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Let Baptists maintain unity among themselves

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II. MEANS AND METHODS OF PERFORMING THIS DUTY

6. Finally, let us cultivate unity among ourselves. The Baptists of this vast country are, in fact, united. Dr. Barnas Sears, who had exceptional opportunities of observing, spoke to me long before his death of the fact that our theological seminaries are all teaching the same doctrines without any central authority to keep them united. And the fact is more general. Apart from mere excrescences, American Baptists are wonderfully agreed, wonderfully, if you remember it as an agreement reached and maintained in perfect freedom.

This unity becomes more manifest to any one in proportion as he gains a wider acquaintance. For example, pardon my taking local names to illustrate, there is many a brother in Mississippi with no knowledge of New England who, if he should spend a few weeks in Boston, would be astonished to find himself surrounded by real, right-down Baptists. And if some brethren in New England should go among those dreadful Landmarkers, whom they have seen so severely censured by newspapers that do not seem to know even the meaning of the term, they would conclude that most of the said Landmarkers are really very much like themselves, and not dreadful at all.

Dr. Fuller was fond of giving a story told by William Jay. Mr. Jay walked out one day in a dense English fog. Presently he saw approaching him a huge and monstrous object that made him start. As they drew nearer together it assumed the shape of a gigantic man; and when they met, it was his own brother John.

And American Baptists are becoming more united just now. A few years ago there was in some quarters a movement toward the propagation of “open communion” which at a distance awakened concern. But the estimable brethren engaged in that movement have gone in peace or have peacefully subsided into quiet. And in some other quarters altruists are losing influence, and brethren who once followed them seem now disposed not at all to abandon any principle, but to avoid pushing differences among ourselves into an occasion of denominational disruption. So the general outlook is now very encouraging.

Let us cultivate, I say, this unity among ourselves. In order to do so, our watchwords must be freedom, forbearance, patience. There can be no constrained unity among us. The genius of our ideas and institutions quite forbids it. That newspaper, seminary, or society which undertakes to coerce American Baptists into unity will soon weary of the task. We must be forbearing and patient, and not discouraged by many things which under the circumstances are to be looked for. Competing journals and other institutions may get up an occasional breeze; each great city may show a too exclusive interest in societies there located: that is natural, if not wise; personal rivalries may sometimes curiously complicate themselves with questions of principle and of general expediency: it may cause regret, but need not cause wonder; East and West may pull apart in some respects, and North and South; even the “celestial minds” of our noble women may not always perfectly agree about organizations; we cooperate fully in some matters, partially in some, perhaps work separately in others, yet with hearty fraternal kindness, but let us cultivate freedom, forbearance, patience, and we shall be substantially united more and more.

This growing unity among ourselves gives us increasing power to impress our denominational opinions upon others; and the more zealously we strive to teach our distinctive views to others, the more we shall become united among ourselves

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

  1. June 21, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Reblogged this on My Delight and My Counsellors.

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