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THE FREE BAPTISTS OF AMERICA.
Sutton, D.D. And here I will take the liberty of saying that I remember Sutton well. I was a mere lad when he came to America ; but I heard him speak many times and in several places; and his appeals for the cause which lay so near his heart are still fresh in my memory.
Among other places I heard him in Parsonsfield, in the State of Maine, where Buzzell lived, laboured, and died; and where Quinby organised his school in the fall of 1832. And you should know that it was in this same town of Parsonsfield, in the State of Maine, and during this very fall of 1832, that Buzzell, Quinby, and others, organised our Foreign Mission Society; and it is to me a pleasant reminiscence that though only a boy looking on, yet I was present at that meeting.
After the organisation of our Society two missionaries were at once sent to India : Rev. Eli Noyes, D.D., of Maine, and Rev. Jeremiah Phillips, D.D. of New York. Dr. Noyes remained but a few years in the Mission field, returning to America in feeble health to find an early and honoured grave. Dr. Phillips is still at his post; though I regret to learn that he is in very poor health, and it is feared by his associates that his work is done. Rev. James L. Phillips, D.D., is the son of Rev. Jeremiah Phillips, D.D. This missionary was born in India. At twelve years of age he was sent to America to be educated. He has now been in the Mission fourteen years. He was in the United States for the second time until quite recently, remaining with us three years ; and was successful, as you will all rejoice to know, in raising five thousand pounds as a neuclus for the endowment of a Bible School in India for the training of native preachers.
It is but doing ourselves justice to say that we are alive to the work of sustaining the Mission in India which, under your advice and guidance, we planted there. The organisation of our Woman's Mission Board has settled this question, once and for ever, on the right side.
The Rev. Hosea Quinby, D.D., was the father of Education in our denomination as was Rev. Amos Sutton, D.D., the father of our Foreign Missions. As I intimated, Dr. Quinby began his work in the autumn of 1832 as Principal of Parsonsfield Academy. He died last fall.
In 1847 you sent us, as delegates at our General Conference, held at Sutton, Vermont, two beloved brethren-Rev. Jabez Burns, D.D., L.L.D., and Rev. Joseph Goadby. I formed the acquaintance of these brethren at that time, and I know of their great help to us, especially in the cause of education. Dr. Burns made us a second visit in 1872, and was received with open hearts and arms by our entire people. But he has gone to his rest, as has Goadby. I have been to the grave of the former, and I only wish I could go to that of the latter.
Forty-seven years ago we had but one institution of learning—the small academy presided over by the lamented Quinby. Now we have quite a large number of academies, several colleges, and two theological schools. And in view of what has been done for us we can only say, " What hath God wrought!"
If any one man deserves the honour, Rev. Silas Curtis may be called the father of our Home Missions. He is now living, and is in vigorous health-out-doing some younger men in performing service in our Lord's vineyard. He is the treasurer of our Foreign Mission,
Home Mission, and Education Societies. Many of you feel acquainted with him though you have never seen his face. Several of our largest and strongest churches owe their origin to the work of our Home Mission Society; and the Society, aided greatly by the Woman's Board, is doing a magnificent work among the coloured people of our Southern States, especially at Harper's Ferry and Cairo.
The Free Baptists of America are total abstainers from the use of intoxicating drinks. To become members of our churches we require persons to be total abstainers. To enter our theological schools young men must be total abstainers. To be licensed or ordained as preachers men must be total abstainers.
As I am a resident of Maine, you inquire of me-"What about the Maine Law ?" The State of Maine has a population of something less than seven hundred thousand; and her Legislature or Parliament is composed of one hundred and eighty-two members—that is thirty-one in the Upper House and one hundred and fifty-one in the Lower. A little over twenty-eight years ago—it was the second day of June, 1851– was passed the first Prohibitory Law, and it was passed by the Parliament of Maine ; and so every such law in our country is called “The Maine Law.” I was a member of the Lower House of the Parliament of Maine for the year fifty-one; and, if you will allow me to say it, I had the honour of voting for the original Maine Law. The title of the Bill was-An Act for the Suppression of Tippling Houses and Drinking Shops. The law was repealed in the year 1856; but was re-enacted the succeeding year, and it has remained upon our statute books from that year until the present time.
In answer to your question, I will say that the law is generally enforced, and it works good and not evil to all the people of our State. We do not have open grog shops in Maine. I read in an American paper a day or two since that there is one in one of the cities of Maine. Shame on us, I say, if such a report be true; but if it be true, the public sentiment of our State on the question of liquor selling will, as I can assure you, soon set the matter right. The good people of Maine do not allow men to open shops at the corners of their streets to sell poison to their children. They do not license men to make paupers, lunatics, and criminals. They do not license men to make happy homes unhappy —to send the husband and the father to the prison, or to the gallows, if the State had one. No, thank God, they do not license men to take from their fellow men all the sweet and precious hopes of this life, and what is terrible to think of,—the hopes of that life which is to come.
In the State of Maine, about the lowest depth of degradation to which a man can sink is to be what we call a rum-seller. This is total depravity. As to the working of the prohibitory law in Maine you have the testimony of the Hon. Neil Dow, the father of the law; and more recently that of Ex-Governor Dingley, of Maine, who has just left your country. They say that the results of the law are good and good only, and their testimony can be relied on.
A few years ago some four or five millions of slaves became freemen in the United States. How? By the free act of the American people because slavery is wrong? Oh no—I blush to say—we did not abolish slavery on any such grand principle as this. Garrison asked us to say THE FREE BAPTISTS OF AMERICA.
this-even this, that slavery is a sin against God and a crime against man, and therefore it should be immediately abolished. The great and good man went to his rest a few days since, and the world mourns him. He asked us to say this, but we declined. On the other hand, we slandered him, persecuted him, mobbed him; one State going so far as to offer two thousand pounds for his head.
As a nation, instead of saying slavery is wrong, we either said slavery is right, or is only wrong" in the abstract ;' and so in either case it better be let alone. This is what we said. The South said this. The North said this. Many of our leading statesmen said this. Many of our leading divines said this; some boldly declaring that slavery is authorised by the Word of God.
Under these circumstances, God, taking us in hand, brought His chastisements upon us, as He always deals in judgment with nations when they forsake him and do wickedly. For what is so wicked in any nation as to rob the weak and the poor of their rights ? And the stronger and richer is the nation, the greater are the crime and the sin.
Thus only as a war measure and to save the Union—not because slavery is wrong—was the Emancipation proclamation issued by President Lincoln; and under our constitution it could not have been issued on any other principle. And this brings us to this one conclusion—that we gave the slaves their liberty — not because liberty is rightfully theirs, but because there was no other way of preserving our own liberty. This is the sad record against the American people which the truth compels one to acknowledge.
But there were noble exceptions during those terrible days of the struggles of liberty against slavery. There were not only individualsbut classes of men and women-societies and denominations—that put themselves upon the record in favour of God and humanity; and among the denominations must be named the Free Baptist denomination. But this slavery question, I regret to say, is not yet settled. The freedom-loving people of the North want it settled once and forever by the acceptance, in good faith, on the part of the South, and their political associates of the North, of the amendments of our Constitution, making coloured people equal to other people before the law.
But these amendments have not been accepted in good faith. They are a dead letter at the South. The coloured people there are not equal before the law. As is natural, the coloured people desire to vote with their friends and for their principles. But practically they are denied this right which they have under our amended constitution. For unless they are ready to vote with their enemies and against their principles they are virtually disfranchised. Elections, in many places in the South, are simply mockery: for the coloured man knows full well that if he goes to the ballot box he goes at the risk of his life. So this great question of human rights is still an issue in America-not by any act of the friends of freedom in America,-God forbid—for the North has only feelings of kindness towards the South. The question has been forced upon the North. And I say to you, as brave men we are ready to meet it. The Free Baptists are ready to meet their share of it, as a company in the Old Guard of liberty. As a denomination, we shall be true to our record. But there can be no doubt as to the
result of this contest. The battle may be long; but the right will triumph over the wrong in the end; for the spirit of the age is the spirit of fairness and justice, and God is on the side of the oppressed.
There is quite a number of Associations of Baptists in the United States that agree substantially with the Free Baptists in doctrine and polity. Among these are several associations of General Baptists in the Northern States, several of the Free Baptists in the Southern, the Church of God Baptists, and the Disciple Baptists, the latter people being a very large denomination. Then, there are the Free Christian Baptists of New Brunswick, and the Free Baptists of Nova Scotia.
At our last General Conference a convention was suggested, to be composed of persons belonging to these various bodies. The understanding is that if such a meeting shall be held it shall have no ecclesiastical power; and yet it is hoped that such a convention might unite, if in nothing else, in issuing a Year Book, in publishing a religious quarterly, and in doing missionary work in India; the Year Book to contain the statistics of these various Baptists bodies and other facts relating to their work; the quarterly to be under the superintendence of men selected from each denomination; and each mission to manage its own affairs--yet all to work together in India as you and we are working together there.
That such a convention would lead to an increase of Christian fellowship and of vital godliness in all these denominations—that it would be the means of bringing thousands to Christ that otherwise would pursue a course of sin, I have no doubt. So it is my earnest desire that such a meeting may be held and that you may be represented in it. If
you had a duty to do to us by way of asking us to take part in your Mission work in India, have we not a similar duty to do to those denominations of our common faith who have not, up to this time, established missions there? And do you not owe it to us to help us in the discharge of this duty ?
The Free Baptists of America have no trials : they are well united, and, as a body, are in a flourishing condition. They have about one hundred young men in Hillsdale College, Bates College, and other institutions of learning, studying with the ministry in view; and their paper, the Morning Star, which, by the way, never shone so brightly as it now shines, is increasing its circulation year by year. And these two facts, if there were no others, are enough to convince you are a live people, and are engaged heart and soul in working for Him who has counted us worthy to be employed in His service.
The first Free Baptist Church was organised at New Durham, N.H. June 30th, 1780, by Rev. Benjamin Randall. So we commence the celebration or our centennial one year from the thirtieth day of this month. Randall is buried at New Durham, and, on that day there will be appropriate services in that town.
In the following October our regular Triennial Conference will hold its session either in this same town or in its vicinity; and other services suited to the centennial year will be added. Held, then, as it will be, in New Hampshire, the Switzerland of America-a land of smiling lakes and magnificent mountains-a land never cursed by slavery
that we THE FREE BAPTISTS OF AMERICA.
where freemen only can dwell, for its very air is love and liberty-held at the close of a hundred years' work, and on the spot where that work began, by a people who, though smaller in numbers and poorer in this world's goods than some of her sister denominations, were yet at the cost of numbers and wealth, true to the slave when his friends were few-I need not say that this conference will be a great occasion, and that men and women will flock to it in thousands.
Nearly fifty years ago you sent us Sutton; and over thirty years ago you sent us Burns and Goadby; and what a blessing they were to us—sent as they were at the right time—just when we most needed men to advise us in the performance of our Christian work.
And, now, may I ask you to send us another delegation-men to meet with us at our next General Conference; to rejoice with us on our centennial occasion; and, still further, to advise us as to how we may lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes. If the Convention of which I have spoken shall be held, perhaps an arrangement can be made to hold it the week before our General Conference, and in a place not far distant from the Conference, so that your delegates might attend both meetings.
I trust then, dear brethren, you will grant us this our request, and send us men from your Association to sit with us in our next Conference. Rev. Jonathan Woodman is still living, and actively engaged in the Master's work. Many of you remember him well as one of the first delegates sent by us to your body ; and I mention his name here to say, among other things, that if he were present in this Conference he would join me in making this request.
Not only will we, who are one people with you, give a hearty welcome to a delegation from you, but all men in America with whom they may come in contact-men of all sects and parties, who hate the evils of intemperance and oppression-will give them a similar welcome; and so the great day only will reveal how much good they may do our denomination, the American people, and the world at large.
I thank you, brethren, for this portion of time you have allotted
I have had a pleasant visit to your country. I leave soon for home, and for work at home. May God bless you all ; may He bless your entire country-your home-land and your colonies--your Queenyour Parliament-your churches-your homes.
“ The free, fair homes of England,
Long, long in hut and hall
To guard each hallow'd wall.
And bright the flowering sod,
Its country and its God.”
A LAWYER'S VIEW OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE. JAMES, FIRST LORD ABINGER, Chief Baron of Her Majesty's Court of Exchequer, who died 1844, “in his autobiography dwells on the religious education given him by his mother, which regulated his whole life. It led him to the study of Theology and Christianity. I recollect to have heard him say, that independently of moral conviction, there was sufficient circumstantial evidence of the truths of Christianity to convince any twelve unprejudiced and enlightened jurymen.' This was his remarkable legal view of the question.”