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Golden Age of Predestinarian Old School Baptists

To whomever is Interested:

I refer to a specific period of time, covering the decades from 1814 to 1890, as “The Golden Age” of the Predestinarian Old School and/or Particular Baptists in North America. The 1814 date, is the date of the founding, or organizing, of the first Missionary Baptist Denomination in North America, at Philadelphia, PA., in May of that year. The Baptists that continued in the old school of theological truth were exceedingly blessed by that event, as it drew off hordes of humanistic Fullerites. “The earth opened it mouth, and swallowed up the flood the beast sent against the woman and her Child.” However, many Fullerites holding to a "means and measures" doctrine remained outside of the Missionary Baptist organizations. They too, were "Old School" in practice.

Between 1814 and 1840's, this “Means and Measures” Old School party grew rapidly on the frontiers, and were basically considered “brethren” by all other Old School groups. The Means Baptists had no particular quibble about suing churches of our Lord, “brethren” or not; and in the 1840's law-suits by them to claim church properties, strained that relationship between them. By the 1850's the separation between the “Means Baptists,” and the “Anti-Means” Baptists was close to completion. Some who were members of Predestinarian Old School Baptists joined in fellowship with the Means Baptists. The Means Baptists found these former Predestinarians very capable leaders, among the most notable was John Clark, WITH the Ketocton, and William Conrad of the Licking Particular, and their law-suits and bitter slanderous misinformation is still correct tidbits today.

When Israel had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their boughs and axes, they grew stronger. As Beebe, Trott, Dudley, Johnson, Purington, A.B. Francis, and a large host of other faithful servants of God had to confront the sublities of these work-mongers, they too grew stronger as their swords were sharpened. It is during this period, from 1814 to 1890, that the great and sweet, edifying, ministries of the Predestinarian Old School Baptists reached their zenith. This age is characterized by an additional emphasis upon a set specific collection of consistent doctrines, that became clouded and weakened after 1890 with the attempted merger of the two large groups of Old Schoolers. Three very specific doctrines were held to by all those associated together as “Predestinarian,” “Old School Baptists” prior to this date: (1) That Christ and His Bride are eternally ONE; Christ as the Head and the church, His body; the CHURCH being His resting place, and the “fullness of Him that filleth all things.” (2) That regeneration was the ADDITION of a spiritual nature born exclusively of God, by the incorruptible seed the Word of God, the Seed of Abraham according to the promise; and NOT a regeneration of the natural Adamic, or fleshly, corporeal bodies of men. The natural body was afore prepared unto glory by the sovereign work of God making it a holy habitation of the spiritual seed that would be planted in it, and spring up into everlasting and eternal LIFE. The natural body remains yet unchanged IN NATURE, but changed in circumstance and influence by the new man planted within. (3) the “absolute” predestination of all things (meaning to them ALL THINGS, with emphasis upon the "all" in the absolute.) and connected together with the whole, the adoption of the natural man that is the earthen vessel for the habitation of the Spirit, and the consequent and consequent change and resurrection of both the adopted body of the elect together with the born of God spiritual child at the last day.

During that long period of time, these wholesome doctrines sanctified the Predestinarian Old School Baptists. It separated them as a holy priesthood of common believers; it led them to discipline their members, and keep out (as much as possible) the alien work-mongers who could not tolerate such doctrines, nor walk in the works of righteous conduct required for membership in a Gospel church. It drew men and women, by cords of spiritual love to common fellowship one with the other; and in general their churches were so well behaved, that the world at large admired their steadfastness. The banking institutions would not put a “note” in front of them to sign for a loan on their crops, with them only “affirming,” “My Word Is My Bond.;” they “paid their just and honest debts,” and bankruptcy was unheard of among them, for none of their churches would tolerate such behavior.

After 1890, the spiritual light began to dim; the Predestinarians had church property stolen from them on a regular basis by the Means party; “Peace Conferences” were organized by the Means party and rigged against the Predestinarians; the doctrines the Means Baptists could not stomach were toned down, or outright abandoned. Law suits galore filled courts all over America. The respected name of the Church of Christ became a derision; and lies unnumbered slandered the poor helpless believers of the precious doctrines of our blessed Lord. This led to the last Great Separation, between 1901 and 1940's and today the greater numbers are carnal antiquarians, who, without even believing an experience of grace is necessary for eternal salvation, just want to “come home to my Mama's old church.”

The “Golden Age” is that age when the truth matched the experience of children born of God, that loved righteousness, despised evil, desired fellowship only with others of like precious faith, and whose ministry did all, by the Spirit, “to lift up Jesus on High,” and “feed the lambs” of Christ's pasture with the true Gospel of the sovereign, predestinating grace of Almighty God. Those ministers were bold in doctrinal preaching. Today, the doctrines are willy-nilly; and dreams are safer to dwell on than sound unequivocal doctrine. Dreams will starve a child of God to death; for he is fed on spiritual food only.

In those days, as in our own churches today, there was and is no room for Arminians, work-mongers, “means and measures” folk. Fellowship is of the Spirit, and the spirit of a new-born child of Jehovah witnesses with the spirit of others born of the same heavenly Father; and that same spirit will return to the bosom of one born of God when confronting one with enthusiastic zeal of a head-knowledge without grace in the heart. Feigned love is altogether different from the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of His born children; and they can all sense the difference.

Yours, Stanley C. Phillips
January 2009