We have meant to review and give only a few remarks on our articles of faith, therefore have intentionally avoided any formal expression as a creed. Our object being not to publish the articles themselves, but to encourage an interest in the doctrine of our faith expressed in them, that we practice and preach as well as to profess them.
The churches have never held to any one set of articles as a standard of their faith, but have counted them more or less necessary as an expression of what their Standard - the Bible, teaches. The Holy Scriptures or a "Thus saith the Lord", has been their only rule; but since the harlot daughters about her have claimed the same, it seemed necessary that the true Church should have somewhat to set forth as a testimony of her distinct and peculiar faith, which is the faith of God's Elect.
Baptist ministers, in America at least have not been bound to sign their names to any set of articles. Yet, while they minister as with the liberty of the Spirit of the Lord, they are thereby bound to contend for that same faith which has ever been held a sacred heritage of the Church.
Quotations made in the following remarks are made from the London Confession of 1611, not as a standard set of articles, but because it is more detailed and has for the most part been used by Baptists, reserving the right to reject any unscriptural teaching.
In as much as the Holy Scriptures - being a Thus saith the Lord constitutes all authority for our faith and practice it is only fitting and proper that we should begin a comment on our articles of faith with the Holy Scriptures as the infallibly inspired word of God. We had refused to believe that any Old School Baptist did not believe the whole Bible was divinely inspired of God until recent years, when it has been advocated in so many words.
When we speak of the Holy Scriptures we mean those written by the prophets and apostles in the original Hebrew and Greek language - the best English version of which is the King James, the American Revised for the most part, and Ivan Panin's Numeric New Testament. The originals sustain the Old Baptist doctrine where there is difficulty in the versions.
Paul said, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God [God-breathed]", (2 Tim. 3:16). The Lord established the law and the prophets and the writings of Hebrew scriptures as the divinely inspired word of God when He read them in the synagogues and said, "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of ME." (Jn.5:39). Peter testified to the divine inspiration of the New Covenant writings when he said, "they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the OTHER SCRIPTURES." (2 Pet. 3:16).
Another witness that shall be added here of the divine inspiration is the discovery by Ivan Panin. He found that only God's holy scriptures in the originals were written to an absolute mathematical rhythm of sevens and elevens, together with a multitude of other interlocking schemes which cannot possibly be accounted for outside of the divine handiwork of the Infinite Jehovah.
While these are unquestionable evidences to God's inspired book, the believer has the witness in himself which bears witness with the word that the things written therein are true. The saints in all ages have taken this book as their guide for their walk in this life and the life to come. Old School Baptists have held it to be their only rule of faith and practice. But this has come to be not so much a fact as a tradition. Most religious creeds profess the Bible to be their foundation, but this can only be proved by actual practice and a faithful adherence to its teaching. We hope to see the day when our brethren will take up this holy Book again for what it is in truth, the word of God, and diligently seek therein a "Thus saith the Lord" for all they teach and practice. We hope they will take this heritage left to us by our forefathers and preserve it to those who come after us.
While we should seek to hold forth a "form of sound words" this is not meant that we should or must stereo-type our words with so-called "Bible phraseology." This is but a trick of Satan to settle the saints in a dead profession.
God's word is living and powerful, and cannot be bound by any form of expression in any language. Let us not be caught by this clever device, but seek rather to use such various expressions of the one testimony as given us by God's Spirit, to testify of the one faith in all of its multifarious degrees and applications.
Our belief in God might be considered a self-evident matter. But there are so many conceptions of God and His worship that it is needful to give our peculiar belief of the Living God who has revealed Himself to us. The Hebrews as ancient Israelites have left to us the true conception of this One and only Lord God, for to them were delivered the oracles of God. To them God, the Elohim Jehovah was pleased to reveal Himself as the Creator of all things, as the Eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, unchangeable great I AM THAT I AM, as the Supreme and Absolute Sovereign who does His will in all places at all times, as the Father of His children, Son and Holy Spirit, and as the Redeemer, Husband and Friend of His people. There is no end to His wonderful attributes any more than there is an end to Himself, and to describe Him poor worms cannot; but this needful thing, - He is a Spirit and seeks such to worship Him as do worship in spirit and in truth. He is Most Holy, Most Righteous, and Most Reverend. He is above all His laws, so that none of His creatures may say, "What doest Thou?" or Why does He do thus and so. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and is watching over Israel and Zion as the Good Shepherd watches His flock.
He has manifested Himself in a triune personality as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, yet these three are inexplainably One in essence and character,-the One True and only Jehovah God.
To have a proper conception of God is to acknowledge His sovereignty. If we cannot describe God in His fullness how presumptuous it is to attempt a survey of His actions,-wretched man! The most sublime description mortal man could use is but a weak testimony to the Sovereign Ruler of all worlds and times which are as nothing in His sight. While it is the whole duty of man to praise his Maker, the Lord God needs not the testimony of man, nor does He receive honor from man.
To limit God in any sense is utterly presumptuous, especially in the face of His own explanation of Himself that He "does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand", that "He works all things after the counsel of His own will" and that He has "determined the end from the beginning" etc. In as much as He has stooped to redeem us from our pollution and made us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" the least we can do is bow in the lowest dust and ascribe to Him all power, might and dominion – as we shall do in the world to come. To say that this Sovereign Ruler has predestinated all things is but a weak explanation of parts of His ways. That He has done so, no worm should dare dispute; how or why He has done so is none of our concern. To question that He has done so is to question an essential attribute of the Godhead.
Therefore, if we are properly reconciled to God we are reconciled to what He does, knowing that what He does is just and right altogether.
Since the Triune God is from everlasting to everlasting, or eternally existent, - that is God. He created time, and spoke a universe into existence. Creatures have little knowledge of this universe, much less the myriads of other spheres and the Infinite God may choose to create or destroy. The doctrine that created matter is part of God and therefore cannot be destroyed is the doctrine of devils. God formed man out of the dust of this earth and breathed into him the breath of a natural life or existence. The Adam man was part of God's creation and therefore no part of God. Being earthy he had no spiritual life nor immortal soul. He was created naturally upright, but not with the righteousness of God and Christ possessed only by the new man in Christ. He was placed in the beautiful but natural garden and subjected to the temptation of the serpent whom God had also "created crooked" and placed there to deceive the Adamic man. God has created the waster to destroy and the wicked for the day of evil. To say that God created only light out of darkness is mere shortsighted prattle. He is Light and before Him there was no darkness; then He created the natural darkness and said, "Let there be light." These are only parts of His ways; how little of Him is known!
The natural man possessed no power in and of himself to keep a law, hence when sin had conceived in the heart of our mother Eve it brot forth death to the Adamic creation. God says, "The soul (Adamic man) that sins it shall die." Neither Eve nor Adam had any power to resist the super-temptation of sin. God subjected him to it that He might subject the same also in hope of a "more abundant life," that is an heavenly, spiritual, immortal life.
Christ was ordained as the sacrificial Lamb before the foundation of the world", that is in type, no doubt thru the coats of skin prepared by God Himself, and from Abel's lamb, thru the typical and ceremonial sacrifices until the day in which He offered up Himself once for all time and for all His elect. Hence it was needful that Adam must fall, because it was ordained to be needful that Christ "should suffer." The human race fell in the first Adam by natural generation; all the elect or chosen in Christ are made alive in Christ the Second Adam, - the Lord from heaven.
That man fell into a sinful state is self-evident: that he is totally depraved and prone to sin none will dispute who have been convicted of their sinful condition. Man in this fleshly, soulish state is unable to please God, "for by the works of the flesh no man can please God." He is under the original curse, "for cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Neither is there any change in his carnal mind by the new birth, 'because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom.8:7).
"This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and altho it be thru Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and the first motions thereof are and properly sip." (London Conf.).
"God manifest in the flesh" is the most sublime and inexplainable mystery that can be contemplated by angels or mortal man. How the infinite, Holy, uncreated and invisible God can be incarnate or manifested as very man and yet very God is beyond the understanding of finite minds; and he is a presumptuous fool who attempts an explanation.
How it is we cannot tell, but why it is we do know is to redeem sinners; to change and adopt into the heavenly family the mortal bodies of the saints. "I am come that they [those given Him] might have life and that they may have it more abundantly." "The whole of God's purpose and creation is centered in Christ. By Him and for Him the worlds were created, and by Him they do exist. The eternal purposes of God were made manifest when He sent His only darling Son into the world for the love that He had for His children. "For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that thru death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who thru fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He does not give help to angels, but He took on Him (or gives help to) the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to give help (or succor) those being tempted.
"It pleased God in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord, His only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both to be the Mediator between God and man; the Prophet, Priest and King, Head and Savior of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world, unto Whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed, and be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified sanctified and glorified."
It seems strikingly strange that the London brethren who drew up that famous confession, should leave out one of the cardinal points of our faith. We are inclined to believe it was an oversight; because it has been included in later Baptist Confessions. The doctrine of election is mentioned frequently in other chapters, and was a point most surely believed and preached by them. Indeed, it had been for centuries a distinguishing point of their faith, without which they could not rightly bear the name Baptist.
In 1544 the Waldenses published in their Third Confession the following on election: "We believe that there is one holy Church comprising the whole assembly of the Elect and faithful, . ." In their Fourth Confession: "That God saves from that corruption and condemnation those whom He has chosen from the foundation of the world, * * That God so loved the world, that is to say, those He has chosen out of the world, that He gave His own Son to save us by His most perfect obedience * * that that Church is the company of the faithful, who having been elected before the foundation of the world, and called with an holy calling, were to unite themselves to follow the word of God, believing whatsoever He teaches them, and living in His fear."
The early Baptists in America confessed to believe in "Eternal, unconditional Election." That is, they believed and preached that in a most sublime but real sense God's Elect were "chosen in Christ" and their names "written in the book of life of the Lamb." In Psalms (22:30) we have His people set forth as a "seed": "A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this." Again, "the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (Rom. 9:8). That is, the virtue of the election of grace came thru the seed and life of Christ unto a people "that should be born" of that "incorruptible seed." So that by faith they may sing,
"A child of Jehovah, a subject of grace,
I'm of the seed royal, a dignified race;
An heir of salvation, redeemed with blood,
I'll own my relation my Father is God."
Therefore it is seen how this election is not an ordinary election according to man's usage, but rather is it an absolute and mysterious choice in Christ by the Sovereign God, of the "whole house of Israel," the "holy nation", a "great multitude" out of every kindred and tongue, and people," who sing the new song: saying, Thou art worthy,* * for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." They reign now, and shall dwell with Him and sing His praises to ceaseless ages.
Chapter Nine of the London Confession says,
"God hath indued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined, to do good or evil."
These words seem to teach a freewill of the creature; but if so it is not in harmony with the following paragraph nor with the general teaching of the whole confession, neither was it taught by the Baptist ministers of that day, but rather condemned by the authors of this same confession.
Paragraph Two of Chapter Nine reads, "Man in his state of innocency had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God; but yet (Gen.3:6) was mutable, so that he might fall from it." Paragraph Three: "Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost (Rom. 5:6; 8:7) all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or prepare himself there-unto." Five: "The will of man is made perfect and immutably free to good alone in the estate of glory only."
"1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by His word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ etc." (Chapt. 10).
God says, "My people shall be a willing people in the day of My power." and "all Thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of Thy children." (Isa.54:13). Christ their Redeemer says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." "And this is the Father's will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (Jn. 6;39; 10:27,28).
"For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:9). "He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil:6). From these and many more scriptures we may rejoice to know that God has created a people for His praise and will have His saints to "bless Him," "they shall shew forth His praise and speak of His righteousness." The sure and effectual calling, generation and glorification of the saints is one of the crowning features of our faith, and the most soul-cheering and comforting g 1 a d news to poor pilgrims of hope in this wilderness land. While bowed down with self and sin, he is strengthened with the more sure word that by grace "The righteous shall hold on his way."
"Those whom God effectually called He also freely justified, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything in them or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law and passive obedience in His death, for their whole and sole righteousness." (Ch.11.)
Justification is another part of the mystery of "God manifest in the flesh." This was expressed in the question asked by Job: "How should man be just with God?" ((9:1). How can sinful, polluted man by any possible manner be reconciled and made just before the most Holy God. Paul tells how the thing is done: "To declare, I say, at this time HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS : that He might be just, and the Justifier of him that believes in Jesus." (Rom. 3:26). Tho it still remains a mystery to us, it must be and is received by faith.
Justify means to make or declare righteous, and not merely pardoned. A culprit may be pardoned, but he cannot be justified by a substitute savior. The condemned sinner must possess righteousness himself; nor can he receive it from a substitute; it must be imputed to him thru relationship. Christ our Elder Brother is "made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." And again, "Your righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord." All in Adam were made sinners; all in Christ are justified and made righteous. "If ye be Christ's THEN are ye the children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise."
All that are in the body of Christ are clothed with His robe of righteousness which covers from the Head to the feet. All that are in the Vine receive its Life, "Because I live ye shall live also." The wife is justified by the deeds of Her Husband. Children inherit the riches of their Father. This is the divine order. They are therefore "justified freely by His grace thru the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; Whom God has foreordained as propitiation, thru faith in His blood to declare HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Rom. 3:25).
"All those that are justified God vouchsafed in and for the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of children of God." (Chap. 12).
Still another part of this great mystery of God is how that which was created may dwell with the Uncreated, how mortal, sinful man can be made fit to dwell with the Holy God, how the earthy and natural can be made spiritual. The Adamic man was created and formed out of the dust of the earth. He is dust and to dust he returns. He "is of the earth earthy." How then shall he partake of the heavenly? - only by adoption into the heavenly family. And how can that be? - only by the power of God in the resurrection. "We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
"But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor.6:11). The justification and sanctification of the saints are analogous terms. That is, the saints are said to be justified and also sanctified by the blood of Jesus. By His one sacrifice they are justified, by virtue of and because of that justification they are made holy and declared so by God himself.
The word sanctify does hot always mean to make holy but be set apart as in 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts," that is, acknowledge Him only as Lord, and the only God to be worshiped. But sinners must be sanctified in the sense that they are made so IN CHRIST. "For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of One: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11). They are washed and made clean in the atoning, sin- cleansing blood of Christ. But how is this sanctification effected in mortal flesh? Paragraph 2, Chap. 13 says it is thru-out the whole man, by which it is explained that the flesh is subdued, but in no sense is any part of it made holy: "That which is born of the Spirit cannot sin." The old man, then is sanctified before God in that his sins are forgiven, and the full fruits thereof will be manifested in the resurrection when "this corruptible shall put on incorruption." The Church or whole body of Christ is sanctified, cleansed, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph.5:26, 27). This is the Church triumphant, and she so stands now before God. But for sinners to say their flesh is in any sense without sin is to "make Him a liar and His truth is not in us." (Jn.1:9).
"...the foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith toward God." "This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin,, doth by faith in Christ humble himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self abhorency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well pleasing in all things." (Chap. 15).
The primary meaning of repentance is to "have another mind." In this sense it is not therefore possible for depraved man to repent until God gives him another mind, which He has done: "To give repentance to Israel" (Acts 5:31). "Then has God also granted repentance to the Gentiles." He took out the heart of stone, that is, their unbelieving heart, their unrepenting heart (hot the carnal mind which they still have), and gave them the "mind of Christ", another mind which believes on God, and repents for sin in the flesh or has another mind to walk after the Spirit of God, hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
"1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy word, and not such as without the
warrant thereof are devised by man, out of blind zeal or upon any pretense of good intentions.
2. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness, they have the end eternal life." (Chap. 16.)
"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which believe in God might, be careful to maintain good works."
Outside of predestination, perhaps no subject has been discussed so much as good works and obedience (and we might add-so little manifested), and consequently none has caused more divisions among Old School Baptists in late years. As expressed in the foregoing confession grace Baptists have ever held good works to be a "fruit of the Spirit", of which the Lord says, "From Me is thy fruit found." There is but one conclusion concerning those who would lay again the burden of works for a blessing, that is, they are "fallen from grace" doctrine; their minds are still in bondage to a work system which was done away in Christ.
It is certainly scriptural to admonish the saints to good works, which are enjoined by Christ and His apostles, but Paul always expressed the secret, of the ability to perform, when he says, "I have confidence in the LORD touching you etc." and again, "by the grace of God I am what I am." If it is all of grace" then it is no more of works."
Predestinarian Baptists are surely the only people who really believe in and practice good works, which God said they should be "zealous" for. They do them however, from a motive of love, rather than in order to "obtain a blessing."
"1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and
given the precious faith of His elect unto can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly
persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. .
2. This perseverance, of the saints depends not upon their own free will but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God, the abiding of His Spirit and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace, from all which ariseth also the certainty thereof." (Chap. 17.)
Few among those called grace Baptists have presumed to argue against the soul-establishing truth of the final security of the elect to glory. It is indeed one of the main points of our anchoring faith, and one of the last to be dropped by those who deny the faith.
Our covenant-keeping Lord says, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." And "Because I live you shall live also." Because of the vital union of Christ and His people it is as impossible for Satan to take one of them as to take Christ.
"The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ the Seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and was therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners." (Chap. 20).
By this is not meant that salvation comes merely by the preached word, as noted in paragraph Four: "there is superable work of the Holy Spirit." "Blessed are they that know the joyful sound." The "gospel is the power of God" to believers-not to unbelievers. It is the glad tidings of salvation to poor mourning sinners already convicted of sin in their hearts. The gospel is the good news that Christ has redeemed His people and paid their debt. It is declaring that Jerusalem's warfare is already accomplished and her iniquities pardoned. It is comforting words which feeds the sheep and lambs of our Master, instead of laying more burdens; it is a relieving of the heavy burdens too grievous to be born.
This gospel needs to be proclaimed to God's elect in all nations and tribes. If it is not proclaimed by Old School Baptist preachers, God's hand is not shortened; for as Elder Watson wrote in his Old Baptist Test: The Lord will have His gospel preached, and if we fail He will have it preached by someone. Our Master says, "The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few, pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into the harvest." As J. K. Popham said, "the laborers-not preachers are few."
Our Master's command is, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen." May He give us grace to so do.
When He comes shall He find the faith?
"1. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, and rigor and curse of the law, and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage of Satan and dominion of sin, from the evil of affliction, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not of a slavish fear but a childlike love and mind." (Chap. 21).
William Gadsby wrote in his "Perfect law of Liberty": "I have often thought that those who are in the habit of enforcing duties upon the Christian, upon the ground of the relationship that subsists between God and his rational creatures, have, lost sight of that infinitely higher relationship that subsists between God and His people, on the ground of the covenant of grace. For instance, I have frequently heard it observed that the law of works must be the believer's perfect rule of life, as long as God is God, and they are His creatures; and to me it appears that this would be strictly true, if Christians stood in no higher relationship to the great God than that of His rational creatures: for this must, in the very nature of things, necessarily be. But when we consider that the old covenant is dissolved and done away, and that believers are united to the Lord in the bond of new and everlasting covenant, which can never be done away, it strikes me very forcibly that obedience must be required upon the ground of this new covenant and this relationship; and that the new covenant must contain a sufficient rule of "obedience of faith." and that "the law is not of faith."
Elder Durand in his discussion with Oliphant said, "The teaching of such scriptural truth does not cause a living soul to say, 'Let us continue in sin,' but rather makes him hate and dread it more. And who has died to sin can not live any longer therein. To live after the flesh is death, not life to such. They learn that they can depend only upon the Lord to uphold and lead them. When He walks in them they walk in Him; when He withdraws His presence they fall."
There is no doubt that our brethren in their righteous contention against Arminianism and conditionalism have neglected the scriptural admonitions to practical godliness. Grace works truly belongs with grace doctrine, - one should not be emphasized to the neglect of the other. "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." (Rom. 6).
"1 The light of nature shows that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved and praised, called upon trusted in and served, with all the heart and all the soul and with all thy might. But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will that He may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men or the suggestion of Satan, under any visible representation, any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures." (Chap.22).
As stated in the above, while all creatures are duty-bound to worship their Creator, yet they cannot so reverence Him acceptably, since their minds are at enmity to Him. While He commands all men everywhere to repent yet He "gives repentance" only to a few. This is to the unbelieving and irreconciled, the hard doctrine of God's sovereignty. But it is a more humbling truth to God's children who have been painfully taught to know that God is "an holy God", and cannot be pleased by flesh- worship, that He is a Spirit, and must be worshiped in "spirit and in truth." And how heavily does that MUST fall on us professors of today!
When we view the state of professed religion today in the light of this truth and see its full force and magnitude we can well weep in astonishment and sorrow, sorrow because we realize that only God can revive His work in the land, only the Father of Spirits can give His children a warm heart to pray and "worship in the beauty of holiness." In harmony with true spiritual worship the Old School Baptists of this country have generally practiced an esteeming of "every day alike", allowing no man to judge us in meat or in drink or in respect of an holy day or of the sabbath, which were only shadows of the spiritual things which Christ has now instituted in His Church.
If in accord with His divine will may it please our God, the God of Israel to "return unto us the joys of Thy salvation" and graciously constrain us to walk in all the paths of holiness every day of our little lives here in the "midst of a crooked and perverse generation." May He count us worthy to be numbered and associated with those saints gone before of whom it is written: "Thy saints shall bless Thee, They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom." (Psa.145:11-21).
The powers that be are ordained of God, which includes the civil magistrate, to which we are commanded to be in subjection for conscience sake, because the law is ordained not for the obedient, but for the disobedient, manslayers etc. Our Lord made it clear that our citizenship is not of civil governments (Mat. 17:26), neither is it lawful for us to "wage war" with carnal weapons, "For tho we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."
Now we beg to add a personal word to this little book which we have desired to present to our brethren. God alone knows when our time shall come to depart hence. Therefore, if possible, we should like to seal our testimony now, if God will. We shall not record here any part of things we have already come thru; but shall be content to say we hope we have received this testimony and faith of Jesus of the Lord, after having been dipped a Campbellite pharisee at the age of eleven, and induced as a student of so-called Christian Science at seventeen. But now by grace we confess to believe in Him who "teaches as never man taught." Having this conviction and belief of a Thus saith the Lord, we have loved and held (with malice toward no man), we are ready to die in the same. It is the only faith and hope we have known or seen professed by the sons of men which can uphold us in this life and fit us to dwell with God in the world to come.
For our own short-comings, mistakes, blunders and little unprofitable life, we beg God's mercy and forgiveness, and the pardon of our brethren and friends. For the truth we have stammeringly tried to advocate we make no apology. By God's given grace and strength we have "not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God" as we understood it and as we trust it has been revealed to us. We have at no time hard personal aims, prejudices or ambitions to foster, nor have we tried to influence our brethren in any way except to stir up their "pure minds" to an acknowledging of and contending for the truth. As to our personal feelings, we love our enemies because we cannot hate them, and we hope we love the brethren and the Church with a pure love, and with a burning heart in sincerity can say,
"I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode;
The Church our blest Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.
For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given,
Till cares and toils shall end."
Yours in the faith of Jesus. - W. J. B.