Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Missionary Societies, by John Leland


A correspondent in Palestine, in a late letter to his friend in this country, dated at Nazareth, in Galilee, writes thus:
“By a great number of pamphlets, said to be Evangelical Magazines, and a great variety of other writings, purporting to be of a religious nature, forwarded to this country, we have received correct and authentic knowledge of numerous missionary societies, and other societies of a like kind, formed and very zealously supported in New England, and adjoining parts, in North America. Believing that these zealous societies wish for useful assistance in the great work they have undertaken, we are happy to inform you – which information you will please to communicate to these societies – that, about seventeen hundred years ago, a missionary society was formed and instituted in this country. Having had access to the records and minutes of this society, we are able, with great pleasure, to state to you, that the great design and objects of this society were not of this world. The chairman, or president, or more properly speaking, the founder of this society, was a person whose character is divine, and altogether lovely; his name, according to the records, is Jesus Christ. The more effectually to accomplish the great objects in view, he associated to himself twelve assistants, taken chiefly from that class of men known by the appellation of fishermen, and constantly going about doing good, was, himself the most self-denying and laborious of all in promoting the all-important ends of this mission. The missionary work increasing greatly, a meeting of the society was called and holden about the year thirty. Present at this meeting, the president and the twelve assistants. After considering the extensiveness of the missionary ground, and the importance of thoroughly promoting the missionary work, seventy missionaries were appointed and sent out into a great variety of places, which the president himself designed afterwards to visit. Their instructions, with orders to report after they had accomplished their mission, were these: ‘Go your ways, and, as ye go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scip for your journey, neither two coats, nor yet shoes, for the workman is worthy of his meat, and that they should eat such things as were set before them.’ Having fulfilled the duties of their appointment, they made their report with great joy in the success of their mission, not that they had gained money in great or small sums, but that even the devils were subject to them through the name of the president. The president highly approved their fulfillment of their mission, and congratulated them on their success; but, at the same time, informed them that their highest cause of joy was that their names were written in heaven. About three years after this, on a very trying occasion, in the midst of a vast concourse of people, he addressed his missionaries, and said, ‘When I sent you without purse and scip and shoes, lacked ye anything?’ And they said, nothing. It is the unanimous opinion of the people of Galilee, that, had the president and members of this society, together with their missionaries, declined engaging in the labors of their mission, until ample funds for their abundant pay and support had been collected and fixed on permanent security, the work, which they so remarkably performed, would never have been entered upon, even to this day.
“When the people of Galilee consider the unceasing solicitations, and that in a great variety of shapers, which are made for money, by your missionary societies; the numerous and continual collections and contributions that are made for them, the amazing sums they have funded; and the presidents and directors of the New England, and other missionary societies, almost wholly taken up in managing money matters; even descending to obtain from the unsuspecting little children, the few cents which are given them by their friends; and, at the same time, a few young and inexperienced persons, with great salaries fixed upon them, sent out as missionaries; (and, at the same time, probably, parish-hunting;) they are strongly persuaded that your missionary societies are unacquainted with this ancient Galilean society; or, if they have heard of it, they pay little or no attention to its example. The inhabitants of Galilee, to be sure, after being made acquainted with their schemes and practices, wish to be excused from having a branch of the New England missionary society, or any of the missionary societies of their neighborhood, established in Nazareth, or in any part of their country; being altogether better satisfied with the missionary society anciently established in this country, and which ardently wish to see flourish in its power and purity, not only in Palestine, but in America, and in all the earth.”

* First published in 1818.

John Leland
Written by John Leland, as found in The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland: Including Some Events in His Life (Miss L. F. Greene, editor, New York, NY: G. W. Wood, 1845) on pages 471–472.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Acts 2:37-38, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.
  • Acts II. 37, 38 -- "The propriety or impropriety of our querist holding the Campbellite doctrine and retaining a membership in a Regular Baptist church, we leave with that church to consider and decide; but it is a little remarkable for one claiming such membership to publish to the world that he is not what he professes to be..."
  • Caffeine Content: How Much Caffeine in Coffee? -- "Thousands of people are searching online for information about “coffee caffeine content”, but with all the variables, it’s tricky to arrive at a specific number."
  • Foolish and Unlearned Questions: A Plea for Gospel Focus -- "The reality is that we are in the midst of a world that desperately needs the gospel, but too many of us are splitting hairs about the finer points of semantics."
  • Georgia Baptist university cuts ties with Nike over Kaepernick ad -- "Emir Caner, president of Truett McConnell University, announced Sept. 7 that the Georgia Baptist Convention-owned school will no longer purchase or carry apparel by an athletic company that uses someone who “mocks our troops” to market their products."
  • How to Encourage Your People Just Like the Apostle Paul -- "This might sound gimmicky, I know. But stay with me."
  • Labrador dog named Lucy saves Oregon man from sex conviction -- "The discovery of a black Labrador named Lucy led to the unraveling of a criminal case Monday against an Oregon man who had begun serving a 50-year prison sentence."
  • Leaked Video: Google Leadership's Dismayed Reaction to Trump Election -- "A video recorded by Google shortly after the 2016 presidential election reveals an atmosphere of panic and dismay amongst the tech giant’s leadership, coupled with a determination to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe."
  • Lolling Around Luling -- "Town with a tough reputation still basks in benevolence of its oil history."
  • Trying To Be Cool -- "For generations, escaping the brutal Texas heat was hardly a breeze."
  • I Peter III. 21 -- "Baptism, according to this text, has a figurative import, and as a figure of our salvation, Peter classifies it with the figure of the temporal salvation of Noah and his family in the ark; the former figure is like the latter figure."

A Question about Feet Washing

Answered by J. C. Griffin:
A young lady came to me one day and said, “Mr. Griffin, if feet washing, as practiced by our church is so important, why did Matthew, Mark and Luke fail to mention it?” My answer was, “Miss, if it is absolutely necessary that we must be born again, before we can see the kingdom of God, why did Matthew, Mark and Luke write without making mention of this all important question?” She replied, “I don’t know.” Then, I said, “Neither can I answer your question, more, than it was God’s way.”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Who maketh thee to differ from another

The following hymn by Baptist minister John Fawcett appears in Hymns Adapted to the Circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion (Leeds: G. Wright and Son, 1782).

Hymn XIV. L. M.
Who maketh thee to differ from another. I Cor. iv. 7.

1. When my dark soul, once dead in sin,
Was rouz’d at length by grace divine,
In deep astonishment, I saw,
The terrors of a broken law.

2. No longer wrapt in self-deceit,
I then perceiv’d my guilt was great;
My danger I began to view,
And grace reveal’d the refuge too.

3. The willing slave of sin no more;
My dreadful bondage I deplore;
And with a broken spirit cry,
O mercy! save me, or I die!

4. Some rays of hope pervade the gloom,
Since Jesus bids the weary come;
I humbly trust in him, and see
He shed his precious blood for me.

5. Sweet Jesus, I would ever cleave
To thee, and on the fulness live;
And my own righteousness disclaim;
For all I have is guilt and shame.

6. Thy mighty arm the work hath wrought;
My soul abhors a boasting thought;
Before thy feet I humbly own,
The praise is due to grace alone.

7. Thy sov’reign wisdom form’d the plan,
Thy mercy first the work began;
Grace will complete the great design,
And endless glory shall be thine.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Piety above the Common Standard, and other reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sacred Harp source of church tunes

In 1844 two Georgia Baptist laymen – one in his youth and the other in his middle age – compiled an endearing and enduring song book they titled The Sacred Harp. The younger, Elisha James King (1821-1844) died before he could enjoy the fruit of his labor. The elder, Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879), lived to guide the book through three more successful editions.

The book contained music such as psalm tunes & plain tunes, works of early New England composers, sturdy folk hymns and camp meeting songs set to music by Southern composers, reformed hymnody (songs by more professional musicians such as Lowell Mason and Thomas Hastings) – as well as long anthems, odes, and set pieces. Much of the music reflected what was being sung in Baptist churches of the day (and in turn influenced what was being sung), while the more difficult pieces were popular in singing schools and singing conventions. The book used the remarkable American invention of shaped notes for teaching young scholars the art of music. In 1845 B. F. White organized the Southern Musical Convention. This far-reacging institution worked with White to produce the 1850, 1860 and 1870 editions of the tunebook. The success of the convention helped set the stage for the book to have a continuous life in the 21st century.

The Sacred Harp book itself was never widely used in church services, but its tunes were.[1] In fact, at the time the Sacred Harp was produced most Baptist churches – probably all in the South – were singing from words-only hymn books such as Jesse Mercer’s Cluster and The Psalmist by Smith & Stow. They did not use books with tunes/music printed with the hymns. Uncle Dave Waldrop explained it to us this way: “In the western part of Panola County [Texas], where I was raised, we did not know any tunes except what was in the Sacred Harp. This was true for much of the south in the county. For use in our churches we had a very small hymn book called ‘Ever Green’ with about a hundred hymns printed in it. An interesting thing, probably, never observed is that in these old hymn books at the top of each hymn you can find characters like: ‘CM,’ ‘SM,’ ‘LM,’ and sometimes figures like 7-8-9, etc. In our older Sacred Harp books you can find the same characters. Now this little hymn book is small enough to carry in your pocket and has the same characters as the big book which has music. Many hymns will have the same. ‘CM,’ ‘LM,’ etc. in either book. That is the meter indication. So any hymn listed ‘CM’ will sing with any tune listed with the same meter in the Sacred Harp. It is the same with all other characters. So ‘Amazing Grace’ (CM) will sing with any tune listed as CM. Old leaders in revivals could sing all day on the same tune and never use the same words!”[2] David Waldrop was born in 1891, and his explanation fits many rural East Texas Baptist churches up into the first two or three decades of the 20th century.
1. But some Baptist churches have used The Sacred Harp, and a few still do.
2. “Sacred Harp,” Loblolly, Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 1974 Page: 16

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sharon Confession of Faith

The Georgia Baptists in the late 1820s and early 1830s experienced a theological stir as some ministers and churches pushed back against the prevailing soteriology that emphasized unconditional election and an atonement made for only these predetermined elect. Yellow River Baptist Association dismissed the Sharon Church of Henry County.[i] Sharon Church applied to the Flint River Association. Flint River appointed a committee to investigate the Sharon Church. Suffice it to say that this set off a series of events that led to division. Cyrus White’s “schism” was occurring about the same time,[ii] but the Sharon Church apparently kept that movement at arm’s length. After the 1830 session of the Flint River Association, the Sharon Church called for a convention, which met with them in December 1830. One product of the Sharon Convention was a doctrinal statement, sometimes called “the Sharon Faith”[iii] or the “Sharon Confession of Faith.”[iv]

I have been unable to locate the Sharon Confession, and still have not seen an original document. Nevertheless, the 1848 Minutes of the Chattahoochee United Baptist Association identify their Abstract of Principles as the Sharon Confession of Faith.[v] The identification appears on page 2, and the document is reproduced on page 4. Because this document seems not easily accessible, I am posting it here.

4th. Agreed to re-publish, as a summary of our doctrinal views, what is usually termed the Sharon Confession of Faith. (Appendix A.)[vi]

(A)—Abstract of Principles.
1. We believe in one only true and living God, the Creator and Preserver of all things, and only Law-Giver, and that there are three persons in the God Head, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and these three are one.
2. We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, and only rule of faith and practice.
3. We believe in the doctrine of original sin.
4. We believe in man’s inability to recover himself from the fallen state which he is in by nature, by his own strength.
5. We believe in a Covenant between the Father and Son, in which all Grace is treasured up; and in the doctrine of Election, according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth according to 1st Peter, 1st chapter, 2d verse; and 2d Thessalonians 2d chapter, 13th verse: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” But that Election should not be so construed as to make God the author of sin either directly or indirectly. Nor on the other hand do we believe the creature can do any thing meritorious in his salvation.
6. We believe that good works are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification; that they are the evidences of faith, and absolutely necessary to justification before men.
7. We believe in a general Judgment, when all shall be judged according to their works; that the happiness of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
8. We believe that Saints will persevere in Grace to the end of their lives.
9. We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are standing ordinances of the Church of Christ, and that immersion only is Baptism, and believers the only subjects.
10. We believe that no Minister has the right to administer the ordinances of the Lord’s house, except such as are called of God, approved by the churches, and regularly ordained.
11. We believe that men by nature are so morally depraved that they will not come to God for life and salvation, and but for the influences of the Holy Spirit none would ever come to him.
12. We hold that it is the command of God to his people, to publish His Word, and promulgate the Gospel of Christian to all nations, making known to the human family the plan of redemption through the atonement of Christ; and we believe it is the duty of every rational descendant of Adam, to whom the Gospel message of reconciliation is addressed, to exercise repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.[vii]

To compare to the “Abstract of Principles” of the Georgia Baptist Association, the oldest Baptist association in Georgia, click HERE.

[i] The Sharon Church is about seven miles east of McDonough, Georgia, and was founded February 28, 1824 Historical marker, Henry County Courthouse, McDonough, Georgia.
[ii] From whom and his church, Bethlehem, the Ocmulgee Association withdrew in their 1830 session. At this point it is not clear to me how much contact there was between the “Sharon group” and the “White group”.
[iii] Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical, J. H. Campbell, Macon, GA: J. W. Burke & Company, 1874, p. 111; Campbell wrote, “To the articles known as ‘The Sharon Faith’ there can be no great objection, because it pretty much the language of scripture.”
[iv] “Origins of Free Will Baptists in Georgia,” Daniel Williams, in The Journal of Baptist Studies, Volume 6 (2014), 31-59, p. 45
[v] Made more interesting in light of the 1842 statement: “...for we never did adopt the Sharon Confession of Faith; and neither did we ever design so to do...” (Minutes of the Chattahoochee United Baptist Association, October 28, 1842, p. 5) Thanks to Robert Picirilli and the Free Will Baptist Historical Collection for making these available to me.
[vi] Minutes of the Chattahoochee United Baptist Association, October 14-17, 1848, p. 2
[vii] Ibid., p. 4

Abstract of Principles of the Georgia Baptist Association

The Abstract of Principles of the Georgia Baptist Association, as recorded in History of the Georgia Baptist Association, Jesse Mercer, Washington, GA: 1838, pp. 29-31.

1st. We believe in one only true and living God; and that there is a trinity of persons in the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and yet, there are not three Gods, but one God.
2d. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
3d. We believe in the fall of Adam, and the imputation of his sin to his posterity. In the corruption of human nature, and the impotency of man to recover himself by his own free will—ability.
4th. We believe in the everlasting love of God to his people, and the eternal election of a definite number of the human race, to grace and glory: And that there was a covenant of grace or redemption made between the Father and the Son, before the world began, in which their salvation is secure, and that they in particular are redeemed.
5th. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God, only by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.
6th. We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, will be effectually called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and supported by the spirit and power of God, so that they shall persevere in grace, and not one of them be finally lost.
7th. We believe that good works are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, and that they only justify us in the sight of men and angels, and are evidences of our gracious state.
8th. We believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a general judgement; and the happiness of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
And as for Gospel order:
1st. We believe that the visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful persons, who have gained christian fellowship with each other, and have given themselves up to the Lord, and to one another, and have agreed to keep up a Godly discipline, agreeably to the rules of the Gospel.
2nd. We believe that Jesus Christ is the great head of his Church, and only law giver, and that the government is with the body, and is the privilege of each individual; and that the discipline of the church is intended for the reclaiming of those christians, who may be disorderly, either in principle or practice; and must be faithfully kept up, for God’s glory, and the peace and unity of the churches.
3rd. We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s supper, are ordinances of the Lord, and are to be continued till his second coming.
4th. We believe that true believers in Jesus Christ are the only subjects of baptism, and that dipping is the mode.
5th. We believe that none but regular baptized church members have a right to communion at the Lord’s table.
6th. We believe that it is the duty of every heaven-born soul to become a member of the visible Church, to make a public profession of his faith, to be legally baptized, so as to have a right to, and to partake of the Lord’s Supper at every legal opportunity, through the whole course of his life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The “White-ite” Baptists

More on Cyrus White:

As we have never seen this sect noticed in any of the general summaries of religious denominations in our country, we have thought it might be well to insert a sketch of them in the Memorial, for the use of future historians. It is an isolated sect, found principally in Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama. It is composed of the followers of Rev. Cyrus White, who was once a preacher of some reputation amongst the Baptists of Georgia. He embraced Arminian sentiments, and as the Georgia Baptists have ever been noted, (until at least of late years,) for a rigid adherence to what are termed Calvinistic principles, they soon came in collision with each other. Strife ensued, animosities were engendered, and, as is common in most cases of controversy, every attempt to heal the breach served but to widen it. Both parties evidently ran into extremes. On the one side, something of a spirit of intolerance was manifested; and on the other, obstinacy, resentment, and an undue emulation. The one party, anxious to expose the heresy of the other, would put a construction upon words which the speaker never designed they should have. The other, too proud to disclaim the uncourteous imputations, would evade them. But from the evading of charges to the vindicating of that with which we are charged, the transition is easy; and we are often led from the one to the other by insensible degrees. So it happened with Cyrus White. Had he never been opposed with violence, it is not probable that he ever would have become a schismatic. This is the conclusion to which we have been led by an impartial review of the past. With the controversy itself we never had any thing to do; for we were not a resident of the State at the time that it was pending.
The result of the controversy was, that the Baptists of Georgia, in 1830, withdrew their fellowship from White and his adherents. The latter established a standard of their own, and have labored with great zeal to propagate their views. Several churches have been built up under their labors, and formed into an association which they denominate the “Chattahooche United Baptist Association.” This association, in 1840, reported twenty-one churches, eight ordained ministers, one licentiate, 227 baptized, and a total of 766 members. Its churches are located as follows: In Georgia, there are two in Early, two in Randolph, three in Stewart, one in Marion, one in Talbot, two in Muscogee, three in Harris, and one in Decatur; total in Georgia, 15 churches, and 539 members. In Alabama, there are four churches in Russel, and two in Chambers; total in Alabama, six churches, and 227 members.
The association, at its session in 1839, appointed a committee “to endeavor to effect a correspondence with the Free Will Baptists of North Carolina.” At its session in 1840, the committee reported, “that they wrote a letter of correspondence to these brethren, and that they have received no answer.” During the same session, (in 1840) delegates from the United Baptist Association were received, and a resolution passed to reciprocate the correspondence. It was also resolved, “to make an effort to open a correspondence with the following associations—Concord, Mount Zion, and Duck, in Tennessee, by letter and delegates.”
White (who is still living,*) and his partizans are undoubtedly Arminians in doctrine. They are also charged by some with being Socinians, but this charge is certainly not well sustained. They agree with us in our views of gospel baptism, but practice mixed communion, and are strenuous advocates for camp meetings; appointments for which are usually made at their annual meetings, and published in their minutes. We conclude with cautioning the reader against confounding the “Chattahooche United Baptist Association,” with the Chattahooche Association of United Baptists. The latter is an orthodox, efficient, and liberal body of Baptists in the upper part of Georgia, a succinct history of which was published in the Christian Index in August last.
* He resides near Wacooche, in Russell County, Alabama, about twenty miles above Columbus, Ga.

This history is found on pages 77-78 of The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle (March 15, 1842) and, apparently written by Adiel Sherwood.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Letter from T. P. Crawford

Tarleton Perry Crawford was a Baptist missionary who spent 50 years in China. His story was told by his wife’s nephew in Fifty Years in China: an Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford (Lovelace Savidge Foster, Nashville, TN: Bayless-Pullen Company, 1909). In 1855 Crawford published a hymnal he had compiled in the Shanghai dialect called Tsán Shîn She (Hymn Book; 讚神詩). He wrote a curiously interesting book titled The Patriarchal Dynasties from Adam to Abraham, shown to cover 10,500 years, and the highest human life only 187 (Richmond, VA: Josiah Ryland & Co., 1877). The following letter comes from Biographical Sketches of Tennessee Baptist Ministers, by Joseph Henry Borum (Memphis, TN: Rogers & Co., 1880).

“TUNG CHOW, CHINA, July 18, 1876.
      Dear Brother:
      “I can only give you a few facts connected with my history. To write such an autobiography as you ask for is out of the question, as I have neither time, thought, nor inclination to attempt it.
      “I was born in Warren county, Ky., May 8, 1821. My parents (John and Cretia), were Baptists, and blessed with a family of seven sons and three daughters, of whom I am the fourth. They have been dead many years.
      “I professed religion at home, under the instruction of my mother, in the spring of 1837, and in July was baptized into the fellowship of Sinking Spring church, by Elder Ephraim H. Owing, of Callaway county, Ky. I felt called to the ministry from the day of my conversion, but made a seven years’ struggle against the impression.
      “About that time I united with the Bird’s Creek church, Henry county, Tenn., and began, at Clark’s Institute, to study, preparatory to entering the ministry, in company with John Bateman and Granville Martin, where I continued one year. My funds were exhausted; I taught a session and then took up my studies again. Rev. Peter S. Gayle, (blessed be his memory), having heard of my efforts, invited me to come to Denmark, Madison county, Tenn., and live at his house, and pursue my studies in the academy there. I gladly accepted his offer and continued them, there and elsewhere, without interruption, till able to enter college. After a four years’ course at Union University I graduated in the session of 1850-1.
      “During my course I received aid from the Board of the West Tennessee convention, which I shall always remember with the deepest gratitude. Before my graduation the Big Hatchie association adopted me as their missionary, agreeing to support me in China, instead of Rev. Henry Goodale, who had died in Africa. At the end of 1850 I was appointed to Shanghai, by the Foreign Mission Board, at Richmond, Va. March 12, 1851, I was married to Miss Martha Foster, of Alabama, and we began our life-work together.
      “April 28, 1851, I was ordained by Denmark church, of which I was a member, by the following council of ministers: Rev. Champ C. Conner, pastor of the church and moderator of the Big Hatchie association; Henry L. Pettus, Archibald Maclay, D. D., of New York; George Tucker, pastor of the church at Jackson, Tenn.; Abraham Whitson, George E. Thomas, Hugh Coffey and William Nolen.
      “We were set apart by the Southern Baptist convention, at Nashville, in May, and sailed in the ship Horatio from New York, November 17, 1851. We reached Shanghai on the 30th of March, 1852, where we labored until August, 1863, when, from failing health, we removed to the salubrious climate of Tung Chow Foo, on the gulf of Pechell, where, our health being fully restored, we have since continued to labor in the gospel without serious interruption. We have aided in establishing churches in China; have preached the gospel to millions of people; taught many youths of both sexes; made and distributed many books – all we have done and suffered for the cause of God, during these twenty-five years, can never be told. What remains for us in the future is known only to God, our Heavenly Father, to whom we have consecrated our entire lives. During about six years of the war times we had to support ourselves. This was done without interfering with our work.
      “I send you a rough drawing of our chapel. I remember Brother Borum and other dear brethren of West Tennessee with great pleasure, and hope to meet them in heaven, where I may lecture on China, but I can not write on it much while in this world.
Yours very truly, T. P. CRAWFORD.”