The Gospel Messenger-March 1919
By Elder J. H. Oliphant
We are called “Old Baptists,” “Primitive Baptists,” because we seek to maintain the doctrine and practice of our people. I have seriously sought to teach our people this way. I have observed a progressive spirit rising up among us, from time to time, urging that we can safely get out of the “old ruts” in many things; but this progressive spirit is a conforming to this world, and is encouraged by the world. “Be not conformed to this world.” I do not believe it is a cranky, foolish spirit in us that looks on progression among our people as dangerous to the principles of our people. It is urged that Primitive Baptists may as well have modern improvements in worship as not…that we have as good right to these things as any one; but when we install all the modern churches’ usages, are we Primitive Baptists, or would we be Primitives with all the modern customs used among us? If we desire to hold to the doctrine of Primitives, should we not look with jealousy on what is called modern usages among our people? If we had not opposed them in the division with the Campbellites, where would be our plain meetings, our old-fashioned meetings? Had no one stood for primitive customs in the division with the Missionaries, would there be any Primitive Baptists now?
I have been among our people fifty years, and have seen a progressive spirit rise up more than once, and have noticed how the world favors a progressive spirit among us, and gives the progressives all the advantages it can. If no one had urged this progressive spirit among us in the last fifty years, we would now be united Primitive Baptists, as one man together standing for what “Primitive Baptist” means. How good and pleasant it would be to have it so, and if we would now all come together on the old path, and bury the past, and henceforth live together in love “How good it would be!” Love one another, and forgive one another, and labor in love to encourage our churches. When division is in our midst it is hard to remove it. It is not common to see strife get less, but it is often the other way.
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” We need the Spirit of Christ so that we can love and forgive one another. It would not be a serious innovation to urge that we pray more and live more godly in this world. If some dear Elder would rise, pleading for more prayer and deeper humility among us, it would not do harm. I would welcome such a man in my home and churches. It would do more good than to plead for the organ or any other innovation.
I read with sorrow of the death of Elder Morris. I never met him, but I loved him. I regret that Elder Henderson is aged, and Elder G. W. Thompson and myself and many others among us are white with years, and all of us will soon be called home. Our young Elders need to be humble and trustful; but I believe the Lord will provide the Church with men that will cry aloud and spare not, and will enable them to be faithful to the end. We will not be losers in death. “Better is the day of one’s death than the day of his birth.” “To be with Christ is best”; and I find a willingness to go hence more than usual. Till we are called home, let us try to be “peace makers.”
I wish our brethren would seek some method by which division could be overcome and strife put away. Division is a serious thing; we are to mark them that cause it. We must be faithful, and contend earnestly for truth, but let us do so in love. Possibly Elder Hassell could give light on this important subject.
J. H. O.
REMARKS BY ELDER SYLVESTER HASSELL.
I know of no better way to unite all the children of God than for them to sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus, in His Spirit of reverence, humility, simplicity, unselfishness, and love, and to learn of Him, and to follow Him in all His perfect teachings, practices, and ordinances. Then we would be manifestly the One Body of which Christ is the One Head, and we would prove that the Father sent His Son into the world to save sinners, and that we are indeed His disciples (Eph. 1:22, 23; 4:1-6; John 17:20, 21;13 :34, 35). This would glorify God, and; benefit mankind far more than all the religious inventions of Rome and her daughters.