As has been shown in the previous series, the particular Baptists of England and America, in the 17th and 18th centuries, were supporters of ministerial training and education. It was also seen how the first particular Baptists churches in the 17th century formed organizational agencies of their formal associations to oversee the collection and discharging of monies collected from individuals and the member churches.
The church of Jesus Christ has always been a missionary organization, as Howell, Peck, and the early apologists against the Hardshells, were constant to affirm. The claim of the early 19th century Hardshells that such missionary organizations were then entirely new things, is as false as is their claim about religious training for ministers being a 19th century invention.
Hugh L. Tully, writing in "A Brief History Of The Baptists," wrote:
"Hardshells oppose education and missions. American Baptists were Missionary Baptists before the Hardshells left them."
This is a fact that Baptist leaders, who first rose to oppose the Hardshells, men such as Howell and Peck, tried to remind the first Hardshells. The Baptists had a long history of support for missionaries and missionary work prior to the rise of the Hardshell schismatics. There were only missionary Baptists in existence the 17th and 18th centuries. There were no anti missionaries, no Hardshells. We saw how this was essentially acknowledged by Elder Gilbert Beebe in his apologetic response to the historical evidence of Howell and Peck. Also, in the early part of this book, in chapter four, titled "Hardshell History Primer," in introducing this subject, it was shown how Elder Griffin, early Hardshell apologist and historian, in his book "History of the Mississippi Baptists" (1853), also acknowledged that the first Baptists in the Mississippi territory were all supporters of cooperative mission work. This acknowledgment, however, forced him to say reluctantly, on page 124, that "were we not bound by the truth of history to speak of these things we would gladly hide them in oblivion."
Tulley also wrote:
"Baptists were missionaries before they came to America. The English and Welsh Baptists were missionaries in 1669, nearly 200 years before the Hardshell separation, the English Baptists raised money for ministerial education and missions. The General Assembly of English Baptists met in Londen in 1689. At this convention it was "resolved to raise a fund for missionary purposes, and to assist feeble churches; also, for the purpose of ministerial education." Benedict Bapt. Hist; p. 336.
These are facts to which I have already called attention. They demolish the Hardshell claim that such things were newly formed in the 19th century, and had no precedence. No Hardshell with such facts before him has any right to continue to make such claims.
Recall how the London Association, in 1689, formed a committee of nine brethren which was entrusted with "the collection and the administration of the fund for the assistance of weak churches" and for "the sending forth of missionaries," and for the education of ministers.
Accepting the criteria given by the Hardshells for determining the cause of the 1832 division, we can say that the Hardshells are the guilty party. What was new in the Baptist fellowship? It was not missionary organizations or theological schools, but was the sudden outspoken opposition to mission agencies, ministerial education, Sunday schools, etc. What was new was a violent war, begun by the newly formed Hardshell faction of Baptists.
Howell called them "new test men" to reflect the fact that the Hardshell faction had brought in something new into the Baptist family. They made a "new test" of "fellowship." Further, it was this "new test" that was the culpable cause of the division. It is interesting to note how their first notorious act of putting forth a new test of fellowship later became a habit and characteristic practice of the denomination. One might say it is part of their group psyche. They have a long history of continuing to make further tests of fellowship, new tests for determining orthodoxy.
Also, accepting the criteria given by the Hardshells for determining who are the descendents of the Particular Baptists of the 17th and 18th centuries, we can say that the Hardshells are not the primitive, old, or regular Baptists. They did not exist before the 1827-1832 period. But, Hardshell Newman, as we have seen, said that whoever cannot find their beliefs and practices in those former centuries, before 1832, cannot be the church of Christ.
The Dutch Baptists established a college for ministers at Amsterdam, nearly 250 years before the Hardshell separation. The ancient Waldenses, who were Baptists, had ten schools in Valcomoncia alone in 1229. They were great missionaries. The church at Antioch was a missionary church. The Jerusalem Church was missionary. In fact, the true churches of Christ have always been missionary. The Hardshells are anti-missionary and cannot be the Churches of Christ. They are, therefore, not the "Primitive'' Baptists. "Primitive" means first, and the first Baptists were missionaries. Missionary Baptists are the true Primitive Baptists, and did not originate with Hardshell separation." (PART TWO, CHAPTER ONE Introduction (see here)
These are facts and difficult for the Hardshells to accept. Beebe could not deal with these facts. Many Hardshells attempt to do what Elder Griffin could not do, and that is to hide them in oblivion. They ignore these facts and yet continue to call themselves "Primitive" Baptists and say that missionary Baptists are not.
Dr. William Dudley Nowlin, author of "Kentucky Baptist History, 1770-1922," in discussing "The Anti-Missionary Controversy of Baptists in Kentucky from 1832 to 1842" (see here) wrote (emphasis mine):
"Those who think that the "Old Baptists" or "Primitive Baptists" because of their ancient sounding names are the original Baptists would do well to read history. Spencer (Vol. I, p. 570) says "Previous to 1816, there was not an Anti-mission Baptist in Kentucky, so far as known. In every association, where a missionary enterprise was proposed, it met with universal favor." A long account is given by Spencer showing that the early churches, and associations of Kentucky sent missionaries to Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and to the Indians, paying them for their services, the amount paid, in one case, being named."
What is true of the first Baptists of Kentucky and Tennessee is also true, as we have seen, with the first Baptists of new England, with the Philadelphia Association, and with the first Baptists in the Mississippi territory. We could easily add to this the Kehukee Association, the Charleston, two of the oldest associations. Later in this series we will look at the evidence of Spencer, Christian, and others that shows that the first Baptists in America were missionary.
Nowlin also wrote:
"It is an interesting fact, too, that history records that one of the men who afterwards became a leader of the anti-mission forces, went to Tennessee as missionary in 1791. Here are the facts as given by Spencer (Vol. I, p. 570). "In the early period of the first churches, planted on the soil of Kentucky, missionaries were sent to the surrounding country. The oldest church in what was then called West (now Middle) Tennessee, was constituted by Ambrose Dudley and John Taylor. These ministers in 1791 traveled through a wilderness, on horseback, nearly two hundred miles, where they were constantly exposed to destruction by the Indians, to establish the Redeemer's cause in this remote settlement. John Sutton and James Sutton were afterwards sent, in turn, by Elkhorn Association, to minister to this church, and the Moderator was directed to pay them 13, 12s, 8d, for this service." These missionaries were "sent" and "paid" for their services."
Ambrose Dudley died in 1823, before the Kehukee Declaration (1827) or the Black Rock Address (1832). He was a co-laborer with John Taylor in Kentucky. He was the father of Elder Thomas P. Dudley, one of the initial leaders of the "anti mission", or "old school" faction. Though John Taylor came out publicly against the "modern mission system" (1820), he nevertheless believed, like Ambrose and his other fellow ministers in Kentucky, such as William Conrad, that all the elect would be regenerated and converted, and that the Gospel would be God's means in regeneration and conversion.
As Spencer shows, both Ambrose Dudley and John Taylor were missionaries. Notice also how the old Elkhorn Association sent out John and James Sutton as missionaries and gave them financial support.
Nowlin also wrote:
"The early Kentucky Baptists not only sent missionaries to the Indians, but established schools for their children, as the following shows: "The Kentucky Missionary Society established a school for Indian children near Georgetown, Kentucky, to which they gave the name of Choctaw Academy. The school opened with eight red children, in the spring of 1819. The number of students increased from year to year, till it became a large and flourishing school. In 1828, seventeen of the Indians in this school were baptized into Great Crossing Church, in Scott County, and of the number, Sampson Birch and Robert Jones, became preachers of the gospel among their people in the far West" ("History of Kentucky Baptists," Vol. I, p. 579).
This shows that the early Baptists in Kentucky were favorable to both missions and education, and not only in sentiment, but in their efforts."
What is shown to be true with regard to the first Baptists of Kentucky, relative to beliefs and attitudes about mission work, is also true of all the other states and territories. Griffin, as previously noted, said that the first settlers in the Mississippi territory were all supporters of mission efforts. This is also true with Baptists in New England, in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, etc.
Nowlin also wrote:
"The decade extending from 1810 to 1820 was one of great prosperity to the Baptists of Kentucky. There were ten associations formed during that period," says Spencer (Vol. I, p. 579). This shows that the anti-mission spirit had not yet become prevalent in Kentucky.
In the history of the Salem Association Spencer records the fact that "In 1818, the association earnestly recommended the churches to contribute to missionary purposes, and expressed the opinion that educational societies greatly conduce to the promotion of the Redeemer's Kingdom." (Vol. II, p. 54).
These are stubborn facts which will not leave the Hardshells alone but will act like gadflies to irritate them. With such facts before us, we see how the Hardshells have little claim to being the genuine old or primitive Baptists.
If we could go back in time between 1810 and 1820, and take a snapshot of what those Baptists who endorsed the Philadelphia Confession believed about missions, preaching the Gospel, religious education, and the way of salvation through faith, we would not be seeing a Hardshell anti mission, anti education, church. Hardshells, when they go back to this time period, envision or imagine a Hardshell anti church. The problem is that it is all a "pipe dream" or wish. They have no historical facts to prove that their views were the general views of their Baptist forefathers on these things.
John T. Christian in "A History of the Baptists," CHAPTER VII - "The Anti-Effort Secession from the Baptists," wrote (see here):
"Contemporaneous with the formation of the Triennial Convention there began among some Baptists an aggressive campaign against missions, education, Sunday schools, and indeed almost everything that organization fostered. The history of the Baptists of that period would be incomplete which did not give an account of the anti-effort secession variously called anti-missions and hardshellism. One can hardly, in this day, understand the rancor of speech which prevailed for years in many of the churches, and most of the early associations."
Notice the important words "there began." Something just happened, almost suddenly and without warning. It was something new. The "innovators" were the Hardshell "old school" folks, which Elder Watson, in his "Old Baptist Test" also said of his extreme ultraist Hardshell brethren.
Christian also wrote:
"While there was great opposition to missions, which gradually augmented as time went on, there was, if possible, a more bitter opposition to education, and to the establishment of Baptist colleges. The expressed opposition to these benevolent enterprises, as they were designated, was a conviction that they were human institutions, inventions and schemes, and contrary to the simplicity of the instructions enunciated in the New Testament for the spread of the gospel. There were also, of course, lower considerations, such as that preachers would not receive their support if mission collections were pressed, and some dissatisfaction because some preachers failed to receive appointments which they desired. Others feared that educated men would take their places. The Holy Spirit instructed preachers what to say, and therefore human learning was unnecessary. So missions and mission societies, Sunday schools, colleges and education, paid ministers, and temperance societies were denounced as contrary to the Word of God and human liberty."
This is well stated by Christian and gives a fair appraisal of the reasoning behind the opposition of the Hardshell faction. This opposition, frankly, was due to ignorance of scripture. It was in a large measure due to the Hyper Calvinism and Antinomianism that had infected many Baptist churches in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It is also based upon the false hermeneutic rule that says that all religious belief and practice is to be condemned unless specifically described in Scripture, what we have called "patternism." Many of the things that Christian says we have already introduced in previous chapters.
But, why object and vehemently begin opposing religious schools when they had been in existence among Baptists since their formal beginning in 17th century England? Why now? Why not previously? Doubtless there are reasons, psychological, sociological, and historical.
Christian also wrote:
"The name by which they designated themselves was Primitive, or Old School, Baptists; and they claimed that all Baptists were originally of their contention, which certainly was not the fact. "They arrogate to themselves," says J. M. Peck who was a contemporary, "the name of Old School Baptists because they reprobate all these measures (missions, education and Sunday schools, etc.), and declare non-fellowship with all Baptists who have anything to do with missionary work or any of those forms of active benevolence, and with all who hold correspondence with or fellowship missionary Baptists. In this charitable act they cut themselves off from at least nineteen-twentieths of all our Baptists in the United States, unless we can admit that a mere fragment of a party can exclude a vast majority" (J. M. Peck, Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer, July 4, 1839)."
Peck points to the arrogance and pretentious claims of the Hardshells. It is true that the Hardshells have historically "claimed that all Baptists were originally of their contention." Peck showed by historical evidence how such a claim was "certainly not the fact." Peck also makes use of sarcasm when he calls the act of declaring non-fellowship a "charitable act." It was anything but charitable, as Peck implies. How can a body of people lacking charity towards their brethren be the home of the Lord? Peck also points out how the antis were a minority, a VOCAL minority. Peck showed how the Old Baptists of former times were supporters of missions and religious education.
Christian also wrote:
"The following extracts are from the minutes of the Licking Association, the largest anti-missionary body in the State:
The Licking Association has noticed with deep regret the various efforts which have been made to involve the memory of several valued ministers of the gospel, who lived and died members of her body, in the modern missionary institutions of the day. Some are curious to know why the Elkhorn Association has not introduced Peter, James and John, the Master, or some other inspired witness, to sustain her missionary operations, instead of Ambrose Dudley, Joseph Redding, John Price, and others who make no pretensions to being inspired? A solution of the question is not difficult, when it is known that the Bible is as silent as death on that subject . . . Suppose some of our aged brethren had given countenance to missionary operations; we ask, is the church justified thereby (in absence of Bible authority), in giving her support to an institution which it is believed has done, and is doing more to corrupt her, than, perhaps, any other?"
From this citation, taken with other evidence, it seems clear that Ambrose Dudley cannot be claimed as a Hardshell. Thomas Dudley, the son, would have the dishonor of departing from the faith of his father and of the real Old Baptist faith and practice.
These Hardshells could not deny that many of their oldest ministers would not agree with the views of the Hardshells. What do they say about this? "Well, they were wrong. We do not follow them." That all sounds really pious and orthodox, but one must doubt the claim if it is not proven in practice. Notice again how the first Hardshells argued based upon the silence of Scripture, or from the premises of "patternism." But, as we have shown, they do not practice their own precepts or follow their own advice.
Christian also wrote:
"Many reasons may be given for these divisions. The Baptist denomination, at this time, was not consolidated or unified. The Baptists until recently had been few and scattered, the churches were often located far apart, they had preaching very seldom and no local pastor, the associations met only once a year and were frequently turned into debating societies, there were few Baptist newspapers and they only had a small circulation, and the Triennial Convention had just been organized, and was perhaps the occasion for the attack. There was as yet no common rallying point. The methods of work were new and untried. The anti-missionary newspapers, The Signs of the Times and The Primitive Baptist, were widely circulated and from every standpoint attacked the new institutions. Many of the charges preferred were unjust but they produced the desired results."
Notice that Christians says that the Baptists, at the time of the division, was not a unified denomination. But, according to the Hardshell historians, all the Baptist were unified before the division.
In the remaining chapters of this series, we will continue to look at the history of Baptist support for mission work.