John Spilsbury wrote:
"The Orderly Way To Come to The Lord's Baptism
And thus having found the place or subject, wherein baptism ever subsists, as an ordinance of God, we are in the next place to know how such as want it may come orderly by it; for though that God has joined His word and ordinances together, yet He has also ordained an orderly way for His people to come to enjoy them, which orderly way, as of old, even so now, if any be convicted of the truth, such may receive baptism from the hands of those whom God used as instruments to bring His truth and their hearts to be one, this being ever the way that persons came unto the administrations of Christ's New Testament, as these Scriptures do witness, Matt. 3:5, 6; Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 8:12, 35, 38; Acts 10:46, 47, 48. For where the blessings of God go together with His word to call persons to the knowledge of truth, there is also power to admit such unto the obedience of the same, John 1:22; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 8:36-38; & 10:34-47; I Cor. 3:5, 7." (see here)
The logic of this argumentation is unanswerable. The one who is the means of bringing another to the saving knowledge of Christ is able to baptize the convert. Baptism is a symbol of salvation. If I can be the means of conveying salvation, the reality of the symbol of baptism, I ought to be able to be the means of conferring the symbol of salvation.
In the Great Commission, the ones who did the converting were authorized to do the baptizing. It is useless for the Hardshells to affirm that the Great Commission was only given to the Apostles or to the ordained ministry. First, as has been shown, it is inconsistent to affirm that the Commission, which authorizes the baptizing of converts by the teachers of the Commission, is a "church ordinance," as do the Hardshells, and yet claim that the Great Commission was not given to the church. Second, even the Hardshells must admit that many converts to the Gospel have been made by unordained Christians, and this being so, these unordained Christians have the right to baptize those they convert.
Further, seeing this was the teaching of the Old Baptists who wrote the first London Baptist Confession, a people who the Hardshells generally acknowledge as their ancestors, the Hardshells can hardly claim to be "primitive" or "original" on this important point.
"No Place For Schism Or Self-Baptism
I think by the same rule, I must disclaim them, and so separate away from them, if they do not repent, and not to leave a true Church, and true ordinances, and go apart and erect another Church, ordinances and worship of ourselves apart from it, in opposition to it, this in my judgment is as far from any Rule in the Gospel of Christ, as for a MAN TO BAPTIZE HIMSELF. Neither of which do I approve of.
John The Baptist Baptized Without Being Himself Baptized
Yet a word by the way, because of such an error that some make, and how far off from any rule or example, for a man to baptize others, and himself unbaptized, and so thinking hereby to shut up the ordinance of God in such a strait, that none can come by it, but through the authority of the Popedome of Rome. But for the opening of this cloud that seems so to darken the sky, let the reader consider who baptized John the Baptist, before he baptized others, and no man did, then whether he did not baptize others, he himself being unbaptized, and if he was baptized, whether it were not by an unbaptized person; and all Scriptures being written for our learning, and this being one, we are taught by this what to do upon the like occasion."
Though Spilsbury and the Old Baptists believed that one did not himself have to be baptized in order to baptize others, yet they believed that no one could baptize himself and that the one who does the baptizing should be himself a believer. This is not only the speculative view of Spilsbury and the first Old Baptists of 17th century England, but was the actual way in which they were themselves baptized when they withdrew from PedoBaptist churches and formed Baptist churches.
"Understanding Matthew 16:18
And for the continuation of the Church from Christ's words, The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, etc. I confess the same with this distinction: which Church is to be considered either with respect to her instituted state, as it lies in the Scripture, in the rules of the foundation, or in her constitution, or constituted form in her visible order.
Against the first hell's gates shall never prevail, the foundation stands sure, but against the last it has often prevailed, for the Church in her outward visible order, has been often scattered through persecution, and the like, in which sense she is said to be prevailed against, as Dan. 7, Rev. 12; and Acts 8:1. Otherwise, where there was a Church, before it came under the defection.
Again, That which once was in such a way of being, and ceases for a time, and then comes to the same estate again, is, and may truly be said, to have ever a continuance, as Matt. 22:31, 32 with Luke 20:38. In which sense the Church may truly be said ever to continue, for though she be cast down at one time, yet God will raise her up at another, so that she shall never be so prevailed against, as to be utterly destroyed.
Christ's Succession is Though the Truth Which is Maintained by the Power of God
What is the cause of this, that men can do all from the Word, but only Baptism? And that must come by man, yea, and that by the man of sin? But we are to know this, that truth depends not upon Churches, nor any mortal creature, but only upon the immortal God, Who by His Word and Spirit, reveals the same, when and to whom He pleases. And for succession of truth, it comes now by the promise of God, and faith of His people, whom He as aforesaid, has taken out of the world unto Himself, in the fellowship of the Gospel: to whom the ordinances of Christ stand only by succession of faith, and not of persons; for the same power and authority the Apostles had in their time for direction in godliness, the Scriptures have now in the hand of Christ, as the head of His Church, which make up but one body, I Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 1:22, 23; Eph. 4:15, 16. So that what the Church and the Apostles together might do then, the same may the Head and Body, together with the Scriptures do now, the Scriptures having the same authority in the Church now as the Apostles then had, the same Spirit being present now to reveal them, as then to write them, I Cor. 5:4, 5; 2 Tim. 3:15, 16."
It is obvious that Spilsbury and the Old Baptists who wrote the first and second London Confessions did not believe in a chain link succession of churches as do most Hardshells. He and the Old Baptists of the Confessions did not believe that Matthew 16: 18 taught such a doctrine. As was shown in the previous chapter, it is the Catholic view that the Hardshells and Landmarkers uphold. Further, no Baptist church today can show a chain link succession of churches back to the Apostles.
"The Word of God Gives Being to All Order and All Actions
The Scriptures remaining in the place of the Apostles for us to have recourse unto, and serve as the mouth of Christ to all believers, as the Apostles did before they were written, Matt. 28:20; 2 Peter 1:19, 20, 21; Rom. 10:6, 7, 8. And as the people of old conferred with the Prophets and Apostles about their great affairs, so have the Lord's people now Moses and the Prophets, Christ and His Apostles in their writings, Luke 16:29, 30, 31. Which are to us with the Spirit of life in them as effectual, as their personal presence, if not more, as John 6:62, 63, 2 Peter 1:18, 19; Rev. 11:3, 5, 11. And thus all succession from the beginning came to Christ, and from Christ to the Apostles, and from them to the Scriptures, which are the headsrping of us to all, so that, all succession now is only spiritual, according to faith, and follows not the personal succession of any, but only the word, that gives being to all order and ordinances that are of God."
These are the views of men such as Bob Ross, who was cited in the previous chapter, in his opposition to the basic tenets of Landmarkism. It is also the view of many able Baptist historians. There is a succession of the truth, of the Gospel, though not of visible churches linked together in a chain link fashion without a break. The church in its constitution has had a continuous existence, though not in its institutional form, as Spilsbury observed.
John T. Christian, in commenting upon the views of Spilsbury and of the first London Confession, wrote:
"Not only is this Confession plain on the subject of dipping for baptism, but it is equally plain on the subject of the administrator of baptism. The makers of this Confession of 1643 did not affirm the doctrine of church succession or baptismal succession. The view of Spilsbury prevailed, and was put into this Confession. Spilsbury held that if baptism were lost, that any disciple could begin baptism by administering it himself, and quoting the example of John the Baptist as a Scripture in point. None of the signers of this Confession avow that immersion was lost, but they do affirm that it is not necessary to send anywhere for baptism. Baptism, they declare, may be begun at any moment, in any place where there are believers. Men who believed this and put it in their Confession of Faith could not have sent to Holland only one or two years before for a baptism according to church succession or any other kind of succession. It would have been a queer commentary on the Particular Baptists of England of 1643 that in 1641 they sent to Holland for immersion to be in line of church succession, introduced immersion in England in Jan., 1642, in that theory and in a little more than a year they declared in a Confession of Faith that they believed in nothing of the sort! If the XL. article, as quoted above is plain on dipping, the XLI as here given is equally plain on the administrator of baptism. That article says: "The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scriptures holds forth to be a disciple; it being nowhere tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the commission injoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples. being men able to preach the Gospel." This declaration of the Confession of Faith of 1643 is directly opposed to the statement of the Gould "Kiffin" Manuscript. Which am I to believe? To ask the question is to answer it. The Confession of Faith is a Baptist document, genuine and an honor to the Baptists; the Gould Kiffin Manuscript is a fraud and absolutely untrustworthy. The Baptists of 1641-4 did not have an agent "EXTRAORDINARILY SENT" to Holland for immersion. They said they did not, and I believe them; the fraud known as the Gould "Kiffin" Manuscript says they did have Blunt "extraordinarily sent," and hence it is not worthy of credence." (Baptist History Vindicated By John T. Christian, D.D., LL.D., 1899 Chapter IX - see here)
Christian refers to the infamous "Kiffin Manuscript" which was a forged document created by some primitive Baptists who held to Landmarker views, and who sought to show that some of the first Particular Baptists sent persons to the Dutch Baptists in order to obtain valid baptism. But, it is not a fact that such ever happened, as Christian and other historians have proved. Further, why would Spilsbury so vehemently defend baptism by unbaptized disciples if this was not in fact how the first Particular Baptist churches were formed?
Dr. Pius cites Professor H. C. Vedder on this point:
"To Baptists, indeed, of all people, the question of tracing their history to remote antiquity should appear nothing more than an interesting study. Our theory of the church as deduced from the Scriptures requires no outward and visible succession from the apostles. If every church of Christ were today to become apostate, it would be possible and right for any true believers to organize tomorrow another church on the apostolic model of faith and practice, and that church would have the only apostolic succession worth having--a succession of faith in the Lord Christ and obedience to him. Baptists have not the slightest interest therefore in wresting the facts of history from their true significance; our reliance is on the New Testament, and not on antiquity; on present conformance to Christ's teachings, not on an ecclesiastical pedigree, or the validity of our church organizations, our ordinances and our ministry. By some writers who have failed to grasp this principle, there has been a distressful effort to show a succession of Baptist churches from the apostolic age until now. It is certain, as impartial historians and critics allow, that the early churches, including the first century after the New Testament period, were organized as Baptist churches are now organized, and professed the faith that Baptist churches now profess." ("An Outline of Baptist History" by N.H. Pius, 1911, pg. 12-13, as cited here)
Again, only die hard Landmarkers would challenge the veracity of this statement by Vedder. The Hardshell "theory of the church" is not deduced from the Scriptures, but is borrowed from Catholicism.
Dr. Pius wrote:
"It is a matter of history that for several centuries before the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church was kept busy trying to annihilate various bodies of "heretics" that sprang up in different sections at different times. These "heretics" who are known to us as Christians, and called by various names, fought and died for the faith and practices of modern Baptists, some believing and contending for nearly all and others for not so many of these principles. But we must not lose sight of the fact that there was a long period when the Roman church was the only organized visible church, and they had departed from the faith. It therefore appears impossible to trace a succession of Baptist churches during that time."
Dr. Pius then gives this information:
"Dr. S. H. Ford, the renowned editor of Ford's Christian Repository, published during the last half of the nineteenth century, said:
"Succession among Baptists is not a linked chain of Churches or ministers, uninterrupted and traceable at this distant day...The true and defensible doctrine is, that baptized believers have existed in every age since John baptized in Jordan, and have met as a baptized congregation in covenant and fellowship where an opportunity afforded." (Quoted in W. A. Jarrell, op. cit., p. 1. "THE PROBLEM OF BAPTIST SUCCESSION" By Wendell H. Rone, Sr. - see here)
At least one Hardshell agrees with these statements. Elder Sylvester Hassell wrote:
"As I have shown, on page 335 of my Church History, all Non-Catholics of the Dark Ages, before the invention of printing, when they had no Bibles, seem to have been Arminians; and so were the Baptists of the early part of the 17th Century, and at first the Churches of the Ketocton Association, until they were taught the way of God more perfectly (Church History, page 336). They were babes in grace, unable to eat strong meat; they were like nine of the ten cleansed lepers, and, though cleansed by Christ, they did not give proper glory to God. Though enabled by Christ to see, their sight was very imperfect--they saw men as trees walking. And so now the great majority of nominal Protestants, and even those called Baptists, though they may have been born of the Holy Spirit, in Europe and the United States, are unscripturally taught, and are Arminians. Of course, many have, like the most of the Catholics, never been Spiritually renewed; and we expect them to believe in salvation by forms and profession and dead works (the works of those who are dead in trespasses and sin). But since the middle of the 18th Century, I do not know of any Primitive or Old School Baptists who are Arminians; if there are any, I do not know of them." ("What is Arminianism," 1926, see here)
The reference that Hassell refers to, from his history, reads as follows:
"As established by Ludwig Keller, the present royal archivist at Munster, in his thorough and authoritative work on "The Reformation and the Older Reforming Parties Exhibited in their Connection," published at Leipzig in 1885, the evangelical Anti-Catholic Christians from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, known as Petrobrusiaus, Henricians, Waldenses, Pikards, Beghards, Beguins, Spirituales, Sabbuti, Insabbati, Apostolic Brethren, Poor men in Christ, Friends of God, Mystics and Bohemians, were, in the darkness of the Dark Ages, Arminians. They exalted the Scriptures above all human books, and accepted the doctrine of justification by faith; but they earnestly insisted on the freedom of man's will to accept or reject the provisions of Divine grace, and emphasized the necessity of imitating Christ in His life of self-denial. The Mennonites of the sixteenth century were also Arminians; but they strenuously maintained the spirituality of the church of Christ, and the necessity of strict Church discipline, and they suffered great persecutions for conscience' sake." (Chpt. 10, pg. 335 in "History of the Church of God")
Hassell also wrote:
"During the remaining period, from A.D. 100 to 1885, I have earnestly endeavored, in tracing the footsteps of the flock of Christ, to be entirely guided, not by the unscriptural writings and opinions of fallible men, but by the light of Divine revelation. The humanly ascribed titles of spiritual father, confessor, doctor, rabbi, pope, cardinal, archdeacon, archbishop, reverend, etc., which are utterly out of place, and unscriptural, and worthless in the kingdom of God, have exercised no influence in the composition of this volume. The tracing of God’s spiritual or hidden people through the wilderness of the eighteen centuries since the apostolic age is of course a most difficult undertaking; and I do not suppose, neither do I claim, that I have made absolutely no mistakes in this delicate and important delineation. The Scriptures mentioned under “Footsteps of the Flock,” before the Preface, have been, with the aid of the Divine Spirit, as I hope, my chief guide. As for a nominal, natural, outward, or mechanical succession, the God of providence and grace, eighteen centuries ago, forever buried all such claims in the dark, impenetrable gulf of the seculum obscurum, or obscure age, immediately succeeding the death of the leading Apostles and the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and extending to A.D. 100, as freely acknowledged by the ablest scholars of Europe; the irreconcilable inconsistencies and contradictions of the leading Roman Catholic authorities in regard to the pretended Romish succession during this period furnish a sufficient illustration of this fact. According to the entire tenor of the New Testament Scriptures, what we are to look for is, not such outward succession, but a spiritual succession of principles, of inward, vital, heartfelt religion. Names are nothing, principles are everything, in the true kingdom of God. In all ages and countries, that people who, in all spiritual matters, acknowledge Christ as their only Head and King, form a part of the true church of God. They have mostly been dissenters from “state churches” and political religions—Christ having declared that His kingdom is not of this world; and, like the prophets and Apostles and Christ Himself, and as he predicted, they have been hated, slandered and persecuted to the death by worldly religionists, not only by heathens and Mohammedans, but even far more numerously by professed Christians, both Papists and Protestants (Matthew 5:10-12; 13:34; Mark 10:30; Luke 21:12; John 5:16; 15:18-21; 16:33; Acts 7:52; 8:1; 9:5; 14:22; Gal. 4:29; 2 Cor. 4:9; 2 Tim. 3:11,12; Heb. 11:35-38; Rev. 7:14; 12:13; 13:7,15,17; 17:6; 20:4); and, instead of persecuting their enemies in return, they have returned good for evil and prayed for them (Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60; Rom. 12:14,18-21; 1 Cor. 4:12; 13:4-8; 1 Pet. 2:23; 3:9). So the inoffensive lamb and dove and sheep, used in the Scriptures to represent the Son and the Spirit and the people of God, are slain and devoured by predaceous animals and birds. These persecuted people of God have had, since the first century, a variety of names, generally given them by their enemies, and derived from their location, or from some of their leading ministers, or from some doctrine or practice of theirs which distinguished them from worldly religionists. Until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, they were known as Montanists, Tertullianists, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Henricians, Arnoldists, Waldenses, Albigenses, United Brethren of Bohemia, and Lollards; many of these were called by the general name of Ana-Baptists (or Re-Baptizers), because they did not acknowledge the scripturalness or validity of infant baptism, and therefore baptized (Paedobaptists said they baptized again) those who joined them on a profession of faith. While these various classes of people differed in minor particulars, and while some of them were in much darkness and error on certain points of truth, they yet held substantially to the same general doctrine and practice—insisting, above all, upon the spirituality of the church of God and her heavenly obligation to walk in humble and loving obedience to all His holy commandments, both in an individual and a church capacity, and not in obedience to the unscriptural traditions and commandments of men. For the last 365 years (since A.D. 1520) they have been called Baptists (for about the first 100 years of this period, also Ana-Baptists), because they baptized (that is, immersed in water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost) all who, upon a credible profession of their repentance towards God and faith in Christ, desired to unite with them in a church capacity. The cardinal tenets of Bible Baptists, being also those held by the apostolic churches, as set forth in the New Testament, and those held, in the main, by the people of God in former times, are..." (from the Introduction)
It is sad that today's Hardshells reject this view of Hassell and have embraced the Landmarker view on church succession. It is sad that they can claim such varied groups as their spiritual ancestors, who did not agree with Hardshells on many points, and yet cannot accept the baptism of Baptists and other immersionists today. Hassell said - "In all ages and countries, that people who, in all spiritual matters, acknowledge Christ as their only Head and King, form a part of the true church of God."
Hassell even acknowledges that the churches of the dark ages were Arminian, and yet he says that these churches were composed of those who "acknowledge Christ as their only Head and King." Hassell knew also that the original members of the Kehukee Association were Arminians before converted into the Regular Baptist faith. Yet, they were not re-baptized. Let the Hardshell Landmarkers of today come and explain this to us! Today's Hardshells would have to say that all the later churches of the Kehukee Association were not valid churches because of this! Hassell also admits that the first Particular Baptists who wrote the old London Confessions were first Arminians and yet Hassell claims succession through them! Again, let today's Hardshell Landmarkers explain this to us!
"Acknowledge Christ as their only Head and King" was all Hassell required for a church to be recognized as valid, and to be claimed as an ancestor to Baptist churches. Of course, Hassell contradicted himself in this matter, insisting that Missionary Baptist baptism was not valid and that their churches not true churches of Christ. Yet, are they not formed of a people who "acknowledge Christ as their only Head and King"? Today's Hardshell Landmarkers put themselves under the obligation of showing how their particular church, with its unique views on doctrine, have been believed by churches in chain link succession since the Apostles. Hassell was enlightened enough not to go to that extreme.