Testament. Then universal charity and peace, and love for all kinds of doctrines, all kinds of ordinances, all kinds of discipline, and all kinds of professors and opinionists, or for any kind and every kind of professors, is but a hypocritical child of the devil and a religious imp of hell, with which Jesus Christ nor his apostles never claimed brotherhood nor fellowship. Witness their harsh and severe language to the pharisees and false teachers laid down in the New Testament. For such a charity as this, or Christian fellowship as this, is any thing and every thing, and at last nothing but varnished hypocrisy to God and man, if it is not playing the hypocrite with satan also. Love God, love and believe the truth, love Jesus Christ and the brotherhood of faithful men, and contend earnestly for the faith or doctrine, ordinances and discipline of the church of God once delivered the saints of Christ and his apostles, and thou shalt do well; for who is to maintain the truth in the world if the church of God don’t do it?
Therefore, to help the gospel church to judge and determine rightly indistinguishing between God’s ministers and all other ministers, I shall draw the line of distinction by marks from the scriptures laid down by the Holy Ghost; so that I think no man can well fail to know them apart. Then I will no longer keep you in suspense by any further preparatory remarks, but proceed to discuss the subject as proposed.
On Self-Made Ministers
First, I am to treat of a self-made minister, and that there are such read Jude 1:19: These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. Enoch prophesied of these. King Saul was among the prophets, though he was not called to that office by Almighty God. Read how these lying prophets come to prophecy, I Kings 22:22: And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his (Ahab’s) prophets. And he said, thou shalt persuade him and prevail also: go forth, and do so. And says Paul, Acts 29:30: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, (mark that, of their own selves) speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. If they arise of their own selves, not called of God to the ministerial office, of course they are self-made ministers. Jeremiah 44:14. The prophets prophecy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophecy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Here God says he sent them not, then of course they sent themselves to tell lies and falsehoods out of the deceit of their own hearts. Ezekiel 13:3: Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit. O, Israel , thy prophets (not my prophets) are like the foxes of the desert; (that is, very cunning and crafty). 10: Because they have seduced my people, saying, peace: and there was no peace: and one built up a wall, (or doctrine,) and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar. Now hear for what all this is done by a self-made preacher or prophet, for preachers are often called prophets in the New Testament as well as Old. Micah 3:11: And the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord; and say, is not the Lord among us. Now to prove that there are in the gospel church false ministers self-made, as well as there were false prophets self-made, 2 Peter 2:1: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you (you the gospel church is meant). Who is a more false prophet or false minister than he who makes himself such, and one not being called to the office by the God of heaven, nor qualified for the office by him? The above texts I deem sufficient to prove my point that there have been and now are a plenty of self-made preachers, or else I could produce many more to prove the fact. Then taking the evidence as sufficient from scripture, that there are such beings as self-made ministers, I proceed to chalk them out by the marks of scripture evidence so you can know them.
The marks from Jude appear to be these: that a self-made minister separates himself to the office without a call from God; he also separates himself in a great degree from sin and sinners, that he may appear a sheep or in the sheep skin; he is sensual, or knows what he knows and preaches by sense and not by revelation – for Jude says, they have not, the spirit. Then a self-made minister has not the spirit of God, nor does he preach by the spirit, and of course not according to the truths of the spirit; but by sense, mere carnal sense, because being a natural man he receiveth not the things of the spirit, for they are foolishness to him. Then the holy and sublime doctrine and truth of the gospel will be set at nought by a self-made minister, as far as he can safely do so to get gain and save his reputation as a gospel minister; which is proved by the 10th verse: But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. What things are meant by Jude, but the great leading truth of the gospel, which these men don’t know nor can’t know, since they are declared by Paul to be spiritually discerned, and not received by the natural man. And this man is said in the text to know things only naturally, as a brute knows things by instinct of nature. They in the 11th verse are said to go in the way of Cain – what was Cain’s way but to bring an offering to the Lord without faith, of the fruit of the ground, of his own carnal, corrupt, natural, deceitful heart? It was a ground, dead offering; and not a living sacrifice, typical of the blood of Jesus that cleanses from all sin. Cain’s way was to hate and kill his brother, and why and wherefore? Because his own works were wicked and his brother’s righteous. So Cain was the first wolf in sheep’s clothing – he killed Abel, his brother. Then self-made preachers hate God’s preachers, they have killed thousands of them; they hate the doctrine they preach, they hate these men of faith, they have religious practices which is the sheep skin, Cain like; but their hearts are wolf, sheep devouring, sheep hating, faith hating, truth hating and enmity against God. For the carnal mind is enmity against God, and such a mind has this self-made preacher, since he is a natural man. Then beware of self-made preachers, for they are every one to a man Cains, and would go in his way if it was not for God’s love.
All these men’s preaching, praying and singing, and religious duties, are nothing but works of wickedness like Cain’s, the fruit of the ground only and not the fruits of the spirit: having no faith, it is impossible for them to please God. The tree not being made good by divine grace, all their fruit is not good; their hearts and principles being corrupt, so are all their religious acts at enmity against God; his plan of Salvation and the merits of his Christ are set at naught by these Cains, these wolves that take the sheep skin and holy orders, not being called of God thus to officiate, as Aaron, Paul, Moses, Peter, etc.
In the same verse they are said to run greedily after the error of Balaam. What was the prophet Balaam’s error: Why King Balak’s silver and promised greatness, for him to come and curse Israel . So that a self-made minister has two things in view, money and honor, of this the Holy Ghost knows the sect he belongs to, greedy of these two things, or showing plainly for these he preaches, say and mark him; for this they preach, for this they run. Then when you see any minister, no matter what sect he belongs to, greedy of these two things say he is a Balaam, he is a self-made minister, he would curse the church of God for money, which was Balaam’s reward. And this is the reward for which this man preaches and prays, it is for this reward of money and greatness he runs from town to town, from place to place. These self-made Balaams would curse the Christians from the face of the earth for money, as Balaam would Israel , had not God interposed.
Again, in the same verse: And they perished in the gainsaying of Core. I want every self-made minister in the world, and every body else, to read the 16th chapter of Numbers, and all men that don’t believe in a divine call to the ministry; for it is to this chapter and to this transaction of Korah, whose name in the text is spelt Core, as is common in scripture; such as Noe for Noah, etc., to which Jude alludes. Korah and his company wanted to take the priest office on themselves, and did so. They charged Moses and Aaron of usurping the priest’s office, or putting themselves in the two highest offices, and more especially the priest office; and they being of the tribe of Levi had as much right as Aaron they thought, and therefore took their censors and offered strange fire to the Lord; exercising the priest’s office without being chosen of God to officiate, or called to minister in it by him. And for their presumption were consumed by fire from heaven, and thus perished in their gainsaying of Moses and God; that is, in not believing the divine call, choice and appointment of Aaron to the priest’s office. Thus every man that takes on him the ministry without the call of God is compared by Jude to a Korah, and shall as certainly perish sooner or later in his gainsaying of God’s ministers about a divine call to the ministry as did Core and company. Take care, ye professors that join in with such ministers that are not called of God. Remember Korah was not all that perished, but his company, his adherents also. Our God is a consuming fire, and here he signally proved it as well as in Sodom. Think on it, ye self-made ministers, and tremble; for the Holy Ghost can’t lie. Then you perish in hell fire if you take his office on you in an unconverted state, or not called of God; for the office of a minister is too sacred for any but those chosen, called, qualified, and initiated into it by God himself; for what have you to do with God’s holy things and tabernacle, seeing he has not put them in your trust! You are a gainsayer and usurper, and will perish in your own deceivings.
Thus these men Korah and company thought that Moses and Aaron had taken the two highest offices in the Jewish nation on themselves; Moses to be leader and lawgiver and ruler, and Aaron to be priest and head of all ecclesiastical concerns, and to live without work by tithes on the labors of the people. And for as much as Korah, Dathan and Abram, were sons of the tribe of Levi, as well as Moses, and Aaron, that they of course had the same claim and right to the priest office, and might claim and assume that office as well as Aaron, and tithe the people also. And no doubt they thought they were men of as good and better talents than Aaron, and so might and could officiate in the office of high priest as well as he; not believing in a special call of God to the office as priest, and that any man had a right to fill that office that chose to fill it, and so took their two hundred and fifty censors and the office of priest without God’s call to office, and offered strange fire to the Lord. But how fared it with them? Sad tale of wo, they and, their families, tents and effects, all went down alive into the pit, the earth opening her mouth where these wicked gainsayers stood and closed upon them; and a fire from the Lord consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense with strange fire, and thus they perished in their gainsaying, and for their exercising the priest office to which office God had not called them. And what of all this, say you? Why, don’t you recollect that saying of Paul, Saying, no man taketh this honor to himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. And again: Paul called of God to be an apostle. And again: Separate me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them. And again: those that were with him (that is, Christ on the white horse, and rode on white horses) were called chosen and faithful. And again: then Jesus called unto him the 12 men and sent them out. And again: He sent the seventy to preach. And again: did not God call Saul, David, Jonah, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Aaron, and all the prophets and apostles, Moses and Abraham specially, to their respective office? And so, equally so, all his ministers to a man are chosen, called and qualified by him for the ministry. And can any man with all these scriptures as proof of a special call of God, dare without this call take the office of minister on himself? Daring presumption, as that of Korah and company, who saw the proofs that God gave Moses and Aaron was his choice, of which I shall not now speak. Thus for this daring presumption, gainsaying, and exercising the office of priest, they perished as an example set up of God to all future generations, not to thrust themselves into the priest’s office without God’s call thereunto.
So, then, both Jude and Paul show us that no man can or ought to take the office of minister on himself without this call; if he does, he is guilty of the same daring presumption; and Jude says, such will perish with Korah and company for so doing. Then how dare any man to take this office on himself without God’s call, or others to confer this office on men who they have no reason to believe are born of God’s spirit and called of God? You will say, we don’t believe on a special call of God to the ministry. Why not, when the whole tenor of scripture shows it? Let me tell you this was the case of Korah and company. They did not believe in Aaron’s special call, if they had they would not have thrust themselves into office. Then such as assume the office of minister, and those that confer it without this call, are every one to a man a Korah and company; and you will as certainly perish and be consumed by the fire of God’s wrath, and your souls go down alive into the pit of hell as Korah and company, should not the rich grace of God prevent; wherefore, report of this by daring presumption. For what hast thou to do with God’s ark and holy things, or God’s holy word, gospel, and ordinances, seeing he has not called thee nor put thee in trust with his gospel goods, nor employed thee as a shepherd to feed his sheep, nor recommended thee to be a witness for him to bear witness of him and testify of the gospel of the grace of God; not to be steward of his house to give them their meat in due Season; nor has he employed thee to be overseer by the Holy Ghost to feed his flock. Oh, thou blind guide, wilt thou lead others to hell, having not known the way thyself? How in the name of sense art thou able to be a guide to others, for you don’t know, nor can’t know, Jesus Christ the way to heaven, having not the spirit to reveal him to you, not the call of God to the ministry to have the gifts of God’s spirit and grace, that you might be enabled thereby like Paul to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; you will be damned and ought to be damned for deceiving men out of their souls for money and honor, and thrusting yourselves into the ministry and putting on the sheep skin to deceive the sheep and the world out of their souls to get money without God’s call.
Then men gainsay or wrest God’s doctrine, God’s call to the ministry, God’s ordinances in a right way, and burlesque the truths of God and his holy people and salvation by grace and faith; and this they do because they have not the spirit to teach them better. Therefore, they teach the doctrines of men for the commands of God, having not the spirit they are ignorant of God’s righteousness and therefore teach their own; having not the spirit, pure gospel doctrine is foolishness to them, therefore they teach other doctrines, such as morality and other men-pleasing things, etc., all which are like the goods and effects, and such churches like the tents of Korah will perish, for the day comes to try them by fire, Jude 1:12.
These self-made ministers have another mark by him given: Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds. Then true ministers are clouds with water and without destructive winds. So then here is a vast difference between a minister of God and one self-made. Self-made ministers then, although they may put on all the appearance of God’s ministers, or clouds full of rain to water the plants of the earth, look black, heavy and lowering, and big with rain, yet in such a minister there is nothing but wind of doctrine, storm and tempest, sweeping over the plain; and is as destructive in the plants of grace and the church or garden of God, and world, by their windy errors, as the blasting east wind on the fruits of spring, or the hot winds that sweep over the sandy deserts of Arabia blinding the eyes of the traveler with sand, thirst and death; or, as the whirlwind tearing through the forest, spreading terror, destruction, and devastation in its course; yet not one drop of water to make the plants of the earth to grow, nor call the hidden seeds to birth. So is the self-made minister like a cloud thus carried, or that carries nothing but wind, destroying the souls of men by his errors and carnal reasoning. In such ministers there is not one drop of the water of life, having not come to Christ and drank, there is no water of life springing up in him, no grace of God, no treasure in his earthen vessel, no spirit to attend the word to make it life; Christ is not with him alway, as promised his own ministers. No showers of the heavenly grace of God attends this man’s preaching, as at the day of Pentecost; this man can’t draw water from the wells of salvation, and pour it out on the thirsty plants of Zion, nor on the wilderness to make the deserts bloom like the rose, and the thirsty land become springs and pools of water. A child of God may sit under this man’s ministry two hours and go away from church as thirsty as he came and rather worse: no comfort, no strength, no consolation, no food for his soul, no milk of the word for him: all dead, flat, insipid, heart distressing, and contrary to what his feelings, his experience, and God’s word dictates to his conscience to be the right way. Yet men having the form of godliness, moralists and self-workers, hypocrites and the self-righteous, will think it fine food, food fit for sheep. Not so; for this man not having the Spirit can’t preach by the Spirit; nor can’t preach the things of the Spirit, and therefore can’t feed those taught by the spirit; but this man is of the world, therefore the world heareth him, and receiveth this man because he has come in his own name; him therefore, as Christ saith, they will receive. But he that is taught of God’s Spirit will hear him that is taught of God’s spirit; by the word therefore, as John says, he that is of God heareth us – us, God’s ministers; and these strangers God’s sheep will not follow, for they speak with a voice they don’t know, and preach a doctrine that in their view of things don’t agree with God’s word nor their experience; and so not one drop of water in this kind of ministers for a child of God. However much such men may feed goats, dogs and swine, their ministry is no pasture for sheep.
Same verse: Trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, these self-made ministers. Dead trees is another mark. Can any man hope for fruit from a dead tree? Alas, how much less from a tree twice dead, plucked up by the roots. How vain then for men and women to tend on such a man’s preaching? What can be hoped for from a dead tree, from a minister dead in sin and dead in his profession, and dead in error and his ministry; dead to God and holiness, having no grace, no gifts from God to preach Christ the way of truth and life? All the fruit they bear, whether preaching, praying, or anything else, is but withered fruit; the fruit of a dying tree, not fit to eat, such is all this preacher says and does; yea, the withered fruit and the boughs of a tree plucked up by the roots and lies dying on the surface of the ground with its withered fruit. Then no wonder that such men’s preaching tastes so bad to the children of God, having by experience tasted of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, the twelve manner of fruits that grow on Christ the tree of paradise. These fruits have been so sweet to their taste they can’t forget the relish all their days; and as God’s ministers are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, so are they trees of life, bear living fruit, fruits of the spirit: yea, their words through the spirit are spirit and life. Therefore, God’s children know the difference in the taste of the preaching of a God-made minister and a self-made one, and this is one of the fruits by which God’s children are to know a wolf preacher from a God preacher, by taste of their preaching. For the preaching of a God minister will be to their souls at times as milk and wine, as fat things full of marrow, as wine on the lees, as a fatted calf, as a wedding supper, as pleasant fruits from a green tree full ripe, as a river of water in a thirsty land; by which the children of God will be fed, will grow like a calf in a stall, renew their strength as the eagle after shedding his old feathers and the new ones get full grown; will be comforted and filled with love, joy and peace; with singing and gladness among his brethren. But the preaching of a self-made minister will be to their taste sapless and dry, bitter to the taste of their souls, unsound and full of rotten specks and worms of error, half ripe and half green, some may do and some won’t do and spoil all the rest. Then throw it all away, for it is all sourish, bitter and withered, and indigestible food of a dead tree. The preaching of such self-made preachers will do for moralists and others, as this is all they have ever tasted; but you get a taste of the fruit of the tree and I warrant you know the difference between the preaching of God’s minister and a self-made one. You will see like Jude, dead tree, nothing on this tree but fruit not fit to eat; no water in this cloud, nothing but wind; no preaching to me nor comfort for me in this man’s preaching.
Verse 13, same chapter, sets forth other figurative marks of these men: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Compared to raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame. How terrible and awful to stand on the sea shore and behold the raging billows of the sea driven by a tempest rolling mountain high towards the shore and dashing against the banks with fury and foaming and dying on the shore, as if ashamed retiring back to the bed of the ocean, as if rebuked by rocks and sand banks. Here their proud waves are stayed and all their fury broken. How terrible and awful are men-made preachers to the church of God. How furious and wrathful and reddened with vengeance is their countenances and words, foaming out their threats and punishments and rolling billows of sorrow to the church of God in their persecution of the saints by torture and death. Witness the mighty men of power, the popes, who all to a man I doubt not were self-made. How terrible and awful, worse than the raging waves of the sea, have these men made the kings of the earth and church of God to tremble; rolling on the billows of persecution one after another, they and their adherents against the church of God from age to age they have foamed, dashed, and beat against the church of God; yet like the furious billows have died in their and to their shame; and it is a shame to them to this day, and the names of persecutors of the church will be covered with shame to the end of the world. Nor have they any more prevailed against and destroyed the church, than the raging waves of the sea has the high land: they have only beat on the shore and there died in foam; because she is founded on a rock so that neither the gates of hell nor men-made preachers, who always have been the persecutors and the stimulator's of the kings, emperors, queens and magistrates of the earth thereunto, from Cain to this day. For a self-made priest and self-righteous men have been at the bottom of all the persecution and blood of the church of God, as both scripture and history prove beyond all contradiction.
Another mark is that of wandering stars. Now there are three sorts of stars: the fixed-stars that never wander from their spheres, or the place where the God of heaven has fixed them, but all move on in perfect order and harmony in their various revolutions round the sun, and held by its attractive influence are forced to pay their obedience to a half a second in their revolutions, whether there be storms or tempest it detains them not, nor turns them out of their course; to these God’s ministers are compared, and thus Christ is said to hold the seven stars in his right hand, meaning the ministers of the seven churches of Asia. A second sort of stars is what is called shooting stars, or falling stars; these are, properly speaking, no stars, but a mere meteor or perhaps something like electricity, or inflammable gas, that explodes suddenly; this kind of stars never were seen to wander, but always go straight forward until they die out, and are a fit emblem of those preachers that pop up all at once and preach away for a while and show great light and blaze away for a few years, but in falling into sin, or marrying a rich wife, die as soon as these kind of falling stars, and the trace of their course is as dark as their beginning, or end.
Then to a third sort of stars Jude must have alluded, and that is, the blazing comet. These are wandering stars, have every appearance of a star, appearing very suddenly: and who can think of their mighty motion without being struck with surprise, that when he sets off his journey he runs nobody knows where, but often far beyond the orb of Saturn in the untrod paths of space, as if intending to escape from the system of the universe, blazing with its undiminished torch as if it intended to set surrounding worlds on fire at its passage: and wandering from our world is lost in sight, sometimes for a century, and goes nobody knows where. But as if under the control of almighty power at any time and to the unbounded extent of space, are at length by the powerful attractive influence of the sun forced to retrace his steps and again appear on our coast and to our sight after centuries. Thus they may be said to wander among the stars, rove through the system of the universe and through unknown space, which fixed stars do not. But the two main characteristics or difference of this kind of stars and fixed stars is this, these are wandering stars, others are not; these very plainly appear to have their light springing from themselves, to wit, the blaze above, which appearance is seen neither in sun, moon, or any other stars. And although the sun may be said to be the fountain of light and sheds forth her luminous beams on all around, yet she shows no such appearance; but this star seems to be independent, and as if he would mimic the sun and blaze through the world. This star seems as if it wou1d be king among stars, and the peculiar object of notice among stars; and a terror to all and the admiration of the gazing multitude and talk of all.
Then to this kind of stars I think Jude compares self-made teachers. First, they spring up among ministers rather suddenly, and are the objects of notice from their first appearance, among ministers; he is not dependent on God for light to preach, he has it of himself. He can study it out, he can preach whether God helps him or not. Nor did he ever feel the want of God’s help; nor did he ever say, Lord, I can’t preach except thou help me; having never felt God’s help to preach, he don’t know what it is to be without it. And often these men wander from opinion, or one creed to another, from one new idea to another, until all their preaching is ideal speculative reasoning, and no old sound solid gospel in all they say. And oftener than miss, they keep wandering until they wander to – nobody knows where: to quite new unheard of opinions and sometimes wander back, the dog to his vomit and the sow to the mire. And thus says Jude, to whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever. Awful indeed, but just in God, thus to punish them for taking this sacred office on them without his calling them to office; and for endeavoring to deceive men out of their precious souls, saying this is the way to heaven – when they themselves don’t know the way, how can they guide others? If Philip had not known the way, how could he have guided the Eunuch?
I am admonished they are accused of hard speeches against God. These then speak against God’s foreknowledge, his sovereignty, election, predestination, imputed righteousness; and in deed they make the gospel by their preaching not a matter of necessity for the salvation of a sinner but a mere auxiliary help to help a sinner, save himself. They are said to speak great swelling words – flowery, eloquent words, pompous expressions, such as the wisdom of this world dictates; and why? Having men’s persons in admiration, because of advantage. Ah, that is the bite. If it was not for getting a rich wife, for loaves and fishes, for money and to be thought honorably, and get gain by preaching, $500 or $1,000 a year, preachers would be scarce. If persecution unto death and confiscation of goods was again to come on the church, you would soon, see how thin our ranks would be and our meeting houses. Instead of being filled with gay and fashionable preachers, and a dressy and showy assembly, you would find them standing about like old deserted martin gourds, a habitation for screech owls and scorpions. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith – Paul. But like the wandering star, when escaped to the out-skirts of creation is forced back, so says Paul, these shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be made manifest, like that of Jannes and Jambres, or like the wandering star. Almighty power shall make the folly of such men appear in time and eternity to suffer forever.
I now come to sum up the marks of these men in a short way, as given by the Holy Ghost, which could not err, and lay them before you. Jude shows in the third verse the necessity of writing of the common salvation, and of the saints earnestly contending for the faith once delivered the saints; and why? because, verse 4: certain men had crept in (that is the church) unawares. Then these self-made preachers creep into the churches; this word creep, means in a low unperceived manner, as the squatted cat to her prey, or the creeping gunner to his game. So these men have their game in view; before they get in a church they see their prey, and it is for this prey that they are induced to become religious, far this prey they creep into the church, unsuspected by the church. Because even as Peter could not discern the heart of a Simon Magus when he baptized him, and so he crept in among the twelve, although known to Christ to be a devil from the beginning; he crept in for the bag, that was his game. So all self-made ministers have their game in view, some a rich wife, some to get more custom to their shop, some to get money thereby, some to get honor, and others to save and restore their reputation, Now not one of these are the marks of a God minister; they have no worldly gain in view by coming into the church; they come in from conviction of duty, and are compelled of necessity to preach; and have no worldly gain in-view by coming into the church, nor for preaching, but woe is them if they preach not, whatever they may lose thereby. For God lays the impression on their consciences, and of necessity they must preach for their own peace and good of souls, and not for gain. So a wide difference between the two sorts of ministers in this mark. And Paul agrees with Jude and says of some that they crept in to spy out our liberty.
Second mark: But these speak evil of those things they understand not – that is, the great leading truths of the gospel, the eternity of the plan of salvation, God’s foreknowledge, purpose, election, predestination, ordination, appointment to salvation, decrees, and final salvation – because they have not the spirit to know these, nor the value of these truths. But, every one of God’s ministers will contend for these truths, because they are taught them and the value of them by the same spirit that taught the penman of the holy scriptures. And, as says the scripture, to the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to these, it is because there is no light in them. Here you see a wide difference. These natural preachers only know what they know naturally like brute beasts, by nature, instinct, study, and acquired knowledge; but God’s ministers, to them, as says the scripture, it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to them that are without, (that is, without this gift) it is not given. And, as says Paul, unto me who am the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And again: I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, neither learned I it of man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ. Here is a vast difference again. They are Cains to a man, hate Christians, hate truth; but religious worshippers, wolves in sheep skin. God’s ministers love the truth, love Christians, feed the flock, preach and offer to their hearers a living Christ, as Abel his firstlings of the flock. But the others; dead works, a ground offering, the offering of an earthly moneyed heart; carnal-minded morality, which is enmity against God and in opposition to his system of salvation by Christ.
And here is a vast difference – they are Balaams running greedily after money and popularity. Then whenever you see a minister, no matter of what sect he may be, that shows plainly that money is his object, for this he preaches, this he must have or he won’t preach; for this he leaves one place and goes to another where he can get more: or for the promise of this, like Balak promised Balaam, he saddles his beast and sets out to preach here or there; or when he lays plans or schemes to get money by his preaching, or he must have his price for preaching or he will go where he can get it, say Balaam,. say wolf in sheep’s clothing, say self-made minister, say sheep starver, sheep killer – say mad false prophet, running greedily after the error of Balaam. For if you will be so good as to compare this mark with all the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, or any one of the apostles, I warrant you don’t find one of them seeking to make money by their ministry, Judas excepted, Balaam excepted, both self-made ministers not called of God. Then here is a vast difference by which easily known apart.
Perished in the gainsaying of Core. Whoever goes to school to study to be a preacher, whoever takes up preaching not being born again, whoever takes up preaching to make money, not being born of God and called of God, is a Korah and an offerer of strange fire; not having been called of God to the ministry, and having the heavenly fire of divine love shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of God’s spirit given to him like sweet incense to burn on the altar of his heart – which incense and heavenly fire alone makes any man’s preaching acceptable to God: and all God’s minister’s know when they feel this. And it is under these feelings they always believe their preaching is acceptable to God and profitable to men. But the others offer their preaching with the fire not from, heaven, but from the kitchen of their own hearts and from the fire of lust for money and lust for honor, and thus will perish in gainsaying and for taking this office on themselves not being called of God – blackness of darkness is reserved for them. Here then is a great difference.
These are clouds without water. Let a Christian be ever so thirsty and dry for comfort or for the pleasant waters of life, gospel blessings, he may sit under this man’s preaching and go away as he came, not getting one drop to refresh and strengthen his soul; while God’s ministers, like clouds full of water, will often refresh the whole assembly, and say, it is good I was here – I am glad I went to preaching today, for my soul is feasted on fat things full of comfort and joy. Here is a vast difference again.
These speak great swelling words that they learn and study, aiming in their preaching to be as eloquent as possible to be admired and praised. But God’s ministers speak not with enticing words which man’s wisdom dictate, but in plain words that the Holy Ghost enables them to speak with, and often in a seeming broken manner to them that hear them, humming and hawing, and can hardly get along, that the glory might be of God, or the good done by their preaching shown plainly to be of God that men’s faith stand in the power of God and not in the wisdom of words, as Paul says. And here is another difference.
These men love to preach to the rich and be fawned on by the rich and caressed by the rich, and to get rich persons in the church; and why? Having men’s persons in admiration, because of advantage. Of these men they think they are likely to get what they preach for – Money. Had Balak have had no silver, had he not been a king, old Balaam would not have run there for silver and greatness. Then silver is their object and honor, why they admire and choose rich folks in preference to the poor. But God’s ministers preach the gospel to the poor; God hath chosen the poor of this world to build his church out of, and God’s ministers love the poor pious saints better than all the rich persons in the world that are not so; and had rather keep the company of a poor pious saint than dwell in the palaces of the great. And here is a vast difference.
For by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one towards another – be not high minded, but condescend to men of low estate. These are mockers who walk after their own ungodly lust, like Ishmael; they being children of the bond woman, persecute the children of the promise, they mock at God’s truths, they mock at a system of salvation wholly of grace. The ungodly lust of money is their ruling principle, for which they preach, joined with the unholy lust of honor and praise; after these they walk in their religious course while God’s ministers contend in the face of friend and foe earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, in doctrine, ordinance and discipline, and walk not in their religious course after money, nor honor, nor praise; but from a sense of duty, the love of Christ and souls constraineth them. Through good report and through evil report, through loss or gain, they walk on; for necessity is laid on them, and woe is them by night and day in their feelings if they preach not. If any body is pleased to give them any thing, it is with thankfulness accepted; if not, they still walk on, coveting no man’s silver or gold or raiment; desire to finish their course with joy, and seek the souls of men to salvation and not their money. And here is a vast difference again.
These men separate themselves to the ministry. God never sent them and they are no more fit to preach than satan. But God’s ministers are called away from their fishing nets and plough tail, and made willing in the day of his power to take up the cross of preaching as heavy as it is to them; and learn to obey from the things they suffer on the neglect of it, and count all things loss for Christ’s sake. They never have their eye on money or gain before they set out; they do not separate nor take the office of minister on them to make money; they don’t preach for it, this is no part of their object. And here is another difference.
The self-made preacher will try to reason away the plainest scripture. God’s preacher will contend for plain express scripture, although he suffers persecution for it. The self-made will not preach with the general scope of scripture; will let the main fundamental doctrine lie hid untouched, and pick his parts and often misconstrue them to make his dogmas stand. But God’s is for the whole truth and a delivering the whole council of God, though poverty and death stare them in the face, and men say all manner of evil of the truths they preach.
I forbear. Attend to these marks and I warrant you, you hit the mark of a self-made preacher nine times out ten. Nor will you touch one of God’s preachers by any mark here given of a self-made preacher. Then judge and act accordingly with promptness in behalf of the truths of God and to the help of his ministers, and thou shalt do well; and reject those of these marks for they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, their god is their belly, and they glory in that that should be their shame.
I did not when I sat down to write this part, think of even writing five pages, but the subject has crowded on me and forced me onward to this length; and I can say contrary to my wishes, because I have no money to spare for printing, and am unwilling to burden others. But so it is, I have written it and all I wish for my trouble is, for you reader to compare it with sound reason and scripture, and give the casting vote as the scripture may decide in your view of things, that you be not deceived by false heresies to your ruin and may light from heaven accompany your comparing it with preachers and scripture.
ON MEN-MADE PREACHERS
I now, reader, set out on the second part, not knowing where I shall stop to treat of men-made ministers; but will endeavor to keep scripture, history, facts and truth on my side in their description. And for proof that there are such men in the world as men-made preachers, I offer you 2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I need not quote another scripture at present, this is so expressive and to the point; and is the language of the Holy Ghost by Paul to Timothy, of what should come to pass in the gospel church in some future age of the church. For the time will come, says he, (not now come,) when they (the professors of the gospel church) will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lust, (mark the cause assigned by the Holy Ghost why the church will not endure sound doctrine – lust), the lust of pride, money, and honor, and power; these were the lust that did and now prevail in the church, that produced this cause. What cause? why, the apostle tells Timothy: of putting the church at the great work of heaping up teachers having itching ears. Then the lust of the church, the lust of pride, money, honor and power, was the original cause why the church could not endure sound doctrine. Nor can any sect or individual to this day endure sound doctrine where these lusts prevail. And further, these lusts put the churches to making preachers to her own liking, or to suit her lust. And mark these words in the text (heap to themselves) teachers, having itching ears; which word, heap, shows the great abundance of these kind of teachers that the church would make at some future age of the gospel church, to satisfy her own lust; for this is the original fountain that gave rise to all men-made teachers, according to the prophecy of the Holy Ghost who could not err.
Then I shall enquire when this time came in the gospel church for her to make teachers; for you will not doubt but that the New Testament showeth that Christ made the justified the first teachers of the Christian church, a thing so plain need not be proved; for it shines as with a sunbeam that the first teachers of Christianity were men chosen, called, qualified, and made able ministers of the gospel by God Almighty’s Spirit and grace, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, no man can doubt that reads the New Testament. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the twelve apostles, the seventy, Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, Timothy, Titus, and others, their successors, were ministers of God, and not self-made, men-made, nor church nor devil-made – made so of God, spread the gospel against all opposition, without scheming and monied societies, throughout the vast Roman empire; the mighty field, white unto harvest, for the first gospel laborers; which empire at that time comprehended almost the civilized world; for it is said of the apostles, they went every where preaching the gospel. And it is said by Christ that this gospel of the kingdom must first be preached to all nations, and then shall the end come, meaning the end of Jerusalem and the Jews as a nation. And the different languages of this vast assemblage of nations, of which the Roman empire was composed, was no impediment in their way, being enabled by the Holy Ghost to speak in the mother tongue of all. And although the kings and emperors, and governors of provinces, and heathen and Jewish priests, stood up and raged in anger with sword, fire and faggots, against Christ, his apostles, gospel, doctrine, and followers, yet they all could not stop its progress nor hinder its spread, but rather furthered it by their persecution. For when persecuted in one city they fled to another, and carried the torch of divine truth with them according to the directions of their Lord when he sent them out.
And here I feel under the necessity of digressing from my subject, in order to show the powerful and extensive spread of the gospel under the first preachers of Christianity; for the reason of showing that the church never made teachers until after 300 years of her first progress. Some few days after Christ’s ascension we find the disciples assembled at Jerusalem, and Peter stood up and said over the number, and they were an hundred and twenty. Whether these were all that had been converted by John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, I shall not determine; but I should rather think not, because it is said in the gospel, and many believed on him there, etc. I would rather suppose that these were inhabitants of the city and associated with the apostles at that place; and that there were many disciples elsewhere, but that these formed the first gospel church which continued the head and center of union of all the rest. About ten days after this church was formed, the day of Pentecost came on, when three thousand were added to them. And in the 4th chapter of Acts, we find they had multiplied to five thousand. There is another incident, in the gospel of John, which shows that these were not all; it reads thus: Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the pharisees they did not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. So that it appears Christ had many disciples besides the five thousand, that did not join this church; still the church increased as we find, for it is said: Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. No infants are mentioned as members of this first gospel church, but men and women; think of it, ye infant baptizers. And directly after, another incident falls in the history of the progress of this church – the murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected; and then it is expressly said: That the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. All this seems to take place in about one year after Christ’s ascension, and seemed to be confined to the city of Jerusalem only.
In the 8th chapter of Acts, we find there was a great persecution against this church at Jerusalem by Saul and others, and on that account the members thereof were scattered abroad throughout Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And here is the first spread of the gospel. 5th verse: Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6th, And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake. 8th, And there was great joy in that city. 12th, But when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. There then we may safely suppose there was a second Baptist church, and such an one as the United Baptist of modern times, and of my own time, there can be no doubt is clear from the express text. For they are said to believe Philip’s preaching, and the name of Jesus Christ, and then were baptized, of course on that faith, both men and women – no children in this church neither are mentioned, nor in that at Jerusalem. And that the church at Jerusalem was a Baptist church is clear also, for the apostles were Baptists, and it is said, Acts 2:41: Then they that gladly received the word were baptized and added unto them, etc. The third spread of the gospel was the baptism of the Eunuch, who no doubt so full of joy carried the gospel into Ethiopia. Ananias, who lived at Damascus, was a Baptist for he preached Baptism to Paul, and no doubt baptized him – but whether there was a church here, or not, I can’t say.
We are told that, they that were scattered abroad, went ever where preaching the Word. The effect of this preaching is mentioned in Acts 9:31. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. This work of multiplying believers and churches to this time, according to the best data I can come at, was about four years.
There were saints about this time at Lydda. for it is said: As Peter passed through all quarters he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. Nor do I know that a church was here, but it shows the spread and progress of the church; that it was extending fast to different places. But here Peter healed Eneas. 36th verse: And all that deft at Lvdda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. So that out of these there is a probability there might he a church at Lydda.
There were disciples at Joppa, who sent to Lydda for Peter to raise Dorcas from the dead; and on performing this miracle it is said – verse 42: And it was known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Here again we see the spread of the gospel and the increase of believers, and out of these there might he a church formed, for aught I know.
Hitherto it seems the gospel and church appear to be confined to the Jews and Samaritans, and that the apostles did not know they were at liberty to preach if to other nations, until the case of Cornelius at Cesarea, a centurion, and an Italian by nation. But while Peter tarried at Joppa, he had the vision of the sheet, went to Cornelius, preached with success to this man, his kinsmen and friends – the Holy Ghost falling on them with power – and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Here is another spread and increase of the church, to the astonishment of the Jewish Christians; because these were Gentiles, and the first fruits of the gospel among them.
Here I cannot forbear making the following remark, that it plainly appears that all the conversions of the first Christians were dependent and effected by two things, viz.: the miracles of Christ and his apostles, with the descent of the Holy Ghost on or while preaching. Then in this day since miracles have ceased, all preaching to make sinners Christians is dependent on the descent of the Holy Ghost to give the word power to life and salvation, otherwise the word preached may be a witness and feed sheep. This preaching at Ceserea took place somewhere between the sixth and eighth year after the death of Christ.
In the 11th and 19th: Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, (or the country of Phenicia,) and Cyprus, (which was an island in the sea,) and Antioch, (I suppose in Syria , from the next verse,) preaching the word unto none but unto the Jews only. That is, to the Jews only. That is, to the Jews in those places. 20th, and some of them (that is, the preachers,) were men of Cyprus and Cyrenne, which then they were come to Antioch, spoke unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus, 21st, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord, 24th. And much people was added unto the Lord. Here we plainly see the wide spread of the gospel; and the increase of the gospel church is spoken of by the words, a great number, and much people; words surely made use of to show the mighty increase of believers of the gospel. This work of conversion of the Grecians was about the eighth or ninth year of the apostolic ministry.
About this time Herod the king killed James, and sought to kill Peter also. But yet Acts 12:24 tells us, But the word of God grew and multiplied. Meaning both preachers and number of members. Somewhere I suppose between these years, 8 or 9, Barnabas and Paul were sent by the church at Antioch to preach to the Gentiles. They departed to Seleucia , and then sailed to Cyprus and Salamis. Here they preached the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews; and had John also to their minister. And passed through the isle of Salamis to Paphos; there they loosed and sailed to Perga. Here Paul preached, Acts 13:49. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. From here Paul and Barnabas are expelled out of all their coast.
Next we find them at Iconium, preaching and so speaking, Acts 14:1. That a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks, believed. Iconium was the chief city of Lyconia. This happens about the 12th or 13th year. Next we find them at Lystra and Derbe, cities in same country or district. From Derbe they return to Lystra, to Iconium, and Antioch; then passing throughout Pisidia and Pamphylia, and to Perga; then to Attalia, from thence sailed to Antioch, and here abode long time. This is Paul’s and Barnabas’s first travel among the heathen, and shows us plainly the spread of the gospel and its wonderful success among the heathen.
About the year 16, after the death of Christ, it was that men came from Judea and taught, Acts 15:1, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Then the church sends Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem with the apostles to consider of this matter. This occasions their second journey. They pass through Pheniçe and Samaria, and then to Jerusalem; from thence back to Antioch, carrying the determination of the council, Acts 15:41, And he (Paul) went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. That is, after the parting of him and Barnabas, about taking John with them. From this text then we learn that in sixteen years there were many churches in these two countries, Cilicia and Syria: how many we are not told, but from the expressions made use of to show the number of converts, I should suppose there were many churches; for they are set forth by the historian in the plural, churches. And as Paul travelled through these churches, he found them. Acts 16:5, And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. There can be no doubt that these were all Baptist churches, and like ours of the United Baptists of this day, in doctrine, ordinance and discipline. But more by the bye.
Paul now being forbidden to preach the gospel in Asia, passes to Misia and Bithynia, and comes to Troas; from Troas to Sampthraca, then to Neapolis and from thence to Philippi, in Macedonia in Greece. Here he plants the church of Philippi, and this was a Baptist church, for Lydia and jailor and houses were baptized.
From Philippi Paul passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, and came to Thessalonica, and in this city some of the Jews believed, Acts 17:4, And of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. Here he plants another Baptist church, for there are two epistles written by Paul to this church.
From Thesalonica Paul and Silas are sent to Berea, and here they preached, 12th verse: Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men not a few. Here I think also there was another church, although the historian don’t mention it; for Timotheus abode there still, after the brethren sent Paul and Silas to Athens, another city of Greece, and no doubt to preach to the new converts or church until Paul sent for him.
At Athens Paul made a few converts. From Athens he came to Corinth, where he spent a year and a half in preaching to that city; for here it was revealed to Paul that Christ had much people in that city. And the success of Paul at Corinth in preaching is found in Acts 18:8, And many of the Corinthians, believed, and were baptized. Here then Paul plants another Baptist church, and that they were of the same sort as the churches that compose the Kehukee Association there can be no doubt; for these first heard Paul preach, then believed, then were baptized. So that in all cases baptism is administered according to the scripture account after faith or belief, and not otherwise, if known. But it has been said by an enemy; that there are drunkards, fornicators, covetous and cold hearted professors in the churches of the Kehukee Association. No doubt of this truth; but let that sect or body of churches cast their stones that have got no such among them, and then we will thank them for their calumny. But, sirs, read Paul’s epistles to the church at Corinth, and there you will find drunkards, incestuous persons – have a verse: 2 Corinthians 21:21, That I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed. Besides the divisions, strifes, debates, envyings, wraths, whisperings, swelling, tumults, mentioned by Paul to this church. So you can see these things were in the first apostolic churches, and we, like those churches, when we find them put them out of doors. Let others do the same. For it is not given to the ministers of the Kehukee Association to know the hearts of them they baptize, nor was it given to Paul, or Peter, or else he would not have baptized Simon Magus.
From Corinth Paul sailed into Syria and came to Ephesus; from thence he sailed Cesarea, then down to Antioch, then went all over the country of Phrygia; lastly fixes his stand at Ephesus, and fulfilled his promise to his brethren of returning to them. Here Paul stays two years, preaching and disputing in the school of one Tyrannus. And this was about the 25th or 26th year after Christ’s ascension. Paul’s success at Ephesus is found in Acts 19:5: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. These were the disciples he found at Ephesus, who had been baptized by John’s baptism. 19th, Many also of them which used curious arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men. 20th, So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. Here then you see again the progress, spread, power, and prevalence of the gospel, and the establishment of another Baptist church at Ephesus; for there is as proof that there was a church here, Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians and John’s revelation to the angel of the church at Ephesus. I say Baptist church, for here Paul finds twelve Baptists who were baptized unto John’s baptism; and who could be more real Baptists than those of this order? And there, is I think no doubt, but those that burned their books of magic joined in with these and formed the church at Ephesus. There is another item in the 26th verse that shows the power, success, and extent of Paul’s preaching: Moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people. Mark the extent – throughout all Asia , much people.
And these are not all the proofs, for there are mentioned as we have passed along, disciples at Rome, Alexandria, Cyprus, etc. Now all these churches, converts and spread of the gospel, brings us up to about the 28th year after Christ’s ascension. What a mighty work of salvation on the earth in 28 years!
Acts 21:21, gives us a clear view of the number of disciples in Jerusalem: Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law. Here in this verse the number of believing Jews is set forth by thousands; then the number of Christians in 28 years must have been immensely great. While Paul was purifying himself in Jerusalem, the Jews take him and carry him into the castle. He is brought before Felix, preaches before Agrippa, has his trial, appeals to Cezar, sails for Rome in his passage three hundred three score and sixteen souls are converted – after the shipwreck he came to Puteoli where he found brethren, and thence to Rome where he was a prisoner two years.
Now here let us stop pursuing the history of the church and first preachers of the gospel, and recapitulate and make remarks on the past progress. The Acts of the apostles is the first ecclesiastical history that ever was written of the Christian church, and contains the history of the church for about thirty one years, and carries us to the reign of Nero the Roman Emperor; from whose reign I shall in a short way pursue the history of the church up to Constantine’s reign, 323, and so on.
Now during this 31 years the gospel had spread throughout Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and by far the greater part of Lesser Asia; through Greece and most all the islands of the Aegean Sea; Cyprus, Salamis, Crete, etc., good part of the sea coast of Africa, at Rome in Italy, Antioch in Syria, Ephesus, Joppa, Thessalonica, Berea, Derbe, Iconium, Corinth; at another Antioch, which was in Pisidia; at Saron and Lydda, etc., etc. Disciples are also mentioned at Damascus, Listra, Troas, Athens, Tyre, Cesarea; while Jerusalem continued the head and principal seat of Christianity, where thousands are said to believe. Now then the number of churches that the scripture tells us did exist. First, the church at Jerusalem, the mother of all true gospel churches. There is another mother, the church of anti-Christ; but she is the mother of harlots, that is, of all spurious churches. The church at Rome, for Paul says their faith was spoken of throughout all the world. Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, Crete, the church at Cenchrea, the church in the house of Priscilla and Aquilla – Sardis, Philadelphia, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Laodicea. Here are seventeen churches that the scriptures tell us where they were; and the last six we should have known nothing about, as they are not mentioned in the history of the Acts of the apostles, had it not been for John, who is the last writer of the New Testament, who mentions them. Now I feel no doubt, from the mention made in the scriptures of the great multitudes that believed, much people, many believed, etc., and the wide range of the apostles’ travels in Asia and Greece, and the numerous cities and places mentioned at which they preached, that there were hundreds and thousands of churches established and built up during this 31 years of their ministry. And I am confirmed in this opinion for severa1 reasons: first, that history of the Acts of the apostles is very limited and concise; for the first third part of that history is taken up with the transactions of all the apostles about Jerusalem; the last two-thirds leaves out the preaching and acts of the twelve apostles, and pursues Paul, Barnabas, Silas, etc., in their travels and acts among the heathen. Now admit, and this you must admit, that the twelve and the seventy were not idle preaches and left all the work to Paul and his companions; no, by no means, when the express command of their master was, to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Then we have no historical account in the scriptures of the success and extent of the preaching of the twelve and the seventy, except about Jerusalem, save a few accidental expressions, such as: They went everywhere preaching the word – for the persecution of the Jews and the conversion of Cornelius, opened their way to all heathen nations, as well the twelve and seventy as Paul and Barnabas. And again, Colossians 1:23: Which was preached to every creature under heaven. Now Paul, Barnabas and Silas could not do this. This agrees with our Saviour’s prediction: And this gospel of the kingdom must he first preached to all nations, and then shall the end come – which end, if you will read and compare, means the destruction of Jerusalem. Again, Colossians 1:6: Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world. Meaning the gospel – which texts show the extent that the gospel was to be preached in the apostolic age – in all the world. Again, by Paul: Their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. So then here is a decisive view of the extent of the preaching of the gospel by the apostles in their day, by themselves and those that were raised up under their preaching; such as Titus, Timothy, Apollos, and no doubt a thousand others. Then I say, I think with good reason, there were thousands of churches in this wide extent – all the world.
A second reason I offer for thousands of churches in the apostolic age is, the many hundreds of thousands of Christians that were destroyed throughout the Roman empire , during what is termed the ten general persecutions; beginning with Nero, who lived in the apostolic age. For the first epistle of Peter shows and accosts the Christians widely scattered in different countries, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia; and no doubt in all places where there is mention made of disciples, which is a great many, they followed the practice of other cities of congregating into churches. Nor can we think that the apostles left such materials scattered all over the country, without building them into churches. For the word churches often occurs in the New Testament. I have other reasons, but these may suffice since there is no proof to the contrary.
However, I will offer a few additional proofs of the great number of Christians in the apostolic age. Tacitus, an eminent philosophic historian, was a Roman knight by birth and was born in the reign of Nero, the very emperor Paul was brought before, and by whose orders he was beheaded. Tacitus says in his writings, this denomination had their rise from one Christian, (meaning Christ), who in the reign of Tiberius was put to death as a criminal by the procurator (governor) Pontius Pilate.
At first, such were only put to death as confessed themselves of this Sect, (meaning Christians,) afterwards a vast multitude. Mark his words – a vast multitude. The next is, the testimony of Pliny the younger, who was the governor of Pontus and Bythinia, two districts in Asia Minor; who wrote to the Emperor Trajan his complaint about the Christians, and how he should proceed concerning them. In his letter, which was written between the 75th and 80th year after Christ’s ascension, the following is found: Especially upon account of the great number of persons who are in danger of suffering, for many of all ages and of every rank of both sexes – Nor has the contagion of this superstition (meaning the Christian religion) seized cities only, but the lesser towns also and the open country. He further complains that the gospel had so supplanted heathenism and sacrifices to the heathen gods, that those who brought to market victims for sacrifice could scarce find a purchaser. All which go to show the prevalence of the gospel and number of converts. Nor is there less reason to believe that the number of Christians was less in these two provinces than others. These proofs are of more worth, because they come from the enemies of Christians.
I think the many evidences before us are full sufficient to prove that the number of churches was very great; and that there were thousands of thousands of Christians all over the known world; which comprehends the space of about 75 years from the ascension of Christ to Pliny. This is one thing I set out to prove by my digression.
The second thing I intended to prove by my digression was, that these seventeen churches were all Baptist churches; and if they were, there can be no doubt that the rest planted by the apostles and first preachers were. The gospel of Mark places the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ as commencing with John the Baptist, Mark 1:4. John did baptize in the wilderness; and preached the baptism of repentance – verse 5: And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem , and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. This is the first account of baptism found in any history in the world. How was it performed? The text is plain – in the river of Jordan – not with a basin, pitcher, pail, nor pouring, nor gourd. Then sprinkling nor pouring could not be the mode of John’s baptism, because those who sprinkle or pour don’t go in a river to do it: they do it out of a river, so do not follow the pattern given as performed in the first instance. What kind of persons were baptized? Those that confessed their sins – then of course no children here, for they know nothing about confessing of sins.
A second proof and a second time, verse 10: And Jesus when he was baptized went up straitway out of the water. This was in the same river, John 3:23: And John also was baptizing in AEnon, near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. This one text outweighs in my mind all the quibbles and arguments ever produced by pedobaptists. For here we are told why John baptized in AEnon, because there was much water. Then it required much water for John to baptize, and you will not doubt he well understood the mode. His baptizing in Jordan also proves the fact that he required much water, for this was in a river where there was also much water, as in AEnon. This proves to a demonstration that the first mode of baptism was not sprinkling; because it does not require much water to sprinkle or pour – a little and not much will do. Again, the baptism of the Eunuch proves the same fact. They went down both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him – and when they were come up out of the water, etc. Now this shows us that the apostles baptized in the same way John did: for John went into the water to perform baptism, so did Philip. Christ went into the water, or else it could not he said he came out of it. Here then we see plainly that sprinkling nor pouring neither is not baptism, according to John’s nor the apostolic mode; for these went down into the water to perform baptism; but sprinklers nor pourers don’t do so. So I say sprinkling is not even a shadow of the example of baptism, much less baptism itself. Then this point is proved that the apostles baptized in the same manner John did; and that was, by going into the water to baptize, and there baptizing. And I say, according, to the scripture there is no such thing as being a Baptist without going into the water. Do this you must, whether you pour, sprinkle, or immerse, to be a Baptist, for the example is clear. But I will warrant you, whenever the preacher and the candidate become humble enough to do this, fifty to one if he then don’t immerse; which must be the right mode from these words: Buried, with him by baptism into death. Immersion is the only mode to which this text can be applied for there is no likeness between pouring and sprinkling and a burial, but in immersion there is.
But the apostles were Baptists as well as Christ, for he was a Baptist baptized in Jordan by John, who had a command from God to baptize and was, he tells us, sent to baptize: and therefore it was righteousness in John to administer it; and righteousness in Christ to submit to it; and as he said, it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. If Christ himself would not preach before he became a Baptist, surely he would not send his disciples to preach before they were baptized. Should you ask, who baptized them? I shall answer, that some of John’s disciples, which were Baptists, went over to Christ and followed him. John 1:35: Again the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples, 36. And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, behold the Lamb of God! 37. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. One of them was Simon Peter’s brother, named Andrew, who also was one of the twelve. By these two disciples I suppose the ten were baptized, for it is said: Though Jesus baptized not, but his disciples. Then it is proven I think plain enough again, that John’s baptism was the baptism that the apostles practiced; as two of John’s disciples were among the twelve, they surely practiced the same mode by which they themselves were baptized by John; and as they were baptized in a river, or where there was much water, by John, it is reasonable to believe that the apostles also followed the same practice of baptizing in rivers, and where there was much water; and that they baptized the ten, and continued after this mode wherever they made disciples.
You cannot believe that God gave John three modes of baptism, or that he left it to John to choose any mode, or that he might choose any mode he pleased, or that any mode would do; for if John had a command from God to baptize, that command must express the mode, else how would John go about or know how to obey the command and perform baptism, since it had never been performed before, nor had he ever read it in any book or seen it performed? So then it is clear God gave him the mode, and he knew how it was to be performed, in a river. And God also gave him to know the subjects of baptism, for he preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. So that his very preaching set forth the subjects of baptism. Question. Had John a right to alter the mode, or had the church, or had any man – or the subject for baptism either? I will answer this question, by stating another: Has any subject a right to alter the law of his king, or any servant to alter the command of his master, or a child his parent’s commands, although he may dislike it? You are forced to answer, No. Then how dare any man to alter the mode of baptism, so as not to baptize in rivers, or where there is much water? He that does it is culpable to the great God. How dare any man to alter the subjects of baptism from those that confessed their sins, those that gladly receive the word, those that believe, to children as subjects of baptism. You have as much right to alter the laws of your State, voluntarily and of your own accord, without the concurrence of a majority, and more so. God will hold you accountable for such an offence against his majesty. Have a text, Matthew 5:19: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. 15:6: Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. So in one case, so in all. Matthew 15:9: But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Revelation 22:18: If any man shall add unto these things God shall add unto them the plagues that are written in this book. Surely these four texts ought to satisfy any man of the danger of altering God’s doctrine or ordinances. Then to teach infant sprinkling is a doctrine of men; or to teach sprinkling or pouring for baptism, for the commandment of God, is the doctrine of men; since no such a mode of baptism is found in the New Testament. For if any man can find that John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, or the apostles, ever baptized an infant, or that either of them sprinkled or poured for baptism, I will give that man my horse and gig. So that then infant sprinkling is a vain worship, pouring is a vain worship, and a making of none effect the command of baptism in a river, or much water of none effect; because these are traditions, both pouring and sprinkling, and the commandments of men in such a practice, since there is not one sentence of such a practice in the New Testament, which holds the commands of Jesus Christ to his ministers and church, and in that alone is the law for the church of God to be found. So that the apostles were river and much water Baptists, and not basin Baptists, this is clear.
Matthew 28.19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Verse 20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Among these commands, is that of baptism. Now do you think that the apostles could teach another baptism than that of John’s, which was baptizing in a river or where there was much water? No, for two of them had been baptized by John themselves. They knew also that Jesus was baptized in a river. Philip practiced the same baptism on the Eunuch, in a certain water; and you can’t prove this was not much water, or a river. Nor can you prove in one instance in the New Testament, that any man or woman was ever baptized but in a river, or where there was much water. A great deal has been said about the jailor and house – was there not a river hard by the city Philippi , where Paul and Silas went when prayer was wont to be made? Was it not as nigh for Paul to go and baptize Lydia and the jailor, as it was to go and pray? Think on it.
So then after the mode is given by John the Baptist and Philip, and the subjects given, such as confessed their sins, gladly received the word, I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized as well as we, believed and were baptized, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved – can any man be so blind and so prejudiced, not to see that the subjects of baptism are believers, and not children nor unbelievers. Dark must be that man’s mind, or God has sent him strong delusion that he should believe a lie that he might be damned; because he has pleasure in the unrighteousness of his pride, caviling and disobedience.
Now if the apostles had the mode, and many examples of baptism in the river and much water – and if they themselves had thus been baptized, and if they were the subjects themselves, they must know the fit subjects of baptism. Now let us examine: first, the church at Jerusalem. Was this church a Baptist church? The apostle Peter stood up and said over the names of this church, and they were an hundred and twenty. Were they Baptists? Surely, for the apostles, or at least two of them, were river or much water Baptists; of this we are sure, and there is nothing to prove the rest were not, but a strong presumption that were all the same sort, and the balance of the hundred and twenty besides the twelve, as the church of John was to decrease, and the church of Christ was to increase. There is not much doubt that many or all of these were John’s disciples, since John was beheaded; and we read but of one preacher of John’s order besides the two that came over to Christ, and that was Apollos, and he came over after the instruction of Aquilla, there is not much doubt; and twelve disciples of John’s found at Ephesus, to whom Paul gave the Holy Ghost. Here seems to be an end of the church of John. But to prove the fact, what sort of persons were added to this church, such as gladly received the gospel by the mouth of Peter, these were baptized. So you see it must be a Baptist church, for these were baptized before added to the church; because it is said, the same day about three thousand souls were added to the church. And although it is not said whether they were baptized in a river, pond or creek, pool or font, that does not alter the case at all, since the mode is given in the scripture in several places; and the subjects in a great many places, and the administrators also. It is not fair reason and just to say, that in whatever place water baptism is mentioned in the scriptures, it refers to the mode and subject as had been practiced by John and the apostles, where example and mode were plainly pointed out in the scriptures; and after the manner that they themselves had been baptized in a river or much water? I think so, for although in a great many places mention is made of many being baptized, yet no mention is made how it was done; yet surely we are to understand it as according to the mode and subject, where the scripture has pointed it out. And in the case of Philip and the Eunuch, and John’s baptizing, there is not a stone left unturned to show the mode and subject of baptism. Were any of these children? No; they were men and women; infants could not be pricked in the heart by Peter’s preaching, nor could they gladly receive the word. And to prove this point once for all, let Peter, who is the preacher here, define baptism and its use: Peter 3:21: Baptism is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. Can infants be conscious about baptism, or it be to them the answer of a good conscience toward God? Why you ought to know better. Then they are not the subjects of baptism, nor were there any in this church; but a Baptist church of believing men and women, I think fairly proven; baptized on hearing, believing, and gladly receiving the word.
Let us next come to the church at Corinth . Acts 18:8: And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized. I Cor. 1:12: And were you baptized in the name of Paul. Here is fair proof that the church at Corinth was a Baptist church of believers, and that they were baptized after they heard and believed. No infants here, for infants could not believe Paul’s preaching, are not fit subjects of baptism.
Next the church at Ephesus. Acts 19:3: And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism. Paul on coming to Ephesus found these twelve men that had been baptized with John’s baptism, which was a river and much water baptism. These then were Baptists of the right kind, and were believers, for it is said, in the 4th verse: John taught the people, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. So then John taught faith in Christ as requisite to baptism, and these were baptized in that faith. After this, many by Paul’s preaching and working miracles, that used curious arts, brought their hooks and burned them; which drew from Luke, the historian of the Acts, this reflection, verse 20: So mightily grew the word of Cod, and prevailed. And although no mention is made of those being baptized, yet I think there can be no doubt but they were, and joined in with the twelve; and the reason I offer for it is, tint there was a church at Ephesus, which is proved by Paul’s epistle to that church found in the scriptures. Then I think the proof is strong, it was a Baptist church of much water.
Next we come to the church at Philippi. That this was a Baptist church is fully clear, for Lydia and house, and jailor and house were baptized, you will not dispute, and were the first fruits of Paul’s preaching at Philippi. And that there was a church at Philippi, Paul epistles to the Philippians as recorded in the scriptures, prove beyond doubt and if the first converts in the church were baptized, why not all? I see no reason. So then this was a Baptist church beyond doubt.
I forbear giving further proofs; not because they cannot be produced, because I am too far swelling this piece. For if there is satisfactory proof from scripture that these four were Baptist churches, of which I consider the proofs fully sufficient, then it follows as a matter of course that the other thirteen mentioned in scripture were; and all the hundreds and thousands of churches that were all over the world, as the gospel had been preached in all the world and to every creature under heaven, and the sound gone into all the earth, and the words of the gospel by the apostles to the ends of the world; there must have been thousands of churches, and they were all river and much water Baptist churches. For we hardly believe that if the apostles planted those churches and that they were Baptist, that they planted any church of any other sort than that of Baptist.
But it may he asked, what kind of Baptists were they, since there are so many sorts in this day? I think the proofs offered are fully sufficient to prove that there was but one kind of Baptist in the apostolic age; all others have arisen since. For we must believe as the apostles had all been baptized by one mode, that they all practiced one mode in all countries where they went. For the scripture by an apostle tells us: One Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And as they had but one baptism, I contend that they had but one mode among them. Stop, says the Quaker, there were two baptisms: the baptism of water, and of the Holy Ghost; and we contend for the baptism of the Holy Ghost; for he that was to come, that is, Christ, was to baptize with fire and with the Holly Ghost; so we say that done away water baptism, and now the one baptism means the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and that is all that is necessary. This is a mistake of yours. Acts 19, there you find twelve men baptized by John’s baptism, who received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of Paul after water baptism. This agrees with John’s testimony of Christ, that he should baptize with the Holy Ghost. But here is a text that sweeps your opinion away like chaff. Acts10:47: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48:And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Here you see as plain as the nose on your face, that water baptism came after receiving the Holy Ghost; then how is Holy Ghost baptism the one baptism, or how is it sufficient if water baptism must come after it? So then I think it is clear, that water baptism is the one baptism alluded to, and the apostles always used it as the one baptism, even after the Holy Ghost had been received.
Then Cornelius and house were both Holy Ghost and water Baptists too, and these are the right kind of Baptists, for the Holy Ghost enables the sinner to believe; yea, as the scripture hath said we believe according to the working of his mighty power, then after that baptized.
Simon Magus is said to believe and was baptized: but he was not a Baptist of the right kind, for he was a money Baptist, as many are now a days. Judas was no doubt a Baptist, but he also was a money Baptist, and of the same bad kind.
It takes something more to make an apostolic Baptist, or what I call a genuine Baptist, than to go into the water and be baptized by immersion: for it is said of the first Christians: And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, in breaking bread and prayers. A man that don’t believe apostolic doctrine, has no business in the Baptist church, and is not steadfast therein; and why? because Paul says: A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject. Who would or did the apostles call heretics, but such as did not believe their doctrine; these of course, as they had the true doctrine and none else but they. And again, John – If any man come unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your houses, neither bid him God speed – alluding to the apostle’s doctrine. And again, Paul – Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed – that is, put off from the church. This is enough to show you, that a man to be a Baptist of the right kind, must believe apostolic doctrine; or, what is the foundation or fundamental doctrine they taught. It is contained in the New Testament in the epistles, very plain and positive.
The summary of apostolic doctrine, or fundamental principles, is, I conceive, as follows: First, that God is love. This is the fountain head, the first cause, the whole cause, the main cause, sole cause of all time blessings of the gospel, and man’s salvation and eternal happiness. And that this love of God to his people is 1st, sovereign; 2nd, incomprehensible; 3rd, inconceivably great; 4th, everlasting under all circumstances; 5th, unchangeable, forever the same; 6th, free to us and undeserved by us; 7th, boundless and infinite, passing all understanding; 8th, that it is a bestowed love, to make us the sons of God. In which love of God to us there is no variableness nor shadow of a turn. All this is easy proved from the writings of the apostles.
2nd. That God did before the foundation of the world, or ere man was created, foreknow and foresee, the end of all creation; and that man would fall and become a sinner; and in consequence of this foreseeing and foreknowing that men would become sinners, he did therefore by this foreknowledge before the world began – Acts 2:23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel, and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Then from this text it was determined by God’s foreknowledge, that Jesus Christ should die for the sins of men. 1 Peter 1:2: By this foreknowledge did God elect sinners through sanctification of the spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Then by this foreknowledge, that is, before they had sinned or were made, God foresaw them sinners needing sanctification and washing in Jesus’ blood, to cleanse them from all sin. By this foreknowledge were they predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, to be called, justified and glorified, as in Romans, 8:29: And God has not, nor never will, cast away his people which he foreknew. As in Romans 11:2: By this foreknowledge he did predestinate sinners to the adoption of children. As in Ephesians 1:5: By Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace – and accepted them in the beloved. And in the 11th of the same chapter: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance; being predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. In a word, it was this foreknowledge God loved his people with an everlasting love; by it he made choice of his people, or elected them in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blame in love, as in Ephesians 1:4. By this foreordain before the foundation of the world, Jesus Christ to be slain for the sins of his people, and he a propitiation for all their every crime, as in Peter 1:20. By this foreknowledge he gave them grace in and saved them in Christ, before the world began, as in 2 Timothy 1:9. By this foreknowledge he wrote the many of his people in the Lamb’s book of life, ordained them to eternal life, appointed them to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ gave them to Christ, prepared a kingdom for them from the foundation of the world – by it he chose Jacob and refused Esau, before they were born or had done good or evil; by it his purpose of election stands, and according to it all the wheels of providence move to complete the work of salvation of his foreknown, beloved and elect people. By this foreknowledge of God was the system of salvation constructed, settled, and the Saviour and Redeemer chosen and appointed; and all other things relative to creation, redemption, regeneration, and glorification, were finished in purpose and decreed in eternity, through the means foreseen and fore appointed. And all God’s promises to his Son, and his people in him, were confirmed and ratified with the oath of God to Christ and the heirs of promise, before the world began. On all these points the scripture speaks clear and plain, as one of the main principles of apostolic doctrine. However much you may disbelieve it, or contend against it, all your jangling won’t alter it.
3rd. That election was an apostolic doctrine, and one of the fundamentals of their doctrine, no man can deny that reads the New Testament. And that God did not elect or choose his people on a foresight of their goodness, repentance, nor faith, nor would does, is self-evident from scripture; for they were chosen by his foreknowledge, as says Peter – and chosen in Christ, says Paul, before the foundation of the world. Then as Paul says, and cites as a case in point the choice of Jacob, they were chosen before they had done good or evil, like Jacob, if chosen before the foundation of the world; for then when the choice was made before the world began they could not have done good or evil. So then the choice of sinners in Christ before the world began, was not dependent on does of goodness, or does of badness; but like the case of Jacob, that the purpose of God according to election might stand; not of him that willeth or runneth, but of God that showeth mercy to whom he will. For this, election rests not on goodness, will, nor works; but is an election according to grace and purpose of God. Then sinners were not elected to salvation and glory on a foresight of their goodness, but on a foreknowing of their badness; not elected because they were good. Or because they would be good; but elected before they had done good or evil, before born of the new birth, as some say; or as some others say, after they become Christians, then elected. Let this text stop your mouth: Chosen in him before the foundation of the world. If elected before the foundation of the world, how then elected after they become Christians, when this election took place so long before? No, Sir, you have got it wrong; they were elected before the world began; but their becoming Christians is only a proof that they had been elected, before the world began. So that becoming a Christian is a fruit of election, and not election itself; election is God’s act in eternity, becoming a Christian is the act of the Holy Ghost on us in time. This is truth. They were not elected because they would be clean of themselves, but elected on a foresight of their filthiness, and to be made clean by the sanctification of the spirit and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. They were not elected because they would be of themselves righteous, holy, or loving creatures. God foresaw they would be so and so elect them; no, but their election took place in eternity, on a foreseeing they were unholy and at enmity in their minds against God, and hating him in their very hearts, of which every imagination was only evil and that continually. And thus God chose them by his foreknowledge, and elected them before the foundation of the world, without any reference to their good work; but alone to their unholiness and hatred he had reference; for thus are they elected to be holy and without blame before him in love. Then without this election they never would have been holy, nor loved God, nor been blameless in his sight. Then holiness, blamelessness before God, and love to God, are the fruit of election, and not the cause why people are elected. For the truth is, God’s people were elected by his foreknowledge, when he foresaw all their sins upon them; and the sins which he foresaw did not hinder their election, because this election is of grace and not of works. Neither did he elect them because he foresaw who would repent and believe, for then no such a thing as election could have taken place in eternity; because the scripture tells us, that repentance and faith are both the gift of God – if so, men cannot repent nor believe until these gifts are given. Then strange indeed, that God should elect men on the account of his own gifts; for then no thanks to them for their election, for it would be of God who gave the gifts of repentance and faith, or else they would not have repented nor believed. So then repentance and faith in the creature, if the gift of God, still makes their election wholly of God, and not of self nor no ways dependent on the creature, but dependent on God’s gifts. So you get no glory here, and this is what men want, to show the glory of their salvation with God; that’s the reason men cannot receive particular, unconditional, and eternal election, as it is set forth in the scriptures – can’t give up for salvation to be all of grace, all the gift of God or glory in the Lord, and not in themselves. But so far from God’s electing sinners on a foresight of their repentance and faith, that repentance and faith is the fruit of election: For as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed. I have said enough here, nor have I quoted many scriptures, as every man that has read his Bible knows election to be a doctrine taught by Christ and his apostles; and that Christ is elected of God, and that sinners are elected to be members of his church, and to eternal salvation through Christ.
4th. That of an effectual calling of the elect from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and satan unto God, to be partaker of eternal salvation is also an apostolic doctrine. First, the foreknown and the predestinated to a conformity to his Son, are also predestinated to be called, Romans 8:30. And here are two verses that show who are called, and the design of calling. Romans 9:23: And that he might make known the riches, of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. Verse 24: Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. And also who he calls, the vessels of his mercy; afore prepared unto glory. And here you see the design of God is, to make known the riches of his glory on these vessels of mercy. 1 Cor. 7:17: As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. It is a calling of God’s grace. Gal. 1:15: It pleased God, who called me by his grace. 1 Thess. 2:12: Who called you to his kingdom and glory. 4:7: For God hath not called us to uncleanness. 2 Thess. 2:14: Whereunto God called you by his gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9: Who hath called us with an holy calling. 1 Peter 5:10: The God of all grace who hath called us. Now all these texts prove that the calling of a sinner is the act of God by his grace, and Romans 11:19, proves that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Philippians 8:14: For the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9: An holy calling. Heb. The heavenly calling. I need not multiply texts further on this doctrine, for it would be almost to transcribe the scriptures, it is so full of proof that the elect shall be called of God. And indeed he is the person to do it, as the elect are only known by him. Therefore he sends his spirit to call them, the predestinated, the foreknown, the vessels of mercy, the Lord’s portion. And Christians are exhorted to make their calling and election sure; that is, sure as to their own consciences; for otherwise it is as sure as the oath of God, or his promise to his Son. And as certain as he is unchangeable; for he has promised Jesus to save his children. I will only add, that it is a particular call, because not many wise or noble are called; but left uncalled by God with this holy and heavenly call,. And that if God calls it must he effectual, as he has power to render the call effectual. And hence Paul was persuaded that he that had begun a good work in some, would carry it on to the day of Jesus Christ. And let this text show you the whole drift at once; 1 Peter 2:9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Can any man want more to prove that the elect are called, and for what end: to show forth God’s praise, and that the calling is effectual to this end. It is fully proven by the scriptures that God calls the elect, not according to their works of righteousness; that this call is special, particular, effectual, holy, heavenly, high, without repentance, by grace, to his kingdom and glory as the end; and that all mankind do not have this call; and that this was a fundamental principle in apostolic doctrine. I think none can doubt, that will take pains to compare the scriptures.
5th. Justification before God and in the eye of the divine law, is only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ; and that all our works done before or after grace has no part in this justification, but only serves justify us in our own consciences and before men. To prove which they taught our own righteousness was as filthy rags, and that by the deeds of the law no flesh living could he justified; and not by works of righteousness which we have done has he saved us. And he who has had his eyes opened by divine grace is ready to say, he commits sin enough in his best day to damn his soul, if it was not for Christ; for where is he and who is he that has not foolish thoughts, they are sin by the law, and the soul that sins shall die. Then in our best doings by the law all men stand condemned, and whether we sing, preach, or pray, sin is mixed with all we do. Then if God for one sin reserved the devil in chains of darkness, and for one sin drove Adam and Eve out of the garden, and they by one sin brought condemnation on all mankind – great God! what is to be our fate, that have sinned as the sand on the sea shore? Damn’d, forever damn’d, without a Christ, with all the works of righteousness we can do; and condemned to hell and eternal wrath by the law; for sin is a debt that must he paid to God’s justice, for disobedience to the law of his majesty; and to obey it we cannot because we have lost by the fall of Adam that purity that would enable us to do so. Then to remedy this defect in us, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, and become the end of the curse of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. And this is the name whereby he shall be called the Lord our Righteousness. And says Paul, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare his righteousness that he (God) might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. But here is a text that puts the matter quite out of all doubt; Acts 13:39: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not he justified by the law of Moses. Galatians, justified by his blood. I need not dwell, but refer you to the epistles of St. Paul, and the Basket of Fragments, where this matter is as plain as it can be to him that has eyes to see. So that I shall set it down without fear of contradiction, that out acquittance, atonement, forgiveness of sins, clearance from condemnation, the curse of the law and divine wrath, and eternal justification before God, is by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ being accounted ours, without which we are damn’d. And that this was a fundamental or apostolic doctrine is clear from the scripture.
6th. But those thus foreknown, beloved, elected, called, and justified, shall persevere by the sufficient grace of God given them, through all temptations, trials, and difficulties, and come forth and be glorified in heaven, is clear from all God’s absolute promises made to them. Such as: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but have passed from death to life – I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. With a thousand others of like import. The oath of God to these heirs of promise, secures their perseverance to the kingdom prepared for them. I refer you to the scriptures, where you may find line upon line of apostolic doctrine confirmed with the oath and positive promises of God, for the final salvation of every Christian. Then all the promises in the epistles show this was a fundamental or apostolic doctrine, and yea and amen to the glory of God by us.
7th. The day of general judgment, both of the righteous and the wicked, by the resurrection of the dead, wherein an eternal separation will take place; the righteous to heaven and the wicked to hell, to punish or be happy for ever.
These are the foundation stones of divine truth, making the basis of apostolic doctrine, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; believing in whom and walking in all God’s commandments, and in love and peace with our brethren, performing good works, having ordained that we should walk in them. The man then that has been baptized by immersion on the profession of his faith, by a lawful administrator, and believeth these doctrines, and is steadfast in them, and in fellowship in breaking bread in the Lord’s Supper, and continues in prayers and good works, is an apostolic Christian, a genuine Baptist of the old school, and is entitled to the name of Christian, and will certainly outride the storm and come safe into the port of heaven at last; and everlasting joy shall be on his head, because he knows the truth and the truth shall make him free.
Thus having digressed from my subject to give you the history of the apostolic church for 31 years, for the purpose of drawing the ministry of the apostles before you, and to show that the first churches were Baptist in the second place, and thirdly to give you a brief outline of the apostolic doctrine to be as helps in our future enquiry and comparing with men-made teachers, we now resume our subject.
Did the apostles set out for, or preach for honor, like Balaam? No. For it is self-evident from the gospels that Christ taught them otherwise; so that they could not set out for it, nor have any expectation of receiving it. For the Savior taught them that they should be hated of all nations for his name’s sake, and that they should suffer reproach, shame and persecution for his name’s sake; and that if they had called the master of the house Beelzebub, much more should they, those of his household; and if these things had been done in the green tree, how much more the dry; and that they were to expect tribulation, distress, and death. Yea, that the time would come when they that killed them would think they had done God service of ridding the world of such a pest; that their names should be cast out as evil, and defamed everywhere; and that he sent them forth as sheep among wolves, to be persecuted and devoured by false wolf professors as lambs: and directs them to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves; and in their patience to possess their souls under all their sufferings; and that he that would save his life should lose it. And a hundred such lessons as these did their master give them; and to rivet it on their hearts they saw all these things accomplished in him; and therefore he says, the servant is not greater than his master, and that it was enough for the servant to be as his master, or to suffer as Christ suffered, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, reviling, reproach and disgraced in life and death. Then with these lessons and many such like, and the example and sufferings of Christ before their eyes to confirm these lessons, how could they set out with the expectation of honor, or preach for the honor that is called so by men? They could not. But instead of this they faced dangers, suffered losses, took up the cross of dishonor, disgrace, shame, persecution, evil fame, slander, reproach, imprisonment, loss of ease, character and life, for the sake of Christ and the souls of men; expecting no reward or pay for hire, but in the world to come life everlasting. So then, the apostles differ in this from all men-made, self-made, and devil-made ministers: who are all to a man like Judas for the bag, and like Balaam for honor and silver; but in the ministry of the apostles no such trait of character can be found.
Did the apostles expect, or set out, or preach for money, or to make gain by their preaching? Is there such a trait in their character as preachers? No; not in the history of 31 years of their lives can such a mark be found; but to the contrary, as I shall show. First, in all the lessons of Christ, given in the gospels on this head of getting or making money by preaching, to his apostles. Let us hear, as from this source they were taught what to expect by preaching. Luke 9:2-3: And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money, neither have two cents apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter, there abide; and if not received, shake off the dust of your feet. 10th chapter, directions to the seventy: Go your ways; behold, I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and into whatsoever house ye enter, in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they set before you, for the workman is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house – the same by cities – and if not received, shake off the dust of your feet, etc. Now, I can’t see for my life, words of Christ to the twelve and seventy, to raise in them any expectation that they were to make or get money by their preaching. So far from it, that it seems to me to carry the idea that they were only to get something to eat and to wear, and thus live on the charity of the world for meat and clothes, or daily food. Nor do the directions seem fully to afford that: forasmuch as they seem to imply, that some houses and cities would not receive them, and even give them that: for they are directed to shake off the dust of their feet against such. So then, the apostles’ expectations could not be to get money by preaching, as their directions implied no such thing, by promise or otherwise.
Let us hear the terms of Christ, of being one of his disciples and preachers, as well as his directions in settling out to preach. Luke 14:33: So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Peter must leave his father and nets, and Matthew his receipt of custom, and Paul those things that were given to him he counted loss for Christ, yea, even as dung that he might win Christ. But here is a text that shows both the loss and gain. Matthew 19:27: Peter, said, behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? Verse 28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Verse 29: And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Here in these verses the doctrine taught preachers is, that they must forsake and expect to lose the things of this world. Is there any money promised by Christ? No. But heaven, glory, and everlasting life. Then God’s ministers are not to expect their reward here, but hereafter; they are to lose this life, to keep it to life eternal; they are to lose this world, to gain the world to come. But, men-made preachers are not for this doctrine; they are for having their pay ready down, in tobacco, eggs, chickens, fat turkeys, good things, roast beef, gold, silver, bank bills, and honor. If by free gift, well; if not, it must be distrained by law of rich and poor, to have their heaven here, for they can’t wait for one to come, And I think it would be almost too much pay for their poor preaching to have two heavens, one on earth and one to come. So I take it that men-made preachers will be like the rich man, have their good things here, and their hell hereafter; and indeed they deserve it, for their oppression and tyranny which these men have ever exercised, whenever they have had it in their power.
In a word, the doctrine taught preachers by Christ is self-denial, loss of this world; yea, life itself if need be, for his and the gospel sake; and not money, gain and honor here; but to look for their reward in the world to come, and be as their master here and hereafter. So that the apostles could not expect money setting out to preach, from any promises of their master, but the reverse. Nor did they set out, nor preach for it, as the history of their lives showeth, as well as all the epistles they have written; a few incidents in which I shall show, to clear this matter. Now if the apostles had set out to preach for money, or had been disposed to have made money by their preaching, they had a fair opportunity of doing so. Acts 4:34: For so many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man as he had need. The apostles had a fine opportunity of pocketing of (cash) having by the consent of all the Christians that sold their estates, the entire confidence and control of the funds. If they had been moneyed preachers, like Judas, or some of our modern men-made missionaries, they might like Judas have pilfered the stock and got more than thirty pieces of silver, for betraying their trust. Now only compare the conduct of the apostles in management of the funds of the first Christians, with the conduct of the Board of the North Carolina Baptist Society for foreign and domestic missions. How different the apostles’ conduct: they distributed to every one as he had need; the poor and suffering are here considered, and shares of the rich. Did they do so with the funds of the Christians, and gentlemen and ladies of North Carolina ? No, sir. Out of the funds of a little the rise of $2,000, five or six me are voted something like $1,800 for missionary services. Did the apostles vote themselves from $2 to $500 a piece for their services? Oh, covetousness, hide thy face. No, sir, so far from this spirit of making money by their preaching, or voting other men’s money in their own pockets, they prove to the contrary by their conduct, in that they would not manage the funds, but told their brethren to look out among themselves seven men of honest report, that they might appoint to oversee this business. So they did, and thus the funds were by their request put in the hands of the seven deacons of the church; who dealt them out to the poor and widows, and not to missionary dandies in blue and black to gallant the ladies and seek fortunes by pretending to be gospel preachers, and beg for more money to divide among preachers, and not the poor and needy, like the apostles. And further, they sell their estates, and nor did they beg them and dun out of countenance to give them money, nor to raise a fund that they might be gainers thereby, as missionaries do. But it was a voluntary act of the first Christians, as Peter said to Ananias; before he sold his land it was his, and after he sold it, it was equally his or in his own power. So then there was no law of Jesus Christ for Christians to sell their property and have fund in common, nor did apostles make any such rule for the gospel church; which they might easily have done and got money by handfuls, if they had set out or preached for money as men-made preachers do. Ananias was smitten for his lying and hypocrisy, and not because he did not give his money into the fund. How strange that the priests nowadays must have the management of all the funds of every sort in the Christian church; let it be for what it will, they must have the overseeing it. Judas-like: first bag it, then to get it, seems to be the game now playing by the priests. No such trait is found in the characters of the apostles. The first funds, and indeed almost all that the New Testament mentions in the Christian church in her first age, was for the poor and needy. But nowadays the thing is changed, the funds are for the priests; young, hearty, hale priests, in boots, whip and chair; while the poor and needy of the church are cast on the charity of the world, live or die, suffer or not, who cares so the priest gets the money and fares sumptuously and marries a rich wife.
If we ask Peter how he made out of getting money by preaching, after his master’s death; and that he had a fine chance to do so none can doubt, if we consider the many cures of the sick he effected; and if he had been disposed like our modern men-made preachers to have made money by his preaching and miraculous cures, he could have made his thousands thereby, as his fame was greatly spread abroad throughout all the country, as a healer of the sick and raiser of the dead. For what vast sums would the people have given to have had their dead raised, even men their wives and fathers their children; on others have given to be cured of their various diseases? Let him answer. Acts 3:6: Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. Here you see what he says. Could he have thus said if he had been a missionary at $500 a year? Could he have said thus, if he had hired himself out to have preached to a church or churches from $500 to $3,000 a year; or to receive a salary like the Bishop of York of $95,000 a year? No, sir, the apostle was no hireling, no seller of his preaching for cures; he had freely received these gifts from Christ and Christ told him to give them freely. Then if he had sold his preaching he would have betrayed trust and instructions. Then one mark of self-made preachers is to sell their preaching; but the mark of a God-made preacher is to give it, yet, to preach the gospel to the poor; and, as Paul says, make the gospel of Christ without charge. But I suppose men-made preachers think they have been at some pains and cost to make themselves preachers, and therefore, must sell their preaching to the highest bidder. I can’t see any other reason they have for it, as any man with one eye can see it is contrary to scripture, and to the pattern given, and to example of prophets, Christ, and apostles. But here is the main reason; these self-made preachers are like Simon Magus, he believed to make money, he was baptized to make money; and then he would give money for the Holy Ghost, to make money.
And, Peter, what do you think of such money making preachers, or such persons as are religious by profession for to make money, or such as give money to make themselves preachers to get money, or such as sell their preaching for money? Answer. Acts 8:20: But Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21st. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22nd. Repent therefore, of this thy wickedness; and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23rd. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. This is the true picture of all men and self-made preachers; they are hypocrites by profession, their whole object is to make money, like the pharisees, by their religion; at their singing, praying and preaching is to make money; this is their object in going from town to town; and where they get the best price there will they stay the longest, and attend while money holds out; but when money fails, farewell, Simon. These self-made and men-made preachers can’t come down to the stoop of poverty for Christ and soul’s sake; no, sir, they must walk in the first circles of society, and be clad in all the show and parade of the fashions of this world. No matter what sect they may belong to, highness of mind, greedy of money by preaching, or running after it and planning to get it, are marks of these Simons. While they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of their own sins, yet promise others liberty, while they are the servants of corruption, wickedness and hypocrisy; and if the grace of God should not prevent, they will be damned to a man, after all their sale preaching. Then remember this, that to give preaching freely is a mark of a minister of God; and to sell it is the mark of a self-made, a men-made, and a devil-made preacher, as I shall show.
Let us next enquire of Paul, who was a great preacher, exclusive traveler, and laborious servant in the preaching of the gospel of Christ, how he made out in selling preaching, or getting money thereby. 2 Cor. 6:10: As poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. This he says was the case of himself and others of his companions; poor and having nothing, yet he had learned to be content in this state of poverty. I would that others would do so, or go to work for money; and not, like men-made preachers, cheat the people out of their money, in that they sell them moral lectures for gospel, and carnal reason for revelation, and falsehoods and hypocrisy for truth and ministerial sincerity. Acts 20:33: I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Verse 34. Yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. Here, ye men-made preachers, that preach for hire and divine for money, can you come up to this text? Can you say with Paul you have not coveted? Can you say your hands have supplied your fine clothes, gig and equipage; and not only done that, but then by your honest labor, (in making tents) or some other honest calling, assisted your brethren who have been in want? No, sir; the sun is too hot, labor too disgraceful, for men of such high calling: attention to his business of life too mean for such high bred silk men; planning almost every scheme that ingenuity can invent, to get and beg a living out of the people, while ye yourselves labor not, only to sell a few lies and errors to get your living by without work, for to dig you cannot. And I am sorry you should so disgrace the ministerial character, the most high calling and the most sacred of all others, and put on the sheepskin and appear as a sheep, when you are nothing but wolves and prove it by the desire and means you take to get money; which is wolf meat, as I shall show.
Read the 4th chapter 1st Corinthians: For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels and men, We are fools, despised, hunger and thirst, are naked, buffeted, have no certain dwelling place, defamed, made the filth and off scouring of all things to this day. This is the picture of the first preachers of the gospel, and if times were so now our ranks would be free from men-made preachers; for who would seek loaves and fishes by the ministry, when there was none to be got by it? As proof, Paul says that, I know after my departure grievous wolves shall enter in, etc. I have shown you all things (says Paul to his brethren,) how that so laboring ye might support the weak. He gave his brethren an example of industry, and as he says again, let him labor with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Here in this text you can see the apostle inculcates industry on Christians, and shows his own example. But you will say, he said to Timothy, give himself wholly to the ministry. True, and did not Paul give himself wholly to it? whoever did so more than he? Yet he worked with his hands to supply his wants and them that were with him. Go, thou men-made preacher, and do likewise; and not expect to live without work for preaching a few lies, which all men-made preachers do; for indeed they can’t preach any thing else. And it is strange to me, that mankind had rather buy lies from a men-made preacher at hundreds a year, than have the truth from God’s ministers freely. But so it is, he is of the world, therefore the world heareth him; the world will love its own.
2 Cor. 4:5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. Then here is a clear proof that the apostles did not set out to preach for money, nor was money any part; and if I may answer, no, not the least part why they preached. They had an eye to it, nor did they preach for it: for Paul tells as plainly for what the first preachers of the gospel preached – for Jesus’ sake, not for the sake of money, nor for the sake of getting it by the trade of preaching. For Christ had loved them, given himself for them, called and chose them, and gave them the gifts of preaching, sent them out and told them to give the gospel freely and to preach it to every creature; not to the rich only, who could pay for it: but the poor, to every creature. Money or no money, was not to be taken in as no part of consideration why they should preach it to Tom or Dick, this church or that, that would give anything or the best price; as is the conduct of all men-made preachers of all sects; for this must be in the consideration for who they preach, a good price or the best price they can get. Suppose a certain church says to a preacher, we will give you $500 to come and preach for us next year, and he goes and preaches, is it for money’s sake, or for Jesus’ sake? Why if he would not have gone without the promise of money, then it was for money’s sake and not for Jesus’ sake. And I am forced to say, where such a bargain is made between a church and people and preacher, that it smells very strong of hire, very strong that money was the sake. For what is the difference between that, and my saying to a man I will give you $500 to come and work for me, or be overseer for me next year? Would you not say, hireling? would you not say, that man went for money’s sake. Surely. Would you not say, money the main cause? So I say, in all such cases, hireling preacher, money’s sake. And hence these men make use of the name of Jesus. Like the seven sons of Sceva did, saying, Jesus whom Paul preaches; and this they did no doubt to make money, thinking to cast out devils as well as Paul, by the name of Jesus. But understand this, that Paul was no money maker by the name of Jesus; nor no money maker by preaching neither, save only what was given him to supply his wants by the churches, as a free donation. Now I defy any man to find such an hiring out of one’s self to preach, among the apostles. The New Testament shows us no such conduct in one instance, of an apostle being hired to preach, or having a salary for preaching. Men-made preachers began this practice, and not God’s preachers; and it is the practice of men-made preachers to this day. And I am sorry that it is so prevalent, as it supports so many blind guides and wolves in sheep’s clothing; for it is for this hire that they are induced to sing psalms, make long prayers, and preach morality. Stop the hire and then see if our overseer doesn’t leave you pretty quickly. So stop paying the preacher, and then see how soon the sacred desk will be empty, if you want to know whether he preaches for money or not; and I warrant you, he soon tells you he has a call elsewhere.
Suppose a man is preaching for a certain church at $400 per year, and this is understood between him and the church as the price he is to have for preaching for them; is it hire or not, what say you? I say it is, for there is first a bargain; secondly, a stipulated price and an expectation of reward, and payment for labor done. This is the full amount of all the hiring done in the world, and is as plain hiring, as hiring can be hiring, and this man will flee if you don’t pay him his wages, for he is an hireling; for he careth not for the flock, but for his hire. And if he can find out a place where he can get more, he will flee like Micah’s priest with the Dannites, for greater wages. This man is a self or men-made preacher; by such fruit they are known, for no such fruit is found on one bough of the apostles.
But since men-made preachers hire out to preach unto the church of God, hirelings are now almost as plenty as grasshoppers; and they are as destructive to the plants of grace, as grasshoppers are to the plants of the field. For now we find preachers hired to go abroad to preach, hired to beg, to form societies, to sell and give away books, to teach theology, to print periodicals, and every step and opening leaf cries aloud money, the love of which is the root of all evil. Is it then any wonder that religion should be so sunk to mere form, show, pride, fashion and parade, and so different in its power on the morals of mankind to what it was in the apostolic age, when all their acts of religion had a marked disinterestedness, with love to Christ and the souls of men? For where in the New Testament will you find an apostle hiring himself out to go abroad to preach? They went without hire, they were not hired to beg, nor is there one instance in the New Testament of their being guilty of such conduct, and covetousness of money. They had the love of Christ as the root of all their religion; therefore they brought forth such good fruit. But in this day, money seems to be the root of all the religion of the world. Is it then any wonder, that the fruit of professors (for I can’t call such Christians, they are so much unlike Christ,) should be so corrupt both in the ministry and private members, since their religion is founded and they make the basis of their religion, money? The love of it an evil root, evil must be the result. No wonder then that the fruit of professors is so generally bad, even among all sects.
I forbear further quotations from scripture to show, that to set out to preach for money, was not the object – that the apostles did not preach for money in whole nor part, is one of the marks of a minister of God; and to preach for money. I hope to show by scripture, is a noted mark given by the Holy Ghost, of men-made, self-made, and devil-made preachers. And thus I have digressed somewhat again, for the purpose of giving the reader both sides of the proof; first, the history of the lives of the apostles, and their abundant preaching unaided by money and salaries; secondly, in quoting their writings to prove that they did not preach for money; and then to prove in the future that men-made preachers do preach for money. Thus you can have the matter beyond doubt. And having also given you the history of the gospel church for 31 years and proved that they were Baptist; and also given you a summary of apostolic doctrine, all of which I hope will make amends for my digressions by the information they afford you. Therefore, to finish my remarks I will just say, you shall pick up the Bible and examine the life of every prophet of God throughout, and you can’t find this mark, money for prophesying, on one single one of them. Nor can you find one of them making gain by their prophecy, from Moses to Malachi. Elisha had a fair opportunity from Naaman, and he had a fair one when Gaharia brought back the gold and silver and raiment, after he had lied to Naaman. But see how the good old man disdains the deed; he smote Gaharia with the leprosy, as a proof of his disdain of the deed of a prophet’s making money by his gifts given him of God. Take up the New Testament, examine John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and all the apostles, Judas excepted, for the mark of making gain, or preaching for money, and find it if you can. I know you cannot. Yet they lived by their own labor and the voluntary charity of the church and world, without tithing, or hiring themselves out, or begging societies. And the difference is very great, so much so that the one makes a mark of a false teacher, and the other a true one. For other particulars on this head, I refer you to the North Carolina Whig’s apology for the Kehukee Association, where you will find the maintenance of the minister more full.
I have promised to resume the history of the gospel church in a short way, from 31 years up to 323, for the purpose of finding out when the church got to heaping up teachers having itching ears: or to making preachers after her own heart, that could not endure sound doctrine because of her lust. That there were many men-made teachers among the pharisees and sadducees, during this thirty-one years of the lives of the apostles, is unquestionable; but that there were more of this stamp in the gospel or Christian church, is clear from the history of the Acts of the apostles. For Paul foretells a time to come when the church should get to making teachers, and so does Peter, saying, as there were false prophets so should there be false teachers among you: you, the gospel church is meant. Now to find out this time when the gospel church got at this great business is my chief design; this cannot be done by scripture, because that history ceases within 31 years after the ascension of our Lord. Then to find out when the church became so corrupt that she could not endure sound doctrine through her great lust; for this is given as the cause why she fell on the plan of making teachers of the cast mentioned, teachers having itching ears – curious beings indeed. Now you must know this, that God’s preachers every one to a man preach sound doctrine, nor can they be hired to preach any other sort, nor forced to it neither. This is the reason that so many of them have gone to the stake and been burned, and devoured as lambs by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Then if the gospel church ever became so corrupt that she could not endure sound doctrine, she must make preachers to preach it for her, or go entirely without preaching; because God’s preachers cannot nor would not preach any other sort but sound doctrine. So then she must make them, for you cannot believe God ever made a preacher to preach unsound doctrine, for this would be destroying his own work and design in preaching. Then as we cannot find out this time from the scriptures, we are under the necessity of pursuing church history, and secondly, Roman history in connection with church history; as the Roman empire at that time, or from the reign of Nero in 31, up to Constantine in 328, comprehended almost all the civilized kingdoms of the world; and so within this wide-spread empire is the Christian church to be found; and from them through the hands of the British nation, which at that time was a Roman province, we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge of the Christian church in times of antiquity; for Constantine went from Britain to Rome before he became emperor.
But I am so far swelling this piece beyond any thing I intended, I must only glance at the history of the church and state, with regard to the history of church, after leaving her history in Acts. Polycarp, who was Bishop of Smyrna and so appointed by the apostles, had been taught by the apostles and lived in the age of the apostles, and had conversed with many that had seen Christ, was perhaps the first writer after the apostles of the affairs of the Christian church. Some part of his writings have been preserved by different historians. Papias was a hearer of the apostle John, and also a companion of Polycarp. In about 20 years, or a little more, arose Justin Martyr, another Christian writer of much note. Then came Hegessippus, who gives a short account of the Christian church, about 31 years after Justin Martyr. Then comes Ireneaus the Frenchman, Bishop of Lyons, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John – who lived a little more than one hundred years after the publication of the scriptures. He says in his writings, that he and his contemporaries could enumerate and tell in most of the churches or the principal ones, the succession of bishops from the first: that is, from the apostles. The next Christian writer and a man of note, was Clement of Alexandria, who wrote 16 years after Ireneaus. Tertullian was next, and joins on to Clement. He was a Carthagenian, or he lived at Carthage , in Greece. He was a pagan, but became a Christian; was a great writer and an able defender of its truths – he wrote about 211 A.D. Then comes Origen – he was born at Alexandria in the year 185, cued in 254, wrote in Greek, was a man of talents, the luminary of the Christian world – his writings are many. He suffered martyrdom in the 69th year of his age.. Then comes Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, who wrote about 20 years after the celebrated Origen. He was beheaded at Carthage, Sept. 14, 258. After Cyprian there are too many writers to mention them all, who wrote of the affairs of the church; but let it suffice to say, these all wrote within 45 years after Cyprian. Next I notice Pettan, a German writer; because Cyprian and Origen were Africans. He lived about 290. Then comes Arnobius and Lactaretius, as writers, about the year 300. Here we shall come to near our time, 323; for then comes the great eminent writer Eusebius, Bishop of Cesarea, who wrote voluminously of the affairs of the Christian church about the year 315. Then St. Chrysostom, who wrote between the years 354 and 398. Then St. Augustan comes next, and wrote about the year 420.
Here then I have given you only the history of the church in miniature, by a quotation of Christian writers from the apostles up to the year 420; not that these are half that have wrote of the affairs of the Christian church during this time, but I have selected these out of the mass from different countries, because they join in almost immediately after each other in quick succession, like links of a chain, and keep up a succession of the affairs of the church. In all the fragments of their writings that I have been able to come at, as preserved by other historians, I have not found a sentence that seems to indicate to me that the church ever got to heaping up teachers during this 323 years of her progress. And now we will go back and take up Roman history, and enquire there: and then I shall show my reasons why I think the church never got to making preachers for 323 years.
With regard to Roman history I can but also give it to you in miniature. From Nero, who has been mentioned as the reigning emperor at Rome in Paul’s day, to Constantius the father of Constantine the great, there reigned thirty four emperors; and Rome only every where presents to view a field of bloody crimes, of persecutions, ecclesiastical and political assassinations; and luxury, debauchery, and depravity of manners. Indeed, most of the emperors appear to be nothing better than cut throats, during this 300 years; for it is in the limits of this time that the ten great persecutions took place under ten of these emperors out of the thirty four: whose names I will give you as they succeeded each other, and the date when, not but many of the rest persecuted the Christians in a less degree. Indeed, the church had not much rest from persecution for this 300 years; but these ten are marked as great, because they were more general and more abundant with all the horrors of cruelty that human wisdom could devise, and false zeal prompt men in power full of malignity to inflict on submissive Christians.
It will suffice for our object here to notice that the Christian church had been persecuted from John the Baptist up to Paul’s being carried before Nero the second time by the Jews, Herod, chief priest and pharisees. But these were light, compared with the first persecution under Nero, which took place 31 years after the Saviour’s ascension. Nero having set the city of Rome on fire himself, then afterwards to get clear of the odium, he charged the Christians with it: this gave the pretext for their persecution. Accordingly they were every where hunted and killed like wild beasts, torn and devoured by dogs, and vexed and tormented and burnt and destroyed in different ways of the greatest cruelty.
Second persecution was under the reign of Domitian. This took place in the year 95. Many historians agree to compute the number of Christians that suffered death at that time at 40,000. -
Third persecution existed in the reign of Trajan. It began in the year 100, and was carried on for several years with great cruelty.
Fourth, the emperor Antoninus permitted a persecution which took place in the year 177; in which the Christians suffered abundantly.
Fifth, was under Severus, in the year 197. Astonishing cruelties and punishment were inflicted at this time on the followers of Jesus.
Sixth, was ordered by Maximinus – began 235. This was also very severe.
Seventh, was under the reign of Decius, in 250. The rest had been bad, but this persecution surpassed all that had been before it. The Christians were driven from their homes, their estates were taken away and they were tormented and destroyed by racks and a hundred other ways of cruelty.
Eighth, was under Valerian, in 257. In this persecution both men and women were put to death by scourging, fire and sword.
Ninth, was in the reign of Aurelian; in 274; but was not quite so bad as the rest.
Tenth, was in the reign of that monster, Diocletian, in the year 295. It is said in history that 17,000 were put to death in one month’s time. This was bloody work indeed, and the enemies of Christianity began now to think they had nearly destroyed the Christian superstition, as they called it; but so far from it. God always works like himself, he lets things get as bad as they well can before he affords his help. Thus with the children of Israel at the Red Sea, when there was not a hair’s breadth between them and death; thus when they wanted water and flesh; thus with them when the decree of Ahasuerus went out to kill the Jews in all the provinces, but he saves them by little Esther; thus with Daniel, Joseph, David, and the three children, etc. And thus in the case when the heathen and heathen priests, and Emperor of Rome, thought Christianity as good as rooted out of the Roman empire, God puts to his hand by the Emperor Constantine; and Christianity in 25 years tramples down in the very dust all the rest of the religions of the empire. How astonishing this must have been to the Christians that remained in that day; when the church had waded through blood, fire, sword and prisons, for 300 years, until their enemies were ready to triumph with joy that we have put an end to you at last; that all of a sudden such a change should take place, that Christianity should have her day of triumph over all other religions so soon. When we think of the sufferings of Christians, and the hundreds of thousands put to death, is it not a wonder of wonders they had not destroyed it? Does it not prove it to be of God? For notwithstanding the thousands destroyed, yet their number multiplied with all this waste of the church. These days of persecution was the increase of the church; then was religion pure, then religion was life and power in the hearts of its professors, then were their lives pure and heavenly, then the pure apostolic doctrine was their only source of consolation, then they sympathized with each other in their mutual sufferings and loved as Christians ought to do; then there were no fortune hunters in the church, then the church was free from the pride, foppery, fashions and parade of this world; then there were no money preachers in the church; then there were no men-made preachers with itching ears in those days that tied men’s souls and faith. Then Christians were united in fellowship, prayers and tears; then their prayers and preaching was sharper than a two-edged sword; then the church and ministry shone as the light of the world, as a city set on a hill. Then the church was in her virgin beauty; then she was holiness to the Lord, and peace and love was in her borders. Then men hazarded their lives for the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ; then they laid down their lives in attestation of what they preached and believed. How different the church then when dressed in her own blood, from our gay and fashionable professors in this day! Yea, how different in her real love, peace, humility, preaching, kindness, tenderness, unity, meekness, submission, loss, heavenly mindedness, boldness, hope, and attention to the things of God and their own souls concerns, to this age of the church and present ministry!
Thus having given you a mere outline of church and Roman history for 300 years, I now come to enquire whether there were any men-made preachers, or whether the church got to heaping up teachers during this 300 years – and offer you reasons, as I said, why I think she did not.
The first reason I offer you is, that during this 300 years of persecution, nothing could have supported the church in her fiery trials but sound doctrine. Then you will mark the cause which the Holy Ghost says shall produce this effect; that is, for the church to heap up teachers. Now I contend that during this 300 years the church was sound in doctrine, ordinance, and discipline; although there were many heretics during this 300 years, yet the church condemned them all as heretics, which I think proves she was sound in doctrine. And if she was sound in doctrine during this 300 years, the cause did not exist that was to produce the effect; and so, of course, the effect could not exist without the cause. So there were no men-made teachers during this 300 years in the gospel church; for I contend that false doctrine could not have supported so many tens of thousands of men and women to have suffered what they did, and been burned at stakes, endured hot lead poured into their bowels, all their skin flayed off their bodies while alive, stuck full of lightwood splinters and thus burned gradually to death, racked to death on a large wheel full of spikes, roasted before slow fires, their flesh pulled off them with pincers, etc., etc. False doctrine could not have supplied them with submission, patience, fortitude, and courage, to have endured such sufferings and anguish; they must have had a hope of a better life, founded on truth and the promises of the gospel.
A second reason I offer you is that then there was no money to be got by preaching. At this time all was loss of life and estate, and had the church been disposed to have heaped up such teachers, she could not have found men that would have put on holy orders and thus endangered life and estate; for during this 300 years they were sure to lose all and win nothing of this world, such as false teachers and wolves covet. Money and applause was not for preachers then, but persecution and death.
A third reason I offer you is that severe sufferings, and poverty, and loss, seldom ever fail of humbling and destroying men’s lust; which (lust) is given as one of the causes why they will heap to themselves teachers having itching cars. Then during this 300 years the church’s lust was kept down by her persecutions, loss and sufferings; and, so, of course, no cause no effect.
A fourth reason I offer is, that the sufferings of the preachers and private members of the church were so notorious and so well known by all men throughout the Roman empire, that no man could be induced to come forward as a true gospel preacher, unless convinced of the truth of the Christian religion and being divinely impressed to preach as his duty to God; and so much so too, as to be willing to lay down his life for Christ and his gospel, and seal his testimony with blood. For he knew from what he saw before his eyes, and what he heard with his ears, and from the past persecutions of the church, that if he came forward as a gospel preacher he must face danger, suffer loss and persecution, be defamed and disgraced, set at naught by heathens and heathen priests, his countrymen, emperor, and nobility and die as a martyr for truth. With these things in view, who would set out to preach, not convicted of the truth of the Christian religion? For in these days of the church there were no loaves and fishes for preachers; there was neither money, nor honor annexed to the gospel ministry; for wolves in sheep’s clothing to snap at, or for them to prepare themselves to sing psalms to gain. So then as there was no money nor honor to be got in those days, so I think there, were no men-made teachers in the gospel church during this 300 years; nor do I find any where on the pages of history that the church during this time ever got to heaping up teachers. For we all know, that know any thing, that riches and honor gender lust; the church being in those clays deprived of these, her lust as the cause given, not existing, these teachers then did not exist in the gospel church, for as much as persecution and dreadful suffering kept her low in the dust, and her sufferings required her to believe sound doctrine for support under her trials. Other reasons might be assigned, but these must suffice for the present.
Now I am not writing from prejudice to any man or set of men on earth, but to bring forth truth to light; and therefore I will take up an objection, that may by some be raised. And that is, that it can be proved that there were a number of sects of professors, and those too who professed to be Christians, during this 300 years. Agreed. And you will say, how came these preachers, which the church called heretics, if the church did not make them? First, it is acknowledged by all historians, that the church condemned them as heretics; if so, then the church nor God did not make them; for if the church had made them, she would of course have made them to her own liking. Then at that time she could endure sound doctrine, or else she would not have condemned these men for preaching unsound doctrine, and have called them heretics. Now you must notice the text that the church must first become so as not to endure sound doctrine, before she gets to making the teachers having itching ears; then of course the heretics were not of her making.
The first false teacher was Bassilide, who lived about the year 120, and taught that the Jewish institution proceeded from a being inferior to God. This is a doctrine widely different from that taught by the apostles and Christian church.
The second was the Valentianians, a sect about the same time, whose wild notions of heresy, consisted in certain notions concerning angelic natures, etc.
The third set of heretics, also about the same time, was the Carpocratians.
The fourth, the Sethians, a sect of heretics who lived about 150. The Montanists, or Phrygians, about the same time.
The fifth sect, the Marcosians, or Colobarsians and Valentinians, about 159.
The sixth, Hermogenes, 18o.
The seventh, Praxias, 195 – Astemon, 200. -
The eighth Theoditus, too. Tation, who founded a sect 172, called Encratites. Some of these held one error and some another; some that Christ was a mere man, etc. Paul of Samosata, was a very great heretic. So much so, that two councils of the church were held to try and condemn his opinions. There were many others during this 300 years – the Noetians, Sabellians, the Arians, about 300: the Donatists, about 328; the Priscillanists, 378; the Pelagians, 405, etc., etc.
Now all these and the preachers of all these, differed in doctrine from the Christian church; some more and some less, yet they all held errors, so that they were condemned as heretics by the Christian church. Then our question is, how came these preachers? I have shown that the church did not make them; if she had, she could have endured unsound doctrine. God did not make them; if he had, then they would have preached sound doctrine. So then they made themselves preachers, what the devil did not make. For I think the church under her persecution and death could endure sound doctrine, and well knew what sound doctrine was; and that she was persecuted because she held sound doctrine, and would not give up the truth but with life itself.
What a miserable state must the church have been in during this 300 years, not only to have been persecuted unto death, but to have had this painful suffering added to all the rest, to be plagued with so many false teachers, self and devil made. But so it is, that from Abel to this day the true people of God have been plagued with self and devil-made teachers, of heathen, Jewish and Christian name. Then every age of God’s ministers have had a time of war, and some one or other of these in some shape to fight; and will, until the 1260 years be accomplished, and the devil bound in the bottomless pit and shut up no more to deceive until the thousand years shall be finished. Then, and not until then, shall God’s ministers have peace, and the church rest from her conflict and sufferings; when the beast and false prophet shall be taken. Then let us fight on, the day will soon be ours, the truth triumph, and the victory be won; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
When Diocletian the last persecutor; and Maximian, the two Roman emperors that reigned jointly, one over the western parts of the empire, the other the eastern, resigned their power. Constantius, the father of Constantine the great, and Galerius were universally acknowledged by the Roman people in the year 304 A.D. Constantius governed the western parts, which were Italy, Sicily, the greatest part of Africa, together with Gaul, Spain, Germany, and Britain. Galerius governed the eastern parts, Illyricum, Pannonia, Thrace, Macedonia, Greece, Lesser Asia, together with Egypt, Syria, Judea, and all other oriental countries. Constantius died at York, in England, 306 A.D., leaving his son as his successor. Galerius died four years after Constantius. Upon the death of Constantius, Constantine was proclaimed in Britian, 306; about the same time Severus and Maximin had been already proclaimed. Maxentius, son of Maximin, was also proclaimed, 306. The next year Lucinitis was created emperor by Galerius, who had never willingly owned Constantine. These were competitors of Constantine for the empire, yet after a few years and some severe fighting they were all conquered, and Constantine remained sole master of the Roman world. This Emperor Constantine is the man that protected and countenanced the Christian religion, and established it by law as the religion of the Roman empire; but I must acknowledge he brought it in too close a connection with the State for the good of the religion of Christ. Had he repealed all persecuting laws, and protected his subjects in the free exercise of their consciences in religions matters, it might have done better perhaps. However, such was the strength of paganism during this time, that it is very questionable whether a toleration of liberty of conscience would have done, or have stopped persecution. At all hazards, he deserves the approbation of all Christians; for it was a desirable thing to be free from persecution and death for conscience sake, or for the sake of being religious in a way I think right.
The persecuted and suffering Christian church is now destined to meet with a change, after suffering like Israel of old for 200 years. Constantine having established Christianity by law, her case was materially altered; her external situation was prosperous and flourishing, the long 300 years storm of pagan persecution had now ceased, under the government of the great Constantine, who ruled almost the whole civilized world. This mighty empire now was changed from a persecuting power to a protecting one. But I shall say the love and protection of this mighty power was much more fatal to the interest of the Christian church, than ever the malice church to the lowest state of spiritual pride and degradation. For worldly prosperity reduced pride, ambition, emulation, luxury, and increased love of gain and honor; all of which stand opposed to the spirit of the gospel. For so soon as Christianity became the religion of the state, paganism, gain philosophy and superstition were willing to call her sister, or join in hand and hand and take refuge under her bowers; which did exceedingly debase the purity of her religion, and render her ministry ineffectual to anything but hypocrisy, show, gain and ambition. For this state of the church produced the Arian and Pelagian heresies, the institution of monkery, image worship, the establishment of the supremacy of the pope, the great passion in the church for relics, and pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It produced a separation between the eastern and western churches, which has never been healed to this day. It produced the crusades, that shocking enthusiasm that wasted the lives of near three million people; the sale of absolution and indulgences in and for sin. It produced the persecution of the Albigenses and Waldeneses; the hellish Inquisition, that cursed court of hypocrisy of wolves in sheep’s clothing for judges of the lambs of Jesus, and many thousands did they devour and their estate likewise. It also produced the great western schism, the bellowing bulls of the pope, and the interdicts of the popes on the kings of the earth and a thousand other curses and plagues to the church of God; such as purgatory, mass for the dead, etc., etc. Now could Constantine have foreseen all this, he would have hesitated to establish religion by law; but alas, this was all in the dark to him and the church of God too, yet plainly prophesied of by John and Paul. And such was the mighty blow in this particular given the church, that 1260 years is given her to recover from this downfall. Alas, how fatal is one wrong step in religion; only let the church step one step off gospel ground, or from the pedestal where the Savior set her, and alas she goes the Lord knows where, as this case shows – one wrong step forces another upon you, until down you go sprawling – so with the church.
Now let me bring up the rear. All kinds of priests may be reckoned under three general heads: the heathen idolatrous priest, the Jewish priest, the Christian priest. Cain took on him the office of priest, for he brought forth his offering to the Lord, but not having faith in Christ it was not accepted; he then was a self-made priest, but Abel a God-made priest; for as yet there were no men-made priests. Noah and Abraham were priests of God, for they made their offerings. Melchisedec was the priest of the most high God, tho’ we are not told under what institution he served. Jethro was a priest in the land of Midian. Saul, king of Israel, look on him the priesthood, and offered in the day of Samuel. Samuel offered also. Men from creation seem to have had an idea of an atonement for their souls, and to have made offerings; some acceptable and some not. Faith in Christ only made the difference. Then the services of no self-made priest can be acceptable to God, no matter how splendid their talents. Idolatry and priests to attend on idol gods, seems to have first begun in Syria or Babylon. It was in Syria, Laban, the father of Rachel lived; and you know when she came away with Jacob, she stole two of her father’s gods and hid them under her in her stuff. You further know, Jacob buried them under an oak near Bethel; this, if my memory serves me, is the first account of idols. The Chaldeans, who were the inhabitants of this country afterwards called Babylon, were properly speaking, the priests of this country; they were devoted to the business of religion, pretended great skill in foretelling future events, interpreting dreams; they dealt in charms, they built temples to the stars, worshipped them; at length descended to worship things on earth. Thus idolatry arose not long after the flood, and heathen priests in abundance, even among this the first of nations left on the plains of Shinar.
There can be no doubt on this subject, from scripture nor history, that the Babylonians first began image worship (or idolatry), and that they worshipped the heavenly bodies; since the names of their principal gods, or of the heathen gods in general, are those of the five primary planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus; they also worshipped the sun and moon. The Babylonish priests also first began the horrid custom of sacrificing human victims to their gods, and no doubt this custom grew out of Abraham’s offering his son Isaac; for Abraham was a Syrian by birth. Thus spread from Babylon this horrid custom of burning children in the fire, even to all the superstitious nations, the Jews not excepted. The Egyptians had a vast number of gods of different ranks and grades; but the two greatest were Osiris and Isis. It is generally thought that by these they intended the sun and moon, but they had hundreds of others; and no doubt they paid divine honors to an ox, for here Aaron learned to make his calf idol, to go before Israel and for them to worship. Next we come to learned and polished Greece. Here we find gods and demigods, of three classes: celestial gods, marine or gods of the sea, and infernal gods; with great Jupiter the father of all gods and men. Here were priests in an abundance. Don’t you recollect that passage in the scripture, where the priests in the language of Lyconia cried out of Paul and his companion, the gods have come down among us in the likeness of men, and brought oxen to sacrifice to them? These were the priests of Jupiter. The gods of Greece are described by the poets with all the embellishments that fancy and literature could furnish; and the mythology of Greece is nearly the same as all other nations of antiquity, only a little more refined by learning. Their celestial gods were Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Bacchus, Vulcan, Minerva, Venus, Diana, Ceres and Vesta; all these had their priests. You remember Diana at Ephesus, when Paul came there, and Demetrius the shrine maker and the craftsmen, what an outcry they made and how they preached up the divinity of Miss Diana, that she came down from heaven and that all Asia and the world worshipped this famous she-god, etc. The marine gods were Neptune and his wife Amphitrite, Oceanus, Triton, Proteus, Nereus and his consort Deris, etc. These all had their genealogies and wonders they had performed. And who were to tell all these lies of their divine power and wisdom in superintending and presiding over human affairs? Why, the priests must do this and make money by lying, as self and men-made priests do to this day. The infernal gods were Pluto and his wife Proserpine, Plutus, Charon, the Furies, and the Fates; and the three judge gods, Minos, Acaous, and the Rhadamanthus. These all had their priests, some male and some female. There were many other gods, such as Cupid the god of love, the Muses, etc., etc. I must refer you to more detailed accounts of heathen mythology.
Now the worship of all these deities was conducted by priests richly dressed, in costly habits offering to these dumb gods sacrifices of animals, fruits, perfumes, wines, etc. This worship of idols was sometimes accompanied with music and dancing, and the offering of human beings in sacrifice to appease the anger of their gods. In a word, temples were erected of the most splendid architecture for these gods, as the one at Ephesus for Diana; festivals were made, games instituted, and a thousand other fooleries set on foot. The Phoenicians had gods Baal, Astarte, Hercules, Adonis, etc. Rome had nearly the same gods as Greece, priests by thousands of different orders, of which I cannot now speak particularly, as I have said enough for my purpose from history. Come to the scriptures and there you will find heathen and idol priests by thousands, attending on their different twenty gods mentioned. Of the Jewish priests I don’t mean Aaron, nor the priests of his line; I mean pharisaical, or Moses priests, who preached Moses for loaves and fishes, or prophesied for pay and divined for money, of which the scripture is full.
Now who made all these heathen priests? You can’t say God made them: the church did not make them – then we go to the old stand, they made themselves priests what the devil did not make; or they were made so of men to attend on these idols, as no kind of religion can exist without priests, neither heathen, Jewish, nor Christian; neither false nor true. So then the more priests the better chance for that religion to stand, whether true or false. For how shall they hear without a preacher, and how shall they believe a religion, whether true or false, without hearing its tenets? So then every god and goddess had their priests, to tell of their divinity and preach them to the people; by which the priests made their gain, on all they could dupe into the belief of their god. Just so now by all sects – how long would any sect last and let them have no preachers? Why as soon as there were no priests to tell lies for money, all that sect would become extinct. So then the priests were the supporters and upholders of idolatry. Equally so are the preachers the upholders of false religion, and false sects, and false tenets in the world; take these away, and down goes the fabric. Then it follows that all false sects must make preachers, for God won’t do it, I know; or else down they will go certainly to extinction. Thus theological schools have been erected to make preachers to uphold false worship; as did the heathen, as did the Roman Catholics, and others; and they must have salaries, for false priests won’t serve without pay. For this the heathen priests served, for this the Catholics served, for this the tobacco priests served, for this false priests will serve a false cause; yes, for this they will tell divine lies and cut throats, and suck the blood of lambs and confiscate their estates.
I now close this section on heathen priests, with some instances from scripture out of a hundred I could give you. You recollect Micah had a house-hold god, and he got a priest a Levite to be priest for him; but recollect, he paid him wages. Now recollect, this Levite was entitled by tribe to the priest office in the temple of God , but he would serve the idol for pay. Yes, sir, he soon ran away with Micah’s god, to get from the Dannites a better price. So you see that men will serve the devil in religion for pay. Again, you recollect that when Jeroboam the king of Israel set up the two golden calf gods, one in Dan the other at Bethel, he took of the lowest of the people and consecrated them priests for these gods: to preach their divinity in opposition to the divinity of the God of Israel. And no doubt they were glad enough, as they could tithe the people and live without work. Here then you see men-priests, serving idols for pay. Again, you recollect that when Ahab had married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbael of Sidonia, that she being brought up to worship the idol god Baal in her native country, that when she came to Jerusalem she must needs get Ahab to make and set up Baal at Jerusalem for her to worship. But what account is a god without priests to preach his fame. So then she gets 400 men and makes them priests to preach the fame of her god Baal, and feeds them at her own table. Here is making priests again by hundreds. These were no doubt Jews by nation, and had heard the fame of the God of Israel; yet would they be made priests for money, and the favor of the queen. But these four hundred were not enough to spread the fame and doctrine of Baal throughout the country; they would only do for the metropolis. This then put Ahab upon the wise expedient of setting up the idol Baal in groves in different parts of the country, and consecrating 450 more. Here is making priests by handfuls. What did he want with so many, when the God Jehovah had but one poor old Elijah? Why, to support his false god and preach his false divinity in opposition to the God of Jacob. Thus the contention began between the priests of these two gods, and Elijah proved more than a match for them all.
So then we find that men will be made priests and tell lies, preach error, for money and sumptuous fare. And so it is now, there are men enough that will be made priests, tell lies, preach falsehood, at this or that creed, or any creed for money, honor and gain. For it matters not with them, like Baal’s prophets, whether they serve God or Baal, so money and good fare is coming. And they can please the sect that employs them, or the master from whom they expect their loaves and fishes. Like Ahab’s prophets, they had rather tell lies than truth, because it pleased the king, gratified his ambition and wishes. So will modern men-made priests – they had rather preach lies than truth, because it pleases the people better; no please, no pay. Hundreds of other instances I could give you from history and scripture, or these dumb sleepy dogs, as the scripture calls them, but I must forbear. On heathen priests suffice it to say, that these self-made, men-made, and devil-made idol priests have ever been opposed to God’s preachers; and have stimulated the kings and magistrates of the earth to kill, burn, and destroy thousands of God’s ministers.
Next in bringing up the rear, we came to Jewish priests or preaching. It is well known to every man, that has paid attention to the reading of the New Testament, that the Pharisees were a numerous sect; and that they had many scribes, doctors, and priests to support their tenets and hypocritical traditions, which they pretended to have derived from the Jewish fathers, and taught them as commandments of God when they were nothing but the commandments of men, set up by men and thereby to make void the commandments of God, as our Savior charges these priests with making long prayers, and making broad their phylacteries, pay titles, etc., but yet he tells them this was all hypocrisy, pretence, outward show; that they might, under the cover of hypocrisy or sheep skin, devour widow’s houses. Thus you see priests can play the hypocrite, put on a form of godliness, pray and be very religious even, to get the chance of being called honest men, to prey upon widows and get orphans’ estates into their hands to make gain to themselves. Our Savior charges these priests with the blackest crimes, so black as to be hypocrites, to lead the blind into the ditch; and you recollect the law of Moses says, cursed is he who leadeth the blind out of his way; how much worse to lead him into the ditch of error for a little money. He charges them with uncleanliness of insides, as filthy as the sepulchers of the dead, or a nasty dish; although their external actions in a religious way had whitewashed them outside, yet their hearts were wolf, were God-hating, Christian-hating, truth-hating, covetous, and as offensive to God as a dead rotten body in a grave was to men; and consigns them over to the greater damnation, with all their preaching and religion. Now who made these priests? Not God. These were self and men-made Jewish pharisaical priests, and served for hire as well as the false prophets. If God had made them, then would they have loved Jesus Christ; if they had been Christians, then they would have loved the apostles; for Christ says of them, that they hated both him and his Father. And if these and the chief of the priests of Aaron’s order had been Christians, then would they not have killed the prince of life, nor have persecuted the apostles unto death. So then we see that false priests, whether heathen, self-made or men-made, or Jewish of the same description, possess a persecuting and a God and Christ-hating spirit, and are in opposition to God’s priests in every age, and to his truth and people; and the like ravening wolves have preyed on the estates and lives of God’s people. And man is now about what he always was; he has not got better by the age of time, he is the same corrupt being; place him under like circumstances and he will prove it to you. Then the wolves of the present age are still wolves, as much so as they were when Jacob minded Laban’s flacks to keep them from catching the lambs. So are wolf preachers, they are the same at this day as they were when Cain devoured Abel, or as when the pagan wolves in the days of the ten persecutions drenched the world with the blood of the lambs of Jesus; or as when the popes, those master wolves, with their understrappers sucked the blood of the martyrs of Christ. Or as when Queen Mary of England, that bloody she wolf, roasted the saints of God in Smithfield, to gorge her wolfish stomach. Or as when the New England Cambridge and Oxford priests punished and whipped the Quakers, and imprisoned the Baptists in Virginia. This is not a hundred thousandth part of the cursed cruel deeds of self-made, men-made, and devil-made preachers; nor can words portray the black and infernal malignity and horrid murders they have been the stimulators and cause of. And as wolves are the same they used to be in nature and principle to kill sheep, so are these men to a man the same in nature and principle to kill sheep, if it was not for those laws and barriers set up by the governments of the nations of the earth They would have gone on killing in the Roman empire, had not Constantine made laws to have protected and thereby fenced up the sheep from the wolves. How thankful then to God and civil-rulers should saints be, for the present fences made round the sheep to keep off the cursed wolves of the present age; for there are as many now, I am fully assured as there ever were at any time since the world began. But they can only stand and grin through the pen, or howl in the thickets, while the sheep feel secure from the laws of the land. This is all that prevents, for, says Jesus, I sent you forth as lambs among wolves, and marvel not that the world hate you, and shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake – the American nation not excepted. And why have self-made, and men-made, and devil-made preachers, these wolves in sheep’s clothing hated God’s ministers? Why, because God’s ministers stand in their way of getting money by their preaching. God’s preachers have ever declared this and their other black deeds to the world; and have like Jesus, testified that the deeds of these men are evil. For this reason, as Christ said, the world hated him; and so for this reason, these men-made hypocrites hate God’s ministers, because they will not let their black deeds and hypocrisy pass untold to the world. Read the Old and New Testaments and see how the false profits and the true were always in opposition; and how God’s prophets testify against their divining for money, and how Christ and his apostles testify against these false teachers. If they had let them have gone to get money, under their sheepskin covering, and not to have exposed them, then all would have been well. This is the reason that the wolves are howling on my track, from the city of Washington to Pensacola .
On Men-Made Preachers
As I have got so much to say of the Christian priest hereafter, I shall omit bringing up their rear at present, and proceed in my enquiries to find out the time the Gospel church got to heaping up to herself teachers having itching ears, etc. And in order to do this we must travel after the church from the place where I left her, begin at the day of the great change made in her situation by Constantine, in her being protected and established by the laws of this emperor about the year 323.
And upon our setting out I want you to observe the cause named by the Holy Ghost that gave eyes to Paul to foresee why they should heap these teachers; namely, they would became so that they could not endure sound doctrine. This would put them upon heaping up teachers after their own lust. Then there are two causes – lust, and not liking sound doctrine. These were the causes why the church got to making preachers. Now I have given you my reasons why the church did not make them for the first 300 years. Then when Constantine had established Christianity by law, and it was thereby declared that it should be the religion of the Roman people, or by law protect the Christians against persecution, certainly it produced a great change in the external affairs of the Christian church; so much so, that what follows will be but a faint picture. He proceeds after her establishment to erect the most sumptuous and splendid churches for her worship, of the finest and polished architecture; and settled by law for the first time salaries on the Christian ministry. Here it was that the Christian Sabbath was established by law, instead of the seventh day or Jewish Sabbath. Thus the British nation received the Christian Sabbath from the Romans, for Britain was at that time a Roman Province; and we have received it from the British nation, and that is the way we came by the Christian Sabbath instead of the Jewish Sabbath; and thus we keep the first day of the week, instead of the day God ordained. Nor is there any proof in the Scripture for such a change of the Sabbath; for although it was called the Lord’s day, because he on that day arose from the dead, yet it is no where proved that God, or Christ, or the apostles, authorized it to be thus changed. Then it was so done by this emperor without divine authority. Thus by Constantine taking the church into his imperial favor, he of course claimed the tight of regulating her concerns, and so he changed and turned the whole frame of the gospel church, and all that had appertained to her for 300 years, upside down. Instead of imperial power now being against her, it is now her protector; and instead of persecution, fire and sword now being the portion of her cup, it was a flowing bowl of protecting laws and princely favor. Instead of poverty and confiscation of goods, now riches and salaries for her ministers by law; for wandering in the woods, dens, and caves, and worshiping God in secret in rags and skins with fear of the loss of life, sumptuous edifices in the grandest style with the finest gowns were prepared for the followers of the Lamb to bow the knee in. Church members were honored and preferred to the first offices of state; ministers of the cross were reverened as the nobles of the earth, clad in silk and velvet; salaries, riches and honor now flow freely into their pockets, and of course ambition and pride into their hearts and leanness into their souls. The ministers of the cross and members of the church now became brothers to the emperor, the queen and empress mother became sisters in the church and sisters to the clergy; generals, captains, lords, dukes, and commons, profess honor and defend the Christian cause. Was not this a fine time to gender lust in the hearts of the clergy and love of money, pride and honor? Was not here fine and great inducement for men to become professors of religion, and for men to become preachers to obtain a large salary and honor in the bargain? Was not this a great inducement for the pagans and pagan priests to turn their coats and jump in judgment with the emperor, their purses bloated with gold, and have the brothership of all the noble court of the emperor? But alas, alas, sad downfall of the Christian church; for it will take her 1260 years to have this wound cured, according to the Revelation of John. This one wrong step paved the way for men-made teachers and the blasphemy of anti – Christ and all the abominable errors of the scarlet whore and her harlot daughters. Sad proof that over-zeal and the unhallowed bands of statesmen have nothing to do with religion, for it is sure to produce a corrupt ministry and this is a leading cause to all other corruption and death in the church of God . For if religion be of God, let God and his people take care of it, and not statesmen; for if of God it does not need men’s laws for its support, as fully shown by 300 years of its progress in the world; if of men, it cannot be the duty of statesmen to support imposition and hypocrisy in the world. So then statesmen and laws either to enforce religion, or to say what shall or shall not be a man’s religion, have nothing to do with the matter; for they should only know men as citizens and subjects of government, and not as professors of this or that religion, provided such a religion does not destroy the peace and happiness of civil society, of which they have cognizance. For religion is a secret between man and his maker, with which law makers have nothing to do; and he who meddles with the consciences of men is a tyrant and an usurper of the dominions of God.
Now when the sunbeams of princely favor, money, honor, popularity, grandeur, titles and pomp were conferred on the ministry and Christian church, she of course became proud, high minded, wealthy and honorable in this high station; wealth you know is one of the roots of pride, and pride is lust and a lust of the basest and meanest sort, and abhorred by God and all good men. Here then you see the very cause pointed out by Paul, her lust of pride, honor, wealth, titles, pomp, show, and parade; all these spring from wealth, while wealth produces, in addition to these, covetousness of more and more, and ambition still for higher and higher honor, until they scaled the pinnacle of heaven and dethrone God out of his church and usurped the title of Lord God the Pope, Christ’s vicar on earth, Generalissimo of all the army of saints, and took possession of the keys of the church, hell, heaven, and purgatory; and that no man should buy or sell, or go in or out of either, without paying toll to his holiness. Paganism, that had for ages the religion and pride of the Roman world, was now dissolved and sunk into contempt and insignificance. The zealous prince Constantine employed all his resources, genius, authority, laws, engaging charms, munificence and liberality, to affect the long-standing superstitious paganism, and enforce and propagate Christianity in every part of the Roman world. For this emperor, full of zeal, by edicts, restores everything to the Christian church of which she had been deprived, indemnifies persons that had suffered, honors the preachers, gives commands to his governors to promote the gospel, erect churches sumptuous and grand in all the provinces. His mother, Helena, also aids by her acts of benevolence in the support of the gospel. Thus religion assumed a prosperous external and profitable appearance to preachers to get money, and church ministers to get honor. Those preachers in populous cities and towns where exalted to a high pitch of grandeur and style by those salaries of princely endowments settled on them by law.
Now when money was so lavishingly conferred on the clergy, of course false preachers came swarming into the church in pursuit of salaries which such a state of things offered them. Then for damnable heresies, superstitions, blasting errors, pompous show, unmeaning forms, new laws for the church, etc. Pride and lust of all kinds are now in abundance generated, even in the hearts of those who profess to be humble followers of the Lamb, from such a state of wealth in the church and thus every thing in faith and practice that was in opposition to true religion, poured into the church as an overwhelming flood, and disrobed the church of her beautiful dress of meekness, humility, and heavenly mindedness, etc., which she had worn for 300 years.
And Constantine’s removing the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople, laid the foundation of the struggle between the bishop of Rome and the other place for preeminence and power, and indeed there was a hard struggle for power in the church by the bishops of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, etc., who should be sovereign head of the church or king in Zion instead of Jesus Christ. But finally the bishop of Rome prevailed above all the rest, and got in with the church to divorce Jesus Christ and to marry him; that is, as the bishops of Rome advanced in wealth and power from time to time, until at length the church married Boniface III in the year 606, the title of Universal Bishop being conferred on him by Phocas, emperor of Rome. And as the Roman Catholics say Peter was the first pope, counting from Peter to the time or the present pope Pius VII, who fills the papal see, there have been two hundred and fifty popes as husbands to the church Catholic as they call her. But she is a whore and prostitute to all these whoremasters, as well as the kings of the earth with whom she has committed fornication, etc. At first Paul the apostle preached at Rome in his hired house and there was a church at Rome; the bishops of this church no doubt suffered for the first 300 years, as well as other Christian churches; yet after religion was established by law and salaries conferred on the ministers, then they pushed forward for wealth and power, and advanced in power thus: first, archbishops; 2. universal bishop, that is, over all churches and other bishops; 3. sovereign pontiff; 4. Christ’s vicar; 5. prince of the apostles; 6. his holiness; 7. king of kings and lord of lords; 8. prince over all nations and kingdoms; 9. the most holy and most blessed master of the universal world; 10. father of kings; 11. light of the world; 12. most high and sovereign bishop; 13. Lord God the pope; 14. God on earth – with many other titles of honor and gain for themselves and under-strappers in proportion, too tedious to mention in this short sketch. Now add to this list of honorable titles and profits, the endowments of the church and the hundreds of thousands conferred on monasteries, and the revenues of the bishops, and that the punishments of God for the wicked were to be prevented by liberal donations to saints and the holy see, churches and clergy. Here was an immense source of wealth to the church, and riches thereby came flowing into the treasury of the clergy which did enrich them for succeeding ages. Add to these the regalia, or royal domains, the gift of kings and nobles conferred on bishops, such as whole provinces, cities, castles, and fortresses, with all the rights of sovereignty. Add to this that the clergy were created dukes, counts, marquises, judges, legislators and sovereigns; and gave laws to nations and to the church, disannulling and abridging the laws of Jesus Christ. Add to this their authority to give battle to their enemies, which the clergy often did at the head of numerous armies to support the papal see. Add to this, the power to which they did finally arrive to excommunicate any man from the church, to excommunicate kings and queens, to lay the kingdoms of the world under interdicts and render them tributary to the pope and holy see, and absolve any subject from his allegiance to his sovereign, to grant absolutions for sin and indulgence in sin, for or on paying so much money to the clergy.
I will not pursue farther those days of darkness, for here is enough already to sicken the soul of the pious. Were not these fine times for the clergy, fine tithes for lust of all sorts, fine times to induce men into the ministry and to seek their fortunes by preaching, or becoming a preacher for Christ? So mightily had things changed from poverty and persecution to riches and honor for preachers.
Now from 323 up to 606 the church increased in wealth and power, these are the hot beds of lust in church or state or individuals, which is but too well known to make remarks on, it would be needless; and as the church began to be lustful and increase in it after 323 and upwards, so true Christians began to separate froth her communion; and as she became lustful in pride, honor and power, so in proportion she became unsound in doctrine. This naturally drove God’s ministers from her communion, and thus small communities were formed to themselves, distinct from the church of Rome. The greatest of these were the eastern churches, or Greek church, which has a patriarch for their head instead of a pope. Yet there is no doubt that the removal of the seat of empire had a great share in producing this division; but I have thought that God was in this to break the power of the beast, or else he would have ruled the whole world. It is believed, so far as I can gather from history, that the Waldenses now began to separate from the church of Rome and came out from her unsound doctrine, and thus became a distinct sect under Waldo, a preacher of this name, and bore their testimony against the whore dressed in the blood of the saints.
However, it is sufficient for my purpose to state, that as the church between 323 and 606 became wealthy and powerful she also became lustful, and in proportion as she became lustful so in proportion she could not endure sound doctrine; then who was to preach for her? not God’s ministers, for they cannot nor will not preach any other doctrine than sound doctrine. For you cannot believe God ever sent a minister to preach unsound doctrine; nor that any two ministers of God’s sending ever preached opposite doctrines. Then if God’s ministers would not preach it for her, and that is clear, as this is the cause why they leave her communion and form new communities, who can endure it? Then the church is here of necessity put on heaping up teachers having itching ears, to preach false doctrine for her; since God’s ministers won’t do it for pay, she must make to herself such as will; and this she has the very ingredients to perform, lust, wealth, and power. And so for heaping up teachers to herself the church went, sometime between 323 and 606; the precise time I am not able to state, but I think it is satisfactorily clear from the prophecy in the text and the state of the church, that the time above is the time pointed out by Paul in the text. For if the church was then rich, proud and powerful, here are causes enough; a sound church wants a sound minister, a false or unsound church wants an unsound minister; then each agree. Reverse them and the devil is to pay at once, for they can no more agree than wolves and sheep, in their food nor principles.
The machine employed to make these preachers for the church is theological schools; for she don’t want sound ministers, and unsound ones can be made this way; but nothing short of the power of God can make a sound minister, nor a sound church – since the world by wisdom knew not a three – one God, and the things of the Spirit are foolishness, and not received by the natural man and no man can know the Son, whom God’s ministers preach for life and salvation, except the Father and not the schools reveal him to them, and give them the gift of the ministry to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. However, like church like priest; the members had professed and joined the church for honor, and the preachers had sought to be qualified to preach for salaries, sing for money, and pray for hire; and so dog-eat-dog, both agree together to kill sheep, if it was not for the fencing laws. Then from this time to the present day, the church has created hundreds of these dressing mills to heap up teachers having itching ears, in different nations; and all the good they do is to turn men’s ears from the truth, and turn truth unto fables, and make merchandize of the saints, and get money by preaching lies; for to preach the truth these men-made preachers cannot, for Christ is the truth and him they cannot know without the revelation of the Father, and that they have not got nor can the schools give it to them.
Then wherever the Roman catholic religion has come in any nation, these schools have been set up to heap up teachers to support her wealth and power; and her preachers sing psalms for hire and grandeur, and from her all Protestant communities have taken this pattern is self-evident, as no instance can be found in the Bible of such a school to qualify prophets or apostles for their respective missions. Nay, Jesus Christ neither went to the schools, for the first preachers of the gospel, nor sent them there after they were called. Nor is there any account of such schools as I can find for the first 300 years of the church, when she could endure sound doctrine; for when a church can endure sound doctrine, none but God can make a preacher for her; but whenever she gets so she cannot endure sound doctrine, then she must go to making preachers – sad proof that the Baptists have become lustful, wealthy and proud, and can’t endure sound doctrine; so for making teachers to her liking. For in the days gone by it was not so, for then the church called the Baptist, being sound in doctrine, wanted no men-made teachers, because they are always unsound; but now she has become unsound, she wants them, and so for theological schools to make them, for God won’t make them for her. And this state of the church is the reason why associations are changing their former Confession of Faith, and a sad proof that the Baptists are not sound in the faith as in times past; if they were they could endure the same Confession of Faith as the Church in past ages. Another reason is, that men-made preachers are always money – preachers, and money – preachers have always been unsound, and therefore the Baptists must change their doctrine and suit their taste, and then like church, like preacher, both will then agree in unsound doctrine. And all this arises from the lust of the church, pride and wealth; and so farewell to sound doctrine in all churches that heap up teachers, for it is a proof the church is already unsound, therefore she is making a preacher to her liking, for no church that is sound in the faith will engage in such traffic; for such an one will rather pursue Christ’s plan, to pray the Lord of the harvest to send them a laborer.
The Roman Catholics have schools for making preachers everywhere their religion has spread: in France, Spain, Postural the Italian States, in South America, in Canada, and the United States and elsewhere, so as to heap up teachers by thousands to support this whore in her unsound doctrine. And that it is, so I will only give you a short specimen: and first, the doctrine of the Pope being head of the church; 2. the office of cardinals; 3. the seven sacraments of baptism, confirmation, eucharist penance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony; 4. the image of Christ, the virgin Mary, and other saints, as image worship; 5. the sale of indulgences in sin; 6. the pardon or absolution of sin, sold and forgiven by the priest; 7. purgatory; 8. the real body and blood of Christ in the supper of the Lord; forbidding the clergy to marry and to abstain from meats, mass for the dead, etc., etc.
Bring these doctrines to the Bible and compare them with my summary of sound doctrine, and see how false and unsound... Even baptism and the Lord’s Supper they have made false doctrine by changing the mode, and many other unsound doctrines did this church arrive to; therefore, she must make teachers to preach and sell these falsehoods for pay. And John Tetzel was a great trader in selling lies for money, and forgiving sins for pay, by the authority of the Pope. Now can you ever think that God made a preacher to preach these lies? If not, who made them but men? The Roman Catholic church made them, did heap them up in France, England, Italy, South America, Portugal, Spain, etc., etc., by thousands because she was and is unsound in doctrine; therefore she heaped up these itching ear preachers, to preach these novel unsound doctrines to satisfy her lust, and by whose means men’s ears have by thousands been turned away from the truth and turned into these fabulous tales, of a purgatory, the Pope’s forgiving sin, or selling indulgence in sin, or worshipping images, or saying mass for the dead, or consecrating a wafer, or praying men out of purgatory, or issuing his bull, etc., etc. Every man must know these are no more than fabulous tales, with a hundred others. Now then if the church of Rome would stop making preachers to tell these lies, down goes their church at once; since God never did nor never will, make a preacher to preach such lying fables as these.
Thus the time did come and has long since come in the gospel church, to heap up teachers having itching ears; for the Roman church claims the honor of being the only gospel or catholic church. Indeed she was, until she divorced her husband and married the Pope; and thus she is not now the bride, the Lamb’s wife, but the whore that wore the scarlet covered beast: and has prostituted herself as a common strumpet to commit fornication with the kings of the earth, and shall be burned with fire for her whoredom and abomination with which she has made the nations drunk with the wine of her fornications out of her intoxicating golden cup, which is full of all abominable errors, of death and damnation. And in her is to be found the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, to be avenged of her shortly. Wherefore there is a voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, and be not partaker of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues.
Now this church or whore has harlot daughters, begotten in her whoredom, which means spurious churches there can be no doubt; and springing from the church of Rome after her whoredom, or marrying the Pope, and then committing whoredom with the kings of the earth. And thus the church of England, I think, is one of those daughters alluded to; as that church may be said to have sprung from the church of Rome, or to have arisen by her fornication with the Pope. For she is as much a harlot as her mother, in that she owned the kings and queens of England as her head, and was taken into their embrace and governed by their laws, and domineered over by bishops men-made. For as the blood of saints has been found in the mother, so has the blood of saints been found in her; and as the mother could not endure sound doctrine and therefore heaped up teachers to preach unsound doctrine for her, so has this church heaped up teachers for ages in like manner. And as the mother was rich, proud and powerful, so was this daughter; and as the mother changed the doctrines and ordinances of Jesus Christ into fables, so did this daughter into saint days, book, prayer, written preaching, catechisms, morning and evening service, gown, churching women, burying the dead by preaching, bishops over large tracts of country or over other bishops or preachers, arch bishops, infant baptism, etc., etc., god-fathers and god-mothers, prayers for certain days, etc., etc., all of which bring along side and compare with the New Testament, and there is no more of these things there than there is of General Washington, which is just none at all, to be supported by scripture.
Now if the church of England was to cease heaping up teachers from the theological schools of Cambridge , Oxford , Dublin , Fort William , and other seminaries in the United States and elsewhere, what would become of this sect? why, die of its own accord; for these factories and others keep this sect alive. But in a word, take away the salaries from the ministry, and I warrant you empty martin gourds, as the case of the revolution proved. Then this church has heaped up thousands of men-made teachers, and is still heaping them up, to oppress the poor Britons and Irish past endurance.
You must take these as specimens of men-made teachers in both churches, and now all others seem to be following and wondering after the beast in this of theological schools to heap up teachers to support their different sects; and the more preachers the better chance to stand, and the more money the more preachers be sure; and the more preachers, men-made, the more moral darkness, lies and falsehood will he propagated. But God ere long will sweep all this trash away, as with the besom of destruction, to the joys of his own preachers and the triumph of the gospel church on earth. It is not long now, I feel assured that this state of things is to continue before the beast and false prophet will be taken and cast alive iii the pit.
From about 606 up to 1517, or there-abouts, is called the dark ages; and well it might, for who darkens the world like men-made teachers? During the 900 years the papal power held all Christendom in bondage and fear, and exercised her priestcraft to the highest pitch; made thousands of preachers, popes, cardinals, monks, friars, and scholastic divines of all sorts and grades monkery assumed an instituted form, image worship was set up, the pope’s supremacy was announced all over the world, pilgrimages were set on foot, and sold, the inquisition established, the great religions wars or crusades were carried on, etc., etc. Now one would think that the many thousands of men-made preachers and scholastic divines that existed in this age of the church, would have been the light of the world and kept darkness afar off. But sad proof that there is no light in men-made preachers, sad proof that when a church gets to the highest summit of worldly grandeur, wealth, honor and power, that this should lie the ,greatest’ time of darkness; but so it is, that, it was and so ever will be worldly prosperity ever ruins the church and thus darkens the world; and scholastic divines are one of the causes of covering the earth with darkness, and the people with gross darkness.
This time between 606 and 1517, a period of about 900 years, is the time that John no doubt in his Revelation prophesies of, of all the world’s wondering after the beast; that is, following the church of anti – Christ and her men-made teachers having itching ears, which she had heaped up and sent abroad in every part of the Roman world, to sell pardons and indulgences and traffic otherwise in religious matters for money. And also they are the locusts, I think, alluded to that darken the gospel sun of the church. In that age of the church, emperors, kings and princes were hurled from their thrones by the popes – disrobed of their power by the vicar of Christ and their kingdoms filled with rebellion, for the bulls of his holiness must be obeyed, For the Pope was surrounded by tens of thousands of men-made teachers, who all as so many satellites received their instructions from him instead of Jesus Christ. Armies of monks, friars, and ministers were ready to obey his summons and execute his bloody commands, at all times; as by him and his power they got their pay for preaching.
The clergy were forbid to marry, of which Paul foretold in the New Testament; councils were held by the popes, and at length they assumed the supreme command of the whole catholic world, and gave new laws and doctrines to the church, even the doctrines of devils, as Paul said. The first council was held at Nice, 325; then at Placentia the council of Constance in 1414; the council of Trent , 1545. The crusades in the eleventh century, that wild enthusiastic project to recover Jerusalem from the Mahometans, that cost the lives of so many hundred thousands of Europeans.
In answer to the above dark state of the world I have nothing to say, as that comes not in my limits; but as to the dark state of the church for this 900 year’s, I answer that it is beyond all contradiction that Christianity properly understood, as preached by God’s preachers, and exercising its due influence on the mind and character of men, must be a lamp of light to the nations of the earth; for only compare the nations who have the gospel preached to them, with those that have never had it, and how different in knowledge, manners and civilization, to the tribes of Indians that never have had the gospel light. Yet in this dark age there were thousands of thousands of man-made teachers, but there was no light in them to dispel this darkness; but the truth is, their deeds were evil, from the Pope to the friar, and therefore the darkness, for thy loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. And so now with men-made teachers; they hate the light offered to the world by God’s ministers. Many during that age of the church left her communion and formed other churches upon what they in this dark age thought to be the gospel plan; and thus made a stand against the beast, but were destroyed by thousands. Yet those men bore their testimony against the man of sin, such as Claude of Turin, Peter de Bruys, Henry, Peter Waldo a Frenchman Wicklik, John Huss, Jerome, etc., etc. These men often carried terror even to the seat of the beast, and preached with power and made thousands of converts for the wolves to burn, drown, behead and banish. Which shows that men-made preachers, even of the Christian name, and made by her who called herself the Christian church, can and will persecute God’s preachers and people, as well as Jewish heathen priests. For self-made and men-made preachers are men of the same sheep – killing spirit, whether found in the antediluvian, Jewish, heathen, or Christian church, that matters not – wolf is wolf, before and since the flood, And wolf will he wolf, whether found in Asia, Africa, Europe, or the wilds of America. So are all self-made, men-made, and devil-made teachers; and so they will he found at the day of judgment, when God shall have divested them of the sheepskin.
But while the Pope slumbered and rolled in luxury and power at the head of this bloody whore, and saw all these rising sects in his power, and thousands destroyed, and dreamed of nothing but dominion, peace, riches and power, in 1517 Martin Luther arose, and to his aid Calvin, Melancthon, Carolostadt, Bucer, Erasmus, Menno, Occolamadius and others. These men of God gave the beast the deadly wound; but yet he lives in Spain and Portugal , showing these two horns, but is dying a lingering death elsewhere. Then from 1517 up to 1834, the Roman church has lived but not in that power, splendor, riches and persecution as formerly. Yet in that age of the church she has drenched the world with blood in an abundance; but she soon shall see her sorrows, her widowhood, and death and mourning, and the burning of her flesh with fire shall soon come upon her, and God give her in his righteous judgment blood to drink since she has loved it so well; for he shall put it in the hearts of his servants to give her a double cup of his vengeance.
Here I shall close in pursuing the church, as the history of the church for the last 300 years is so full and so abundant almost everywhere. To them I must refer you for men-made preachers, and come immediately to the matter proposed, and give their marks from scripture, so you can know them from God’s ministers.
Elder Joshua Lawrence, 1837