« PreviousContinue »
tional or independent form of church ( for the mercy of our Lord Jesus order ? Nay, though it refers to Christ unto eternal life.” baptism, does it tell a stranger, or The true General Baptist is very bear on its face anything definite, much “a man of one book.” He about that ordinance ? He knows looks to the Bible for his instruction, what Baptist means (?), but the term and authority in all things pertain"General," he inquires, " to what ing to religion. He is often consedoes it refer? Do these people bap- quently somewhat too neglectful of tize mankind generally—i.e., all who the theological writings of men. ask ?" And he requires to be told Conceiving that Christ and his aposthat it refers to the extent of the tles have left sufficient instruction atonement; that whereas the Cal- for his guidance, in the New Testavinistic or Particular Baptists believe ment, and that no doctrine or practhis extended only to the elect, the tice has any authority except as it General Baptists believe that it had accords with “this word,” he often a general regard to all mankind ; lives in happy ignorance of the subthat “the Lamb of God taketh tle controversies which agitate poaway the sin of the world”; and is lemics of every name. The author"the propitiation for the sins of the ity of great names is nothing to whole world.” So inapt is our favor- him. He is, however, often "mighty ite name! And more than this, as it in the scriptures," having its preis held by a number of communities cepts, examples, texts, and promises, that, during the early part of the ready for every occasion. He lives eighteenth century, sunk' into Soci- on these promises, by “faith in the nian errors, and are dying of inanition, Son of God, who loved " him, "and some who know them will suppose gave himself” for him. The dewe hold or sympathise with such crees of councils, the laws of senates, doctrines, and hence we have to add and the opinions of university docthe words, “ of the New Connexion." tors, are in his estimation as the Far be it from us to cast any reflec- chaff of the summer thrashing-floor, tion on the wisdom or piety of our in the presence of a single text of venerable forefathers of 1770, or on Scripture or a precept of Christ or the good men who sometime in the his apostles.
Extended theological earlier part of the previous century, reading is not therefore his chaapparently as a mark of difference racteristic; though it would be from their Calvinistic brethren, sub- doing injustice to many bearing this mitted to this as their distinctive name, both of the present and past title, but we have often wished that generations, to represent them as a more intelligible and perfect name being insensible to the value of had been adopted.
profound learning, or unacquainted We do, however, bear the name; with the accumulated treasures which and while on many accounts we love exist in the walks of literature and it, let us not be insensible to its defi- science, and in the works of the ciencies, nor be unprepared to give wise and good of ancient and moa full explanation of its meaning to dern times. The General Baptist is all who may enquire of us, nor be not necessarily a bigot; he says surprised at the dulness of such as 'grace be with all them that love need an explanation. Especially let our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," us be ready to show them how firmly but he cherishes a warm regard for we embrace evangelical and aposto- “his own people,” and can scarcely lical doctrine, and how truly we look conceive how any man, having once sincerely received the doctrines of design to revive Experiinental Relithe body, can turn away from them, gion, or Primitive Christianity, in and become either a high Calvinist Faith and Practice,” consisted only or a Socinian. If any become “in- of some five midland churches, one fant sprinklers,” (the name he usually from Yorkshire, two from Lincolngives to all pædo-baptists,) or diverges shire, three from Kent, three from either to Episcopacy or Popery, be Essex, and two from the Metropolis, at once feels assured there must be (the last ten separating themselves some moral as well as some intellec- from the Old General Baptists, who tual obliquity present in the process : were sunk into the cold region of Sothe duty of believer's baptism, the cinianism,) and numbered only about baptism of immersion, being in his 1630 members in all; and though the estimation too plain to be ever mis- present number of the General Bapunderstood by an unbiassed mind. tists in England includes some 150 The General Baptist, of the Midland churches, and short of 20,000 mem. Counties especially, looks back with bers, yet he enjoys a good measure conscious satisfaction on the early of confidence that, small as may be churches from which he derived his his tribe among the thousands of Isinstruction. They, originated in plain rael, it is not without its antecedents men who were awakened by a zealous and consequents, in “the general preacher (David Taylor), employed assembly and church of the firstby the Countess of Huntingdon to born." He is accustomed to argue, preach the doctrines of the Gospel. and conclude, that after the council After being driven from the Estab- held at Jerusalem, as recorded in the lishment by persecution, and compel. | Acts of the Apostles, (c. xv.) all the led by their love to religion and the Apostles were General Baptists, as Gospel to form a church order and they decided that the Gospel was for polity, as they might be guided by the Gentiles as well as for the Jews, the sacred oracles, they were gradu- receiving by baptism all believers ; ally led by prayer, and the reading that so were the primitive churches ; of the word, and mutual consultation, that so in corrupter times were multo adopt the sentiments and the order titudes who separated themselves from now recognized by the body. He the degenerated clergy, and church rejoices in these apostolic plain men. patronized by the State-as the NoHe sees
them appealing “to the vatians, the Donatists, the various law and the testimony,” following classes of puritans, the Waldensians, its guidance, and at length, with and innumerable communities of sinout the direction of learned divines, cere christians, who, in various lands, either of the Jerusalem Chamber, though persecuted and maligned by Geneva, Germany, or Rome, founding the papal and dominant hierarchy, their churches the Apostolical have from the earliest times to the model; and then in 1770, uniting present borne testimony to the truth, with other churches which they dis- and suffered for its sake. He feels covered of the same faith and order, that it is not to Luther, to Knox, or in Lincolnshire and London. As a to Wickliffe, that he is indebted for lover of the Scriptures, and an advo. his light, but to the inspired men at cate of their supreme authority, he whose feet these men themselves feels that he has no occasion to be were wont to sit ; that the opinions of ashamed of his origin.
the Westminister Assembly, the dicThough this “ Assembly of Free tum and laws of John Wesley, por Grace General Baptists, formed in the authors of the 39 articles, are the year of our Lord, 1770, with a not his guide, but the writings of the
Apostles themselves. He considers, Names, and sects, and parties fall, too, that the sentiments he entertains And God in Christ be all in all ; as to the work of Christ, its extent but not till then. and efficacy, the operation of the The General Baptist Churches, Holy Spirit, its graciousness and though clustering round the points power, and as to the ordinance of indicated at the formation of the New believers' baptism, prevail far beyond Connexion, and consequently consithe limits of his own pale. In Eng- derably scattered, maintain by an anland, the Particular Baptists, many of nual meeting, called the Association, them at least, are become in their (an assembly composed of ministers preaching as General as his own. and delegates,) a visible and subtanThe almost antinomian Calvinism for- tial union. They have also local or. merly so rife among their churches, ganizations called Conferences, which has given place to a broader, healthier, meet more frequently. Of these more liberal, and in his estimation, the Midland, including the Leicester, more scriptural doctrine; so that he Derby, and Nottinghamshire churchmay at times see General Baptists es, comprises about fifty churches; readily uniting with their churches, the Lincolnshire, including also Camand even bearing office in them. So bridgeshire, about half that number; amongst the Congregationalists, and the London Conference contains about Wesleyans, there are to be found a score churches; the Warwickshire many " of this way," who have been about a dozen ; the Yorkshire about baptized on a profession of their faith, a score; the Lancashire and Cheshire or who hold the propriety of being and North Derbyshire together, about 80 ; but who from local circumstances, the same number. By means of family ties, or other causes, and per. these assemblies the spirit of union haps an idea of the mere ceremonial and sympathy, and co-operation, is and nonessential character of the dis- sustained. There are, perhaps, few tinction, are not separated from them. religious bodies, amongst whom the He is not insensible, too, to the con- feeling of oneness prevails to a greatcurrent testimony of the learned, both er extent than among the General of the Episcopalian and papal commu- Baptists. nities, to the scripturalness and anti- in relation to doctrinal agree. quity of the immersion of believers. ment, it is presumed that this preHe looks across the wide atlantic, vails to an equal extent. Some and sees there myriads of Baptists, approach nearer to what is called who hold his favourite doctrines, and moderate Calvinism in their theory are such as he can recognize as "the than others, and a few deviate conelect of God.” In the bold anticipa- siderably from it; but the mass are tions of his heart, he sometimes sees very much of one mind. They bold in the distant future a time when all firmly the cardinal doctrine that the the world will be of his faith. With death of Christ was an atonement the fall of popery he anticipates that all offered for the sins of all mankind; its inventions will be abolished; and that justification is by faith alone ; then, when all are christians, voluntary and sanctification by the Holy Spiprofessors, and followers of the apos- rit. There is little fear of any tentolic rule and order, this will be the dencies towards Socinianism amongst issue. His strong faith in God's them. There no ministers of word leads his happy thoughts to this any community who more frequently time. Then the name General Bap- insist on the dignity of Christ's pertist will surely be given up, and the son, and more constantly expatiate name "christian ” will predominate on the efficacy of his atoning work once more, and
than theirs, and few people who en
joy these truths more. There may and speculation among their preachers be isolated cases, where self-sufficient than is to be found in any.community persons go off from them to of which we have any knowledge. treme errors, but not in a propor- We had purposed to expatiate a tion larger than from other evan- little on our public institutions. Our gelical communities. In earnest interesting and prosperous foreign evangelical preaching their ministers mission, our home efforts, our acadevie with those of the other section of iny, our Sabbath-schools, Tract and the Baptists ; and they have in their Benevolent Societies, and to urge Annual Association become nominally their claims on our readers, but we connected with the Baptist Union ; fear we have already exhausted their but a perfect amalgamation seems patience, and must therefore conundesirable, as the amount of strong clude. We have at times feared and high-toned Calvinism which ob- for the prosperity of our body; we tains in various parts of that body, have feared lest the inadequate supwould occasion debates and aliena. port given to the ministry should eftion. The assimilation in spirit and fectually repel our rising youth who purpose, and the approximation in have gifts and qualifications for the doctrine, which exists already, should, work from entering the ministry among however, and we believe does to a us, and thus leave our churches to ingreat extent, teach us to “ love as ferior or doubtful ministrations; we brethren.”
are happy, however, to see for several As a body, the General Baptists years past, the prevalence of improved have often had to complain of the and more liberal views on this subject. neglect or misrepresentation of others. We have feared, too, lest the removal Ignored as to their proceedings some- of many who have been “pillars” in times by their brethren of other de- our temple, and the growing spirit of nominations, and represented as “low," worldliness and scepticism of the age, “not sound," &c., when they are not should leave us feeble and unprepared present to defend their views, they for conflict, but we have joy in the have at times had much to try their thought that God has been better to spirit of forbearance and charity. us than our fears, and in our rising They have never represented them. ministry promises " from this time to selves as THE people, nor their institutions as the Christian Institutions, In conclusion, while we would ex&c., nor arrogated to themselves the hort our brethren and friends to cherish successes of others—they are too a catholic spirit of christian love to truthful and modest for that. But ac- all who “hold the head,” we would cording to their numbers they are as counsel and urge them to hold fast the orderly and as respectable, as chris- simple and great truths of the gospel tian and as useful, for anything we of Christ, to cultivate the spirit of know, as any other class of noncon- union and co-operation, and to “stand formists; and as to soundness in the fast, in one spirit, with one mind, faith, if that means a firm hold on the striving together for the faith of the great doctrines of the New Testa
gospel.” ment, and a disregard for the authori
Should all the forms that men devise ty of men in matters of faith, they
Assault my faith with treacherous art, are among the soundest believers. I'd call them vanity and lies, There is less of mere philosophizing And bind the gospel to my heart.”
THE REVIVAL CONVENTION AT LOUGHBOROUGH.
In our closing number for last year nearly half-past, brother Wallis was we gave a brief sketch of the pro- requested to conduct a prayer serceedings at this gathering, intimat- vice until twelve o'clock, which he ing at the time that a more extended did by giving ont suitable verses of report would appear in the present hymns, and calling upon five of the number. We made this promise in students under his care in the college consequence of the anxious desire to engage; and it would not be expressed by many at that conven- right were we to omit to state that tion that a full report of the pro- this brief devotional exercise of little ceedings should appear in our pages, more than half an hour was conductand from being aware that copious ed with so much propriety of expresnotes of the observations then made sion and feeling on the part of the had been taken, which would be beloved young friends who engaged forthcoming for our use. Indeed, in it, that it seemed to give a tone to the meetings then held were so ex- the solemn and interesting proceedtraordinary, so salutary in their im- ings of the day. One confession mediate influence on the minds of all which rose from the heart of one of who were present, so full of promise the supplicants expressed the feeland hope of future beneficial results, ings of many,—“We are nothing, and that we feel as if we should not be can do nothing without Thee." discharging our duty to the great It was now 12 o'clock, and a concause of religion generally, and to siderable number had entered the the Connexion of which this publica- chapel during the intervals of singtion is the recognized organ more ing. Brother Wallis introduced bro. especially, were we not to attempt to ther Goadby, the minister of the publish some report of what was place, to preside; who proceeded to seen and said, felt and enjoyed, on read suitable portions of the Prophethat hallowed day.
cies of Isaiah and the Acts of the The weather had been unfavour- Apostles, and then offered a lengthened able, but the morning of Wednesday, and comprehensive prayer, in which Nov. 9th, opened with a clear sky, special reference was made to the care and ushered in one of the finest of God for his churches, and the blesautumnal days of the season, afford- sings which he had promised in an. ing an inviting encouragement to the swer to prayer. After giving out a friends from the country to set out on hymn, the chairman briefly stated the the journey. Many came by rail object of the meeting as being to from Leicester, Nottingham, and confer and pray together on the preDerby, and the villages along the sent comparatively depressed state of lines, but more, we believe, came on religion in our churches, that we foot, or in their own conveyances. might, if possible, realize some imThe place of meeting was favourable provement. He expressed his satisto a good gathering, Loughborough faction in the aspect and number of being nearly in the centre of the the present meeting, and his hope three county towns just mentioned, that every brother would feel himself with many village churches in the at liberty to utter any thoughts which neighbourhood.
might occur to him as useful, with The time fixed for opening the the same ease, confidence, and freemorning meeting at Wood Gate cha- dom, as if he was sitting in the social pel was 11 o'clock; a few friends circle, in the presence of only a few. having gathered in the place at confidential friends. He intimated