History and Authority on Primitive Baptist Discip
000 Title Page
HISTORY and AUTHORITY
PRIMITIVE BAPTIST DISCIPLINE
An effort to correct Some Disturbances.
PRIMITIVE BAPTIST DISCIPLINE
An effort to correct Some Disturbances,
ELDER W. A. CHASTAIN, 1631 South College St., Springfield, III,
"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Lu 14:27.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
"And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burped, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 1Co 13
"FACTS ARE SACRED .... COMMENT IS FREE."
UNTRUTHS AND HALF TRUTHS can be distorted, or modified, or glorified, to make them appear to be facts. But all the genius of writers can not make them anything but "COMMENTS."
"WAR is deplorable and under its evil pressure a certain amount of distortion and confusion is expected, yet is not justified, nor can falsehood be changed to truth. We hone the facts and truths in these pages will clear away much confusion that truth may prevail in the hearts and minds of our people: that these shall exceed in both power and glory all the evil effects of contention.
War is sure to bring sorrow and losses to all; both to men who are right and to men who are wrong, but, truth and right will eventually win through our Lord Jesus Christ and victory will be sweet.
This work is produced to clear the record for truth and justice.
We are truly thankful for the many achievements and several developments that have brought to light the hearts and intents of men. While some have disappointed us our faith has been solidly confirmed in others who stand like mighty pillars for truth and like gallant soldiers for the Cross of Christ.
We want to thank our God, and our dear brethren for help, grace and loyalty as we look forward to a time of victory and peace when we hope to extend full service of love and joy and devotion in the kingdom of the Master.
W. A. CHASTAIN.
01 Chapter 1 - PART OF GENERAL ADDRESS OF PRIMITIVE BAPTIST AT FULTON KY., in the month of November, 1900.
"Approved by fifty-one elders from various parts of the U. S., recognizing with humble gratitude the gracious and divine providence of God in giving us the kingdom. . . . .
We do feel under profound obligations to thank God and labor faithfully for the prosperity of His holy cause."
First—The Importance of Fellowship can not be overestimated. It is the sacred cord that binds together the members of this holy community. Since there is no tribunal higher than the local churches to which they may appeal, their safety and perpetuity depends on the preservation of their fellowship.
Second—Bars of Fellowship set up by our local churches have been the most destructive influence against the growth and progress of the Church. Traditions of men and human customs being regarded as authority have often given rise to bars of fellowship and resulted in the destruction of the peace of the churches. Such customs and traditions as have no Bible sanction should never interfere with fellowship. It is painful to note on the pages of history how frequently our people have been divided and their happiness been destroyed by foolish and sinful declarations of non-fellowship. We do mostly solemnly and prayerfully beseech all our churches and people that they raise no bars of fellowship against any Primitive Baptist with whom they are agreed on fundamental principles.
The Gospel is God's appointed remedy for the correction of errors in His church, and it is in every way sufficient to correct errors among the children of God, if lovingly and faithfully employed. When bars of fellowship are raised they exclude the erring from the God-appointed remedy for the correction of their errors and render restoration hopeless.
When bars of fellowship are unlawfully raised among our people the bond of union by which our churches are held together is broken and the welfare of the cause exposed to the most uncertain results. IF THE RAISERS THEREOF CAN NOT BE INDUCED TO remove them at once, the only course for those who want to remain in this holy Church Union is to discard their actions and have no connection with them until they withdraw such bars of fellowship.
Third— No doctrine nor practice that violates neither the Scripture nor acknowledged confession should be construed as heresy. The Bible plainly states that a heretic, . after the first and second admonition (not before) shall be rejected (Tit 3:10), but let it be fully known that an action or doctrine is heresy before action is taken against it. We deem it unsafe to deal with a man as a heretic unless he avows heresy. In cases where divisions have been forced in the Church by bars of fellowship or otherwise we do earnestly and prayerfully beg our brethren not to go to law over church property. We believe it is better to take what would be paid out in cost of suit and expend it in a house than to gain the house by law, and much more in harmony with the teaching of our dear Savior.
Fourth—The Right of an Individual Church to discipline her own members is clearly taught in the Scriptures. From the decision of an ORDERLY Church, in matters of discipline, there is no appeal. (There may be an appeal from a disorderly church, Chastain).
The Church is the only authority to which complaint may be made only when a church has refused or neglected to discipline a member whose actions are bringing a reproach or distress upon the cause in general, or when a church, in the opinion of sister churches, has so far indulged in disorderly practice as to render her incapable of proper self-government, or when she has departed from the faith, has a council of churches any right to consider her case, unless they are especially called on by her to do so.
(We are here referred in the General Address to the 26th Chapter and Section 15 of the London Confession of Faith and we therefore give it to you here in full. Chastain.)
"Cases of difficulty or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification, or any member or members of any church are injured in or by any proceedings in censure not agreeable to truth and order; it is according to the mind of Christ that many churches holding communion together do by their messengers meet to consider and give their advice in or about the matter in differ ence, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled are not instructed with any church power, properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censure either over any churches or persons, or to impose their determination on the churches or officers."
Fifth—Restoration of Disorderlu Churches is a subject that has given much concern to our people. When churches are guilty of only irregularity in doctrine and practice and are willing to disclaim such irregularities and return to primitive order it is our candid opinion that they should be received into the general fellowship of the denomination without being required to perform the impossible task of counteracting every individual irregularity."
On Page 15 of this General Address we read under Item 8 as follows:
8. The London Confession of Faith, adopted over two hundred years ago, by thirty-seven of the ablest minister of England and Wales, representing over one hundred churches, has served one of the most needful services among our people of any document of faith since the days of the Apostles, and has stood unquestioned as an expression of the Primitive Baptist's interpretation of the Bible from then until now.
"At the present assembly of fifty-one ministers, representing three hundred and thirty-five churches, aggregating fourteen thousand five hundred members in direct correspondence with over one hundred thousand Baptists, the confession has been carefully read and approved."
This General Address was signed by the fifty-one Elders present.
See page 16 and 17 of the Kirkland edition of the London Confession of Faith.
02 Chapter 2 - CHURCH SOVEREIGNTY
By Elder R. W. Thompson
To speak of the church as a sovereign, is to use a word with a double meaning. A sovereign is one in whom supreme power and authority is vested. In an absolute sense, this attribute can belong only to God. The sovereignty of God is seen in His Power and right of dominion over all His works, to dispose and determine them according to His will.
It would not be proper to speak of the church as an absolute sovereign. She is under law to God, her Sovereign King and Lawgiver, and for that reason, strictly speaking, cannot be a sovereign. As the church of Christ, the church of God, she has a delegated authority. In speaking, then of the right of the church to dispose and determine her own affairs, it is not meant that she is not bounded, directed and limited by the divine law given, once for all, for her government, but rather that the church is vested with independent and supreme authority to administer her own government, under law to Christ, and is not dependent upon or subject to any synod, presbytery, ecclesiastical court, council, association or "federal government."
The church of Christ is not at liberty to change the fundamental doctrines of her faith, such as repentance, faith toward God, baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, of eternal judgment, for these are the vital principles of the doctrine of Christ. By her "sovereignty" is intended to be understood her power and right of dominion over her own internal affairs, and she is not at liberty to delegate this to another. She cannot with impunity violate or ignore any divine law given for her government. While it is true that churches at times have arbitrarily done so, and there is no way of restraining them from so doing, the only expedient left is to withdraw from the disorderly ones and leave them to Him who has said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." "Now we command you, brethren (the church of the Thessalonians) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us"—2Th 3:6. Such persons are called "truce breakers," which is to be a covenant breaker. From such the apostle says, "Turn away."
When a church has departed from the faith or gospel order, and has been faithfully labored with in the spirit of brotherly love, and she will not desist from her hurtful course, then there remains nothing but to apply the gospel rule—withdraw from her. While all this cannot "remove her candlestick," the Lord will attend to that, unless she repents (Re 3:5) ; but it does free the orderly churches from the entanglement and disorder. Then to still affiliate with and fraternize such a body is to partake of their disorder. Such a course we should regard as a serious error.
It sounds very strange to hear brethren call it . . . . . questions of minor importance," and "nothing to raise a bar to fellowship." Every speculation and dogma would gain credence among us on the same ground. Those introducing error, and their allies, are generally loud in their claims that there should be forbearance and great liberty allowed. True enough, but when all that has been given, and the infection cannot be removed, then Paul's remedy, "withdraw thyself," should be applied, and every Baptist, as he loves truth and order, should give no encouragement to those who have departed.
We take the following extract from the Thompson-Burgess debate. We think it clearly and ably sets forth the attitude of the church set up by Christ. Elder G. M. Thompson said:
"This executive body we call the church. Christ calls it the church that the gates of hell are not to prevail against. That he has conferred on that body executive power is clear from the following scriptures: Mt 18:15-17; 1Co 5:5.
"These passages show that the church is an executive body —are to administer the laws of the kingdom upon all such as walk disorderly. In the New Testament we read of no other organization or body having such powers given to them by the King of Zion. Presbyters, councils, conferences, conventions or associations, if they assume to themselves executive powers, or attempt to administer the laws of Christ's kingdom, are as-sumers, and are in open rebellion; for Christ has never organized any such bodies, or authorized any such bodies to act for him, or in his kingdom. The laws of the kingdom know nothing about such bodies. They are of human origin, and belong to the world, and not to the kingdom of Christ.
This is the. doctrine of the New Testament—this is the doctrine of the Regular Baptists. In the New Testament, the right to administer the laws of Christ's kingdom is delegated to the church, and to no other body or organization.
"In 2Th 3:6, Paul says, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us." That is, according to the teachings of Christ; 'Cut off the offending member.' He that 'is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.' (Tit 3:10.) Or exclude, cut off or sever from your body. This work of cutting, amputating, or severing from the body, is by the King, committed to the church, and to no other body. It cannot be done by a council, a presbytery, or even by a committee appointed by the church, but must be done by the church itself. This is the government established by Christ, and administered by the apostles; and this is the government of the Regular Baptist Church.
(Note—In the day of Eld. G. M. Thompson, Old Baptist in this country were called "Regular" Baptist.—W.A.C.)
"We acknowledge no other executive body in the kingdom of Christ—we bow to the decision of no council, presbytery, synod, conference, convention, board or association. With us, no appeal can be taken from the decision of the church to some higher tribunal in this world: for we esteem and hold the church to be the only and highest ecclesiastical court that can meet on earth. If there is any other, my brother, in his reply, will show it, and we will receive a' light that the Regular Baptists have never been in possession of. While we hold that the church is the only executive in the kingdom of Christ, we hold that she is under the law of Christ—that she must act in obedience to the laws of her King, as published in the New Testament—that no council, synod, conference, convention or association has any right to enact, pass or publish any confession of faith, discipline, or system of government for the church, or to attempt to impose any rules or regulations upon the church. The church owes no allegiance to any such institutions, and loses her distinct individuality as the church of Christ whenever she submits to the laws of these institutions, and becomes their instrument. . . . . . So, 'teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded,' imperatively limits the teaching of the Apostles and Christ's ministers in every age, to what Christ commanded at that time, previous to His ascension. Here I plant a stake that my brother can never uproot. It is our Gibraltar-rock, that will defy the attacks of popes or protestants. Let him be pope or protestant, let him bear what title he may, even if it should be a disciple, a Christian church, or if it should be an angel from heaven, that should teach the observance of anything else but the commands of Christ, let him be accursed—he is a rebel against the government of Christ, is antichrist, and all who follow them are partakers of their sin, and cannot live in fellowship with Christ's church.
"The church is commanded to withdraw from all such, or in other words, to expel them from their fellowship and from their houses, and are positively forbidden to bid them Godspeed. This is the government Christ has published for His church, and this is the government of the Regular Baptist church. * * Each church, in and of itself, is independent of all other bodies, churches, or federations; but while it is thus independent in the exercise of its functions, it owes obedience to Christ, and is absolutely dependent on Him, so that it can make no laws, but only execute the laws which Christ has made; and can exercise no authority but such as was specially delegated to it by Christ."
We are not to regard the teaching of any uninspired man as authority in matters of religion. The Bible alone is our guide book in this. But when they speak as oracles of God, they are entitled to due consideration."
Believing that the foregoing extract from Elder G. M. Thompson is a clear and scriptural exposition of apostolic practice, we give our readers the benefit of it.
Often, brethren arc prone to be governed by human opinions rather than by the inspired word of God—to regard some man as a leader and head of the church, rather than Christ. But the question should be, not what does this man or that man think, but what do the Scriptures teach? The laws given for the government of the church are not human, but divine, and therefore are immutable, imperative and binding. Slackness in doctsine and discipline is the fruitful source of rupture and destruction of fellowship. In such cases a plea for clemency is not the thing that is needed, but a return to gospel faith and order. It is good for pride to be humbled. It goes before a fall, and a fall will come sooner or later if pride is not conquered. The Lord help us all to see the right, and the erring "to repent and do the first works."—R. W. Thompson in Primitive Monitor, March, 1906. Messenger of Peace, June 1, 1943.
I have selected the above article for the "Messenger" to take the place of my own editorial for June, because of its great truth and worth, and it sets forth my own doctrine or belief better than I could do it, myself. When I argued for the Independent Rights of our churches, just as did Elder Thompson in this article, some have accused me of being Progressive; and now we are accused by the same fellows of arguing for a higher power than the churches. Both accusations are trumped-up charges and false. These two opposite charges serve but to show the confused state that is among those who would destroy us. We challenge any man to show where we have ever argued for a higher ecclesiastical power than our churches. There is no higher power than our local churches, and we have ever contended for this truth and shall continue to do so. We oppose any church power being conferred upon Associations, Conventions, Councils, Presbyteries, Synods, Conclaves, and also any Federal Government of our churches. We are also opposed to bosses and popes and dictatorial government; and just as bitterly opposed to a case being taken out of the jurisdiction of a local church—or an effort being made to do so—and suffering sister churches, preachers or associations to make a final compulsory decision in a case of discipline in a local church. Just such an effort is and has been the cause of our difficulties in Illinois. Confusion has resulted from that very course, which we have opposed and shall continue to oppose, with such strength and grace as God gives us.
W. A. C.
03 Chapter 3 - TROUBLE AMONG THE CHURCHES OF SALEM, ILL. ASSOCIATION
This trouble had its origin about 1930 to 1933.
Middle Creek Church informs me that the first letter they received on the matter from Smyrna Church reads:
"Smyrna goes on record as opposed to communing with those responsible for conditions existing in Middle Creek Church, and we hope that you will give this matter your careful consideration, that the bonds of fellowship and love that have existed between the churches of the Salem Association these 100 . years be not broken." Dated February 1935.
We ask why would there be a breaking of communion or opposition to communing" without there first be a breaking of fellowship? Such a condition would be impossible.
Middle Creek replied asking, what the conditions were and who was responsible for said conditions. The following is a copy of the reply, as taken from Smyrna Church minute:
"Letter from Middle Creek Church read and Smyrna Church replies as follows: As to why she does not feel free to commune with certain Middle Creek members, they are holding in their fellowship a sister ------- who has united in marriage with a man whose former wife is a member of our church (Smyrna Church) and from whom he was not separated on gospel grounds as laid down by Christ in Mt 19:9, thus creating a state of non-fellowship between members of Middle Creek and Smyrna Church; that certain members of Middle Creek Church who have power to adjust these conditions and do by their acts say that they are in full fellowship with such offenders and that they have no intention whatever of withdrawing from them; that it be written in our minutes that in-as-much as A. C. Johnston, and L. C. Jones, WITH THOSE OF THEM WHO STAND WITH THEM and have the power to adjust these conditions, and therefore we deem them responsible for the continuance of this condition which destroys our fellowship."
"Motion carried Smyrna withdraw the hand of fellowship from those who we deem responsible until such time as they see fit to set themselves in order to again enjoy the full fellowship of the churches." At the close of the above minute or letter it is stated that no reply is necessary. Dated May 18, 1935.
The next is dated June, 1935.
"Motion and second made and carried Smyrna rescind the act of declaring non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Membership." Then they follow: "By motion and second, we again inform you, that you are following a course long disapproved by Primitive Baptists and which continues very seriously to affect the fellowship of our churches. Also we continue our prayers to Middle Creek Church that these conditions be removed and our churches be allowed to continue in full fellowship and in order. Motion carried." (Furnished by clerk of Middle Creek.)
(The reader will see by this that Smyrna never rescinded the non-fellowship, but only the act of declaration. Also, see Eld. Webb's letter on a following page.)
The divorce in question was not asked for nor obtained by the brother in the case but his wife brought the suit and obtained it on the ground of desertion and assumed her former name, Mrs. Prior. No charge of infidelity was made in the case. The divorced man's moral character was never questioned, and while he is not a member of the church he lives in sight of the church house and is held in high esteem by all. We have and must insist that the local church, Middle Creek, is the sole judge and that the case is clearly under their jurisdiction. (See divorce record—-Carthage, Ill.)
We here quote Elder Hassell on divorce:
"Are there any other scriptural grounds for divorce than adultery? Answer: There are not. Nothing is plainer in the word of God than his positive and repeated prohibition of divorce except for adultery." Questions and answers by Elder Pittman, page 84.
It is now clear to the reader why Smyrna Church does not want this case of theirs disturbed by a council hearing. It would appear that here is the real trouble—a divorce without any charge of adultery—by a member of Smyrna Church.
Elder Pettus wrote on May 15, 1935, as follows:
Dear Bro. Chastain: Perhaps you know that both Smyrna and Providence Churches have taken action declaring they will not engage in Communion Service with the members of Middle Creek Church, who hold to the belief that Middle Creek should retain, (the sister who married the divorced man) in fellowship.
"Will not engage in Communion!" Why not, if fellowship reigns?
ORDINATIONS AND COMMUNION
Some of the brethren in their opinions have undoubtedly overlooked the results of the acts of Smyrna Church as to ordinations and communion. Are we living under some sort of a new order?
We quote Eld. Cash on Communion.
"It is the duty of the church members individually and collectively, to preserve peace and to deal with all such as do not make an effort to put away division and strife. A brother or sister does not cease to be a member of a church when they become a transgressor, and all the privileges of the church are theirs as long as they are members and the church has not seen fit in her judgment to abridge them. The Primitive Baptist hold to unity of fellowship among the several congregations, and according to that principle, if a member has a right to commune in one church, he has a right to commune in all others of the same faith.
"No member of the church has the right to refuse to take the sacrament, for the Savior said 'all' are to partake; neither has the church the right to eject a member from her communion, for if not worthy to commune, church fellowship ought to be withdrawn.
"The communion is an ordinance belonging to the church as a body and is to be perpetuated through all time, and it would be assuming too much authority to annul it in whole or in part."
(See Messenger of Peace for Nov. 1st, 1890, and again in January, 1940, page 18.)
Elder Pettus said in a letter to Bro. John Polland, clerk of Smyrna Church, dated June 4th, 1935, after we had both refused to attend the ordination of Brother Symmonds to the ministry which was to take place in the summer of 1935, as follows:
Mr. Earl Poland, Dear Bro:—
"I have consulted with men whom I regard as my superiors in spiritual gifts and their judgment is that it is disorder for a church to refuse to commune with a part of the membership of another church, yet commune with other members of the same church. Under these circumstances I feel that I can not afford to risk causing trouble among my corresponding ministers and associations here in Missouri, by taking part in an official act with Smyrna Church while the present conditions exist. If you see fit to rescind that act it will open the way for me to come to the ordination service."
In another letter of the same date, June 4, 1935, Elder Pettus said to Elder Webb:
"There would be trouble and confusion result from my taking part in official action of any of the churches who have taken the action of refusing communion to a portion of the membership of Middle Creek and communing with others I express it as my personal opinion, that it would hinder Bro. Symmond's influence among Primitive Baptists to be ordained under present conditions."
Now it will be seen by Eld. Webb's letter to myself, in a following page, that while Smyrna, by sham act, rescinded her act of DECLARING non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek, that he says, "many of their most worthy members did not approve of it, "and also that "the deep-seated feeling of non-fellowship was not removed."
An Act of Yellow Creek Association of which Elder Pettus is a member.
According to their minutes—Owing to these unsettled conditions Yellow Creek Association dropped correspondence with Salem Association of Illinois in 1940. But now in 1943 with practically the very same condition existing in Smyrna Church, Yellow Creek rescinded their act and asked Salem that this correspondence be renewed, which has been granted.
We are only wondering if this act will now cause confusion among Elder Pettus' correspondence. Can he now take part in the official acts of Smyrna Church? and Providence Church? which Eld. Webb says took the same action. Their status is unchanged with regard to Middle Creek. If it was disorder in 1940 is it not still disorder? We can but wonder upon what basis their opinion has been changed. No possible act of Middle Creek could change and make the order of those two other churches different.
If these two churches now contend they have no bar-to-fellowship against Middle Creek Church or any part of it, then there is no room for further contention anywhere, nor is there occasion for complaint against me as to pastoring Middle Creek. We remember, too, that Eld. Webb said:
That "the marriage of the sister to the divorced man is not the trouble but was only made the bone of contention,"
If this is true then Middle Creek's record is good.
Then there is no Bible or history or cause for the act of Smyrna and Providence churches.
Eld. Cash was asked: "When two churches are in fellowship, being of the same faith and order, is it good order for one of said churches.to receive into its pulpit preachers who have declared non-fellowship for the other church?
He answered: "It is very important to churches if they wish to live in harmony and preserve peace between them, to pursue a consistent course, recognizing the feeling and judgment of each other. For one (A) of two churches, which are desiring to live in fellowship, to receive into her pulpit a minister who has declared non-fellowship for the other church (B) is to treat that church with contempt; as much so as it would be for (A) to receive into her membership an excluded member of church (B) "
This now, according to Elder Cash, is as bad as receiving excluded members. Has Elder Webb declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church and her course? Has his fellowship been broken with them? Have you as a church received Eld. Webb into your pulpit?
In this case fellowship did not exist. This is a plain case of Smyrna Church trying to take this case of judgment out of the hands of Middle Creek Church, which we contend is not Old Baptist Order. We doubt if one single reliable author could be found, that will testify that such a procedure is Old Baptist Order. To be sure other churches have the right to disapprove the acts of a sister church if they desire to do it, but that does not unchurch the church whose act is disapproved, nor does it restore fellowship where fellowship has been broken as had been done in this case and proven by a lack or refusal of communion, and other acts, nor does it interfere with the fact that each local church is her own judge and has a just right to attend to her own internal local affairs, judging her membership.
FACTS TAKEN FROM MIDDLE CREEK RECORDS
1st—Finally upon Eld. Webb's insistence while he was pastor of Middle Creek Church, they did exclude the sister, for marrying the divorced man, in the spring of 1934.
2nd—Upon Eld. Webb's insistence and advice they did by unanimous vote restore the sister in June 1934.
3rd—Upon Eld. Webb's insistence—due mostly to his own feelings he said—he tendered his resignation to the church as pastor due to the church restoring the sister—even after he had advised it. This was in October 1934. He also gave as his reason a lack of fellowship of the sister churches and a desire to hold that fellowship.
When the church restored the sister Eld. Webb told her the matter was past, that some might mistreat her but he would defend her to the last. Why did he resign? Was it fear or a lack of fellowship? Was it the influence of the other churches? The church accepted his resignation, in October 1934 before I went there in January 1936.
RIGHTS OF LOCAL CHURCHES
The right of any church to judge the character, conduct and qualifications of her membership without interference on the part of other churches, and to use her own best judgment in retaining and rejecting members is vouchsafed by the Scriptures, solely to the local church of a person's membership. When any other force or combination of forces seek to take away or remove or destroy this right, even under the cloak of an effort to purge, purify or keep.the church in order, then such force or forces are popish in their very nature. It would be far better that our church or churches should tolerate some small disorders for a time here and there, if necessary, until they can be disposed of in a scriptural away, than to submit to any such a yoke.
Middle Creek had a right to judge the matter of a sister's marriage to a divorced man, without Smyrna Church intruding or usurping the- authority to interfere in the matter, which she did as the evidence clearly shows and went so far as to make resolutions and bars-of-fellowship in the matter.
Her acts in these declarations then, to be sure, was destructive of peace and fellowship and has caused divisions and much happiness has been destroyed by her sinful and foolish declarations. Therefore Middle Creek in order to preserve her rights has been forced to discard Smyrna's actions and to have no further connection with them until they shall withdraw their bars-of-fellowship, in keeping with the advice of the Fulton Convention of 1900.
(See General Address in this book, Chapter 1.) In the Waldesian Treatise on Anti-Christ A. D. 1059 Gilley, page 122, says:
"That is was disgraceful that a church which had always been free, should now submit to another church."
04 Chapter 4 - PREACHING FOR MIDDLE CREEK
Referring to the re-marriage case Eld. Webb wrote me August 2nd, 1935, as follows:
"I stated that if other things had not already existed—this would have, in my judgment, caused no trouble. Had the feeling been as it should have been this would have been easily adjusted. But, this now, HAS BEEN MADE the real and open BONE OF CONTENTION."
In Eld. Webb's conversations and correspondence he has urged that our great trouble there was due to the re-marriage case and has written great voluminous letters all over the country to get opinions and documents on the matter and has argued the issue beyond reason, yet he here says, "this, in his opinion, would have caused no trouble had the feeling been as it should have been and that this case had been made the bone of contention."
I wonder why it should have been "Made the bone of contention!" Instead would it not have been far better to face any facts that really did exist and to have met them in a manly way; and in a Bible way? If this case was only a "BONE of contention" then may we not assume the sister and brother in the re-marriage case were really innocent? Then why cast all this trouble and sorrow upon innocent parties? Why not lay the contention where it belongs?
From the time Eld. Webb resigned the care of the church which was in October 1934, Middle Creek enjoyed the labors of Eld. S. Flanigan, Eld. Morte Craig, Eld. S. Pettus, Eld. L. E. Sutton and possibly others.
In that same letter of August 2nd, 1935, he also said:
"As to our ministers or myself visiting and preaching there, so far as I am concerned it would be all right. Those brethren know that I told them I would go right on preaching for them and that I would preach there any time they wished. They have not wished. I simply asked to be relieved from the responsibilities of being pastor. This church knows just what will be necessary to peace. I feel sure they alone can bring it about."
Now his statement: "The church knows just what will be necessary to peace and the church alone can bring it about," was made and transpired after the act of rescinding was made, and it shows clearly that despite that fact peace and fellowship did not yet exist.
Eld. Webb also wrote:
"Eld. Flanigan may continue to attend them (at Middle Creek). I do not know. Should he do so he will not be used in our association, and I told him as much . . . . . It would cost me the fellowship of these churches to attend them now, and it would cost any other man the same price. As long as our ministers continue to encourage them just that long the present condition will remain." Yet he said as just above quoted that, he "would preach for them any time they wished it."
March 6, 1936, he wrote: "I have no doubt whatever but these churches would be a peaceful unit today had they been left to themselves," therefore, it would appear that today, March 6, 1936, that these churches are not a peaceful unit, almost a year since Smyrna's declaration of non-fellowship had been rescinded.
If these churches were in fellowship why would it cost anyone "fellowship" of other churches to preach for Middle Creek? If they are in fellowship would they not be a "peaceful unit?"
We had another letter from him dated April 7, 1936, regarding my pastoring Middle Creek. He said: "'Suppose a church of which YOU are pastor decides to follow a course which you believe to be unscriptural and wrong and which you know to be destructive to the FULL FELLOWSHIP of the churches, and the church persists in that course until you find it to be necessary to resign her care. Now suppose the other ministers in your bounds as well as all the other churches in your association, fully justify your course and know that you have acted according to the best judgment of the association. Then suppose that I allow the members of that church to persuade me to come into your bounds and sustain them— regardless of your judgment, and that of your fellow ministers and all the other churches in that body Would it be your judgment that such a course on my part would IN ANY WAY mar the fellowship (of your association) and her ministers for me?"
If fellowship abounded why should my acceptance as pastor—mar that fellowship?"
Eld. Webb here indicated that Middle Creek's course is wrong and that he knew it to be destructive to the full fellowship of the churches, yet he says fellowship was never broken.
My purpose in quoting the above it to get before the reader that this matter of JUDGMENT is not to be left to the pastors or ministers, or other churches, or the associations' judgment, but that it is solely the right of the local church to JUDGE in such cases, and that the local church's judgment must not be ignored nor her rights ignored nor trampled under foot. If this has not been and is not the doctrine and practice of our church or denomination then I confess I have misunderstood the matter. Just when did our people change their practice, if they have, to allow pastors, ministers, or associations to form a conclave or a supreme council or a Supreme Court to sit as a judge in matters that are the internal matters of a local church? By what power and authority do they "wrest" these rights from the local churches? Peter says, "In which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2Pe 3:16.
To show the position of Baptists and to support our position here we quote three questions and answers from Eld. T. S. Dalton, the former editor of our Virginia Paper—Advocate and Messenger—and the father of the present editor. Seethe June number of that good magazine for 1943. Page
(A) -—5. Have associations as held by Primitive Baptists any disciplinary power in matters pertaining to fellowship in the churches?
Answer: None whatever.
(B) —6. Should an association usurp this power and set in judgment on matters where church fellowship is involved? Would the Baptists as a people approve this as scriptural and final?
Answer: They surely would not. I would condemn such a course myself, and I believe all orderly Baptists would do the same.
(C) —7. Do not genuine Primitive Baptists believe that all disciplinary power in matters pertaining to the church belong exclusively to the church, and that it cannot be delegated to any other body?
Answer: I have ever understood them to teach that.
T. S. D.
A CASE IN MISSOURI
In the Edwards case in Missouri the neighboring churches and ministers kept their hands off of the business of Little Zion Church which had the complete jurisdiction and control in the matter and allowed Little Zion to retain Eld. Edwards as their judgment dictated in the matter. They also went a step farther and allowed Lunies Creek Church to do as she saw fit in the case of Sister Edwards and exclude her: thus they let each church judge her own case and attend to her own business without outside dictation or interference and recognized the rights of each local church. Thus under the careful and wise supervision of Eld. Cash and other safe men the cause was saved and the rights of the church recognized and order observed. (See Eld. Walter Cash's autobiography, pages 83-84.)
Sure there were some would-be objectors, such as Eld. Bartlett and one or two others who tried to stir up trouble, and who succeeded in dividing his own association, but where are they now? They are dead and have no supporters in this country except Eld. Webb and Elder Cayce. The churches that sustained them also died with them. (See Eld. Walter Cash's autobiography, pages 121-123.)
We have honestly desired to labor for the welfare of the cause and for justice and for Old Baptist Principles, which we believe are Bible principles, but we are not willing to "break bruised reeds, nor to quench smoking flax," nor to tramp on the crippled, nor walk over the downtrodden. We would prefer to "lift up the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees." Jesus has always been the sinner's friend and we shall try to be with him in His mercy and graciousness. He not only ate with sinners but he mingled with them and spoke against the self-righteous Pharisees.
Under the law of Moses some were stoned "but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," and thank God we are not now under the law of Moses. Therefore, we rejoice in the riches of God's grace, and with joy we read of the Prodigal son's forgiveness and reception; of the recovery of the lost sheep to the fold; the sinful woman who washed the Saviour's feet; the lost money that was hunted and found; and the grievious sin of David, that was forgiven; and of God's mercy to Saul of Tarsus who was in fact a party to the murder of Stephen. There is no case beyond the reach and wideness of God's mercy.
05 CHAPTER 5 - OPINIONS OF BRETHREN
Who today would not want to help Middle Creek out of the confused state in which Eld. Webb left them after eight years of service? They have not merited the effort put forth to barricade them from other churches.
It would have been well for the pastor to have labored for the sister churches to see their mistakes, and to see the righteousness of Middle Creek's cause, but instead he, himself, was the main objector. This statement was so self-evident that it needs no proof.
WOULD LEAVE THE DENOMINATION
Eld. Webb wrote:
"Do you honestly think the Bible or our denomination would exonerate such a union? (Referring to the marriage of the sister to the divorced man). If I thought our denomination would do so I would leave them at once."
Letter March 4, 1936.
Reader, did you notice that expression of Eld. Webb's? Read it again. What does it mean? It can mean nothing more nor less than the fact that he thinks more of Eld. Webb's opinion that he does of the Old Baptist Denomination.
Copy of Eld. Pope's letter to Bro. Johnson of Middle Creek church:
Oct. 22, 1934.
"Dear Bro. Johnston:—
"I was glad to receive your letter. (Personal paragraph left out.) Was pained to learn of the condition of your church that is causing you all so much sorrow. However, I was not surprised for I had a letter from Eld. Webb asking my opinion in retaining a sister in the church who had married a divorced man. This question has bothered some in the South. I know of but few churches in the North but what have members in that situation. In our home church this condition exists and nothing is said about it. Granting that this is not just right why exclude those in this case and retain others. If our churches should exclude each who are not living just according to gospel rule we would have but few left.
"First does a marriage in the sight of God consist simply in a ceremony? A ceremony may be spoken and vows taken, yet, if love which is God's law bringing man and woman together, is lacking, there is no marriage, except in a legal manner. The contracting parties may later find their mistake and find life miserable and tied legally together, to one for whom they have no love, is it right that they be forced to live a life of torture together? And in case of divorce if one should find one for whom they had true love, should they be denied the blessings of the church for doing what they felt God would have them do? I think not.
"It seems to me that Eld. Webb's position on this is not well taken. I fail to see how the case in your church differs from the others. If one is living in adultery, so is the other, and if the church should be cleansed of all such, that should be done regardless of who was pastor of the church when the crime was committed. Suppose a case: One of your members is proven a thief and the crime committed since Bro. Webb was your pastor; although another brother was proven a thief, his crime having been committed while Eld. Frazee was your pastor, do you suppose Eld. Webb would favor the exclusion of one thief and the retention of the other? The Bible says the legs of the lame are not equal, and surely this is a case of that character.
"I presume that Bro. Webb feels that he did right and so his conscience is clear; but what will be the result? If you are in such DISORDER that he can not pastor you what will your standing at the association be? There can be no end of trouble result from it and I am sorry he has taken that position. It is true that some preachers would not feel like visiting your church for fear of offending him, yet my advice would be to make an effort to procure some one to preach to you, and I feel that you can do this. Surely some one will come to you in your time of need. I do earnestly hope that this difference may be righted and the sun of hope and peace may shine on you again. God bless your church"
Yours to serve, F. M. POPE. Eld. Pope here says that "Eld. Webb's positions are not well taken," and also down in the letter says, "I am sorry he has taken this position." Eld. Pope also advises the church to "make an effort to call or procure some one to preach for you and I feel you can do this. SURELY SOME ONE WILL COME TO YOU."
The church made a call for pastor in January, 1936. In making this call they followed the advice of Eld. Pope.
It would appear that Eld. Pope is right, if so, then Eld. Webb has started wrong. Is he yet right? To get right one must go back to the starting point.
IN SPEAKING OF ELD. WEBB. ELD. J. H. HARDY WRITES:
"I have felt for some time and do yet, that in the near future he would go South, for I feel that he is more in harmony with the Southern Baptists than with those through here, and I most heartily endorse the action you have been compelled to take, and I do very much regret that he has those radical ideas, and is so insistent on pressing them.
Signed J H. Hardy, Columbia, Mo., Oct. 1 1, 1935.
Note—The action endorsed was pertaining to dropping Eld. Webb's name from Messenger Editorial staff.—W.A.C.
We give here the position of Eld. Vandeveer:
Carbondale, Ill. Nov. 21, 1935.
Eld. Lloyd Sapp, Ashland, Mo. My Dear Brother:—
"Eld. Chastain has in his possession a letter concerning my feelings regarding the position of Elder Webb. The factions from the South, of which Cayce is a leader, are not received by any of my chuches or any of the brethren with whom we correspond. Through the influence of Cayce and Shain, Elder Besheers came into the Salem (Indiana), Association and caused trouble. A faction still exists there today but have no standing among the Baptists of this section at all. . . . . This same faction has caused some trouble in the Skillet Fork and Muddy River Associations. . . . . The Little Wabash Association, which happens to be my own, has been free from any trouble caused by the factions mentioned, but, has no fellowship for such order whatever.
"The recognition then given those persons by Elder Webb was entirely out of order and was worthy of such criticism as Eld. Chastain gave concerning the actions of Elder Webb. . . . ... I love Bro. Webb and we need his gift but I can't fellowship his action until he severs connections with men who deny that the churches I pastor are in order. Such is my position. I shall assume this said position until Elder Webb has completely washed his hands from connections with men that I know to be completely out of order."
J. D. VANDEVEER.
We ask: Has Eld. Webb washed his hands? Not in the least. Has the principle of order of which Eld. Vandeveer speaks changed? No. What is Eld. Vandeveer's position today? Eld. Cayce has since visited two of the four churches in Eld. Vandeveer's home association.
INTENDED VISIT TO NEW GARDEN CHURCH
We have been accused of writing Eld. Vandeveer a letter objecting to his making an intended visit to New Garden Church in Missouri and we deny this accusation. We give here an exact copy of the letter we wrote him. Read it and see if you can detect any such objection. Here it is:
Ill. May 30, 1940.
Dear Eld. Vandeveer:—
I have been informed that Eld. Clevenger was at your church near Xenia, Ill., last Saturday and Sunday. I am wondering if this report is true" Will you advise me at once, please?
Enclosed is a letter that I hope you will study and study well. These things will show that I was right in trying to get our churches to take a definite stand last year and I predict that before long all will wish they had listened. Unless something is done we will soon be overrun by those who have no fellowship for us.
We enjoyed your very fine article in the June Messenger of Peace, and hope you will give us another one just as good at an early date.
Come and see us as soon as you can do so. At least I hope to meet you at some association before long.
Our best to Sister Vandeveer and all who ask about us.
Yours to serve,
Signed. W. A. CHASTAIN.
Now if any one can find a single reference in this letter to Eld. Vandeveer going to New Garden Church or not going I will give up the whole thing.
The letter which I enclosed to Eld. Vandeveer was a copy of a general letter to our Editorial Staff as it stood at that time, including Eld. Vandeveer, and had absolutely no reference to any visit to New Garden by Eld. Vandeveer.
I have in my files some very critical letters from Eld. Vandeveer of the course pursued by Eld. Cayce and Eld. Webb and Eld. W. E. Wright.
Elder D. E. Baker wrote:
Charlestown, Ill. Oct. 17, 1935.
Dear Eld. Chastain:—
Your copy of letter from Eld. Webb is at hand and carefully read.
Your action in this matter appears to me to be logical, prompt and decisive. By this course you save yourself and your editorial staff much embarrassment.
Our affiliation with you and your staff is made easier by your action. Where there are "bars" we can not consistently affiliate on both sides . . . . .
In your position as editor, I know dear Brother, you will be sorely tried and tempted but I pray God may strengthen you to stand where we have ever stood both in doctrine and practice. I shall pray to that end and add my bit in helping you to do so.
Signed. D. E. BAKER.
Note—The above letter referred to Eld. Webb's connection with Cayce and our course in the matter.
Are these brethren today agreed 100 per cent with these expressions of their own in their letters as quoted above? We can scarcely believe that they are the kind that are so soon removed.
We need today faithful, fearless men with courage who will stand firm and who will not be swayed with the wind and the masses.
"Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him depart and return early to Mt. Gilead, said the Lord."
Some of us remember mighty well when some six or eight of our brethren withdrew from Elder Cayce's paper due to what they termed ridiculous heresy, which was taught by Eld. Cayce on the subject of the New Birth. Among those who withdrew were: Elders John R. Daily, J. H. Oliphant, John M. Thompson, and I think among that number were Elders D. E. Baker and F. M. Pope. Their withdrawal was due to a vital point and was a real difference.
06 CHAPTER 6 - THE PRESENT ISSUE - Receiving Excluded Persons
by ELd. Webb in Primitive Baptist, May 18, 1943
A letter is just at hand from an esteemed brother minister, Elder F. M. Pope, of Vandalia, Illinois, in which he states: "I feel that, if misstatements had been made against my church, as have been made against yours—I mean relative to the statements Elder Chastain made in regard to there being no fellowship existing between your church and Middle Creek—I would try to inform the public in regard to the matter in order that my church would not have to lie under the false charges. I am not alone in this opinion, as there are others that feel just as I do about this matter. . . . . Should you choose to refer to that part where Elder Chastain wrote his answer to Hindsboro Church, in which my name is used, you have my consent to do so; I also know that Elder Baker would not object. Sure, that would clear your church and show where the fault really exists. I do not ask you to do this, but it would be the proper thing to do."
I think I need no further explanation than this for what follows in the present article. I shall present the letter written by Elder W. A: Chastain to Hindsboro Church in reply to their action against him, together with comments on the misstatements and misrepresentations to which Brother Pope referred. I personally have no other motive in doing this than to let our people in general know where the present reign of distress and division had its beginning, and—as Brother Pope suggested—to remove such misrepresentations and dispel such false charges as were made in that letter against an innocent church, over which I have the honor and the responsibility of being pastor and watchman. Elder Chastain's letter to Hindsboro Church follows:
(We omit our answer here to New Hope Church at Hindsboro to save repetition since the letter appears on a following page in full. See Chapter 12.—W.A.C.)
So the reader has the date of the supposed "non-fellowship act" against Middle Creek Church definitely fixed. It was "May 18, 1935," making the time just "four years and two months, exact," between the time of this supposed "declaration against Middle Creek Church" and her taking the excluded members by relation. I stress this date and the time between the two events, because sometimes they have tried to "fudge" just a little, and stress the June meeting rather than the May meeting, which is here definitely stated to be the time of the "non-fellowship act." I wish to express my hearty thanks to Middle Creek Church and to Elder Chastain for this "certified" statement.
In paragraph No. 1 of his letter to Hindsboro Church Elder Chastain states: "The premises in your letter do not state the facts nor can these premises be sustained by correct records." To this statement I shall take the liberty of replying that the premises in the acion of the New Hope Church state the facts of the case plainly, and those premises are fully sustained by correct records. Those premises are stated by New Hope Church in her action against Elder Chastain as follows: (Note: I feel free to quote the action of New Hope since Elder Chastain has himself made it public by the circulation of his letter in connection with that action, and especially so as he has misrepresented it as not stating the case fairly.—C. W.)
August 9th, 1942, New Hope Church, Hindsboro, Illinois.—"Whereas, W. A. Chastain, of Springfield, Illinois, was and is yet pastor of Middle Creek Church and did at their meeting, July, 1939, receive excluded members from a sister church of the same faith and order called Smyrna, and
Whereas, This action was taken by Middle Creek without any effort at gospel labor to determine the nature of the exclusions of the persons received; therefore the action violates the rules and practices of Old School Primitive Baptists, and we feel it our duty to appoint a committee to visit Elder Chastain and ascertain his stand he proposes to take in this matter and report back to New Hope Church at her September meeting at Hindsboro, Illinois."
Such are the premises which Elder Chastain declared cannot be "sustained by correct records," and which we say cannot be set aside by any existing records, "correct" or otherwise. This action clearly states the case as it is.
The elder "denies" that the persons received into his church were "legally and regularly" excluded. This is as far as he has ever attempted to go. We have yet to see his first attempt to show why they were not "legally and regularly" excluded. His "denial" is the strongest and only proof. No other minister or church has ever joined in his "denial."
He insists that "some three years" (Middle Creek clerk says "four years and two months, exact") elapsed between the declaration of non-fellowship by Smyrna Church against Middle Creek Church and their taking the persons by relation. Regarding this statement that Smyrna Church passed an act declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek as a church, I will now say—with all due respect to the elder's greater age, and to the position he is supposed to occupy as a gospel minister, and with all due respect to Middle Creek Church and her clerk—I shall say, as kindly as I can, yet flatly, this statement is decidely false. At no time, either before or after the date named, has Smyrna Church declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church.
In her business session on the date given by the clerk of Middle Creek, Smyrna Church did (perhaps mistakenly, and perhaps not) declare non-fellowship for a part of the membership of Middle Creek Church. A. C. Johnston and L. C. Jones were named in that declaration. This action was placed with the clerk of Middle Creek Church, and it is fully known, both to that church and to Elder Chastain as her pastor, so that there can be no excuse for this misrepresentation of fact. Another thing that is fully know, both to Middle Creek Church and her pastor, is, that at the following meeting, just one month later, in June, 1935, this declaration of non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church was unanimously rescinded, and no further declaration was made, either at that time or later, against Middle Creek Church. This action of Smyrna's June meeting was also placed with Middle Creek Church, so that it could not have been unknown—and, in fact, we know it was not unknown—to Elder Chastain when he wrote the above letter to Hindsboro Church. His misstatement therefore, can only be viewed as deliberate. I keenly regret the necessity of making this charge.
The records of Smyrna Church show that pursuant to a call by Smyrna Church for ordained help to assist in the ordination of Brother J. O. Symmonds to the work of the ministry, Elders S. L. Pettus, of Missouri, W. A. Chastain, of Springfield, Ill., and Baxter Hale, of Carlinville, Ill., were present with Smyrna Church in July, 1935, and that these elders, together with the pastor, Elder C. E. Webb, and a number of deacons, performed this ordination. Elder W. A. Chastain was chosen to deliver the charge to the church, and also to question the candidate, which he did. When was that? This was in July, two months after the supposed "non-fellowship act." This fact may be attested, not only by Smyrna Church records, but by Elders Pettus and Hale.
(Note—We had been informed that this act had been rescinded—Chastain.)
The reader will notice the elder's statement in paragraph 3 of his letter where, in speaking of the supposed declaration against Middle Creek Church, he says, "therefore, Middle Creek was completely relieved from all relation or obligations whatsoever to Smyrna Church," etc. With this statement in mind, I shall show that Middle Creek received a member by letter from Smyrna Church after this supposed "non-fellowship act." In the March, 1936,' minutes of Smyrna Church we, find the following: Call for business: The Clerk read a letter from Brother (please note that term.—C. W.) A. C. Johnston, Clerk of Middle Creek Church, stating that they had received Sister Julia McPherson by letter from our (Smyrna) Church." When was this? TEN MONTHS AFTER the supposed "non-fellowship" act! If receiving a member in this way, by letter, does not declare the existence of church fellowship, then we admit we do not know the terms of a church letter. If no fellowship existed, why did Middle Creek clerk trouble to notify Smyrna Church in this brotherly way? The elder insists that "Middle Creek was completely relieved from all relation and obligations whatsoever to Smyrna Church."
I will now state that the minutes of the Salem Association show that Middle Creek Church represented in the association by letter and messengers, together with Smyrna Church, every year until 1938. In 1936 the association was held with Smyrna Church. Middle Creek represented in this association by letter and messengers—L. C. Jones, F. L. Kimbrough, J. P. Mathias, A. C. Johnston and Morey Jones. Some of these messengers were used in every committee, with the messengers of Smyrna Church and others. Elder W. A. Chastain was also present as pastor of Middle Creek Church, and preached from the stand on Sunday afternoon from the text, Mt 2:2. When was this? One year and two months after the supposed "non-fellowship" act. Middle Creek Church did not represent by letter or messengers in 1 93 8, but she was still held in the union, and retained her place in the statistical table of the minutes.
In July, 1939, on the second Sunday in her regular meeting, Middle Creek Church, without warning, inquiry, or any effort whatever at gospel labor to detemine the nature of the exclusion of the persons, took by relation two excluded persons, and one that was not excluded from Smyrna Church. This act had been expected, and was no surprise to the churches of the association. It was considered, however, as a deliberate, premeditated, public, and inexcusable breach of long established church order, and dealt with accordingly. In August, 1939, the following action was adopted by Smyrna Church:
Whereas, Middle Creek Church, under the pastoral care of Elder W. A. Chastain, and in the presence of Elders W. A. Chastain, Lloyd Sapp, B. L. Nay, and L. C. Jones, has seen fit to take into her membership in adisorderly manner by relation, three persons, two of whom she knew to have been excluded fom Smyrna Church; and
Whereas, This action of Middle Creek Church compels us either to fellowship those who have been rightfully excluded from our fellowship or recognize the fact that the action of Middle Creek Church does, in itself, establish a bar to fellowship between the churches; be it, therefore,
Resolved, We do now declare Middle Creek Church, under the leadership of Elder W. A. Chastain, has—by this disorderly action—raised a bar to our fellowship which we are compelled to recognize until such time as Middle Creek Church repent of this action and make suitable acknowledgment to Smyrna Church for the offense.
Done by motion and second and unanimous vote of the church at her August meeting, 1939.
This action speaks for itself as to whether Smyrna Church had previously declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek, and it will also serve to show just when and by whom the "bar" was established. I think I will state here that in the month following the above action, the association met again with Smyrna Church, and messengers from Middle Creek presented themselves with a letter expressing love and fellowship, asking to be released from the association. This, just two months after taking the excluded persons from Smyrna Church. The request was denied, but an action similar to the above was adopted by the association, in which Middle Creek was dropped and reasons stated in the minutes. That action was approved by all the churches, and also by the rather large assembly of correspondents. We have never heard of a disapproving word.
I call attention to paragraph No. 4. in which the elder attempts to sustain his disorder by citing a lew cases to "prove his position," and to show that his course is not out of line with "Primitive Baptist order." In this he only succeeds in identifying himself with those cases he cites as precedent for his action. I think this will be a good place to say I have just now received a letter from Elder W. L. Barrett, of Texas, who gives me to understand that he was present with Elder Chastain when this letter was drafted, and that he sustains Elder Chastain. He makes a special effort to excuse the inevitable reflection the paragraph' has against its author—or perhaps its authors. Thanks to Elder Barrett for the admission that two heads were together when his .letter was framed. We pass the fact on to our brethren with confidence it will be of interest, though perhaps no surprise to them. Perhaps we shall see the names of these two elders closely and frequently associated in the near future.
The reader will find paragraph No. 5 interesting. Read it. I offer no comment, because it needs none.
Of paragraph No. 6. it need only be said that in rejecting the advice of Elders Pope, Baker, Green and Daily, the elder has contemned the judgment of four of our best known and most highly respected elders, whose judgment and influence among Old School Baptists will not be in the least impaired by his rejection. I will present a letter for publication below, in this paper, which was written to Elder Chastain by Brother Green regarding this paragraph, in which also a brief comment is made on paragraph No. 7.
No. 7 states, "The above question, brethren, resolves itself back as to Smyrna's order in declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek before they excluded the people in question." Inasmuch as Smyrna has at no time declared non-fellowship "for Middle Creek Church," the elder stands—according to his own statement—self-convicted of the offense charged by New Hope Church.
This work has spread into Missouri, and has caused widespread division. The disorder of extending church affiliation to excluded persons in open and brazen contempt for established church order can only result in church and associational divisions, and it is time for such work to be exposed. Such work once begun will lead to other and grosser violations and affiliations, as we expect yet to show. Meanwhile, let us watch the new "National Union" movement, and see by whom it is supported. Yours to serve in the interests of the church of God.
CLAUD E. WEBB
07 CHAPTER 7 - REPLY BY ELD. CHASTAIN - To Preceding Article in Primitive Baptist, March 18, 1943
We shall not here discuss the order or disorder of the exclusions.
We do deny, however, that their exclusions were orderly.
The Question is, "Did Smyrna Church declare non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church. The evidence shows that she did.
Eld. Webb says, "The churches of the association approved the act of the association relative to Middle Creek." When did they approve it, and how?
In order to show the evil influence of such articles as the preceding one upon unreasonable and unthinking people we give you here the following letter. Such things may be expected of those persons who have only investigated one side of any issue and who are already prejudiced in any case. This brother has absolutely no testimony or evidence from Middle Creek Church, so only one side is understood.
Strange as it may be, good brethren will foolishly judge that way, forming wrong opinions, and then lay all blame onto innocent brethren.
In paragraph No. 1 of New Hope's charge as given by Eld. Webb, they charge me with receiving excluded members, which is impossible.
In paragraph No. 2 they charge Middle Creek Church with receiving them.
WORDS OF APPROVAL
By Elder Bryan Adair,
Cayce Paper, April 15, 1943
"The Present Issue," by Eld. C. E. Webb, has been of great interest to me personally. I am sorry that any paper must carry such articles, but it seems some one must put a stop to matters as they are, and while I have not played any particular part in this great matter, I am standing right with Eld. Webb, for he is stating facts as they are. I have been in close contact with all these matters he speaks of, and I only hope these fellows will get to themselves and let the rest of us go in the good old way we found the church. I believe we should ever labor for peace, but when men make it known by word and deed that they will not labor for it, also, I believe we have the sanction of the Bible to let them have their own way. Their havoc has caused much sadness through our section of the country, and I hope to see a day when we can again visit in homes without having to discuss these sad matters. . . . .
J. BRYAN ADAIR, Atlanta, Mo.
Brother Adair's opinion here is rendered solely upon neighborhood gossip and he was not acquainted with facts in the case. I have been pastor at Middle Creek Church for more than eight years and I know that the writer of the above letter has never been in Middle Creek Church during this time, nor has he attended a single meeting, nor has he examined the records, nor inquired into the facts there, nor has he been told of these facts either by myself or the church. The same is tjue of many others who have spoken out of turn. Brother Adair speaks of much discussion of these sad things. I just want to add that he has not heard the brethren of my churches discuss them, nor the Elders who stand with me.
One sister wrote that these matters have been discussed in her home much to the disgust and discouragement of her family and especially her children. It so happened that myself and our brethren, who properly view this, matter, had never been in her home to discuss these things. It does seem that those who have done such things should be sharply rebuked.
RECEPTION OF SISTER McPHERSON:
Eld. Webb says, "If receiving a member in this way by letter, does not declare the existence of fellowship then we admit we do not know the terms of a church letter."
If Eld. Webb would think for once, he would recall that it was not Middle Creek who had declared non-fellowship but it was Smyrna who was guilty of that act.
While Middle Creek was not obligated to receive the letter, yet she did desire to show religious courtesy. But this letter was granted long before Smyrna declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek, some year before, and was also accepted by Middle Creek Church before they took in any members who had been dropped from Smyrna Church.
The reader can clearly see here another reason for this book so that all facts may be had and a fair judgment rendered. Yes, if Eld. Webb has any evidence he should give it to the public, but he has none. They have been and are out of fellowship with Middle Creek.
Eld. Webb denies that the churches have declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church, but the preponderance of evidence is against him. His reason for this denial lies in the fact that when we took the position that this non-fellowship justifies Middle Creek's course so many fine brehren said: "If Smyrna had declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek then Middle Creek had a right to take in the members as they did." Hence he took that turn to try to justify himself and to condemn Middle Creek. They did declare non-fellowship for Middle Creek, therefore Middle Creek is right.
To save repetition we quote briefly here from Eld. Webb:
On May 23, 1935, Eld. Webb wrote me personally and said:
"I will say that Providence and Smyrna have declared in plain terms that they have no fellowship for A. C. Johnston and L. C. Jones and THOSE WHO STAND WITH THEM. Friendship will do likewise probably tomorrow. That declaration will probably stand and is fully approved by the worthy part of Middle Creek membership. When these churches refuse to commune with those brethren, they arc doing no more than other members of Middle Creek herself does. Of course these men will be allowed no seat in our association this year unless, they reform."
Elder Webb wrote me again personally:
June 16th, 1935—"I think you will surely know that this act of rescinding does not remove the fact of the existence of the deep seated feelirg of NON-FELLOWSHIP. Of course this is known to all here so that it really matters little as to whether declaration is made."
Did Eld. Webb misrepresent the matter to me in his letters or is he misrepresenting the matter now in the Cayce' Paper Article which we have just given you? The reader and Smyrna and Providence Churches may decide it. Middle Creek has made her decision.
When I took the care of Middle Creek in January, 1936, I found them in peace among themselves and all partaking of the communion together and loving each other. The records do not show where any had failed to commune for any reason. Every act of the church from then until now has been done by unanimous vote of the church.
Middle Creek Church stands unanimously with Bro. Jones and Bro. Johnston, and Eld. Webb says that the churches named, "declared in plain terms that THEY HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP for these brethren and THOSE WHO STAND WITH THEM." That most certainly takes in the whole of Middle Creek Church and a lot more as well.
It has been very noticeable that Friendship Church has not entertained the Salem Association for the past few years, and we are informed that they have practically quit meeting, only holding one or two business meetings at their church house during each of the past years.
This condition might be due to several causes, but, we give you the following information which may help somewhat to solve the problem.
Elder Webb said: "Friendship Church will probably do likewise tomorrow." By comparing dates you will see that the following letter was dated about that time; which is purported to be from Friendship Church.
July 12, 1935
TO MIDDLE CREEK CHURCH:
"We move that since the action of our sister church, Smyrna, is known and approved by us, and since certain members of Middle Creek Church have visited and talked among our membership with what seems to us an effort to create discord among us, and since we neither wish to be divided among ourselves nor to forfeit the fellowship of our sister churches, nor to be known as upholding or approving in any way the course or condition of Middle Creek, as referred to, and that we inform our sister, Middle Creek, of our feelings and humbly ask that no further such visits be made among our membership and that she prayerfully endeavor to maintain the principles of our churches which are so necessary to our full fellowship.
Done by order of Friendship Church.
Signed. ELD. C. E. WEBB, Mod.
E. K. SYMMONDS. Clerk.
The above letter is an exact copy of the original letter received, supposed to be, from Friendship Church to Middle Creek Church in 1935. Signed. A. C. JOHNSTON, Church Clerk.
A STATEMENT BY MEMBERS OF FRIENDSHIP CHURCH
"We, the following members of Friendship Church, wish to say that the above letter signed by Elder C. E. Webb as Moderator and E. K. Symmonds as Clerk is not the letter that was read and adopted by Friendship Church to Middle Creek Church, and to our knowledge never was adopted by Friendship Church.
H. R. CALDWELL,
EDWARD J. HARRIS,
Signed in April, 1943.
Will God approve of such conduct? Will Old Baptist approve of such conduct?
Was that letter written "by order of Friendship Church?"
We offer no comment on the above letter. The brethren may form their own opinion. We would, however ask, does it show fellowship for Middle Creek on the part of the writers?
The date of the supposed letter of Friendship Church is July 12, 1935. The sham act of rescinding Smyrna's act was taken at" their June meeting about June 16, 1935, or about one month before the above purported letter was written.
Was this act of Symrna's "known and approved" by Friendship Church? If fellowship existed, in what way and why would they "forfeit the fellowship of sister churches" in associating with Middle Creek Church?
Eld. Webb says in Primitive Baptist of March 18, 1943:
"Regarding this statement that Smyrna Church passed an act declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek as a Church, I will now say—with all due respect to the elders' greater age, and to the position he is supposed to occupy as a gospel minister, and with all due respect to Middle Creek Church and her clerk—I shall say, as kindly as I can, yet flatly, this statement is decidedly false. At no time either before or after the date named, has Smyrna Church declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church."
"Letters from Middle Creek Church read and Smyrna Church replied: As to why she does not feel free to commune with certain Middle Creek members: They are holding in their fellowship a sister who has united in marriage with a man whose former wife is a member of our church, and from whom he was not separated on gospel grounds thus creating a state of NON-FELLOWSHIP ...... that it be written in our minutes, that, in-as-much as A. C. Johnston, and L. C. Jones, with those of them that stand with them have the power to adjust these conditions, and therefore we deem them responsible for the continuance of this condition which DESTROYS OUR FELLOWSHIP."
It will be noted that the whole of Middle Creek Church stand with the brethren named— therefore their act included the whole church.—W. A. C.
In same article as above quotation is found, we read:
By Eld. Webb: —
"At the following meeting, just one month later, in June, 1935, this declaration of non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church was unanimously rescinded and no further declaration was made, either at that time or later against Middle Creek Church."
June 16th, 1935, in a private letter to Eld. Chastain, Eld. Webb said:
"I think you will surely know that this act of rescinding, does not remove the fact of the existence of the deep seated feeling of non-fellowship. Of course this is known to all here so that it really matters little as to whether declaration is made." He adds also that many of their most worthy members did not approve this act of rescinding.—W. A. C.
Eld. Pope in that same article is quoted as saying:
"I feel if misstatements had been made against my church, as have been made against yours; I would try to inform the public . . . . . that my church would not have to lie under the false charges."
Middle Creek was ignored in the ordination of Eld. Symmond's, 1935, Eld. Prior in 1938, and Deacon Curtis, At Providence —Deacon Gardner in 1936.
In 1936 Eld. Webb wrote: "Eld. Flanigan may continue to attend them Should he do so he will not be used in our Association. It would cost me the fellowship of these churches to attend them, and it would cost any other man the same price."
In the same article above referred to
Eld. Webb says:
"I personally have no other motive than to dispel such false charges as are made . in that letter against an innocent church.
May 23, 1935, Eld. Webb writes: "I will say that Providence and Smyrna have declared in plain terms that they have no fellowship for A. C. Johnston and L. C. Jones and THOSE WHO STAND WITH THEM Of course these men will be allowed no seat in our Association this year unless they reform."
More than one month after Smyrna Church rescinded her-act—
Aug. 2nd, 1935, Eld. Webb writes:
"Those brethren know that I told them I would go right on preaching for them. The church knows just what will be necessary to peace."
He says: I challenge the truthfulness of Chastain's statement."
Chastain's "False statement was deliberate."
It has been circulated far and wide that Middle Creek holds in her membership a plain case of adultery. (See their proposition to Middle Creek item No. 5, chapter 20.) This is their charge. Yet they say they have not declared non-fellowship.
Elder Webb writes July 24, 1935,
"I present to our people the following compromise: that Middle Creek Church be retained in the minutes; represented on all committees, but the Moderator should be removed from her membership (he can mean nothing else here than from Middle Creek's membership) and she be denied' the Association until better conditions and feeling exist."
There charge is false, or their claim to being in fellowship with Middle Creek is false, or they are in fellowship with what they call adultery. Which horn of this dilemma will they take?
It is charged that Middle Creek holds in her membership a sister who has united in marriage with a man whose former wife is a member of Smyrna. They ask Middle Creek Church to remove this condition that our churches be allowed to continue in full fellowship. See minutes in first part of this work dated May 18, 1935, and June 1935.
Aug. 2, 1935, Eld. Webb writes: "I state that if other things had not already existed this would have in my judgment, caused no trouble But this now has been MADE THE BONE OF CONTENTION."
"Then we may assume the sister against whom they made the charges is innocent, therefore the charges are unjust and wrong.
W. A. C.
SALEM ASSOCIATION LOSES CORRESPONDENCE OF TWO SISTER ASSOCIATIONS Since New Hope Church committee, of Hindsboro, Ill., has entered into this discussion and have published their findings, we have a right to ask them:
"Brethren, What gospel labor did the Salem Association extend to Middle Creek Church when they dropped them from their Union in September 1939?
We answer, None whatever. Have you read the Article No. 3 of their constitution? Here it is:
Art. 3—"The Salem Association of Regular Predestinarian Baptist" shall not have power to lord it over God's heritage so as to infringe on any of the internal rights of the churches."
Art. 12—This Association shall give advice to the churches in matters of difficulty, and if they fail to represent themselves in the association, it shall inquire into the cause . . ."
Did Salem Association inquire into this matter by means of a committee appointed by them? Middle Creek's request to be released was ignored and repudiated and they were unceremoniously excluded without any gospel labor at all, in violation of their rule.
Following this act of Salem Association, both the Yellow Creek, and Cuivre Siloam Associations of Missouri dropped correspondence with the Salem Association of Illinois.
08 Chapter 8 - COPY OF AN ACT OF NEW HOPE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, OF HINDSBORO, ILLINOIS
August 9th, 1942, New Hope Church, Hindsboro, Illinois,
New Business. By motion of Bro. J. S. Henegar and seconded by Bro. W. H. Henegar, to adopt the following resolution as read. A vote of 19 for and none opposed.
Whereas, W. A. Chastain of Springfield, Ill., was and is yet pastor of Middle Creek Church and did at their meeting July, 1939, receive excluded members from a sister church of the same faith and order called Smyrna, and
Whereas, this action was taken by Middle Creek without any effort at gospel labor to determine the nature of the exclusion of the persons received, therefore the action violates the rules and practice of Old School Primitive Baptist, we feel it our duty to appoint a committee to visit Eld. W. A. Chastain and ascertain his stand he proposes to take in this matter and report back to New Hope Church at her September meeting at Hindsboro, Illinois.
The following committee was appointed as follows: Bros. J. S. Henegar, W. H. Henegar, Amos Allen, Elmer Webber and Clark Frantz.
ELD. W. E. WRIGHT, Moderator.
SUSAN E. FRANTZ, Clerk.
The above committee contacted me at the Kaskaskia Association at Liberty Mosquito Church, September 1st and 2nd, 1942, and delivered to me the above letter.
The attached sheet is a copy of my reply to the church, which was placed in the hands of Bro. J. S. Henegar, to be delivered to the church.
W. A. CHASTAIN.
Sept. 1st, 1942.
TO THE BRETHREN OF NEW HOPE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dear Brethren:—Concerning your act of Aug. 9th, 1942, as to my pastoring Middle Creek Church, a copy of which was handed me today by your committee, permit me to say:—
1st. The premises in your letter do not set forth the facts nor can these premises be sustained by correct records.
2nd. We deny that the parties referred to as having been excluded from Smyrna Church were legally and regularly-excluded.
3rd. The exclusion and the reception of these members—if we may speak in these terms—all took place after the church called Smyrna had declared Middle Creek out of order, and after they had declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek, which act completely severed all relations between the two churches; THEREFORE, Middle Creek was completely relieved from all relation or obligations whatsoever to Smyrna Church. Some three years of time elapsed between these two events.
4th. We deny that Middle Creek's act in receiving these members is a violation of Primitive Baptist order under these circumstances. Case after 'case may be cited to prove our position. See the Messenger of Peace for Oct., 1939, page 329, "Church Government," where a similar case is cited in Eld. Holmes' Association in Iowa, (The Western), in a church pastored by Eld. Pettus, and one in Fishing River Association in Missouri (some twenty years ago) and one at Mauvaisterre Church in Illinois. Eight excluded members from Vivian, Okla., were recently received into the church at Muskogee, Okla., and a large number into the New Liberty Association in West Virginia.
(We add here two additional cases for attention. Dr. Fowler of Dallas, Texas, received a few years ago about eight who had been excluded from the church at Ft. Worth, Texas, and the Baptist of the South received Eld. Bartlett after his exclusion at Elk Horn Church, Montgomery City, Mo.)
5th. Your question regarding my future course of pastoring Middle Creek Church is perfectly silly and out of order and an insult to my little intelligence. It is perfectly safe to preach for these brethren so long as they have not been condemned by a single orderly church, nor by an orderly council, called in an orderly way, by the two churches jointly, or until they are known to have committed disorder.
We are not laboring anywhere, as one who will have to render an account to men or any set of men, and we feel your question should have been asked of Middle Creek and not of me for I am only their pastor. I have liberty from my church to preach the Gospel wherever God in His providence casts my lot. and I do not propose that your church shall circumscribe or curtail my labors.
6th. You ask if I would be willing to take the advice of Elders Pope, Baker, Green and Daily. I answer positively, NO. For these men, as we understand, have already prejudged the case and expressed their opinion which would disqualify them for any Jury Service; nor are they acquainted with the facts by a close relation with these churches. The Bible is our man of council and our only rule of practice.
7th. The above question, brethren, resolves itself back as to Smyrna's order in declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church before they excluded the people in question.
It is only fair that you give me a complete copy of your church records on this matter.
In humble hope,
W. A. CHASTAIN.
AN ACT OF APPROVAL OF Middle Creek Church.
Carthage, Ill. Sept. 12, 1942.
Dear Bro. Chastain:—
The church tonight in regular session certified the copy of your letter to New Hope Church as correct and true, by unanimous voice of the church, and request the clerk to ascertain the dates elapsing from the time of Smyrna's non-fellowship act to the time of receiving the members in question.
We find their act of non-fellowship is dated May 18, 1935. Bro. Prince and Clara Cox—the parties in question, joined our church in July, 1939, which makes the time four years and two months afterward, exact.
(Signed) A. C. JOHNSTON, Clerk.
(TAKE NOTICE. The reader will remember that my statement is approved by Middle Creek Church by unanimous vote as above stated. The reader will also note that we have not stated when relations were broken—or severed. Fellowship was broken by Smyrna Church in 1935. Middle Creek, after continued labor and insults, broke relations in 1939 in a public way.)
09 CHAPTER 9 - NEW HOPE CHURCH AT HINDSBORO, ILL.
1st—They charge that I pastor Middle Creek Church. I admit the charge.
2nd—That I took in members there. This I deny —that would be beyond my power and right.
3rd—Then they charge that "this action was taken by Middle Creek Church."
We deny that New Hope Church has any right to tell me where I shall or shall not preach.
Eld. Gregg Thompson whose authority has not been questioned among real Old Baptist said:
"No Church has a right to prescribe a field for the minister to labor in, or to prohibit him from preaching the Gospel at any time or place, where God may open a door for him. The minister in this respect is only accountable to the church for what he preaches, and not for where he preaches . . . . . There has been a few instances where charges have been brought against ministers for preaching in certain pulpits, and to certain congregations. But, they who brought such charges, did not do it from principle, but under a wicked desire to injure the man, it cannot, therefore, be set down as a principle, or practice of the Primitive Baptist."—Measuring Rod, page 188-189.
According to Eld. Gregg Thompson New Hope has violated Primitive Baptist Principles. Will orderly Baptist recognize and visit their church, and thus give them their approval? NO.
They claim their act was by unanimous vote. But, we happen to know that many of their members do not go along with them and that many did not vote, so what we have to say does not include these fine members.
New Hope took up this matter because I refused to preach in their stand with Eld. Webb, because of his accusations which I claim are false, as will be seen as you continue reading.
In the Cayce paper of January 7, 1943, Eld. Webb said:
" 'The Mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.' Hence, now some of our brethren in a sister association in Central Illinois, have begun church action against the elder, and this action promises to be of considerable importance." —Quoting Longfellow.
It is clear to be seen that Eld. Webb is backing the deal. He did not have the face to bring his complaint to the Springfield Church, where I hold membership. In 1939 he tried to get this same thing done at one of my churches in Missouri but the brethren wrote him that they "considered his action an insult." The result was the church instructed their messengers to refuse to sit in the association that fall with Eld. Webb, consequently they withdrew and went home, after which it was published that I divided and split the association, which I denounce as false.
Facts may be had by calling on the clerk of the church, Bro. James W. Overfelt, Madison, Mo.
While the mills of the gods—Webb and his own—grind small we are consoled by the presence of the Lord.
Once I had grieved at what I thought abuse,
But now I am grain within the mill.
If so be, Thou must crush me for thy use,
Grind on, O potent God, and do thy will.
In the face of the above act Eld. Webb writes in the Cayce paper of March 5, 1942, as follows:
"No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership, except the church of his membership."
This is what we may expect of some men. It is a sample of their conduct and mind and the trouble that results.
THE CAUSE OF DIFFICULTY AT NEW HOPE CHURCH
It is the habit of designing persons to abuse a preacher, or writer when he presents them with disagreeable facts that they can not deny, arguments they can not overthrow and conclusions they can not resist. Abusing a man is much easier than answering his arguments and meeting plain facts. A clear and unbiased investigation will show that we have presented the truth to our people.
THE WABASH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
was held at New Hope Church in September, 1941. I refused to go into the stand and preach with Eld. Webb as some had planned. The following facts will show why.
INQUIRER: Why did you not go into the stand with Eld. Webb?
ANSWER: I did not favor making the pulpit a testing ground of fellowship and standing.
Q. Was fellowship broken and if so by whom?
A. Yes. Eld. Webb had said, just that week (September 18, 1941, in the Primitive Baptist) that, "A few elders, three or four in number, seem to have definitely decided to establish a New Branch of their own liking among the Baptist. Dissatisfied with the Old Established order of the church on some points VITAL to church existence, these elders have proceeded in a way to estrange and divide churches and associations, probably beyond healing."
Q. Was that the extent of his accusation?
A. No. He said further, "They are not willing to live in unity with the Old School Denomination on these points of order, and like their progressive brethren of thirty years ago, they have a great deal to say about "individual church rights."
Q. Was that all he said?
A. No. He said further, "While they scorn the authority of other churches to discipline their own members, they have taken such expelled persons into their number, either in bold ignorance or with a bold defiance of long established order." And he said further, "they fail to consider that Old School Baptist may want to know just why fellowship does not exist, and whether by deliberately ignoring established rules they can hope to re-establish fellowship. . . . . They have gone to themselves, and upon such grounds that NO ORDERLY CHURCH can go with them."
Q. What other accusation did he make?
A. He accused me in the following expression of deliberately lying. He said: "Hassell, J. M. and R. W. Thompson and others of such rank have been sadly misused. We think this has been deliberately done."
Q. Will Elder Webb accept such work?
A. He says, "We do not intend to accept such work nor such workers as orderly." He said further: "Let those who are dissatisfied with the Primitive Order go to themselves and establish a branch to their own liking. We cannot and would not prevent them, nor will we yield one point of our order to appease them."
Q. What other accusation did he make?
A. He said, "They have forced division . . . . . But, our people in general will stand firm." He also said: "Our people need leaders today who will not sell the church to please men."
Under the above charges we felt we could not go into the pulpit with Eld. Webb.
A. Our reasons are:
(a) He had accused a few of us of establishing a New Branch and of violating points of order VITAL to the church's existence, and that we had divided churches.
(b) Without one iota of proof he accused us of going progressive.
(c) That we had scorned the rights of churches.
(d) Accusing me of deliberately misusing proof.
(e) It certainly is not the true spirit of service when "he would not prevent" men from going into the wrong way, as he sees the case.
(f) He will not, he says, "Yield one point of order to appease them." No gospel labor here.
(g) We deny his statement that we have forced division. Not a statement made is based upon proof or a sound premise but all upon what SEEMS SO to Eld. Webb.
Q. Where did all this appear and when?
A. It appeared in the Cayce paper September 18, 1941, and it was September 20, that they asked me to go into the stand with Webb at New Hope Church.
To have gone into the stand with a man who had called me a liar, so recently, only two days before, and who had made all these ugly charges would have been a virtual admission of the guilt of those charges. We deny the charges. My heart and conscience would not admit my going into the sacred pulpit with him. No Christian person can before God condemn or blame me for my course. I preached on Sunday with Eld. Earl Daily.
10 CHAPTER 10 - NEW HOPE CHURCH ACTION—CONTINUED No. 2
This church has taken a very drastic action, and all the ear marks indicate clearly that it has been done under the influence of certain preachers with an effort to kill the Messenger of Peace and myself as its editor, for we have refused to be guided by their dictatorship.
The Nazi faith is: —"Whosoever does not submit must perish."
This keynote can be plainly seen by the careful reader, in the nefarious work of these men as they drive their wedge of hate and prejudice and division, instead of preaching the gospel of peace as given by our Lord.
In June, 1893—just fifty years ago—I united with the Old Baptist Church and have preached among them in many different states for more than forty-seven years. This is the first charge that has ever been brought against me in any church and this is a disorderly charge and brought in a disorderly manner. But we do thank God for loving, loyal, peace loving and faithful brethren.
I have pastored:
Mt. Pleasant Church, Holiday, Mo., 30 years.
My home church for 18 years, or since its organization.
Liberty Mosquito Church a total of 25 years.
Another 12 years and pastoring also two others for lesser terms. This is being done with the help of some brethren.
I am now in June, 1943, pastoring six churches, in my very poor and unworthy way, but our hope is in the Lord, that he will bless and help us.
Some have succeeded now in getting a radical element in the New Hope Church to take action against me. "The Lord reward them according to their works." 2Ti 4:14. And His abundant mercy.
What object did Eld. Cayce have to print all this mess in his paper? Many of our brethren feel that he is the man behind it all, and that he has only used Eld. Webb as "the Cats-paw" in the case. In a careful examination one can easily see in the expressions used and also in the similiarity of the sentences who really wrote the articles.
Go read the articles in the CAYCE PAPER of Sept. 18, 1941; March 5, 1942; January 7, 1943; February 4, 1943; April 1, 1943; May 6, 1943; and May 20, 1943; July 1, 1943, and August 19, 1943. Compare the expressions and form in the articles over the name of C. E. Webb, with the forms and expressions in the article over C. H. C. on the first pages of May 20, 1943, and July 1, 1943, also September 16, 1943, and decide whether or not you think the same man wrote all these articles.
We are told "the sow will return to her wallow in the mire and the dog to his vomit."
In Cayce's Editorials, Volume 5, pages 8 and 9, we read:
"As we have often requested before, we now request again, that you will please keep your church troubles at home. Please do not send them to us for publication in the paper. Again we say, PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM TO US. Such things are of no comfort or consolation to the Lord's dear children, and we desire to publish such things as will have a tendency to build up, and not tear down or destroy."
It seems strange that a man would so soon forget such a fine request, and yield to a request that came from several hundred miles away. This yielding is true, however, to the spirit of several private letters which Eld. Cayce has mailed over the country, especially into the western and southern states, and some of which have been mailed to me and I have them on file, which I term the spirit of injury and death.
It requires no skill to tear down a man's house, but it does require skill and blue prints to build a house. Let us not try to follow the line of least resistance but try to build up and make people happy instead, of bringing about exclusion, death and sorrow.
When did Old Baptist change their associational rules, that they may now declare non-fellowship for people? We assert here without fear that such a course is NEW among Old Baptist and a thing before unheard of among us. Who has instituted this thing? Get a minute of the South Arkansas Association for 1942, and learn for yourselves. It is ridiculously ridiculous. No matter what man or churches stand up'for such a proposition, the Bible and Baptist History does not stand up for such conduct.
On receipt of 10c postage we will mail a copy of their resolution for 1942.
The committee of New Hope Church in their last act did not call on me, nor did they go near Middle Creek Church, but instead, they went to those who like themselves would destroy us—they went to a hostile court—to Eld. Claud Webb and to Smyrna Church. They had formerly contacted me on the charge of pastoring Middle Creek Church as if they had some rights in the matter. Their last charge was that I had misrepresented the matter, so it is an entirely and completely new and different and separate charge. My statement was approved by unanimous vote of Middle Creek Church.
While they charge the trouble is all at Middle Creek and myself as their present pastor, yet they go to other sources for information and avoid us.
If there were a railroad wreck east of town and you desired to investigate it would you go west of town to do so or to Smyrna Church? Or would you go to the place of the wreck—to Middle Creek—as they think? Could a good and satisfactory report be given to any court by investigation at the wrong place? Will our brethren sitting as judges, be satisfied with that sort of conduct? We think not. Where in the Bible do we read, if thy brother trespass against you go and tell Webb and Smyrna Church? But we do read where:
Jesus said, "If thy brother shall tresspass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother."
March 12, 1943, four weeks after I was mobbed and hanged, I was notified, the first mention I had of the matter.
New Hope's action excludes every preacher that preaches with me, church, funeral, associational and otherwise. Their action reads:
"We drop all fellowship and preaching relations with Eld. W. A. Chastain until he disapproves these records."
The intelligent reader will agree with me, that there is no sense, law or order, or discipline in any such conduct.
The accuser's business is to establish the guilt. Does our law hang a man before his guilt is established? That is what New Hope has attempted to do in this case, under the wise (?) supervision of Claud Webb, and some of his friends.
We notice another very amusing thing in this matter. Smyrna Church saw their error, and claim they rescinded the act of declaring non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church, under the advice of Eld. Webb. Then this is an admission of their wrong. Now under the encouragement of Eld. Webb, New Hope makes the very same error, and we offer the following syllogism or proof:
1st. Is it right for a church to declare non-fellowship for a part of another church? Smyrna says by their act of rescinding that it is not right.
2nd. (a) I am a member of the Springfield, Ill., Church, therefore a part of that church.
(b) New Hope Church has declared non-fellowship for me without a hearing.
(c) Therefore New Hope has declared non-fellowship for a part of Springfield Church.
Now will Eld. Webb advise them to rescind their act?
There is no way to escape the above premises and the unavoidable conclusions. For them to commune with or fellowship any minister or church who preaches with or fellowships me, they then dishonor and repudiate their own act. Will honorable, intelligent Old Baptist recognize such an act as orderly?
This serves to bear us out and proves our statement in the Messenger of Peace for January, 1939, that is:
"We know that sinister influences are at work . against the Messenger of Peace and its editor; that we knew that an organized effort was being made against us."
While hundreds of our good people have been sacrificing, supporting and praying for the welfare of the Messenger of Peace, yet, some have stooped to a low level in opposing it, but the Lord will take care of it. That same spirit and influence has been at work among the brethren in Arkansas, Texas, Alabama and other places and it is time to expose this spirit of anti-christ, which, "even now already is in the world." 1Jo 4:3.
Evil spirits and evil influence may and will have greater influence and freedom to carry on their deceitful work in the dark than in the light. Such do not thrive so well in the light of Gospel truth and teaching. Any effort to keep the truth from our people belongs to the dark ages and to dictators. "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil."
Who was it that criticised so severely a National Union of Churches, lest some church might be dictated too and made subject to a Federal Head? Where is that fellow? I want him to visit New Hope Church and warn them of their present plight and danger for they have slipped into the mud. Such men will do so, too, if they were sincere in their crticism, and we think they were.
Could a National Union be any worse than the course pursued by New Hope? Who ever heard of anything worse among intelligent men claiming to be high-up in Old Baptist discipline than the act of New Hope Church in this case? It is bad to charge them with ignorance and bad to charge them with being influenced by the devil. We hardly know which to do and confess our bewilderment in the matter.
If we bow to this vicious act of interference, then we ask, New Hope, whom will you send to preach for Middle Creek? May they call a pastor at all? Perhaps Eld. Webb might advise, what would be "good Old School Baptist Practice in the interest of the Church of God." This course is nothing less than a repudiation of the local church government in their internal affairs. Failing in his effort to have Smyrna and Providence Churches to rule Middle Creek he has "taken the matter 200 miles down in the country" or state and laid it into the lap of New Hope Church.
11 CHAPTER 11 - NEW HOPE CHURCH ACTION—CONTINUED No. 3
"We have a law and by our law he ought to die." Joh 19:7.
Man-made laws put the Hebrew children into the fiery furnace, and Daniel into the den of lions; but God delivered them. The wickedness of men put Joseph into the pit; and the wickedness of a woman put him into the jail, (Ge 37:36), but God delivered him out of all his afflictions, (Ac 7:10). "God is able to deliver and will deliver," (Da 3:17). Paul said, "What persecution I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me." (2Ti 3:11).
"And when Moses was fully forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian. For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them; but they understood not." Ac 7:23-40. (Read carefully Heb 11:32-40).
The spirit manifested by the New Hope committee and their advisers is close akin to Pilate's language: "Take ye him and crucify him." "Pilate took water and washed his hands."
It might be well, and might be required that some of us go wash (dip ourselves) in Jordan seven times." 2Ki 5:10-15.
The brother Allen who made their motion of non-fellowship made the following statement at the Kaskaskia Association in 1942, in the presence of many brethren: He said:
'We came here to get Chastain and he had as well come out of it for we are going to get him."
The scriptural injunction is:
"Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." (Ga 6:1).
THEIR CHARGE OF NON-FELLOWSHIP
They charged that I had misrepresented the matter of relations between the churches in question. A careful and prayerful study of these pages will show that I did NOT misrepresent the matter. The records quoted from are open for investigation. Why did they not indict Middle Creek Church? It is an individual and personal act, taken in secret and darkness "to get Chastain." Such conduct belongs to highway robbers and not to church members. Such conduct is called "intrigue" or secret plotting, scheming and conspiracy.
This same Brother Allen during a meeting at New Hope Church when the question was asked by a sister, "Why should we be concerned with the affairs of a church 200 miles away?" replied:
"We do not care about the churches,—we are after Chastain for refusing to go into the pulpit with Elder Webb at our Association."
This statement was made publicly in the church meeting, so I am told by good authority.
My reasons for refusing to go into the stand with Eld. Webb were-that he had accused me of lying and being disorderly, just that week in the Cayce paper, Sept. 16. '41. To have preached with him I would virtually have admitted the guilt of his charge, which I then and now refuse to do.
Moses seeing his brother suffer wrong, defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed." Ex 2:11-15. Paul withstood Peter to the face for he was wrong. Ga 2:11. Does the life of a Christian or his death mean anything at all? Either to his church, his family or himself?
Elder Hassell was asked: "Has a church the right to declare non-fellowship for the pastor of a sister church, without an investigation or gospel labor' ANSWER: A church has no right to declare non-fellowship for the pastor of a sister church without an investigation or gospel labor. I never heard of such a case."
The Doctrine of our Savior is: "Do UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU."
The Doctrine of our Church is: "By her sovereignty is intended to be understood her power and right of dominion over her own internal affairs, and she is not at liberty to delegate this to another. She can not with impunity violate or ignore any divine law given for her government." R. W. Thompson. (See first article in June Messenger of Peace, 1943; Chapter 2 in this book.)
To violate the divine law of God is disorder.
If a brother is an offender would it not be clear that a distant church must deal through the local church rather than with the brother himself, direct? Is it gospel labor to approach a man in a bad spirit with insinuating remarks against his character rather than in a spirit of meekness? Is it gospel labor to wrest and twist facts and to make false accusations.'' Is it right to ask a brother four week after his execution to prove himself innocent? How could an excluded man (or a dead man) do that'
It is all so much gross disorder.
"No council, association, or any other body of men can deal with a member and exclude him, but the church of his membership." Eld. Lee Hanks History, page 203.
Again. "No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership except the church of his membership." C. E. Webb, Cayce Paper, March 5, 1942.
"If a member has a standing in any church with which another church is in fellowship, he is to be recognized as orderly until the church deals with him." Eld. Repess, Primitive Pathway, 85.
"Each gospel church is a separate and independent republic . . . . . and is not subject in ecclesiastical matters to any outside jurisdiction . . . . . Every local church, acting by a majority of its members is invested by Christ with the EXCLUSIVE and final power of receiving, disciplining, excluding and restoring its members, electing its officers, and transacting all other necessary business."
Elder Hassell here rightfully says: "The local church has the exclusive power to exclude its members." Then no other church could be orderly and assume that power. If some other church could rightfully assume that power to exclude, then on that same basis some other church would have the power to restore that member. In such a case, under that condition then, it follows that a man might be excluded and finally restored and his home church never know one solitary thing about the whole transaction. What a tangle-foot job!
Truly the legs of the lame are unequal.
Peace and fellowship and sweet harmony after all is the paramount issue. But, the breaking of fellowship and disorder changes the picture greatly.
Eld. M. L. Gilbert said: "Until these churches that have put up bars against sister churches are willing to sacrifice all human opinions, ordinances of men, and the leaders who cause them to err, in fact everything but the word of truth and a right conscience, they will never have peace in Zion. Brotherly love is the keystone that knits and keeps the body together. There as a contention that is to the praise of God's grace; for each to feel that he is the greatest sinner, and the least saint, and who owest most to live to His praise."
Eld. Fisher: "It is better for a Shepherd to attend his flock rather than try to manage all the flocks in the country. It is the wolf that is constantly hunting new victims. The wolf is not a lover of peace. He is not a peace-maker but a peace-breaker."
Eld. Stewart: "The church of God is not a slaughter house to destroy God's precious children."
Eld. G. M. Thompson further says: (In Measuring Rod.)
"The practice of passing non-fellowship resolutions against men without giving them a hearing, is unjust and iniquitous, and will destroy the peace and prosperity of any community of saints . . . . . The Hanes Creek Church in Yellow River Association, passed a resolution declaring non-fellowship for me, and all who were friendly with me, without ever giving me a hearing, or even letting me know they had aught against me."
Eld. Thompson states further, same book, page 192:
"They charged Bro. Morton, one of her deacons, of lying, and he came forward to defend himself . . . . . but they refused to hear his evidence and excluded him and all who voted against his exclusion, without giving any of them an opportunity of defending themselves. The charge was laid in the church without Bro. Morton ever being notified of it, or any previous gospel steps whatever being taken with him; and a few minutes after the charge was, made, he was excluded, the church refusing to hear him, or give him any chance to defend himself."
(Bro. Morton and those who stood with him were later recognized as the church in order.—Chastain).
Eld. Thompson says, also: "But it is said that the seceding party was the church, because they were the majority. But the practice of the Primitive Baptist has always been to regard that party the church who maintain gospel order, and are sound of faith. Majorities may err and often do err, and if the churches are to bound by the decision of the majority, no odds how erroneous the decisions may be, it would be a dangerous thing to be a member of a church, for if the majority is against you, you have got to (in that case) submit even if it is against the positive command of the Savior . . . . . Then we would have no need for the laws of Christ. Establish this principle and we will be forced to admit that the Roman Catholic Church is the church of Christ."
If Bishops and Elders "Teach the church anything not commanded by Christ, they become traitors to Christ, and are teaching others to become rebellious."
"It was never designed by the Savior that his church should be ruled by a bishop or elder, to do wrong or to disregard his laws.
"The practice of Primitive Baptist has always been to regard the actions of majorities as a nullity, where majorities have violated the laws of Christ, and receive and regard the minority, if that minority consists of only one member, as the true church, if it has maintained the laws of Christ."
12 CHAPTER 12 - "EXPLANATORY"
The following is part of an article which appeared in the Cayce Paper of May 6, 1943.
(We leave out the first part of this article for it is unimportant and useless.—W. A. C.)-
After arrangements were completed by Brother Younker for our trip, Brother Younker came to my home and I went with him to Willow Hill, Ill., to Brother Frank Doty, who is the present moderator of the Central Association; then we called on Brother J. D. Allen, of Girard, Ill., who is clerk of the Concord Association; next we called on Brother Chas. Walker, of Decatur, who is deacon in Pleasant Grove Church in the bounds of the Little Wabash Association; and these brethren all agreed to go, and did go with us, making a group of five brethren representing five different associations, Brother Younker being the moderator of the Kaskaskia, and I being a member of Hindsboro Church in the Wabash District Association.
This group went first to Middle Creek Church, where we were treated nicely, and given their version of the trouble: then we went, the following day, April 18, to Smyrna Church, where we were also nicely received, and attended the regular (Saturday) meeting, after which, by consent of the church, her records were delivered to us for our examination.
Since the brethren of Middle Creek Church had requested of us that we give them our findings after getting all the evidence possible, we five brethren agreed upon, signed, and, delivered into the hand of Brother Johnston, clerk of Middle Creek Church, the following recommendations:
April 19, 1942
To Middle Creek Church:—
Dear Brethren:—We, by the evidence produced of both churches, offer the following suggestions: That Middle Creek Church rescind the act of taking in excluded members of Smyrna Church, and, provided, these members go to Smyrna Church and make a true acknowledgment to the church, in our opinion, they will be received back in full fellowship and letters granted to said members if requested. If this course be followed it is our opinion that the way will be opened for re-establishing peace.
(Signed) GLEN A. YOUNKER,
J. S. HENEGAR,
J. D. ALLEN,
C. F. DOTY.
(See committee's suggestion in Chapter 20.)
Now in our August (1942) meeting, following the above investigation, since some in Hindsboro Church are directly associated with Elder W. A. Chastain, Hindsboro Church felt it her duty to act as follows:
From minutes of New Hope Church, Hindsboro, Illinois, August 9, 1942:
New Business: By motion of Brother J. S. Henegar and seconded by Brother W. H. Henegar, to adopt the following resolution as read. A vote of 10 for, and none opposed:
Whereas, W. A. Chastain, of Springfield, Ill., was and is yet, pastor of Middle Creek Church, and did at their meeting in July, 1939, receive excluded members from a sister church of the same faith and order, called Smyrna, and
Whereas, this action was taken by Middle Creek without any effort at gospel labor to determine the nature of the exclusion of the persons received: therefore the action violates the rules and the practice of Old School Primitive Baptists: we feel it our- duty to appoint a committee to visit Elder W. A. Chastain and ascertain his stand he proposes to take in this matter and report back to New Hope Church at her September meeting at Hindsboro, Illinois. The following committee was appointed: Brethren J. S. Henegar, W. H. Henegar, Amos Allen, Elmer Webber and Clark Fantz.
ELDER W. E. WRIGHT, Mod.,
SUSAN E. FRANTZ. Clerk.
This committee, after some efforts had failed, succeeded in contacting Elder W. A. Chastain during the Kaskaskia Association, and reported back to Hindsboro Church in her September meeting as follows:
Sept. 12, 1942.
New Hope Church of Regular Primitive Baptists met, and after divine services by our pastor, Elder Chas. Moore, of Decatur, Ill., proceeded to business.
1st. By inviting brothers and sisters of the same faith and order to seats in council.
2nd. Called for peace of church; found peace.
3rd. Opened the door of the church.
4th. By motion and second the church voted to receive the clerk's letter to the association.
5th. By motion and second the church voted to accept the report of the committee of investigation of Elder W. A. Chastain, which is as follows:
We, your committee, appointed by the church to confer with Elder W. A. Chastain. of Springfield, and ascertain his stand in regards to the action of. Middle Creek Church in receiving excluded members in July, 1939, from Smyrna Church without gospel labor being taken, beg to report our findings in regard to this matter:
September 1st, 1942, we met Elder W. A. Chastain at the Kaskaskia Association. Brother J. S. Henegar went to him and asked to have a talk with him, and Elder Chastain's first remark was, "It will just take a minute." He refused to talk to the committee without witnesses, and he called Brother Chas. Walker and Elder Barrett, of Texas, Brother J. S. Henegar handed Elder W. A. Chastain the act of New Hope Church of Aug. 9th to read. After he read the action of New Hope Church, he refused to discuss the matter, and was asked the second time, and refused, and was asked by Brother J. S. Henegar if he would take the counsel or advice of such men as Elders Pope, Baker, Green, Daily and Wright. He then said "NO;" and was asked the second time, and still said "NO." We also beg to submit Elder W. A. Chastain's written reply to the church. (Signed) J. S. Henegar, W. H. Henegar, Amos Allen, E. A. Webber and Clark Frantz.
See Elder Chastain's letter to Hindsboro Church. (We omit this letter here for it is printed on a preceding page in this booklet. See Chapter 8.J
The remainder of the September meeting follows:
6th. By motion and second the church voted to appoint a committee to visit Smyrna Church to obtain copies of their minutes pertaining to this matter and report back at some future time. .
7th. By motion and second the church voted for the same committee to visit Smyrna Church-New business: By motion and second the church voted to retain our present pastors and moderators, Elders W. E. Wright, of Alma, Ill., and Chas. Moore, alternating each month for the coming year.
ELDER CHAS. MOORE, Mod.
SUSAN E. FRANTZ, Clerk.
According to the above church action, the named committee visited Smyrna Church and was allowed by Smyrna Church to copy all records as desired, bearing on the case and reported back to Hindsboro Church at her February meet ing in 1943 as follows:
February 13, 1943.
New Hope Church met, and after prayer and divine service by Elder W. E. Wright, proceeded to business.
1st. By inviting visiting brethren of the same faith and order to seats in council.
2nd. Asked for peace of church. Found peace.
3rd. Opened doors of church for the reception of members.
4th. Reference of two months previous brought forward in regard to Elder W. A. Chastain. Resolution was read by Brother W. H. Henegar as follows:
Whereas, Elder W. A. Chastain, of Springfield, Ill., says in his reply to New Hope Church of Hindsboro, Ill., dated September 1st, 1942:
"1st. The premises in your letter do not set forth the facts nor can these premises be sustained by correct records.
"3rd. The exclusion and the reception of these members—if we may speak in these terms—all took place after the church called Smyrna had declared Middle Creek out of order, and after they had declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek, which act completely severed all relations between the two churches; therefore, Middle Creek was completely relieved from all relation or obligations whatsoever to Smyrna Church. Some three years of time elapsed between these two events.
"The records show, beyond a doubt, that there was relation arid fellowship between these two churches between these two events. Let us examine the records beginning May 18, 1935.. In May, 1935, Smyrna Church declared non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church. In June, 1935, Smyrna rescinded the act of declaring non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church.
"The records show that Elder W. A. Chastain had relations and fellowship for Smyrna Church, because in July, 1935, he responded to a request of Smyrna Church, along with other ordained help— i. e., Elders S. L. Pettus and Baxter Hale—to ordain Brother J. O. Symmonds, of Smyrna Church, to the full work of the ministry. He delivered the charge to the church and questioned the candidate.
"The Salem Association minutes of September, '1 935, show Middle Creek Church represented by sending letter and messengers to Salem Association, and was received, and Elder Chastain preached on Sunday.
"Minutes of March, 1936, show Middle Creek Church wrote a letter to Smyrna Church clerk, stating they had received Sister Julia McPherson by letter from Smyrna Church.
"In September, 1936, Middle Creek Church sent letter and messengers to Salem Association, which was held at Smyrna Church, and was received: Elder Chastain was also there and preached on Sunday. In Monday's business a motion was made and carried that "the four churches composing Salem Association help entertain the association financially and otherwise each year hereafter, thus showing that Salem Association fellowshipped Middle Creek Church.
"Minutes of 1937 show Middle Creek Church sent letter and messengers to Salem Association and was received. Therefore,
'"In the light of all the records, we resolve that New Hope Church, Hindsboro, Ill., drop all fellowship and preaching relations with Elder W. A. Chastain, Springfield. Illinois, until he disprove these records."
Motion by Brother Amos Allen, and seconded by Brother Elmer Webber, that we adopt this resolution as read. Resolution was adopted by unanimous vote.
Motion by Brother J. S. Henegar, to send Elder W. A. Chastain a complete copy of the action of the church. Motion carried.
The above facts are respectfully submitted for the general consideration of the Primitive Baptist public. Primitive Monitor please copy.
J. S. HENEGAR,
R. 1, Tuscola, Ill
13 CHAPTER 13 - AGREEMENT—SIGNED
You have just read the previous chapter over the signature of Bro. J. S. Henegar. We shall shortly notice some of the misleading things in it. But first we want to give you the agreement he entered into with his brethren who accompanied him on that former trip. Here it is:
"To Whom it may concern:—
"We, the undersigned brethren, have mutually agreed that, by our act of suggestions to Middle Creek Church, we are not intentionally throwing any reflections on the findings of either of the Smyrna or the Middle Creek Church records, and have further AGREED NOT TO DISCUSS what was found in the records of either church for by so doing (keeping it secret) we will cause no further confusion."
Signed: GLENN A. YOUNKER,
J. S. HENEGAR,
CHAS. E. WALKER,
G. E. DOTY,
J. D. ALLEN.
The above is a correct copy.
Signed: GLENN A. YOUNKER.
(Reader will please study Chapter 20 in connection with the above suggestion.)
Mr. J. S. Henegar has violated his agreement and has discussed this matter publicly through the Cayce paper. When a man can not and will not keep his written agreement surely his word can not be accepted at any time. It is hard for one to think any man would so violate any signed agreement, but here is the whole thing. It is the reader's to think of as you will.
As to their suggestion to Middle Creek that will be noticed in a following chapter.
NO COMMITTEE SENT TO MIDDLE CREEK
1— (a)—By carefully studying the preceding account of New Hope Church's action, you will ascertain that the committee who took it upon themselves to go to Middle Creek and Smyrna, were members from different churches and were not appointed by any church or churches, (b)-—-The one report made back to New Hope Church was made by J. S. Henegar, who was only one member and he was not sent by New Hope at all and went without the authority of his church. Therefore, New Hope Church made their record and sent a committee to see Eld. Chastain as to his stand regarding pastoring the Middle Creek Church—and the charge made—was based on the report of this one man, for the other four brethren did not report to New Hope Church, and they too had volunteered to go and were not sent by their respective churches. (c)—This man Henegar did not examine, and refused to examine, the records of the Middle Creek Church which were offered to him, yet returns and reports to his home church that Middle Creek Church did take in excluded members without gospel labor.
2— (d)—On this report New Hope made a charge and appointed a committee to visit Eld. Chastain.
Our contention is that there was gospel labor which extended over a period of four years.
3— New Hope appointed a committee to visit Smyrna Church.
4— There never has been a committee appointed by that church nor any other Church—except Smyrna—to visit and investigate the order and records of Middle Creek Church in this matter.
"GONE WITH THE WIND''
A committee of fourteen brethren met with the Smyrna Church in Benton, Ill., at their December meeting in 1939. After a careful examination of records they reported some IRREGULARITIES were found in them (report on another page) and they advised that Smyrna Church request Middle Creek Church to join them in calling a joint council which they did and Middle Creek agreed by unanimous vote to join them and made their report to Smyrna Church to that effect. The two churches met and agreed upon the brethren to be called—even then a proposition or suggestion was made that the two churches appoint a committee of three members from each of the two churches to try to form a plan on which the two churches might come together. So that three from Smyrna and three from Middle Creek met and worked out a plan acceptable to all six and prayed they said that the churches would give it careful consideration, and all signed it.
Middle Creek Church accepted this plan by unanimous vote.
Smyrna Church, under advise from Eld. Webb, rejected it.
Even some who were on the committee and had prayed for its acceptance, voted against it—against their own former decision and prayer.
The Middle Creek committee was present and observed it all and once again requested that they unite and call a joint council. Eld. Webb urged his objection to the council and remarked that, "The Smyrna Church would never have a joint council as long as he was pastor."
So the work of all the brethren, their labor and expense, all went to the wind, including their advice.
Yet the report of New Hope Church is that we exercised no gospel labor at all, which position as premise we still say is false, and was no doubt in our judgment conceived and written by Eld. Webb. The records of these churches bear out the facts as per our reports.
(See following pages and minutes recorded in this book.)
The report of fourteen brethren say the records of Smyrna Church show, "Irregularity."—which means disorder. (See Webster Unabridged Dictionary.) We have understood, the Hindsboro brethren—New Hope committee reports contrary to the above report that Smyrna has a fine record— almost perfect.
Middle Creek was ready and desired a joint council but Eld. Webb would not allow Smyrna to join us in the matter. Eld. Webb reported over the country that they wanted a council and that Middle Creek would not submit, and so with this confused report, Bro. Glenn A. Younker and myself agreed it would be well for brethren to investigate this point. He secured the assistance of Brethren Chas. Walker, G. F. Doty, J. D. Allen, and J. S. Henegar—five brethren in all. Their sole purpose was to investigate which of these two churches was in favor of a joint council and which church was opposed to it. They were not supposed' to investigate records any farther than that point—that was their sole and only aim. for they had agreed to recognize the church and preacher who was willing to leave their disturbance to a joint council.
The brethren were induced to make the following suggestion :
TO MIDDLE CREEK CHURCH:—
Dear Brethren:—We by the evidence produced by the two churches, offer the following suggestion: THAT MIDDLE CREEK CHURCH rescind the act of taking in excluded members of Smyrna Church, and provided that these members go to Smyrna Church and make a TRUE acknowledgement to Smyrna Church, in our opinion they will be received back in full fellowship and letters granted to said members if requested. If this course be followed it is our opinion that the way will be opened for reestablishing peace."
Signed—Glenn A. Younker, J. S. Henegar, Chas. Walker, J. D. Allen, and G. F. Doty.
(For a similar suggestion see a following chapter which Smyrna Church rejected. See Chapter 17.)
First—These brethren did not understand the contentious spirit of Eld. Webb with which we had to deal.
Second—Eld. Webb and Smyrna would in this case be the prosecutor, judge and jury as to a TRUE or FALSE acknowledgement, thus throwing the whole case of Middle Creek and these brethren into the lap and onto the mercy of a hostile court.
Third—There was no assurance that these brethren would be restored, and if they were they would be subjected to much humiliation.
Fourth—When Bro. Cox and wife asked for their letters they were refused and asked to give a reasorj for desiring their letters. The reason they gave was that Eld. Webb, the pastor had lied. The evidence to support the charge has not been heard to this day. A charge was finally made and they were excluded they understand for non-attendance and contempt of church.
They are not ready to admit that their charge was a false charge and to require it is unjust.
Fifth—"The deep-seated feeling of non-fellowship" which Eld. Webb says exists, still existed and was not removed by the act of Smyrna in "rescinding the act of DECLARING non-fellowship for a part of the church and all who stand with them," which was and is a unanimous whole.
This non-fellowship act is still declared by their refusing to call Middle Creek Church into three successive ordinations and numerous other acts, as recorded in this book.
Now just how in such a case could brethren expect Middle Creek Church to accept or honor a letter from Smyrna Church? Can Smyrna be considered of the same faith and order and in fellowship, so long as that condition of non-fellowship exists and Smyrna holds Middle Creek to be in disorder on so many points, such as the divorce and remarriage case and otherwise? So long as this continues, Middle Creek will, I am sure, feel free to disregard Smyrna's order and acts, and use her own judgment as to the acceptance of members in any matter or manner according to gospel teaching.
We deem the following points needful and necessary to peace under the present leadership of Smyrna Church:
(a) Deal with our much beloved brother, Eld. L. C. Jones, now a very worthy elder, against whom the church has never had a single charge.
(b) Deal with our much appreciated clerk, Bro. A. C. Johnston, against whom the church has never had a single charge.
(c) We would have to exclude the sister who married the divorced man, and who was restored on Eld. Webb's own advice, which he later changed, in order to enjoy full communion and fellowship.
(d) It would be necessary to exclude four members which we have taken in from Smyrna Church, three of whom were excluded and one who was not, and these four would have no church home.
(e) It would jeopardize the coming in of several prospective members, and destroy the church's influence in the community.
Therefore Middle Creek having a right and being the sole judge of her membership does not propose at this time to make such a sacrifice and to take such an unreasonable step.
14 CHAPTER 14 - MISLEADING
"Agreement Signed"—Continued. We deny that the article over the signature of Bro. J. S. Henegar is a true statement of facts and intentions.
FIRST—When did I ever deny that I personally had visited the Salem Association in 1934 to 1936 inclusive? or that I had no RELATION with those people? I have never denied my fellowship or relations with them at that time, nor have I denied that I assisted in Bro. Symmonds' ordination at that time. But I do deny that I represented Middle Creek Church in any way at that ordination for at that time I was not even their pastor, nor had I visited that church previously except at associations.
But, I do deny that Middle Creek Church assisted » in that ordination or that they were even invited to attend at that time. I also deny that Middle Creek was invited or requested by that church to attend either that ordination or the two that has since followed: the ordination of Eld. Orville Prior and Bro. Curtis as deacon. Neither was I invited to attend either of the last ones. There were three ordinations at that church in which Middle Creek was completely ignored. Why were they ignored? There is only one answer—they, Smyrna, did not fellowship Middle Creek. These churches are only five miles apart.
When I assisted at the Bro. Symmond's ordination the church had said that they had rescinded their act of non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek, for Eld. Pettus and myself had each refused to attend unless they did first rescind that act. I had faith in what they said about it, but soon afterward learned it was only a sham move or a farce. So it was the Smyrna Church at that time that had no fellowship, or relation with Middle Creek Church. We have not said as to Middle Creek's fellowship with them. Middle Creek never did declare non-fellowship nor make any move in that direction unless it was their move of taking in the members in July, 1939.
SECOND—The matter of gospel labor and rejection is discussed elsewhere in this booklet.
THIRD—I did not know the Hindsboro committee would contact me at Kaskaskia Association, and did not take necessary papers and proof with me, and a careful investigation of records in my possession would have required a full day, so I made the remark that our session would take but a few minutes.
FOURTH—Undue insinuations which were very unbecoming were made by two of the New Hope committeemen which I resented and I turned away and left and would do so again. These facts have probably not been reported to New Hope Church.
FIFTH—I deny that I have refused to council with any good brother regarding the matter, who according to all rules of Christian argument or dispute, will consider me equally honest and truthful and Christian with himself.
I did and do refuse to take the advice of some who have formed and expressed their views on one-sided evidence. Besides I had not consulted the church and I had no right to speak for them, nor to try to force anything upon them. I am definitely opposed to pastors dictating to their churches, and I refuse to be measured by the other fellow's measuring stick.
SIXTH—The word relation as I used it referred alone to church fellowship—not associational fellowship—such as duties, not privileges. When did these churches all in sweet harmony and love ever commune with Middle Creek Church? When did they engage in ordinations together? Let New Hope committee answer to their church and to our people generally and as widely as they have circulated and published their own report if they desire to be fair, right, truthful and Christian.
This is only a bit more of "assuming" and "seeming" and "suspicion" and "presumption."
SEVENTH—We agree that the four churches voted to help financially with the future association for they were in a gospel way laboring for peace. Middle Creek brethren were ever ready to do everything possible and wanted to entertain the association in the fall of 1936 but it was denied them through the dictation of Eld. Webb, about which we have his letter in our files. These associational relations were retained by my own advice as pastor at Middle Creek, including 1937.
EIGHTH—What happened AT THE CLOSE of 1937 Association? Can those brethren tell us? Did they report that to their own Church at Hindsboro? Ask any good person who was in attendance at the closing at Friendship Church.
At that association Eld. Webb let loose publicly with a tirade and harange of abuse on myself, and I was not even present and had not been in attendance during that session. Eld. Hale and McAfee and others tried to stop him, and failed, but, finally he had to be stopped. People who were there will long remember it with much regret. The next year (1938) Middle Creek did not send a letter. The churches of my care refuse to represent in such wrangling and while Eld. Webb's acts seem to be forgotten by some, yet, many remember it all.
We had not yet taken in any of his many excluded members, and therefore this matter did not enter into the deal at all.
What do Eld. Webb and these brethren think is gospel labor? Do they think it right to transfer Middle Creek business to Smyrna, Providence and New Hope churches? Is it right to transfer Springfield. business to New Hope church? Or do we believe in local church govenment? Would not this be what our courts call "a change of venue"—and what some would call "A Supreme Court"?
That, now, is new discipline to Old Baptist.
Possibly what Eld. Webb desires is, for each and all of us to bow down before him, and suffer him to dictate to us as he has to some others. That, in his estimation, might be gospel labor. We do not think so, and that is why he so much dislikes Eld. Lawrence Jones and Bro. A. C. Johnston and myself. While we thank God for courage and grace.
They no doubt think their last act at Hindsboro is their crowning act. It is but an attempt at anathema by their so-called court, and advisers. This article was given us over Mr. J. S. Henegar's name, but the odor of it comes from other sources. We are sure in our mind as to "who cooked it."
These brethren would have our denomination to accept their kangaroo verdict and my execution by a church in which I do not have membership, AND IN WHICH I WAS NOT HEARD.
They would condemn me for acting as pastor of a church which they accuse, without a careful investigation of facts, and with a rejection of or consideration of the facts which they may have, of being guilty of accepting excluded members from another church which they say is of the same faith and order, but, they have not labored with the church against which they bring the accusation, not with Elder Jones, our joint resident pastor there, who is a member of Middle Creek. Why jump onto me for the acts of that church? Is it a crime for me to pastor that church? It would seem that I only and alone have committed a crime sufficient to send me to hades or eternal hell. Where and how is there any justice in any such a course? The fact is they have not fully known my positions in this matter until they shall have read all this book. None of my would be executioners have consulted me or advised with me in the matter, and "know not what they are doing." They have been and are absolutely ignorant of the facts in the matter, yet free and plentiful in their accusations. Let them give what evidence they have as facts of how and why I am alone responsible.
"Where there is no vision the people perish." Pr 29:18.
This now is the order and practice which many deluded people have been supporting and are supporting. We can but wonder how they feel in their conscience before God. Many will probably be mad, some hurt, and some will close their eyes and go on into the ditch with their leaders, but a few faithful, thoughtful ones, who fear God will see and turn from error.
Let me perish but let the cause of God and truth live.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED BY NEW HOPE CHURCH?
The Lord said:
"And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste." Le 26:33.
"For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered." Jer 23:1.
"Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pastures, saith the Lord." Jer 23:1.
It is dangerous to violate and disobey God's law and "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of a living God."
Disobedience only accomplishes distress and sorrow and a weakening of the cause of Christ. There are other churches who would declare non-fellowship, with some encouragement, for some ministers, but, such is not advisable and would be destructive. It is better to encourage mercy and kindness.
My churches, none of them, are declaring non-fellowship for anybody, in our faith and order, therefore, they will have no regrets and no steps to retrace, and we are in peace with some prosperity in our churches.
We pray the Lord to bless with charity and grace, those who oppose us for many of them have not understood what they are doing
Paul said, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me; I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me: that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." 2Ti 4:7-16.
1st. As previously explained, we used the word "relations" here "as obligation." Therefore what we said was:
That Middle Creek Church was no longer "obligated" to Smyrna Church. To, we would ask, Is there no difference in the Association and Smyrna Church? We think there is.
The churches are not of the same faith regarding the retention of the sister who married the divorced man.
Middle Creek used gospel labor for about four years, and in 1939 broke off all relations with Smyrna Church.
If full fellowship and relation existed why did not Smyrna members commune with Middle Creek Church? Why did they not attend our service and baptisms? The truth is they did not fellowship Middle Creek, after the spring of 1934.
2nd. Middle Creek quit her labors for peace in 1939 in disgust.
It is true that we are not to retain evil persons in our churches, but it is also true that our local churches are the sole judges in these matters as to the qualification of members. We are confident that one sure qualification is a knowledge of our own imperfections and unworthiness and a prayer from the lips and heart, "God be merciful to me a sinner." No self-righteous Pharisee is qualified for membership in an Old Baptist Church.
Mr. J. S. Henegar says: A motion prevailed to visit Chastain to ascertain his stand relative to Middle Creek Church, and he reports that 1 9 members voted for it and none opposed it.
Their Wabash District Associational Minute for 1942 gave them a total membership of 55 members. We are wondering where the other 36 members stand on this matter? Nineteen members is only one-third of their membership. What of the others?
The actions of some of the churches show clearly the need of good, firm, Christian, sensible moderators in their business relations. Men who have not and will not sell their church out to secure the favor of would-be leaders, and the masses. Any small boy ought to sense the wrong in the acts of New Hope Church for their disorder is plainly visible, and contrary to all Old Baptist Rules.
We as a church must come to realize that judgment has begun at the house of God—or with the churches—and not with some high and self exalted preachers. "With what measure you meet it shall be measured to you again."
Individuals have often times taken the law of God into their own hands and assumed the right to pass judgment on others, not willing for the church to judge the facts. Many verdicts have been formed in kangaroo and bush-arbor courts by the few who have been full of envy, malice, prejudice, hate and hypocrisy, and the case then brought to the church by that few who most invariably dominate the church and instill into the members fear and coercion in the form of a motion and bring charges against a brother, after which a few vote in favor of it, not knowing often times what it is all about, and the remainder of the members keep silent, being afraid of being "cast out of the synagogue." Then the report goes out to earth's remotest bounds that the brother or sister, or elder has been excluded from one Old Baptist Church and therefore excluded from all, regardless of the order used.
We deny that such a procedure is Christian or according to the Scripture: and deny that such is the approved course of God fearing Old Baptist, and state without fear, that no history will support such a course. Thank God for our faithful and devoted people.
15 CHAPTER 15 - FACTS CONCERNING NEW HOPE INVESTIGATION
Part I—Questions and Answers.
Q. Was there a committee appointed by New Hope Church to visit Middle Creek Church?
A. No. Not that we have any knowledge of at all. Not at any time.
Q. But a committee did go, did they not?
A. Yes, a self-appointed committee went, but without any authority from any church whatsoever. Each of the five belonged to separate churches—one of them was a volunteer from New Hope.
Q. Why did they go?
A. It has been reported generally that Smyrna Church wanted a council and was in favor of it and then it was also reported that Middle Creek wanted a council, but each report stated that the apposite church would not enter into a council. So five brethren agreed oh a day to go see and ask the churches about the matter.
Q. What facts were obtained?
A. They found that Middle Creek was in favor of a council but that Eld. Webb and Smyrna Church were opposed to it, and refused to enter into a council.
Q. Did Middle Creek submit the records for examination?
A. Yes, and the clerk offered them to the brethren and especially to Bro. Henegar and he refused to take them into his hands and examine them.
Q. What remark did Eld. Webb make concerning his position in the matter?
A. He told them that "Smyrna would never submit to a council while he remained pastor. That there were not enough level headed Old Baptists in the United States to settle the matter in a satisfactory way, to all concerned."
Q. When did New Hope first appoint a committee? and what was its purpose? or work?
A. Their first committee that we know of was appointed in August 1942. Their accusation was, according to their written statement, that "Chastain is pastor of Middle Creek Church and did at their meeting, July, 1939, receive excluded members from a sister church."
I admit that I am pastor, but I deny that I took in members for it is not the duty nor the right of a pastor to take in members; that is done by an act of the church and is the business of the church. Therefore their charge against me for that act is a false charge and against the wrong party, and their premise is wrong.
As to my serving the church as pastor they have no right to dictate to a church what pastor they shall have nor to any preacher as to what church he shall serve as pastor.
Q. Is it true that when this committee came to Springfield to contact you, Eld. Chastain, that you dodged the committee?
A. This accusation is not true. Mrs. Chastain and I were visiting the Scioto and Muskingham Association in Ohio at that time according to previous arrangements of several weeks, and knew' nothing of their charge nor of their committee until after they had been here and gone home. Our meeting here was on the 15th and 16th of August. Mrs. Chastain returned home on Aug. 18th and I came home on Aug. 24.
Q. When did the committee contact you?
A. September 1st and 2nd at the Kaskaskia Association. Their charges and answer are found in Chapter 8 in this book.
Q. Did you tell those brethren that Middle Creek Church and yourself would refuse to call a council? or submit the matter to a council.
A. I did not.
Q. Who introduced the matter of leaving the decision to some four elders who were named?
A. Mr. J. E. Henegar introduced that matter by bringing in their names and asking if I would be willing to leave the decision to the four brethren.
Q. What did you say.
A. I answered, "Positively, No."
Q. Why did you answer so positively, refusing their council?
A. First, because that was a matter that belonged to the church to answer and not to me. I had no right to answer for them.
Q. Did you have anything personally against those brethren?
A. No, not one thing, against them personally. But, nothing was said about each one, personally. They were suggested as a whole or as a council, or as a unit.
Q. But why was you so positive and firm about the matter?
A. For the reason that one of that four, had said, "We have it over Chastain and we intend to pour it onto him." One other had expressed himself in writing as being against me in the matter and said that as he saw the matter it was jealousy on my part of Eld. Webb. Nothing was said of accepting two out of the four.
Q. Have you and Middle Creek been in favor of a council?
A. Yes, we have been, all the time. See copies of minutes of Church acts further over in this book. While we have favored a council we insist on having an equal say, or at least something to say, as to who shall sit in on that council. This is but our just right.
Q. Why did you say to the committee that it would "just take a minute to talk over the matter?
A. Simply because I did not have the records and historical facts with me to go into the matter thoroughly, for, it would have required a full day's time.
Q. Did you refuse to discuss the matter?
A. Yes, and walked away.
Q. Why did you refuse?
A. Because J. S. Henegar insinuated that I was lying.
Q. Did New Hope Church ever appoint a committee to visit Middle Creek Church?
A. If they have we have never heard of it, and the published records of their meetings do not show any such records.
Q. Has a committee appointed by New Hope Church ever visited Middle Creek Church?
A. No, they have not.
Q. Did New Hope Church make a second charge against you?
A. They state a charge in the Primitive Baptist of May 6, 1943, which they say was made in the church against me.
Q. What is that charge?
A. According to that paper, they have charged me with misrepresenting the matter of church relations between Middle Creek and Smyrna Churches.
Q. Did they not send a committee to interview you in the matter?
A. They absolutely did not.
Q. Did they take action against you, and what action did they take?
A. They declared non-fellowship for me and all preaching relations with me, without even notifying me, until after their action had been taken.
Q. When did you find it out?
A. About four weeks after the action was taken.
Q. Did you ever deny that you as a minister had relations with Smyrna Church or that you visited Smyrna Church in an ordination and during associations from about 1934 to 1938.
A. I did not.
Q. Did you deny attending Salem Associations yourself, or that the Middle Creek Church attended the Salem Associations during the time from 1934 to 1938?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ever say that Middle Creeek had declared non-fellowship with Smyrna Church prior to 1938?
A. I did not.
Q. Where then was the trouble?
A. I said that Smyrna had declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek and declared them out of order which act severed all relations between the two churches, relieving Middle Creek of all obligations whatsoever to Smyrna. These acts together with other acts of contempt and non-fellowship continued until about 1939, when Middle Creek broke off all relations.
We still insist that Smyrna has not fellowshipped and communed with Middle Creek Church since possibly in 1934. The records as given in this book we think will prove to any unprejudiced mind that this is a true statement of facts. We doubt if Smyrna Church by a vote of the church—a representative vote—would deny these facts as I have stated them.
If Smyrna will by unanimous vote say they have been in full fellowship with Middle Creek from 1934 to 1939 and explain their conduct toward Middle Creek and Eld. Webb's private letters to me, in a satisfactory manner to Middle Creek and restore their own excluded members, then I will have Middle Creek approve it or resign the church as pastor.
Q. Do you not know that Smyrna Church rescinded their act of non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church?
A. Yes, they went through the form of that act, I am told, but Eld. Webb, their pastor, writes, "You surely know that this act did not remove the deep-seated feeling of non-fellowship. Of course this is known to all here."
Q. But, do you not know that Eld. Webb said in Cayce's Paper of March 18, 1943, that this act "was rescinded by unanimous vote?"
A. Yes, I know that, but the two statements can not both be true, since they are so opposite to each other. He also wrote to me that many of their most worthy members opposed rescinding the act, at all.
The fact appears that the rescinding only covers the act of declaration and not the non-fellowship feeling at all. That feeling continued as the conduct and acts of the church afterward show conclusively, in a lack of communion and other ways.
Q. What is the date of the second appointment of the committee by New Hope Church?
A. The record as given in the Cayce Paper gives the date of their September meeting in 1942.
Q. To whom was this committee sent?
A. It says that they sent a committee to visit Smyrna Church and obtain copies of minutes.
Q. Did they not visit you and Middle Creek?
A. No, they did not—they were not appointed to do so.
Q. Do you mean they took action and declared non-fellowship for you without a hearing?
A. They did that very thing, (see chapter 12) taking the evidence of a hostile court.
Q. What was the date of their final action against you?
A. According to their account it was in February 1943?
Q. Has the church of your membership at Springfield, Ill., had any official notice of this act?
A. It is now one year since their act and Springfield Church has not had any official notice whatever from New Hope Church. Neither has Middle Creek Church had any official notice whatever regarding the matter.
16 CHAPTER 16 - PROPOSITION TO ELD. WEBB
Immediately following the Association at Hindsboro, Ill., in the fall of 1941, I had some correspondence with Eld. Webb, in which I suggested that we drop all personal matters whatsoever and that the churches get together and settle their own differences, and that we should work in co-operation in the matter.
In his answer he said:—
"I confess my doubts as to the benefit of our meeting as suggested . . . . . I have received a copy of the Cuivre Siloam Association minute, and have noted the resolution adopted here. It seems unthinkable to me that any one professing godliness could subscribe to such an action in direct support of known disorder. However, I note in the October issue of your Messenger of Peace, that you have seemingly given your hearty encouragement and support to the action. It is therefore with profound regret, that I must say, if you have expressed your true conviction, there would be NO USE WHATEVER IN OUR MEETING TO DISCUSS ANYTHING WHATEVER. The present division could never be healed on such grounds so far as true Old School Baptist are concerned.
"It seems to me that if you and other ministers for this group feel to hold this ground you have adopted our meeting would be useless. In this case Primitive Baptist have but one clear course open to them. I feel sure they are ready to take that course in our country and among our corresponding brethren generally."
Signed in typewriting: C. E. WEBB.
In closing a very disgraceful article in the Cayce Paper of May 20, 1943, Eld. Webb says:—
"I shall feel I have not only done the duty of a minister in an effort to safeguard the CHURCH OF GOD, and I shall HOPE THAT OUR PEOPLE, and very especially our elders, will wake up, and then WE WILL WANT TO SEE THEM PUT THEIR FOOT DOWN . . . . . In the interest of the Church of God."
It is clear that some of our brethren have been sowing the seed of hate. How can they hope for a harvest of love? "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." Ga 6:7-8.
Here is his desire expressed that the Baptist will crush every man who does not agree with him, by putting their foot down on that man. his is to be done in following the "ONE CLEAR COURSE THAT IS OPEN TO THEM," as he has just above said. My, what a job the Elder has had and does have on his hand to superintend all the OLD SCHOOL BAPTIST CHURCHES and Associations and Elders, "OF THE CHURCH OF GOD" throughout the United States! I wonder who has ever appointed him to that position anyway! I am sure God did not and Christ the Son of God did not, for no such a position is mentioned in His Most Holy Word. If the church has done so, then this is the first such case I have ever heard of. (One other man has assumed about that same position.) But, we feel to know that both these men are wrong in their assumption. Would it be possible, (we do not want to speak irreverently here) that God himself could be gone on a vacation or be asleep, that he would allow the church to appoint some one ,to take His place? No, that is not possible. Therefore their self-appointed supervision is a delusion. Read Eze 13.
In Eld. Cayce's Paper of August 19, 1943, page 250, column 2, Eld. Webb said to Eld. Cayce:—
"I am learning already that your last article was widely and deeply appreciated. Elder Chastain will never outlive it. He does not deserve to outlive it, for his course has caused untold misery to our dear people."
We will take a chance on outliving such twisting as Cayce did on that subject in that article. Probably Eld. Webb's wish is father to his thought. "We have a law and by our law he ought to die," so the Jews said of Christ. So, Eld. Webb wants me to die. It is I whom he wants the brethren to get their foot on and crush. He also says, "He has caused untold misery." Very well, the Allies have caused untold mis-cry in Germany and to Hitler, but are the Allies to blame? We warn Eld. Webb now that we intend to continue our fight to the last ditch against his ungodly acts, of exclusion and death and destruction, and also against Cayce's nefarious ways.
Now he has gotten to the place where he wants somebody to put their foot on somebody and crush them. That, is just the point we have labored for years to bring out to our people: that Eld. C. E. Webb has constantly wanted somebody excluded or to give somebody trouble and sorrow. It seems to be his hobby or mania. Several acts of exclusion were among his very first after he entered the ministry at Bentley, Ill., and he is continually pressing that point and has now openly declared himself, and urges a national division. Why does he not employ his time at peace and praise to God? Why not give his talent to building up the cause rather than to tearing down? He will never be able to build his "church Utopia" by any such course.
(1) —In his letter above quoted he speaks of "known disorder"—after all what does he know about order? This is his own judgment against the judgment of hundreds of good able brethren.
(2) —In order to be "true Old Baptist" one must see as he sees.
(3) —In order to love God and godliness we must see as he sees.
(4) —Only one clear course to take, he says. Division.
(5) —A meeting for reconciliation, he says, is useless.
That now is his picture.
"A fool's lips are the snare of his soul." Pr 18:7.
He that will split a block puts the thin edge of the wedge first thereto, and so by driving does his work.
Associations have no power over the churches and arc only meeting places for the worship of God. They did not exist until the Twelfth or Fifteenth Century after the days of the Apostles and are only creatures of the churches and are organizations of men. We do not object to them when properly conducted, but when men argue that a church can not be orderly without recognition of them, or being a member of them; and when men argue that churches can not withdraw and still be orderly: that they have a right to dictate to the churches or to declare non-fellowship for churches, then I am opposed to them and feel that we are not yet ready for a centralized government and that we would be better off without them. Men who know Old Baptist history know that I am in line with our father in this matter: Hassell, Repess, Mitchell Oliphant, Craig, Cash and many others. Eld. Webb has argued that men can not "walk out" of an asosciation, without "walking out" of the denomination. This is a false position, like many of his other positions. Such a position would indeed place a bar against Elder J. H. Oliphant, during his life time, and against Elders Pope and Baker and myself and all others who do not belong to any association. Such a position is absurd and ridiculous.
Middle Creek Church remained in the association as long as her conscience would permit, and they asked to be honorably dropped which request was refused, and then they were kicked out the back door and into the alley, without a single word or act of gospel labor, contrary to their own rules, just to save any reflection upon what some thought were perfect churches. See the minute of Salem Association (Ill.) for 1939.
Middle Creek made many sacrifices and endured much scorn, and time and again made many efforts at gospel labor, to get matters adjusted, but all to no avail.
Eld. T. S, Dalton, former editor of Zion's Advocate of Virginia, said:
What course should a church pursue when it has reason to believe that a sister church has erred, either in doctrine or practice?
Answer—Appoint a committee to investigate the matter, and let it be done in a loving brotherly spriit.
Would it be considered good order by Primitive Baptists for a church (or churches) to declare a sister church in disorder before or without first bestowing labors upon the church believed to be in disorder?
Answer—It would not, and such course should never be taken by Baptist churches.
Sec Zion's Advocate for June 1943, page 171.
They declared non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek and then in a sham act, a farce, rescinded that act, but have continued every act possible to declare their non-fellowship.
They tried to mutilate our church body by cutting it into part and declared non-fellowship for parts of it and all this was under the able, wise, and unerring supervision (?) of C. E. Webb as he would have us believe. Fine discipline, do you think so? Of all the new things under the sun and in an "Old School Baptist Church" for the Good and Best Interest of the Church of God," that is it. Then his act at dropping Middle Creek from the association was to save reflection on the other churches and himself.
17 CHAPTER 17 - Fellowship Broken—Communion Broken
OPINION OF FOURTEEN BRETHREN
The Reader will easily remember that Eld. Webb denied that his churches ever declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek. Read again his article in the first of this book. He there accuses me of making misstatements that were "deliberate." Also he says that our statements in the matter are "decidedly false."
So we ask that the reader study the following letters and facts and minutes. Eld. Pope also accuses us of "making, false statements" and therefore of Webb's church having to' lie under "false charges."
A careful study here will convince you of the truths in the matter.
That the reader may not forget we repeat some here: Copy of Smyrna Minute to Middle Creek:
"As to why we do not feel free to commune with certain Middle Creek Members: they are holding in their fellowship a sister who has united in marriage with a man whose former wife is a member of our church (Smyrna) and from whom he was not separated on gospel grounds as laid down by Christ in Mt 19:9, thus creating a STATE OF NON-FELLOWSHIP between members of Middle Creek and Smyrna Churches; that certain members of Middle Creek Church who have power to adjust these conditions and do by their acts say that they are in full fellowship with such offenders and that they have no intention of withdrawing from them: that it be written in our minutes that, in-as-much as A. C. Johnston, and L. C. Jones, with those of them who stand with them and have the power to adjust these conditions, and therefore we deem them responsible for the continuance of this condition, which DESTROYS OUR FELLOWSHIP.
"MOTION CARRIED SMYRNA withdraw the hand of fellowship for those whom we deem responsible until such time as they see fit to set themselves in order to again enjoy the full fellowship of the churches."—May 1935.
The reader will also remember—Eld. Webb's statement that "the act of rescinding did not remove the deep seated feeling of non-fellowship," together with the acts of Smyrna Church in not calling the Middle Creek Church into the three ordinations following this act: Eld. Symmonds, Eld. Prior, Deacon Curtis, and also Providence did not call Middle Creek to assist in their ordination of deacon in December 1936, and so far as we know Providence Church, the home church of Eld. Webb, never has made any act of rescinding whatever, which church Eld. Webb said, had also declared non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek Church. These acts took place early in 1935.
May 23, 1935, Eld. Webb wrote saying:—
"I will say that Providence and Smyrna have declared in plain terms that they have no fellowship for A. C. Johnston and L. C. Jones (note the absence of the term "Bro." or even "Mr." here) AND THOSE WHO STAND WITH THEM. Friendship Church will probably do likewise tomorrow. That declaration will probably stand, and is fully approved by the worthy part of Middle Creek membership. When these churches REFUSE TO COMMUNE with them they are doing no more than other members of Middle Creek herself does.
"Of course those men will be allowed no seat in our association this year unless they reform."
C. E. WEBB.
These brethren did not reform, and have not yet reformed in the way Eld. Webb demanded. Bro. Jones was dropped as Moderator of the Association, after the act of rescinding had been passed several months.
I have pastored Middle Creek Church for about eight years and I have never seen an act or heard a word about the church not having full fellowship for these brethren, nor of any member refusing to commune with other members of Middle Creek Church, but all has been peace and a perfect unit and every act of the church has carried, so far, by unanimous vote of the church.
It would appear, I think, that if such a condition existed as Eld. Webb has described, that it would reflect plainly upon the efficiency of Eld. Webb as pastor, who had served them for eight years.
Bro. Johnston had been clerk of the church for many years and yet serves as clerk, and Eld. L. C. Jones has served both the church and association for many years as their beloved moderator. If he was a bad man that fact would reflect upon the entire association as he was centrally located among them, and all knew him well.
The fact that these brethren took their stand in the case of a remarriage in their church and dared to speak their mind, as they should have done, which views Eld. Webb did not like, and used their rights and refused to be dictated to by Eld. Webb, non-fellowship was declared against them.
According to Eld. Webb's letter (and all these letters may be seen by calling on me at Springfield, Ill.) "Providence and Smyrna Churches declared non-fellowship for these brethren in plain terms." Why did they not follow the long established usage of Old Baptist and have Middle Creek take that action instead of doing it themselves?
TWO CONTRADICTIONS OR DISORDERS
The committee of fourteen brethren who examined their record most certainly overlooked this point of order and passed it up. We ask, What right did Providence and Smyrna have to declare non-fellowship for some of Middle Creek members and our answer is, ABSOLUTELY NONE.
No. 1—We will prove our position by Eld. Webb. He says:
"No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership, (or fellowship, W. A. C.) except the church of his membership." Webb in The Cayce Paper March 5, 1942.
I do not know of any Primitive Baptist who would dispute the fact of the above statement, but Eld. Webb here contradicts himself and opposes the act of these two churches who acted under his leadership and which act he has tried so hard to sustain. If these churches had no such power, then their act was in certain disorder. This is where they were trying to take the act of Local Judgment out of the hands of the local church—Middle Creek.
No. 2------"It has always been our opinion that church government is with the local gospel church." Eld. Webb in the Cayce Paper February 4, 1943, page 35.
So on this one page we see his church violates two points of his doctrine, in trying to exclude some of Middle Creek's members.
Now what was it that the FIFTY-ONE brethren said at Fulton, Ky., in convention in 1900?
To refresh your minds we quote it here:
"When bars of fellowship are unlawfully raised among our people the bond of union by which our churches are held together are broken and the welfare of the cause exposed to the most uncertain results. If the raisers thereof can not be induced to remove them at once, the only course for those who want to remain in this Holy Church Union is to discard their actions and have no connection with them until they withdraw such bars of fellowship."
So in this matter Middle Creek after four years of labor and waiting took the advice of these FIFTY-ONE elders as given above, and did thereby recognize the fact that SMYRNA had broken the connection with them.
If Middle Creek is wrong then the FIFTY-ONE elders are wrong in their advice, including both Eld. C. H. Cayce and his father.
In the fall of 1939, Smyrna Church, as we understand, called in a committee to look over their records, and advise them, and that was all very fine, but that committee surely did not find the records or facts which we have given you from Eld. Webb. There are many records that may not be recorded in books as well as many acts of churches and members. Neither Middle Creek Church nor myself were represented at that meeting.
OPINION OF THE FOURTEEN BRETHREN
THEIR REPORT :-
"We find some IRREGULARITIES IN THE RECORDS BUT NOT ENOUGH, WE FEEL, TO DECLARE THE CHURCH IN DISORDER, AND WE SUGGEST THAT SMYRNA CHURCH INVITE MIDDLE CREEK CHURCH TO JOIN WITH SMYRNA CHURCH IN ASKING FOR A COUNCIL OF BRETHREN TO ADJUST THEIR DIFFERENCES."
Bro. A. J. Epperson, Eld. W. A. Holmes.
Bro. Leslie Huston, Eld. G. J. Jones,
Bro.. James Humphrey, Eld. C. O. Johnson,
Bro. L. L. Fligg, Eld. Elmer Sutton,
Bro. Henry Wayman, Eld. Emerson McAfee.
Bro. Steve Ratliff, Eld. S. L. Pettus,
Bro. J. D. Allen. Bro. W. E. Dye,
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary says:
"Irregular: Infraction of the rules as to ordination or the performance of clerical functions; an impediment, disqualification, or incapacity which debars from ordination, exercise of clerical functions, or advancement to a higher order . . . . . quality or state of not conforming to rule or law; . . . . . infraction of law, order, etc.; disorderliness; a disorderly or lawless action."
We have a right to assume that this committee had a perfect knowledge of the meaning of the word IRREGULARITIES, as it was used in their clerical or religious report.
If one goes into a home and finds the furniture out of place; the chairs bottom side up and the tables turned over and a carpet rolled up, etc., that is a state of Irregularity, surely a state of disorder.
In this report there is absolutely no stamp of approval but they found irregularities which they did not name. These brethren gave good advice and Middle Creek has been willing to join in the council as advised, but Smyrna has constantly refused to join us in the matter. See their minute copied on a following page.
The New Hope Church of Hindsboro sent over a committee that did not report any IRREGULARITIES in Smyrna minute to their church, nor do they report any investigation as to the order of Smyrna, but they apparently and clearly spent all their effort on statements of Eld. Webb's and some misleading history to try to show that I had misrepresented some matters. "They would make a man an offender for a word."
'Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men . . . . . Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? .... . The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that MAKE A MAN AN OFFENDER FOR A WORD, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. . . . . . Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale." "They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." Isa 29:13-24.
It really seems strange that a committee of fourteen would spend a day investigating the Smyrna record and report "irregularities" and then the committee of five from New Hope at Hindsboro would not find these irregularities.
Smyrna's refusal of council can but show fear and a lack of faith in their cause.
18 CHAPTER 18 - RESOLUTIONS AMONG OUR CHURCHES
Some who rigorously opposed what they call New Resolutions a few years ago are now introducing New Resolutions and asking the churches to pass them, strange as it may seem.
Following is a copy of what some churches are asked to adopt:
"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:—
Be it Known that Whereas, There is so much trouble and confusion in existence among the Primitive Baptist Churches, which have caused division in some churches and associations in our bounds of travel and associates; and
Whereas, the Bible tells us to "mark them which cause division and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them." Ro 16:27.
Resolved, that we (Name of Church) feel it our duty for the safeguarding of our church, to announce that we will not fellowship any church that will take into their fellowship excluded members from sister churches, without gospel labor, nor those who uphold such acts. We also will not fellowship any sort of union of churches or federal government which is meant to make laws or rules to govern our churches."
This NEW Resolution has been presented to some of our churches which have turned it down and to a few who have adopted it.
UNION OF CHURCHES
We read in the above New Law or New Resolutions-where it states:
"We will not fellowship Any Sort of Union of churches or federal government which is meant to make laws or rules to govern our churches."
Has any one church a right to make laws in the kingdom of Christ? If it does would not two or more churches have a right to do so, either singly or in unison? No church has a right to make laws to govern in the kingdom of God on earth.
Adopting the above resolution is "making a law" and whoever wrote it formed that law. We turn now and read in the constitution of the Salem (Ill.) Association, constituted in 1835 as follows:
"It shall be the duty of any church wishing to join this association to apply by letter and messengers and to state its faith and by whom constituted, unless it be a church dismissed by letter from a sister association OF OUR UNION."
This language clearly indicates that there was a union of these sister associations who were intimately acquainted with each other and that they were in some manner IN A UNION.
In 1939, one hundred and four years later, we read in their minute on page 2 as follows:
"Therefore be it resolved that Middle Creek be dropped from our Associational UNION and that this action be inserted in our minute."
With these brethren there must surely be now as in the past an "Associational Union." The brethren who have adopted the above New Law or Resolution have, therefore, virtually declared non-fellowship for Salem Illinois Association.
The South Arkansas Association, under Eld. Cayce, did, virtually, in 1942 declare a set of rules or laws meant to govern certain churches several hundred miles away from them and declared non-fellowship for those who did not follow their decree or edict.
There is, however, no provision in the above resolution for elasticity or mitigating circumstances and as it is written here it can give much trouble to which there would be no end. This is of itself a new law meant for the safeguarding of our churches they say, and therefore violates its own purpose, in "making a new law." "Christ is our only Law-Giver." I have heard much said of late about our Old Laws and Rules being sufficient and denying the need of new laws, but somebody has conceived the idea that this new law is very essential for our peace and in avoiding those who cause division. There surely would not be any more harm in two or more churches forming a federal government than in one church forming a federal government to govern our church or churches or to make laws. We are opposed to both these as a power to rule over sister churches, as a dominating or dictatorial power.
First—A law which has no penalty attached to it, is unconstitutional in civil court and will not stand the test in the supreme courts of our lands.
Second—A law without provision as to mitigating circumstances will not stand before any court, and is unconstitutional in civil courts.
To illustrate: A statute says, "Any person who takes the life of another person shall hang by the neck until he is dead."
Such a law is no good, because it makes no provision for a person who may shoot another in war or as an officer or in self defense, and it makes no provision for a person who may kill a man for the destruction of the honor of his home. Persons may be endowed with power to keep their children under their care but if they abuse their children or become incapable to care for them, then a mitigating law allows the proper authorities to take those children from under their care, and to give such care as may appear proper and decent.
Our churches are not slaughter houses, and neither are they prisons nor concentration camps.
A church might adopt sprinkling for baptism and some dear one rebel against it and become excluded, and we contend in any such case our church disciplinary laws should be such as to take care of such unfortunate ones who are by circumstances denied their rights and especially when they are denied a joint council meeting to decide the case in question. Therefore, I am opposed to this New Power or Law or Resolution that is being introduced and adopted, as being "unconstitutional" and unscriptural and denounce it as one that will be destructive of peace and one that will cause strife and as a New Deal for our people.
Just laws create respect for any organization—church or otherwise—for administrators and for courts. While injustice makes for insecurity under any kind or form of government.
We read in Eld. Cayce's paper, that both New Hope Church at Hindsboro and Otter Creek Church at Girard, Ill., have adopted the above resolutions. See the number of Aug. 5, 1943, and Sept. 16, 1943, "Primitive Baptist," with Eld. Wright and Sutton, pastors, respectively.
We do not know who these churches have in mind. Do they mean churches that are in fellowship where peace reigns and where fellowship has not been broken? If they mean Middle Creek Church, then we ask them why they did not apply their own rule and use gospel labor in this act and call on that church and investigate the case before taking action, which they did not do. They could have reference to Mt. Gilead Church near Hersman, Ill., which took in two excluded members from Cheney, Nebr., when Eld. Baxter Hale was their pastor.
This act of Otter Creek puts Eld. Sutton "on the spot." He has been in touch and association with the Western Association of Iowa of which Eld. Holmes is a member, and with which Eld. Pettus and Eld. Webb and Eld. Hale associate and with which Salem Association of Illinois is in correspondence. The Western Association holds the Mt. Pleasant Church within its bounds in fellowship which a few years ago took in a family of several, whose membership was with the church in Grinnell and which refused letters to these members, and also received a brother who had been excluded, but whose church has quit meeting, as we understand. It may be urged that this church sent a committee to visit the church in Grinnell to ask if they were in fellowship—which they did—and found they were not in fellowship but this was not necessary in the Middle Creek's case as they knew positively that Smyrna did not fellowship them. Also, this association holds in their correspondence or in their membership Little Zion Church of California, many of whose members were received from another church, and who had been excluded from that church. (Please note, we are not charging any blame here to any one nor to any church, nor to Western.Association, but only stating facts as they are.) But, look at the condition of these elders and the whole situation. Eld. Sutton's Church and New Hope Church say they '"will not fellowship ANY church that will take into their fellowship excluded members from sister churches without gospel labor, nor those who uphold such acts." Do these elders uphold this act? Yes, Eld. Sutton himself fellowships these brethren through the Western Association.
What will they do regarding Cayce visiting and preaching and fellowshipping Long Prairie Church, near the Skillett Fork Association in Illinois, who holds members from Skillett Fork which they took in—some of whom were excluded or not excluded—without being dismissed in an orderly way, by letter or otherwise?
I ask, What will he and these other brethren do in this case? We think they will not do a thing—they will let that pass—even though they have declared non-fellowship for such conduct.
We wonder if they shall still receive Cayce and his work in the ordination of elders and in the organization of churches!
Eld. Baxter Hale of Eld. Sutton's home association, Concord, in Oct., 1942, visited and communed with Little Zion in California and afterward expressed himself "as glad he did so." I am not blaming Eld. Hale. I would have done the same thing, but Eld. Sutton's church, also New Hope church, have here declared against such course and against Eld. Hale, for "he has upheld that act."
Their act also declares against Eld. D. E. Baker who visited Little Zion Church some four years ago and preached two weeks and saw several new members come into that body while there, by experience and baptism. This act also puts Eld. Wright "on the spot."
Now what will they do with Eld. Cayce who affiliates with Eld. Fowler of Dallas, Texas, who took into his church several members from the Ft. Worth Church without gospel labor? What will he do with the Center Creek Association of Oklahoma for retaining in their Union Bethel Church with some eight members who joined the church at Muskogee after their exclusion.
This Resolution is also against a Federal Government. So I am against them, too. But what are we going to do with Eld. Cayce's Association which in the fall of 1942 violated every "Established Rule of Our Denomination," and declared non-fellowship for brethren by the wholesale? (See their minute for 1942. If you will send a stamp we will send you a copy of their act or resolution.)
Why should some be excluded and rejected—and others retained and received who are guilty of the very same thing or practice?
REMARKS ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT
BY ELDER S. L. PETTUS
Extracts from Hassell's History, pages 291-294
"The fifth mark of the apostolic church was the independent or congregational polity or government of each local church, subject only to the Headship of Christ; all the local apostolic churches being united by no outward bond of force, but by an inward bond of love. . . . . . A visible church is always in Scripture a local body; and every local church, acting by a majority of its members, is invested by Christ with the exclusive and final power of receiving, disciplining, excluding and restoring its members, electing its officers, and transacting all other necessary business Especially does the language of Christ in Mt 18:15-18 demonstrate that the church is the highest and last ecclesiastical authority on earth; that there can be no appeal, under the law of Christ, from the decision of the church to a presbytery, or synod, or general assembly, or conference,—or association, or any other earthly authority. After a church has excluded one of its members, and classed him with heathens and publicans, it is not only thoroughly unscriptural, but also thoroughly absurd, to suppose that any man or set of men can, by any exercise of authority, put back such an offender in the fellowship of that church. With true repentance, and confession, and reformation the fellowship will be restored; but without these exercises gospel fellowship can never be restored. Each gospel church is a separate and independent republic, having Christ for its only Head and Lawgiver, and not subject in ecclesiastical matters to any outside jurisdiction; such, according to the ablest scholars and historians, was not only every apostolic church in the first century, but also of the second century. . . . . Bible Baptists believe that, not only in the first, but also in every succeeding century, God has had on earth faithful, spiritual, unworldly, un-Romanized, apostolic churches
"They have always corresponded with each other by brotherly letters and messages and have from time to time met in a general or associational way, not to lord it over God's heritage, but to worship God, and to edify, exhort and confirm one another in the most holy faith once delivered to the saints. . . . . It cannot be repeated too often that each gospel church is, according to Christ and His apostles, the highest ecclesiastical authority on earth. . . . . . The simple fact that the apostles address their epistles, not to church officers, or church judicatories, but to the churches of the called and faithful saints of God, proves both the right and responsibility of each church in respect to the management of its own affairs. . . . . . It would be disloyalty to Christ for any church to alienate from itself and delegate to any other person or set of persons the rights and functions which Christ has committed to her; a gospel church cannot have delegates, but may have messengers. BUT SISTERLY RELATIONS OF CHURCHES INVOLVE SISTERLY OBLIGATIONS. They are all members of the same mystical body of Christ, permeated by the same Divine Spirit, and should be constrained by the same heavenly love to maintain the same strict faith and order of the Gospel, to have tender regard for one another's feelings, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. In temporal things each church is subject, and should be quietly submissive to, worldly powers; but in spiritual things each church is subject only to Christ."
I have given these extracts because they present my views in better language than I can. I have omitted scriptural quotations to conserve space. I learned in my early life that the belief of Primitive Baptists in regard to church government was the same as set forth by Elder Hassell in the above quotations, and that was before I knew of his history. A church is fallible, and may be guilty of error in dealing with members, as some have admitted, and rescind their acts. Other churches, or brethren, may labor to convince a church of error, as I have known to be done, and have the error corrected. But it is evident from the above quotations, which I believe are scriptural, that one church cannot REVERSE the action of another church and continue in fellowship with that church. If a church is guilty of disorder, or advocating heresy, and cannot be reclaimed, other churches are not required to live in fellowship with such a church, and are not bound to respect its actions.
S. L. PETTUS.
Comments by the Editor
We are glad to publish the above article or selection from Elder Hassel's History by Elder Pettus. Elder Hassell is regarded as good authority by all Primitive Baptists, but not infallible.
If we understand Elder Hassell correctly he is here opposing the idea of synods, general assemblies, conferences, associations, presiding elders, priests and popes ruling over the churches, and is insisting that each church is a republic within itself. When he says, "after a church has excluded one of its members, ..... it is absurd to suppose that any man or set of men can, by any exercise of authority, put back such an offender into the fellowship of that church," Elder Hassell is perfectly right. None can restore such a member to THAT fellowship but that church. But this is not saying that a church may not err in exclusion, and become disorderly in its rebellion against the laws which Christ has given us, to such an extent that her acts are illegal; nor is it saying that this matter may not be adjusted by advice of sister churches. A church might by her act adopt sprinkling instead of immersion for baptism, and some of the members be excluded on the account of not approving the act, but that is no argument that such unjustly excluded person or persons cannot find a home in some orderly church. It would indeed be a poor government or church where such an injustice cannot be adjudicated. The offending parties should not be set out forever with no hearing and no equity, and denied a just regard to any right or claim, or the administration of law according to its spirit and not merely according to its letter. The Bible and church laws are based on the principle of justice and equity which should be administered by the church; and no pastor or minister is to lord it over a church—but should be the servant of the church.
Elder Hassell also says: "The cardinal tenets of Bible Baptists are, The supreme authority of Holy Scriptures; the exclusive headship of Christ over his church; . . . . . the baptism of believers, and the partaking of the Lord's supper by those properly baptized and in gospel order; . . . . . a regenerated and orderly-walking church membership; the independence and yet cordial brotherly association of gospel churches." Hassell, pages 19, 20.
We now quote from Elder Pittman in Questions and Answers, page 95:
'"Is a church a sovereign? Answer, Yes, in the sense that councils, synods, presbyteries, associations, etc., have no scriptural authority above churches. . . . . . Associations and councils may labor with and advise a church, but the law of discipline was given to the church. Yet, a church is not a sovereign without restriction, she is held in bounds by the laws of her Lawgiver. If she breaks the law of Christ, if she teaches false doctrine and practices which Christ and the apostolic churches did not teach, and will not give them up; If she becomes stubborn, unruly and unforgiving, then she has become disorderly; and if she continues in her disorder she will lose her identity. Such a church has no scriptural right to plead church sovereignty when she continues in rebellion to her Lawgiver. And orderly gospel churches may deny her claims of sovereignty and REFUSE TO BE BOUND BY HER."
Elder Pittman says:
"BUT THERE IS A POWER ABOVE THE CHURCH: IT IS THE LAW OF HER LORD." From that law a church has no right to rebel. If she does, she becomes disorderly, and sister churches should not uphold her in her disorder."—Advocate, 1939, page 199.
Note.—Elder Pittman says, "Sister churches should not uphold a church in disorder."
To all this we say, Elder Pittman is right. AMEN.
Elder R. W. Thompson said, as quoted in the "Messenger of Peace," May, 1939, page 165, should a church err in dealing with her members, he says:
"It is understood that there is no court of appeal before whom she can be arraigned for trial. Neither do we think her acts can be ignored while she continues in the bond of the sisterhood of churches, which bonds constitute the one body—the church of Christ. But it would be right, it would be brotherly, to try to save her from her error. And again, should some sister church go so far as to endeavor to loose what she has bound—I do not say it is the right thing to do—but even then it does not forbid the labor of love to effect a reconciliation."
Elder Thompson here says, if we correctly understand him, "The acts of a church in error cannot be ignored," and if they are ignored, she cannot continue in the "bonds of the sisterhood of churches." He certainly does not teach that other churches are to be bound by the error of the one church, nor submit to any tyrannical form of government. One church is human and as apt to go into error as is any other church— each of us may think we are right and the other fellow wrong.
Now, since we are all agreed as to government, then the question to decide is. What is CHURCH ORDER?
Elder Hassell speaks of "orderly-walking church membership," and of "cordial brotherly relationship."
Elder Pittman speaks of "Sister churches in gospel order and of churches being held in bounds by the law," and says that orderly gospel churches do not have to be bound by a church in rebellion.
Elder Thompson says, "A church's error cannot be ignored and that church in error remain in the bonds of sisterhood."
Now, may we insist that when a church violates the laws laid down by our Savior and the teachings of the New' Testament, and the spirit of the Gospel; that when a church plainly commits a breach of discipline, that her course is no longer the course of gospel order.
We insist that for a church by act—motion and second carried—to declare non-fellowship FOR A PART of a sister church, and to refuse communion TO A PART of a sister church is gross disorder; and that when such an act is even rescinded with the statement that that spirit still prevails; and when a church condones and assists and abets any minister in such an act, that that church is absolutely in disorder.
We further insist that when brotherly and sisterly relations are so affected and broken that a sister church, without just cause, must be ignored and treated with contempt; and this course continued for years with an effort to crush and destroy said sister church, that such course is absolutely a violation of gospel order, and brotherly and sisterly relations.
We also insist that when a church condones a minister in public and private attacks against a brother minister with charges that cannot be sustained, that such support is disorderly, and more especially since such conduct has been preceded with a statement that for ANY MINISTER to preach for the church (railed against) would cost that preacher the fellowship of all sister churches. "For any minister," which means regardless of who the minister is or may be that is so preaching. With such a stake set, and a continual drive toward that stake, there, of course, can not be gospel order in such conduct.
It is freely granted that each church has a right to discipline her members, but in doing so it must be according to the teachings of Jesus. A parent has a right to discipline his child, but he must not be unreasonable nor inhuman in doing so, else he will be arrested and tried before the courts of justice and fined according to law and order.
There are often mitigating circumstances, even in murder cases, yet this, of course, should not be taken in such a manner as to encourage murder.
There was a command in the Bible to exclude a man for fornication. See 1Co 5:5. Then later, there was a command to restore him, which was just as binding as the one to exclude. 2Co 2:7-12. "Lest Satan get an advantage of us." There was a command to Israel "to stand still." Then there came another, "to go forward." I ask which was the most binding?
In our Christian duties, which is better, to MURDER and destroy some Christian character, thus destroying their useful lives, losing their influence with and the respect of their children and neighbors; or to use the church and Gospel as our Savior designed we should, to be helpful to erring mortals? We should be careful that our helpfulness and usefulness is not destroyed, and that Satan should not thus get the advantage of us.
Who is to be the judge in any case? Is it not to be the church—the local church—which is acquainted with and knows the case, or is it to be strangers in distant states? It is disorder for brethren who do not know, to set up their ex-parte judgment. Do the churches, even close by, know a case better than the church directly concerned? The most bitter criticism our church here at Springfield has ever had, was by a man who claimed to be a preacher, and who never in his life was inside our church. All he knew was second-hand—what he had heard and been told. That will not stand in court, no matter what is the source of information.
Ministers should at least make an effort to tell the truth and be an example to the people. No advanage of any brother should be taken to advance our own selfish designs and interest.
May the Lord help us all to be free and frank and truthful, and to show mercy, and kindness, and Christian love and forbearance, to be courageous and forgiving.
There is a zone of silence through which we would be happy to pass. The Lord said, *'Be still and know that I am God." It is the stillness of a resolute and reflective mind. It is difficult at times for us to be still. It comes only to those who think upon God, and much depends upon the source of our confidence. We may rest our assurance upon self, but best of all, upon God. It is the stillness of trust and fellowship; it is communion with God. We need Him most of all —we need Him every hour. "O Lord, stay Thou near by." We cannot lose if He is at hand. This tranquil assurance lasts through every battle and through the final crisis. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 1 will fear no evil: for Thou art with me."—Messenger of Peace, Oct. 1939.
19 CHAPTER 19
All of our Baptist in this country took our position against a Federal Head or Union back in the Kirkland day, and we stand right there to this day. See Primitive Monitor for March, 1943, pages 120 and also 113. Our position was printed in The Messenger Of Peace for May, 1943, page 168, as follows:
NATIONAL UNION OF CHURCHES
We are opposed to a FEDERAL UNION OF OUR CHURCHES, or anything that will destroy the independence of the churches, or their democratic form of government; i. e., "That each church is an independent republic in and of itself." (See Hassell.) We have never said or written anything to the contrary, nor have we given any one any right to judge otherwise in the matter.
I am bitterly opposed to anything new among our people in the practice, doctrine or government of our churches, and to anything that savors of the Kirkland form of Centralized Power, or a Head Organization. The Baptist people among whom I have labored for fifty years know my position, and most of them are fair and honest in all their dealings, and the great body of Baptists generally are, but we are all reminded now that there are still false prophets among us: Men who have acted unwise and imprudent.
We should all stand opposed unitedly to anything that will widen any breach, or drive any wedge deeper, or to a permanent division, and all should labor for peace and unity.
While we are opposed to any Federal Control, we are just as strongly opposed to DICTATORIAL GOVERNMENT of our churches; that any minister or ministers, near or far, should lord it over the churches. We also oppose associations usurping the right and power to declare non-fellowship. We oppose, also, the present tendency to factionalism, isolation, and to judgments without a gospel hearing, as instructed in Mt 18. Nor should our people make a Bible of our common church newspapers or magazines, nor accept every statement found in them as true and inspired of God, without a careful and just investigation in the matter; nor should we condemn any brother without a hearing—and then, on the preponderance of evidence only. We should believe brethren are honest and Christian until we know different; and "do unto others as we would have them do unto us."
We believe in the strict adherence to our old Rules and Articles of Faith, as established by our fathers upon Bible principle, and let us be sure that we do adhere strictly to them. These, under the blessing of God are, we think, all that is needed for our welfare as a church, or churches. We endorse the idea that each church is, or should be, capable of self-government, and we also believe that each individual church is the sole judge as to their membership and to their own internal affairs; and that these sacred rights should not be infringed upon; that a violation of this rule will result in widespread confusion, distress and division. No church should surrender her divine authority to any _ man or to any other church or power; and no church should be forced to accept any change-of-venue in any case, for such a case has and will produce baneful results.
We shall continue to labor for peace and fellowship and pray that God will yet bless our beloved Zion.
W. A. C.
20 CHAPTER 20 - CHURCH RECORDS AND MINUTES
We agree that the fourteen Elders and Brethren of Smyrna's committee of Dec. 1939, gave a splendid decision and were correct in their statement of IRREGULARITIES in Smyrna's Records and also in the remedy. We can not see, however, in the light of the definition of Webster's where there is any difference in disorder and irregularities for Webster gives it as: "Not conforming to rule or law; . . . . . infraction of law and order; . . . . . disorderliness; a disorderly or lawless act; disqualification "which debars from ordination, exercise of clerical functions." "Not according to established principles or customs; not in conformity to laws, human or divine," "deviation from usage."
Middle Creek Church, therefore, has proceeded along the lines of Webster's definition of "Irregularities" believing that Smyrna had disqualified herself for clerical functions and had committed disoderly acts, and this committee of fourteen has asserted as much in rendering their decision, we therefore stand on that decision.
Smyrna Church did, at that meeting, immediately following the decision of that council, agree by act to join us in calling that council, but later abandoned that position, under the leadership of Eld. C. E. Webb. Middle Creek was notified at her January meeting, 1940, and was requested to join them in council. They, Middle Creek, agreed by unanimous vote to grant the request, and the committee met with Smyrna one week later at their January (next) meeting, 1940. The two churches agreed upon and named the men to be called into council, all in good faith. The feeling among the brethren was good. But, it was suggested that the two churches try again to settle the matter among themselves by selecting local committees to draw up a plan of agreement. Accordingly the following brethren were selected:
Smyrna Church selected: Eld. Orval Prior, Deacons Earl Poland and Louis Curtis.
Middle Creek Church: Elder L. C. Jones, Deacon Walter Hardy and Bro. A. C. Johnston, Clerk.
They met at Smyrna Church house in Bentley, Ill., Tuesday, January 23, 1940, and in prayer and labor spent the entire day and arrived at the following recommendation:
SUGGESTIONS of brethren from Central Illinois.
(The reader will here turn back to Chapter 13 of this work and read carefully the suggestions of the five brethren who on April 17 and 18, 1942, visited these churches and made suggestions as to a settlement. You will find a striking similarity here. Middle Creek, knowing the suggestions of the joint committee of 1940 was rejected, knew very well that this suggestion, so similar, would never in fact and sincerity be carried out by Smyrna Church while under the leadership of Eld. Webb, their pastor, and therefore did not adopt that last suggestion, without any guarantee from Smyrna Church. But they do extend gratitude to the brethren for their effort and kindness.)
We here give you the report of the joint committee of the two churches as above described:
"We the committee agree that due to the fact that Middle Creek Church received a letter dated May 18, 1935, which she felt was a bar of fellowship between the churches of Middle Creek and Smyrna, and the committee of Smyrna Church assuring the Middle Creek committee it was not a non-fellowship letter, and with this recommendation of Smyrna Church committee, Middle Creek Church agreed that she erred in her interpretation of the above letter dated May 18th, 1935, therefore did err in receiving into her membership by relation, Bro. Prince Cox and Sister Clara Cox (excluded) and Sister Addie Cox from Smyrna Church, and for the sake of peace and fellowship between Middle Creek Church and Smyrna Church, we recommend that Middle Creek rescind the act of receiving into her membership by relation, Bro. Prince and. Sister, Clara Cox, excluded members and Sister Addie Cox, and that Smyrna Church erred in the exclusion of Bro. Prince Cox and Sister Clara Cox and recommend that Smyrna rescind the act of excluding Bro. Prince Cox and Sister Clara Cox and grant Bro. Prince Cox and Sister Clara Cox and Sister Addie Cox letters of dismission if they so desire.
We further recommend that the membership of our churches visit one another as in times past.
We the undersigned committee pray, both Middle Creek and Smyrna Churches give this their earnest consideration.
Middle Creek Committee: Eld. L. C. Jones, A. C. Johnston, clerk, Walter J. Hardy, deacon.
Smyrna Committee: Eld. Orvel B. Prior, Louis K. Curtis, deacon, Earl W. Poland, clerk.
The above report was received and adopted unanimously by Middle Creek Church at her regular meeting February 10, 1940.
In the fact that Middle Creek approved this plan she is not to be understood as yielding her convictions of the attitude of Smyrna's non-fellowship acts—but simply agreed to accept the construction and assurance of Smyrna's committeemen in the matter for the sake of peace, and that with this construction of the matter placed upon their records, then she had erred, but with her own construction and convictions she had not erred. Therefore, when the Smyrna Church rejected this agreement it was unquestionable proof that Middle Creek's conviction was correct as originally formed. Middle Creek has done everything within reason to adjust the matters satisfactory to all, but all to no avail.
It will be noted that two errors are here admitted:—
1st. One on the part of Smyrna Church—that she erred in the exclusion of Bro. Prince and Sister Clara Cox,
2nd. That Middle Creek erred in her interpretation of a letter, according to the construction put upon it by Smyrna's committee—therefore did err in the reception of these members—on that premise.
To the reader and student of this matter it will be clear that the records show beyond doubt that Middle Creek's first interpretation was and is correct—therefore, they did not err.
REJECTED AND ERRORS ADMITTED
Smyrna Church at her meeting February, 1940, took up the report and rejected the same by a vote of 1 to 5. Twenty-one members being present—fifteen not voting.
FROM SMYRNA'S MINUTE, AS FURNISHED BY THEIR CLERK, BRO. EARL POLAND.
Report of Committee of last meeting was read by Bro. Louis Curtis as follows:
1st. Motion carried that the church receive the report for discussion.
2nd. Bro. Mark Brooks objected to the report as read, as follows:
(A) Rescinding the act would be the wrong method.
(B) Church was justified in the exclusion.
(C) It would have a tendency to show that Smyrna Church was in disorder in the exclusion.
(D) It would justify Middle Creek in receiving our excluded members.
3rd. Vote on the question: 1 for it and 5 against it.
(Note: The Smyrna committee was later asked how many members were present, and was informed by them that 21 members were present, yet only 6 voted, which could hardly be counted a vote. It appears that two of the brethren who had served on the committee, voted against their own report.)
4th. Motion carried that the committee be retained.
5th. Motion carried that Eld. Webb point out to Smyrna Church where she had been in error dealing with Middle Creek Church. (This was a terrible verbal indictment, so we are told.)
6th. Motion carried that we stipulate our errors to Middle Creek Church and present them to her at her next regular meeting.
7th. Motion carried that the committee bear this message to Middle Creek Church.
8th. Motion carried that the church adjourn until Monday at 2:00 p.m. (This meeting had lasted until in the night. Chastain.)
SMYRNA MEETING MONDAY 2:00 P.M., FEBRUARY 19TH, 1940
1st. Motion carried that the church reconsider the motion passed Saturday—that we stipulate our errors to Middle Creek Church and present them to her at her next meeting.
2nd. Motion carried that the above motion be rescinded.
3rd. Motion carried that Smyrna Church agrees to ask Middle Creek Church's forgiveness for all past wrongs.
PROPOSITION TO MIDDLE CREEK CHURCH
4th. Motion carried that Smyrna Church express her willingness (*upon PROPER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of Bro. Prince and Sister Clara Cox) to restore them to membership and fellowship when their act of being received into Middle Creek Church has been rescinded and they be granted all the privileges of her members in good standing.
*Note: Who was to be the judge as to these acknowledgements being proper?
5th. Motion carried that Smyrna make the following proposition to Middle Creek Church in regard to communion:
"In-as-much as the divorce and remarriage issue (which Smyrna Church holds to be disorderly except upon gospel grounds as in Mt 19:9) has given rise to the question of communion between Middle Creek and Smyrna Churches, and WHEREAS some can not with clear conscience commune under such circumstances, SMYRNA Church proposes, that those who can do so shall not be forbidden, but that those who cannot with good conscience commune, shall not be required to do so.
6th. The church expresses by unanimous vote that she thinks her action in this meeting has been fair to all parties concerned, reasonable and right.
7th. Motion carried—IN-AS-MUCH as the action now taken expresses the mind of Smyrna Church who believes it to be both orderly and reasonable, we suggest to our sister church, Middle Creek, that, if she cannot accede to it that the matter be now dropped from further action. (This statement is denied in item D of a following page in Smyrna's minute of Friday, May 10, 1940)
Vote stood 7 to 7 and the tie was broken by Eld. Webb voting for the motion.
Signed: ELD. C. E. WEBB, Mod. EARL W. POLAND, Clerk.
Middle Creek committee being present again asked that a council be called, when they were informed by Eld. Webb that such a council would not be called while he was pastor at Smyrna.
Now let those who will, announce with all the power and strength they possess, that they have never declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek. These facts remain true andalso it remains true, if their minute furnished by their clerk as above quoted is true, that they have given an ULTIMATUM, that if Middle Creek "can not accede to it that the matter be now dropped from further action,"
We do not understand that their view with regard to divorce and remarriage nor the act of non-fellowship be dropped, but that the matter of adjustment be dropped. So the matter of Middle Creek settling with them is hopeless.
MIDDLE CREEK'S REPLY
We give you now the act of Middle Creek of April 13, 1940.
IN-AS-MUCH as there have been differences between Smyrna Church and Middle Creek Church, and since Smyrna Church has confessed her errors in her treatment of Middle Creek Church, both as a body and of her members, and asks our forgiveness, both by church acts and messengers and minutes:
THEREFORE, Be it moved that we extend our forgiveness of such errors as have come to our attention and knowledge, but as some of their acts cannot be thus adjusted,
BE-IT-FURTHER-MOVED, That since we have proof, and are convinced beyond reasonable doubt, by their letter to us of April 18, 1935, and by their actions and conduct since that date and facts in our possession, and also by their reference to divorce and remarriage and their views of it, and their reference also to communion in their minute of their February meeting of 1940, a copy of which is furnished us by their clerk, Bro. Earl Poland, as just now given: THAT THE SAID SMYRNA CHURCH DOES CONSIDER US IN DISORDER and therefore does not have, and has not had full and free fellowship for Middle Creek Church for about the past five years: nor do we believe that Smyrna Church would by a majority vote say that they have been or are in fellowship with us.
FURTHER feeling that their act of excluding Bro. Prince and Sister Clara Cox was both illegal and illegally done, and in view of Smyrna Church considering us in disorder, and having previously broken fellowship with us, and a part of our members, that Middle Creek Church did receive into her membership Brother Prince and Sister Clara Cox, and also Sister Addie Cox, whom we esteem highly, and we feel that the dealings of Smyrna Church was so plainly and grossly unscriptural that the honor of the cause of Christ required such action on our part.
(See Eld. Pittman's Questions and Answers, page 39 for Eld. Hassell's views. Also pages 102-108 of this book) .
WE-MOVE-THEREFORE, That Middle Creek Church retain her membership intact, and again express our desire and willingness to call a council as agreed at Smyrna's meeting in December, 1939, and again in January, 1940.
Done and signed by act of the church at her regular meeting at Middle Creek, April 13, 1940.
ELD. L. C. JONES, Mod.
A. C. JOHNSTON, Clerk.
Note:—It is clear here to any reasonable person, that Middle Creek calls for council and that they decided to hold their membership intact and that they intended doing so, awaiting the decision of that council, and should their decision have been against Middle Creek they would then no doubt have dropped the members in question for the sake of peace—otherwise the council would have been useless.
COPY OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF SMYRNA CHURCH, at Bentley, Ill., as furnished to Middle Creek Church by their clerk, Bro. Earl Poland.
Minutes of April, 1940—Monday, May 6, 1940.
Received by Middle Creek, Friday, May 10, 1940.
Middle Creek Church, A. C. Johnson, Clerk:
At Smyrna Church's business meeting on Saturday before the third Sunday in April, 1940, the following motion was passed: That the Church appoint a committee to:
1— Write to the corresponding brethren who were present at our December meeting (last) giving them complete proceedings to date.
2— Reply to Middle Creek Church's, April 13, 1940, action, and answer in regard to going into a council with them, and to report back to the church at some time set by the church.
Time set for meeting, Monday, May 6, 1940, 2:00 P. M.
Committee of six chosen by ballot as follows: Eld. Orvel Prior, Louis Curtis, Earl Poland, Clayton Curtis, John Poland and Ernest Harris.
Committee reported back to the Church at her meeting May 6, 1940.
Recommendation of the committee to Smyrna Church is: THAT WE DISPENSE WITH THE MATTER OF CALLING THE COUNCIL AS AGREED UPON AT OUR JANUARY MEETING, for the following reasons:
1—That members of both churches have stated their belief that councils are unscriptural and that the churches would not be willing to abide by the decision of a council.
2— That the act of Middle Creek Church at her April meeting—stating that, "We feel that the dealings of Smyrna Church were so plainly and grossly unscriptural that the honor of the cause of Christ required such action on our part," which directly opposes the decision of the corresponding Elders and brethren at our December meeting, 1939, before whom our records were placed for examination—from which we feel justified in believing that the decision of a council would be ignored.
3— Inasmuch as one member of Middle Creek Committee at our February meeting stated (other Middle Creek members voicing the same opinion) that if Smyrna Church expects Middle Creek Church to turn out Smyrna Church's excluded members, received by relation, they would not do it, which is officially sustained by their act of April meeting in which by unanimous vote they agreed to hold their present membership intact.
4— Having since our April meeting asked the personal opinion of each of the corresponding Elders and brethren who were present at our December meeting to investigate our records and the majority expressed against entering into a council meeting. Motion was made and unanimously carried that the recommendation of the committee be adopted with the following comments on Middle Creek Church's last action of April 13, 1940.
(A) Smyrna Church has desired to follow a friendly course and has endeavored to do so in laboring with Middle Creek Church according to the request of the Middle Creek Messengers who were with us at our January meeting (1940) and who suggested that the churches labor together instead of resorting to a council meeting which they did not believe to be scriptural. We regret, therefore, the tone which is clearly present in the last action of the Middle Creek Church.
(B) The first paragraph of Middle Creek Church's action seems to be misleading in that it seems clearly to imply that Smyrna Church has assumed responsibility for the differences which exist, and that she has confessed this and asks forgiveness of Middle Creek Church for the same.
(C) The main body of the action seems directly to ignore the findings of our corresponding Elders and Brethren who in December, 1939, visited Smyrna Church by our request and who carefully examined our records to determine whether our course has been scriptural and orderly. We hold the main body of the Middle Creek action to be misleading and feel that it will not be sustained by our corresponding Elders who searched our records in December, 1939. (Not one single word of approval of Smyrna's acts is found in the minute of the meeting of these elders and brethren.)
(D) Regarding the closing paragraph of the action we would say that Smyrna Church at no time has "requested that the matter of differences" be dropped. But inasmuch as Middle Creek Church has in this paragraph officially verified the repeated expressions of her Messengers that she has no intention of releasing those taken by relation who were excluded from our membership, we are unable to see at present any prospects of profit to our churches by a council meeting. (See Item 7 in Smyrna's minutes of February 19, 1940, in this same chapter.)
(E) We again express our willingness that our corresponding brethren or others interested in the order and welfare of the churches may have free access to our records at any time they may desire.
(F) Motion made and unanimously carried that we express our willingness to continue to labor with Middle Creek Church for peace and unity when she has shown her desire for such unity by releasing from her membership those taken by relation who were excluded from our membership, and Sister Addie Cox.
C. E. WEBB, Moderator.
EARL W. POLAND, Clerk.
Comments on the Above Minutes
We do not understand the recommendation here to be from the "corresponding brethren," but the findings and agreement of Smyrna's own local committee of their own membership, in which they have:
"Agreed to dispense with calling a council."
In the face of this fact the report has been circulated and urged over the country that Smyrna wanted a council but that Middle Creek rejected it. No. such a record as that can be found against Middle Creek.
We deny flatly that Middle Creek brethren have said that a council properly called was unscriptural. If so, then why did they insist on calling a council? Such a report is unreasonable and untrue and will not hold water.
Middle Creek's action has never in any way violated the findings of the "corresponding brethren." They found IRREGULARITIES which Webster says is "disorderliness."
Middle Creek's position was to hold their membership intact until a scripturally called council should advise them in the matter and then to take that advice. All contrary views are simply evil superstition and surmisings.
Paragraphs B and C are simply based upon "SEEMS" and are assumed.
There is no reasoning here from cause to effect nor from a clear premise with conclusions drawn, and the whole thing is bad.
We place absolutely no faith in the purported reply as given here of the "corresponding brethren." We do not know if they made the replies purported, nor if they had a correct report on "facts to date" upon which to base a reply.
21 CHAPTER 21 - NOTES ON FACTS
1st—Smyrna refused to commune with a part of Middle Creek Church and declared non-fellowship. Feb., 1935; also June, 1935. See Eld. Webb's letter of May 23, 1935.
2nd—Smyrna rescinded the act of DECLARING non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek—but speaks of FELLOWSHIP BEING DESTROYED until such time as Middle Creek sets themselves in order. May 18, 1935.
3rd Webb says the deep seated feeling of non-fellowship still exists. See letter of June 16, 1935.
4th—Smyrna ignored Middle Creek in ordinations. July, 1935. Symmonds, Prior and Curtis, previous to 1938.
5th "If they (Smyrna) are driven to withdraw from innocent and good people who are powerless to adjust the conditions in order to clear themselves of the transgressors it will be a matter of feeling forced to do so and not willingly." Webb—written in 1935.
6th—In speaking of Smyrna's act of rescinding, Eld. Webb wrote; "Frankly it did not at all meet the approval of many of our finest members." . . . They further agreed to continue their labor for the unity of the churches." Webb—June 16, 1935.
Note—Restoration to membership or fellowship must always be done by unanimous vote as in reception of all members.
Why should such labors be continued if fellowship existed?
The above statements are too plain to need comment. Has Eld. Webb stated the facts here as they are? The church actions of Smyrna would indicate that he has done so.
1st—Eld. Webb told Middle Creek Church that "he would see to it that no true Old Baptist preacher would preach for them if he could prevent it, and that the house would pass to the owls and bats." Oct. 1934.
2nd—Middle Creek made a strong effort, 1934 to 1938, to regain the fellowship of the churches and association, but failed. The brethren quit in 1938.
3rd—It was at Friendship at the close of the 1938 association that Eld. Webb attacked me with a harangue of abuse, in my absence, publicly, and had to be stopped by the brethren. This was previous to Middle Creek Church's act in taking in some members which they claim were excluded. Following this public attack we dropped his name from the editorial staff of the Messenger of Peace, unceremoniously.
4th—Eld. Webb writes, July 24th, 1935: "I present to our people the following compromise: that Middle Creek be retained in the minutes; represented on all committees, but, the moderator should be removed from her (Middle Creek's) membership and she be denied the association until better conditions and feeling exists." (This was after the act of Smyrna's rescinding their motion of non-fellowship.)
5th—What right did Eld. Webb or the association or other churches have to demand that their moderator be removed from membership in Middle Creek Church? Absolutely none. The only charge we have heard is, that he favored retaining the sister in membership who had married the divorced man. Is the above compromise suggestion a recognition of local church government? No, but it is a departure from the Old Rules.
6th—Middle Creek was denied the next session of the Association, for 1936. This was after the sham act of rescinding.
7th—Our brethren were placed on committees but never recognized or used.
8th—There was much argument as to whether Middle Creek should be retained in the minutes. Why?
9th—Middle Creek brethren were not recognized in ordinations. Why?
10th—Smyrna holds as pastor Eld. Webb, whose membership is at Providence Church, who has declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek or a part of it, according to Eld. Webb's letter, and which has not been rescinded, that we have any knowledge of.
11th—It has been circulated far and wide that Middle Creek is harboring and encouraging a plain case of adultery in the church. Middle Creek does not think so and she is the judge in her local affairs.
12th—Does Smyrna and Providence Churches flelowship Middle Creek with this case of accused adultery in her membership?
Now (a) Their charge is false or (b) their claim to fellowship Middle Creek Church is false or (c) they are willing to fellowship the sister in the case. Which is it?
Can New Hope Church answer?
How about fellowshipping sister churches with similar cases? Could Eld. Webb visit Eld. Pope's church? It is well known that there is no settled rule on this question, but a division of sentiment.
Is the matter of church government up to the local pastor? Is he to dictate in such cases, or merely to advise? Would it be the right of other churches or associations to take the matter out of the hands of the local church? These are things we are opposing and have opposed and will oppose. The local church knows all the details or should know them better than people from a distance. The church does not belong to the pastor, and the church is the supreme authority under the laws of God from which there is no appeal. We have and do strenuously oppose a denial of local church government in this case.
We now hear from Smyrna, as late as Feb. 17, 1940: See minutes of their meeting Feb. 19, 1940 in the last preceding chapter.
It is clear now to the reader that Smyrna holds to the idea of a part fellowship and a part communion, and that she holds Middle Creek to be disorderly.
If there is adultery in this case, who caused it? See Mt 5:32.
Middle Creek could, if they saw fit, (but they have not so far done so) call in question the divorced woman's membership at Smyrna, for she sued and obtained a divorce from the man in the case without charging any infidelity whatsoever, and no charge that we have ever heard of has been filed against her in Smyrna Church. We now give you Eld. Hassell's views of such a case.
He says: "Are there any scriptural grounds for divorce other than adultey? There are not. Nothing is plainer in the word of God than his positive and repeated prohibition of divorce except for adultery." Questions and Answers, Page 84.
Eld. Webb says: "The sister's case was not the trouble but was only made the bone of contention." Now for what purpose was it "made the bone of contention?"
If the cause of trouble is elsewhere, why lay it onto the heart of this poor innocent woman—for if this statement is true she then is innocent in the case, and the Church is therefore innocent. Truly it would seem that Satan has had the advantage.
"They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." We can only pray that "God will forgive them."
Let us therefore take heed of evil examples among the godly: learn of no man to do that which the Word of God forbids. Sometimes Satan makes use of a good man's bad ways to spoil and harden the hearts of them that would do good and those who follow later in life. Wherefore take heed of good men's ways and measure both theirs and thine own by no other rule but the Holy Word of God.
We should give pause to immature and poorly considered actions in the kingdom of God, for Jesus said: "It must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto that man by whom they come." We must not ignore the gospel of grace, mercy, forgiveness and helpfulness. It is time to put an end to arbitrary decisions and rules which irritate local churches and which can not be defended by Biblical order.
The world will little note, nor long remember us nor what we say here, but it can never forget the actions of faithful soldiers of the cross, who when all are against them, "fight the good fight of faith." Let us die then for liberty and the right if necessary.
22 CHAPTER 22 - CONTRADICTORY
In the face of these facts Eld. Webb says: "Regarding the statement that Smyrna Church passed an act declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek as a church, I will now say ... as kindly as I can, yet flatly, this statement is decidedly false. At no time either before or after the dates named, has Smyrna Church declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church."
See Cayce Paper of May 18, 1943, Page 84. Column 3, and also Page 85.
Further down in the same columns he says: "There can be no excuse for this misrepresentation. . . . His statement therefore can only be viewed as deliberate. I keenly regret the necessity of making this charge." C. E. Webb.
From His Letter
"I will say that Providence and Smyrna Churches have declared in plain terms that they have no fellowship for A. C. Johnston and L. C. Jones AND THOSE WHO STAND WITH THEM. Friendship will probably do likewise tomorrow." Webb's letter to Chastain, May 23, 1935.
The whole of Middle Creek Church has and does stand with these brethren.
Now which time did Eld. Webb have this right?
These statements are so opposed to each other that both can not possibly be true.
He also said, "This act of rescinding does not remove the fact of the existence of the DEEP SEATED feeling of non-fellowship."
So that the whole question resolves itself back as to Smyrna's order in declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church before they excluded the people in question.
CHASTAIN'S ACCUSATION DENIED
Elder C. H. Cayce:
Dear Brother in Christ—I have just returned from Charleston, W. Va., where I met with brethren of that section at Naomi Church, in the New Liberty Association. The meeting was well attended, and the church is prospering as God alone can prosper it. Love flowed from breast to breast and fellowship abounds. I was informed by the pastor that Elder W. A. Chastain, the editor of the Messenger of Peace, had written a letter to New Hope Church, Hindsboro, Ill., dated September 1, 1942, as copied in an article by Elder C. E. Webb, in the Primitive Baptist of March 18, 1943, in which Elder Chastain said, "case after case may be cited to prove our position"—meaning that certain other churches had created a precedent by receiving excluded members to the extent that his church (Middle Creek) might be exonerated and her skirts kept clean in doing the same thing. Elder Chastain cites five cases in which he claims persons were received who had been excluded from other churches, in which he says, "and a large number into the New Liberty Association in West Virginia." At the time the brethren told me about this I bad not received my March 18 issue of the Primitive Baptist. I would like to say to the thousands of good, orderly Old Baptists who have read such a misconceived and grossly false charge, that this is not true in any of the churches of the New Liberty Association, and to the mind and record of the oldest ones of our churches, this has not been, and is not, so. It is against the rules of her constitution, and is neither Baptistic nor Bible; and, furthermore, this charge is a violation of the intelligence and sincerity of her beloved moderator, who has gone on to his eternal home, and also to the present beloved moderator. This charge is an infringement upon our peace of mind, and could only serve to lower our standing with sister associations. I cannot, somehow, find the answer to this question: Why one who is supposed to be a servant of the humble flock of the once lowly Shepherd of Galilee, our dear Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who did not try to stand so lofty in the sight and ideals of men but always sought to stand in the favor of His Father, the great Creator, regardless of how low that place might be in the sight of men, would attempt to subsantiate his purpose and position by inflicting a false assertion against brethren that are supposed to stand in the same cause that he represents, which assertion he must have known would damage or hurt the ones accused. As for us, we have chosen the quiet road of peace that leads by the cross of the silent Saviour, of Galilee, who, in His sore afflictions, opened not His mouth to divert His own afflictions unto another: but when the gloom and shadows of sore trials, and even death, fell heavy across His path, He bowed His sweet head and, in silence, bore it all. We would like to be like Him. A brother in hope,
E. H. HICKS, 616 Ninth St., Ashland, Ky.
AND ACCUSATION PROVEN
In a paper edited by Elder C. H. Cayce, for May 20, 1943, under the above heading, we read an article on page 153, over the name of Elder E. H. Hicks, Ashland, Ky., in which he insists that I had misrepresented his people of New Liberty Association, of West Virginia.
We met Elder Hicks in Ohio in August, 1942. He was a complete stranger, but we loved the truths he preached.
It has not been our intention to misrepresent him, nor the New Liberty Association. We know many of these dear people and esteem them highly as God's people, and would not intentionally do them harm, nor misrepresent them for the world.
In our reply to New Hope Church, of Hindsboro, Ill., last fall we stated that New Liberty Association, of West Virginia, had received a large number of excluded members into their association. I probably should have made my statement clearer and more definite. To show you what I meant and to give you the facts I quote here from their minutes of 1941, which proves my statement correct.
"Your committee reports that in receiving Elder E. H. Hicks and Deacon J. S. Mynes and ten members from the Runyan Church, of Cattlesburg, Ky., do so feeling that they are the church. As they left that body when, on the 25th of November, 1939, the supposed trial was held upholding, and continuing to uphold J. H. Keaton in his offense against Runyan Church and Association, they were justified; and they have held regular meetings SINCE THEY were EXCLUDED without being labored with or being invited to seats in church capacity" * * *
At first, we were much worried over Elder Hicks' letter, fearing we had blundered greatly; but with another reading of their associational minutes I find that these members had been excluded somewhere by somebody, and that about twelve of them had been received by the New Liberty Association, and recognized as the Runyan Church, as the quotation from their minutes clearly shows.
The case is very similar to some other cases where the exclusions have been illegal and out of order, and claims made, when facts will not, do not sustain the charges made. We think New Liberty Association is in the right in the matter. It has been recently argued that when people are excluded in one place that they are necessarily excluded from the whole world.
The minutes clearly show there had been trouble and division, and some had been excluded, and that these very excluded brethren had been recognized as orderly and accepted as such by the entire New Liberty Association, including Eld. Hicks.
The minutes of the J. H. Keaton faction of this association prove these facts also, as above stated. So, Elder Hicks is wrong in his statement.
We ask Elder Cayce to print above facts in his paper.— W. A. C. in Messenger of Peace, July, 1943.
Note—To date we have never seen our reply in the Primitive Baptist. January, 1944.
W. A. C.
TRAVELING WITH GOD
My plans were made, I thought my path all bright and clear,
My heart with song o'erflowed, the world seemed full of cheer.
My Lord I wished to serve, to take Him for my guide,
To keep so close that I could feel Him by my side. And so I traveled on.
But suddenly, in skies so clear and full of light,
The clouds fell thick and fast, the days seemed changed to night;
Instead of paths so clear and full of things so sweet,
Rough things and thorns and stones seemed all about my feet,
I scarce could travel on.
I bowed my head and wondered why this change should come,
And murmured, "Lord, is this because of aught I've done?
Has not the past been full enough of pain and care?
Why should my path again be changed to dark despair?"
But still I travel on.
I listened—quiet and still, there came a voice—
"The path is mine, not thine, I made the choice;
Dear child, this service will be best for thee and me,
If thou will simply trust and leave the end to me."
And so we traveled on.
—From Grit Story Section.
23 CHAPTER 23 - IMPORTANT
It is vitally important that we have a just basis for peace and prosperity, so that a large per cent of our dear people may worship together and a foundation should be maintained; that such a basis be agreeable, operative and permanent. Let us all think of the words: LIBERTY, JUSTICE, AND PEACE.
Our common objective should be to worship God and to keep for ourselves and our children and neighbors the Faith and Practice of Our Fathers, pure and sacred; to maintain a church in which each individual member has a voice and a vote and just rights; whose membership is not endangered by some would-be Dictator or Self-Appointed Presiding Elder, who would lord it over God's heritage; in which each member shall have the opportunity to live his life in peace as the Scriptures set forth, in righteousness and joy, free from fear and spiritual want and poverty; to labor in the Master's cause and vineyard as his conscience, by the grace of God, would dictate to him and be productive to the glory of God; that both he and his family shall enjoy true religion; that they may associate with the brethren of their choice of like faith and order; to think and worship freely, and to die in the knowledge that his children and friends shall have these same blessed liberties. This, it seems to me, is a righteous cause.
Such a purpose or position may not be easy to reach or to achieve, and it will not be—because of divisions produced by false prophets among us, and prejudice, selfishness and that ghastly monster of ignorance and "hate."
But the challenge is great and it must be met and we know of nothing that is more worth while than our liberty and peace, so we go forward willing to "fight the fight of faith."
"We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen: and ye receive not our witness." Joh 3:11.
24 CHAPTER 24 - Consistency - What Is It?
Just for the reason that we argued that Middle Creek had the right to take care of her own local business and was an independent organization in her internal matters of discipline and as such she had the sole right to retain or exclude her members as she judged proper (as taught by the Scripture, by Eld. Hassell and Baptist History that is reliable.—See Hassell's History, pages 288 to 295; and as quoted in this book) is no just reason that Eld. Webb, without one single syllable or scintilla of truth should accuse us of a departure from Old Baptist Faith.
He has said: "It has always been our opinion that church government is with the local gospel church." Primitive Baptist, Feb. 4, 1943, Page 35.
Then we should practice that very thing. Why did he allow and encourage Smyrna and Providence to try to take this right from Middle Creek? There, now, is the trouble. He objects to a Federal Government of the churches and so do I.
He says: "It clearly destroys the authority of the local gospel Church and makes the rules of the National Convention supercede the rules of the local church." Cayce Paper, Feb. 4, 1943.
Then we ask on the same reasoning why should we allow Smyrna Church to supersede the rights of Middle Creek as a local church, and to destroy Middle Creek's authority in her own internal local affairs? Is there any difference at all? Then it is asked why did Middle Creek interfere and take in Smyrna's excluded members? For the simple reason Smyrna had declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek four years in advance of taking in the members.
THE BARTLETT CASE
Eld. Webb denies that Eld. E. B. Bartlett was ever excluded and accuses me of being untruthful in the matter. He says, too, that,
"If Eld. Bartlett was ever excluded from church membership it would be disorder for others to receive him."
Yet Eld. Bartlett was excluded and some of the distant churches received him and recognized him. Eld. Cayce recognized his faction of the Cuivre Siloam Association for years and advertised their meetings, against the wishes of all our people in that section of Missouri and Illinois. If they had a right to receive him then would not that be accepted as a guide or a precedent for others? Some of them just can not take their own pills.
The record shows: "The minority of the Elkhorn Church withdrew from the Bartlett faction and declared non-fellowship for them at their July 12 meeting 1919." (See church record.)
In October the 29th, 30th and 31st, 1919, a council meeting was held at Siloam Church, Pike County, Mo., and all the evidence possible was heard in the matter of churches and the association as to the Bartlett affair. Their conclusion was as per item 5 of that report as followrs:
No. 5—"We find that the Bartlett faction left the fundamentals upon which the Cuivre Siloam Association was founded over 100 years ago, and in lieu thereof have adopted the writings of uninspired men, upon which they judge the character of sound Baptist;
No. 6—We whose names are written underneath, have lawfully, honestly, scripturally and prayerfully sat in council at Siloam Church, and after a careful examination . . . . do find that we can not live together in peace and fellowship, because of new departures and practices fostered upon us.
Item II—The above resolution carried unanimously. Motion that in reply to advice asked for by Sister Louisa Lotton and Sister Rosa Downs, of Macadonia Church, we advise them, after hearing evidence in the case, to join some other church of the same faith and order. Motion carried unanimously. Signed:
E. H. Branstetter, Geo. Woodson,
Ella McGuire, G. B. Moore,
Eld. S. Flanigan, Anna Easton,
H. H. Downing,
Georgia Keithley, Wm. McGuire,
Charles Heim, R. B. Clark,
Malinda Cannon, Eld. W. J. Hardesty.
Marinda Flanigan, C. F. Elkins,
Members of the Council
Item 4—We read: Taking up the case of Elkhorn Church in regard to their disorder, and after a thorough investigation and hearing the evidence, we find those represented as the minority to be the church in order, and they were invited to seats in council."
So the minority which excluded Bartlett was found to be the church in order by this committee or council.
For Eld. Webb to call in question these findings or facts is for him to reverse the acts and condemn the course of his own Salem (Ill.) Association, Concord (Ill.) Yellow Creek, Two River, Salem, Mo., and Kaskaskia of Illinois, together with the judgment of Eld. Frazee, Eld. John Conlee, Eld. John Willeford, Eld. Cash and all the other ministers connected with the case who afterwards and always have and did recognize the ministers and brethren of the Cuivre Siloam Association including Eld. Hardesty. Why does he not follow in the footsteps of these men, including Eld. Frazee?
He criticises the action of our churches in sending letters to the Cuivre Siloam Association. Just why, now, should that concern him.'' He has declared against us all and declared non-fellowship for us all. Go read his articles. He says, "So far as we are concerned, those elders whom we have named, as well as any others with them in such work, will not be recognized as Old School Baptist." Read in the Cayce paper Jan. 7, 1943, page 10. Here he drives his wedge instead of trying to work for peace.
Here is another quotation from Eld. Webb:
"It is gross disorder for any church to receive such persons into her membership by relation so long as the church from which he is excluded is held in fellowship by all orderly sisterly churches."
Now Siloam Church, Elkhorn Church and the Cuivre Siloam Association has been held in fellowship and correspondence by Eld. Webb's Association, the Salem (Ill.) Association, during these years, while Eld. Cayce and some others received Eld. Bartlett, therefore, according to Eld. Webb, the brethren who received Eld. Bartlett were and are in gross disorder, including Eld. Cayce. The fact is the pill is just too bitter, they can not take their own medicine, and it is a case of playing a double standard, pure and simple.
Iowa and the West Coast
We have two lovely churches and two lovely ministers in the West. We love them all, yet they have had difficulties and disagreements, but they are going along in their Christian way.
Church No. 1—Had for various reasons excluded some members, and some who were not excluded left the church and a number of them went over and joined Church No. 2.
(This is a parallel case to the Middle Creek affair except possibly two exceptions—divorce and remarriage, and a bar to fellowship, which Smyrna has set up, which gives Middle Creek Church the advantage in the case. Eld. Webb has said the divorce and remarriage case is not the trouble there and so Middle Creek has much the advantage in the case.)
Our dear Bro. Eld. D. E. Baker of Charleston, Ill., visited the Church No. 2—at Compton, California—which had received these excluded members and some not excluded— for fourteen days or Aug. 6 to Aug. 20, in 1939, preaching daily and five members joined the church and he says, "I feel the Lord helped me to preach the Gospel." See Messenger of Peace, Oct. 1939. Now will Eld. Baker come over and help us at Middle Creek?
'"Eld. Baxter Hale of Illinois preached for our church, Little Zion, today, both morning and afternoon. . . . . The feeling was one of love and fellowship." Mrs. Clara High, Long Beach, California. Messenger of Peace, Feb. 1943.
We are also reliably informed that Eld. Hale was with them—this same church—in Dec. 1942 and communed with them and repeated several times that he was happy he did so.
Now we invite Eld. Hale to come commune at Middle Creek for the same order exists there.
We are happy to have the account of these joyful visits. But just why do these brethren condemn Middle Creek? Is the case any worse at Middle Creek than in California? Not one whit.
Now we will examine the Western Association of Iowa. Eld. Holmes holds membership in that association, I think. He has also visited the Church Little Zion at Compton, California, and spent a lot of time there worshipping with those good people. Will Eld. Holmes visit us at Middle Creek? If not, why? The church status is identically the same.
Western Association, Iowa
In their minutes for 1934 we read, under Friday's business:
Item 9.—'"Request from Little Zion Church, Compton, California, by the hand of Eld. W. H. Osburn for correspondence by letter with Western Association. Request granted."
Their minutes show that a letter from Little Zion Church has been received each year from 1934 to and including 1942. So the Western Association by a continuance of this correspondence through these years evidently and beyond doubt considers Little Zion Church in order as do Elders Hale and Baker and Holmes. We do not condemn them in their opinion. Why do they condemn Middle Creek?
Now what preachers are in line with the Western of Iowa? Their minute list for 1941 shows the following ministers in attendance and fellowship and correspondence:
Eld. S. L. Pettus, Eld. B. L. Nay,
Eld. Baxter Hale, Eld. C. L. Crouse,
Eld. C. O. Johnson, Eld. J. Bryam Adair,
Eld. Claud E. Webb, John Vincent,
Eld. Elmer Sutton, Lic. Walter Acton.
Eld. Leslie Henry,
Eld. Geo. J. Jones, Eld. W. A. Holmes, Eld. Wesley Jones. Each and every one of these preachers are involved as deeply as is Eld. Chastain.
Through this association they are each and everyone in fellowship with Little Zion Church, yet they have rejected both Middle Creek and myself and are putting out a great effort to isolate them, and myself as their pastor, and have declared they will not invite me into their pulpits. Much harm and evil has been done the Messenger of Peace and the Cause of God. It matters not about myself. Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much evil, for Paul interfered with his idolatrous business. Paul said "the Lord reward him." Paul also said, "no man stood with me, but all men forsook me; I pray God it may not be laid to their charge." 2Ti 4:14-15.
New Hope Church at Hindsboro has taken a drastic step against me and has caused much trouble and grief, yet they recognize the above preachers who are just as guilty as I through their "hook-up" with The Western Association, to Little Zion Church, and also by direct visits. What are they going to do with these other men—and The Western Association?
And what about Eld. Cayce visiting Long Prairie and Eld. Upchurch and Eld. Reeder in Southern Illinois?
This condition proves beyond any argument that it is not a question of the order or acts of Middle Creek Church. If these brethren have a personal grievance against me why do they not come to me and settle the matter in a scriptural way?
Salem Association of which Eld. C. E. Webb is a member is and has been constantly in fellowship and correspondence with the Western and Little Zion Church. Now what are they going to do? Webb has declared against any such and all who follow in such a course, and says he does not intend to have anything to do with such persons who receive excluded members from other churches. Hold still, brother, and take your pill. It will also be remembered that Mt. Pleasant Church in the Western Association holds members they took in from Grinnell Church without letters or exclusion.
We love these brethren but only want to understand their position in this matter. Our churches and brethren should press them for an answer.
ELD. PETTUS said: "If a church is guilty of disorder, or advocating heresy, and cannot be reclaimed, other churches are not required to live in fellowship with such a church, and are not bound to respect its actions." Messenger of Peace, Oct. 1939. Also previous chapter, number 18.
ELD. PITTMAN said: "There is a power above the church; it is the law of her Lord. From that law a church has no right to rebel. If she does, she becomes disorderly." Advocate and Messenger, Sept. 1939.
ELD. THOMPSON said: "When a church has departed from the faith or gospel order, and has been faithfully labored with in the spirit of brotherly love, and she will not desist from her hurtful course, then there remains nothing but to apply the gospel rule with draw from her." (See Chapter 2, this book.)
Smyrna was in disorder in declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek Church, and in trying to force her rule upon Middle Creek.
It has been reported that I believe in and practice taking in members who are excluded from sister churches. I deny the intent of this charge, and do not know of a single church in all our correspondence or association among our people who have or do approve such things where brotherly or sisterly relations exist.
We believe in such progression as the Bible would warrant. In the Bible we are told that Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." No man can do this and sit on '"the stool of do-nothing," constantly finding fault with those who wish to press forward and better our church by building it up, and preaching the truth of God's holy word. I think, Paul in "pressing forward" made some progress in the matter by the help and grace of God. We are told to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." As we "grow in grace," so we are to "grow in knowledge." When growing, one is not standing still—in fact, there is no standing still, for we are either going forward or backward. Which way are YOU going? Which way is your church going? In whatever progress we make we should be careful that it is warranted by the Bible, and not by any carnality that we possess.
The report that we believe in taking in members who are properly and orderly excluded from sister orderly churches is a false report. Men do sometimes get into such a predicament that they must resort to falsehood and misrepresentation, and to slandering their opponent, to justify their course, which is a violation of all Christian rules of controversy, and Christian courtesy and Christian ethics.
We have some few excluded members who would be happy to join my churches, but they must first make peace and be restored at the church of their exclusion, if fellowship between the churches exist.
When churches unjustly and unlawfully, over either practice or doctrine, ignorance or envy, set up bars of fellowship and depart from the "old way"—and keep up and insist upon this ungodly practice daily for years—we claim that then all church relationship and order between such churches concerned have been severed, and all obligations ease. Who will deny this position? Both members and excluded members of such churches may be received by other orderly churches, in such case, according to our best authorities.
When a committee of a church's own choosing, consisting of fourteen Baptists, after a careful search of records, pronounce by a signed statement that they find irregularities in the acts and records of that church, most certainly other churches are not to be bound by their acts of irregularities or disorders. To refuse to take and follow the advice of such a committee, we feel, is to treat that committee with contempt, and is a virtual admission of guilt.
It is easy for anyone to lay a false premise, and when they do, they will most certainly and constantly arrive at a false conclusion. Much effort has been totally wasted in a false issue, in this matter, and brethren have been confused, and the cause of Christ unjustly and irreparably injured.
Now, THEREFORE, we insist that where "cordial brotherly relations" have been broken; that, since we do not have to respect churches in disorder; that we may honorably and scripturally ignore any disorderly church. Middle Creek Church has repeatedly requested a joint council—which has been rejected by the opposing church.
One very dear brother'writes me:
"Eld. Cash visited our association some years ago and a brother who was excluded desired to join another church, but Eld. Cash advised that he go back to the church from which he was excluded and join making his acknowledgement and thought the church would receive him, which he did and they did receive him." The brother also says, "We read in Corinthians where a man was excluded and then later went back to the same church and was restored and not to another church."
We all know that Eld. Cash was right in his advice, but those churches were in full fellowship which had not been broken. Can not our reader understand, can you not remember, that Smyrna Church had broken fellowship with Middle Creek before Middle Creek took any action, and that Smyrna had tried to force their opinion contrary to the opinion and judgment of the local church, Middle Creek? Remember, too, that Middle Creek spent four years of time at gospel labor in the matter.
As to the Corinthian restoration, we simply add that the exclusion was in order as Paul instructed, and the restoration was proper and orderly and in a spiritual mood. But if the Corinth Church had declared non-fellowship for a sister church, and then had maintained that non-fellowship by every act and deed, all for the simple reason that the sister church was exercising her own rights of LOCAL INDEPENDENT CHURCH GOVERNMENT that would have changed the matter materially, but such condition did not prevail in the Corinth Church, nor did they break fellowship with a sister church or a part of it, and propose to commune with only a part of another church, nor did the Corinth Church restore the guilty brother, and then propose a second exclusion for the same act for which had been forgiven.
The Doctor Fowler Case at Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas
It should be known by all interested that Eld. Fowler's Church in Dallas, Texas, received members from the church at Ft. Worth, Texas, a church with which she had been in affiliation for years, and against which she had lodged no complaint until after she had received said members, which were received on relations before relations were broken. Although Eld. Cayce, who has published Eld. Webb's articles condemning me, knows these facts about Eld. Fowler's Church, yet he preaches Eld. Fowler in his own association and has also recently preached in Eld. Fowler's Church. According to the positions taken by himself and Eld. Webb they can not affiliate with Dr. Fowler's Church without partaking of the disorder of his stealing these members from Ft. Worth Church while they were still in nominal fellowship and no labor had been bestowed.
Again we ask, why is it that we are so bitterly condemned by so many for receiving two or three members after fellowship had been broken and then others upheld who have taken numerous members before even a complaint was lodged. For a verification of these facts, see a booklet by Eld. W. L. Barrett, Arlington, Texas, entitled: "Why I oppose Council Rule of the Churches." (Free for the asking.)
TWO RIVER ASSOCIATION
About two weeks before this association met for 1939, Mt. Pleasant Church of which I am pastor, received a letter from Eld. Webb trying to undermine me and my acts as pastor of that church, which was an effort to have them drop or discard me and reject my work. The church after due consideration wrote him that they considered his letter an insult and they were through with it.
But, another letter equally as bad was received in a few days from Eld. Webb. The brethren at a call meeting, unanimously instructed their Messengers to the Association not to remain in the association if they intended to preach Eld. Webb or recognize him, which they did, and Mt. Pleasant Messengers could do nothing else than retire and return home as instructed, which they did. This matter may be verified by reading the letters that are in the hand of Mt. Pleasant Church clerk.
Yet some have said that the case is all a preacher's fight and have and are accusing me of creating the trouble at Two River, which I deny, as facts will show.
No. 2—A similar trouble was created at Fishing River when Eld. Clevenger circulated printed statements, accusing five of us of giving his church false information. Many of these were also sent through the mail. Then he accuses others of causing the trouble. He later wrote that he was wrong in using my name in the list.
No. 3—In 1937 Eld. Webb attacked me publicly at his home association and I was not present and had not been present that year. It was a tirade of abuse and the brethren had to stop him. Yet I am accused of making trouble.
No. 4—A surprise move was "pulled" at the Salem (Mo.) Association in 1942, against Eld. Sapp and his brethren, and a motion put over without argument—which was only gag-rule—yet as much of a surprise as it was, Eld. Sapp is accused of causing the disturbance.
So their cruel work of wedge driving continues.
25 CHAPTER 25 - Motion and Second and Its Purpose
All business should be brought before an assembly by a motion of a member, or by the presentation of a communication to the assembly or meeting.
Before a member can make a motion or address the assembly upon any question he must obtain the floor, rise and address the presiding officer and be recognized. He is then to make his motion for the discussion of the assembly.
No member who has once spoken is again entitled to the floor while the same question is before the house, provided the floor is claimed by one who has not spoken, to that question. The interests of the assembly are best served by allowing the floor to alternate between the friends and enemies of the measure for consideration.
Before any subject is open to debate, it is necessary first, that a motion be made; second, that it be seconded. After a motion or question has been stated by the presiding officer, it is in the possession of the assembly FOR DEBATE; the mover cannot withdraw or modify it, if any one objects, except by obtaining leave from the assembly, or by moving an amendment.
A principal, or main, motion, is a motion to bring before the assembly, FOR ITS CONSIDERATION, any particular subject. No principal motion can be made when any other question is before the assembly.
A motion as to the time to which an assembly shall adjourn is debatable, and takes precedent of all others, and is in order even after the assembly has voted to adjourn, provided the chairman has not announced the result of the vote. If made when another question is before the assembly, it is undebatable.
A motion to adjourn takes precedent of all others, except to fix the time to which to adjourn, to which it yields. It is not debatable, it cannot be amended or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it; nor can a vote on it be reconsidered.
Only a question of order takes precedent of questions giving rise to it and must be decided by the presiding officer WITHOUT DEBATE. If an appeal to order is voted on, then that appeal cannot be debated.
ALL MAIN QUESTIONS OR MOTIONS ARE DEBATABLE. To introduce a motion before an assembly to be carried or voted on WITHOUT DEBATE destroys the character and intent of that motion, and does automatically annul or cancel the motion and the purpose of it, and is not orderly. The presiding officer should declare it out of order and deny such a motion, whether seconded or not. Any such manner of business will be rejected by all orderly assemblies and considered a nullity.
WHAT IS A MOTION? It is a proposal made in a deliberative meeting. See Webster.
WHAT IS A DELIBERATIVE MEETING? It is one where matters are to be carefully considered and well advised; weighing facts and arguments with a view to a choice or decision; slow in determining; to consider the reasons for and against: to reflect upon; to ponder: to take counsel; acting by deliberation. To do all this "without discussion" or debate, is to act without deliberation and thought; without taking counsel. The purpose of a motion is to get the matter before the people for discussion. A motion to act "without discussion" is to act without a purpose or consideration or deliberation, which is nonsense. Such procedure is un-Baptistic and un-American, and shows a weakness of the cause for which such a motion was made; also, it expresses doubt that if a fair discussion be had .in the matter, that it would carry. It also savors of dictatorial government by bosses, and shows plainly that all deliberating had been previously done, and is a denial of the right of the people to make up their own minds or think for themselves. Such a course cannot be too strongly, nor too bitterly opposed.
Since the motion of Salem (Missouri) Association was made and voted on without discussion in 1942, to be sure there could be no gospel labor on either side in any way or manner whatsoever.
Much has been said about the matter of dropping correspondence with the McAfee group of the Fishing River Association, but the act taken was to drop correspondence with both them and the Clevenger group, which was done without discussion.
"TO WALK OUT" was the only thing that could be done with honor in this case of such flagrant violation of the universal rule of order. We are reliably informed that fully half or more of the people "walked out."
No one will, for a minute, try to infringe upon their rights to do what they please, but we do deny the right to take such a serious step without allowing discussion by the people on the matter, with a full and free expression of their wishes.
We are told to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." (Eph 5:33)
To testify in court, "we are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth." Half-truths are deceitful, evil and wrong. Surely, men handling the Word of God and other important things concerning the kingdom of God should tell the whole truth in any matter. Not only did the brethren walk out, but their action was approved by 199 members of the Goshen Church, and by three other associations, and will yet, no doubt, be approved by more of them. (It was later, in Aug. 1943, approved by the Quivre Siloam meeting, unanimously.)
Where a motion has been discussed fully and freely on the previous clay or week, and a full understanding reached by the same body of men or group of people, it may then be voted on without further discussion. This matter was called up in 1941 at Salem (Mo.) Association and it was learned the people were overwhelmingly against it.
We accept only a church and rules consecrated to freedom of thought and speech; freedom to divine worship according to our conscience, based on Scripture. God Almighty has given us these unalienable rights. Any cause that must be sustained otherwise and by misrepresentation, is an evil and an unjust cause, unworthy of any consideration, and is against every rule of order known to Old Baptists. Let us unitedly and bitterly condemn such a course always, for it is gag-rule and mob-law.
"I believe in and love associations when they are carried on right. . . . . but when they assume the functions of an ecclesiastical body, with ecclesiastical powers and authority as supreme courts, to dictate to, and lord it over the churches, they are greatly misused, departing fom their functions and design, becoming unscriptural and hurtful to the cause. Better be OUT, or as Elder Hassell once said, "Relinquish them altogether than to have or be in an association of this description."—Elder A. B. Ross, in Messenger of Zion, Nov. 15, 1936.
"What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."-— Ro 6:21.
SECOND TO A MOTION—Means that the maker of a second is favorable; helpful: disposed to aid or support; next to the first in order; to give formal support to, as to a motion or resolution proposed by another; to encourage.
Before any motion is open to debate—and all main motions are debatable—it is necessary that said motion be seconded, and that the motion be stated by the presiding officer.
The member who offers the motion, until it has been stated by the presiding officer, may modify his motion, or even withdraw it entirely; after it is stated, he can do neither, without the consent of the assembly. When the mover modifies his motion, the one who seconded it may withdraw his second.
The OBJECT of RULES OF ORDER is to assist an assembly to accomplish the work for which it was designed, in the best possible manner. To do this it is necessary to restrain some individuals somewhat, as the right of an individual in any community, to do what he pleases, is incompatible with the interests of the whole, very frequently. Laws, or rules, are made to restrain the unlawful, or unruly, and for the benefit of the community or assembly at large. Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, THERE is the least of real liberty. It is material that there should be a rule to go by; that there be a uniformity of proceedings in business, not subject to the caprices of the ' chairman, or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body. See Robert's Rules of Order.
W. A. C.
Did Salem (Mo.) visit Fishing River and try to reclaim them? No. But Webb admits it was BAD METHOD. What kind of METHOD did Salem (Ill.) Association use when they threw Middle Creek out? Did they visit and try to reclaim them. No they did not. Was that had method, too? Was that in keeping with "OLD SCHOOL BAPTIST ORDER?" We answer "No!" It does make a difference "whose ox is being gored."
"Thine own mouth condemneth thee and not I: yea thine own lips testify against thee." Job 15:2-7.
26 CHAPTER 26 - THE WICKED DIOTREPHES
Eld. G. M. Thompson says:
"The practice of Primitive Baptist has always been to regard the actions of majorities as a nullity, where majorities have violated the laws of Christ, and receive and regard the minority, if that minority consists of only one member, as the true church, if it has maintained the laws of Christ. For this practice we have Scripture authority in the Third Epistle of John. From this Epistle we learn that Gaius, and perhaps some other members, had been excluded from a certain church, and that one, Diotrephes, was their pastor, and had been instrumental in their exclusion. Here the majority of the church with the pastor, had acted together, and Gaius and his brethren were excluded Baptist. The action of the majority must be regarded by every other member, and every other church as final and decisive; and Gaius and his brethren must be looked upon by all as heathen men and publicans, and no other church must receive them, but they must remain excluded, without any remedy whatever, unless the majority and the wicked Diotrephes who loveth to have the pre-eminence, should restore them, when the only sin of which they had accused them was for living in strict obedience to the injunctions of Christ. (If the majority must rule, Chastain). BUT JOHN DOES NOT SO LOOK AT THE CASE, and addresses Gaius a letter, and instead of calling him an unworthy brother, who was to be regarded only as a heathen and a publican, he calls him, 'the well beloved,' whom he 'loves in the truth.' And in his letter he commends him highly for the very thing which had led to his exclusion, and encourages him to continue in doing the same thing again, for in it he was faithfully obeying the Gospel of Christ.—
"It is therefore the duty of every other church, or member, to commend the right and to condemn the wrong, regardless of majorities, or of the teachings of pastors.
"The Primitive Baptist of late have had a Diotrephes among them (possibly several of them) who has obtained the exclusion of many brethren where he has had the majority. He has had the control of the press, and the communication of the brethren, Diotrephes like have been suppressed, so that the brethren have never gotten to see them. . . . . "In a number of instances," worthy brethren have been slandered and falsely accused in his paper and he has refused to let those brethren say one word in self-defense.
"In the case of Gaius and the brethren excluded with him, they were the church, and the wicked and unjust decree of Diotrephes, and his majority, was disregarded by the Apostle and the churches and the unlawful exclusion of Gaius was considered null and void, because it was a violation of the laws of Christ. If a church should receive or exclude a member in violation of the laws of Christ, such reception or exclusion must be considered a nullity by all orderly churches, and the church guilty of such an act cannot be considered an orderly church of Christ. (If majorities must rule as right.)
"The practice of Primitive Baptist in such a case, would be to withdraw their fellowship from such a church, and to receive the excluded party as the church."
Matthew Henry says: In speaking of Third John: "Christian communion is exerted and cherished by letter. Christians are to be commended in the practical proof of their professed subjection to the gospel of Christ. The animating and countenancing of generous and public-spirited persons in doing good to many—to this end the Apostle sends this encouraging epistle to his friend Gaius, in which also he complains of the quite opposite spirit and practice of a certain minister, and confirms the good report concerning another more worthy to be imitated."
John, the elder, older in both years and in the service, as well as an elder in the gospel service, with great experience, here levels himself with the more ordinary pastors of the church, while he styles himself, "the elder." Addressing Gaius as "Well Beloved," supposes his regeneration, and an inward fund of spiritual life and while spiritual treasures are advancing, the soul is in a fair way to the kingdom of glory. Such a faithful soul could be praised without being puffed up, which was not given for pride but for sweet encouragement and should be accordingly improved. Good men will greatly rejoice in the soul-prospering of others. '"Love envieth not." It is a kindness to a stranger to be guided in his way, and a pleasure to travelers to meet suitable company. By such assistance we are fellow-helpers to the truth.
Diotrephes was of a very different spirit; he was outshone and out-done; he has a Gentile name and an un-Christian spirit; full of pride and ambition, and loved the pre-eminence. It is an ill unbeseeming character of Christ's ministers to love pre-eminence, to affect presidency and precedency in the church of God. He was "prating against the apostles with malicious words." His contempt ran very high. Malice and ill-will in the heart will vent themselves by the lips. John wrote to the Church. To an ambitious aspiring spirit apostolic authority signifies but little. Diotrephes did not receive the brethren and forbiddeth those that would, and casteth them out of the church. The pastor is not at absolute liberty to lord it over God's heritage. It is bad to do no good ourselves; but it is worse to hinder those who would. Church-power and church-censures are often abused and many are cast out of the church who should be received there with satisfaction and welcome. But woe to those who cast out the brethren whom the Lord Jesus Christ will take into His arms and into His own communion and kingdom.
"If I come I will remember his deeds."—will remember to censure him. This seems to intimate apostolic authority —he will take cognizance of this affair in the church to which it belongs. Acts of ecclesiastical domination and tyranny ought to be animadverted upon. May it be better agreed to whom that power belongs!
Hear John's counsel upon this matter: "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good." Pursue the course of wisdom, peace and love, mercy and forgiveness. Let us study the Holy nature and will of God that we may see Him. Evil-workers often vainly pretend or boast an acquaintance with God.
"In heaven's high arch above his head, a glorious form appeared,
Whose left hand bore a flambeau bright, his right a scepter reared;
A diadem of purest gold, his brow imperial crowned,
And from his throne he thus addressed the watchman on his round;
What of the night! what of the night, watchman? what of the night?
The myriad foe in close array come on to try their might—
A night attack—and if thy trump mistake a single sound,
I'll hang upon these battlements the watchman on his rounds."
27 CHAPTER 27 - THAT NEW BRANCH
Eld. Claud Webb tried in the Primitive Baptist to prejudice our people and to play upon their sympathy by accusing us of desiring and making an effort to start a New Branch of Baptist. His accusations are based alone upon his own suspicions and imagination and assumptions and are without foundation, except possibly, the wish on his part is the father of the idea. We think he knows his accusations are false.
We here quote from a letter from one of his parishioners:
"Dear Bro. Lawrence:
". . .1 hear the Baptists of Middle Creek Church with some other churches are talking a meeting to have delegates to write a constitution and by-laws for a new Baptist denomination. Bro. Lawrence, this grieves me. . . . The founders of Middle Creek Church would all be grieved. I fear that some wolves in sheep's clothing must have gotten in and scattered the flocks. I trust you may by the grace of God be enabled to stand in the faith delivered to the saints of old. I am hoping all Baptists who have been side-tracked may have their feet put in the right paths. "Your brother in Christ, John Poland."
Now we denounce the above report as false propaganda.
So, our readers can see the damage that has been done and the need of this book. This same false report has gone out over the United States and we have no chance to correct it for the columns of the "sheet" that spread it have been closed to the truth and facts in the matter.
Many of our fine young people have been driven from the church by such evil reports and some have taken refuge in other denominations. When I inquired of a young lady if she was interested in the church she replied "yes." When I asked her why she did not unite with the church she replied: "Too much trouble in the church." So the sheep and lambs have indeed been scattered and the cause irreparably injured.
Eld. Webb accuses me of advocating "CHURCH SOVEREIGNTY."
He knows my position and knows better. I quote from my private letter to him which I wrote in 1935, as follows:
"Were I speaking of the matter I would not speak of each church being a sovereign. You see there can be but one sovereign. If each church is a sovereign then we have as many sovereigns as we have churches—which would be absurd. . . . God is the One Sovereign Ruler. I know our people are in the habit of speaking of the matter as you spoke, but to me it is much better to speak of each church as a local independent body within itself. Our churches are independent within themselves, only insofar as their own private internal affairs are concerned. Things that affect the whole body or denomination: or things that concern us all are of vital concern to us all. Churches may do as they please, but if they violate God's plain teaching, the other churches have a right to deny her their approval. ... If a church should change immersion to sprinkling then other churches may speak. Churches have a right to follow their own judgment where there is no plain rule laid down, and where a difference of opinion exists, it seems to me. If it is a case of discipline then the evidence must be had and all of it weighed without prejudice."
It is true that we are commanded to "withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly," but who is the judge as to his or her walk? There is but one answer—The Local Church. The local church should best be acquainted with the facts. None dare deny this position.
Eld. Webb has not forgotten the above letter nor can he forget the circumstances under which it was written. It suited has case to preach Church Sovereignty then, for he wanted to justify Smyrna Church in declaring non-fellowship for Middle Creek. The fact is he wants to deny Middle Creek any right at all, whatever, sovereign or not.
On page 93, MESSENGER OF PEACE for March, 1942, we, by selection of an article from the Gospel Standard of England, said:
"That a true cohesion should exist between various gospel churches and scripture clearly teaches, and it is proper in the very nature of things that churches in different localities, believing, loving, holding and teaching the same truths, should consider themselves possessed of mutual interests and responsibilities. . . . We strongly hold that nothing should interfere with the internal affairs of individual churches: each is an organic whole, but each has a duty to perform."
The whole article is of interest on the point in question and we think a profitable selection, and worthy of much thought. Get that Messenger and read it.
"The Church or local branches of the church are the highest Ecclesiastical Courts on earth and from which there is no appeal."
Did Chastain or some Arminian say that? No, that is the position of the Fishing River Association. See their history, page 118. Do they hold that position now? Bro. McAfee and our brethren hold that same position.
"The churches of those early days were entirely independent, none of them being subject to any foreign jurisdiction, but, each governed by its own rules and its own laws: for though the churches founded by the Apostles had this particular difference shown them: that they were consulted in difficult and doubtful cases, yet they had no judicial authority, no sort of supremacy over the others, nor the least right to enact laws for them. Nothing, on the contrary, is more evident than the perfect equality that reigned among the Primitive Churches: nor does there even appear in the first century, the smallest trace of that association of provincial churches from which councils and metropolitans derive their origin. It was in the second century that the customs of holding councils commenced in Greece." Mosheim's History, pages 22 and 23.
Eld. Hassell says:
"The fifth mark of the Apostolic church was the independent or congregational polity (government) of each local church, subject only to the headship of Christ; ...every local church, acting by a majority of its members, is vested by Christ with the exclusive and final power of receiving, disciplining and transacting all other necessary business. . . . Each gospel church is a separate and independent republic. . . . The simple fact that the apostles address their epistles, not to church officers . . . but to the churches of the called and faithful saints of God, proves both the right and the responsibility of each church in respect to the management of its own affairs. ... It would be disloyal to Christ for any-church to alienate from itself and delegate to any other persons the rights and functions which Christ has committed to her; a gospel church can have no delegates, but they may have messengers. BUT SISTERLY RELATIONS OF CHURCHES INVOLVE SISTERLY OBLIGATIONS. . . . They are constrained to have tender regard for one another's feelings, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace."
We are very happy to be in line with Eld. Hassell and also Eld. Pittman—Questions and Answers, page 95.
Eld. Webb can not show a single quotation from us where we have denied the SISTERLY RELATION of churches and that true Christian relation should be respected at all times. We have never denied this relation by word or act.
His personal insinuations are too weak and beggarly for any attention from us.
He charges that the Middle Creek case is the first case of receiving excluded members in this country, and he again:
1st—Forgets that Cayce and his brethren received Bartlett after he was excluded and recognized his faction of Cuivre Siloam Association as in order.
2nd—He has forgotten the case of Long Prairie, where Eld. Cayce visited on his last trip North in 1941 and preached and fellowshiped with them, with some six or eight received from the churches of Skillett Fork association.
3rd—He forgets that Rock Creek Church (now Mt. Pleasant) in the Western Association of Iowa, took in a family of some four or five members, without letters, which letters had been refused at the church in Grinnell, also a man who had been excluded—but the church as I understand had become extinct.
4th—He forgets that the Wabash District Association in Illinois has for years held Eld. Campbell in fellowship, who was excluded by the faction of the church which had departed from their fellowship.
5th—He forgets that Eld. Barnes and some 15 or 20 others were received by relation into the bounds of Fishing River Association some years ago, who came from what was known as "OLD SCHOOL BAPTIST."
6th—He forgets that Mt. Gilead Church, Hersman, Ill., took in an excluded brother and his wife, from Cheney, Nebraska, Church, when Eld. Baxter Hale was pastor there.
We are all opposed to any National Federal Union of Churches with a centralized power. We are also opposed to Associations adopting non-fellowship resolutions.
"An Association as a disciplinary body, is an unscriptural one and should never be countenanced."
Eld. Respess in Gospel Messenger, Oct. 1894.
See Eld. Hanks History, page 204.
The authority here cited is unquestionable.
Now Eld. Webb says, in Primitive Baptist for May 20, 1943:
"The present distress is not over the secret order question," and also says, "it is a worn-out issue." Yet Eld. Cayce makes it a bar-to-fellowship in the Dallas Church organization and in his associational minutes.
In the May 20th, 1943, Primitive Baptist, Eld. Webb after quoting the records of the Center Creek Association in Oklahoma, says:
"So far. as I am concerned if there were no other reason than this for rejecting Eld. Pigg, he would be welcome in any chuch of my care. But there are other reasons."
Now Eld. Cayce and his association will not receive into their pulpits any who associate with the Dallas Church if they know it, because of their secret order position. But Eld. Webb would receive Eld. Pigg—so far as secret orders are concerned, according to his above statement. Wherefore Eld. Cayce rejects Eld. Paine and other brethren, but Eld. Webb will receive Eld. Pigg, "were there no other reasons," but he says there are other reasons. Now Elder Webb is here arrayed against the position of Eld. Cayce and Center Creek, plainly, fairly and squarely, on this "worn-out" issue. Yet while they do not agree here, they are willing to "shake hands again" and say "Yes, Yes," and visit and preach in each other's pulpits and show full fellowship for each other. Truly "the legs of the lame are not equal." Pr 26:7. It may be a "worn-out issue" with Eld. Webb, but with Eld. Cayce it is a very live issue in the South, yet he fellowships it in the North as we propose to show in a following chapter.
Eld. Webb has much to say about "ESTABLISHED RULES OF ORDER" and excluded persons, and speaks of some condemning the authority of the churches and quotes the Established Rule of Center Creek Association, as against secret orders and says, "So far as this is concerned, if there were no other reasons, Eld. Pigg would be welcome in any of the churches of my care." Then in this particular he is willing to break and violate this "Established Rule of Principle" of Center Creek, and all who agree with them, and preach Eld. Pigg. So he has no regard for Center Creek in this particular. Now listen to what Eld. Webb says: "It is an established principle among orderly Primitive Baptist that the judgment of orderly sisterly churches are to be respected." Yet he would not respect this order of Center Creek Association and of the South Arkansas Association, he says "so far as this is concerned," and would preach Eld. Pigg. Then why condemn others for preaching him? See Primitive Baptist, May 20, 1943, article. The Present Issue.
We agree with him on ORDERLY Churches, but it is the disorderly ones that we are concerned with, and those out of fellowship.
Was it order for the Southern brethren to receive and take Eld. Bartlett into their fellowship after he was excluded from our churches in the Cuivre Siloam Association, which act was for years recognized as orderly by Salem, III., Association by their correspondence with Cuivre Siloam, and by their former pastor, Eld. Frazee?
We' ask, was Eld. Pigg justified in withdrawing from Center Creek because the Church at Muskogee had taken in several excluded members? Was Center Creek justified in retaining in their union Bethel Church, who received these excluded members? Eld. Webb's position is against their taking in these members.
Yes, "It is an established principle among ORDERLY Primitive Baptist that the judgments of ORDERLY SISTERLY churches are to be respected. "We all agree to that. But how about it when they are in disorder and out of fellowship? This is the question. Let Eld. Webb and Eld. Cayce come up and face the real issue, and quit their dodging. We deny that Eld. Webb's home churches, Providence and Smyrna, are in order, if his own letters as quoted in this book are true.
We quote: "Suppose one or two members of this church were orthodox and orderly—and had not partaken of the church's sins? They should have left when she was found irreclaimable; but failing, should be accepted and retained in fellowship; and upon this CONFESSION SHOULD BE RECEIVED INTO ANOTHER CHURCH." Hanks Church, page 199.
Sept. 18, 1941. Eld. Webb quoted from Eld. Stewart, so we will here give a quotation, too:
"Another Evil—Expel a member from one church and he joins another on 'Confession of Faith.' We here want our readers to get the meaning of joining by 'CONFESSION OF FAITH.'
"Eld. Stewart calls this 'jail delivery.' ... It is gross disorder and should not be tolerated. If a member is excluded from a church, he owes that debt to the church that excluded him and should go there and be restored before attempting to join another. If the church committed an error in excluding him, let sister churches officially investigate, and bestow a labor of love to get the church to rectify her wrong, AND IF SHE WILL NIOT, then the churches can with draw from the erring church, and the expelled member can be received on 'CONFESSION OF FAITH.' If a member is expelled righteously or unrighteously, he is expelled. Churches are equals and one church has no right to withdraw fellowship from another until gospel labor is bestowed, though the church be guilty of error, labor to save first." Mt 18. Hanks, page 203.
We have here the testimony of two Elders:
Eld. Hanks and Eld. Stewart, each telling us how good members may leave a disorderly church. Eld. Hanks says, as we understand him, that when a church has sinned and is found irreclaimable, that good members should leave that church and UPON CONFESSION should be received into another church.
Eld. Stewart says: That churches may withdraw from erring churches, and EXPELLED MEMBERS CAN BE RECEIVED ON CONFESSION OF FAITH.
The reader will study the matter carefully. If this is correct then Middle Creek is correct.
Middle Creek spent four years waiting on Smyrna to undo her acts of non-fellowship, by vote and by act, all to no avail. She also called in vain for help from sister churches for a council. But every effort and every committee were stopped at Smyrna and sent home with one-sided evidence.
We again call your attention to the last paragraph of No. 2 in the Fulton General Address in the first of this book:
"The only course of those who want to remain in this holy church union is to discard their actions and have no connection with them until they withdraw such bars of fellowship."
This rule now was ESTABLISHED by fifty-one orderly Primitive Baptist preachers, and I think generally accepted by all our churches, therefore we follow the "Established Rule."
Now we have explained to you what the expression means—"RECEIVED ON RECOMMENDATION." We note the following in the South Arkansas Association Minute for 1942 under the heading, "ORDER OF PREACHING." Saturday afternoon, Elders Puckitt and Clevenger had preached. "A SISTER WAS GLADLY RECEIVED BY RECOMMENDATION." They may have a different explanation to give, but we do not know what they mean.
Regarding Eld. Webb's article in Primitive Baptist, May 20, 1943, Eld. Pigg writes to Eld. Webb as follows:
"In bringing my name into this matter you have quoted a resolution adopted by the Center Creek Association of Oklahoma in Sept. 1942. Do you hold to the principles embraced in this resolution? Have you studied this resolution thoroughly to see where it will lead you? I have a copy of this minute as it was printed, then I have two other copies which were changed by the clerk of the Center Creek Association, then, I have another put out by certain members of that association with a part of it pencil marked out. I do not know what the mind of the association might have been.
"In the first place Center Creek Association did not and could not have dropped Mt. Olive Church and myself from that association, for the reason Mt. Olive Church while in regular conference on June 6th, 1942. unanimously voted to withdraw from them. I now quote you from our minutes as recorded in our church records: Whereas, Mt. Olive Church, Vivian, Okla., is and has been almost since its organization, a member of Center Creek Association of Churches and, whereas, said Center Creek Association now holds in her Union Bethel Church at Muskogee and, whereas, Bethel Church has received into her body members duly excluded from a sister Church, namely Mt. Olive Church: Therefore, be it resolved that Mt. Olive Church withdraw herself from the Union of Churches comprising the Center Creek Association. Unanimously adopted by the Mt. Olive Church while in regular conference June 6th, 1942. Signed:
'L. H. PIGG, Moderator.
'LOIS ALLEN, Clerk.'
"Copies were mailed to the Associational Moderator and Clerk and should have been presented to the Association, however, I doubt if it ever was presented. Therefore, we were no part of the association when it met in Sept. 1942.
"Would it not have been more in keeping with God's word for you to have consulted either my church or myself or both before delivering this broadside attack? Would not that have been more ethical, gentlemanly and Christian? The courts of our land and of heathens give the accused the right to be heard and to be faced by his accusers. It is, however, of minor importance as to just what you think of us, for we still have unbounded faith in Israel's God. By the grace of God we suffer for His sake. Vengeance belongs to Him and He will repay. L. H. PIGG."
28 CHAPTER 28
Ministerial Union No. 1
We are opposed to Presiding Elders or District Elders in our churches and to any Ministerial Union to rule our churches. One Elder wrote me about a brother which he thought had "sinned a sin unto death," and took the position that "the eye had been plucked out and could not be replaced." The Bible teaches that "all manner of sin shall be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost." We should never take any position that will destroy our "well established rule" of grace, mercy and forgiveness.
The Elder gave me the names of nineteen preachers to whom I could refer for information condemning the preachers he did not like. I wrote him for the names of the clerks and deacons of the churches, that I was not satisfied with gossip nor did I believe in a Preachers' Union, the last one of whom might be controlled with envy. My letter has not been answered.
The time is here, brethren, when judgment must begin at the house of God, and our preachers should know their places and understand they are not to lord it over the churches.
Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners and he never did deny it. He suffered the once sinful Mary to wash His feet with her tears, dry them and kiss them, and anoint them. Simon objected but was bitterly condemned by the Savior. Lu 7:36-47.
Ministerial Union No. 2
Eld. W. L. Barrett, in his booklet issued the summer of 1943, just out, gives us an account of the organization of a Preachers' Union at Austin, Texas, on Dec. 1, 1942. "Eld. S. N. Redford was elected Moderaor and Eld. O. Stritckland, Clerk. After much discussion and serious consideration," they say, "we came to the following agreement:
"That we do not affiliate with either faction of West Texas Association until they make some effort to reach agreement. Also, we declare that we will not associate with Elder Paine or those who abet or assist him in the course he is pursuing.
"The church at Austin nor no other church had nothing to do with this agreement." Same was signed by fifteen Elders.
Ministerial Union No. 3
Now the above effort at isolation of this self-organized "Preachers' Union" is about the same thing we are having to contend with in Illinois and Missouri, but our Elders here are operating more "under-cover," and have declared they will not ask some of our preachers into their churches but will preach with us if and when they happen to run into us.
Paul said: "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." 2Ti 4:14-19.
The angel told Paul to go to Corinth and preach the Gospel and assured him that "no man shall set on thee to hurt thee." The inference is, they may set on you but will not hurt you. When a church has ordained and liberated a man to preach, where God in His providence sends him, what right do preachers have to say he shall not go? When they say it they treat that church with contempt and insult and ignore the power which God gave that church and the call He gave that man to preach. It is an insult to God Almighty, His wisdom, love and power and calls in question His authority. Who over before heard of such a thing as a preacher of the Gospel being subject to the isolation of men? or a "Ministerial Union," or a Ministerial Conclave in an Old Baptist Church? Shame on such conduct. It is an insult to our deacons and churches as if they were calling in question the ability of the churches and deacons to judge what preaching or preachers might be harmful to the churches. Not even the churches have a right to prescribe a field for the ministers to labor in or to prohibit them from preaching anywhere God may send them.
We have great need of good constructive criticism, and always appreciate it. But we have but little use for criticism which is biased and controlled by the evil spirit of envy and selfishness. It is nothing but a desire to kill rather than build up and gain a lost or ruined brother.
Paul felt and expressed himself as being "the chief of sinners." Is not this a "Well Established" thought or principle among the Lord's people?
It should now be clear that the whole effort on the part of some has been to tear down with absolutely no effort to help build up. We desire to be excused from any such a combination.
We shall pay no attention to all the ugly personal remarks against our brethren and myself and refuse to be guilty of dealing in any such a horrible crime. It would be preferable to be listed with a NATIONAL SWINDLER than with a Character Assassin. We understand something of the swindle case, and wish to say to our people, that that whole matter was satisfactorily settled by and with our churches years ago. See a letter written by a Bro. Geo. Baker, and a note by Eld. Cayce in the Primitive Baptist of Feb. 6, 1938. Would these brethren like for us to bring up and expose some of their past lives after years of settlement and forgetfulness? Would such a course be Christian and right? Surely they would not want it done. But as bad as such an act might be it would be no worse than the treatment they have here given a good brother who had been forgiven. SHAME.
Eld. Webb closes his May 20th article in the Cayce paper by saying:
"There are several things about which our people have a right to know, and after this is done, I shall feel that I have done only the duty of a minister in an effort to safeguard "the Church of God," and I shall hope that our people, and very especially our elders, will wake up, and then we will want to see them put their foot down. It is no time for complacence when the foundations of the church are being undermined.
"In the interest of the church of God.
"C. E. WEBB."
But, not yet satisfied with his evil "wedge-driving" he still wants further division.
It would appear that brethren are not "waking up" just to suit him, and therefore his job is not yet finished. When it is finished it is his desire to see somebody smash some one or more with their foot, according to his statement recorded above.
Now, brethren, that is the same spirit of anti-Christ that Middle Creek has had to put up with for about ten years. Can you blame them for discarding such conduct and the spirit of it and breaking all connection with it? Before God you can not blame them. You know their course is commendable and scriptural.
JEWISH GROUP HEARS LEO LANIA DESCRIBE INTERVIEW WITH HITLER IN HIS BROWN HOUSE
The author and European news reporter for several years, today described to an interested audience an interview he once had with Hitler in which the fuehrer declared that "slaughter should be scientific." Hitler, he said, told him, "We will win the war by bigotry, by scapegoats, by division. We do not hate the Jews, we want the people of the countries to hate them; when we do that we begin their doubting of everything—we begin the process of disintegration and then we win."
Lania asserted that Abraham Lincoln's famous words: "A country cannot exist half slave and half free," were well known by Hitler.
"It was the mainstem of his tactics," Lania said, "if he could divide Europe, country by country, into hatred of one or another group within it, if he could make persecution and oppression a common practice and human life for one group cheap, he knew he could win over Europe, piece by piece, by their own internal disintegration."—Illinois State Register, Feb. 17, 1944.
Nelson A. Rockefeller in Cleveland said:
"That the good neighbor policy is not a scheme, but a philosophy of mutual respect which makes possible the solution of any problem.
"For 100 years this policy has been practiced as well as preached. The Latin republics are working as hard as this country for the development of mutual interests." He declared that "inspirational sermons could be preached about the pilots and seamen of the Americas—the Brazilians, the Cubans and the Mexicans who are hunting down enemy submarines, for no less than 10 of the nations next door have had I heir ships sunk without warning while plying between the American republics."—Illinois State Register, Feb. 17, 1944.
The question that concerns the Baptist today is which of the two above philosophies is better for the church? If the good neighbor philosophy is better for the countries would it not be better for the church. Should we not reject any philosophy of division and slaughter and should we not unite together and stand together for peace and unity? Why let any man declare non-fellowship for us and then visit among us to divide and destroy, "to work quietly and with tact," to lead us, or try to lead us, into a new path? I plead that we unitedly march forward for the good neighbor policy, and reject every new way and stand firm in the good old way of our fathers. We should have unity of motive and of plans and all church leaders should be determined that the church shall be the judge and defend her rights now and forever.
Justice, mercy, reverence and good-will should be the common desire of all our churches. There surely can be no disagreement in this course. This is the greatest factor in the idea and purposes that men call democracy without which the church would be but a hollow shell, a tragic deceit and a miserable failure. Our churches are demanding a hearing and will get it, not merely in the name of the church but in the name of eternal and righteous TRUTH.
The fundamental issues of any church or nation can not be obliterated by the recital of the sins of the leaders. The issue is as clear as the sunlight; paganism on the one hand, with its dictatorship, and Christianity on the other.
This being true, the membership of our churches, dare not, must not allow the tincture of dictatorship and slavery and paganism with its hate and cruelty to poison our own hearts and souls and destroy our church rights and freedom. "What-shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Too often the pages of our church records and histories have been saturated with the blood of innocent and defenceless members who have been martyred to satisfy pagan greed. There are many preachers who cannot brag or testify of their unsoiled records and their freedom from exploitation and greed.
29 CHAPTER 29 - STATEMENT FROM ELDER CLAUD E. WEBB
1st. No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership except the church of his membership.—See the Cayce paper, March 5, 1942, pages 69, column 2, near bottom.
Cayce surely would not have printed this had he not endorsed it.
Now, go read what these brethren have induced the New Hope Church to do at Hindsboro, Ill., in the May 6, 1943, Cayce paper.
"Consistency, thou are a jewel."
The reader should not forget to order our new pamphlet, which will be forthcoming soon. We have had to raise the price to 50c.
W. A. C.
OUR COMMENTS (By C. H. Cayce)
The above is copied from the Messenger of Peace for June, 1943, under the heading as given.
As much as we dislike the matter of engaging in war through our columns, it seems to us to be absolutely necessary that we speak out. Elder Chastain has been making veiled attacks on us through his paper for a long time. We have endeavored to pass them by and to ignore them, and would still have continued to do that were it not for the fact that matters came to such a pass that it was necessary for some things to be spoken against and our cause defended. As to any thrust which he, or others, may have made at us personally we do not care, only for the matter of any injury it may be to the cause for which we have stood for fifty-four years, lacking less than two months as we are doing this writing.
Elder Chastain has quoted parts of statements from us more than once, and by quoting a part of what was said, and leaving out some that was said in direct connection, he has thereby made matters to appear different from what they really were, or are. That is precisely what he has done in the foregoing, which we shall proceed to show, by quoting here all that Elder Webb said in connection with what Elder Chastain copied from his article, which appeared in The Primitive Baptist of March 5, 1942. Here is what Elder Webb said:
"I will undertake to make our position clear on the issue confronting our people today in the following three statements, to which I ask careful attention. If the reader thinks them unsound, I shall appreciate his telling me so, and if he thinks them safe I shall appreciate his telling me so.
1st. No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership except the church of his membership.
2nd. When a gospel church, acting after careful consideration, and by a good majority of her members, excludes a member from her membership, that person stands excluded FROM THE DENOMINATION, and continues to so stand as long as that church remains a gospel church, unless he shall be restored to fellowship by, or with the consent of, the church from which he is excluded.
3rd. It is gross disorder for any other church to receive such excluded person into her membership by relation so long as the church from which he is excluded is held in fellowship by all orderly sister churches."
Why did not Elder Chastain copy the whole thing—all three of the paragraphs, all bearing on the same subject? Look at the second paragraph. Middle Creek Church, pastored by Elder Chastain, received some parties on confession of faith who stood excluded from Smyrna Church. Both these churches were then in the Salem Association, of Illinois. This reception of those excluded parties had the approval of Elder Chastain, evidently, for he has tried to defend that act. Then look at the third paragraph, which says that such a procedure is gross disorder.
We are sure that the sentiment contained in the three paragraphs from Elder Webb's article will be approved and endorsed by every true Primitive Baptist in the whole United States. It is a well-known fact that the principles therein set forth have been the principles held to by the great body of our people for ages past. To pursue such a course as to receive into membership those who stand excluded from a sister church is to destroy every principle and every vestige of discipline in the church. It is to openly and flagrantly deny that a church has the right to discipline her own members.
When Middle Creek received those members who stood excluded from Smyrna, was that not equal to saying that Smyrna was not capable of attending to her own business, and that she was not qualified or capacitated to discipline her own members? Was not that taking the matter of dealing with those who were members of Smyrna out of the hands of, or away from, Smyrna and transferring the judging of the matter over to Middle Creek? It seems as though Elder Chastain is very much in favor of a "change of venue" in certain cases. It seems to us that it depends altogether on where a thing is whether Elder Chastain favors it or not.
We have copied the whole article above from Elder Chastain's paper so that the reader may have the whole thing before him. Now, if you have kept your copies of The Primitive Baptist, please get the issue of May 6, 1943, and read again, and read carefully, the full proceedings of New Hope Church, at Hindsboro, Ill., and see if there is a single thing in the whole procedure of that church which even so much as favors, in the slightest degree, anything contrary to any sentiment in the paragraphs from Elder Webb's article, as reproduced above. If any person will show us a single thing therein which, in the least degree, contradicts the sentiment and principles in the above referred to paragraphs, we will confess our dullness of comprehension, and will make all confessions anyone can ask, and will humbly beg forgiveness, and will promise never to say another word in public, by tongue or pen, concerning the matter of church discipline.
Elder Chastain says: '"Now, go read what these brethren have induced the New Hope Church to do at Hindsboro, Ill., in the May 6, 1943, Cayce paper." Who are the "these brethren?" He is talking about Elders Webb and Cayce in his article. Does he mean Cayce and Webb when he says "these brethren?" Perhaps he does not refer to Cayce in that expression, as he does not even condescend to speak of us outright in the article only by the term '"Cayce." If he refers to Elder Webb in the expression, he must be including some other brother with him. We wonder who he can have reference to. We do know, however, that Cayce had nothing whatever to do with the matter of New Hope Church doing what she did, for we knew absolutely nothing about it until we received the article for publication. If Elder Webb had anything to do with it, he can speak for himself. But this is nothing new to us, for Elder Chastain to accuse us of doing something which we did not do. He has accused us of saying something we did not say, in previous writings of his. So this is nothing new to us. We are indeed sorry he has such a disposition, and that he has pursued the course which he has.
Another thing we would kindly call attention of the reader to is the manner in which Elder Chastain mentions our paper—"the Cayce paper." "Cayce paper." O, he is so kind and brotherly! Nice gentleman, Elder Chastain is, is he not? Yes, he can tell you about how he wants peace and works for peace, but actions speak louder than words.
May the Lord deliver us from chicanery, garbling, or deception; and may He deliver His little children from vain and deceitful and wicked men, who by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, as said by Paul in Ro 16:18.—C. H. C, Primitive Baptist, July 1, 1943.
30 CHAPTER 30 - REPLY TO ELDER CAYCE'S FOREGOING ARTICLE WHICH APPEARED IN HIS PAPER OF JULY 1, 1943
It is clearly evident that Elder Cayce's position in the article given in the preceding chapter is that preachers, churches and associations have the right to withdraw, declare against, deal with and expose other preachers, churches and members over which they have no authority or jurisdiction, and to then try to induce the whole denomination to enforce his edict or distatorial power.
If this is not his position then why has he argued the question as he has here? If this is not his position then why does he try to defend the disorderly act of New Hope Church at Hindsboro, Ill., in the manner he has here which in our opinion was a scheme introduced by Eld. Webb and himself, and meant for our injury and death.
The above position is contrary to Eld. Cayce's own position as stated in His Paper February 3, 1938, which reads:
From Meddlers and Busybodies. If there is trouble in a community, and we go into that community, it is better for us, as well as better for the community, that we let that trouble alone. If we meddle with it, we only make bad matters worse. It might not be hard for those concerned to get matters adjusted, and get the trouble settled, if we do not meddle with it. They understand it better than we do. To be a meddler, then, is to be a maker of trouble, or to be a stirrer up of trouble. It is to be a busybody.
The Apostle Peter puts a busybody in a very ugly class. He says, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters." 1Pe 4:15. What a pity that all people do not try to attend to their own business, and let the business of other folk alone. When one puts in one-half of his time attending to his own business, and puts in the other half letting the business of other folk alone, he will not cause trouble as a meddler or as a busybody, nor will he have to suffer as a busybody. . . . .
What is detrimental to the cause is something that concerns any church, and she has a right to object to it. But it does not give her a right to interfere with the rights of sister churches. Nor does this give an individual a right to meddle with the affairs of the church, or with matters that the church is to attend to. No individual has the right to go from his own home and endeavor to regulate the affairs of others. Let us learn to 'behave ourselves' in the house of God." C. H. CAYCE.
In the Primitive Baptist of December 2, 1943, page 1, we find the following article. This article shows clearly that New Hope Church at Hindsboro, is out of line with Old Baptist and have taken a New Step in Discipline, for they declared non-fellowship for Eld. Chastain without ever giving him a hearing or even a notice of their intentions in the matter, on which they took action. Neither did they consult Middle Creek Church nor the Springfield Church in the matter. Therefore no orderly church will honor their act.
The following from Elder C. H. Cayce is of great interest here:—
"We have received a short letter with a request as follows:
"I have been identified with the Old Baptist Church fifty-nine years; attended and served the best I knew how; but I cannot understand the modern discipline some of the Old Baptists are practicing here of late. I want to know if a church can remain an orderly church and allow her minister to accuse a brother, condemn him and turn him over to a body for a test of fellowship in the self-same hour, and not allow the brother to speak in his own defense, and exclude him. I just want to know for my own satisfaction."
"This seems to us to be a brand new way of doing things, according to the outline given by the writer. There is not a court of justice in the land but what would give a man a hearing—allow him to speak for himself. Surely a true church of Christ should be as just in their dealings with their members as a court of justice in the land would be. When Paul was accused he was allowed to speak for himself before King Agrippa. Surely a true church should not be less just in her dealings. Of course we do not know the circumstances in the case referred to, but we do know that the practice of the church has been to give the accused a hearing. As we understand the matter of discipline and dealing with unruly members, or transgressors, they are entitled to a fair trial in the church. All the evidence in a case should be had, and must be had, in order that a fair decision be arrived at, and fairness done and justice sure be meted out. Even then, mistakes may be made. We are all poor erring mortals, and should "make haste slowly" in such matters in the church." C. H. C.
We consider the above very good advice indeed and the Baptist will generally accept that as sound practice. But we insist that Eld. Cayce's present position and the results or effects of it are contrary to this advice. Hindsboro had no right to try to meddle with the affairs of Middle Creek Church nor to try to dictate to them who should or should not pastor them, or what action they should take or not take. Nor did Eld. Cayce's South Arkansas Association have any right to interfere or meddle with Texas Baptist or Illinois Baptist, nor does that association, or churches in it, have any right to dictate to or try to regulate and meddle with their sister associations or their churches, nor to make new laws.
He speaks of Middle Creek receiving members who stood excluded from Smyrna Church. Why does he not speak the truth in this case and tell his readers the facts. Middle Creek is not the aggressor here. Smyrna Church took the first move and tried to regulate the affairs of Middle Creek under the care of Eld. C. E. Webb, and because they could not force their dictation and order upon Middle Creek they declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek and ignored her for four years and more.
We read in the Primitive Baptist of Dec. 4, 1941, page 1, of a visit of Eld. Cayce to Illinois. On this trip he affiliated with the Anti-Secret order churches on the one side and with those who suffer their members to belong to them on the other side. The Anti-Secret order churches had caused divisions and lawsuits and torn up some of our churches and disturbed the peace in many happy homes, yet Eld. Cayce was permitted to visit on both sides of the "Well-Established Order" regardless of his Double-Standard.
He visited and fellowshipped with one church who had taken in some eight or ten members from the churches of a sister association—Skillett Fork—without letters. They had either been excluded or were received without letters, regardless, in utter contempt for their home churches, which were ignored. Eld. Cayce evidently considered this church as a sister church, in which case he, too, was treating Skillet Fork with contempt. Yet Eld. Cayce says: "to pursue such a course as to receive into membership those who stand excluded from a sister church is to destroy every principle and every vestige of discipline in the church."
What did he do in this case of visit and fellowship? Just who did he recognize here as his sister church in order? What about its effect on our brethren over this community of saints?
Elder D. E. Baker said in a letter:
"It is not an uncommon practice for the factions making 'Secret Orders' a test of fellowship in Southern Illinois and Indiana to receive excluded members from our churches 'by relation' and still have full fellowship with our Southern Churches. Surely such acts are a declaration of non-fellowship for our churches and should be so regarded."
Yet our preachers in Southern and in Central Illinois suffer and allow Eld. Cayce to violate this principle and straddle the line when such "acts are a declaration of non-fellowship for our churches," and which, "should be so regarded."
So far as we are concerned we stand squarely where Elders R. W. and John M., Gregg Thompson, and J. H. and P. T. and Richard Oliphant, Walter Cash, G. E. Higdon, W. T. Brown, Archie Brown, Chas. W. Radcliff, W. C. Arnold, C. C. Hughes, Lemuel Potter and other faithful brethren have so faithfully stood.
With all of Elder Cayce's contempt for these churches he has been received and recognized by some of our churches and preachers—and the very ministers who announced for and arranged for and received Eld. Cayce have now condemned us, and so far as we know for no other reason than that they accuse us of the same thing of which Elder Cayce is guilty of doing—recognizing churches who have received members in that same way, as they charge. "The leaders cause God's people to err" but such leaders are not God's appointed leaders, and "they scatter the sheep upon every high mountain."
We claim that our cause at Middle Creek is fair and just and right and the records in this book will show the justice of our cause, yet we are rejected and others with all this disorder as stated arc received into open arms. Cayce was received by churches and ministers of Kaskaskia, Wabash District, Little Wabash and Muddy River Association and their associated ministers, yet these ministers have been loud in their condemnation of him in the past. We challenge them to show where we have ever denounced the footprints of our fathers and encouraged such disorder as Elder Cayce has here encouraged.
"Thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest does the same things." Ro 2:1. "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth, against them which commit such things." Verse 2.
ELDER CAYCE'S DOUBLE STANDARD In His Home Association, South Arkansas, they say:
"This Association will not hold in fellowship ANY church, neither will we knowingly correspond with any association which holds a member which belongs to any secret institution, whether moral, political or religious."
In the North—Eld. Cayce writes to a Brother In the North:
"Well as to the communion question I will say, that I have done both, gone into communion, and have administered baptism in the North —find I have not changed. I would do the same again."
Eld. Cayce stated time and again in northern pulpits that he and his people are in fellowship with our northern churches, yet he knew that there is possibly not a single church in the north, whose members are not in some way affiliated with secret order members, directly or otherwise.
AT DALLAS, TEXAS—
Through Eld. Cayce's recommendation and encouragement his home Association did in 1942 declare non-fellowship for Eld. Payne and his church in Dallas, Texas, for organizing the church without a bar in its rules against secret orders together with a few other points. They declared they "would not associate with him or with any who aid, or assist him—Nor will we preach any of them in our pulpits if we know It. We do not wish them to come among us."
"The practice of affiliating with those things (secret orders) is wrong and no man can defend it by the word of God. . . . . and churches that tolerate it are doing wrong."
---Cayce in Primitive Baptist for Feb. 14, 1914
AT CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS—
Eld. Cayce did at Champaign, Ill., in June, 1941, assist In the organization of a church there—called New Liberty, in which there were no reference to Secret Orders neither in their Church Covenant, Articles of Faith or Rules of Decorum, but there were some in that organization who did belong to secret orders, at least in the presbytery, and we are informed some of the members belonged. See Primitive Baptist of July 17, 1941.
Eld. Cayce comes North and Tolerates and affiliates with our churches, in Baptism, Communion and Organization. Yet he says it is wrong, and declares non-fellowship through his association for all who hold secret order members.
In his above comments Eld. Cayce says: "He makes matters appear different from what they are"—They are as follows: "No church can exclude a member except the church of his membership." Then, what is its true meaning—The true meaning then would be—that another church can or may exclude a member.
He also says: "He has accused us of saying something we did not say." It is plain both of these men did say '"that no other church can exclude a man." Allright, do they now want to say that some other church can or may exclude a man." My membership is not at New Hope. Did they have a right, then, to exclude me? Did Eld. Cayce have a right to publish that disorderly act to the world? Did not that act equal an approval on his part?
31 CHAPTER 31
I am criticized for quoting and approving Eld. Webb's paragraph Number 1 and for not quoting the other two. This criticism by Eld. Cayce is equal to saying that he does not endorse it alone. Item No. 1 says:
"No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership except the church of his membership."
Does Eld. Cayce believe this statement or not?
If he does believe it why all his argument against it by bringing in the two following statements and quibbling over it? It is evident he does not believe it as it stands out there alone. Personally I endorse it wholeheartedly.
From the criticism offered we have a right to conclude that Eld. Cayce will not accept No. 1 without the two statements following it. Yet it is a perfect and complete and definite statement. It is not followed by a colon nor by a semicolon, and is such as to stand alone. We endorse it 100 per cent. Eld. Cayce does not endorse it unless the two following statements are attached, so we can justly conclude that he thinks that a gospel church anywhere can justly exclude a member anywhere from any church and then that member stands excluded from the denomination, for this is the subject under consideration as all the context clearly shows. Then item 3 says, '"It is gross disorder for any other church to receive such excluded person into her membership by relation so long as the church from which he is excluded is held in fellowship by all orderly sister churches."
In the face of such a conglomeration whose membership would be safe in any church? And all this by men who pose as leaders of "Established Rules and Order."
Very well, if some other church other than the church of one's membership can exclude a man, and this must be recognized by the denomination, then why not some other church other than the church of one's membership restore excluded members? This is the web-footed-tangle that such men lead men into, and all fall into the ditch.
We still endorse the position that no church can exclude a man but the church of his membership, that no church can receive excluded people but the church that did the excluding except where fellowship had previously been broken and all obligations severed, and where the exclusion was disorderly and improper, and where heresy is involved. But one may be restored in case sister churches are agreed and gospel labor has been bestowed. We do insist that a sacred and brotherly relation should exist among our churches and that such relation should be religiously observed in the love and fear of God, and these ties that bind us together should be heavenly and divine and "like to that above." Carnality and fleshy and social bonds and selfishness are not to enter into our religious affiliation, we mean that at least they should not interfere one way or another with it.
Cayce's writings are made up almost wholly of war and confusion and of fighting, either his brethren or someone else, so that one would not know that war is distasteful to him did he not say so. His statement would wring deep sympathy from many human hearts and almost from the rocks. He would not be into war so much were it not for his many nefarious acts. His accusations that others are causing him trouble is similar to Germany's situation. The allies are giving Germany much trouble and heartache, but are the allies to blame for the situation? No, a thousand times "NO." The Bible tells us to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." We intend to do that very thing, and to lift up our voice like a trumpet, and shew God's people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins."
Jonah was called of God and those fellows who threw him overboard were not. Joseph's brethren conspired against him to slay him for they were jealous of him. Reuben said, "Let us not kill him. . . . Shed no blood." He was sent away, alone and suffered much, but "God delivered him out of all his troubles." Our Savior "tread the winepress alone, and there was none to help Him." "All men forsook Paul but God stood by him, and strengthened him," and "delivered him from every evil work . . . and out of the mouth of the lion." 2Ti 4:17-18. "Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil," but Paul said, "the Lord reward them according to their works."
We prefer to be the Lord's servants alone, rather than with unjust stewards,
As was Joseph
As was Elijah
As was Christ
As was Jonah
As was Paul
As was John on Patmus.
The Lord has promised to ever stand by and strengthen His faithful servants, though the heavens fall. We are told to 'let the heathen rage."
4 "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.
5 "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1Ti 6:4-5.)
We study the Bible and church government and enjoy the freedom of this fine country. We are opposed to any scheme to destroy church rights and self government. "We should labor ot do all in our power to achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all good people."
Lincoln said, "Surely each man has as strong a motive now to preserve our liberties as each had then to establish them." After a faithful fight of faith, "it will have been proved that among free men there can be no successful appeal from right to wrong, from the ballot to the bullet." Having thus chosen our course without guile and with pure purpose let us renew our trust in God." "We must not be enemies though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." We desire peace but we propose to have a word to say as to the foundation of that peace.
God grants liberty only to those who love it, and who are always ready to guard and defend it.
"I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Ro 16:19.
We, too, are opposed to "chicanery," for which so many of our unthinking people have fallen, where and when men "by fair speeches and good words deceive the hearts of the simple." Ro 16:18.
No man on earth can defend the proposition that just any church may exclude a man from the Old Baptist denomination; that by such action from any church, other than a man's home church, it can be made binding upon the denomination. Such a position was never before known or advocated among Old Baptist, and such a position would destroy our church identity. A wise, shrewd debater would blow Eld. Cayce clear off the map on this proposition on Church Identity.
Eld. R. W. Thompson in writing of the Church and her government in the Monitor for March, 1906, said:
"In 2Th 3:6, Paul says, 'Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourself from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditions which he received from us.' That is according to the teachings of Christ: 'Cut off the offending member.' He that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.' (Tit 3:10.) or exclude, cut off or sever from your body. This work of cutting, amputating, or severing from the body, is by the King, committed to the church, and to no other body. It can not be done by a council, a presbytery, or even by a committee appointed by the church; but must be done by the church itself. This is the government established by Christ, and administered by the Apostles: and this is the government of the Regular Baptist Church." Chapter 2 in this book.
Eld. Thompson was here quoting from Eld. Gregg Thompson in his debate held with Eld. Burgess, some fifty years ago or more.
This is still the Old Baptist doctrine and while Eld. Cayce may get by with his new and strange doctrine, that a church 100 miles or more from a man's home church, may exclude a man and make it binding upon the whole denomination, he will never be able to put that over on our thinking brethren, neither in the South nor in the North, who have read the Bible and Baptist History and Literature.
Eld. Cayce says I have misrepresented him by quoting parts of sentences and paragraphs. I deny this charge flatly, and if our reader will call at my office I will show him the records.
Eld. Thompson further said: "While we hold that the Church is the only executive body in the kingdom of Christ, we hold that she is under the laws of Christ—that she must act in obedience to the laws of her king as published in the New Testament—that no council, synod, conference, convention or association has any right to enact, pass or publish any confession of faith, discipline or system of government for the church, or to attempt to impose any rules or regulations upon the church." (See Chapter 2 in this book.)
We are standing squarely upon the above declarations and shall not be moved from them.
The committee of Eld. Webb's own choosing, consisting of fourteen Elders and brethren, pronounced upon Smyrna Church a record containing irregularities which Webster says means DISORDERS, we therefore ARE NOT and HAVE NOT been dealing with a church IN ORDER in the matter of Smyrna Church according to that committee. We just leave it there and take the committee's report for it.
Smyrna has continuously and religiously refused to engage with us in a joint council as per the advice of that same committee, though Middle Creek has constantly called for a council.
We can only take the advice given at Fulton, Ky., by the fifty-one Elders there in 1900, which included both Eld. C. H. Cayce and his father (see part of the General Address in front of this book) and let them alone until they see fit to take down their bars of fellowship.
Eld. Cayce's publication of the act of New Hope Church is absurd and ridiculously ridiculous, and is equal to his endorsement of their act, in excluding a man without a hearing, and without bringing the matter before his home church at all.
The charges brought against us there were not due to Baptist or religious principle at all—there is no principle of any kind about it—but were brought simply to get my life, and to ruin the Messenger of Peace if possible.
Eld. Cayce claims he did not know that Hindsboro was going to bring their serious charge until he received the account or record of the meeting. I am willing that he tell that to the Judge above. On January 7th, 1943, Eld. Webb said in Cayce's paper:
"Some of our brethren in a sister Association, some 200 miles to our south, have begun church action against the elder for his stand in regard to the above mentioned disorder, and this action promises to be of considerable importance."
Is Eld. Cayce trying to tell us that he did not read his own paper—not even the copy or proof of it? This may account for much of the repugnant matter that appears in that publication, such as "water-soaked Campbellites," and "Rev. Blowhard," and many other such unChristian, uncultured and unbecoming statements which so frequently appear therein, and which make so many of our brethren keep it off their tables for fear the neighbors will see it. And this is the paper bearing the name "Primitive Baptist" and which is supposed to represent our Old Baptist cause—the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth.
Now just suppose that Middle Creek did make a mistake in taking in some members that had been excluded; if they did it was not of the heart, we are sure, but purely of the mind; let us grant that they did, for argument's sake. Alright, would that justify New Hope at Hindsboro, in declaring non-fellowship for a member of the Springfield Church, without any gospel labor whatever? Will this second wrong make the first wrong right? Will it? Did any one ever hear tell of such a thing before in Baptist history or in the Bible? If so give us the page and history and the chapter and verse.
If Middle Creek is in disorder pray tell us what is the condition of the New Hope Church?
The home church at Springfield, Ill., has never been officially notified of that act of New Hope Church and more than one year's time has now elapsed. People have been married, funerals preached, baptism administered, communion administered, feet-washing engaged in. If they should today rescind their act, the excluded will have been restored and the church of his membership will never have known anything whatever of the whole transaction, officially. Such is web-footed, sure enough, but that is the condition, for they are blind—made so with prejudice and hate and envy, which is the spirit of the evil one.
Is not the local church the sole judge as to her order concerning her own internal affairs? Are we to have a self-established "King-Fish" or two to whom we must go for advice?
We shall turn to God's word and read what became of the excluded members of Diotrephes and of how John received them and called Gaius "the well beloved whom he loved in the truth." John said, "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have born witness of thy charity before the church; whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for His name sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth." 3 John 5:9. Ought to do what? "Ought to receive such." That is what John said.
"Follow not that which is evil but that which is good."
32 CHAPTER 32
Commenting on Eld. Webb's statement in the foregoing chapter, Eld. Cayce says:
"Elder Chastain has quoted parts of statements from us more than once, and by quoting a part of what was said, and leaving out some that was said in direct connection, he has thereby made matters to appear different from what they really are. This is precisely what he has done in the foregoing, which we shall proceed to show, Etc."
According to Eld. Cayce's own statement here above quoted, the statement as quoted alone from Eld. Webb "has been made to appear different" at the heading of this article "to what was intended." Then Eld. Webb and Cayce do not mean that statement—as it stands alone, which reads:
"No church on earth has the power to exclude any person from church membership, except the church of his membership." That is exactly what I made it say.
Eld. Cayce says we have made it appear different to what was meant. Then what was meant? If it does not mean that then it must mean the opposite, which would be that other churches may exclude a member who does not belong to that church. This is the only sensible logical conclusion to his argument.
But, he wants to connect that first paragraph to the second, which says: "That a person excluded from her membership stands excluded from the denomination." Turn back to beginning of Chapter 29 and study his statements.
Eld. Cayce makes the statement or accusation twice in that one article that I have misrepresented him. I deny that I have ever misrepresented him, and have the records in my files, from which I have quoted.
The Elder also in this chapter tells us what he means by the expression "Received on confession of faith." He says: "Middle Creek Church, pastored by Elder Chastain, received some parties ON CONFESSION OF FAITH, who stood excluded from Smyrna Church."
Turn back now and study well Chapter 27 and there learn just what has taken place in the matter of receiving members "on confession of faith" in some states and note that at the South Arkansas Association they received a sister on "CONFESSION OF FAITH," after Eld. Clevenger had preached. We have a right to conclude that these parties, some or all of them, had been excluded somewhere from other churches and had been taken in at these various places or churches "on confession of faith."
"I write unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, received us not. Wherefore if I come I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words; and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." John, 3rd Chap.
The case is here presented plainly and we are told that to cast men out of the church in order to have the preeminence is an evil work. Men who have seen God will not do such things, and when such things are done men who have seen God will not approve such conduct.
A SAD CASE
An old couple—man and wife—lived a few blocks from us here in the city a few years ago. Their young daughter, some 16 or 17 years of age, came in one night about 10 o'clock, at what the old folks thought was a late hour. To reprove her they would not open the door nor allow the child to enter their home—she was excluded. About three o'clock in the night a fast train was due from St. Louis. The child had pleaded, cried and wept, and the night air was chilly and cold. The girl went to the track not far from the home and jumped in front of that train and lost her life. Next morning found the stern old couple with a mutilated body left of what before was a lovely, bright faced, happy girl. We do not approve of such cold, lifeless, loveless discipline either in our homes or in our churches. But we do approve of Christian correction as our dear Savior gave it to us. "Brethren, if a brother be overtaken in a fault ye which are spiritual-restore such a one in the spirit of meekness lest thou also be tempted." Ga 6:1. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Verse 7. "As we have therefore opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Occasionally we read or hear of a baby being laid on some one's doorstep. In such a case is it not the part of valor to take in such a child? Who and how could any one exhibit charity and the love of God and refuse a child a home, clothing, food and bed and shelter from the storm? Jesus said, "When ye have done this unto My disciples ye have done it unto Me." "I am not willing that one of these little ones shall perish." Mt 18:14.
A brother who had been excluded some 15 or 18 years, was received and given a home in our church. His wife also, who had loved the church for years, came and was baptized. They are so happy in the church, and one day I spoke to them about it. The wife, with tears rolling down her face, said: "Yes, it is heavenly to enjoy our home in-the church together, but Bro. Chastain, the sad part is that our children grew up out of the church in great discouragement, and some have gone to other churches and some have lost all interest in religion, and one is in the cruel war. He may never return." So we think we can see the duty that lays upon us and the far reaching effects of an unjust and an unholy war in the church and the cruel destruction the devil may bring by leading some men to be "over-righteous," determined and stubborn. "Where there is no vision the people perish."
We do not believe that the kingdom of God is of such a nature that it would condemn to death, with no forgiveness, any poor mortal who has fallen a victim to some vicious church and pastor, or who has sinned in some manner in a passion or without proper thought and consideration. Men are not usually hanged for murder unless it can be shown that murder was premeditated, or that it has become a habit. Forgiveness and church membership should not be refused just because some stubborn church member, be he pastor, deacon or who, is led by a dictator of evil mind. We are not to be tied by the acts of a disorderly church in such procedures. To say a church which is made of human beings is infallible and makes no mistakes and that her acts are binding regardless of her order is nothing but heresy and popery. When we agree that churches are fallible we yield the point and to this all must agree. Churches then are apt to err and liable to be wrong, and in such cases her acts are not binding. A church through error might be willing for some of the little ones to perish but Jesus is not willing for such a thing to happen, it is therefore against His will.
"Let us, having a form of godliness, not deny the power thereof; from such turn away." 2Ti 3:5.
Eld. Hassell said, "We learn therefore that Christ requires His churches to be faithful in doctrine, in practice and in discipline." History, page 250.
Elder Pittman said: "Sister churches should not uphold a church in disorder." Advocate and Messenger, Sept. 1939, page 199.
Eld. Pettus said: "If a church is guilty of disorder ... we are not bound to respect her actions." Messenger of Peace, Oct. 1939.
Eld. R. W. Thompson said: "Churches cannot with impunity violate or ignore any divine law given for her government. While it is true that churches at times have arbitrarily done so, and there is no way of restraining them from doing so, the only expedient left is to withdraw from the disorderly ones and leave them to Him who has said, 'Vengeance is Mine: and I will repay, saith the Lord.' "
33 CHAPTER 33 - FELLOWSHIP
We proceed to show now that no other church has any jurisdiction over a member of another church, but their jurisdiction is limited to their own members. The following authority we quote is unquestionable among all Old Baptist. It is unchangeable and unselfish, and according to history and Bible.
It is as follows:
We read in The Messenger of Peace, March 1942, page 93, in an article from the Gospel Standard of England:
"That a true cohesion should exist between various gospel churches the scripture clearly teaches, and it is proper in the very nature of things, that churches in different localities, believing, loving, holding and teaching the same truths, should consider themselves possessed of mutual interests and responsibilities. . . . We strongly hold that nothing should interfere with the internal affairs of individual churches; each is an organic whole, but each has a duty to perform."
Mosheim's Church History says:
"'The churches of those early days were entirely independent, none of them being subject to any foreign jurisdiction, but, each governed by its own rules and its own laws; for though the churches founded by the Apostles had this particular difference shown them; that they were consulted in difficult and doubtful cases, yet they had no judicial authority, no sort of supremacy over the others, nor the least right to enact laws for them. Nothing on the contrary, is more evident than the perfect equality that reigned among the Primitive Churches; nor does there even appear in the first century, the smallest trace of that association of provincial churches from which councils and metropolitans derive their origin. It was in the second century that the custom of holding councils commenced in Greece." Pages 22 and 23.
"Every local church acting by a majority of its members, is vested by Christ with the exclusive and final power of receiving, disciplining, excluding and restoring its members, electing its officers and transacting all other necessary business. . . . Each gospel church is a separate and independent republic." Hassell, page 291-294.
Therefore the Church at Springfield, Ill., has the exclusive power to exclude or deal with Eld. Chastain or any other member as she sees fit. If as Eld. Hassell says, she has the exclusive power, then no other church would have that power. No other church, therefore, has a right to interfere with the internal affairs of the Springfield Church.
"Each and every local church has a right to dispose of her local affairs as she deems proper."
We read in the Nashville Peace Meeting—minute—as follows:
"Where there are reports in circulation of immoral conduct our brethren should be careful about repeating heresays, for the benefit and good of the cause, when such reports are in circulation, such matters should be investigated by the church of the person's membership. If the party is innocent, it is for his good that the church exonerate the party. This is not only for the good of the brother, but for the benefit of the cause. . . . Until there is such an investigation we should be careful not to circulate such hearsay reports about the brother. We may sometimes say things we should not say. In such case as this it would look well for the party who may thus have such evil reports in circulation against him as are detrimental to his character and detrimental to the cause to ask the church to go into an official investigation of those matters. The church should thoroughly investigate such things, whether the party involved asks for it or not—she should do this for the protection of her members as well as for the vindication and good of the cause of the Master."
Investigated by whom? ... "By THE CHURCH OF THE (ACCUSED) PERSON'S MEMBERSHIP." Then does any other church have that right? No. Who said that Eld. Claud Cayce and all the rest of the brethren who approved the Minute of the Nashville, Tenn., peace meeting. About (41) forty-one all told. Then if a man has misrepresented the matter of—RELATIONS--or anything else, who should try him?—His home church.
"The Church is the highest ecclesiastical court on earth." In fact it is the only ecclesiastical court on earth. The church and all reliable church authority endorses that position.
Eld. Respess said:
"If a member has a standing in any church with which another church is in fellowship, he is to be recognized as orderly until the church (not an association), (not some other church, but his church) deals with him. Primitive Pathway, page 85.
Gregg M. Thompson said:
"No church has a right to prescribe a field for the minister to labor in, or to prohibit him from preaching the Gospel at any time or place, where God may open a door for him. Their minister in this respect is only accountable to the church for what he preaches, and not for where he preaches. The Apostolic practice was to preach in synagogues, or heathen temples, or any where else if a door was opened to them; and such is yet the practice of the Primitive Baptist, with a few exceptions. There have been a few instances where charges have been brought against ministers for preaching in certain pulpits, and to certain congregations. But, they who brought such charges, did not do it from principle, but under a wicked desire to injure the man, it cannot, therefore, be set down as a principle or practice of the Primitive Baptist."
"An heretic after the first and second admonition is to be rejected; but no man is to be rejected, without first being admonished and having a fair hearing before the church. The practice of passing non-fellowship resolutions against men without giving them a hearing, is unjust and iniquitous, and will destroy the peace and prosperity of any community of saints. This practice has of late prevailed to a considerable extent among the Beebe Baptists." Thompson's Measuring Rod, pages 188-189.
Eld. Respess said:
"Even heathen Romans would not condemn a man before hearing the accused and accuser concerning the sin laid against him, and shall a Gospel Church, which should be the light of the world, do worse than a heathen government?" Lee Hanks' History, page 201.
Eld. Stewart said:
"The Church of God is not a slaughter house to destroy God's precious children. These men of God have shown that discipline belongs solely to the church and from the righteous decision of a Gospel Church there is no appeal. No council, association, or any other body of men can deal with a member and exclude him, but the church of his membership. To this church and this alone, he is amenable." Hanks' History, page 203.
Eld. J. M. Fenton said:
"Associations or any other body of believers usurping authority over church or churches is anti-Christ." Hanks' History.
34 CHAPTER 34 - ARE CHURCHES INFALLIBLE?
Churches may err in exclusions and become disorderly in rebellion against the laws of Christ to such an extent that her acts are illegal; surely such matters may be adjusted and should be adjusted on the advice and council of sister churches if needs be. A church might by her act adopt sprinkling, and some of the members be excluded on account of their rejection of such act, and that is no argument that such unjustly excluded persons cannot find a home in some orderly church. It would indeed be a poor government or church where such an injustice cannot be adjudicated. Surely the offended parties should not be set out forever with no hearing and no equity, and be denied the just regard to any right or claim, or the administration of law according to its spirit and not merely according to its letter. The Bible and church laws are based on the principle of justice and equity which should be administered by the church; and no pastor or minister is to lord it over a church—but should be the servant of the church.
"But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died." "Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men." "For meat destroy not the work of God." Ro 15.
There are other things in the kingdom of God besides a man's selfish will, and belly to be fed. We can not destroy one in eternity for whom Christ died, but I am sure that many a noble Christian life in this world has been destroyed by somebody getting their feet on somebody and stamping out their religious life. We are told not to do such a thing. Will you be guilty of that crime? Will you suffer your church to be guilty of such a thing?
Much has been said about "God's Established Law" of the Church. We ask where in the name of all that is just and right is "His Established Law of Mercy and Forgiveness and Grace?" Has it no place in the kingdom of God today. "Woe unto that man by whom offenses come." Some will sit and sing loudly about "Amazing Grace" and then deny it to an erring man and even to a church.
The question is, has the brother been lawfully and justly excluded, and was the church in order when it excluded him? Has mercy been extended his case as a charitable church should extend mercy? Is there fellowship between the churches concerned in the matter? In the case of Smyrna Church and Middle Creek Church, Smyrna had in an improper way and without just cause broken fellowship with Middle Creek Church, as records herein quoted clearly show. The law of Moses said: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but we are now living under the law of grace, which is the law of the kingdom of God. His kingdom is one of charity, love, grace and mercy. In the absence of repentance evil members should be excluded. When they have suffered sufficiently they should be restored by the excluding church— but when that church does not follow the rules of Christ's kingdom, then other churches have a just right to look into the matter and take action and deal with the case as their just judgment dictates, as God has instructed, and as Old Baptist have always practiced. The command to forgive and restore is just as sacred and divine and binding as the one to exclude.
Regarding the exclusion of other churches we call attention here to one which Eld. Cayce has ignored and so has Eld. Webb and New Hope Church. The ax here falls with more weight upon Eld. Clevenger than does the Hindsboro ax fall upon this writer, for Eld. Clevenger's home church is involved and so are other churches. We quote from Fishing River Association minute for 1941:
"Be it resolved that inasmuch as Mt. Vernon Church is retaining Eld. Clevenger as pastor, who has been dropped from the fellowship of New Garden Church for disorderly conduct and contempt of church, thereby putting herself out of fellowship with the other churches representing the Fishing River Association, also sending letters and messengers to meet with a faction of New Garden Church led by L. H. Clevenger, thereby breaking the bond of union existing among the churches of the association, that Mt. Vernon Church be dropped from the roll of churches until she shall recant her action of leaving the association and rid herself of L. H. Clevenger.
"Be it also resolved, that Log Creek Church, who by willfully forsaking the Fishing River Association, thereby breaking the bond of union and fellowship and following L. H. Clevenger, against whom several churches have declared non-fellowship for causing disturbance among the brethren, be dropped from the roll of churches until she recant the action of abandoning the association and following L. H. Clevenger in his rebellion."
EMERSON McAFEE, Moderator.
GEO. R. HALL, Clerk.
Plattsburg, Mo., R. D. 3.
ELD. CLEVENGER'S CASE
The exclusion of Eld. Clevenger has been questioned and denied, but here in the above quotation from their minutes, the reader will see that the FISHING RIVER ASSOCIATION by their act records the fact as they see it, that "CLEVENGER HAD BEEN DROPPED FROM THE FELLOWSHIP OF NEW GARDEN CHURCH for disorderly conduct and contempt of Church," and by the acts here of Fishing River Association's two churches, Mt. Vernon in Kansas City and Log Creek, are dropped from the Association, for still recognizing Eld. Clevenger and disregarding the act of New Garden Church. Yet, Elders Cayce and Webb and some of their followers claim that the act of New Hope Church, where they had no jurisdiction whatsoever, is binding on the whole denomination, if we correctly understand them. But they disregard the action of about five churches and the act of the Fishing River Association in declaring the facts in the Eld. Clevenger case as they view the matter. Again we are reminded that, "truly the legs of the lame are not equal."
On page 4 of The Clevenger Pamphlet entitled: "Facts Relating to Disturbances in New Garden," he says that:
"New Garden had arranged for an Illinois Elder in good standing to visit her at her annual summer communion services. Two of these elders wrote this Elder and objected to his making his proposed visit."
If Eld. Clevenger here refers to Eld. Vandiveer and to the reported letter that I should have written him, I wish to say that the report is untrue and challenge any one to produce any such a letter. A copy of the letter in question, however, appears in a previous page in this book, with no reference whatsoever to New Garden Church nor of any visit to that church. Turn and read it for yourself. (See page 27).
In the same pamphlet, page 3, Eld. Clevenger refers to the adoption of a resolution endorsed and printed in the Messenger Of Peace for August 1939. But he says, "it failed." Then why is he still harping about it?
It has erroneously been reported that it was one of non-fellowship, which we deny. No statement to that effect can be found in it.
The core and heart of that resolution is:
"We invite to seats in council, all brethren of like faith and order who are in peace and order at home and in fellowship with us."
If men are not in order at home and in fellowship with us, then by what authority do they come? and if they are not in fellowship for what reason do they come? What reason would our churches have for receiving and preaching men of that type?
This question resolves itself into the following propositions:
1st.—We will invite ONLY such men into our pulpits and to seats in council whom we know to be in fellowship with us, and whose home churches are in fellowship with us, and those who are in order and peace at home, and of like faith and order. OR,
2nd.—We will invite into our pulpits and to seats in council all men who come among us, regardless of their order and faith and regardless of whether they have fellowship for us or not, and also regardless of their peace and order at home.
Now we ask our brethren, dear reader, which of the above propositions will you accept? Which will your church accept? Write and tell me what is wrong with the positions, please. To be sure you can not accept the two of them for they are opposed to each other.
One brother wrote that I had expressed myself as wanting a better rule than the Bible, and such a thing serves to show the reader the class of men we have had to deal with— men who fail to understand, and men who labor to put the wrong construction on words and sentences.
35 CHAPTER 35 - BARTLETT, CAYCE AND WEBB
After Elder Bartlett was excluded from our churches, Elder Cayce and his brethren and the extreme south received him, and now Eld. Webb by standing with them approves that act, regardless of the Churches, Elders and Associations, yet Eld. Cayce now says that such actions "destroys every principle of and every vestige of discipline in the church," which proves he ignored the acts of our churches and ministry.
Elder Bartlett was rejected throughout the North by all our orderly people, which was only about twenty-five years ago. Eld. Cayce approved and condoned Eld. Bartlett's course. Elders Weaver, Fuller, Upchurch, and Beshears joined them in their course. These men caused great havoc among the churches of southern Indiana and Illinois. Standing with them today are Elders Webb and Wright of Illinois, and Clevenger of Missouri, and a few others are lending their influence that way.
Cayce not yet satisfied with the havoc he caused by supporting Bartlett who divided the Cuivre Siloam Association in 1916 to 1919 has again entered our territory with the help of his "yes-men" and those who are afraid, and with the aid of his whip and intrigue has scared many of our brethren away from the path of our fathers. We pray for the Lord to stand by and help us speedily. We had thought our brethren were more firmly settled in the truth and right as their letters and acts indicated, and were more honest and brave, but we confess, that we have been greatly disappointed in a few.
Eld. Barnes who is now moderator for the Clevenger faction of Fishing River Association, did a few years ago when pastor at Sugar Creek Church at Gilman City, Mo., we are informed, had the experience of some Baptists offering themselves for membership by letter from a southern country or church, which letter stated they were not to join any church who approved of or had secret order members in it. This church had at least one secret order member— therefore—they ignored the letter and took the party in on relation, or on what the south calls on "recommendation," or "confession of faith." This evidently had the approval of Eld. Barnes, and this has been but a few short years, yet, today he serves as moderator of Clevenger's wing of the Fishing River Association, and which corresponds with Salem, Ill., Association, the home of Eld. Webb.
MT. ZION ASSOCIATION
On page 1 of the Messenger Of Peace for Nov. 1, 1929, we have an account of the withdrawal of churches of Mt. Zion Association from a few churches and preachers of West Missouri which had imbibed the doctrine of Absolute Predestination of all things. "There was agreement among the corresponding associations, Fishing River, Two River, Cuivre-Siloam, Salem, (Mo.), Yellow Creek and Nodaway, not to remain in connection with the preaching of these doctrines, but all agreed to remain in correspondence with the churches which met at Leeton, as they had never endorsed these doctrines, if they now announced an open stand against them, which they did, and to stand in harmony with all the correspondence on the original articles of faith of the Mt. Zion Association.
On the same page is an account of the meeting at Pleasant Grove Church in Oct. 1929, which we give you here, as follows:
PLEASANT GROVE MEETING
"The meeting at Pleasant Grove Church was well attended with a number of brethren and sisters from sister churches.
"On Saturday a number of brethren and sisters united with the church who had withdrawn from the churches of their former membership on account of the preaching of Absolute Predestination of All Things and Eternal Vital Union. From Little Blue-Sni-a-bar there were Myrtle Hutchinson, Nannie Webb, Eld. R. M. Ogle, David R. Owings, Mary Owings, and Eld. T. B. Fisher.
"'From Oak Grove there were Laura E. Bridges, Lucy J. Gordon, Levi Owings, Callie M. Middleton, Joseph N. George, J. Henry George, M. D., E. Roy Barnes, Ethel R. Barnes, Paul N. Fisher and Lena Fisher.
"Besides these there were four by experience and baptism. Sister Dudley Owings, Helen Pollard and Viola Helms and Howard Pollard, all of whom were baptized Saturday afternoon. It was a happy time for all. Elder J. C. Jones was present Saturday and Elder Walter Cash all through the meeting."
We have now here given you some facts worth considering which has stood the test since 1929 and had the approval of Eld. Cash. Eld. Cash was in fact the promoter of this plan which had the approval of his associate elders and deacons and correspondence. Eld. Cash, also, advised with me at the time about it, and I gave it my approval, and I am still glad for it.
Along with the others who left their old churches and came to Pleasant Grove was Eld. Barnes and wife, who is at this time the Moderator of the Clevenger branch of the Fishing River Association. Eld. Clevenger and Barnes and some others have been loud in their protest of the action of several members who within the last two or three years withdrew from Mt. Vernon Church at Kansas City of which they claim Clevenger is pastor, and who have placed their membership in the same Pleasant Grove Church near Independence, Mo. In their claim and actions condemning this last act of these brethren they have cut off, or do cut off by their arguments the very same act of Elder Barnes joining the same church in 1929. Therefore, by their act of condemning they invalidate Eld. Barnes' membership and ordination and all his ministerial labors and set it all aside. Their ax falls heavily on Eld. Barnes.
While it is true that Bro. Barnes left his old church on a doctrinal principle, we insist that a practical principle is just as binding and just as essential and on a par with doctrinal principles, and what is fair and acceptable in one case is the equal in the other case. There is no difference.
The argument of Cayce and Webb and Clevenger would exclude and sever the membership and work of Eld. Barnes. Yet it suits their case and they are for it, along with some of their followers, while they condemn the rest of us for having received some members on gospel principles.
In the article under consideration, Elder Cayce said:
"To pursue such a course as to receive into membership those who stand excluded from a sister church is to destroy every principle and every vestige of discipline in the church. It is to openly and flagrantly deny that a church has the right to discipline her own members."
Now we ask what right did New Hope at Hindsboro have to take the matter of discipline out of the Springfield Church and take me into their jurisdiction to discipline me by mob law? This question can not be answered intelligently, and we pronounce such conduct of that radical faction as an act of gross disorder?
What right did Smyrna have to take the case out of the hands of Middle Creek, in the matter of disciplining the sister for marrying a divorced man? Absolutely none. It was gross disorder. This they did long before Middle Creek took any action whatever.
What right did Smyrna have then to declare non-fellowship for a part of Middle Creek and for all who stood with that part simply because they would not bow to the dictates of Claud Webb, and then later to charge that "fellowship had not been broken," and try to blame Middle Creek's pastor for the trouble? We answer, none, absolutely none, and their acts were and are gross disorder.
Eld. Cayce says further, '"When Middle Creek received those members who stood excluded from Smyrna, was that not equal to saying that Smyrna was not capable of attending to her own business, and that she was not qualified or capacitated to discipline her own members? Was that not taking the matter of dealing with those who were members of Smyrna out of the hands of, and away from Smyrna and transferring the judging of the matter over to Middle Creek?"
But it must be remembered that this was not done until after Smyrna had first taken action and declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek, four years previously.
The fourteen brethren who investigated Smyrna's records called it "IRREGULARITY," which means disorderly. Webster says: "Not conforming to rule; not according to established law, method or usage; .... not conformable to established principles. . . . . No. 2, Not conforming to the rule of the church; having some irregularity that disqualifies for ordination or for membership in some ecclesiastical body." He cites a case and says: An irregular marriage is valid, but subjects the parties, the celebrator, and the witnesses to statutory penalties." So we unhesitatingly say that Smyrna was not legally qualified nor capacitated to discipline her own nor any other churches' members. Parents may correct their children but when they abuse them and treat them inhuman the law will remove the children from their care.
Now I have some questions:
When Eld. Dr. Fowler at Dallas, Texas, took in eight members from Ft. Worth Church who had not been excluded did Dr. Fowler destroy every vestige of discipline in the church? Eld. Cayce visits and fellowships Eld. Fowler's church.
When Eld. Cayce and his southern brethren took in Eld] Bartlett did they destroy every vestige of discipline in the church?
To accuse Middle Creek or myself of being the cause of the trouble in these churches, which had run for four years before Middle Creek took any action in receiving members and some two or three years before I took the care of the church, is like trying to accuse London or Great Britain of being the cause of the war with Germany because they are at this late date bombing Berlin. As sad as the case may be it is absolutely laughable to consider such an unjust and such an unreasonable accusation.
36 CHAPTER 36 - INTIMIDATION
Eld. Cayce came into Illinois in the fall of 1941 and visited as many churches as would publish appointments for him as before stated regardless of their order or their position as to fellowship or non-fellowship, and straddled the fence across the state.
In the fall of 1942 I visited the Church at North Little Rock, Arkansas, and enjoyed the meeting with those fine brethren. Not a word was said in the pulpit about any of the differences of our people, as those present will testify. We love those good people and I was received kindly by them. One Elder said, '"If there are any differences between us, it was all forgotten while you preached."
We regret to say that it is our understanding that Eld. Cayce has made a great "stir" about our having been there. An effort was made to have that church apologize for receiving me, and was made to intimidate or create fear of bars to fellowship by sister churches and beloved elders. Cayce has circulated the report that I am not identified with the main body of Primitive Baptist of the North, which report we deny. I ask, has it come to the place where a man must "line up" with some one man and his following in order to be with "the main body of Baptist?" We desire to please our brethren but first we must please our God.
In the spring of 1943—possibly in May—Eld. Eubank of Poplar Grove, Arkansas, of Elizabeth Church, went over to North Little Rock and visited and preached in the same church or house that I had preached in. Eld. Cayce brought charges against him for doing so, and then later changed his charge because Eld. Eubanks and wife did not vote to support the action of Cayce in South Arkansas Association when they voted non-fellowship for the Baptist of Texas in 1942 by the wholesale. He finally had the two dear people excluded on account of it all, on the charge of rebelling against the church, and they today stand excluded—March 10, 1944.
Personally, I am only lined up with secret orders just as Eld. Cayce is when he visits this country. He preaches for churches here/who have secret order members in them and unites with them in ordinations and organization and in communion and' feet washing and baptisms. I do not belong to any secret order and never did belong to any in all my life. Eld. Clevenger has members in his church that belong to secret orders and Eld. Cayce receives him into his churches.
Eld. Cayce's conduct toward the church at North Little Rock and toward Eld. Eubanks is a matter of intimidation, to teach them and others to ask him who shall visit their churches and associate with them. If they do not listen then he "shoots them" to teach them a lesson. So the Japs shot our aviators who bombed their country and fell into their hands, to teach others to stay out and to make them afraid to fly over there.
This condition is to be regretted and our people should rid themselves of such conduct. Where will our '"main body of Baptist" in the North stand on such an issue?
Such conduct is what our politicians call Political Lobbying.
Since the days of long ago men have exposed the wolf packs of Washington. The Capital corridors and cocktail lounges has been packed with the brazen, charming gentlemen out to lobby for their special interests.
They will even threaten to run candidates against duly elected officials who refuse to vote the way they direct.
Most brazen of all is the back-stage by-play to force certain men to vote for measures that are desired or else face a fight for re-election. After bribery with large sums of money offered fails, and when their request is refused they become threatening, and indicate in language none too veiled that they will favor certain groups and they will kill and murder the opposition and boycott them, or play a campaign of smearing of character; and then try to ruin the man if he makes an effort at defense.
They often think they have their man under their thumb and well converted to their way and expectantly await his appearance in their ranks and before (heir judiciary committees. Much takes place behind closed doors and nothing is supposed to leak out. Later they will call on (he man who has "not fallen in with them" wanting to know why he has not supported their position and pronounce their verdict upon him.
Now all such action shows clearly who is dominating, and at times actually running a political race and playing a political game. We can not conceive of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ being brought to such a low level and state, and in such games there is surely no Christian religion. If such conduct exists in our denomination anywhere it must be rooted out at all costs, even if we must die in the battle.
Eld. Cayce has published some old letters from me in his paper of Aug. 19, 1943. We have not changed in our views in the least. He accuses me of having sold out to Y.M.C.A. Well I said nothing more of them than he said about the Methodist helping him. Did he sell out to the Methodist? He seems to agree with me in all I said finally except he would change the name from Young Men's CHRISTIAN Association to Young Men's MORAL Association. That is only begging the question and is hair-splitting and quibbling. The Methodist are a Christian people, too, and he accepted help from them and I have an equal right to ask, '"Did Eld. Cayce sell out?" The Elder would be mighty happy to fasten some Armenian or Progressive doctrine or practice on me and on my record if he could.
We do not care for his having published those letters. His readers received something to think over for once, but his object was plainly an effort to injure me in some manner.
We still endorse the articles or letters, and my letter of Aug. 16, 1937, had no reference whatever to any change from that position, and was in my judgment, unjustly and purposely used to show a thing that was never intended. When I said, "things are different" I had reference to an entirely different matter—a matter which Eld. Cayce's conduct and life had made different.
We were all right when Eld. Cayce thought he could dictate to us, and on Dec. 17, 1935, he wrote me as follows:
"I have often thought of the times I was with you in years gone by, and wished that I could see you again. What about you making a trip to this country. I would be glad for you to come, and will take pleasure in arranging appointments for you, and will go with you as much as possible while you are here. Suppose you make us a trip and see how we do. I am sure you would be heartily received. . .
Let me know what you think of making a visit to our country sometime.
Yours in humble hope,
C. H. CAYCE.
"DO PRINCIPLES CHANGE?"
Eld. Cayce on August 19th, 1943, gave a lengthy quotation from my personal letter to him of February 1936. On May 29th, 1937, he wrote me a repeated invitation to visit his churches. This was more than a year after I wrote him the letter which he has now so severely criticised. If there was nothing in that letter THEN that prevented him from giving me a hearty invitation to visit his churches, what does the letter NOW contain that would prevent him from giving me the same invitation, since principles never change? His repeated invitation was written me one year and three months and sixteen days after he received my letter on "Charitable Institutions," in which he now finds so much fault. If those principles were so unsound and so unbaptistic then why did he more than a year later insist on me visiting his churches?
The fact is we saw his trap plainly and refused to walk into it.
Eld. Cayce charges we have changed our position from what it was in 1912. We deny the statement.
As to the Y.M.C.A. let me ask the reader: "If your son should be away from home, cast into the wicked ways of a great city of wicked men, would you rather he would be on the street, in a saloon, in a pool room, or card den, or in a house of ill fame, or would you not feel better to know that he was spending his time in the Young Men's Christian Association under the influence of better people than in the saloons? Just a plain true answer to that question deep in your heart is all we ask.
I am accused by some elders in Arkansas and Oklahoma of being unsound in doctrine and in disorder because I believe in holding a week's meeting, or more than four days at one time at one place. I suggest the reader write to me for My Discussion with Elders Stewart and Bartlett and others on this issue and get the facts in the matter—75 cents, in paper binding, and $1.25 in cloth binding.
I am only wondering what the above elders will do about the following case:
When Elder Cayce was on his tour in Illinois in 1941, he had an appointment at Dundas, Illinois, for two services, at 11:00 a.m. and at night. Eld. A. West was at the same time holding a week's meeting at Long Prairie Church, where they hold members who had been excluded from churches in the Skillet Fork Association, about fifteen miles distant. Eld. West drove to Dundas to meet Eld. Cayce in the afternoon. Eld. Cayce canceled his appointment for night service at Dundas, and went with Eld. West to Long Prairie where Eld. Cayce preached that night knowing it to be in the midst of a week's meeting.
This information is not given to defend any positions that I (Eld. Chastain) hold, nor to condemn Elders Cayce and West. It is only a plea not to be partial in your judgment. If any denial is made in this case positive proof will be furnished.
Now, considering Eld. Cayce's Associations with the Baptist of the North and their secret order members, just what condition would it put Eld. Cayce in should some association pass the following article or rule, or a similar one? as follows:
"That we will not disturb the peace of our union by recognizing and preaching any elder who may come among us who advocates the theory that a church may (in the North or elsewhere) allow her members to hold membership in Oath Bound Secret Societies and at the same time to be an orderly Primitive Baptist Church, or who in any way defends members in such societies as consistent with scriptural order."
There is practically not a church or preacher in all the North who is not in some way linked in with churches who hold secret order members in their correspondence or fellowship, yet we have but very few members who really do belong to them, most of these finally become dissatisfied and leave them of their own accord. Our churches—as organizations— have absolutely no affiliation with secret orders.
But if some association should pass the above resolution what will it do for Eld. Cayce and others as to visits in the North or elsewhere where they do have secret order members? And where they consider the said churches in order and have fellowship for them and commune with them?
AGAIN WE ASK WHAT?
FIFTY-THREE YEARS AMONG THE BAPTIST AND WHAT I HAVE OBSERVED
When I joined the Primitive Baptist fifty-three years ago, I did so after a bitter experience in leaving the Missionary Baptist. For I was very much dissatisfied with their doctrine and practice. And I found the doctrine and practice of the Old Baptist in harmony with the word of God and my experience. And I was satisfied with the Old Church then, and though fifty-three years have passed, I am still satisfied, and hope they will let me live with them. I have found much joy and comfort in the dear old church. When I joined the Old Baptists there was much unity and brotherly love between our churches in Georgia and Primitive Baptist ministers North and South. If one came to us and was known to be in good order at home there were no questions asked and he was received. Ministers from the North that visited churches of the South all worshipped together as one in Christ. And the ministers from the South would visit the Northern churches, and would bring back a good report of what noble Baptists they were. But how is it now among us? If one comes among us now he is interrogated thus—"What side are you on?" '"Are you in line with such and such Elder?" '"How do you stand on such and such questions?" If he is on THEIR SIDE, he goes in—if NOT, he goes out.
Fifty-three years ago I knew of no such condition among the Baptists. But now our people, in a few places, are scattered, confused, divided and sub-divided. What is the cause of this confusion? Is it the Lord that has caused all this? I say NO—A THOUSAND TIMES NO. "For the fruits of the spirit is LOVE, JOY AND PEACE. Did not Paul say, "After my departure grievous wolves would enter in among you, not sparing the flock?" Is it not a fact NOW that the flock IS NOT spared? In some places the flocks are torn asunder, confused and scattered by bars of non-fellowship being raised against innocent Baptists because some Baptists do not wash feet. Will God hold them guiltless that do such things? Is it not a historical fact that in some way the identity of our Southern churches came through our Northern churches? If so, is the order of the Southern churches any better than theirs? Is the stream any purer than its fountain head? Why put up bars against churches when we all sprang from the same fountain head? What will be THE MARK that will be put on them THAT CAUSE DIVISION? Is it not time for us all to seriously consider our standing and what the end will be if we bite and devour one another? Is it not a fact that the Lord has preserved our Northern churches for several hundred years and that the candlestick still burns among them? Surely the Lord is not as much displeased with them as some of our brethren would have us think. I have also observed in this present time there are about fifteen Associations in Georgia, and fourteen in Alabama, who are opposed to these new bars. To me it seems such a pity that some have arisen among us and are striving to bring on another division -- a division over a question that NEVER BEFORE caused division among Baptists. Dividing over feet-washing is something new among us. If such uncharitable and unbrotherly things are continued what will be the result? But I will not be here long, thank the dear Lord. But I can but feel sad that some of our dear people are being led off in this new division. Brethren, I appeal to you to stand where our people have always stood. If I live a few weeks longer I will be 80 years old, and this may be my last letter. Pray for me.— Rees Prather, Hogansville, Ga., in Advocate and Messenger, Oct. 1937.
37 CHAPTER 37 - A NEW MOVE
A Supreme Court Proposed by Elder Cayce
Elder Cayce says, in commenting on Ac 15:
"The things which the Jerusalem Church and the Apostles and Elders said they should do were to 'abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye do well.'—Verse 29. In verse 28 they said, 'For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things. The Apostles who were with the assembly were inspired men; they were the judges in the SUPREME COURT in the Master's kingdom. They, in their life-time, explained all the laws the Master gave ,for He was the law-giver in Zion, and told how to observe and administer and execute those laws.
"Those things which this assembly laid upon those churches to observe and to do, mean much. The language recorded in the original, when the meaning of those things is brought out in our English language, mean much for us to observe as His followers, and as churches and members of the churches of the Lord and Master. We do not have space here, nor the time now, to go into and bring out all those things in this article. We would, however, say that it would be well for each reader to carefully and prayerfully study the language as given in our common translation. There is much to consider, and then to observe.
"Now notice verse four in the sixteenth chapter. Take your book and read verses 1, 2 and 3. Verse four reads: 'And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.' Notice that these things were not only delivered to Antioch, Syria, Cicilia, but also to these churches to which the apostles went after the same were delivered to these three churches. These things were to be kept and observed and done by the churches and the brotherhood everywhere. Those things are just as binding today as they were then. The requirement has never been repealed—at least there is no record to that effect that we have ever found. If you have found such a record, will you please tell us where it is, and thus do us a favor? for we wish to know what is in the record; we would be glad to see what is in the record, if we have not seen, if we have overlooked what is there. It is our sincere desire to conform our life to what is in the record to observe and to do. May the Lord help us to study the teaching left in the record for us, and give us strength and courage and Christian fortitude to conform our lives to the same, is our humble prayer.—C. H. C." (Primitive Baptist, Sept. 16, 1943.)
REMARKS ON ELDER CAYCE'S COMMENTS ON Ac 15 AND Ac 16 By W. A. Chastain
Neutrality on important points of doctrine and practice, that are vital to our well being as a church, is disloyalty to our high calling of God. The fearful man will not blow the trumpet even when danger approaches. Every Christian soldier should bear the stamp of God not only upon his heart but upon his forehead as well. Not to bear the cross will bring anguish and tears to our sisters and deep sighs to serious men who are threatened with destruction of church rights and liberties and with the pursuits of religious liberty. Any violation of these rights can only bring evil consequences. It is fallacy to think that our church will ever agree to destructive measures which introduce a SUPREME COURT INTO our denomination.
Would Elder Cayce put himself into the place of an Apostle? and his church at Thornton, or his association either, into the place of the Jerusalem church? Or, would he be willing to place any other body of Baptists into such a place?
1-- Jerusalem did not claim to be a super-church.
2— 2--- Paul and Barnabas and the church at Antioch made application for the views of the brethren at Jerusalem.
3— 3--- Jerusalem did not declare non-fellowship for the church at Antioch—they were probably not interested until they were visited and solicited.
4— In chapter 16, verse 6, the forbidding was of the Holy Ghost and not by a super-church or a super-preacher— nor was is by a Supreme Court Decree.
5— Much authority and power were delegated to the apostles—that never was and never will be delegated to any man or men since the days of the apostles. See Hassell's History.
We wonder if Elder Cayce will soon be handling serpents and healing the sick! or raising the dead!
Elder Cayce says: "The apostles who were with the assembly were inspired men; they were the judges in the Supreme Court in the Master's kingdom." We have been a Baptist over fifty years and been in the ministry for more than forty-seven years, and this is the very first time we have ever heard such a thing mentioned in our histories or study of the Bible, or ministry, as a "Supreme Court in the Kingdom of God." He is arguing, if we correctly understand him, that such a court should yet be held and that the decrees of such courts are yet binding.
In commenting on verse four, chapter 16, "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem." Elder Cayce says: "Notice these things were not only delivered to Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, but also to these churches to which the apostles went after the same were delivered to these three churches. These things were to be kept and observed and done by the churches and the brotherhood everywhere. Those things are just as binding today as they were then. The requirement has never been repealed."
Antioch is a town—both Cilicia and Syria are countries. Gill says, "They are therefore mentioned, and being countries near to one another, it is very likely that the controversy had spread itself among them."
What is Elder Cayce talking about? He is talking of a Supreme Court and its decrees, and talking of the historic event of their action in going to Jerusalem to "the Supreme Court in the Kingdom of God." What does he say? "These things aire as binding today as they were then." He has been discussing the subject of Church Sovereignty, and he brings up this case of judgment to show that churches are not sovereign, and says the case "plainly shows a sisterly relationship between churches." While we are agreed that churches are not sovereign within themselves, that they are under law to Christ and should have a sacred and holy respect and relation to each other and consideration for each other, yet we agree with Elder Hassell when he says: "That each local church is an independent republic within itself and has the sole right to conduct its own internal affairs." (See "Messenger Of Peace" for June, 1943, page 1). If this be true, and it is, then the Lord organized it that way, and there has been no change to this good day, and we need no change. It is assuming a great deal to assume that that "Supreme Court" was to be continued to this day, and to assume that some one man or a few men may lord it over the churches "in the Master's kingdom."
Elder Cayce's position here is to justify himself in having his home association in 1.942 to declare non-fellowship for brethren in Texas by the wholesale, and to justify the position that "Any church by a majority of her members may exclude a brother from the church ( whether a member of that body or not), and that then, that brother stands excluded from the denomination." We think he knows such positions and acts are not according to Old Baptist practice, and are not proven by history or by Scripture. Thinking Baptists will see through these things and will by the grace of God reject such chicanery. It is only an effort to take all authority away from the local churches.
In the "Messenger of Peace" for May, 1943, on page 168, we printed an editorial against the idea of a Federal National Union of Churches, and gave our reasons for opposing it. But could that idea be any worse, with whatever defects and objections it may have, than this proposed "SUPREME COURT" which is designed to destroy the local government of our churches? We say that this idea of a Supreme Court is equally as bad, or worse, than a Federal Union. The word "Federal Union" never did appear in the original suggestion of a union of our churches, but was placed there by designing men.
When Paul and Barnabas arrived at Antioch and the other churches, they saw what these men from Jerusalem— not from Texas or Illinois—had done, and they decided to go at once to the apostles, who were divinely inspired and their teaching and judgment was by direct divine inspiration, and therefore infallible, and to the elders in the church at Jerusalem. They did not go to a sister church near by, nor to an association, for the apostles were at Jerusalem. It was believing Pharisees who said "it was needful to circumcise the Gentiles," and these fellows seemed to be in the church, and spoke in this meeting. To be sure, such fellows should be opposed, but there was and is a scriptural way in which to do it.
The church which lives up to the scriptural pattern has always and will always condemn every injustice and every effort at compulsion, planned and schemed and perpetrated in the name of religion to reform churches, and, to remove them from the scriptural pattern accepted by our fathers and recorded by every historian, and every record worthy of note. It is and has been the doctrine of our people and it cannot be repeated too often, that "the local churches are the highest ecclesiastical power on earth."
When it becomes necessary, if it ever does, for the church and for its defense to invest in some central figure, or figures, the power to make and administer emergency laws, bur government then becomes totalitarian, or will be dictated to us by these certain men, or dictators, and our church democracy, for which our people have been thankful and appreciative, will be lost and gone forever.
If we shall or must resort to a SUPREME COURT, then we ask, Where will this court sit? Will it be a state, or a federal SUPREME COURT? Who will select these supreme and presiding judges? Who will enforce the decrees or verdicts? Who and by what power will churches or men be brought into this court? Is it not strange that our learned and godly men with all their research work for these two thousand years have not previously discovered that this SUPREME COURT was "established in the New Testament?" Will we next be asked to join "The Mystic Knights of the Sea and be ruled by a King Fish?"
Frankly, we are not in the least surprised at this latest scheme—for that is what it is. It is just precisely what the action of New Hope Church at Hindsboro, Ill., presaged under the encouragement of friends of this author. That act foreshadowed this very thing, but we did not expect it to appear so boldly at such an early date. For further proof and evidence read page 1, July 1, Primitive Baptist. (See chapter 29 in this book).
We predict that such nefarious teaching will be rejected by our people and will not be tolerated. We still have faith in our God and our brethren who are thoughtful and open-minded.
The churches have been for years, and are at this time, experiencing the effects of a degree of totalitarianism in government, and it is time for us right now to root it out of our denomination for all time to come. Unless our brethren who can exhibit capacity for unity and teamwork, wake up to the peril just ahead, we are likely to experience it in a higher degree than ever before. Frankly, we are wondering what might be welcomed as a respite from the intolerable, and unjust, and ungodly acts and confusion created by some who cannot govern their own tongues and pens, and who lead our people into a rejection of men of God and shut their doors against them. Every imaginable effort is being made to keep the people in ignorance and darkness lest they learn the truth and forsake these same blind leaders, who are blinded with selfishness, hate and envy.
We wonder now if some of our brethren will not feel that it is their indispensable duty to express their disapproval of this Supreme Court, and will they not now vigorously oppose this new move? We shall watch for the reaction. Or, will they play the game of silent neutrality? We will soon know who will cry out against imaginary danger and refuse to meet real danger.
We shall contend for the good old way and refuse every new way while God gives us strength and grace.
We are decidedly opposed to a "federation of preachers" in any attempt to boycott or isolate our ministers—which FEDERATION now exists—as we are to any other heresy. It has come to the time in some places that if your church wants a minister to visit you, you must invite that minister by church act, and the same may have to be done against the wishes of your pastor.
But let us labor to see to it that none shall destroy our well beloved church government "of the church, for the church, by the church," yet under the law of Christ our only King.
Some of us remember mightly well when some six or eight of our brethren withdrew from Elder Cayce's Paper due to what they termed ridiculous heresy, which was taught by Eld. Cayce on the subject of the New Birth. Among those who withdrew were: Elders John R. Daily, J. H. Oliphant, John M. Thompson, W. C. Arnold, and we think Elders D. E. Baker and F. M. Pope were among the number. Their withdrawal was due to a vital point and was a real difference. —W. A. C, Messenger of Peace, Nov. 1943.
38 CHAPTER 38 - SUPREME COURT PROPOSED BY ELDER CAYCE
Reply by Eld. C. H. Cayce, Primitive Baptist, Feb. 3, 1944, Pages 33, 35:
Elder W. A. Chastain, in the November issue of his so-called Messenger Of Peace, has an article under the above heading, in which he says:
Elder Cayce says: "The apostles who were with the assembly were inspired men; they were the judges in the Supreme Court in the Master's kingdom." We have been a Baptist over fifty years, and this is the first time we have ever heard such a thing mentioned in history or study of the Bible, or ministry, as a "Supreme Court in the Kingdom of God." He is arguing, if we correctly understand him, that such a court should yet be held and that the decrees of such courts are yet binding."
Honestly, candidly, we gave the elder credit for having a better understanding than that; and we will frankly say that we still give him credit for having a better understanding. Instead of our argument being that we should have such a court established and to hold sessions now, the argument is the very opposite of that. Perhaps the editor never heard of such a thing as a court existing in the kingdom of God, as he said he was raised out in the backwoods, and did not know any better than what he stood for in his article published in The Primitive Baptist of June 25, 1812. But since he has, in late years, learned so much more than he knew then, surely he knows better than that we argued, or even intimated, that the church should have a Supreme Court to sit in session to judge and pass on questions in this age. Here was, and is, our contention, as Elder Chastain very well knows:
The apostles were appointed by the Master as judges in Israel, or in His kingdom. See Mt 19:28, "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." See, also, Lu 22:28-30. These were the twelve apostles. Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas, who had hanged himself. Then Paul was made an apostle to the Gentiles by the Master. Jesus was the King and Lawgiver. The apostles did not enact laws, but they explained the laws the King gave, and told how to observe and execute them. When the last apostle died the Court was adjourned sine die, and there has never been another, and never will be. Elder Chastain objects to this, for this is what we advocated. The Master told them to "go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."—Mt 28:19-20. The things the Master gave, and what the apostles taught, are all laid down in the Book. We go there to find what things the Master commanded, and how the apostles, these inspired men of God, said for them to be observed and executed. The Articles of Faith of the Primitive Baptist people say that '"The Scriptures are the divinely authorized rule of faith and practice"—and the only divinely authorized rule. The church is the executive body, whose business and duty it is to execute the laws the Master gave, as the apostles have instructed. The King of Zion was wise enough to know and to give every law that would ever be needed in every age of the world, to be sufficient for every emergency that might arise to the end of time; when He comes back to earth again. The church does not need any new laws; but they do need to administer and to execute them, and to observe them, just as they were given by the King and Lawgiver, and as explained and as we are instructed by the inspired apostles.
We know that this is what the Primitive Baptists have held to all along the line. There is no other court to which we may appeal, above that of the apostles; and what they gave to the church is all laid down in the Book. To institute any law other than the laws the Master gave, as handed down to us with instruction by the apostles, is akin to rebellion. The Scriptures supply God's children with everything they need to know or practice religiously. See 2Ti 2:16-17; De 4:2, and De 12:32; Jos 1:7-9. We also call attention to Pr 30:6, which we will take space enough to quote: "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." One who adds to what God has given as, and in, His law is found to be a liar. What is he found to be if he adds to another's words ? Is he not a liar, also? If a man says we have said a thing which we did not say—if he says we argued a thing which we did not argue, nor even intimate, what is he? If a man will lie, and does lie, would he be too good to commit adultery? Would he be too honest to steal? Judge ye.
In the very article which Elder Chastain was proposing to reply to we said that "The apostles who were in the assembly were inspired men; they were the judges in the Supreme Court in the Master's kingdom." If Elder Chastain objects to this, we can wonder why. Does he desire the thing that he falsely accuses us of advocating? Any sensible person, who is without prejudice, and who has no "ax to grind," can readily and plainly understand that the very thing we were contending against was that there is a higher court to which the Lord's professed followers may appeal. The Book contains the laws the Master gave, and the explanations and instructions of His inspired apostles. There is nothing else to which they may appeal; and they need nothing else. What they need is to observe the teaching and instruction given in our King's law book. He has given all the laws and rules and regulations therein to govern in His Kingdom, and all necessary explanation and instruction is contained therein, as given by His apostles, whom He appointed as judges in His kingdom. It is not the business of the church, nor of any man or set of men, to make new laws, rules and regulations; but it is the indispensable duty and obligation of the church and of His children to follow and to execute those laws, as laid down and according to the instruction given by the apostles. If you object to that, why do you object? Is it because you are guilty? Of course, an outlaw may be expected to object to the constituted authority.
In that same article to which Elder Chastain claims to object, and in the next sentence, and which he copied in his article, we said, '"They (the apostles) in their lifetime, explained all the laws the Master gave, for He was the Lawgiver in Zion, and told how to observe and administer and execute those laws." What part of this does the elder object to? Does he object to the statement that the Master was the Lawgiver in Zion? Isaiah said (Isa 33:22), "For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King: He will save us." The marginal reference defines Lawmaker as Statute maker. We agree with Isaiah. We are inclined to believe what he said. James, one of the inspired apostles, agreed with what Isaiah said about it, for he said (Jas 4:12), "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?" We might reverently tell James that Chastain is the man who has judged another in his tirade against the article we wrote and published in our issue of September 16, 1943, in which we were contending for just what these inspired writers plainly said.
The whole of Elder Chastain's article is thus arrayed against the truth. He flagrantly misrepresented us, which is not the first time he has done such a thing. He is so bitter and so prejudiced, as evidenced by his conduct, that it looks to us as though he could not say the truth about any statement we make, even if he had to. Pardon this extreme expression, please. We are not mad at Elder Chastain, but we do pity the man. We are actually sorry for a man, and pity him, who will stoop to such low and dirty things as he has stooped to do and say, in the very face of things which we have actually said—thus misrepresenting us and garbling the things which we have said. May the Lord have mercy upon him, and give him a right spirit, is our humble prayer.
We do not deem it necessary to notice other things he said, as this is sufficient to prove that his whole contention and his whole article professing to reply to us is wrong, and that what he said about what we contend for is a flagrant and (we believe) a willful misrepresentation of what we were setting forth. May the Lord reward him according to his works.—C. H. C.
A BLACK FALSEHOOD
When we brought our article to a close under the heading "Supreme Court Proposed by Elder Cayce," we thought we would have no more to say about the contents of Elder Chastain's article; but before filing his paper away our eyes fell upon, and we noticed, the following statement in his same article:
Elder Cayce's position here is to justify himself in having his home association in 1942 to declare non-fellowship for the brethren in Texas by the wholesale, and to justify his position that any church by a majority of her members may exclude a brother from the church (whether a member of that body or not), and that then, that brother stands excluded from the denomination."
Here Elder Chastain has us contending that one church may exclude a man who is not a member of that church. Elder Chastain knows, as well as he knows his own name, that this statement from his pen is as false as Satan himself. No blacker falsehood ever emanated from the bottomless pits of the lower regions, and Elder Chastain knows that it is false. He knows that our position is, and has been all along the line, that no church can exclude a man other than the church where his membership is. We have said this too often for Elder Chastain not to know that this is our position.
In the paragraph just above the one from which the above quotation is made, Elder Chastain said:
Yet we agree with Elder Hassell when he says: "That each local church is an independent republic within itself and has the sole right to conduct its own internal affairs."
If Elder Chastain agrees with Elder Hassell then did not Smyrna Church have the right to discipline her own members? If she had that right, then what right did Middle Creek have to receive those excluded parties into her fellowship? Elder Chastain can easily say that he agrees with what Elder Hassell said when it suits him; but it does not seem to bother his conscience in the least to act in direct and flagrant opposition to what he says.
Somebody may say that we were mad when we wrote the above. Well, we are not mad; we are in as good humor as any person you ever saw. In the language of Paul (Ac 26:25) we say, '"I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." We are no more mad than Jesus was when he said (Joh 8:44), "Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it."—C. H. C.
39 CHAPTER 39 - OUR REPLY TO ELDER CAYCE'S DENIAL
"Truth is as impossible to be soiled by any outward touch as the sunbeam."—Milton.
Elder Cayce's turn in the matter of these events has not surprised us one particle. We knew he would either deny his position or keep silent. He has denied it. As an experienced debater he has made some believe his denial but the facts remain the same.
He says he "is not mad." Who has made that accusation? But he is mad as clearly indicated, we think. If he wants to swear a little I think he may be excused from his unholy war that he may go into some secret place and vent his feelings.
He calls me a liar and says, "If a man will lie, and does lie, would he be too good to commit adultery? Would he be too honest to steal? Judge ye." The Bible say '"all men are liars." Is Eld. Cayce a man?
There is no argument to that sort of dirty work. He just can not meet the facts and he knows it, and such things are said to try to kill any influence I might have and to turn good brethren from the truth, and from me.
Hedges Rule of Logic says:
""Each (disputant) should regard the other as possessing equal talent, knowledge and a desire for the truth with himself . . . . .
"Any attempt to answer an adversary by arts of sophistry, or to lessen the force of his reasoning by wit, caviling, or ridicule, is a violation of the rules of honorable controversy."
Any way we are just not down on that low level where men call each other liars, over religion. To attack a man's character does not change vital religious principles nor does it answer his arguments. It is easier, we admit, than answering arguments that can not be overthrown, and premises and conclusions that can not be avoided, but to do so one must violate every honorable rule of controversy and in such con-dut honor and respect are both lost. But that kind of work is what Eld. Cayce feeds and thrives upon.
In chapter 29 Elder Cayce finds great fault because I do not use the name '"Elder Cayce," and the name "PRIMITIVE BAPTIST" in connection with his paper. When that paper is thoroughly cleansed we may then be willing to give it that name. While he finds fault with me he is free to use his columns, and to allow others to use them, to call me '"A LIAR," and other disgraceful names. He says, '"O, he is so kind and brotherly! Nice gentleman, Elder Chastain is, is he not?" Well, now just what is he?
In the Cayce paper of May 20th was a statement of Eld. Hick's which was in error and we corrected it in the Messenger Of Peace in July 1943, and at the bottom requested Eld. Cayce to print our reply in his paper, but to this date he has never done so and we predict he never will. (See chapter 22 in this book).
We can not conceive of anything more dishonorable than a campaign of slander and besmirching of character, by means of a whispering, smearing campaign. The Bible condemns such a course and gives instruction as to a slanderer and as to brethren who accept such accusations against a brother. The penalty is as bad for the brother who accepts such reports as it is for the man who stoops so low as to spread them. We can lock against thieves but we cannot lock the lips of slanderers, who are usually influenced by jealousy and hate.
Eld. Cayce tries to dodge the issue and starts an argument about who is the, Law-Giver. That is the trick of a debater. The Lord is the ONLY LAW-GIVER. We are now discussing as to who is the JUDGE, and as to a SUPREME COURT. He says, "THEY, (the Apostles) were the JUDGES in the Supreme Court in the Master's kingdom." It has ever been Old Baptist doctrine that the CHURCH only is the JUDGE in the Master's kingdom.
He says further:
"There is no other court to which we may appeal, above that of the APOSTLES."
He mean here that the Apostles are the only court—the Supreme Court.—then where does the church come in? Old Baptists have always held that the CHURCH is the only court or the only judge. No one wants any other law except what the Master has given—nor do we want any supreme court, or some auxiliary court or body to judge the laws of the Lord.
He says further:
"Those things which this assembly laid upon those churches to observe and do, mean much."
Now he has called this assembly "a kind of a Supreme Court in the Master's kingdom." It is the business of the Supreme Court not to make laws, but to execute the laws given them. If he is right then our church has always been wrong for they have contended that God only made and gave laws and that the church with the Apostles and ministry is not a law making body but were only to execute the laws which God gave to us: that they are not a legislative body but only an executive body. But, he desires to take the matter of judging out of the hands of the Church at Jerusalem and place it into the hands of a Supreme Court.
Whence came this SUPREME COURT—separate and apart from the church? Did our Lord organize it? Eld. Cayce has informed us that God organized ONLY THE CHURCH. Here is what he said:
"The only Christian organization the Master ever established on earth was the CHURCH. At least, that is the only one we can find in the record." —Primitive Baptist Aug. 19, 1943, Page 242.
Now he has found another, the SUPREME COURT, but it met only once, he says, and adjourned, never to meet again, so it can not be the church, but is separate from it.
In his article of September 16, 1943, in commenting on Ac 15, Eld. Cayce said many good things that are worthy the careful attention of our people, but then followed it with that part which we have given you as Chapter 37 to which we did and do object. Also there are many very fine things in the preceding chapter (Chapter 39) but there is a fly in the ointment—or in the molasses to which we do very seriously object. I am not alone in this objection, for letters have come in here from various parts of the United States, from men who have sense and honor urging us to expose his false position; from both elders and deacons. If I were alone in my views then I might feel that I had been mistaken but the facts and views of others will not let me feel that I am a fool or a liar in the matter.
He said, "The Apostles who were with the assembly were inspired men; they were the JUDGES IN THE SUPREME COURT in the Master's kingdom."
Then there must have been a SUPREME COURT according to Eld. Cayce's views and statement.
He says further: "These things were to be kept and observed and done by the churches and the brotherhood everywhere."
Even in His denial he has called our attention to Mt 19:28 and to Luke 22;29 to prove his position. Luke tells us that Jesus Christ said:
"And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Does Eld. Cayce believe that that appointment was a Supreme Court in the kingdom? Is there a difference between the Supreme Court and the kingdom? Were they to eat and drink at the Supreme Court? Has this eating and drinking at the table of the Lord been abandoned? If they were to eat and drink in the SUPREME COURT at his table, then when the Supreme Court was adjourned the table and the eating and drinking would have been abandoned.
Eld Cayce further says:
"When the last Apostle died THE COURT (We suppose he means this Supreme court) was adjourned sine die, and there has never been another, and never will be."
To adjourn "sine die" is to adjourn without setting a day or time for reassembling, but Eld. Cayce says, "There has never been another and never will be." This then can not refer to a church or a church meeting for they have been meeting these two thousand years, and therefore could not refer to the church organization, but to something different, separate and apart from the church:—His SUPREME COURT—yet he tries to make us all think he did not argue for a SUPREME COURT. But there it is, if language means anything at all. If he did not mean that, then why did he say it and why continuing his argument for it?
Yes, we have always known of "the courts of the Lord," even when we "lived in the hills," but we confess freely we had never before heard of "a SUPREME COURT in the kingdom of the Master."
The word SUPREME means: " (suprem) Adjective. (Latin Supremus, highest, superl, superus, above.) Highest in power or authority; as a supreme ruler or court: highest in degrees: greatest possible; utmost; as a supreme sacrifice: the SUPREME BEING, God. Supreme Court, having supervisory jurisdiction over inferior courts."
It has ever been Primitive Baptist doctrine that the Church is the ONLY ECCLESIASTICAL POWER on earth. Peter says, "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God." 1Pe 4:17. We contend the "house of God" here means the church of God, and it has ever been so understood and preached by our ministers. Anything different is a new doctrine. But Elder Cayce has argued that this court was above the church and has been discontinued.
Elder J. H. Oliphant said:
"Let the reader carefully ask himself these questions: Where was the supreme authority vested when the church was first set up? To what adjudicatory body did they appeal their causes for a final decision? And where is the authority for taking the case out of the jurisdiction of the church and transferring it to a higher tribunal."—Primitive Monitor, June 1908 and Dec. 1934.
Elder Hassell says: "From the local church there is no appeal."
Then if these brethren be right there is and has been no "Supreme Court in the kingdom of the Master."
Our people, I am sure, would as soon have the opinion of these two great men and others as quoted (in chapter 33) as to have the opinion of Elder Claud Cayce.
There is no doubt but what the whole discussion at Jerusalem before the brethren and the Apostles was centered around the keeping of the laws of Moses. We do not know that the New Testament laws governing the conduct of the New Testament Churches were set forth at that meeting, except to reject the doctrine of circumcision and to declare the doctrine of grace, in its sweetness.
If the Supreme Court sat as Judges on twelve thrones and it has never met since, we can but wonder who is judging the twelve tribes now? Is the Son of man sitting on his throne of glory now?
IS IT "A BLACK FALSEHOOD?"
This matter or rather subject has already been explained and discussed in this book. We deny his charge and his own writing as given in this book show we are right. We might only ask, What was the purpose and intent of the acts of the South Arkansas Association in 1942 in the resolution which they passed? Did they not intend to put a ban on the churches mentioned and exclude them and the ministers from their fellowship and churches and to cease all affiliation with those churches? Was it not the intention that the verdict and edict of the South Arkansas Association should have the same effect as that of a Supreme Court? If this was not the intention then what could have been the intention. Why should they try to destroy the rights and decisions of these churches several hundred miles away? There can be but one answer; they sat as a Supreme Court, denying the rights of these local churches to judge the qualification of their own members and to discipline their own members, which is a usurpation of power. They sat then, in their estimation, as a Supreme or Higher Power or Authority, assuming supervisory jurisdiction over the churches which they looked upon as inferior courts.
ELD. CAYCE ON ASSOCIATIONS:
"Now we want to say a few words in regard to associations. We are aware that associations conducted as a kind of HIGHER COURT, to which an appeal must be made to settle or decide troubles, have often been made a source of extending troubles instead of settling them. We think it is right and scriptural for brethren to meet together for worship and mutual edification, but. we do not think it is right that an association be a legislative body. We do not think, either, that it is exactly right to condemn associations as a whole because some of them have been conducted as a kind of HIGHER COURT or LEGISLATIVE BODY. Nine-hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, trouble in the Old Baptist Church originates with the preachers, and is agitated and kept up by them. Because this is true is no reason why all preachers should be condemned. The wrong should be condemned no matter where they are; but it should be done in love and meekness and humility. We think it is sometimes the case that the preachers are the "bosses." The churches should remember that the ministers are given them by the Lord as servants and not as lords. The true minister is the servant of the church, and is not a ruler, and is and should be amenable to the church."—Primitive Baptist, March 27, 1906.
We have always believed that the church at Jerusalem was a pattern or type of every true church. We have always believed, too, that the Apostles and early ministers were a pattern or type of all true ministers and their duties and preaching was an example to be followed in the church, throughout all time to come. Now has our ministry and our church followed that pattern perfectly? If they were a Supreme Court has the church since then been true to the pattern? or can the pattern be followed without practicing and doing the same things they did?
It is to be hoped that Eld Cayce will admit his wrong and then each of every one of us shall be happy to extend full forgiveness.
Smyrna first declared non-fellowship for Middle Creek and is the aggressor in that case. See pages 13 and 14.
Eld. Cayce has at last committed himself on the exclusion of members—"that no church can exclude a man other than the church where his membership is." Now may his practice and publications be in keeping with that position.
Pr 26:4, says, "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him."
But, Pr 26:5, says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."
The clear meaning is, I think, that at times they should not be answered at all, but when answered, it should not be in a foolish way, evil for evil, in the same virulent, lying, caluminating and reproachful language. Verse 4.
But, verse 5 says, "Answer," and tells us how to answer. Gill says it is sometimes necessary to answer a fool but "do so in thy wisdom, and let it be done in wisdom, so as to expose his folly, and especially if there is any hope of doing others good, or of preventing ill impressions being made upon others by what he has said; when the glory of God, the good of the church, and the cause of truth require it; and when he would otherwise glory and triumph, as if his words or works were unanswerable."
We can not make virtue out of vice. Isaiah says, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." We might add, that put hate for love, and love for hate.
The doctrine we have here preached is no revolutionary doctrine but simply high, hard facts. To shut our eyes to the obvious false teaching of men is to prove ourselves faithless.
Longfellow in his "Christus," puts it this way:
"My work is finished; I am strong
In faith, and hope, and charity;
For I have written the things I see,
The things that have been and shall be,
Conscious of right, nor fearing wrong;
Because I am in love with Love,
And the sole thing I hate is Hate;
For Hate is death; and Love is life,
A peace, a splendor from above;
And hate, a never ending strife,
A smoke, a blackness from the abyss
Where unclean serpents coil and hiss!
Love is the Holy Ghost within;
Hate the unpardonable sin!
Who preaches otherwise than this
Betrays his Master with a kiss!"
Eld. Cayce has attempted to defend a Supreme Court and to prove its authority by Scripture. How would the following report on a Supreme Court look in an Old Baptist Paper, or in our history? Or in the Daily Newspaper?
AWAIT SUPREME COURT ACTION ON ASSOCIATIONAL MUDDLE
Petitioners Urge Permission to File For Writs of Mandamus
The Old Baptist Supreme Court today may launch speedy action in the Current Associational Muddle tying up all future correspondence or union of Independent Churches.
Two individual church clerks, asked the Court to consider their petition for mandamus action at the current term due to the magnitude of the general interest and the importance of the issue involved.
The petitioners urge the Supreme Judge to permit them to file petitions for writs of mandamus to set aside certain pastors and to prevent them from pastoring certain churches and to certify to them original assessed violations of certain "Well established Laws and Rules made by said Supreme Court, for the welfare of the Church of God."
Meanwhile two Church Clerks inform their members they can not enjoy or exercise their rights until they receive certificates from the Old Baptist Supreme Court.
That now is about what the proposed Supreme Court would lead to if adopted, but, thank God, it will never be adopted while our people have their reason and senses, and enjoy the grace and keeping power of God Almighty.
Shame upon such a proposition, it is simply silly and borders onto blasphemy.
40 CHAPTER 40
Let us pray that we may say:
In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no South or North
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the beloved church.
"FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCHES"
"I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say." 1Co 10:15.
Paul did not have under consideration "the wisdom of this world" when he addressed the Corinthian brethren as "wise men," for he emphatically declares in the very same epistle that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God"; but he had reference, I feel quite sure, to the wisdom that eminates exclusively from the throne of heaven. And I sincerely hope that I am addressing this epistle to those who have derived their wisdom from that source. Paul says in another portion of this same letter that it become necessary for him to use "great plainness of speech" in pointing out some of the unbecoming conduct of some of his brethren. And if I should use "great plainness of speech" in addressing you, whom I trust are my brethren in the Lord, I hope to be guided by that same Spirit that prompted Paul to address his erring brethren at Corinth so plainly.
Doubtless some of the readers of this paper will wonder what is to follow when they read the caption under which this article is written, but to those who were perusing its pages some thirty-five years ago it will vividly call to their minds the name of one Elder J. V. Kirkland of Fulton, Ky., who originated the novel idea of forming a "Federal Government" of all the churches, fashioned after the order of our political Government at Washington. If my memory is not at fault his idea was that the representatives of this federation of churches be selected by the churches from the various sections of the country, and that these churches vest said representatives with authority to enact rules and regulations by which all the churches should be governed. The Baptists of that day turned "thumbs down" on Elder Kirkland's rather fantastic idea and declared that they preferred to continue in the old way of a democratic form of government by the local churches under which they were originally constituted. But!—if Elder Kirkland was alive today and could behold some of our "carrying-on" he might very consistently say, "I told you so!" Had his idea not been "born thirty years too soon," and he could have "plodded" along with us a few years longer, then it would not have been necessary for him to cast his lot with another people in order to see his Utopia realized!
For instance: It is becoming somewhat fashionable in some sections of the country for a few preachers to assemble themselves and decree a course for all the Baptists in the country to pursue. And, if you fail to follow their course you are placed on their "black list" and branded as an outlaw and specifically invited to confine your grazing to another range,—that they have erected a "goat-proof" fence, and that all other "hillbillies" who wish to nibble at their succulent foliage will have to come through a specified gate and give the "pass word" to the keeper thereof!
Sometimes an Association (an organization the Baptists managed to get along without for fifteen centuries) will become endowed with the assumption that it's their duty or province to "set a standard" by which all other associations or churches should be measured or governed,—will even presume that it's their indispensable duty to "pass judgment" on some local church trouble perhaps a thousand miles away and of which they know absolutely nothing except by "hear-say"!
Of course, when you get after these fellows for their arrogant assumption of authority they will tell you at once that they are not dictating to YOU as to what course YOU should pursue,—that they are not posing as a "Supreme Court,"— are not cutting anybody off," et cetera,—but just let YOU dissent from their opinion and you'll soon learn whether or not they consider their actions "supreme"!
Elder Kirkland, in his "Federal Government" plan DID advocate the idea that the local churches should at least have a representative in this federation; but in some of our "carrying-on" today we not only refuse the local churches representation but will select and "try" a "defendant" without giving him a notification or a "hearing"!
It has been said that Thomas Jefferson conceived the idea of a democratic form of political government by observing the functions of an Old Baptist church. If he could come back today and behold some of our "functions," instead of observing a "Government of the people, by the people and for the people," he would likely draw the conclusion that he was in EUROPE observing the functions of some of their up-to-date Dictators.
On one occasion Paul asked his brethren: "Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth"?—and this interrogative has the tone of an affirmative. If you wish to make an enemy of some one just tell them the truth about something they are engaged in that they do not wish to be told of. It has been said, "The truth is what hurts." But it is also said by High Authority—even by the Judge of the Court of Heaven— that "the truth makes you free." I sincerely hope and pray that I am in possession of this "freedom of truth" and that I have not made an enemy of you, my brethren, because of my exercising this freedom.
We are today fighting one of the most cruel and bloodiest battles of all history to retain our "Freedom of speech; freedom of the press and religious freedom." Do we, as a people, enjoy and appreciate this freedom when we are continually catching each other by the throat and saying, '"Pay me what thou owest"? Can we expect the approving smile of that Christ who forgave Mary Magdalene and the thief on the Cross while we are continually fighting among ourselves? When a minister says, "I refuse to go in the stand with Elder John Smith," just merely because Brother Smith has not conformed to his ideas and opinions, does he manifest the Spirit of the Savior? "I refuse to be crucified between these two thieves"! was that the voice of the Savior? NO! Did Paul abuse the power given him in the Gospel? Assuredly not! Should ministers of today abuse this power? Emphatically NO!
Would it not be better for us all if we would "examine ourselves" and see whether or not we are really "in the faith"? "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." I'd rather live alone and have the love of God in my heart, and my conscience "void of offense before God and man" than to follow any man or set of men who disregard and trample under foot God's holy laws, who glory in their own personal ambition and have no regard for the rights and feelings of their fellow man.
A. H. RODEN,
Glen Rose, Texas.
41 CHAPTER 41 - FREE GOVERNMENT—OR SLAVERY—WHICH?
It is evident that the dictatorial powers are becoming more pronounced—more brazen. Yet, we have no discharge from this warfare until death.
There has never been a time in the history of the church, that carnal weapons and undermining schemes of a few men, who seek the pre-eminence—self appointed dictators, and who would take away our liberties if possible,—were more in evidence than right now. Therefore, greater responsibilities rest upon the true servants of the Lord, to fight a victorious fight— "the fight of faith," not with carnal weapons, but "by the sword of the Spirit," by putting on "the whole armor of God." The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but '"Mighty through God," to the pulling down of the strongholds. If we are on the Lord's side, just that sure He will fight our battles for us and lead us to victory, and we need not stand in the fear of men, preachers, editors, or what not, but stand in the fear of God who is mighty to save. Paul says, "none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." Jesus said, "Whosoever shall save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will, lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it."
I made a trip into Alabama during the latter part of January, 1943, and now a good brother writes me as follows:
"The time has come in this country when the local churches have foreign bosses, some probably hundreds of miles away. The bosses are giving orders and the churches are receiving orders. This is all foreign to my way of seeing and believing.
"Eld. Webb of your state has written to one of our Elders inquiring about your trip here and was hunting for something to use against Eld. Chastain in the Primitive Baptist. Surely such a course is not pleasing to God.
"It all sums up to this idea that those who are of the same mind should stand together, live right and do right, and the Lord will take care of us."
It would seem to me that it would be better if preachers WOULD attend to their own churches and read their Bibles a little more and spend more time in prayer, rather than writing all over the U. S. to stir up trouble.
Another brother writes: "It is amusing to those who are familiar with the "hook-up" in Alabama, and who are not blinded, or in bondage by certain church bureaucrats; it is plain to be seen, that they hatched a scheme, through an elder in your state, who belongs to the bureaucratic church government, to injure you if possible, in your home state, and elsewhere, and at the same time publish our churches in Alabama and elsewhere, who occupy the same position you do, by having their "hook-up" to declare non-fellowship for the churches you visited in Alabama. It is a matter of record that those churches who are taking action against our churches, have had no affiliation for three or four years, or some of them at least. Some have had no affiliation since 1930. This matter should be exposed. Such schemes or plots are not of the Lord, and will not prosper. There can be no affiliation until those churches who are in bondage under that dictatorial government and powers; associational supremacy, etc., repudiate it and turn away from that tradition and the laws instituted by man and show a willingness to take the word of God as the man of their counsel. Repudiation of such bureaucraic government is the hope of the church in my judgment. The Messenger of Peace stands out over all other religious papers I have read. The position is solid. The editor is unafraid and unmoved in my opinion and the associate editors are likewise.
"There is no place to retrace our steps, to do so or to make any sacrifice is to fall into their trap."
The above letter described the plain facts as they exist, not only in one locality, but in many localities over the U. S. It has gotten to the place that membership or standing is unsafe unless one bows to the dictates of some RULER OR RULERS.
We ask, are certain men inaugurated to rule as Presiding Elders or to assume the place of a District Superintendent, or a pope in our Old Baptist Church? What Scripture, or Old Baptist precedent, can be sighted to warrant such a course? We are sure none can be found.
Should our reader question the wisdom of my above statements about all you need to do is to watch the proceedings described in these pages. It is these principles we are opposing and the arrogant and presumptuous spirit that usually accompanies such a principle. By arrogant we mean; one who is so proud of his standing, as he thinks, that he nourishes a lofty opinion of himself and a low one of others; or he is wrapped up in his own opinion or greatness? And one who takes upon himself the duties and privileges that are not within his province; one who entertains a scornful contempt for other poor mortals; one whose sense of personal importance is grossly offensive and one who repudiates the rights of others.
We have just read in the papers and heard on the radio that the militarist of Japan have executed or put to death some of our men who raided them by air one year ago. This act was evidently meant to intimidate our airmen and our people so that none would want to fly that way again. It seems bad and is bad. This business of trying to intimidate our preachers and to isolate them and to destroy competitive religious papers and to seek the pre-eminence, is evil and should not be tolerated, among free people. It is also just as evil to intimidate churches and to rule and force them to be slaves to the caprices of evil men, with the threat of being isolated or dropped from the fellowship of the brethren generally.
Some might deny that this is or has been true, but all one needs to do to learn these things is to watch and be on the alert in the matter.
Our Old Baptist people have always boasted of our fine form of church government. The rich and brighter class have been happy to pay all high respect to the poor and lowly and to give them a vote in all things and to occupy seats along with them in their divine, holy service to God, showing no special respect for the rich and no disrespect for the humble poor. They have believed in and prided themselves that we have a government of the church, by the church, for the church. Possibly we have been too proud of the fact that Thomas Jefferson got his brief for the constitution of the United States from an Old Baptist meeting and Church Book. Upon these fine principles he wrote the Constitution of the United States, which has been pronounced the finest the world has ever known. Our fathers died for these principles and we are willing to give our lives for them. This Bible principle guarantees us the right of free speech and the pursuit of happiness; the right of trial by jury if desired; it condemns mob law and violence and opposes condemnation without a hearing—it would oppose the foolish notion of judgment first and a hearing afterward. It must be based upon Mt 18, and the Savior's rule of "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you;" it holds these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.
"We will accept only a world consecrated to freedom of speech and expression—freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—freedom from want—and freedom from TERROR."—F. D. Roosevelt.
This is a re-affirmation of these same noble principles. Let us as churches and as ministers re-affirm that same principle in our churches, and let us be resolved to stand upon that principle, sink or swim, live or die, and also affirm along with it that "we shall not be taxed or condemned without representation" and a fair trial; and let us also see to it that our brethren are not and shall not be condemned without a fair hearing in any case.
We accept only a church and rules consecrated to freedom of thought and speech; freedom from fear and dictation and freedom to divine worship according to our conscience, based on Scripture. God Almighly has given us these unalienable rights. Any cause that must be sustained by intrigue and misrepresentation is an evil and an unjust cause and unworthy of any consideration. Let us unitedly and bitterly condemn such a course.
42 CHAPTER 42 - DISCIPLINE
The church is made up of God's people—or should be— those who have been born again, and who love God and righteousness; the CALLED OUT of God from the world and worldly ways, and are exhorted to be separated from the world and to keep themselves unspotted from it and to shun all appearances of evil. They should be ready at all times to give a reason of their hope with meekness and fear, or, in other words, to tell their Christian experiences and travels from nature to grace. This divine call is indeed a holy calling, and is the gracious act of God. The qualifications for membership are laid down by the Savior in Mt 5:1-13:1st —Poor in spirit. 2nd—Mourning because of sin. 3rd— Meek or humble. 4th—Hungry and thirsty for righteousness. 5th—They are to be merciful. 6th—Pure in heart (sincere in thoughts and intentions). 7th—Peacemakers. 8th —Bear persecution. 9th—To be exceedingly happy. 10th— To be the salt and light of the earth. 11th—Their righteousness must be of better quality than the righteousness of the Pharisees. The Pharisee had plenty of righteousness, but it was not the right kind.
The self-conceited and the rule-or-run spirit, and the "better than thou" attitude in religion will not work well among God's dear saints who mourn their cold and sinful state. Such an attitude will not let, nor cause, the possessor to mourn, or to be meek or hungry, or thirsty, and it will not be conducive to peace and joy. It will work disturbance and trouble; destroy the mercy of those who would be merciful; cause division and work havoc in the churches, and often does result in exclusions from the church that are unjust and wrong. To be merciful is one of the principal qualifications as given by the Savior. It is called a BEATITUDE, meaning BLESSEDNESS, or BLISS OF THE HIGHEST KIND. Mercy DOES mean that very thing, not only for the recipient, but for the giver as well. Any man in the church who will not show mercy is denied this highest bliss, and it would be doubtful in my mind if such an one is experimentally acquainted with God's mercy. God has provided His wonderful church for mourning, merciful, charitable, peace-making people to live in. It is made up not only of men who WERE sinners, but of men who ARE sinners still. Paul says, "Of whom I am (now) chief." You who do no wrong have no business in the church, for in that case you would expect perfection of others, which cannot be while here in the flesh; neither could you mourn, nor have mercy, nor make peace among the troubled. Sinners saved by grace are the only ones entitled to church membership.
UTOPIA. This word is derived from words or sources meaning "Not-place," and equals "Nowhere." An IMAGINARY island, where perfection existed in social, religious and political life and government; a visionary plan, ideal, and impossible of realization. UTOPIAN, one who dreams of ideal social or religious perfection, visionary and impossible.
Now, it is plain to be seen that no organization made up of people who are human can possibly reach a state of religious perfection while on earth. The church is not made up of angels, but of human beings of Adam's race, who are still in the flesh.
There is no doubt in my mind but that many exclusions have been made from the church without due consideration, and with no mercy whatever being shown—where only mob violence has been evident. Our Savior has given laws which should solemnly, and prayerfully, and mercifully be followed. (See Mt 18:15-18.) The Lord has not left us without a way to settle our differences. Men of the world can sit down and "iron out," as they call it, their difficulties. Why cannot the children of God do likewise? We need more of the spirit of wisdom, humility and grace, and submission, and need to heed the spirit of Paul when he says, "Be not wise in your own conceits."—Ro 12:16.
The church is exhorted to let her light shine, as well as the individual, by observing God's laws. Indeed, the church is the greater light, for it is many members together, while an individual is but one. It would be far better for us to exert our energy in receiving good men into our church and showing them mercy, than to try to meet out vengeance by exclusion, when the Lord tells us that vengeance belongs to Him. IT IS FAR BETTER TO BAPTIZE MEN INTO THE CHURCH THAN TO PREACH THEIR FUNERALS: TO BUILD UP THAN TO TEAR DOWN.
If Jas 5:16 were followed more closely there would be but few exclusions. "Brethren, confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another." Then Ga 6:1 should be given serious thought: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Exclusion should be the very last thing, as the cutting off of a hand or foot. Everything possible should be done to save a member. Are we willing for the dear Lord to deal with us in our errors as we deal with our erring brethren? Are we willing for other churches to deal with our church as we would deal with them and their church? If all the faults in each church were exposed, the chances are that each and every church would be set out to itself, and there could then be no general fellowship at all.
The meek and merciful do not cause much, if any, trouble in the churches. Often in troubles, the wrong fellow may be excluded. So many, many times I have seen the good suffer instead of the guilty. Frequently, if the leaders would confess their faults, a very grievous and ugly spirit would be brought to light. This, they will have to do before God eventually,—why not now? Many of our dear brethren who are lenient are just as clean ,or more so, in their lives, than those who are harsh critics. Some who appear to be so very holy, we find to be less holy when we know them better. Adultery, for instance, and murder, too, are very grievous sins; but there are others just as bad and as much condemned in God's word—but one bad sin does not excuse another. (See 1Co 6:9-10.) A woman thought it a sin to have regular Wednesday night meeting at the church, but she soon had to be excluded for treating the church with contempt and the use of bad language. Another woman criticized a preacher severely, and in less than a year ran away with another woman's husband. Some who have been divorced themselves, and who have caused divorce, are among the first to criticize others for divorce. "Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery? * * * Dost thou commit sacrilege? * * * The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you."—Ro 2:19-25.
In the case of Gaius and the brethren excluded with him, they were the church, and the wicked and unjust decree of Diotrephes and his majority, was disregarded by the apostles and the churches, and the unlawful exclusion of Gaius was considered null and void because it was a violation of the laws of Christ. (3 John.)
The practice of the Primitive Baptists has always been to regard that party the church who maintains gospel order, and are sound in faith. Majorities may and often do err, and if the churches are to be bound by the decision of a majority, no odds how erroneous and wicked that decision may be, it would be a dangerous thing to be a member of a church; for if the majority is against you, you must submit even if it is against the positive commands of the Savior, if that be true.
It is the minister's, or pastor's, duty to teach the observance of the laws of Christ, and it is the church's duty to execute these laws. Some pastors think that the church is bound to obey whatever they command, and if they can control a majority, will exclude any member who will call in question any motive or whim of theirs. Read Joh 9:22. Then if the minority calls for a fair investigation, it will be refused, alleging that the pastor and the majority have the right to do what they please, and are accountable to no one. Surely, the call of a minority should be heard and the trouble inquired into when the call is made, and orderly brethren be recognized, and that which is right be established.
Good pastors are gifts from, God, and they who rule well are worthy of double honor, but they MUST NOT lord it over God's heritage. Jesus read, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. * * * And all bear Him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth."—Lu 4:18-23.
The ministry of Jesus was one of graciousness and helpfulness, and that is the ministry of His Spirit, and of all His true servants. "If we have not the spirit of Christ we are none of His."
We would not minimize Gospel procedure, nor Gospel law, nor would we encourage sin, which has always been charged to men who have preached the Gospel of grace, but insist that our churches be strict in discipline; but let it be Gospel discipline and not harsh, legal procedure. Let all our deliberations be seasoned with grace, and we should pray that they be directed of the Lord. Let us remember, too, that there is no higher ecclesiastical power or authority on earth than the church. Each church is the sole judge of her membership, and none can show where any other rule has ever been approved by our people; but if there is disagreement in a church, then council may be had as to their order of procedure when that church calls for council; but other churches should let the matter alone until called upon.
Probably there are none in the Lord's service today, who have not at some moment felt that there are people who are hardly worth their toil, sacrifice and pain. However, if tempted to feel this way we should get down on our knees before God, for surely whatever we think the worth of a man is in the church, whatever we feel is his condition, in his sins, the dear Lord thought he was worth dying for. Yes, he surely cares. What is service but the life of Jesus lived through a vessel of earth's fragile clay, loving, and giving, and serving?
Very thoughtlessly, I turned a wretched soul away from, my door. He was a sad picture, and so it was easy to tell him he would have to go somewhere else. I said, "I cannot help you, some one else will." I should have said, "I can, but just won't," for that is the truth of it. As I watched him walk away into the street, tired, hungry and friendless, my heart was crushed. I had been too hasty and harsh. He was too drunk to realize, but does Jesus care for that soul? If so, he is very precious in God's sight. We should not turn God's little repentant ones out into the cold world, but show them charity and forgiveness. Let us not destroy those for whom Jesus died. The thought came to me, and I have wept bitterly. "Am I seeking the lost sheep, the souls that are weak and hearts that are sore? Am I cheering the faint, and raising the fallen, and leading in the path that leads to God? I want to be quick, now, to tell them that some one cares. It will help the burden that so many are carrying these days." Remember, "He careth for you." Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." We are surely the ministers of life and not of death. "Why do ye not rather take wrong? and suffer yourselves to be defrauded," than to minister death? (1Co 6:7.)
We honestly and earnestly want to labor for the welfare of the churches, but we are not willing to break bruised reeds, or quench smoking flax, nor to tramp on the crippled, nor to walk over the downtrodden, but would prefer to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. Jesus is the sinner's friend, and He not only ate with them, but mingled with them, and spoke against the self-righteous Pharisee. Under the law of Moses, some were stoned, "But grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.---Joh 8:17.
Think of the riches of His grace. Read of the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the sinful woman who washed His feet, the lost money that was hunted and found, the horrible, grievous sin of David, and the woman at Jacob's well; to the woman guilty of adultery He said when her accusers had fled, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more."— Joh 8:11.
"Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see."
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."
There was never found in any age of the world either philosophy, or sect, or law, or discipline, which did so highly exalt the public good, as the Christian faith.—Bacon.
"Stand by your principles and victory, complete and permanent, is sure at the last."—A. Lincoln.
43 CHAPTER 43
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." "Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." "Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died." Ro 14.
The Apostle here considers the design of Christ's death, i.e. to do away with sin and bring joy and peace and happiness to the soul for whom he died. Drawing a soul to sin threatens the happiness of that soul and threatens him with destruction to the joys of the christian life here in the church or kingdom of God on earth. It would destroy him by threatening or shaking his faith, and provoking his passion or anger and tempting him to act against the light of his own conscience and the teaching of the Bible, and we might as much as in us lies destroy him, giving both he and his family an occasion to return into the world and its wickedness. The Greek word here would denote utter destruction in the church. The beginning of sin is like letting forth water, we are not sure where it will stop. Some who have been excluded from our churches have reared their families outside the church—dear children with good hearts and love to God—and who today are members of no church or have gone, some of them, to the Judaizing Churches of the world.
The consideration of the love of Christ in dying for dear souls should make us very thoughtful and tender as to their Christian life and welfare, and we should be careful not to do anything to obstruct or hinder their happiness or joy -in the church. Shall we despise those whom Christ valued so highly? Did he think it worthwhile to die for them? Then shall not we think them worth while to deny our own private opinion and deny ourselves for them? and especially when there is some difference of opinion throughout our denomination concerning their practice and way of living?
When we would destroy our brother then we are helping the Devil's design for he is the great destroyer; and therefore as much as in us lie, we would be crossing the design and purpose of Christ, for He is the great Savior of sinners, we would therefore not only offend our brother, but offend Christ as well, for His very heart is placed upon the joy and happiness and life of His chosen ones; His sheep and lambs. The particular determination of the efficacy of His death and blood to the elect for their eternal Redemption shall not be affected, for they "shall never perish," eternally. To destroy God's people or their happiness does manifest great opposition to Christ and His purpose, yet, to be Christian we are bound to believe in a judgment of charity—that Christ died for them.
Those are most pleasing to God that are best pleased with Him; and they are those that abound most in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, which go to make up His kingdom. God and Christ are approved of men—that is good men and the opinion of others is not to be regarded. Things and persons which are acceptable to God should be approved of us. Instead of censuring the practice of others, let us look to our own, "that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall in our brother's way." What we do might give our brother a terrible shake and be a hindrance and discouragement to him.
The Bible says, "Every creature of God is good," and so as to other things it is "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision;" It is not being of this party or persuasion, or of this or the other opinion in minor things, that will commend us to God. In that great judgment day it shall not be asked who was conformist and who was non-conformist, but, "who feared God and worked righteousness." There is nothing more destructive to true Christianity than placing it in modes, rules and customs, rituals and circumstantials. All the people of God should be agreed in doing right and in laboring for righteousness and joy and peace, and in the pursuit of which we should spend our time and zeal. These are most certainly a part of the foundation and the superstructure of religion. We are concerned in appearing before God—the great Judge of all justified in the merits of Christ's blood and death and sanctified by the Spirit of His grace: for the righteous Lord, loveth righteousness.
As to our brethren it is peace—to live in peace and love, and charity with them, following peace with all men: Christ was the great peacemaker. The true nature then of Christianity is the kingdom of God, and it stands in true and hearty subjection to God's power and dominion. The Gospel of that kingdom stands in distinction then from the legal dispensation. "The law was given by Moses, but, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." These great and precious facts then should silence all rash judgings. "Why dost thou judge thy brother?" or "'Why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Why all this clashing, and contradicting, and censuring, among Christians? "As I live every knee shall bow to me." '"The word is gone out of my mouth." Here is proof of Christ's Godhead: he is Lord and he is God. Divine honor is due to him, and must be paid.
Grace is the soul's cheerful desire toward God and the brethren. Our inward love and grace is guided by fear and reverence; acknowledging our own meanness and vileness, and confessing our sins to him and also acknowledging His glory, grace and greatness.
Now if Christ has paid so dearly for His dear people or kingdom, over souls and consciences, and has such a just and undisputed right to exercise his dominion over his court we then must not so much as seem to invade it, nor entrench upon it, by judging the conscience of our brethren and arraigning them at our bar of justice which might be so evil.
The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God. We should but pray to be eased of the carnal mind and of sin and to be more like Christ, and go forward with an eye to the will of Christ as our rule, to the glory of Christ as our end, and not to condemn our brother and destroy him, but "to save thy brother," to the cause and service of Christ. Christ and life is the goal at which we aim. We live to glorify him in all the actions and affairs of life. He is the center in which all the lines of life and death meet. This is true Christianity, so that, "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's," devoted to him, depending on him. Is it then for us to judge or to despise God's people as if we were their masters, or they were to make it their business to please us, and to stand or fall by our dooms? We must not lay stress upon the law to the point where we frustrate the purpose and design of the gospel of the grace of God and to where we lean upon legal issue and thus "fall from the grace of God," as did the Gentiles, as declared by Paul in Galatians.
For the want of the love of God and right, contention and discord broke out in the early churches for Jesus had said that offenses would come, and this was indeed a very unhappy state. Some had not been easily weaned from the legality of the forms of service to which they had been accustomed, and they were not well instructed as to grace while others understood the favors of God to sinners.
"Walkest thou not charitably." Not to do so would be a breach of the rule of charity and grace or brotherly love. God's children are to be loved as brothers. True charity or love vaunts not itself over, nor is it puffed up against a weak brother; nor is it unconcerned for his peace and spiritual life and it would forbear the use or practice of things grieving to him; '"destroy not him. . . . for whom Christ died." This I think is to be understood of a brother's peace and happiness and comfort. It is a matter of importance that we preserve the peace of our brother.
Jesus said, "if thy hand or foot offend thee cut it off." But he did not mean for us to savagely do so, but he evidently meant for us to try to save that hand or foot, and to let the amputation of it be the very last thing. In Mt 18 the Savior tells us how to treat a brother who has offended us, and he says, "if he will hear thee, thou has gained thy brother." The whole object seems to be to "gain thy brother," and not to destroy him. To try to destroy him would be contrary to the Savior teaching to "gain him."
A dear old brother argued with me that after a hand is cut off that it can not be replaced, and that is true literally, but the Savior was not arguing that feature of the case, for such a position would contradict other scriptures, but He was arguing the horror of the case I think and the severity of it, and teaching us how terrible the offense that leads to that act, and teaching the most important members of the body can not or should not escape the penalty of the gospel law of God.
CASE NUMBER 1.
Paul tells us in Ga 6:1. "Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
(a) We are to restore, (b) In the spirit of meekness, (e) Considering thyself. (f) This is as much the command of God as it was to exclude the brother.
CASE NUMBER 2.
In 1Co 5:1-6, a very bad case of fornication is mentioned such as was not named among the Gentiles, and Paul says for them, that "when ye are gathered together ... to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." This could not have been a sin unto continual death, as some have recently argued, for in 2Co 2:5-12, the Apostle Paul tells them, "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." This should be done, "Lest Satan get the advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
CASE NUMBER 3.
David placed Uriah in front of the battle and had him killed in order to get his wife, which was indeed a very wicked thing to do. David suffered sore trial and chastisements for it all, but God did not utterly cast him away and while it was a sin unto death in a sense, it was not eternal death, nor was he forever kept out of the house of the Lord for it. He suffered the loss of much happiness and joy in the kingdom and no doubt was much grieved but the Lord was merciful, in the case as He is in all cases.
CASE NUMBER 4.
Saul was a witness unto Stephen's death and gave his consent to it and guarded the young men's clothing while they did the job, and Saul was a party in fact to the crime of this murder—therefore he was guilty of murder, yet the Lord later called him by his grace, washed away his guilt and crime, and put him into the ministry.
CASE NO. 5.
The Savior saved the thief on the cross, exhibiting wonderful rich sovereign-free grace and mercy.
Some would no doubt today be so presumptuous and sanctified and so pharasaically self-righteous that they would not forgive these cases and cases like them. We often think of the old adage, "They who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
Where may I see my Savior today—where may I look into His face? I see Him eating with sinners. I see His face as Mary, sinful as she had been, sitting at His feet washing them with tears and drying them with her hair. I see Him talking to the poor woman at Jacob's well, and hear Him saying, "Go and sin no more, thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee." I see Him as He writes in the sand, thinking of forgiveness and hypocrisy, no doubt, and I see His face as He says to those men, "He that is without sin let him cast the first stone." They departed and the woman was forgiven and rejoiced. In looking for my Savior I would not go among the self-righteous nor the Pharisees, nor the rich only, but also to the homes of the lowly and humble poor and among sinners saved by grace, to whom much has been forgiven.
An old man going a lone highway,
Came at evening cold and gray
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fears for him,
But he turned when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old Man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your strength with your building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way,
You've crossed the chasm deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the even-tide?"
The builder lifted his gray old head;
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There follows after me this day
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm which has been as naught to me,
To that fair haired youth might a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim,
Good Friend, I am building this bridge for him."
, tWe, the undersigned, after careful examination and study of the book by Elder W. A. Chastain, entitled, HISTORY AND AUTHORITY ON PRIMITIVE BAPTIST DISCIPLINE, wish to certify these records and minutes and facts relating to Middle Creek and Smyrna Churches as true in every detail to the very best of our knowledge and examination.
The examination and the records and endorsement approved by Middle Creek Church at her regular meeting in April, 1944, by unanimous vote.
ELD. L. C. JONES, Moderator. A. C. JOHNSTON, Clerk. 7
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