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First recorded instance found of the name "Primitive Baptist" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vince Hardy   
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 19:37

 



The first instance I have found of the use of the name "Primitive Baptist" occurred October 3, 1835 with the publication of the "Prospectus" edition of a new Old Baptist periodical bearing the name "The Primitive Baptist."

The first instance I have found of a person calling himself a "Primitive Baptist" was in a letter dated Jan. 28, 1836 and published in the March 12, 1836 issue of "The Primitive Baptist." (see the attached file for this letter)

It appears that the name "Primitive Baptist" as used today by our people was first derived from a periodical with that name, first issued forth through the influence of Elder Joshua Lawrence by Elder Mark Bennett of the Kehukee Association with George Howard as publisher in Tarborough, North Carolina in January 1836, as the second oldest school periodical in the field.  A prospectus for that periodical was first issued October 3, 1835 - the regular publishing began in January 1836 and finally ceased publishing in 1879.
When one reads through the first several issues of this periodical, it becomes apparent that the name "Primitive Baptist" was a new name to these brethren in the South, but descriptive of the "ancient" Baptist faith, and a name which our brethren in the South soon began to adopt for themselves. 
In their correspondence through "The Primitive Baptist" periodical, the "old Baptists" or "Baptists of the old stamp" (as they referred to themselves) began referring to themselves as "primitive Baptists" (using the word "primitive" as an adjective modifying "Baptist"), with some brethren beginning to sign their name as a "Primitive Baptist" at the end of their letters to the paper and began calling themselves a "Primitive Baptist."  It appears that as time progressed, the word "primitive" used as an adjective became part of the name, "Primitive Baptist" and our Old Baptist brethren readily took upon them this name as they found it descriptive of the "ancient" Baptist faith of the primitive Church.  To these early Old Baptist brethren, the word "primitive" was used to mean "ancient."  The name "Primitive Bapti st" was used to denote "the primitive Baptist cause, or that faith and order established by the Head of the Church and tenaciously observed by all the primitive saints, as delivered unto us in the statute book of the great King." (Elder John Clark, May 14, 1836 issue, p 135)
In reading through these first issues, I have listed for your consideration some milestones of significance in the gradual adoption of the name "Primitive Baptist" among our people through their association with the periodical named, "The Primitive Baptist."  An exhaustive list of occurrences is appended at the end of this post.

Milestones of Significance noted while reading through The Primitive Baptist:

October 3, 1835 - Elder Mark Bennett sent forth a "Prospectus" for a new Old Baptist periodical named, "The Primitive Baptist." 
Elder Bennett in explaining the need and purpose of this new periodical, writes, "This publication is principally intended to defend the old school United Baptists from the many aspersions cast upon them by deluded persons professing their own faith, because they cannot conscientiously engage in the various money-making schemes of the day, ostensibly intended to promote Christianity, but evidently tending to destroy the great and fundamental principles upon which it is based, by making a gain of godliness."    (Oct 5, 1835   p 1; Mark Bennett)

In this "prospectus," Elder Joshua Lawrence writes a letter "To the old fashioned United Baptists in the United States" and, in support of this new old Baptist publication, writes, "The United Baptists of the old stamp, composing the Kehukee, Contentnea, Little River, Abbott's Creek Union, Mayho, and Country Line Associations, with others, have long borne the calumnies and reproaches of the Missionary Baptists and all those Baptists who advocate the new schemes of the day-who traffic and sell religious services, Balaam like, for reward, and run from place to place for money-and are, Balaam like, a curse to our Israel.  And we have borne their sneers and calumniating publications, and defamation of some of our worthy ministers an d members, until we consider forbearance no longer a virtue.  We, therefore, take this method to defend ourselves and all the Baptists of the old stamp in the United States, from the unjust aspersions against their doctrines, ordinances, or practices according with the New Testament.  For we do believe that the Missionary Baptists have deviated from the good old way in which the apostles and our old Baptist fathers trod, when compared with the New Testament, both in doctrine and ministerial practice; making money the mainspring of ministerial motion, instead of love to Christ and souls-which we consider a great corruption."    (Oct 5, 1835   p 1-2; Joshua Lawrence)

January 23, 1836 -  Reference is made to "an old primitive Baptist church," using "primitive" as an adjective.
Elder Lawrence writes, "Are you an old primitive Baptist church, and have got an old school preacher--a word to you."    (Jan 23, 1836, p 22; Joshua Lawrence) 

January 28, 1836 - We have the first instance of a man signing his name as a "Primitive Baptist or Predestinarian" at the end of a letter.  (see the attached file for this letter).    (March 12, 1836, p 79; P. M. CALHOUN)

Feburary 20, 1836 - We have the second instance of a man referring to himself as a "Primitive Baptist."
Brother Colley writes, "I have seen a specimen copy of a paper called the Primitive Baptist--one of that number I have been for 34 years, 23 years of that time I have been trying to defend the good cause in which your paper has embarked."    (March 12, 1836, p 79; Joel Colley)

March 26, 1836 - We find another instance of the phrase "primitive Baptist" (with the word "primitive" being used as an adjective to describe our Baptist brethren) being equated as being the same as the "old school Baptists." 
Brother Gilbert writes, "One thing is certain with me, that the primitive Baptists are a small number when compared with the many professors of religion at the present day; and that almost all denominations of professors of religion at the present day are in battle array against the old school Baptists, is a thing plain to be seen from their writings and other proceedings."    (March 26, 1836, p 81; Kemuel C. Gilbert)

March 26, 1836 - The Christian Index of February 4, 1836 takes exception to the paper being called  The Primitive Baptist and claims that it is a misnomer.  The editor of The Primitive Baptists, Elder Mark Bennett, defends the use of this name for the paper. 
Elder Bennett writes, "In the Christian Index, of Feb. 4th, we are presented with two articles, touching the "Primitive Baptist," Joshua Lawrence, the cause of missions, &c.  The writer of the first of these articles affirms of the Primitive Baptist that, it is "a misnomer, by the way."  If he will affirm this, we cannot help it.  But we are of age, we will speak for ourselves.  Our paper is not only intended to administer comfort to those who are grieved with the corruptions of the doctrine and practice of the gospel, but also under God, to mark, and place before the public view, the innovations so far as we can discriminate them, w hich have found their way into the church since the apostles' day; and to maintain an adherence to the original purity and simplicity of gospel doctrine and ordinance.  We are honestly persuaded that, on the decease of the last survivor of the apostles, there was no church of divine institution except those whose members were baptised [immersed] on profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and properly termed Baptist churches.  Prompted by the above designs, and blessed with the hope of success in some good degree, we have named our paper, and leave it with every man to make of it what seems good to him.  The writer before us appears to think the error of the misnomer lies in opposition to "all missionary operations, education, temperance, &c."  If he would consult our first No. (Jan. 9.) he would find this avowal, namely, "We wish to have it distinctly understood, that we are not inimical to masonry, tem perance, the distribution of the Bible, or the spread of the gospel-but we do condemn the mingling of professors and non-professors of religion in societies and the making a "craft" of religious matters by professors, in every shape and form whatsoever."  The above writer has neither proved that such a mingling was practiced in the primitive church, nor denied that it is practised by modern benevolent institutions.  Nor has he proved that the apostolic church made a craft of religious matters, nor, that the above mentioned institutions have not.  Hence, his argument when fairly stated is, that the name of our paper is a misnomer, because we oppose the mingling of church and world in societies professedly religious, and also the making a craft of religious matters by professors.  He remarks: "The Philadelphia Association, the olde st in the United States, is a very active missionary body.  The English Baptists, still older bodies, are nearly all the advocates of missions, in theory and practice.  Christ and his disciples were active missionaries.  The apostle Paul, one of the most celebrated the word ever saw."  The allusion to the Philadelphia Association and the English Baptists, were unnecessary, since the writer in question can hardly suppose that our name (Primitive Baptist) looks no further back than to the time of these bodies.  But admitting they were now what they had been at any former period, we would not consider them our foundation and our standard.  They now exhibit features very counter to those by which they were once characterized, by falling in with the new institutions.  The writer ap pears to wish we would lose sight of the former attitude of these bodies, and view them only in the latter."    (March 26, 1836  p87-88; Elder Mark Bennett)

April 9, 1836 - The Christian Index of February 18, 1836 has an article wherein the writer gives his ideas of what the phrase, "Old School Baptists" means.  In opposing such ideas, Elder Mark Bennett equates "Primitive Baptists" with "Old School Baptists." 
Elder Bennett writes, "It embraces the idea that, the written word of God does not embrace all things necessary for the faith and practice of the church; inasmuch as the Old School, or Primitive Baptists, were deficient in point of means or instrumental operations to further the kingdom of Christ."    (April 9, 1836  p 105; Elder Mark Bennett)

April 9, 1836 - Reference is made to "the primitive Baptists" ("primitive" used as an adjective) as opposed to the "the modern Baptists" and a description is given as to what "primitive" means.
Hezekiah West writes, "Bro. Bennett:  Having understood that you was editing a religious periodical entitled "the Primitive Baptist," and as doubtless my name and character are familiar to you, I offer no other apology for introducing a few of my thoughts respecting the primitive Baptists upon your notice; together with some remarks on the difference between them and many of the modern Baptists.  I hope you mean ancient, by primitive, and not formal, for formality does not agree with the character that I have heard given to your paper; but with the sentiments and practice of those which I hope you oppose; nor yet affectedly solemn, for neither John the Baptist, Jesus the Saviour, nor the apostles were affectedly, but, really solemn.  While contemplating the title of your paper, intending to send for it, some days ago, I fell into a train of thought with which to address you on the occasion, "The Primitive Baptist."  John was the first Baptist preacher that ever I read of,....
"I hope, my brother, that you have been taught by the revelation of Jesus Christ, experimentally, the doctrine and practice of the ancient Baptists, according to the testimony of God by the apostles and prophets."    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)  

April 9, 1836 - Elder Mark Bennett remarks upon Hezekiah West article (as seen above) as to the reason for the use of the word "Primitive" in the title of his paper. 
Elder Bennett writes, "Our dear brother West is not mistaken respecting the term Primitive in the title of our paper.  Our desire is under God to support that system of faith and practice whose fundamental principle is embraced in this short sentence: Our salvation is wholly of God,-in a word that system whose foundation were the apostles and prophets, whose corner stone was Jesus Christ,-which system was to the Jews, a stumbling block; to the Greeks, foolishness; to the Arminians, contracted and devilish; and to the new schemers, lazy and Antinomian."    (April 9, 1836  p 111; Elder Mark Bennett)  

April 23, 1836 - Reference is made to a church "of the primitive Baptist faith."
Joseph King writes, "Brother Editor: The church in Wilmington of the primitive Baptist faith, take this opportunity to inform you and all the rest of our beloved Baptist brethren of the old stamp, what we have suffered here for righteousness' sake."    (April 23, 1836  p 127; Joseph King)  

May 14, 1836 - The "primitive Baptist cause" is mentioned by Elder John Clark and his understanding of that phrase.
Elder Clark writes, "Dear Brother: From a notice in the "Signs of the Times." I learn that you have at length embarked in the publication of the "Primitive Baptist," and that it is to be devoted, as its name signifies, to the primitive Baptist cause, or that faith and order established by the Head of the Church and tenaciously observed by all the primitive saints, as delivered unto us in the statute book of the great King; and in the same spirit, to oppose every false way.  With this assurance, my brother, I rejoice, and pray that you may constantly "Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein:" for I can assure you that primitive theolo gy is a very scarce commodity in our market at the present day."    (May 14, 1836 p 135; Elder John Clark)


Thus we are able to get a feel for the introduction and adoption of the name Primitive Baptist by our people.  It was chosen as the name of Elder Bennett's periodical, was opposed to by our enemies who claimed it a misnomer, and was eagerly embraced by Baptists of the old stamp or old school as an appropriate name, as it was descriptive of the primitive or ancient faith once delivered to the saints.  It appears that  the name Old School Baptist became the predominate name among brethren in the North through the influence of the Signs of the Times and the name Primitive Baptist became the predominate name used among brethren in the South through the influence of The Primitive Baptist periodical. 

For those interested, from this periodical, I append below an exhaustive list of the names that our brethren referred to themselves as (followed in parentheses by the issue date, page number and author), plus instances of the use of "primitive" as it relates to the church, doctrines, etc. (through the March 26, 1836 issue).

Blessings,
Vince Hardy

List of names that our brethren called themselves (or our doctrine) in the periodical called "The Primitive Baptist" and use of the word "primitive" (through the March 26, 1836  issue)
the old school United Baptists     (Oct 5, 1835   p 1; Mark Bennett)
the old fashioned United Baptists     (Oct 5, 1835   p 1; Joshua Lawrence)
The United Baptists of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835   p 1; Joshua Lawrence)
the Baptists of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835   p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
our old Baptist fathers       (Oct 5, 1835   p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
the Baptists of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835   p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
seven Association in Georgia of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835  p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
all others of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835   p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists     (Oct 5, 1835l   p 2; Joshua Lawrence)
all the Baptists of the old stamp     (Oct 5, 1835   p 3; Joshua Lawrence)
the primitive church     (Oct 5, 1835   p 5; from Signs of the Times)
the Old School preachers    (Oct 5, 1835   p 5; article from the Signs of the Times)
The Brethren of the Old School    (Oct 5, 1835   p 8; Mark Bennett or George Howard)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
the old school United Baptists    (Jan 9, 1836   p 1; Mark Bennett)
old Baptist ground    (Jan 9, 1836   p 7; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists of the New Testament days    (Jan 9, 1836, p 9; Joseph Biggs, Sen. )
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
the old Baptist church       (Jan 23, 1836, p 20; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptist churches    (Jan 23, 1836, p 20; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptist spirit    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
a Baptist church of the old sort    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
a preacher of the old sort    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
an old sort of Baptist preacher    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
an old Baptist church    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
old Baptist doctrine    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
the old sort of Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 22; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 22; Joshua Lawrence)
the old sort of Baptist churches    (Jan 23, 1836, p 22; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 212; Joshua Lawrence)
an old primitive Baptist church    (Jan 23, 1836, p 22; Joshua Lawrence)
the old Baptist churches    (Jan 23, 1836, p 21; Joshua Lawrence)
the Old S. Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 25; from the Signs of the Times)
publication of the "Primitive Baptist"    (Jan 23, 1836, p 25; from the Signs of the Times)
devoted to old school principles    (Jan 23, 1836, p 27; William Moseley)
fell into my hands the specimen number of the "Primitive Baptist."    (Jan 23, 1836, p 27; A. B. Reid)
the Old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 27; A. B. Reid)
but the "Primitive Baptist" comes home to us.    (Jan 23, 1836, p 27; A. B. Reid)
the Old Baptists    (Jan 23, 1836, p 27; A. B. Reid)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
the Particular Baptists    (Feb 13, 1836, p 47; Thomas Barton)
Old Fashioned Baptists    (Feb 13, 1836, p 47; Thomas Barton)
Old and New School Baptists    (Feb 13, 1836, p 47; Thomas Barton)
the Old School     (Feb 13, 1836, p 47; Thomas Barton)
the Old School doctrines    (Feb 13, 1836, p 47; Thomas Barton)
I have just received....the first number of the Primitive Baptist    (Feb 27, 1836, p 61; Gray Haggard)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
the church of Christ    (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Gray Haggard)
thorough bred Baptist       (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Gray Haggard)
thanks for the six numbers of the Primitive Baptist received            (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Gray Haggard)
few copies ... of the Primitive Baptist         (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Jonathan Neel)
the old school order    (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Jonathan Neel)
in the old track    (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Jonathan Neel)
subscribe for six copies of the Primitive Baptist    (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Jonathan Neel)
To the Editor of the Primitive Baptist         (Feb 27, 1836, p 62; Rowell Reese)
the Baptists of the old stamp    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; Rowell Reese )
primitive Christians    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; Rowell Reese)
I received your paper called the Primitive Baptist    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; R. Rorer)
the old school Baptists    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; R. Rorer)
a paper titled Primitive Baptist    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; George Little)
preaching of the old order    (Feb 27, 1836, p 63; George Little)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Primitive Baptist, or Predestinarian    (March 12, 1836, p 79; P. M. CALHOUN)
the Primitive Baptist--one of that number I have been    (March 12, 1836, p 79; Joel Colley)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
in the columns of the Primitive Baptist    (March 26, 1836, p 81; WM. Mosely)
the primitive Baptists are a small number    (March 26, 1836, p 81; Kemuel C. Gilbert)
the old order of the Baptists    (March 26, 1836, p 81; Kemuel C. Gilbert)
our old Baptists    (March 26, 1836, p 82; Kemuel C. Gilbert)
primitive church    (March 26, 1836  p87; Elder Mark Bennett)
our name (Primitive Baptist)    (March 26, 1836  p88; Elder Mark Bennett)
primitive disciples    (March 26, 1836  p88; Elder Mark Bennett)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here ends the exhaustive list.  The remainder below is not necessarily exhaustive.

other writers for the Primitive Baptist    (April 9, 1836  p 101; Joshua Lawrence)
inasmuch as the Old School, or Primitive Baptists    (April 9, 1836  p 105; Elder Mark Bennett),
periodical entitled "the Primitive Baptist,"    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)  
the primitive Baptists    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)  
I hope you mean ancient, by primitive    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)  
The Primitive Baptist    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)
doctrine and practice of the ancient Baptists    (April 9, 1836  p 108-110; Hezekiah West)  
the term Primitive in the title of our paper    (April 9, 1836  p 111; Elder Mark Bennett)  
of the primitive Baptist faith.    (April 23, 1836  p 127; Joseph King)  
publication of the "Primitive Baptist,"    (May 14, 1836 p 135; Elder John Clark)
the primitive Baptist cause    (May 14, 1836 p 135; Elder John Clark)
the primitive saints    (May 14, 1836 p 135; Elder John Clark)
that primitive theology    (May 14, 1836 p 135; Elder John Clark)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 19:42
 


 


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