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    June 19, 1907

    “The Baptists and Church Federation” The Medical Missionary, 16, 25, pp. 195, 196.

    ATJ

    ALONZO T. JONES

    (Concluded).

    AS already indicated this report and movement for federation and confederation is not finding altogether smooth sailing in the meeting of the Baptist ministers of Boston and vicinity. Opposition to it is strong, and it is able. And it is the stronger and the more able, because it is scriptural, and plants itself firmly upon the scripture ground. Illustration of this is found in the words and citations of a paper in opposition to it that was read before the Boston Baptist Ministers’ Conference, April 22, 1907, by Prof. George E. Horr, D. D., as follows:—MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.1

    “Baptists have in general strenuously contended that the single Christian congregation has no earthly ecclesiastical organization above it. They have recognized the right, the privilege, and the duty, of cooperation among these several independent churches. But they have no right, and would regard it as no privilege, to come together, and by their cooperation. Form the Baptist Church of the United States; or the British Baptist Church, in case the independent churches of our views in Great Britain should so combine. Baptists have protested loudly and sternly, and contended even to the death, against the right of any council or association, meeting in the name of the churches, to lord it over their discipline or doctrine.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.2

    “Is there, then, no cooperation possible among them? Much and most effective cooperation, we answer, long as Christ and the Holy Spirit inhabit these several churches, and by such inhabitation give them the necessary unity and mutual love. Without that Spirit they are, and it is safer that they should remain, a rope of sand. But when pervaded by that divine and assimilating love, the sand is molten into a sea of glass. Their cohesion depends upon their piety.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.3

    “The perpetual immanence and intercession of the Holy Ghost in the hearts and assemblies of a devout church—this is the breath of our nostrils as to our Spiritual life and well-being, and this is the patent of our indefectibility and invincibility. Soon as the Spirit is grieved and goes forth our polity is such that the process of ecclesiastical disintegration at once commences. When the breath or earthly spirit goes out of a man, his body rots, and the members fall apart. When the fruit becomes decayed, its skin no longer holds the pulp, but it loses shape and solidity and cohesion. So it is with the polity of the New Testament churches. As long as they remain spiritual and prayerful, our churches with Christ in their hearts and Christ in their assemblies, have, on our system, energy, and elasticity, and boundless enterprise, and yet perfect union. But when piety dies, the unity and power disappear, as they ought of right to do; for unity without piety makes the church a curse to the world. Other systems hold the ecclesiastical continuity and organization unbroken, when the Spirit and inward life has vanished. They galvanize the corpse of a Christian church into ghastly and murderous activity, after the breath of the divine life has quitted it....MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.4

    “Our churches cannot give legislative power, because they have it not; and councils or voluntary societies have therefore no right to take legislative power as a gift from the churches, even should the churches assume to make such a gift. But forgetting that the legislation of the church was settled and closed centuries since, looking at the democratic side of the church organization in the voluntary character of its membership, and overlooking the regal side of that organization in the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ; then, on this false assumption that the church is, merely and purely, a democracy, building the inference, that, like any other democracy, it should make and mend its own laws; on these false premises building still another false assumption, that the several independent democracies of the various separate churches may come together, by their representatives, and make one conjoint democratic confederacy, which shall legislate for its constituent churches, and yet another false assumption, that the messenger or delegate of the primitive churches was what we call a representative, sent to similar confederacies—thus, we say, heaping baseless assumptions one on another, good men, loving freedom and Scripture, build up a system which is neither friendly to Scriptural truth nor practical freedom.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.5

    “When the system of literal and proper representation was introduced into the early Christian churches, it began with those of Greece, and was a reminiscence of their old republics and Amphictyonic Councils. In the early and middle ages of the Roman pontiffs, these representative bodies, the church synods, favored political liberty, against the despotism of emperors, and against a stern and bloody feudalism. But they, from an early period subverted religious liberty, by consolidating ecclesiastical power. A central despotism thus sprung up, before which the haughtiest of earthly monarchs grew pale, in the core of which sate [sic.] Antichrist fully formed, and over the throne of whose guilty and impious arrogance the Apocalypse has rolled its heaviest thunders and is pouring out vials of wrath not yet emptied to their last dregs. Representation, in the popular sense, however necessary in the State to political liberty, is in the Christian Church unwarranted and anti-Christian; because it legislates itself into Christ’s seat, and revises his statute-book, and enslaves his freemen.”MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.6

    Therefore “we have no right to admit the dangerous principle of church representation. If representation does not necessarily result in legislation, it slopes toward it as the ways of a ship soon to be launched.” ...MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.7

    “Now if our churches, in claiming the representative principle, mean what their words mean, and we fear that many from heedlessness do mean just this, they have already passed the Rubicon, and their fancied democracy has taken the first and decisive step in the way to Rome. It wants but time and development and the heart’s treachery and Satan’s vigilant activity, to bring in all the rest—the crosier, the canon, the tiara, and the pontiff—infallibility, and despotism and anti-Christ.”MEDM June 19, 1907, page 195.8

    “The further you go in this matter, the more thoroughly you will be convinced that the reluctance of Baptists to form ‘a representative delegated body’ is deep and inveterate. The spirit that found consummate expression in the eloquent report of Dr. William R. Williams in 1848 is alive in the denomination. Thousands of Baptists do not join in the cry “Make us a king like all the nations.’ They believe that even a Saul and a David may be a mistake.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.1

    “This conviction strikes deep into the past. It manifests itself unmistakably in our historic confessions. It has been normative in our genius and spirit as Baptists....MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.2

    “Let me close this address by quoting a sentence from the report of 1848 to which I have referred:—MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.3

    “‘The vital missionary agency is happily beyond our control and above our reach. The helm is not given to our weak and mortal hands. The Pilot who points the prow and watches the heavens to guide our missionary way, is older than the stars, and than the keel of the missionary church that He guides; for He is the Ancient of Days, and His goings forth have been from everlasting.’”MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.4

    Now who can say, yea, who can have the mind or heart to say, that this opposition of the Baptists to federation and confederation among themselves is not perfectly right and soundly Christian? Yet, whatever any person may or might choose to say or to think of it, it still stands, and will forever stand, as eternally right and perfectly Christian.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.5

    But this movement for “federation” and “strong confederation” among the Baptists is only a part of the general, and soon to be universal, movement for national, international, and world federation and “strong confederation.” It well illustrates just what church federation and confederation means. Indeed, this is proposed to the Baptists, primarily that, as a denomination, they may be fitted to become a part of the great general movement to swing the world into federation and under the “leadership” of “a strong confederation.” Therefore, the opposition of Baptists to federation and confederation among themselves, is in principle and in substance the sound Christian example of what must be the opposition to federation and confederation everywhere.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.6

    It may indeed be all true that, as the first paragraph of the revised report says, the “failure to attain the highest denominational effectiveness” makes manifest the need of something definite “to secure it.” But it is eternally certain that no “policy” of any kind whatever, can ever secure it. The only possible means by which at any time any lack of denominational effectiveness among the Baptists, or anywhere else, can ever be remedied is by the principle—never “policy”—of seeking most devotedly for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And now when the “failure to attain the highest denominational effectiveness” is so universal, and there is such a universal attempt to remedy the failure by resort to the definite and pernicious “policy” of federation and “strong confederation,” just now, as never before, it is imperative that this failure shall be sought to be remedied only by nothing else than a very Pentecostal receiving of the Holy Spirit.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.7

    Therefore, just now and henceforth the living issue with every Baptist, and not only every Baptist, but also every Christian, is, whether he will seek the Holy Spirit or federation. And not only with every Christian, but with every soul, just now and henceforth the living issue is whether he will receive the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of federation; whether he will recognize the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, or the sovereignty of a “strong confederation”; whether he will have the liberty of the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, or the slavery of the domination of the “leadership” of “a strong confederation.”MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.8

    And there is no middle ground. For federation and confederation is sweeping the world like a flood; and it will force itself upon the decision of every soul. And now that this enemy is coming in like a flood to carry away the world to destruction—just now the Spirit of the Lord lifts up the standard against him, to lead to eternal salvation every soul who will receive Him and be led by Him.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.9

    To receive federation means only man’s domination, and this by force. To receive the Holy Spirit means only God’s sovereignty, and this by love, and in this the liberty of love, and the love of liberty.MEDM June 19, 1907, page 196.10

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