Chapter 4 – Commencement of The Great Apostasy: Secret Plan For “Christian Union”
The introduction of Fullerism into the American churches was from the first strenuously opposed. Beginning in 1788, the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association records an onslaught of one heresy after another. It may not have anything to do with this, but in each year that heresies were dealt with, the Association also recorded a “Plague,” referred to in history as the “Hessian Fly.”
In 1788, the following query was submitted: “Whether a member, who professes that Christ died for all mankind, and that every individual of the human race will finally be saved, ought to be excommunicated?”
Answer: “Agreed, That every such person, upon conviction, and after proper steps have been taken, ought to be excluded.”
In that same Minute, we read: “Met according to adjournment.- Whereas, the church at Jacob’s Town, after acknowledging the unspeakable mercies of God to our nation and churches, have taken notice of the army of God – the Hessian Fly – as judgment; and propose to the Association, the propriety of appointing days of fasting and prayer on this account.”
Again, in 1789, we read:
“As we had reason to fear, at the last Association, that Mr. Worth of Pittsgrove, was far gone in the doctrine of universal salvation, we are well certified, byundoubted authority, that he is now fully in that belief. We, therefore, to show our abhorrence of that doctrine, and of his disingenuous conduct for a long time past, caution our churches to beware of him, and of Artist Seagreaves, of the same place also, who has espoused the same doctrine.”
Again, the plague is noted.
Two issues confronted the Association in 1790. First, the Circular Letter rebuked the doctrine of universal salvation. Second, the doctrine of Andrew Fuller’s New Divinity was addressed. “In answer to a query from the church at Stamford, accompanied with a number of quotations from certain authors, holding what is called the new system of divinity: Whether we hold them as Scripture truths, and whether such persons as hold them, and endeavor to promote them, are to be held in fellowship in a gospel church? We reply, that we apprehend danger, lest by these fine spun theories, and the consequences which are drawn from them by some, the great doctrines of the imputation of Adam’s sin, Christ’s proper atonement, imputed righteousness, &c., should be totally set aside, or, at least, the glory of them sullied. We therefore advise, that great care should be taken to guard against innovations not calculated to edify the body of Christ. But that the individual churches must judge for themselves, when any of their members so far deviate from that system of doctrine held by the churches of this Association, as to require their exclusion.”
Again in the same Minute (1790), we read: “This Association lament they have occasion again to call attention of that part of Zion we represent, to another awful instance of departure from the faith once delivered unto the saints. Mr. Nicholas Cox, late a brother in the ministry, having espoused, and artfully, as well as strenuously endeavored, to propagate the fatal notion of the universal restoration of bad men and devils from hell. As such, we caution our churches, those of our sister Associations, and Christian brethren of every denomination, to be aware of him.”
In 1792, Andrew Fuller printed his pamphlet “The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation,” wherein he promoted the universal provision of the atonement of Christ. Also, in 1793, the “prevailing infectious disorder, with which God, in His Providence has been pleased to visit” Philadelphia is reported.
In that year they wrote: “The Association, taking into consideration the awful dispensation of Divine Providence in the epidemical disorder now raging in the city of Philadelphia, together with the great drought in our part of the country, and general declension in vital piety, recommend that Tuesday, the 12th day of November ensuing, be observed as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, throughout our churches; and should it please God to remove any part of those judgments previous to that day, that His mercy therein be remembered with public thanksgiving at the same time.”
The plague returns in 1797, 1798, 1799, and 1803, during which time Sunday Schools were invented, mission activity commenced, as weak challenge to Fullerism noted, and for the first time in American History a Baptist Association took up a collection “for the propagation of the Gospel among the Hindoos, in the East Indies,” and the money sent to “Brother William Rogers.”
Mr. Rogers was one of the conspirators to make the Philadelphia Association a mission society so that through its renown status the New Divinity school could infiltrate all her corresponding associations.
The Association, without suspicion, elected William Rogers as its Moderator. 1797, the Association rebuffed Fuller’s doctrine while at the same time embraced his mission society plan!
They wrote in the Circular Letter, “From what we have said, various useful observations, by way of inference, might be made; but we shall only mention two: First, that according to the Gospel, the atonement of Christ did not extend to every individual of the human race; and, secondly, that the Gospel contains no conditional offers of salvation.”
1796 finds “Brother Staughton” in the association. He is here referred to as “Brother,” indicating he was not an ordained minister, and later, he is “D.D.” and the leading light of the New Divinity school of theology, and moderator of the Philadelphia Association when it disintegrated into the Baptist Board of Foreign and Domestic Missions. Who is this man? He was a new arrival from England, and when he joined the Philadelphia Association, he was not listed as a minister. Somewhere between Kittering, England, and Philadelphia, he apparently gained a “Doctor of Divinity” degree from some institution, which degree is only an “honorary” degree unearned by the recipient by academic pursuit. In 1797, the plague still raging in Philadelphia, the Association committed funds to establish a theological school to train preachers!
The 1799 Minute has this statement: “At the same time, we may confess with deep humility and sorrow of heart, that God has in a great measure suspended the powerful operations of His Holy Spirit in our churches.”
In the void of the recognized withdrawal of the Holy Spirit, the following year saw the following sad innovation: “Apprehensive that many advantages may result from a general conference, composed of one or more members from each ASSOCIATION, to be held every one, two, or three years, as may seem most subservient to the general interest of our Lord’s kingdom; this Association respectfully invites the different Associations in the United States to favor them with their views on the subject.”
[It is appropriate to insert in this place the following quotation from the Biography of Luther Rice, the former Congregational “missionary” to India.]
In his letter to his brother, Rice wrote:
“Being obliged to ride in the night, I got lost. The roads in this part of our country are none of them fenced, and are most through wood; I had to go that night in byroads but little traveled – missed the way, got out of roads, at length, into mere paths, and ultimately lost the path – found myself alone in a dreary wilderness, unable to discover the point of the compass . . . I stopped and besought the Lord to lead me out – rose from my supplication and attempted to advance. In less, perhaps, than 10 minutes, certainly in less than five, fell into the road which conducted me to the place that I calculated to reach that night, at which I arrived about one o’clock. Have now just come from attending Sandy Creek Association [Guilford County, N.C. – Ed.] and am now on the way to Charleston.”
The Biographer continued: “One day as Rice rode the stagecoach from Petersburg to Richmond, Virginia, on a road too broken and rutted to allow him to write in his diary or make notes for his next sermon, he sat wrapped in thought. As though, he declared later, “it came from divine revelation,” an idea struck him!
Why not call a convention of Baptists to consider the formation of a nation-wide organization?
The Congregationalists could do it this way, why not the Baptists?
If representation of Baptist churches strung out along the seaboard and along the Western Frontier once met together, they would feel a unity they had not dared depend on.
“Luther Rice talked to the Baptists about this wherever they gathered to hear him. He wrote persuasive letters at the end of each day’s journey. By the slow mail of that day and by personal visits Rice enlisted the help of men he knew would stand firm for such an organization. They included such Baptist luminaries as Dr. Richard Furman of Charleston, South Carolina; the Rev. Lucius Bolles of Salem, Massachusetts; and Dr. William B. Johnston of Savannah, Gerogia. There was Dr. William Staughton of Philadelphia, who had come to America from England, one of the men who had attended the meeting in Widow Wallis’ home in London when William Carey was appointed missionary to India and who had passed a snuffbox for the collection.
Furman and Johnson were especially helpful to Rice in calling the proposed conference. They spread the word among Baptist pastors and associational leaders from Richmond to Savannah, pleading for support for the project, Many others promised Rice that they would write letters urging Baptist leaders in all areas to be represented at the meeting and otherwise to use their influence to enlist a good group of those favorable to the idea of Baptist missions.
At Furman’s suggestion, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, oldest such organization in the country and most centrally located, issued the call for the conference. Dr. Henry Holcombe, pastor of the Philadelphia First Baptist Church, offered his Meeting House as the place for the gathering. The date was set for May 18, 1814.
[Note: Holcombe is not listed as a member of the 1st. Church of Philadelphia in the Minutes of 1807, therefore we assume he is a new-comer to the Baptists from somewhere outside of that Association. As one historian noted: “The movement of many Separate from positions of leadership in the Congregational churches to position of leadership in the Baptist churches provided a stimulus which, although unmeasurable, had a very profound effect on the vigor and temper of the denomination.” These “new leaders” from the Congregationalist churches included such famous “Baptists” as John Leland, Isaac Backus, James Manning, Hezekiah Smith, John Davis, Samuel Stillman, Shubael Stearns, Daniel Marshall, and David Benedict. The early plan was to guide the Baptist denomination into financially supporting the Congregational Missionaries (Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice) and other benevolent societies, and David Benedict collected moneys to help fund the Congregationalists’ “American Education Society.” This, the New Divinity ministers believed would lead eventually to Christian unity.
Lyman Beecher wrote in the 1826 Christian Watchmen,” of the Modern Missionary Movement, “An experiment is now making in the Christian world upon a more extensive plan than was ever before adopted of uniting different denominations of Christians in objects for the general interest of the Church.” – Christian Watchman,” July 13, 1822, p. 123. Alexander Campbell, a Baptist elder in the Redstone Baptist Association, kept the “Christian Restoration Movement” alive, and during this same period (1820’s and 30’s) carried off large numbers of Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Methodists which became known as “Campbellites, or “Christian,” “Disciples of Christ,” or “Church of Christ” (after 1906) This part of the plan was scraped after the harsh and arrogant President of Andover Seminary, Mr. Dwight, mistreated Benedict and two youthful Baptist students who attempted to enroll, because, as he said, “Dr. Baldwin and the Baptists in Boston opposed our Plan and refused to cooperate with us.”]
Thus the American Missionary Baptists have their origins.
Who, then, were the Baptists that existed antecedently to May 18, 1814?
Those that did not enter into the proposed organization, and those who at first supported it and withdrew later and returned to the fold, became known as the OLD SCHOOL and/or PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS. They were Predestinarian, or Calvinistic, and believed the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the inspired Word of God, and “the only rule of faith and practice.” This belief, burned into their soul by their experience of grace and faith in God held them bound steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and the fellowship of their faith and practice. They are, (at least some of them) and ever have been, the New Testament Church.
Concluding this instrument of the Great Apostasy, 1800 saw the birth of the Baptist Triennial Convention being drafted and coming out of the Great Plague in Philadelphia. From a plague of infectious fever in nature, it mutated into an infectious plague in the innovations of the “baptized churches of Christ.” Between 1800 and 1813, the Philadelphia Association collected the names and addresses of all Associations in America. In 1814, they sent letters to all Associations soliciting their acceptation, receiving moneys for “missionaries,” and in 1815-1820 began to send “MISSIONARIES” INTO THE BOUNDS OF EACH ASSOCIATION TO DIVERT THEM INTO INSTRUMENTS OF THE CONVENTION. It must be supposed that the Baptist Associations in America were the first “heathen” that the Board had in their highest concern!
Reader: notice the dates, and ask yourself this question:
Is it to be believed that all Churches of Christ in America willingly and eagerly jumped on board?
What of those who never participated in the corresponding chain of associations with the Philadelphia, and those who saw the peril facing their liberties, faith, doctrine, and practices?
Who and what were this “silent minority”?
What happened to the “old school” before the arrival of this New Divinity and related innovations?
We will give you some interesting material for these answers in the Appendices at the end of this book.
With the organization of the Baptist Triennial Convention (triennial means it met every three years), the selection by the Association of Luther Rice’s supposed divine revelation was put into effect. By having the actual Convention to meet every three years, the power was therefore put into the hands of the mission conspirators. This was deliberate. This gave the governing board, The Baptist Board Of Foreign Missions a free hand to do pretty much as it wished with very little oversight by the Convention in the off years. It allowed this select few to falsely claim they had the authority of all Baptist churches in the United States of America. (The Convention met in 1814, three years later was 1817, and the next three years was 1820.
Therefore, by the third meeting of the Convention, those not desiring to be snared by the Convention were peeling off right and left, and joining in with the Independents and nonaffiliated Churches, most of whom were sound predestinarian bodies.)
What the Board did in the meantime was absolutely demonic!
The mission society became the greatest plague Baptists had (or have) relative to the preservation of the truth of God’s free grace ever faced since the persecutions in the Dark Ages. The membership of the New Divinity School was made up of General Baptists, Particular Baptists, Seventh Day Baptists, Separate Baptists, Regular Baptists, Six Principle Baptists, various and sundry societies that purchased membership in it, and as members now of this union, became known as the “Modern Missionary Movement,” or “Benevolent Movement so-called”. These churches embraced the New Divinity, the Social Gospel, and the Socialism of the English Fullerite Baptists [William Carey is credited by his biographer as establishing the first communist society in India! See William Carey, by Basil Miller, Bethany Publishers, Minneapolis, 1980, page 66, 70, 74, 76]; or just “Missionary Baptists.” Hence the necessity of new appellatives, just as the masses began moving westward across the new frontiers of the new nation.
Those who did not embrace the New Divinity became known in the North as “Old School Baptists,” a name associated closely with those holding to the absolute predestination of God, and/or “Primitive Baptists” in the South and west. The name, “Regular,” still is used by both parties in the Midwest.
The New School, or Missionary Baptists include many various groups, as: Landmark Baptists, Regular Baptists, Progressive Baptists, General Association of Regular Baptists (GARB), American Baptist Association (ABA), Missionary Baptist Association (MBA), Southern Baptists, American Baptists Convention, Eastern District Primitive Baptists, Bible Baptists, General Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Freewill Fellowship Baptists, United Baptists, Bethel Baptists, Independent Baptists, and some new twentieth century groups, such as: Sovereign Grace Baptists, Reformed Baptists, New Testament Baptists, Progressive Primitives, and Continental Baptists.
The Old School groups include: Predestinarian Old School Baptists, both those in corresponding orders, and independents, Primitive Baptists, also those in corresponding orders and independents, so-called Old Line Primitives or “Conditional or Calminian Primitives,” Regular Predestinarian (two-seed) Primitive Baptists, Regular Primitive Baptists Universal Church,, Christian Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, Old United Baptists, Duck River Baptists, and perhaps others the author has missed. Two things all Baptists have in common: (1) that immersion is the only mode of baptism, and (2) they are the only ones with the proper administrator of that ordinance to the exclusion of all the others!
By the time of the Great Baptist Separation (1820-1840), the New Divinity professors had in full operation one of the greatest and smoothest means of deceitful plans ever conceived in the human brain. First, they with feign words, swayed the masses by stirring up the human sympathies toward the reprobate world. They organized cells, called “mission societies,” outside of the authority and control of local churches. For fifty cents one could buy membership in these societies, and by a donation of one hundred dollars, membership on the governing board. No one needed to be a “Baptist,” and many were not. These “societies” were formed in various ways. Some were outside of the Church structure altogether. The Baptist Board of Foreign Missions set up other societies directly. It was the “Board” that “authorized” local churches to “form themselves into a missionary society.”
Two things are noteworthy here: first, we get the name “Missionary” attached to the word “Baptist,” and this designation identified them as being separate and apart from their earlier connections to the Baptists’ associations and correspondences.
Second, the very act of reorganizing themselves as something different from the “baptized churches of Christ” necessitated a breach in fellowship between the New Divinity institutions and the Lord’s churches. This occurred right at that point in Baptist history when the churches were in a state of reform and attempting to disassociate themselves and their members from worldly organizations (Masons, Oddfellows, Know-Nothing Party, Socialist societies, Temperance societies, etc.)
It put too much of a burden upon the Old Divinity school for them to rush head-long into this frenzy of innovations, the end of which no one could foretell, and directed by men openly associated with the Arminianism of the New Divinity theology.
Both groups, Old School and New School, had already embraced the concept of a single National “Baptist Church,” and both already had developed chains of correspondences between sister associations which were not scriptural. Neither had, as yet, a national governing body. It was this body the New Divinity cells saw in the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, and the “missionaries” looked to the Board as such.
The Triennial Convention was composed of “two or three delegates from each mission society;” whereas the various associations were composed of “two or three messengers from each constitute church.” Hence, a reorganized Baptist Church as a “mission society” had two or three delegates to the STATE Baptist Convention, and with a donation of sufficient funds could also be a member of the Board.
The State Convention could also send “delegates” to the Triennial Baptist Convention. In this way, the Board could arrogate to themselves the authority to speak for “Baptists,” without any authorization or control by actual “Baptists.” [For the modern reader, you can see the same thing now occurring in the United Nations, that now has set up NGO’s (non-government organizations) and given them seats on the various agencies of the United Nations, thereby cutting out the authority and control of national governments of member nations. This is the same principle, and the result will likely be the same.]
It is interesting to this writer that this aspect of the Modern Missionary Movement was what Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, John Leland, Daniel Parker and the early Old School party opposed. The “Black Rock ADDRESS” did not strongly object to the doctrinal trend that was just then being introduced by the New Divinity School’s Missionary societies in their zeal to save the world of reprobates. They did, however, endorse the Prospectus of the Signs of the Times as being in agreement with their sentiments. (See Appendix F, The Black Rock Address, and Elder Reuben Ross’ Introduction of Arminianism, in 1817 at Port Royal, Tennessee, page 82).
The doctrines of predestination, election, total depravity and inability of man, and particular redemption of the elect only remained the foundation of the Missionary Baptists until the “downgrade” period of the 1880’s. But the leaven was already at work and the yeast was rising rapidly. In fact, Elder Patrick Hues Mell, president of the Southern Baptist Convention for 17 years (1863-1871 and again from 1880 to 1887) preached his last sermon on Divine Election, Dec. 12, 1887. He wrote a book defending the doctrines of Predestination and Final Perseverance against the Arminianism of Russell Reneau in 1851. (See Mell’s Predestination, reprinted by Sprinkle Publications, P. O. Box 1094, Harrison, Virginia, 22803. At this printing, it may be had for $10.00 from Sprinkle Publications.)
The Southern Baptist Convention adopted the Georgia Baptist Association’s Articles of Faith of 1792. Elder Mell was the clerk of that Association from 1845-1854, and its Moderator from 1855 to 1870, and again from 1874-1886. There can be no question or contradiction that Southern Baptists in their formative years were Predestinarians through the first forty years of their existence.
In one decade, they fell from that system of grace upon which they were founded. We will in this place insert the following proof, rather than place it in the appendices.
Following the Great Awakening, two Separate Baptists ministers traveled from Connecticut down the eastern coast. Shubael Stearns stopped in what is now Guilford County, N.C., and planted the Sandy Creek Separate Baptist Church. This Church today is a Conditional Primitive Baptist Church. Daniel Marshall traveled on down into Georgia somewhat following George Whitfield’s earlier itinerary. He planted the first Separate Baptists Churches in Georgia, which in turn organized the Georgia Baptist Association. In 1792, this association adopted the following Articles of Faith. This is the same Abstract later adopted in Mississippi (1805), and still later by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845. The writer believes it to be one of the best Abstracts written in America. As we set it up, we will place in bold characters those that prove them to be Predestinarian and in bold italicized and underlined characters those portions that the Southern Baptists no longer believed at the time they adopted it at their founding of the Convention.
1. We believe in one only true and living God; and that there are a trinity of persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.
2. We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God, are of Divine authority, and the only rule of faith and practice.
3. We believe in the fall of Adam; in the imputation of his sins to his posterity; in the total depravity of human nature; and in man’s inability to restore himself to the favor of God.
4. We believe in the everlasting love of God to His people; and in the eternal unconditional election of a definite number of the human family to grace and glory.
5. We believe that sinners are only justified in the sight of God, by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is unto all and upon all them that believe.
6. We believe all those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world are, in time, effectually called, regenerated, converted, and sanctified; and are kept, by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.
7. We believe there is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who, by the satisfaction which He made to law and justice, “in becoming an offering for sin,” hath, by His most precious blood, redeemed the elect from under the curse of the law, that they might be holy and without blame before Him in love.
8. We believe good works are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, are evidences of a gracious state, and that it is the duty of all believers to perform them from a principle of love.
9. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and a general judgment, and that the happiness of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
[See Appendix B, for J.M. Pendleton’s description of the preaching of Baptists in his youth.]
Any fair-minded Baptist believer today found in one of the various Missionary Conventions cannot help but know that his lone voice is never heard. Only the leaders, the “wise and prudent,” have a say in the affairs of the Mission system. Today, committees of all kinds are created to give a “face” of legitimacy to the actions of the Convention, but those actions are already determined, and the committees rubber-stamp them. Let one “buck” that system and he is out of there forthwith!
While much is herein said relative to the Mission System, because by its development the original Baptists could no longer tolerate the apostasy, much of the same can be said of the “chains of corresponding associations” in those that are not in mission societies. Old School and Primitive Baptists have some of the same machinations wherever they have “esteemed elders” that are “wise and prudent” (sneaky and power-hungry). The ability of these leaders to hold their ministers in subjection through fear is because every one of them knows what could be done to them and/or their church if they ceased to be submissive. The greatest outcome of this fear is the readiness to tone down the doctrines and preach generic sermons. One would expect that in time the truth would be lost to most following such a course. That, to this writer, is a serious thought.
The government of the “baptized churches of Christ” must be directed by Christ, through His eternal Spirit, is almost self-evident. Where the corresponding orders usurp authority over Christ’s body, decline and disorder follow. Wherever their power is diminished, independent churches seem to be unable to keep their own house in order. Carelessness in a commitment to the Scripture as the “only rule of faith and practice” is disastrous to the steadfastness to the New Testament pattern given by Christ and His apostles. Only God can bring about a true reform. No enlightened believer can doubt that a reform is badly needed. Much less T.V. watching, and much more study in the Scriptures could go a long way in aiding such a revival.