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The Evils Of
This article first appeared in the collections of essays edited by Elder J. M. Pendleton entitled: An Old Landmark Re-Set. The Second Edition of these essays is dated 1856. The message set forth here by Elder Taylor is perhaps even more applicable to our day than his own. The advances of Religious Liberalism have been truly amazing and thoroughly destructive of Scriptural Christianity.
Liberalism has taken the place of Persecution. Persecution killed men, but prospered the cause; whilst Liberalism kills the cause by flattering men into compromises. Persecuted Truth has survived in all ages, but Compromised Truth never survives the fatal tragedy in which the voice of God is only made equal to the voice of human tradition. Persecution is the act of an enemy against the truth, but Compromise is the act of a professed friend. God engages to counteract and overrule opposition, but heaven has no promise for that ill that deliberately sacrifices the truth of God, either from fear or for the applause of men. So of the two, Persecution is far preferable to the Liberalism that claims the various denominations of the times as all "churches" or "branches" of the church of Christ.
Whilst the Baptists stood the raging blast of the Pope for more than a thousand years, yet it is a fact that many of our churches are now shorn of all their strength whilst sleeping upon the lap of this bewitching Delilah of the nineteenth century. But the song is so sweet and the lap is so fragrant that thousands of silly Baptists throw aside the habiliments of their strength and lull down into the sweet but deathly sleep of the popular "Liberalism" of the day. "Not to speak against the religious opinions of others," has become the IDEAL of this age--claiming to display the highest finish in Christian etiquette. Had they equipped the Apostle Paul with this sort of cheap heraldry, he would have escaped all those "bonds and imprisonments" he so constantly "suffered for Christ's sake." But were Paul here today, he would prefer persecution rather than sit gracefully primped in the most magnificent gate of smiling applause sweetly fellowshipping seven faiths DIFFERING from each other, and yet all claiming to be the church of Christ. This is the error of the age. In the very nature of the case such a thing as fellowship between warlike faiths can not exist, only in a diseased fancy; for if you believe a thing you don't believe its Opposite; or if you love a teaching, you necessarily disprove of all that is contrary to it. The Baptists and Roman Catholics for more than ten centuries, prior to even the days of Martin Luther, were the immediate opposites of each other in all their faith and practice; and there was, consequently, no such things known in all that long period as "Liberalism." True Baptists have ever maintained charity for men, but none whatever for ERROR.
There ought to be no affiliation between error and truth. There was not one particle of compromise between Christ and the miserable traditions of the Jews of his day. Paul fought the Apostle Peter "face to face, giving place by subjection, no, not for an hour," just because Peter's Liberalism would have been a death-knell to the prosperity of the gospel. Hence, at its very first appearance in the church at Antioch, Paul and others ministered a death blow to the trouble.
Whilst Christ and the apostles loved souls, they in no case showed courtesy to the errors taught by those souls. Let us, therefore, set forward in this matter by discriminating between true and false charity, or false love. "Charity that suffereth long and is kind" is certainly the most noble thing that goes abroad upon the face of the earth. It came right out of the best courts of Heaven to people this globe with sons of glory, who are to rank above the angels, and gather around them the richest estates of Him who is sole heir of boundless treasures. But how unlike, both in character and destiny, is the false charity of this time-serving and "sect"-adoring age. Religious Liberalism is not this "charity that thinketh no evil;" but when unmasked is seen to be love for self that thinketh to sell the truth of God, and buy therewith the applause of men.
True "charity REJOICETH in the truth," but much that is called charity these times is ashamed of the truth, and rebukes it for being harsh in tone and outlandish in conduct.
True charity looks upon the word of God as its eternal-support; but Religious Liberalism has more trouble with the Bible than it has with all the errors of the age in which it lives. Why? Because it sets out to befriend all the denominations of the times; whereas, the Bible only endorses the "One Body," the church of Christ; rebuking all things unlike it.
If Jesus and the "twelve" were here today, their plainness of speech would run the religious Denominations of the times raving mad; and it would not be twelve months till North America would be afire with religious controversy. This is not an age of plain and faithful dealing, but it is an age pre-eminently of false Liberalism, growing rank as weeds ten feet high! The devil, who is the religious (?) LIAR of the universe, has changed his tactics, and now makes it his business to persuade the "holy saints" to quit their quarreling with each other. It is the high prerogative of this modern Religiousness to rebuke any man who now-a-days dares to say there is ONLY ONE Lord, ONE faith, and ONE baptism; at the same time to award highest premiums to that man or that sect who can fellowship the greatest number of faiths and the greatest number of churches. Never, till now, did Satan claim seven times seventy churches (?) for the "Bride of Christ." Since the days of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Henry the Eighth, Campbell, &c., instead of being CATHOLICS many are "Protestants," occupying half way ground between Roman Catholics and Baptists, who, with uncompromising zeal for the pure doctrines of the gospel, endured the bloody wars of Popedom for more than a thousand years. Protestants are in miserable business when they take a Catholic by one arm and a Baptist by the other and try to make their doctrines kiss each other. Now all these intermediate tribes constitute what may be called a COMPROMISE between Roman Catholics and Baptists, for they teach much Catholic doctrine and some Baptist doctrines; and so, being on medium ground between the two original disputants, they try to endorse that which the "Virgin of Christ" and the old "Harlot," never could. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Campbellites, &c., often view with the others extolling to the heavens the noble excellencies of the newly formed "Church alliance." But true Baptists are afflicted with such an amount of truth they can't get along with error. Their hearts are as loving as the Lord Jesus Christ can make them, but their doctrines are as stubborn as that old unmanageable book called the Bible. When Catholics and Baptists occupied the world all alone for many hundreds of years prior to the Protestants, there was no such thing as Religious Liberalism; but soon after Luther, Calvin, Wesley and the religious company of the nineteenth century appeared, "Patent-Right" churches sprang up all over the land like mushrooms, the indigenous growth of a night.
Why all this? Answer: Because there was not enough difference between them to quarrel over; and so they quit it and began to talk of a newly-made something Catholics and Baptists never heard of, calling it by the world-taking name of "Religious Liberalism." I say let Luther, Calvin, Wesley and Campbell try their courtesies on the Pope of Rome by giving him direct credit for more than half of the doctrines they teach; for "partial depravity," "infant membership," "sprinkling and pouring," "falling from grace," "baptismal remission," "an unconverted membership" and "an undemocratic church government" were all taught by Catholics and bitterly opposed by Baptists many hundreds of years before Luther, Calvin, Wesley or Campbell brought forth their respective churches to help the Pope teach the self-same doctrines.
Or, if they continue to press upon us Baptists their wonderful PEACE gospel, we suggest that they acknowledge our supreme devotion to the word of God in the ages past, when to speak the truth was but to die, and not to speak was to leave the world in total darkness. This late invention speaks on this wise: "We Liberalists are not so anxious to endorse you Baptists as we are for you Baptists to endorse us." Liberalism never was at all liberal toward Baptists, but never ceases its cries for us to endorse many things at war with our quickened consciences. It is the TRICK of the age, and was gotten up for one of two purposes, viz.: Either to seduce the Baptists from the faith from which Roman Catholics tried in vain to drive us by murdering our millions; or it was intended to slur us because we will not and can not endorse other denominations as churches of Christ. It is masked ERROR, and its business is to destroy what dungeons, stakes, fires, imprisonment and deaths in every horrid form failed to do, and that after a vigorous war of unrelenting cruelty for more than a thousand years.
Satan manages all these things, transforming himself into an angel of light, and has never yet failed to unite the world against the doctrines of Paul. Baptists teach, and always have taught, beginning with John the Baptist, that there is but ONE line of faith and practice, and all else are of men. It is utter ignorance, nonsense and depraved foolishness to talk about Catholics, Methodists and Baptists all being churches of Christ--to talk of Mormon, Campbellites and Universalists being New Testament churches, sisters to the church which was at Jerusalem. Two denominations differing in CARDINAL doctrines CAN NOT be one and the same; and if one is a church of Christ the other is not. If a Methodist society is a Church of Christ, the Baptist church is not, for we reject their baby membership, their sprinkling and their "Episcopal form of government," to say nothing of forty other differences between us. It is simply folly in the Methodists to pretend to claim us as a church of Christ, seeing we utterly reject most all they teach; and, in fact, such a proposition is not Only ridiculous, but savors of great inconsistency.
The doctrine of pardon, the doctrine of baptism and the doctrine of church government being FUNDAMENTAL doctrines, and these doctrines, as taught by the denominations of the day being unlike the teaching of Paul on the same subject, causes that sect to fall short of being a church of Christ. So if sprinkling is not the baptism practiced by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and the apostles; and if baby membership is contrary to the teachings of the gospel, and if men must be truly saved before they are ready for baptism or church membership, then those denominations who practice these things are not churches of Christ. But it is the pompous boast of Liberalism that all these societies are churches of Christ, differ as much as they may from each other or from the word of God.
Liberalists say "sprinkling," "pouring," or immersion is baptism. The gospel knows but one baptism, and if immersion is gospel baptism then nothing else is. Liberalism says A BABE may be baptized, A SEEKER may be baptized, and a truly converted man may be baptized; but the gospel knows of but ONE subject for baptism, and if that subject is a converted soul then no one else is. So this false friendship, in attempting to show charity to men, has endorsed the errors of men. Christ had charity for men, but not for their errors. So, of Stephen and of Paul. Their hearts yearned with unquenchable love for the souls of men, but they preferred to die rather than show one particle of charity to their errors. The gospel is full of love to the souls of men, but never yet showed the least resemblance of allowance for the errors of its subjects.
It is the greatest blunder of this or any age to endorse a Liberalism that espouses errors just for the sake of a union; for such a union will yet end in riot. It is the gravest move that Satan was ever allowed to make against the Gospel of all grace. No man can serve Christ by fellowshipping a doctrine not of Christ. Charity is for men, but not for their unscriptural doctrines; and the Liberalism that feigns fellowship for the diverse teachings of the many sects is the most marvelous monstrosity ever allowed to deal with the sons of men. It is meaner than downright Paganism, for it attempts to cover up and to shield ACKNOWLEDGED errors. Now, in view of all this, who can not admire the conduct of Baptists in past ages, enjoying the most sublime charity for men, but dying by the millions rather than endorse known and acknowledged errors. To this day they should know no compromise, but denounce the errors of Christendom as readily as they would the superstitions and idolatries of heathendom.
If this vaunting benevolence wishes to show us any favor, it has it in its power to honor us as it never honored any people. Let it concede that Baptists have in past ages, and do to this day, teach the following great doctrines, which make up the weight and substance of the whole Bible. They are as follows:
2. The sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in conversion.
3. Salvation ALONE by Faith in Christ.
4. Baptism ALONE for the regenerate.
5. Baptism ALONE by immersion.
6. Church membership ALONE for the immersed believer.
7. Church government ALONE by the whole membership.
Our enemies filled all Europe with blood because they hated our doctrines; and martyrs by the million have died because they loved our doctrines more than the applause of men. O read our wonderful history to attest the statement just made. Hence, for the various so-called churches of the times to take the one half of the Pope's doctrines, without giving him credit, and then run to us Baptists to press upon us to endorse them after having shed rivers of blood in opposing them, is the wiliest scheme ever devised by the bickering hates and proselyting jealousy of the 19th century.
Just let the gospel refuse to fall in line and shout praises to the seven different faiths on which seven different churches are based, and the Liberalists of the day are the first to stone him who dares to defend such a gospel.
Again: What honors this blubbering benevolence could do the Pope of Rome if it were their business to GIVE, rather than to receive honors from others. How consistently they could credit "His Holiness" for having furnished them more than half of all they teach. For be it told over and over and announced from time to time that "baby membership," "sprinkling and pouring," "baptismal salvation," "partial depravity," "falling from grace" and "an undemocratic church government," are all Roman Catholic doctrines.
Let such as teach these doctrines, if they wish to make a flourish of their much paraded Liberalism, call upon His Holiness and say, ''Father Pope, we think thee for all those convenient doctrines invented by thy wisdom and kept alive for our coming in spite of the heretics who denounced them and died of holy stubbornness rather than submit. Even so, Holy Mother church, for so it seemed good in thy sight to put away a foe common to us both and thus preserve the doctrines by which we are so closely allied to each other and to you."
No doubt in my mind Methodists, Presbyterians, Campbellites and various other denominations very much like them, have in their midst many truly regenerate men and women, whom God has saved IN SPITE of their printed doctrines; but they are as destitute of a gospel communion and a divinely appointed church polity, as is the Order of Odd Fellows; for if you miss these things you miss them clear, since the gospel accepts no such thing as a substitute for truth, or a substitute for obedience. Millions of men are therefore wasting their lives upon the dogmas of the Pope, and which being renewed in heart as we confess many of them are, their souls will be "saved so as by fire," but all such "works" as defending the Pope's inventions will be burned up in that day when Popery shall pass into the abyss, extracting in its fall every "lie" it has furnished the various Protestant denominations of this or any other country. It will yet become patent that the errors of Christendom came from the "Man of Sin," and all truth through the millions of martyrs who died that IT might live.
In fact, it is difficult to tell how much all other denominations are indebted to us for the pure and saving doctrines of the gospel. CONVERTED MEMBERSHIP, BELIEVER'S IMMERSION and a DEMOCRATIC CHURCH GOVERNMENT, would have been lost from the world, but for Baptists who held these views through past ages, back to the apostles. The war was between Catholics and Baptists, and when you find grounds of difference between Baptists and other denominations of this land, they are the very doctrines that divided Baptists and Roman Catholics long, long, before other denominations had their existence! And anything a Methodist, Presbyterian or Campbellite can do to harmonize Baptists and Catholics, only makes them ridiculous in the eyes of a discriminating world. For instance, a Methodist will "sprinkle a babe" out of respect to a Catholic doctrine, but will immerse, out of respect to a Baptist doctrine; a Presbyterian will take a "babe into his church" according to the practice of the Roman Catholics centuries before his church was set up, but will also receive a converted adult into his church according to the practice of Baptists; a Campbellite will baptize a subject in order to save him, according to the usage of Catholics many centuries past, and he will also receive into his church one whom Baptists immersed because he was saved. So if you wish to find Catholic and Baptist doctrines mixed ill every way conceivable, just acquaint yourselves with the multitude of churches that have, since Martin Luther's day, taken their stand somewhere along the line between Roman Catholics and Baptists, and you will find anything that prolific invention and crazed fancy can foist upon the world.
Of course the CHURCH MAKERS that can take Catholic doctrines and Baptist doctrines and mix them so as to stick, are the very doctors to insist on Baptists taking a dose of compromise. But strange as it may seem to their generous souls, neither Catholics nor true Baptists have ever accepted any such treatment. Hence in attempting to harmonize the "Church of Christ" with the "great Apostacy" these persons have but unharmonized themselves and caused devils to rejoice over the folly of the professed friends of the Lord Jesus.
And yet this is the work of Religious Liberalism, to unite the Catholic world to the Baptist world, but putting the Protestant world right between the two, and cause truth and error to be married to each other, by the love-making festivities of a set of meddling compromisers!
If the prophets and apostles of old had had some such a compromise they need not have died.
"O that the Baptists could be induced," says this Committee on Concilliation, "to nullify their extreme contrariness by adopting this potent peace measure"--which loves all and hates none which believes everything in general and nothing in particular.
As for me, I would rather see my Baptist brethren weltering in martyr's blood than have them embrace the many conflicting faiths of the day and call them by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn wisdom, will you, from the depths of ages as she cries: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be ACCURSED!
Having treated this grave and important subject in this fundamental way thus far, we now turn to some pointed specifications.
The evils of this monstrous Cleverness are many, some of which we will group as follows:
2. It gives prominence to many of the most fearful errors of the day.
3. It causes the Lord to withdraw his gracious presence.
4. It provokes to wrath as a penalty for compromising away his truth.
5. It retards the growth of the soul that sells the truth to buy the applause of men.
6. It greatly hinders the work of converting the nations to God.
7. It has, no doubt, drowned thousands of souls in perdition, that rebukes and faithful teachings would have saved.
8. It removes the grandest opportunities afforded in life to cultivate the noblest heroism.
It opposes those who hold to the word of God; for all the "isms" of the day are already at war with the pure doctrines of the gospel of all grace. Methodism, Presbyterianism and Campbellism can walk together pretty well, for they much agree in rejecting many Bible doctrines. When a Baptist becomes love-sick for these "branches" of Christ that slight the doctrines of Christ, that Baptist learns to attach very little importance to these all-important principles. Religious Liberalism, in fact, hurts other denominations but little, but it kills a Baptist outright, and wherever practiced a few years, removes Baptist churches and surrenders the field occupied by them into the hands of this precious Liberalism that so effectually destroys them. All this fearful mischief began when the Baptist sought to please his Pedobaptist neighbors by refusing to contend for what he honestly believed to be true.
So Liberalism does not mean that truth must be so liberal as to accept error, and Satan well knew this when he held thousands from the Roman Catholic church and set them half way between Catholics and Baptists, through them intending to stop the former fightings and get up a grand feast of HUSH-MEATS, thereby giving the victory to the "gates of hell" after they had stormed the city of truth from the year after Christ up to the rise and racket of Martin Luther.
Secondly. When one becomes a Liberalist he is forced from that day forward to endorse many of the errors of the accommodating times, in which the polish and finish of all etiquette consists in grace fully yielding every man's conscience to the exercise of that sublime liberty that chooses the church of one's fancy. Yea, Liberalism endorses seven errors in one truth. It has almost ceased to be a question of charity for men, and is mainly a matter of charity for the doctrines of men.
This makes it the incurable leprosy of North American Religiousness. It takes a grand summing up of many fine doctrines to entitle a body to that, highest of all appellations, "A Church of Christ." But Liberalism stands by and sees two denominations destroy wellnigh all there is of each other's doctrines, and yet compliments them both as being New Testament churches. O how Christ is lied on in this world where truth has to be learned from Liberalism.
That species of Religious Liberalism that induces a Baptist to join a Methodist or Campbellite church because there was no Baptist church in that community, makes that man ENDORSE it as a true church of the Lord Jesus. Verily, it doth not yet appear how much ignorance it takes to kill a man. A church of Christ is a body of immersed believers, preaching the same to others, each congregation finding in itself the highest judicial and executive authority on earth, administering from time to time the Lord's Supper to its own members, exhorting them to the spread of the gospel to the end of the earth. So all those Baptists who are led astray by a silly affection for that sort of Liberalism called Open Communion, in that very act ENDORSES the denomination they thus commune with, and could just as well join it as to commune with it; for where one can "commune" they can always join and be perfectly at home with that body as a church of Christ, as none but the church of Christ can set the Supper.
So all of those good, easy, ignorant Baptists in our midst, who talk so lovingly about the "Sister Denominations" can just as well JOIN them as to make this splendid speech for them; for one sister always was just as much a child of the parent as another. We often find converted men where we do not find a "Church of God," and we have Christian fellowship for all who show they love Jesus, be they among Catholics, Mormons or Methodists; and yet we have for them no church fellowship whatever, because they are so wholly unlike ourselves in doctrines and ordinances. Out of hundreds of denominations on earth, the gospel only finds ONE it calls the "body of Christ."
But Liberalism finds divers different organizations and calls them all the faith of Paul and the truth of God. It calls them by the flaming name of "Evangelical Alliance" and woe to the Baptist who is silly enough to be tied hand and foot by the Evangelical Alliance. Liberalism speaks of all the "preachers" of the time, as "ministers of the gospel," when many of them preach two gospels for the Pope to where they do one for Christ. It speaks of the "branches" of the church of God, a thing wholly unknown to the Bible. It claims it is infinitely better to belong to any of these thousand and one churches than to be out in the world, just as though a man was not still out in the world when he is simply in a man-made society. To illustrate, we cheerfully grant, if the Episcopalian church is a church of the New Testament, then the Baptist church is not, and to join a Baptist church would leave the one that joined out in the world. All this sort of clever looseness is used by the Devil to impress the young as they come on, that it does not require any specific teachings to be gospel, nor anything in particular to be a gospel church; and that the gospel in one country is not the gospel in another; or the church of God in One age is not the same as the church of God in another age. So by this sanctified (?) looseness Liberalism teachers a vast amount of religious (?) foolishness, until with all our seeming religious prosperity, there is in fact but little gospel preached today that the Apostle Paul would receive as the doctrine of Christ.
Thirdly. But a third evil of "Religious Liberalism" is in this, that it causes the Lord to withdraw his gracious presence from those that practice such wanton deception. God keeps company with his truth, and just to the extent one forsakes that truth, to that extent he is without the Lord's company. "Lo, I am with you"-WHEN? Answer, when we "teach them to observe all things Christ commanded." The use of God's word secures God's presence, but the use of human traditions drives him away. God is never present when the teachings of the occasion are at war with his revealed word. Furthermore, God is also present when his ordinances are properly administered. Thousands have even felt his presence when a true believer has been immersed, being "buried with Christ in baptism;" but he was never yet present when a babe was to be "sprinkled," or a "sinner baptized to save him." So it is a Bible doctrine--just to the extent one forsakes the truth of God, just to that extent he withdraws his gracious presence from him. To the Bible reader the history of the Jews for 1,500 years is full of overwhelming proof to this effect.
Fourthly. Nothing is so sure to provoke the wrath of God as the introduction of an evil doctrine. God regards his word as he regards himself, and he regards the "doctrines of devils" as he regards the devils themselves. It was the false doctrines of the Jews that slew them, for God never yet destroyed a people without first looking very closely after their doctrines. Lying, stealing or murder are no more offensive to the Lord than an evil doctrine; for the "traditions of men make void the law of God," whilst murder or adultery cannot do more. To hold to an error since we have the Bible, is a high crime against God, and divided Christendom, as it is today, holds to enough error to sink a world to hell.
The great Head of the church sorely threatened "the church in Pergamos" because they "held to the doctrines of Balaam," also the "doctrines of the Nicolaitans." "Doctrines of devils" are as the devils themselves. When a Baptist becomes so kind to all the religious sects of the age as to let their doctrines sit on one knee of his great benevolent lap, let him look out for a thunderbolt from God; for an evil doctrine is an idol; and he who wreaths his brow with lightnings, and throws his thunders from world to world, will yet shake all "isms" loose and cause them to go howling down to the abyss from whence they came.
The most extravagant sin of the age is to give up the doctrines of the gospel. It took Christ day and night three years and six months to deliver his truth, whilst it required only six hours upon the cross to suffer for sin. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ"--"hear ye him," had in it a world of meaning, till for not hearing him, God destroyed a whole nation of Jews. Christ talked himself to death. It was not what he did, but what he said that killed him. And yet the loose charity of this age, in thousands of cases, will sell Christ's sayings to buy the applause of men. The lowest and least saint in glory, will be that man who pushed aside the doctrine of Christ and took in its stead a command of man. There is not a Bible truth to be found but what is bitterly denied by one or more of the so-called churches of this church-making age, and yet Liberalism has a hand of strong fellowship for it all. Christ "came to send a sword" and to "kindle a fire;" but the ideal of this age seems to be to break the sword and put out the fire.
I feel sorry for that community where four different denominations are all in perfect peace and loving quietude, for it is besotted with errors, and if one of the denominations is the "church of God" it shows clearly they are not preaching the gospel they hold, for the truth never will fail to arouse opposition. In that town the church of God is sure to be the FIRST one of the four that will die! for compromised truth of all things brings death most speedily.
If error holds her peace, nothing is lost; but if truth holds her peace, all is lost; and what truth lost, error gained without one struggle. I was once "interviewed" as to becoming pastor of a certain church, and this question was propounded to me by several of the leading ones in the church: "HOW DO YOU GET ALONG WITH OTHER DENOMINATIONS?"
I did then and shall ever look upon it as the strangest question ever propounded by mortal man; for to endorse their errors, would be to commit treason against God; and to preach my Sentiments would be direct antagonism to theirs. "Except two be agreed they CANNOT walk together"--and everybody knows it. If I hold an error and a Methodist brother holds the truth on that subject, his truth is destined to destroy my error, and the sooner the better. If sprinkling his child SAVES it, then my babe that died, went to hell. The Methodists feeling so on this subject are guilty before God, if they hold their peace, for holding their peace will let souls be lost that might be saved. If immersing a man in order to his salvation is the gospel, then I say the Campbellites can not hold their peace a day nor an hour, for if immersion be essential to salvation, as they verily teach, then thousands of Pedobaptists will certainly be lost. So to withhold truth is not only a high crime against God, but the highest crime that can be committed against our fellowman. And for this reason, we believe the wrath of God will certainly be visited against the schemes of this age to make unhallowed peace with divers conflicting faiths. O, my God, make me a "good and faithful minister of Jesus Christ;" help me "earnestly to contend for the faith," so in a dying day I may utter that finest of all human sayings, "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith," for only such look forward to a "crown of eternal rejoicing." Let the people ever "try those who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie," by blowing hard the gospel fan against the huge chaff piles of sects and ISMS, till the "floor is thoroughly cleansed."
Fifthly. Religious Liberalism stunts the growth of the child of God, and hushes up the truth to secure the praise of men. The more the Apostles preached the doctrine of the resurrection, so offensive to the Jews, the more the churches of Christ everywhere grew and prospered. But when Judaizing Teachers, the Compromisers of that age, followed the Apostles with their Liberalism, the self same churches dwindled. It is so everywhere, and always, for doctrines make the food of God's people and always of very necessity, go before practice. This is the milk for the babe and the meat for the strong man, whereby they both grow. The church in Jerusalem "continued in the Apostles' doctrine," and as a result the Lord added to it daily the saved. The soul is always lean just in proportion as it has rejected the DOCTRINES of the gospel.
I never yet knew a man that was afraid to speak the whole gospel to become a pillar in the church of God. And when and wherever you find a half-starved soul in Baptist ranks, call for the facts in the case and it will be revealed that that man is in sympathy with all other denominations around him; for a Baptist always hushes down on doctrines just to the extent he falls love sick with other denominations. Be it known and be it stated in this connection, the world is today indebted to our faithfulness for a "CONVERTED CHURCH;" for Catholicism brings all into the church, whilst babes, and they, of course, grow up in sin, till the world in this way is all crowded right into the church without being regenerated. Being in the church and believing it is the CHURCH THAT SAVES them, of course a change of heart is never once thought of or mentioned by the Catholics after the babe is, by baptism, brought into the "Catholic" church--which in the Bible is called the "Mother of Harlots," and many other hard and dreadful names.
So infant baptism is the PILLAR of Popery. It is also the master LIE of earth. Now if Methodists and Presbyterians, with others who hold to "baby membership" and "infant sprinkling," will just HOLD to it, it will soon put them right where it put and kept the Catholics for more than a thousand years past. If they believed sprinkling the babe into the church SAVED it, then it will never need to be saved by repentance and faith in Christ. So if all the Pedobaptists of this country will just stick to "BABY MEMBERSHIP" they will soon have no other sort, and their children will grow up with no other religion but what they received by being "sprinkled" or "poured" into the church. So that leaves the Baptists through all the ages past, and in the age present, to stand all ALONE in contending for a COVERTED church--a church whose members were regenerated in answer to prayer and faith. Doubtless, many Pedobaptists are truly converted men and women, but they had to "go back on their infant baptism" before they got it. When they grow up and learn that "being sprinkled when babes and brought into the church thereby" still leaves them to repent and be saved AFTER they come to years of accountability, they then ENDORSE BAPTIST TEACHINGS. So they were saved when babes according to Catholic doctrines of "infant membership" and saved, again when adults, according to the faith and practice of Baptists in all ages. The truth is, Baptists are right, all others being judges; for sooner or later, one way or another, Baptist doctrines are received as gospel doctrines by the various Protestant denominations of the land. All others endorse us, but we cannot endorse any--THEREFORE WE ARE SELFISH (?). Now right here is the trouble; they endorse us not as a matter of politeness or charity but because we have the TRUTH and for that reason they ought to endorse us.
But we cannot espouse them because differing from us we can not regard them as holding the truth on any point in which we teach different sentiments. It was not CHARITY for us but TRUTH we hold, that made them endorse us, whilst it is not a lack of charity on our part, but the preaching of error on their part that prevents us from espousing them.
And yet many Baptists, timid because they are ignorant, finding good Pedobaptists fellowshipping Baptist views, at once try to fellowship them on the grounds of cleverness and general neighborship among denominations. And in so doing arrest the progress of truth in their neighborhood and the growth of their own souls, in "grace and in knowledge." It was this that arrested the growth of Paul's Hebrew brethren, for they got to mixing the gospel and Judaism. It was showing fellowship to the surrounding nations that caused the Jews to decline, till they became so weak they readily fell a prey to those whose favor they courted.
The gospel compromises with nothing, but demands everything to surrender to it. It fellowships no one of the million religions on the globe today, but demands of them all an unconditional surrender in honor to the claims of the one model church Christ established on the earth more than 1800 years ago. O, my Baptist brethren, betake you to the doctrine, to the DOCTRINE, yea to the DOCTRINES, for that soul will perish away who will not feed on the doctrines of the New Testament.
Sixth. But now let us consider another evil of Liberalism. It fearfully retards the work of converting the nations to God. For instance, take a "heathen," ship him over here where the big quarrel is. Let him hear patiently all there is of seven DIFFERENT teachings.
2. Let him hear all there is of the doctrines of the Universalists.
3. Then let him hear the views of the Episcopalians.
4. After that let him hear the gospel of Mormonism.
5. Then listen to Methodism.
6. Then to the Campbellites.
7. Then let him hear from the "Sect" everywhere spoken against.
Then what would the poor heathen say of American Liberalism? Convulsed with disgust at the thought, he would declare Liberalism is the mammoth deception of earth and with vengeance in his heart curse it back to lying Beelzebub, whence it came.
Now there are many doctrines that damn men, but there is but one doctrine that saves men. When Paul went to a heathen nation to preach the gospel of Christ he did not find one thing in that heathen religion that he ENGRAFTED into his preaching and made it a PART of his story to them; for the Bible utterly destroys every religion on the whole earth and then builds on its own foundation. And that man who does up a town professing to preach what Paul preached and then weaves in a little of every denomination's faith catering to the "popular demands" of this unfaithful age, had better fall into a sinkhole on his way there and die unheard of, rather than bring in "damnable heresies" that "drown men's souls in perdition."
It is a fact that a man cannot so instruct a soul so as to reach its salvation till he throws away all plans SAVE ONE. Hence Paul taught, If any man preached another gospel than the ONE he preached, let that man be accursed. He positively forbids any saint giving such a one Godspeed or even to receive him into his house.
But again. Let seven men leave our shores for a foreign land, and with a Bible in his hand let each take a stand some where among the four hundred million of Chinamen, to teach the poor heathen the way to glory. Let the Catholic teach one community that they will get there by observing the "seven sacraments of the church of Rome"--which are "baptism," "confirmation," the "eucharist," "penance," "extreme unction," "orders" and "matrimony." Let the Universalist teach another community all will be saved whether or no. Let the Jew teach another all will be saved who are circumcised and offer up the blood of beasts. Let the moralist teach another community they will be saved by obeying the ten commandments. Let the Methodist sprinkle all the babes of another community, explaining to them how "it brings them into the church" and so saves them. Let the Campbellite teach another community, "no baptism no salvation." Then let the Baptist take his stand and teach all in his precinct they are lost and ruined in sin; tell them of infinite grace; exhort them as accountable beings to repent with a Godly sorrow for their sins, to believe in Jesus Christ with all their hearts unto the saving of their souls through the "renewing of the Holy Ghost;" tell the saved to be immersed, expressive of the "burial and resurrection of Christ" their only Savior, as well as expressive of "their death to sin" and "their life to holiness" of heart; form these immersed believers into a church, leaving them to rule by the voice of the people, observing the Lord's Supper among themselves, using all diligence to live Godly and sober in this life, making the salvation of other souls the business of all life to come. Let these men stay there for a life time and each widen his circle and add circle to circle and--at the end of a hundred years what will be the result! I will tell you, just the thing we have today in America, over which sanctimonious Liberalism sheds its clever smiles and calls it all of God!
We bless God that the teachings of the Baptists are adopted by many whose "creeds" are to the contrary, until but few people in this country can be found who boldly and squarely deny, "BAPTISTS TEACH A SAVING GOSPEL." Baptists are right, others being our judges.
The chief complaint is not so much against WHAT WE TEACH as it is what we do NOT teach. We teach a converted man is a fit subject for baptism and no man on earth denies it; but we do NOT teach "infants" or "seekers" are fit subjects for baptism and the Liberalists lose all patience with us BECAUSE WE DON'T. We do teach immersion is gospel baptism and there is not a man who is sincere and well informed that will deny it; but we do NOT teach "sprinkling" Or "poring" for gospel baptism and it is this "not" that provokes the cruel hostilities of these sweet spirited Liberalists. We do teach that immersed believers formed into a church under democratic government, are allowed the privileges of the Lord's Supper and no man in the College of modern Charity will dare deny it; but we do NOT teach an unconverted or an unbaptized person can eat thereof, and it is this unpardonable NOT that makes the Liberalists persecute us with every unpleasant name and epithet that the English language, thus far, has been able to supply.
Now the heathen nations stand by and listen to all these furious contradictions of christendom, and witness the SPIRIT of religious wranglings that rises to a furious pitch at certain times, till many of them turn away and stagger into hell at the sight of scenes now going on in far famed christendom. No marvel that 1800 years has barely torched the midnight darkness of heathendom with a light here and there; for where ONE rises up to preach the gospel, MANY rise up to unpreach it, and thus leave the world of idolators that surrounds christendom to judge our gospel to be, of all things most self-contradictory and self-destroying.
Seventh. But we come now to announce as another evil of Liberalism; it creates the most wanton unfaithfulness. It sees men believing what it, in many cases, knows will let go to ruin and yet having avowed liberal sentiments and adopted a "set of let-alone habits" it proposed to befriend the man by letting him be lost forever, rather than be so unkind as to correct his error.
For instance a Liberalist has a splendid set of opportunities to show his "Universalist" brother that it is one of Satan's greediest LIES to believe that all will be saved; but restrained by this fine charity that rebukes no doctrine and is too polite to wake a man up and tell him his house is on fire, he just lets a soul sink right down to eternal ruin because he is married to the charity of unfaithfulness. O thou MEANEST of friendship, go thy way and leave me to the faithful mercies of a man who will wake me up at midnight to rebuke my sin and keep me from rest till he has redeemed my soul from the pit. That Pedobaptist that will stand by and see a SINNER go down into the water to find salvation in the act of baptism, fully believing in his heart that soul is deceived and will certainly be lost, is a murderer whose guilt cannot be measured; for hand in hand he enters the ring of Christian Liberalism and engages a solemn hush as to each other's prospects for glory, whilst they combine to slay the man who dares say sprinkling a babe to save it or immersing an adult to save him will certainly let them both go to hell if not delivered from the awful lies.
As a Baptist, I have had more opposition from Religious Liberalism than from any other one source, or all others combined.
We believe a man is saved solely by GRACE THROUGH FAITH and that independent of any act, deed, or works. Hence we can but tell the sprinkled sinner, the immersed sinner, the sinner in the church, the sinner at the Lord's Table, the sinner keeping the ten commandments, the sinner keeping the law of Moses, or the sinner keeping the seven commandments of the Pope, that they are all sure to be lost if they do not quit insulting God by their good WORKS and trust alone in Jesus for salvation. Baptists can do nothing else, for they are the only people on this globe who have a sinner REFRAIN FROM ALL HIS WORKS till regenerated by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ; his baptism, church joining, taking of the eucharist, and every good work, the Bible enjoins upon men, being made to FOLLOW his change of heart and in no case allowed to go before it in order "TO HELP God to save."
In fact there are two doctrines on the earth as to saving men--one is by WORKS and the other by GRACE. The Catholics taught the first and the Baptists the last named doctrine for more than a thousand years before Liberalism had learned to mix the two and by mixing them forty ways make forty new sorts of churches all DIFFERING and yet all right.
Eighth. But now to the last thought. The disposition of the times to seek popularity and to cheerfully allow all sorts of faiths and practices, is fast destroying the noble courage of a by-gone and better day. Opposition makes men, whereas a cowering surrender to that we believe to be wrong, sinks our manhood and makes us mere things in society. The grandeur of the Prophets and Apostles as, at times, they stood ALL ALONE battling for truth, is just simply beyond description.
Thousands today love this abominable Liberalism, just because they cherish the thought in their hearts that it RELIEVES them from fearful contentions for the truth. To love a lie may be easier than dying for a truth, but it is not half so grand. The grandest man on earth today is that man who cultivates every religious conviction; goes through life fearlessly speaking the truth of God, because he loves it more dear than life itself. Amen and Amen.