The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Who They Are & What They Have Done

G. W. McDaniel, 1925

The name "Christians" was first applied, in derision, to the followers of Christ by enemies at Antioch. The name "Anabaptists" was first given, in ridicule, by Pedobaptist opponents of the people who rejected the baptism of babies. Both names, like the cross, have been changed from marks of shame to badges of honor.

To be well born is to enter life with advantages. Baptists are justly proud of their parentage, the New Testament. They have an ancient and scriptural origin. Certain characters in history are named as founders of various denominations: the disciples began with Alexander Campbell, the Methodists with John Wesley, though Wesley never left the "Church of England," the Presbyterians with John Calvin, the Lutherans with Martin Luther, and the Church of England with Henry VIII and Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer in the reign of Edward VI. Not so with the Baptists. There is no personality this side of Jesus Christ who is a satisfactory explanation of their origin.

The New Testament churches were independent, self-governing, democratic bodies like the Baptist churches of today. We originated, not at the Reformation, nor in the Dark Ages, nor in any century after the Apostles, but our marching orders are the Commission, and the first Baptist church was the first church at Jerusalem. Our principles are as old as Christianity, and we acknowledge no founder but Christ.

Character is determined by ideals and achievements. If we would know the place of Baptists, we must consider their historic greatness, their heroic fidelity to human liberty, their advocacy of religious liberty, and their part in the life of our country. Our principles develop a type of character and life which tends to make men potent factors in achievements worth while.

Their Historic Greatness

Baptists have been pioneers in so many fields that to enumerate these might seem to assume a braggart spirit, but a statement of irrefutable facts must be taken as dispassionate and impartial.

1. Modern missions. The father of modern missions was William Carey, an English Baptist. In thirty years he and his co-laborers made the Word of God accessible to a third of the people of the globe. He was "one of England's greatest men, doing more to make the India of today than Clive or Hastings, and contributing to the making of England hardly less than John Wesley."

Organic foreign missions in America began with the "American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions" (1810). Two of these Commissioners were Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice. Judson and his wife, studying their Greek New Testament, became convinced that the immersion of a professing believer is the only Christian baptism. They were baptized by a Baptist missionary in India. Rice, upon reaching his destination, arrived at a similar conclusion. Luther Rice is noted as a missionary and the founder of the old Columbian College (now George Washington University), Washington, D. C., and Adoniram Judson is the foremost name in the annals of American missions.

2. Bible societies and Sunday schools. Bible societies were originated first by a Baptist, Joseph Hughes. The International Uniform Sunday School System is due to a Baptist layman of Chicago, B. F. Jacobs. The first Sunday-school paper for young people in the United States, "The Young Reaper," was established by Baptists. The Baraca movement was started by a Baptist layman, Marshall A. Hudson.

3. The Christian pulpit. The Christian pulpit has been occupied by able and eloquent Baptists. Alexander Maclaren, famous as the greatest biblical sermonizer of a century; F. B. Meyer, whose preaching and writing have circled the globe; A. J. Gordon, who has been called a titanic expounder of God's Word; Andrew Fuller, who held the rope while Carey went down in the well; Robert Hall, whose elegant diction is unsurpassed by any English orator; Christmas Evans, whose impassioned eloquence won thousands to Christ; and Charles Spurgeon, whose sermons were heard and read by more people than those of any other preacher of all time, were all Baptist preachers.

Dr. Chalmers said of the English Baptist preachers of his day: "Perhaps there is not a more intellectual community of ministers in our island, or who have put forth to their number a greater amount of mental power and mental activity in the defense and illustration of our common faith."

4. Education. The first president of Harvard College was Henry Dunster, who, by his scholarship, enthusiasm and proficiency and by his sacrificing of his means and health for its interest, brought the college into a position exceeding the hopes of its best friends. He lost his office because of his espousal of Baptist views. The largest early benefactors of Harvard College were Thomas Hollis, a wealthy English Baptist, and his descendants. Thomas Hollis founded the Hollis Chair of Theology, the first in the United States.

Baptists have been forward in education in America. Brown University, the first college in the Middle States and the seventh in the United States, in the front rank of American institutions of learning, was founded by Baptists in 1764, and the charter requires that the president shall be a Baptist. Vassar College, generally conceded to be the first college in America for the higher education of women, was founded by Matthew Vassar, a Baptist in principle. Other colleges for women have been founded, but "the primacy of Vassar is far more than chronological."

5. Literature. The literature of the world has been enriched by Baptist writers. Daniel DeFoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe; John Foster, the great essayist; John Howard, the philanthropist; John Milton, the great epic poet and statesman; and John Bunyan, the immortal dreamer, whose "Pilgrim's Progress" ranks next to the Bible in extent of its circulation, were all Baptists.

Milton began as a member of the Church of England, then became a strong Presbyterian, then finding that Presbyterianism represented "as much of intolerance and tyranny as belonged to the Roman Church," he became an Independent, and theoretically a Baptist. He held the fundamental Baptist principle of separation of church and state, rejected infant baptism, and contended that immersion in water is the proper form of baptism.

Two quotations from his "Christian Doctrine" will suffice:

"Infants are not to be baptized in as much as they are incompetent to receive instruction or to believe, or to enter into a covenant, or to promise or answer for themselves, or even to hear a word."

"The bodies of believers, who engage themselves to pureness of life, are immersed in running water."

Under the influence of Roger Williams he came out squarely and opposed interference of the State or civil magistrate in any way in matters of religious belief. He and John Bunyan, by the estimate of Lord Macaulay, were the two minds of the latter half of the seventeenth century which possessed the "imaginative faculty" in a very eminent degree. One produced "Paradise Lost"; the other "Pilgrim's Progress."

Differing in many respects, they were alike in their dependence upon the Word of God, and in their tenacity to Baptist principles. One sounded those principles "like a grand organ peal"; the other sounded them with the simplicity, unaffectedness, and persuasiveness of a singer of the soil.

6. Hymnology. It is a noteworthy fact that to the Baptists the world is indebted for the most popular national hymn of our language, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Baptists also wrote:

W. H. Doane, a Baptist, wrote the music for many of our popular hymns, such as: Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour; Near the Cross; I Am Thine, O Lord; 'Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer; Some Sweet Day; Saviour More Than Life to Me; More Love to Thee, O, Christ; Hide Me, Oh, My Saviour, Hide Me; Will Jesus Find Us Watching? What Shall the Harvest Be? Rescue the Perishing; To the Work.

Robert Lowry, a Baptist, wrote the music for "Saviour, Thy Dying Love," and "We're Marching to Zion." "Coronation," the tune sung round the world, was written by Oliver Holden, a Baptist. These songs have smoothed more dying pillows and comforted more sorrowing hearts than all the philosophies from Plato to Bergson.

Baptists have an honorable history. Their record is clean upon the separation of Church and State. Having given to the United States religious freedom, at the cost of their property, their liberty, their good name, and their lives, it is their chief glory that, suffering all martyrdom themselves, they never yet have persecuted others.

How Firm a Foundation

Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned

Saviour, Thy Dying Love

I Am So Glad that Our Father in Heaven

My Hope is Built

Come, Humble Sinner, in Whose Breast

Shall We Gather at the River?

Almost Persuaded

Jesus, Thou Art the Sinner's Friend

Did Christ O'er Sinners Weep?

He Leadeth Me

Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight?

Awake, My Soul, in Joyful Lays

The Morning Light is Breaking

O Blessed Thought

On Jordan's Stormy Banks

O, Could I Speak the Matchless Worth

Take the Name of Jesus With You

I Need Thee Every Hour

Dare to be a Daniel

Blest Be the Tie that Binds

How Precious is the Book Divine

Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Softly Fades the Twilight Ray

Come Holy Spirit

Heavenly Dove

Father, Whate'er of Earthly Bliss

My Jesus, I Love Thee

God, in the Gospel of His Son

O, Safe to the Rock That is Higher Than I

Go Preach the Blest Salvation;

Our Country's Voice is Pleading

Bringing in the Sheaves

Ye Christian Heralds, Go Proclaim

O Thou My Soul, Forget No More

More Holiness Give Me; Wonderful Words of Life

Whosoever Will

The Light of the World is Jesus

The Half Was Never Told