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action. Our obligations vary according to circumstances. The time was when the few scattered, reviled, and persecuted Baptists had scarcely any other way of shewing their love and zeal for God's truth than by suffering heroically and patiently for their principles. The times are now altered. We have no Tudor or Stuart on the throne ; no Whitgift or Laud to preside over the hierarchy, and work the High Commission Court; and no Jeffreys on the bench, the willing tool of royal and ecclesiastical tyranny. The sphere of our duties, as well as of our action, is enlarged. The denomination owes much to the church, to the truth, to the cause of Christ,--to itself.”
ON THE DUTIES OF BAPTISTS, Dr. Godwin continues :-“ It is, then, we observe in the first place, the duty of the Baptist denomination, while maintaining amicable relations with every branch of the great Christian family, to be faithful to its own peculiar vocation.
“I am not aware that the members of this community are behind any in recognizing the Christianity of all the professed disciples of Christ. It would be much to be lamented if it were. But as their conscientious deviation from the practice of others may be felt as an implied censure, it is exceedingly desirable to show that this difference does not arise from a love of singularity, or from party feeling, is not connected with bigotry, or alienation of heart from other portions of the Christian church. While we cherish the apostolic sentiment, grace be with all them who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,' we should be ready to reciprocate with any other Christian community the feelings of brotherly affection, and to unite cordially in any common object. We must give no reason to others, by word or deed, to think that we regard the Baptist denomination as the church of Christ. We must remember that the ground which we and they in common occupy is large and wide—that which each claims as his own is narrow. That it is only at a very few points that repulsion acts, while a broad surface of mutual attraction exists. That it is, in fact, of infinitely greater importance to belong to the church of Christ than to be a member of any organized body in particular.
“ Truth has its claims, and this denomination its vocation. Why are we constituted a distinct body?
“Is it not that a living, a constant testimony might be borne to the obligation of observing the ordinances of Christ as he appointed them, without admitting the interference of human authority, or traditionary custom ?
"Is it not to proclaim with a distinct and prolonged utterance, that a profession of Christianity which is not personal and voluntary is unscriptural and worthless-that nothing can be done in the great concerns of religion by proxy?
« That no outward act, apart from individual consciousness, can effect an inward and spiritual change?
• That the covenant of grace is not an hereditary entail?
“ That they only are disciples of Christ who submit their minds:o the instruction of Christ ?
“That both the ordinances of the New Testament belong equally and exclusively to believers ?
“That any pretensions to the power of conferring spiritual benefits by the mere administration of an external rite, partakes of the nature of that unscriptural and papal fiction, the 'opus operatum?" On these subjects who are to protest if we do not? If this be not the vocation of the Baptist denomination, as a distinct body, we have none, and the sooner we merge into some other Christian community the better.
“If our views, then, are correct and scriptural-if a stand for them is justified-if it is desirable that the Christian church should, in respect to one of its ordinances, be brought back to the simplicity of the Gospel, let these views, in a proper manner, and on suitable occasions, be brought before the public. A candle is not lighted to be put under a bushel. And from the dangerous absurdities respecting baptismal efficacy now boldly maintained by a large portion of the English clergy, and the inadequacy, as we think, of any theory of infant baptism successfully to meet them,--from the recent agitation of the subject in the highest courts of the realm, and the attention excited by the open and practical avowal of our sentiments by one of the brightest ornaments of the English church—from the corroboration which our views have received from the researches of some of the best ecclesiastical historians on the continent--and, if we mistake not, a growing disposition in the public mind to give the subject a calm and scriptural consideration,-from all these circumstances, the present does not seem to be a time in which the Baptist denomination should fail in its duty. Truth cannot be injurious in its tendency, nor can it suffer by being brought into the light. And why should it be kept secret ? Does love to our brethren require that we should compromise the truth? Does the sincerest candour forbid us to point out the mistakes of our friends ? Let us, indeed, never forget the apostolic injunction, 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you,
live peaceably with all men ;' but even peace is too dearly purchased by the sacrifice of conscience, And should a timid dread of controversy induce us to conceal the truth ? An angry spirit is surely not essential to discussion, nor does alienation of affection necessarily follow the maintenance and strong expression of different views. Indiference to truth is quite as great an evil as any likely to follow from collision of
opinion. It were earnestly to be wished that all, to whatever section of the church they belong, would be willing candidly and patiently to listen to the statements and arguments of those who differ from them. Till such a spirit prevails, truth will not have a fair field.
“TWO CAUTIONS are here necessary on our parts, lest we injure what we intend to serve.
“ 1st,—We must beware of giving an undue preponderance or prominence to the subject of our peculiarities, to the disparagement of other truths. The ordinance of baptism is not the Gospel, it is only one of its institutes. It is not the whole of the truth as it is in Jesus,' nor the most important truth. LET IT HAVE ITS PLACE-BUT LET IT KEEP ITS PLACE. To give it more than its relative importance would be a most likely way of depreciating it in the minds of others.
“2nd,—It is of great consequence to the prevalence of our views that they BE ADVOCATED IN THE SPIRIT OF LOVE. HARSHNESS ALWAYS REPELS; KINDNESS AND COURTESY ARE NECESSARY TO WIN A CANDID AND PATIENT ATTENTION TO UNPALATABLE TRUTHS. The persecuted usually make more converts than the persecutors, Bitter words, biting sarcasms, and contemptuous expressions, may delight a heated partizan, BUT THEY WILL NEVER GAIN OVER AN OPPONENT. The truth to be effective must be spoken in love.
“But no peculiarities should be allowed to interfere with our devotion to that sacred enterprise in which we, in common with the whole Christian church, are engaged. That object is transcendantly important. It is to produce a great moral revolution throughout the globe. IT IS TO IMPREGNATE THE WHOLE OF HUMAN SOCIETY WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL. It is to realize the full comprehension of that petition, 'Thy KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.'
“ To conclude,” observes Dr. Godwin, “whatever tends to increase and diffuse vital religion among our churches, to promote unity, love, fidelity, and Christian effort, it is the duty of our denomination to attempt. There is a great change coming on the world; the very aspects and relations of all the sections of the Christian church must, it is evident, be affected by its progress. May the Baptist denomination be found ever at its post-faithful to its convictions of dutyforemost in zeal and activity for the promotion of the Saviour's kingdom-fraternal in its conduct to the whole church, and, while ready to adopt any modifications which may give it a more scriptural character, and increase its efficiency-may it, in all that is evangelical, and truthful, and loyal to our Saviour King, adhere firmly, without shame or fear, to 'TAE Good Old War."
1. Of God. We believe that there is but one God, who is a spirit, the creator of all things, the father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all; who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; upon whom we are continually dependant, and to whom we ascribe praise for our life, food, raiment, health, sickness, prosperity, and adversity. We love him as the source of all goodness, and rever. ence him as that sublime being, who searcheth the reins and trieth the hearts of the children of men.
2. Of Christ.We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son and image of the Father, that in Him all the fulness of the godhead dwells, and that by Him alone we know the Father. He is our Mediator and Advocate; nor is there any other name given under heaven by which we can be saved. In His name alone we call upon the Father, using no other prayers than those contained in the Holy Scriptures, or such as are in substance agreeable thereunto.
3. Of the Holy Spirit.-We believe in the Holy Spirit, as the Comforter, proceeding from the Father and from the Son; by whose inspiration we are taught to pray; being by him renewed in the spirit of our minds; who creates us anew un to good works, and from whom we receive the knowledge of the truth.
4. Of the Church.-We believe that there is one Holy Church, comprising the whole assembly of the elect and faithful that have existed from the beginning of the world, or that shall be to the end thereof. Of this Church the Lord Jesus Christ is the head; it is governed by His Word, and guided by the Holy Spirit. In the Church it behoves all Christians to have fellowship. For her, he (Christ) prays incessantly, and His prayer for her is most acceptable to God, without which indeed there could be no salvation.
5. Of Ministers.-We hold that the Ministers of the Church ought to be unblameable, both in life and doctrine; and if found otherwise, that they ought to be deposed froni their office, and others substituted in their stead; and no person ought to presume to take that honour unto himself, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron. That the duties of such are, to feed the flock of God, not for filthy lucre's sake, or as having dominion over God's heritage, but as being examples to the flock, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, and in chastity.
6. Of Kings, Princes, and Governors.-We acknowledge that kings, princes, and governors are the appointed and established ministers of God, whom we are bound to obey (in all lawful and civil concerns,) for they bear the sword for the defence of the innocent, and the punishment of evil doers; for which reason we
a bound to honour and pay them tribute. From this power and authority no wan can exempt himself, as is manifest from the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who voluntarily paid tribute, not taking upon himself any jurisdiction of temporal power.
7. Of Baptism.-We believe that in the ordinance of Baptism the water is the visible and external sign, which represents to us that which, by virtue of God's invisible operation, is within us,--namely, the renovation of our minds, and the mortification of our members, through (the faith of) Jesus Christ. And by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of God's people, PREVIOUSLY PROFESSING AND DECLARING OUR FAITH AND CHANGE OF LIFE.
8. Of the Lord's Supper.-We hold that the Lord's Supper is a commemoration of, and thanksgiving for, the benefits which we have received by his sufferings and death, and that it is to be received in faith and love, examining ourselves, that so we may eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures.
9. Of Marriage.-We maintain that marriage was instituted of God, that it is holy and honourable, and ought to be forbidden to none, provided there be no obstacle from the Divine word.
10. Of Good Works:-We contend that all those in whom the fear of God dwells, will thereby be led to please him, and to abound in the good works (of the Gospel) in which God hath before ordained that we should walk; which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, sobriety, and the other good works enforced in the Holy Seriptures.
ll. Of False Teachers.-On the other hand, we confess that we consider it to be our duty to beware of false teachers, wbose object is to divert the minds of men from the true worship of God, and to lead them to place their confidence in the ereatures, as well as to depart from the good works of the gospel, and to regard the inventions of men.
12. Of the Scriptures.-We take the Old and New Testament for the rule of our life, and we agree with the general Confession of Faith contained in what is asually termed “the Apostles' Creed."