A STUDY OF THE ANTECEDENTS OF LANDMARKISM

CHAPTER III

LANDMARK ANTECEDENTS IN NEW ENGLAND

It has been customary to consider Landmarkism almost exclusively within the geographical context of the South and Southwest, since this is where the movement originated and has had its greatest influence. While it is certainly true that the Landmark movement was a Southern product by birth, yet this fact should not obscure the possibility that there were factors of influence outside the South that played a part in the development of its doctrines and characteristic emphasis. It is interesting to note that Baptist historians in recent years have called attention to the fact that Graves was a New Englander by birth and may thereby have been influenced in his ecclesiastical views by the strong localism of the New England Baptists. Indeed, James E. Tull has said that Graves

appears to have embraced the views of the most extreme wing of the New England Baptists, concerning the local and independent character of the church. With some accuracy, Landmarkism may be said to have been the incursion into Southern Baptist life . . . of the ecclesiology of New England separatism, engrafted upon a Baptist base.1
Robert G. Torbet suggests also that Graves may have been greatly influenced by the strong emphasis of New England Baptists on the local church, but he is not so positive in his statements as Tull. Noting the fact that Graves came from New England and pointing out the fear that New England Baptist had of any form of ecclesiastical authority outside the local church, he says simply that these factors "should not be overlooked in any effort to understand" the views espoused by Graves.2

It is not the purpose of this chapter, however, to limit the consideration of the New England antecedents of Landmarkism to any possible effect his native Vermont background may have had on Graves in the development of his ecclesiology, although the matter is of interest and is not unrelated to this phase of the study. Rather the immediate object of this chapter is to seek an answer to the inquiry: Are there discernible elements in the doctrines and practices of the Baptists of New England prior to 1851 that may properly be regarded, at least in some degree, as anticipatory of the teachings of Landmarkism? Are there aspects of the Baptist life and work in New England, reflected in the denominational literature of the day as characteristic and normative, that may be considered as antecedent to the emphasis of Landmarkism? The effort will be made in succeeding pages to point out the particular facets of New England Baptist life that are suggestive of a relationship with the principles advocated by Graves and his associates.

Baptist Beginnings in New England
Baptist views began to be circulated in the New England colonies during the fourth decade of the seventeenth century. Because of the religious orientation of life in New England, it was to be expected that increasing numbers of persons who had become disillusioned with the religious life of England and who despaired of any change for the better would be drawn toward this section of the New World, in search of a more favorable environment for the exercise of their religious faith. Among those who came to the shores of New England were many who were representative of the more radical wing of Puritanism, who dissented entirely from the Church of England, and who advocated such doctrines as were thought to be inconsistent with the theocratic aims of the Standing Order. Such men as these were Roger Williams and John Clarke, whose names are inseparably connected with the story of Baptist beginnings in America. Their stories are too well known to bear repeating here, except in those details most essential to the present purpose. Their importance in connection with this study has to do with the churches which they had a part in establishing.

The First Churches: Providence and Newport
Williams was the first of these men to arrive in America, coming to Massachusetts in 1631 in approximately the thirty-second year of his age. He was a man of strong opinions, which he was determined to express, and it was this characteristic which led to his banishment from the colony in 1636. In June of that same year he founded the settlement that was later (in 1644) chartered as Providence Plantations.3

Burrage says that at this time "the religious opinions of Williams and his associates were evidently in a transition state."4 He had been charged earlier, prior to his banishment, with advancing principles at Plymouth and Salem that tended to anabaptism and Backus says that "could he have found an agreeable administrator, it is not likely that he would have neglected the putting of this principle into practice as long as he did."5 It seems probable that Williams had been acquainted with Baptists before leaving England and was familiar with their beliefs and practices. By the spring of 1639, he had arrived at the conviction that the baptism he had received as an infant from the Church of England was no baptism at all, not only because it was administered to him in infancy but also because he regarded the Established Church as apostate and unable therefore to administer the ordinance validly. Convinced also that a true church could only be composed of the regenerate, he was led logically to accept the principle of believers' baptism.6 The question of a qualified administrator troubled Williams for a time, but he and several others at Providence who had come to similar convictions "resolved to follow the precept and example of Christ in the only way possible to them."7 Accordingly, at some time prior to March 16, 1639, Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman,8 who the year before had been summoned before the General Court of Massachusetts, charged with conduct not sanctioned by the religious laws of the colony.9 Following his own baptism, Williams proceeded to baptize Holliman and eleven others. Thus was begun the First Baptist Church of Providence, styled as the First Baptist Church in America.

Williams did not remain long satisfied with the steps that he and his associates had taken toward the restoration of those ordinances that had been lost, in his view, through centuries of apostasy. One of those who was affiliated with Williams in the Providence church, but who afterwards turned to the Quakers, Richard Scott, said:

I walked with him in the Baptist's way about three or four months, in which time he brake from the society, and declared . . . . That their baptism could not be right because it was not administered by an apostle.10
It is evident that Williams, though clear enough in his mind as to the act of baptism and its proper subjects, yet experienced the greatest concern over the problem of a valid administrator. Backus, in his candid manner, points out the difficulty that confronted Williams:

After gathering a Baptist church at Providence, Mr. Williams' mind got so blundered, with that notion that many try to propagate to this day; of the necessity of a local succession from the apostles to empower persons to administer ordinances, and not being able to give in to the absurdity of deriving this power through the long scene of antichristian corruption, that he desisted from traveling with that church.11
Williams apparently became convinced that he and his followers had been mistaken in their efforts to restore the ordinance of believers’ baptism and that there could be no valid administration apart from a new apostolic dispensation.

In view of the erratic behavior of Williams, it is not surprising that the claim of the church which he supposedly founded to a priority as the first Baptist Church in America has not been beyond question. The principal challenge to the claims of the Providence church has come, understandably, from the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island, but others also, with no motive of special interest, have disputed the tradition that makes the First Baptist Church of Providence the oldest Baptist church in America. Samuel Adlam, who wrote as pastor of the church at Newport, in 1850 published the results of his investigation into the question under the title, The First Church in Providence not the Oldest Baptist Church in America. In this book Adlam declared that, in his opinion, based on a thorough investigation of the available evidence, Roger Williams did not succeed in establishing a church:

I can see no evidence that Roger Williams, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, established a Baptist Church in Providence. When he was baptized, he doubtless intended to do this: but he was not the man, and the attempt was a failure.12
Adlam contended that the church that Williams "began to collect fell to pieces soon after he left them," and that the true First Baptist Church of Providence was not organized until about 1650 under the leadership of Thomas Olney.13

It is worthy of notice that Graves was greatly interested in this question of the priority of the church at Providence, even to the point of making a journey to Rhode Island "to visit the contending churches to learn all it was possible to be gathered from personal intercourse and observation."14 Graves sided with Adlam in contending against the claims of the First Church, Providence. It seems likely that he was led to this position through his dissatisfaction with the irregular manner in which the church had its beginning and the disavowal of his baptism by Roger Williams. With his views of church succession and the necessity for a valid administrator in baptism, Graves found it difficult to believe that such a church as Williams had founded marked the beginning of Baptist life in America.15

The First Baptist Church of Newport, to which reference has already been made, had its beginning under the leadership of Dr. John Clarke, a physician who had come to Massachusetts in 1637. Finding the oppressive situation in the Bay colony not agreeable to his religious interests, he removed to Rhode Island and in 1638 established a colony there under the name of Newport. In the year in which the colony was founded, a church was also established, but it does not appear to have been a Baptist church at the time. Clarke may or may not have been a Baptist at the time that he came from England, but, if not, it seems probable that he was converted to Baptist views soon after his arrival. With him at an early date and affiliated with him in the church at Newport, was Mark Lukar, one of the earliest of the English Particular Baptists, and this fact would lend support to the idea that he had become a Baptist by 1638. It seems possible that he was baptized by Lukar. The church seems to have experienced dissension within a short time and by 1641 is reported to have been dissolved. The constitution of a Baptist church followed shortly, certainly by 1644, and Clarke served as pastor of the congregation.16

Graves expressed a great interest in this church at Newport, and in his edition of Adlam’s work, he included a brief and “authentic” history of the church, which he designated as the “First Church of America.”17 In this section, Graves quotes with approval the articles of faith of the Newport church and suggests that “many of our churches and brethren about to organize would like to adopt them, and so hold the faith of the First Baptist Church organized on this continent.”18 What was it that so impressed Graves with these articles of faith? In the first place, Graves was no Calvinist, and he noted with pleasure that in these articles “there is not a scintilla of Calvinism.”19 In addition, bearing in mind Graves’ view of the church, it is a certainty that he found himself in complete agreement with the statement concerning the church, found in Article VII:

A church is a company of believers organized for the observance of the ordinances and the promotion of Christ’s kingdom. Each church is independent and self-governed though in fraternal fellowship with other churches. The officers of a church are pastors and deacons.20

The church is defined in a purely local sense with no suggestion of a universal application. This coincided exactly with the ecclesiology of Graves.

The Calvinistic Baptist Churches
The original Baptist churches formed in New England were predominantly of the Calvinistic or Particular Baptist order. From the histories of these churches, marked by dissension and separation, it is apparent that there was no unanimity among the members with regard to the doctrines of grace and related issues, but by and large, Calvinism represented the dominant sentiments of the churches, at least at the time of their founding. Roger Williams, as would be supposed from his having taught and preached in the churches at Salem and Plymouth, was a thorough-going Calvinist, and most of his followers, having come from an Independent-Separatist background, were in agreement with him. The Providence church may be regarded, therefore, as a church holding to particular election.21 The church at Newport was, if anything, even more strongly Calvinistic than its sister church, and maintained a strong witness for this doctrinal viewpoint for many years. Other Calvinistic churches were formed at Swansea, Massachusetts, in 1663 by John Myles, and in Boston itself, in 1655 by Thomas Gould. Yet another church of this persuasion was founded at Kittery, Maine, in 1682 by William Screven, but this church did not long remain in the place of its origin, removing in 1696 to a place near Charleston, South Carolina.22

The churches of this order experienced very little growth in the years prior to the Great Awakening. Indeed, the oppressive character of the Puritan governments in the colonies made it difficult for them simply to exist and obviously the formation of new congregations was discouraged. John Comer records that in 1729 there were only three churches that “held to the doctrine of free grace [that is, to the doctrines of Calvinism]. One in Newport, formerly my flock; one at Swanzey, Mr. Ephraim Wheaton; one at Boston, Mr. Elisha Callender.”23 This report accords with other accounts that the Regular Baptist cause in New England in the first part of the eighteenth century was weak and struggling.

The Six Principle Baptist Churches
The Six Principle Baptist churches were so named because of their emphasis on a strict adherence to the “six principles of the doctrine of Christ” as found in Hebrews 6:1-2. Particularly did they emphasize the laying on of hands after baptism as a matter of obligation and made the practice a term of communion. They were also referred to as General Baptists because they held to the Arminian doctrine of a general atonement, in opposition to the doctrine of particular redemption preached by the Regular Baptists.

The Six Principle churches, though commencing later than the Calvinistic churches as organized bodies, yet grew more rapidly. The church at Providence in 1652 experienced a separation, from which division a strong Six Principle church came into being. A similar occurrence took place in the Newport church in 1656 and in 1693 a church of the same order was formed in Swansea.24 Additional churches were established at Groton, Connecticut; at Scituate, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, and Warwick, all in Rhode Island; and at several other locations.25

It is interesting to note that some time near the close of the seventeenth century four of these churches united in a yearly meeting “for the strengthening, edifying and up building of each other in the Redeemer’s kingdom . . . And in advising and assisting in accommodating any difficulties that might arise.”26 This yearly meeting is referred to by some writers as the “first Baptist association in America” and one source assigns the year 1670 as the date of its beginning.27 At the time of its annual meeting in Newport in 1729, “the body consisted of the union of twelve churches and about eighteen ordained elders, all established upon the six principles of the doctrine of Christ.”28 This is indication of the strength of the Six Principle churches in contrast to the weakness of the Regular Baptists at that time.

The Rise of the Separate Baptists
In the one hundred year period of American Baptist history preceding the Great Awakening, the growth and achievements of the denomination as a whole were very limited. Expansion was slow and evangelistic fervor was significantly lacking. There did not seem to be any driving sense of denominational purpose. But a marvelous transformation took place under the impact of the Separate Baptists. Their entrance into the life of the denomination marked a turning point in its history. In every area of denominational life their influence was felt. In connection with the purpose of this present study, it will be seen that the coming of the Separate Baptists marked an accentuation of those tendencies in Baptist life, particularly in the area of ecclesiology, which seem to bear an antecedent relationship to the principles of Landmarkism.

The Great Awakening: Its Influence on the Baptists
C. C. Goen has pointed out that “the more permanent fruits of the Great Awakening were borne off by the Baptists.”29 This is most remarkable in consideration of the fact that the Baptists generally did not participate in the revival. There were some twenty-five churches in New England just prior to the outbreak of the Awakening in 1740 and only a few of them shared in and sympathized with the new religious enthusiasm. There were two principal reasons for this lack of Baptist participation. The first was the fact that the revival had had its beginning among the Pedobaptists and such was the state of Baptist relationships with these churches, the Baptists could not bring themselves to share in the marvelous work. In addition, the great majority of the Baptist churches were Arminian in doctrine and the revival, for the most part, was the work of Calvinistic churches and preachers.30 This theological difference constituted a barrier to any extensive participation on the part of the Baptists. Backus, himself a product of the Great Awakening, pointed out these factors in his History of New England:

A measure of it [the work of divine grace] was granted to the Baptists in Boston, Leicester, Brimfield, Newport, Groton, and Wallingford; but as the work was begun and carried on almost wholly by Paedobaptists, from which denomination their fathers had suffered much, most of the Baptists were prejudiced against the work, and against the Calvinistic doctrine by which it was promoted.31

But in spite of their prejudice against the revival, a large number of Baptist churches were nevertheless greatly affected by it. This seems to have been especially so in Rhode Island, where so many of the churches were of the Six Principle order. The extent to which the Arminian churches were affected by the revival is seen in a circular address sent out to the churches and brethren by the "general meeting of the Baptist churches at Newport" in 1749, in which they took note of "the sad dissensions and divisions which seem to be carrying on in several churches."32 It seems likely that these difficulties within the churches were occasioned in some measure by the evangelizing efforts of itinerate Separate preachers. Outside Rhode Island, the church most notably affected by the revival was the First Baptist Church of Boston, whose Arminian pastor Jeremiah Condy was in opposition to the revival. Because of this opposition, a defection occurred, leading to the founding of the Second Baptist Church in that city in 1743.33

Thus, many of the Baptist churches, either directly or indirectly and in spite of their apathetic spirit, came under the influence of the Great Awakening. As indicated, the Calvinistic churches tended to be more sympathetic toward the revival than the Arminian churches and consequently reaped the more direct benefits from the Awakening. Some of the General Baptist churches were Calvinized and thus shared in the fruits of the revival; but for the most part these churches, through their resistance to the evangelical tides of the time, found themselves cut off from the mainstream and "were largely left to stagnate."34

The Separate Baptists: A Product of the Great Awakening
The chief means by which the Baptist denomination became the principal beneficiary of the Great Awakening was the emergence of a group of Baptists known as the Separate Baptists. Historically, they had no relationship with either the Arminian or Calvinistic branch of the denomination. They were strictly a product of the revival. They were related to the Baptists solely on the basis of doctrinal convictions at which they had arrived, in most instances, only after the most intense of spiritual struggles. The circumstances of their origin and the background out of which they came have been of the utmost importance in the development of Baptist thought and practice.

Their origin

The "New Light" converts of the Great Awakening were distinguished by their emphasis on conscious conversion; the consciousness of the regenerating work of God in a person’s soul. But in the churches of the Standing Order with which they were affiliated they observed that there were a great many persons who could relate no religious experience and yet who were received into the full communion of the church and whose children were admitted to baptism. This state of affairs was the result of the Half-Way Covenant of 1662 and the later development known as Stoddarddeanism, involving the admission of those of "blameless life" to participation in the Lord’s Supper. Though they had no personal experience of conversion to relate.35 Against this practice of what they termed "graceless communion," the New Lights strongly objected, maintaining that the reception of unconverted persons into the membership of the church was inconsistent with spiritual religion.36

Another issue confronting those who were converted under the preaching of Whitefield, Tennent, and the other itinerants of the Awakening was the strong opposition to the revival that was registered by many of the established clergy. The opposition was not strong at first, but increasing tensions and conflicts between Old Lights and New Lights called into being a vigorous resistance to the "new enthusiasm." By 1745, when Whitefield made his second tour of New England, he discovered that he was no longer welcome in countless pulpits where he had preached five years earlier. This antagonistic reaction to that which was popularly considered to be an "extraordinary work of God" prompted the accusations by many of the New Light preachers and their converts that the ministers of the established churches were unconverted and totally lacking in grace.37

The inevitable result of the controversy was the forming of new congregations, composed of those who had entered into the spirit of the current revival and who thus felt obliged to withdraw from the fellowship of the standing churches. These Separates, as they were called, were bound together in their church fellowships principally by their belief in the necessity of an inner conversion experience and their opposition to the spiritual coldness of the orthodox churches. Partly because of their harassment by the consociations of Congregational churches, they tended toward a strong insistence on the independency of the local church.38 Their separation from the established churches was a testimony to their belief that the true church was to be pure and to their conviction that the churches from which they withdrew lacked the distinguishing marks of a pure church.39 Yet, will all their stress on the pure church ideal, these Separate churches, at least in the initial stages of the movement, had no intention of departing from the ranks of pedobaptism and were firmly opposed to the "Anabaptistcal" errors.40

But, as Goen points out, "the logic of the pure church ideal was inescapably on the side of believer's baptism."41 In their earnest zeal to realize and to maintain the concept of a pure church, the Separates were inevitably led to consider baptism and its relation to membership in a visible church. Who were the proper subjects of baptism? What scriptural warrant was there for infant baptism? These and similar questions troubled the Separates. It is not surprising, therefore, that from the very earliest stages of the Separate movement there was the rise of Baptist sentiments that led eventually to a new separation, that of the Baptists from the Separate churches.

For the period of time, many of the Separate churches practiced mixed communion, the Baptist and the Pedobaptists making an effort to continue together in church fellowship. An example of such an effort to compromise existing differences is seen in the agreement by the Separate congregation at Providence that "the mode and subjects of Baptism should be indifferent and no Bar of Communion -- that the Pastor to baptize infants & by sprinkling and those who desired it by plunging."42 While there seems to have been a fair degree of harmony in the Providence church, yet by the very nature of the case, the compromise on the matter of baptism and the practice of mixed communion could not long continue. The biblical literalism that characterized the Baptist of that day would not permit them to consider the baptismal issue as a matter of indifference. An illustration of the depth of Baptist convictions at this point is seen in the following words of Backus:

Though the communing of all real saints together, appeared to be of great importance, yet many found by degrees that it could not be done in that way; for they saw that if they came to the Lord’s Supper with any who were only sprinkled in their infancy, it practically said they were baptized when they believed in their consciences that they were not. And practical lying is a great sin.43

Obviously, this was a transitional period for the Separate churches and the inevitable consequence was the separation of Baptists and Pedobaptists and the formation of Separate Baptist churches.

Their doctrine and characteristics

The gradual process of the acceptance and assimilation of the Separate Baptists into the life of the denomination was well under way around the middle of the 1760’s and may be said to have continued, at least in certain aspects, until the close of the century.44 There was no basis for the formation of any ties with the General Baptists, the Separate Baptists felt a rather close doctrinal affinity. The mutual wariness which both groups seem to have felt initially was gradually dissipated and the churches of the Separate Baptists were absorbed into the life and work of the denomination. Because of their impact upon the denomination, it will be well to notice briefly the doctrines by which they were distinguished.

Biblical literalism

To speak of the Separate Baptists as biblical literalists is not, by any means, to speak to their disparagement. This was not necessarily a unique characteristic in their day, but it has been said that they were "the strictest biblical literalists of their age."45 It was their strict biblicism that had brought them out of the ranks of pedobaptism, and it was this same characteristic that gave them such an appeal to the masses of common people. They constantly urged a close adherence to the plainest meaning of the Scripture, and this was something that the people could grasp. Isaac Backus speaks constantly in his writings of "scripture warrant," of "gospel rule," and of the "law of Christ." This was no new emphasis among Baptists, but there seems to have been an even heavier stress in this connection among the Separate Baptists.

Evangelical Calvinism

Having come out of the established churches of new England, the Separate Baptists yet retained the strong Calvinistic doctrines in which they had been nurtured. This was the factor that made possible the union of the Separate and Particular Baptists. If Backus may be considered typical among his brethren, then it is evident that the Separate Baptists were as firmly established in the doctrines of grace as were those of the old Particular Baptist churches. Backus, in a summary statement of the beliefs of the Baptists with whom he was affiliated, makes clear enough their Calvinistic sentiments:

2. That in infinite mercy the eternal Father gave a certain number of the children of men to his beloved Son, before the world was, to redeem and save; and that he, by his obedience and sufferings, has procured eternal redemption for them. 3. That by the influence of the Holy Spirit, these persons individually, as they come into existence, are effectually called in time, and savingly renewed in the spirit of their minds.46

But, as positive as Backus and others of the Separate Baptists were in their declaration of the particular election of God in salvation, yet they maintained a strong evangelistic fervor. Their Calvinism had been baptized in the fires of the Great Awakening and this revivalist background kept them from the errors of a rigid predestinarianism. The balance of evangelism and election in their thinking is seen in Backus’ description of the contents of Part II of The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace Opened and Vindicated:

Wherein is opened the consistency and duty of holding forth Divine Sovereignty, and Man's impotency, while yet we address their consciences with the warnings of truth, and calls of the Gospel.47

The influence of the Separate Baptist at this point was such that the {"nature and subsequent history" of the denomination in America were permanently altered.48

Local character of the church

With regard to the doctrine of the church, the Separate Baptists adhered to a strict localism. There was virtually no recognition given the universal church concept other than that which may have been nominally implied in the Warren Association’s adoption of the Philadelphia Confession in 1767. Again, the statement of Backus is clear enough: "Christ has instituted none but particular churches."49 In the same work has says:

Is any other visible church state instituted in the gospel, but a particular one? The church spoken of by our Lord in Matt. 18.15, -- 18, is such an one as a brother can tell his grievance to: and whoever thought that could be to any other than a particular community.50

Joseph Fish, a Congregational pastor with whom Backus carried on a literary dispute that lasted several years, complained that he had difficulty in getting Backus to discuss the church in any other sense than local:

His saying A church, intimates that I had been giving the character of a particular church of communicants; in which sense I find he frequently takes up the word church discourses about the church of Christ.51

The strong emphasis on the local character of the church was undoubted due, in part, to a reaction against that which the Separate Baptists had witnessed and experienced of the tyrannical abuse of power by the Congregation consociations. They were determined to maintain the independency of the local Baptist churches and to resist any power by which the prerogatives and powers of the local church might be compromised. But their localism is not to be explained as simply being the result of practical considerations. They were convinced that any ecclesiastical organization beyond the local church was unscriptural, particularly that sort of organization that wielded power over the churches. John Leland, so well known in the struggle of Virginia Baptists for religious liberty and himself a product of Massachusetts separatism, expressed so clearly this conviction as to the independence of the local church in his The Government of Christ a Christocracy:

Church government is congregational, not parochial, diocesan, nor national. Each congregated church disclaims the power of Popes, kings, bishops, parliaments, kirks, or presbyteries, and claims the right and power to govern itself according to the laws of Christ. [Italics mine.] . . . By a Christocracy, I mean nothing more than a government of which Christ is law-giver, king, and judge, and yet so arranged, that each congregational church is a complete republic of itself, not to be controlled by civil government or hierarchy.52

The authority of the church

Corollary to their belief in the church as local was the emphasis of the Separate Baptists on the authority of the church. The administration of the ordinances, the discipline of individual Christians for behavior inconsistent with their profession, and the right to set men apart for the proclamation of the gospel -- all of these were matters that came within the authority of each local congregation. This principle was clearly enunciated by Backus:

The administering of special ordinances, and acting in Church Discipline, are things peculiar to a visible Church, and therefore we cannot clearly act in them without we have a visible standing therein, as an officer, or a member.53

In his controversy with Joseph Fish, Backus rejected the concept that the power to choose, examine, and ordain the officers of a local church rested with the associated ministers in a certain geographical area and not with the church itself.

The apostles were only witnesses for Christ, and as such pointed out to the church, what qualifications officers should have . . . But these pretended successors of the apostles, assume a power to limit the church, in her choice to such as they have approbated; which I trust will be made evident to be a power which the apostles never had.54

It is not the ministers who are to rule over the churches, but the churches, rather, are to exercise authority over the ministers:

[Baptists believe:]
8. That the whole power of calling, ordaining, and deposing officers, is in each particular church. . . . . .
14. That officers, when chosen and ordained, have no arbitrary, lordly, or imposing power; but are to rule and minister with the consent of the brethren, who ought not to be called The Laity, but to be treated as men and brethren in Christ.55

With regard to the proclamation of the gospel in relation to the authority of the church, Backus did not go so far as to say that all preaching must be exercised under the control and direction of a local church. If a man has been called to preach, then he may exercise his gifts wherever he has the opportunity:

Praying, exhorting, and Preaching, though they are Duties to be performed in the church, yet they are not so confined thereto, but that they may be rightly performed where there is no particular church at all.56

Even so, the church has the responsibility to encourage and recommend such as are qualified for the gospel ministry,”57 while the person who has been called to preach "has not a right to act in those things which are peculiar to an officer of the Church, till he is publicly set apart therein."58

A strict view of the ordinances

The Separate Baptists, emerging as they did from a background of Pedobaptist Separatism and passing through a transitional period during which they gave trial to the system of mixed communion, came gradually, but certainly, to adopt rather strict views, of the ordinances of the church. Most of them, especially in the early years of the movement, had had their full share of personal experience with infant baptism and had come, with the great certainty of heartfelt conviction, to reject decisively this practice as unscriptural and as positive evil. Believers' baptism by immersion was regarded by them as essential to Christian obedience and as necessary to the constitution of a true gospel church. It was considered to be the ordinance which initiated an individual believer into the fellowship of a particular church and which was therefore a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper. The 1795 declaration of the faith of the churches of Bowdoinham Association, Maine, is representative at this point:

We believe that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Christ . . . and the former is requisite to the latter; . . . that those are to be admitted into the communion of the church, and so to partake of its ordinances, who, upon profession of their faith, have been baptized by immersion.59

At the point of communion, the Separate Baptist churches tended toward a rigid strictness, a tendency which was increased toward the close of the century. Mixed communion had been rejected as unworkable and unscriptural. The strict communion churches refused to hold in fellowship those few churches that practiced even occasional communion with the Pedobaptists.60 The church at East Lyme, Connecticut, until the year 1795, was such a church, but in that year they "resolved to follow gospel order."61 Five years previously, the First Baptist Church of Waterford, Connecticut, had taken similar action.62 How the Baptist practice of strict communion was received by those with whom they had formerly communed in the Separate and Congregational churches is indicated by the statement of Backus in 1773:

And though our opponents hold with us, that it is the law of Christ, that all should be baptized before they come to the Lord's table; yet many of them accuse us of rigidness, of unchurching all but ourselves, [italics mine] &c. only because we will not meet such persons there, as we cannot believe in our conscience to be baptized.63

Their significance

The chief significance of the Separate Baptists, as they relate to a study of Landmark antecedents in New England, lies in their local church ecclesiology and its continuing influence in the life of the Baptist denomination in the United States. The remarkable expansion experienced by the Baptists in the latter half of the eighteenth century was sparked by the emergence of the Separate Baptists, with their evangelistic zeal and revivalist spirit. The spectacular character of this growth is indicated by the increase in the number of churches in New England. In 1740, there were a total of twenty-five Baptist churches in that section of the country; before the end of the century, there were three hundred and twenty-five.64 It is readily apparent that the Separate Baptists were in the vanguard of this expansion and that by this means the influence of their ecclesiological views was greatly augmented.

There was a marked similarity in the strong localism of the Separate Baptists and that view of the church espoused by the Landmarkers in the last half of the nineteenth century. Graves, with his explicit denial of the universal church concept, would have expressed complete agreement with the declaration of Backus that "Christ has instituted none but particular churches."65 The Separate Baptists were determined to guard the scripturally-based independency and authority of each local congregation against the encroachments of any superecclesiastical organization. It was this same jealous concern for the maintenance of the dignity and authority of the local church that prompted the Landmark distrust of boards and conventions. In addition, the Separate Baptist emphasis on the authority of the church in relation to the ordinances, the ministry, and matters of discipline was not essentially different from the Landmark stress on the church as the executive agency of the kingdom, charged by Christ with the conduct of every phase of his work in this world. It is clearly evident that the ecclesiology of the New England Separate Baptists was to a large degree anticipatory of the localistic emphasis of the Landmarkers.

It is not here claimed that the relationship between the views of the two groups is a direct and causal one. It is not the purpose of this study to attempt to trace any such relationship or influence. Rather, it is the intent of this writer to point out that it is highly significant that seventy-five years before the initiation of the Landmark movement, there was a substantial part of the Baptist denomination in the United States that held to a strictly local ecclesiology, that maintained the independency and authority of every local church as a scriptural concept, and that insisted upon a strict observance of the ordinances in their relationship to the authority of the local church. It may also be noted that there were few Baptist churches and ministers that engaged in the exchange of pulpits with the Pedobaptist,66 although presumably this was because such pulpit intercourse was a practical impossibility, in view of the harshness of the baptismal and other controversies between Baptists and Pedobaptists.

Baptist Associations in New England
The Baptist churches in New England, faced as they were with the oppressive combination of civil and ecclesiastical power, were not lacking in a sense of unity and of concern for one another. What was lacking was the means for the outward expression of that unity. With the rapid increase in the number of churches and with the proportionately increasing tempo of the struggle for religious liberty, it became apparent to some that the cause of the Baptist denomination would be served greatly by the creation of some kind of general union of the churches that would enable them to present a united front against the oppressive acts of the Standing Order and that would also further a spirit of harmony and Christian fellowship among the churches. James Manning, President of the newly established Rhode Island College, was the first to make such a proposal and was largely instrumental in bring it to realization.

The Hesitance of Baptists to Form Associations
There were many obstacles to the fulfillment of Manning’s proposal. The major difficulty lay in the conviction of many Baptists, probably a majority of them, that any such organization of churches as had been proposed would be inimical to the maintenance of the independence of the churches. Backus says that the Baptists had suffered so much from the persecutive measures taken by the Congregational consociations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, they were naturally hesitant to bring into being any sort of body that might exercise an undue authority over the churches.67 Backus himself was opposed to the plan, at least in the form in which it was originally presented, and wrote in his diary on the date of the organizational meeting of the Warren Association in 1767: "I do not see my way clear to join now, if ever I do."68

The Second Baptist Church of Coventry, in a very plain letter to the association the year after its formation, gave expression to what were perhaps the typical fears and convictions of many of the Baptist churches with regard to the new organization:

We have considered the plan on which the Association aforesaid have formed themselves for the year past, and have searched for the authority referred to in Acts 5 [sic] to support such Association; and we are not convinced that that chapter, or any other sentence in the Bible, supports a classical government over the church of churches of Christ. And as that plan appears to be full of that design, we think it our duty to express our grief and disapprobation of such a plan, which we conclude will, if countenanced, overthrow the independence of the churches of Christ, so far as that is allowed to operate.69

Faced, then, with the conviction that the Bible did not authorize an association of churches and with the fear that such an organization might come to "lord it over the churches, it is evident that the projected plan could succeed only with difficulty."70

Constitution of Warren Association
Despite the problems involved, on September 8, 1767, the representatives of ten churches met at Warren, Rhode Island, to consider the establishment of an association of churches.71 Present also at the meeting were three brethren from the Philadelphia Association, which had manifested a keen interest in the plan of the New England churches and which had sent a letter by their representatives, recommending the "advantages which accrue from associations" and offering their encouragement. The Philadelphia body recognized that the New England situation might be somewhat different from their own:

From considering the divided state of our Baptist churches in your quarter, we foresee that difficulties may arise, such as may call for the exercise of the greatest tenderness and moderation, that if haply, through the blessing of God on our endeavors, those lesser differences may subside, and a more general communion commence.72

Backus, who served as clerk of the meeting, records that only four of the churches represented at the meeting felt that they were ready to proceed at that time with the formation of an association, but with this small number of participating churches, the Warren Association began its long and influential existence. The messengers of the other churches were hesitant to commit the congregations which they represented to the associational union, principally because they were dissatisfied with the plan of organization which had been adopted and which was substantially the same as that of the Philadelphia Association. It served to confirm, rather than to allay, their fears that the body would exercise too great an authority over the churches.73

At the urging of Backus and prompted undoubtedly by a desire to secure a wider constituency in the association, Manning drew up a revised plan of organization which was adopted by the Association in 1769. This revision, published as The Sentiments and Plan of the Warren Association, seems to have satisfied most of the objections previously raised and the churches which had held back at first were now encouraged to join.74 Backus’ church, which had "waited until they could be satisfied that this Association did not assume any jurisdiction over the churches," affiliated with the body in 1770.75 Since this scheme of organization apparently served as a model for other associations, particularly on the frontier, where Separate Baptists predominated, of some significance is the specific article which states carefully the limitations and restrictions of the powers of the association. Article Two, in the section entitled "Sentiments Touching an Association," reads thus:

2. That such an association is consistent with the independency and power of particular churches, because it pretends to be no other than an advisory council. Utterly disclaiming superiority, jurisdiction, coercive right, and infallibility.76

The first article, stating the purpose of the organization, makes clear that the "combination of churches" aims simply at a union and communion among them and a promotion of their mutual good.77 Having been satisfied by these provisions that the scriptural authority of the local church was properly safeguarded, increasing numbers of the Separate Baptist churches entered into the fellowship of the body, bringing the number of associated churches to forty-three by 1782.78

Formation of Other Associations
Encouraged by the success and obvious benefits of the Warren Associations, other churches united in the formation of similar organizations throughout the New England states. Backus mentions ten such bodies formed by 1793. Of these associations mentioned by Backus, the most prominent ones are: Stonington Association, begun in 1772 and comprised of churches in Connecticut and Rhode Island; Shaftsbury Association, begun in 1781 and composed of churches in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York; and the Bowdoinham Association, lying wholly in the state of Maine and dating from 1787. Deserving of mention also, although it ceased to exist during the first half of the nineteenth century, is the New Hampshire Association, organized in 1785.79 Backus emphasizes that "these associations refuse to hear and judge of any personal controversy in any church which has not joined with them."80 It is apparent that the concern of the Separate Baptists for the safeguarding of the independency and authority of the local church was operative in the organization of these bodies.

Limitations of space will permit a short particular mention of only two of these associations and these only in the briefest manner, but in the consideration of specific items in the organization and history of these two bodies, it will be possible to note those characteristics which typified New England Baptists and which relate directly to the purpose of this study.

The Shaftsbury Association was formally organized in 1781 at Shaftsbury, Vermont. The plan of organization adopted was more detailed and extensive than that of the Warren Association but followed the same general scheme. A major concern of the messengers who took part in the formation of the body was that there be a clear statement as to the purpose of the association and its powers in relation to the churches. As in the organization at Warren, there were apparently some who feared that the association might become an instrument of power over the churches and that their independency might be thereby compromised. In an effort to meet any possible objections at this point and to give assurance that no such development would occur, the preamble to the constitution contains a brief statement as to the powers of a gospel church:

As every Gospel church, duly organized, is fully empowered to execute every branch of church discipline, it would be usurpation for any other body of men whatever, to claim the right of judging decisively for it, either in matters of faith or practice. We therefore believe that individual churches have no license from the Lord Jesus to enter into any combination or agreement whatever, so as to concentrate their power of discipline by delegation: Consequently, we as an Association, utterly disclaim all right of interference with the discipline of particular churches.81

In the statement as to the purpose of the body, it was explicitly declared that the association would render its advice in problems relating to doctrine or discipline only in those cases where "the solution of them is not so circumstanced as to interfere with the government of particular churches."82 While the association was appropriately concerned with the doctrinal soundness of the churches and ministers included in the body, yet it was up to the individual churches to search out and to bring to light specific instances of apostasy and to report such to the association.83 Thus, in every conceivable way, the plan of organization was so drawn as to protect the scriptural rights and privileges of the local church.

The circular letter of 1791, prepared by an associational committee, was concerned with the power of the association as it was related to the churches. In this connection, the letter took up the teachings of Scripture as to the nature, business, power, and government of a gospel church. The basic emphasis of the document is on the competency of a local church to judge of her own membership, to choose and ordain her own officers, and to exercise a disciplinary watch-care over her individual members. In the closing section of the letter, there is once again the clearest expression of the limitations and restrictions upon the powers of an association.84

In 1804, the circular letter was prepared by Caleb Blood, long an outstanding figure in the association, and dealt with the deaconship. Blood closed the letter with the now familiar disclaimer of any pretensions to jurisdiction over the churches by the association.85 The repetition of such statements as these is indicative of the continuing concern for the maintenance of the independence of the church.

The occasional queries from the churches to the association suggest that the right observance of the ordinances was a matter of frequent discussion in the churches. The churches, as custodians of the ordinances, felt keenly their responsibility to adhere strictly to the commands of Scripture with regard to them. A query in 1791 from the church at Great Nine Partners is illustrative at this point:

1. Does any person, merely by virtue of being baptized, become a member of a particular visible church?
Answered in the negative.
2. Is any such person in a proper circumstance for church communion?
Answered in the negative.86

While it is evident that baptism was not considered as being, of necessity, initiatory to church membership, even so, a person thus baptized and not entering into the fellowship of a local church could not partake of the Lord’s Supper. Church membership, as well as scriptural baptism, was considered as prerequisite to the communion at the Lord’s Table. The churches of Shaftsbury Association obviously tended toward a communion of the strictest order.

The Bowdoinham Association, established in 1787, was the first such organization in Maine. From the very first it revealed the same concern with matters of ecclesiology that had been observed in the records of the Warren and Shaftsbury Associations. In the articles of faith adopted at the organizational meeting, there was a statement that offered the assurance that "in associating ourselves we disclaim all pretensions to the least control on the independence of particular church."87 Such a declaration was apparently necessary to meet the same kind of objections as had been faced at Warren and Shaftsbury. At this initial meeting, the association also voted that it was not agreeable "to receive unbaptized persons at the Lord's Table or to hold fellowship with those who do make this their practice."87

Queries received by the association in the ensuing years indicate that the churches were quite often faced with questions relative to the validity of baptism and the proper participants at the Lord's Table. The answers returned by the association generally reveal that there was no unanimity of opinion or practice with regard to these matters. In 1816 a question was raised as to the validity of baptism "administered by an Elder, not agreed with us in the subject and mode of baptism?" While the committee charged with the study of the matter reported in the affirmative, the association found itself unable to agree and the report was not adopted.88 Valid baptism seems to have been an issue in the 1835 decision of the association to "recommend to the churches composing this body to discountenance the practice of admitting to the communion of the church individuals [having been immersed] who belong to other denominations."89 The implication seems to have been that their baptism was not considered valid. Possibly, however, the rejection of these persons from the Baptist communion tables was recommended simply because they lacked membership in a Baptist church. If so, the action serves to indicate still further that church membership, particularly Baptist church membership, as well as baptism, was considered essential to participation in the Lord’s Supper.

A specific action of one other association deserves brief mention, because of what it seems to suggest concerning the Baptist attitude toward the status of Pedobaptist churches. In 1813, the Lincoln Association, which had been formed in 1804 out of the Bowdoinham body, gave the following advice in response to a query:

That ordinations administered in that church which by prinicple practice the baptizing of the impenitent, confer no authority upon any who may be afterwards baptized and joined to the kingdom of God [italics mine], which does and always has received the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.90

This action makes clear that the association rejected the validity of Pedobaptism ordinations on the basis that Pedobaptist churches are wrong in their fundamental principles. But the further implication of the italicized phrase is that the Pedobaptist churches are outside the kingdom and that admittance to the kingdom is gained by being baptized, following one’s repentance from sin and profession of faith in Christ, into the fellowship of a Baptist church. Here is implied that identification of kingdom and church which has been observed as a basic tenet of Landmarkism.

A study of the minutes and historical records of other New England associations would reveal that the associations whose organizational plans and whose records have been cited above were typical. The citations that have been given are sufficient to show the basic ecclesiological concern of new England Baptists, that their associational bodies be so limited in their powers as not to constitute a coercive threat to the independency of the churches. They indicate also that the churches were frequently occupied with questions about the proper observance of the ordinances and that the tendency was toward a more strict usage. There was an emphatic recognition of the authority of the local church in the proclamation of the gospel, as expressed in the power of the church to license and ordain men for the work of the gospel ministry, and in the administration of the ordinances and in matters of discipline. A strong denominational consciousness, even a sprit of exclusiveness, is indicated in the action of the Lincoln Association. All of these elements, which were so obviously at the heart of New England Baptist principle and practice, were reflected in later years in the doctrinal system of Landmarkism.

Later Significant Developments
The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed the continuing growth and expansion of the Baptist denomination in the United States in every aspect of its life. This increase was particularly phenomenal in the frontier areas. Because of its distinctive principles with regard to church polity and the ordinances, the denomination found itself frequently in controversy with the Pedobaptist denominations. In this broad area of external relationships and in the more specific area of a Baptist declaration of faith may be seen those characteristics and beliefs that seemly bear an antecedent relationship to the tenets of Landmarkism.

Relationship between Baptist and Pedobaptists
An examination of the files of the American Baptist Magazine for the first several decades of the nineteenth century suggests that a state of controversy was the norm in Baptist-Pedobaptist relationships during that period. Though civil and ecclesiastical oppression no longer remained as a vital issue, there were other areas of difference, chiefly doctrinal, and these were well-cultivated. Outstanding men like Thomas Baldwin, pastor of Boston’s Second Baptist Church and editor until 1817 of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine (predecessor to the periodical named above), entered freely into areas of controversy because they felt it to be their duty to contend for the truth. The brief citation of a few articles from Baldwin’s magazine and its successor will illustrate the state of Baptist relationships with other groups and the specific issues between them.

In the January, 1808, number, there is an article by a Benjamin Hasting entitled: "Candid Reasons for Renouncing the Sentiments of the Poedobaptists, and Joining the Baptists - Addressed to the Rev. Mr. Knapp of Westfield."91 As the title suggests, Hasting had been a Pedobaptist minister who became convinced that the principles of the Baptists were closest to the Scripture, and he had acted upon his convictions. It was Baldwin's delight, since he was involved in a running controversy with the Pedobaptists, to print such a letter. In the same year, there appeared a brief notice entitled "Baptism of Several Pedobaptist Ministers," indicating another chapter in what appeared to the Baptists to be the inevitable progress of Baptist principles. The article reminds one forcibly of Graves' column of a half-century later: "Still They Come."92

Baptism and close communion, as well as the doctrine of the church, continued to be the basic issues of disagreement between the Baptist and Pedobaptists. This is indicated by the numerous articles on these subjects appearing in the American Baptist Magazine. In an article by "Simplicitas" entitled "Address to the Baptists on Communion," published in the July, 1821, issue, the writer sets forth the fundamental reasons for the Baptist position on communion. He insists on "particular communion" because this was the practice of the apostolic churches. Speaking of baptism, he decries the tendency on the part of some, in the interests of harmony and a "general communion," to treat baptism as a matter of indifference. He points out that to receive Pedobapatists to communion is practically to recognize their christening as valid baptism. Throughout the article the emphasis is placed upon the obligation of the believer to base his doctrines and practice on the positive commands of Christ and on nothing else. Pleas for charity, fellowship, and union are not sufficient cause to set aside the commands of the Lord. The tone of the article is good and is free from a spirit of contention without the sacrifice of resoluteness.93

Other representative articles appeared as additional chapters in the continuing controversy. One such article, appearing as a purported letter designed to answer objections that a person of taste and refinement might have against joining a Baptist church, is very revealing as to the manner in which Baptist regarded themselves and supposed that others regarded them.94 To some degree, there seems to have been more or less a feeling on their part of every man's hand being against them, of being despised for their peculiarities, of being set apart from the other denominations of Christians, of being engaged in the defense of gospel truth and of being reproached for it. This separatist or sectarian spirit of being "persecuted for righteousness' sake" which in a measure characterized the Baptist of this period was also a basic attitude of Landmarkism.

A further illustration of the strained relationships between Baptists and Pedobaptists and of the basic causes may be found in Hall's work, A Refutation of Sundry Baptist Errors. It will be recalled that Hall, a Congregational pastor in Norwalk, Connecticut, wrote chiefly in reply to a work on baptism by J. J. Woolsey, a Baptist pastor in the same town. In the last chapter of his book, Hall summed up, with much bitter invective, his case against the errors of the Baptists, revealing in the process those specific elements in Baptist doctrine and practice for which he felt the greatest antipathy. Particularly did he castigate the Baptists for their insistence on immersion as the only mode for valid baptism and for their practice of close communion. The Baptist claims, as Hall interpreted them, were such that they cast a reflection and a doubt on the validity of the administrations of Pedobaptist churches. Indeed, according to Hall, the Baptists went so far as to deny, in essence, ecclesiastical character to the Pedobaptist congregations and to deny that Pedobaptist Christians were in a church-state. The words of Hall reflect the Baptist attitude toward the Pedobaptists:

Treat us as new converts! Then they do not recognize us as members of the church of Christ! Our churches they recognize not as churches of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our ministry are no ministers of the church of our Lord Jesus! Our ordinances are not ordinances of the Lord’s church; -- but all is usurpation, presumption, and unhallowed handling of most holy things.95

This, then, was the very heart of the controversy between the Baptists and Pedobaptists -- the implicit denial that the Pedobaptists societies partook of the character of true churches. By their declaration that only immersion could meet the scriptural requirements for valid baptism, the Baptists thus declared all Pedobaptists to be unbaptized. Because of this conviction, they refused to admit those of the Pedobaptist denominations to their administration of the Lord’s Table and thus stated, in effect, that it was wrong for the Pedobaptists to administer and to partake of the Lord's Supper. Finally, the Baptists did not recognize the validity of Pedobaptist ordinations, reordaining those who came over into Baptist ranks, and this virtually declared that there was not true gospel ministry among the Pedobaptists. It was but a step further, as Hall recognized, to deny that churches other than Baptist were true gospel churches, since a congregation composed of the unbaptized, with no ministry and no ordinances, is scarcely to be called a church in a scriptural sense.

That which Hall understood so clearly to be the logical end of the Baptist pretensions was what J. R. Graves also understood a decade later. With the precise logic that so characterized his thinking, Graves saw that it was inconsistent for Baptists to claim, as they did, that only their administration of baptism was correct and to deny admission to those of other denominations to the Lord's Table, and yet to grant ecclesiastical character to their churches. Graves' solution was to make explicit what was already implicit in the Baptist position: he denied that the Pedobaptist societies were, in any sense, gospel churches. The point of significance here is that Graves took that which was already present in Baptist thinking and practice and carried it to its logical conclusion.

The New Hampshire Confession: Views of J. Newton Brown
The best known and most widely used confession of faith among American Baptists has been the New Hampshire Confession, produced in 1833 by order of the New Hampshire Baptist Convention and largely the work, in its most widely distributed version, of J. Newton Brown. It was designed to head off the defection of the Regular Baptists into the ranks of the Freewill group and was characterized by a modified Calvinism. In fact, W. W. Barnes says that it was "so mild in its Calvinism that the five points of distinction between Calvinism and Arminianism are almost ignored."96 Its importance for this study is based upon two factors: Its statement concerning the church and its usage.

Article XIII, concerning the church, defines "a visible Church of Christ" as "a congregation of baptized believers associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel." Such a church is governed by the laws of Christ, observes his ordinances, and exercises such privileges and rights as are invested in them by his Word. Concerning the universal church, it is silent. While it is true that in the preface to the Confession, the hope is expressed that it would be blessed by "the Great Head of the Church,"97 yet as it has been most widely distributed and used, the Confession has not had the preface printed with it and it has been generally considered as setting forth a purely local concept of the church. Goen feels that in this aspect "it has been decisively influenced by the atomistic doctrine of the church" of the Separate Baptists.98 Its wide popularity would seem to suggest that its view of the church was compatible to a large degree with the beliefs of a great portion of the Baptist denomination.

The unprecedented use that was made of the New Hampshire Confession was due to two principal factors. The first was the fact that J. Newton Brown, who claimed authorship, in 1849 became editorial secretary of the American Baptist Publication Society.99 In this position he published a revised edition of the Confession in his Baptist Church Manual and also included it in the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, of which he was editor.100 The several editions of the Manual gave the Confession a wide circulation.

The other factor that contributed to the wide usage of the New Hampshire Declaration was the fact that the founders of the Landmark movement adopted it as theirs.101 While it seems very probable, as Barnes suggests, that its mild Calvinism appealed to Graves, it seems even more likely that he, with his consuming interest in ecclesiology, was attracted by its definition of the church in strictly local terms. J. M. Pendleton published his own Church Manual in 1867 and included the New Hampshire statement. By this means it became widely distributed throughout the South and Southwest and became the standard of faith for many Baptists in these sections, both Landmark and non-Landmark.102

In view of its popularity with the Landmarkers, it seems worthy of emphasis that this Confession was produced by a New England Baptist eighteen years before the issuance of the Landmark manifesto at Cotton Grove. The indication is that a localistic ecclesiology was very much a part of the faith of the Baptists of that section during that period.

In consideration of Brown’s view of the church, as expressed in his Confession, it is of interest to note that he and Graves also held similar views of the kingdom and its relation to the churches. In an 1846 circular letter written by Brown, he stated his idea of the kingdom. Using the term "Church" in what he called "a third sense" -- neither local nor the invisible whole body of the elect -- as equivalent to the phrase "the visible Kingdom of Christ on earth," he said that the Church, in this sense, is "the aggregate of all . . . particular independent churches." Such a church Christ has had for eighteen hundred years past.103 Now this concept of the Kingdom of Christ, as it relates to the churches, differs little from Graves' identification of the Kingdom of Christ with the aggregate of Baptist churches. Brown does not explicitly state that only Baptists churches are included in the kingdom, but he does speak of those particular churches "formed under the general constitution of the New Testament,"104 which may have meant to him only the churches of his own denomination. Tull credits Brown as being the source of this aspect of Graves' view of the kingdom.105

Summary
The Baptist life of New England prior to 1851 was characterized by a strong localistic ecclesiology. This tendency was present from the earliest years, stemming from the English Separatist background of the first American Baptists, but it was greatly augmented in the middle of the eighteenth century by the emergence of the Separate Baptists. This pronounced localism, implicitly involving a denial of the concept of the "visible catholic church," is closely akin to the Landmark emphasis on the primacy of the local church. The local church emphasis affected many phases of Baptist life and work. A particular illustration of this effect is the difficulty which attended the formation of associational relations because of a desire to protect the independence of the local church. This understanding of the church as purely local found permanent and widely influential expression in the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith.

Characteristically, the New England Baptists placed a major emphasis on the proper observance of the ordinances. They were governed at this point by their view of the church. They saw in the Scriptures a pattern for the polity and practice of the church, including its ordinances, and from this scriptural pattern, as they understood it, they dared not deviate. Baptist relationships with the Pedobaptists were marked by controversy, particularly over the issues of baptism and close communion, in which connection they came very close to a forthright denial of ecclesiastical character to the Pedobaptists churches. Baptists did not shun controversy with other Christians, for they felt strongly that truth -- gospel truth -- demands controversy. In this respect and in others, the Baptists of New England reveal a similarity to the Landmarkers of later years.

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Notes
1. Tull, p. 265.

2. Winthrop S. Hudson, (ed.), Baptist Concepts the Church, (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1959), pp. 172-73.

3. Isaac Backus, A History of New England, With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists (2 vols., 2d ed., with notes by David Weston; Newton, Mass.: Backus Historical Society, 1871) I, 39n, 40n, 122-23. Cited hereafter as History of New England.

4. Henry S. Burrage, A History of the Baptists in New England, (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1894), p. 22.

5. Backus, I, 86.

6. A. H. Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States, (6th ed. Rev.; Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1915), p. 79.

7. Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), p. 291.

8. Burrage, p. 23.

9. Backus, I, 86n.

10. Ibid., p. 89.

11. Isaac Backus, The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace Opened and Vindicated (Providence: Printed by John Carter, 71), Appendix, p. iv. Cited hereafter as The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace.

12. Samuel Adlam, The First Baptist Church in America not Founded or Pastored by Roger Williams, with an Introduction and ed. J. R. Graves (Memphis, Tenn.: Southern Baptist Book House, 1890), p. 153.

13. Ibid., pp. 153-54, 158.

14. Adlam, p. 12.

15. Ibid.

16. Newman, pp. 108-10.

17. Adlam, p. 184.

18. Ibid., p. 194.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid., p. 127.

21. Newman, p. 86.

22. Robert A. Baker, The First Southern Baptists (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1956), pp. 29, 44, 45.

23. Richard Knight, History of the General or Six Principle Baptists, in Europe and America (Providence: Smith and Parmenter, Printers, 1827), p. 261.

24. Newman, pp. 87, 111-12, 198.

25. Knight, p. 261.

26. Ibid., p. 322.

27. H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, Lefferts A. Loetscher, American Christianity: An Historical Interpretation with Representative Documents (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960), I, 145

28. Knight, p. 323.

29. C. C. Goen, Revivalism and Separatism in New England, 1740-1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), p. 207.

30. Backus, History of New England, II, 41.

31. Ibid., p. 506, citing the 1749 Circular Address of the General Meeting of Baptist Churches.

32. Ibid., pp. 421-22.

33. Goen, p. 273.

34. Edwin Scott Gaustad, The Great Awakening in New England, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), pp. 11-12.

35. Goen, p. 36.

36. Ibid., pp. 48-54.

37. Ibid., pp. 38-39.

38. Ibid., pp. 37-38.

39. Ibid., p. 208.

40. Ibid., p. 210.

41. Ibid., pp. 258-59.

42. Isaac Backus, An Abridgment of the Church History of New England, from 1602 to 1804 (Boston: Printed for the author by E. Lincoln, 1804), p. 192.

43. Some of the Separate Baptist churches did not adopt the practice of strict communion until after the turn of the century and for this reason were denied admission to the fellowship of the Baptist associations. Goen cites the case of the Stonington Baptist Associations. Goen cites the case of the Groton Union Conference, a mixed communion group. The two bodies merged when the latter group gave up the practice of mixed communion. See Goen, pp. 265-66.

44. Ibid., p. 260.

45. Backus, History of new England, II, 232.

46. Backus, Doctrine of Sovereign Grace, p. 43.

47. Gaustad, p. 120.

48. Isaac Backus, A Discourse, Concerning the Materials, the Manner of Building and Power of Organizing of the Church of Christ (Boston: John Boyles, 1773), p. 145.

49. Ibid., p. 17.

50. John Fish, The Examiner Examined. Remarks on a Piece Wrote by Mr. Isaac Backus, of Middleborough; Printed in 1768 (new London: Printed and Sold by Timothy Green, 1776), p. 23.

51. Louise F. Greene, (ed.), The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland (New York: G. W. Wood, 1845), pp. 275, 277.

52. Isaac Backus, A Discourse Shewing the nature and Necessity of an Internal Call to Preach the Everlasting Gospel (Boston: Printed by Fowle, 1754), p. 65. Cited here-after as A Discourse Shewing the Nature of an Internal Call to Preach.

53. Backus, A Discourse, Concerning … the Church of Christ, p. 25.

54. Backus, History of New England, II, 232-33.

55. Backus, A Discourse Shewing the Nature of an Internal Call to Preach, pp. 64-65.

56. Backus, History of New England, II, 233.

57. Backus, A Discourse Shewing the Nature of an Internal Call to Preach, pp. 64.

58. Quoted in Backus, History of New England, II, 487.

59. Goen, p. 266.

60. Historical Sketch of the New London Baptist Association (Boston: Press of J. Howe, 1851), p. 43.

61. Ibid., p. 23; Backus, History of New England, II, 517.

62. Backus, A Discourse, Concerning . . . The Church of Christ, p. 142.

63. Gaustad, p. 121. The figures Gaustad gives (pp. 122-23) showing the growth state-by-state are even more striking. In Massachusetts, the number of churches increased from five to one hundred and thirty-six; in Connecticut, from two in 1740 to sixty in 1796; in Rhode Island, from eleven to forty. In Vermont and New Hampshire, there were no Baptist churches prior to the revival; by 1800 there were over forty such churches in each state.

64. See above, p. 113-14.

65. Benedict, pp. 94-95.

66. Backus, History of New England, II, 408.

67. Ibid., p. 409n.

68. Quoted in Goen, p. 278. From the unpublished records of Warren Association.

69. Another hindrance to associational organization was the Baptist prejudice against a learned ministry. Manning had said that one of the objects of the organization would be to advance the interests of the new Baptist college. Backus said that "as the Baptists have met with a great deal of abuse from those who are called learned men in our land, they have been not a little prejudiced against learning itself." [Letter to John Gill, quoted in R. A. Guild, Life, Times and Correspondence of James Manning, and the Early History of Brown University (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1864), p. 71.] This suspicion of learning tended to be turned also against the proposed association, especially since Manning was it chief promoter.

70. Backus, History of New England, II, 408. Guild, p. 75, says that eleven churches were represented at this meeting.

71. Letter to the Warren Association, quoted in Guild, pp. 76-77.

72. Guild, p. 77-78.

73. Goen, pp. 280-81.

74. Backus, History of New England, II, 409n.

75. Guild, p. 78, citing The Sentiments and Plan of the Warren Association.

76. Ibid.

77. David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and other Parts of the World (New York: Lewis Colby and Co., 1849), p. 470.

78. Backus, History of New England, II, 410-12. Backus gives the year 1776 as the date for the organization of the New Hampshire Association while Benedict gives the date cited above. The difference is apparently explained by the statement of Benedict that the churches of the association had met prior to 1785 in a kind of yearly meeting for "mutual benefit and advice." (General History, p. 502.)

79. Backus, History of New England, II, 412.

80. The Constitution, or Plan of the Shaftsbury Baptist Association, as revised in 1806 and printed in the minutes of the Association in 1828, quoted in its entirety in Stephen Wright (comp.), History of the Shaftsbury Baptist Association, from 1781-1853 (Troy, NY: A. G. Johnson, Printer, 1853, p. 188.

81. Ibid.

82. Ibid., pp. 189, 190-91.

83. Wright, p. 30-35, citing Circular Letter, 1791, Shaftsbury Association.

84. Wright, p. 99, citing Circular Letter, 1804, Shaftsbury Association.

85. Wright, p. 29.

86. Joshua Millet, A History of the Baptist in Maine, (Portland: Charles Day and Co., 1845), p. 102.

87. Ibid.

88. Ibid., p. 251.

89. Ibid., p. 258.

90. Ibid., p. 328.

91. Benjamin Hasting, "Candid Reasons for Renouncing the Sentiments of the Poedobaptists, and Joining the Baptists," Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, I, No. 12 (Jan., 1808), 372-76.

92 "Baptism of Several Pedobaptist Ministers," Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, II, No. 4 (Dec., 1808), 119. One of those Pedobaptist ministers submitting to the ordinance of baptism was Archibald McClay of New York, who thirty years later took a leading part, on the Baptist side, in the Bible controversy.

93. Simplicities [pseud.], "Address to the Baptists on Communion," American Baptist Magazine and Missionary Intelligencer, New Series, II, No. 12, (Nov., 1829), 429-32.

94. "Objections against Joining a Baptist Church Answered," The American Baptist Magazine and Missionary Intelligencer, New Series, II, No. 12, (Nov., 1820), 429-32.

95. Hall, p. 150.

96. W. W. Barnes, "The New Hampshire Confession of Faith -- Its Origin and Use," The Review and Expositor, XXXIX, No. 1 (Jan., 1942), 5.

97. Quoted by Dale Moody in McCall, p. 17.

98. Goen, p. 293. Pioneers of Light: The First Century of the American Baptist Publication Society 1824-1924 (Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, [1924]), p. 301.

100. James Edward Carter, The Southern Baptist Convention and Confessions of Faith, 1845-1945" (unpublished Th.D. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1964), pp. 67, 72.

101. W. W. Barnes, Review and Expositor, XXXIX, No. 1, 6. 103. J. R. Graves, "Church History," Southern Baptist Review and Eclectic, I. Nos. 4 and 5 (Apr.-May, 1855), 206, citing Circular Letter of 1846, Central Union Baptist Association, Penn.

104. Ibid.

105. Tull, p. 282.

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