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54 CONFERENCE ON THE
F. Tucker, follow in the same wake. Not to mention others, I may add that of the sixteen churches started by the London Baptist Association, I only know of one not adopting “open fellowship.” I am told all the Baptist churches in Birmingham are on that basis, except ours. Seven churches in Bristol—including Broadmead and Tyndale (Mr. Glover's)— adopt the same principle. St. Mary's, Norwich, is on the same lines. Baptists are proud to claim Dr. Maclaren as their own. The church over which he presides welcomes to its fellowship all who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus, and take Him as their Master. I judge, from my extended enquiries, more than two out of three of the leading churches of the Particular Baptist type are based on open fellowship.
These churches are called Baptist churches for a reason similar to that for which they are called Free, Independent, Spiritual, not because there is nothing but what is free, independent, and spiritual in them, but because the teaching, and aim, and ideal, are free, independent, and spiritual. So they are Baptist not because there is not an unimmersed person in the “fellowship,” but because the teaching, the aim and ideal, are framed to secure an intelligent and unconstrained recognition of the will of the Lord Jesus concerning baptism.” Whether they have any “right to be called Baptist Churches” I do not care to contend; but that such is the intelligible reason for their having that name can hardly be denied.
(5.) Our Sixth Article.—One word for the sake of accuracy is requisite on this point. For more than a dozen years we have “stood before the world as a denomination professing” that all our churches did NOT believe that “baptism is necessary in order to be initiated into a church state.” Anxious for accuracy, as far as possible, I ventured, in 1870, when I was Secretary to the Association, to insert anote in our Year Book to the effect that some of our churches did not believe that Sixth Article. That note passed unchallenged in the public Association, and in the Year Book till 1882. More need not be said, except that the note was according to fact, and to that extent it saved us from standing before the world in an inaccurate light.
(6.) Interpretation or not?—Suppose we say it is not a question of interpretation—what, then, is it? No one will say it is a matter of selfwill. I am sure we should shrink from affirming of any who cling to the old ways that they do it from prejudice or conservatism, a want of open-mindedness, or a suppression or garbling of the evidence. For one I have the profoundest esteem for all my brethren, and am as sure of their honesty and perfect sincerity as I am of my own. They believe that the Lord Jesus authorizes them to exclude from the privileges of the churches all Christians who differ with them on this one particular opinion, however they may be in accord in earnest loyalty to Christ, and in the conceptions of His rule. They believe inspiration is against “open fellowship,” and that the evidence is indubitable that Christ established this ritual at the beginning, and that the apostles practised
* It may be added, on the “legal” aspect of the question, that the reception of unbaptized persons into the fellowship of a church where the teaching is by Trust Deed restricted to the inculcation of believers baptism creates no difficulty whatever. Such a church is regarded as a Baptist church. This, it is held by competent authorities, was settled for ever in the famous case, Attorney General v. Gould, and the Ramsgate case.—A Union church, let it be said once more more, is one where the teaching may be Baptist or Paedobaptist, an arrangement fundamentally different from that described above.
CONDITIONS OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP. 55
it in all cases as a necessary condition of admission to the society of the Christian church. Is it a question of compliance with Tradition 2 Assuredly not. The defenders of Article Six do not mean that they so believe and teach because Dan Taylor and his colleagues believed it; for they themselves do not hold all that great worker taught. They know, that, good and wise as Dan was, Jesus Christ has not been ruling His church for a century in vain. We are none of us so unreasoning as Macaulay when he wrote, “A Christian of the fifth century, with a Bible, was neither better nor worse situated than a Christian of the nineteenth century with a Bible, candour and natural acuteness being, of course, equal.” Dan Taylor himself was a growing man. So are we all. We know Max Müller is right when he says, “As to changes, great or small, Nature teaches us that nothing can live which cannot grow and change, and history confirms her lesson that nothing is so fatal to institutions as faith in their finality.” Dan Taylor had courage enough to change his opinions and actions when he felt Christ bade him; and so those who maintain the “Sixth Article” do so not because Dan Taylor held it, but solely because their own reading of the will of Christ assures them that Dan interpreted that will aright. If it is not a question of self-will, nor of deference to tradition, is it one of policy? Do we cling to the “old way” merely because it is the best for our denomination, the most politic, the course that pays best ? I dare not think it. In Christian ethics we know nothing is politic that is not true. No course can pay, in the “long run,” that is not framed in the spirit of thorough-going obedience to the teaching of Christ. The policy or impolicy of any course of action always deserves serious consideration; but never before, but always after we have sought, with all our might, to find out whether it is right and true. The question is, then, for all of us, not one of sinful self-will, or of indolent acquiescence in the traditions of the fathers, or of mere policy, but of the plain and unadulterated meaning of the teaching of the Lord Jesus, our one and sufficient Master. (7.) The precise point at issue.—Professor Huxley has an “ineradicable tendency to make things clear.” That tendency ought to dominate in this discussion; and therefore it is necessary to say again, there is not the slightest difference amongst us as to the “subjects” or “mode” of baptism. Do they reject the “sprinkling of infants” as a rite unwarranted by the word of God P So do we. Do they insist on the duty of believers in Christ being immersed? So do we. Do they hold it a high privilege to obey any and every law of Christ? So do we. Do they make sacrifices of time and money, and even of position, for the sake of “Baptist principles?” So do we. Do they take precautions against the intrusion of error? So do we. In fact, there is but one point where we differ, and that is—whether it is the will of the Lord Jesus that every believer should be baptized in order to be initiated into a church state. That, and that only, is the point at issue. It is not the relation of baptism to the believer; but wholly and solely the relation of baptism to the church; and I purpose appealing first to the whole biography of Christ in the four Gospels, and next to the biography of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, for the answer. JOHN CLIFFORD.
IN the kitchen doorway, underneath its arch of swaying vines and pendent purple clusters, the old woman sat, tired and warm, vigorously fanning her face with her calico apron. It was a dark face, surmounted by a turban, and wearing, just now, a look of troubled thoughtfulness not quite in accordance with her name—a name oddly acquired from an old church anthem that she used to sing somewhat on this wise— “Thanksgivin' an’ » “Johnny, don't play dar in the water, chile !” “Thanksgivin' an’— “Run away now, Susie, dearie.” “Thanksgivin' an’ “Take care dat bressed baby! Here's some gingerbread for him.” “Thanksgivin'an' de voice of melody.” You laugh! But looking after all these little things was her appointed work, her duty; and she spent the intervals in singing praise. Do many of us make better use of our spare moments f So the children called her “Thanksgiving Ann;” her other name was forgotten, and Thanksgiving Ann she would be now, to the end of her days. How many these days had already been, no one knew. She had lived with Mr. and Mrs. Allyn for years, whether as mistress or servant of the establishment they could scarcely tell; they only knew that she was invaluable. She had taken a grandmotherly guardianship of all the children, and had a voice in most matters that concerned the father and mother, while in the culinary department she reigned supreme. The early breakfast was over. She had bestowed unusual care upon it, because an agent of the Bible Society, visiting some of the country places for contributions, was to partake of it with them. But while she was busy with a final batch of delicate waffles, the gentleman had Fo an appointment, and, taking hasty leave of his host and hostess, ad departed, unobserved from the kitchen windows; and Thanksgiving Ann’s “Bible money” was still in her pocket. “Didn't ask me, nor give me no chance. Just's if, 'cause a pusson's old an' coloured, dey didn't owe de Lord nuffin', an' would’nt pay it if dey did,” she murmured when the state of the case became known. However, Silas, the long-limbed, untiring, and shrewd, who regarded the old woman with a curious mixture of patronage and veneration, had volunteered to run after the vanished guest, and “catch him if he was anywhere this side of Chainy.” And even while Thanksgiving sat in the doorway the messenger returned, apparently unwearied by his chase, “Wa-ll, I come up with him—told ye I would—and give him the three dollars. He seemed kind of flustered to have missed such a nugget ; and he said 'twas a ginerous jonation—equal to your master's. Which proves,” said Silas, shutting one eye, and appearing to survey the subject meditatively with the other, “that some folks can do as much good just off-hand as some other folks can do with no end of pinchin’ an’ screwin' beforehand.” “Think it proves dat folks dat don't have no great 'mount can do as * Printed separately by Messrs. Morgan& Scott, office of the Christian ; 3s.6d. per 100, or 6d. a
dozeu. Reprinted here by their kind permission.
58 “THANKSGIVING ANN;”
much in a good cause by thinkin' 'bout it a little beforehand, as other folks will do that as more, and puts der hands in der pockets when de time comes. I believe in systematics 'bout such things, I does; ” and with an energetic bob of her head, by way of emphasizing her words, old Thanksgiving walked into the house.
she began in her high, weird voice. But the words died on her lips; her heart was too burdened to sing. “Only three dollars out'n all der 'bundance 1” she murmured to herself. “Well, mebbe I oughtn't to judge; but then I don't judge, I knows. Course I knows, when I'se here all de time, and sees de good clo'es, an’ de carr'ages, an’ de musics, an’ de fine times—folks, an’ hosses, an’ tables all provided for, an’ de Lord of glory lef to take what happens when de time comes, and no prep'ration at all ! Sure 'nough, He don't need der help. All de world is His; and He can send clo'es to His naked, an’ bread to His hungry, an' Bibles to His heathen, if dey don't give a cent; but den dey're pinchin'an' starvin' der own dear souls. Well—'t ain't my soul | But I loves 'em—I loves 'em, an’ dey're missin' a great blessin'.” These friends, so beloved, paid little attention to the old woman's opinion upon what she called “systematics in givin'.” “The idea of counting up all one's income, and setting aside a fixed portion of it for charity, and then calling only what remains one's own, makes our religion seem arbitrary and exacting; it is like a tax,” said Mrs. Allyn one day; “and I think such a view of it ought by all means to be avoided. I like to give freely and gladly of what I have when the time comes.” “If ye hain't give so freely an' so gladly for Miss Susie's new necklaces an’yer own new dresses dat ye don't have much when de time comes,” interposed Thanksgiving Ann. “I think one gives with a more free and generous feeling in that way,” pursued the lady, without seeming to heed the interruption. “Money laid aside beforehand has only a sense of duty, and not much feeling about it; besides, what difference can it make, so long as one does give what they can when there is a call?” “I wouldn't like to be provided for dat way,” declared Thanksgiving. “Was, once, when I was a slave, 'fore I was de Lord's free woman. Ye see, I was a young, no'count gal, not worf thinkin' 'bout ; so my ole marse left me take what happened when de time come. An’sometimes I happened to get a dress, an' sometimes a pair of ole shoes, an’ sometimes I didn't happen to get nuffin', an’ den I went barefoot; an' dat's jist de way—” “Why, Thanksgiving, that's not reverent l” exclaimed Mrs. Allyn, shocked at the-comparison. “Jist what I thought; didn't treat me with no kind of rev'rence,” answered Thanksgiving. “Well, to go back to the original subject, all these things are mere matters of opinion. One person likes one way best, and another person another,” said the lady smilingly, as she walked from the room. “’Pears to me it's a matter of which way de Master likes best,” observed the old woman, settling her turban. But there was no one to hear her comment, and affairs followed their accustomed routine.