Eri B. (Eri Baker) Hulbert.

The English reformation and Puritanism, with other lectures and addresses online

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every disciple to take part in the evangelization of the
world. It does not impose upon its members any system
of theology — whether Arminian or Calvinistic. Its con-
stituency consists of churches, associations of churches, and
approved ministers.


For purposes of practical efficiency the Baptist Union
is broken up into thirteen departments :

1. The corporation. — Under articles of association (or a
charter, we would say) the Union is legally incorporated,
thereby enabling it to hold securities and other property,
and to engage in financial transactions.

2. General expenses. — This is the department which
bears the cost of working the general business of the Union.
These office or other expenses amount to about two thousand
pounds a year.

3. Publication department. — This department maintains
a Baptist bookstore and a general publishing and book-selling
business. It also issues Baptist and evangelistic tracts, and
is concerned with the production and sale of The Baptist
Church Hymnal; and finally, it publishes the Baptist Times
and Freeman, the official newspaper and organ of the de-

4. The home zvork. — This is the amalgamation of
several agencies that had a previous independent existence :
(i) In 1797 was formed The Baptist Home Mission
Society, which was incorporated in the Union in 1882;
(2) in 1870 was established the Augumentation Fund (to
supplement ministers' salaries) ; and (3) in 1893 the Church

Departments of the Baptist Union 369

Extension Fund (for Baptist church extension in large

Now, in 1904, all three of these societies were formed
into one, and became the Home Work Department of the
Baptist Union. The object is to employ ministers and
evangelists ; to found churches ; to establish Sunday schools ;
to distribute Bibles, tracts, and Christian literature.

5. The annuity department. — The design of the depart-
ment is to provide annuities for pastors, teachers, secre-
taries, and missionaries, and for their widows and orphans.
It is a sort of life insurance, by which provision can be
made for old age and for the widows and orphans of the
members. An entrance fee must be paid, and annual pay-
ments made according to the age of the member.

6. The education department. — This is a scheme de-
vised to aid Baptist pastors in the education of their

7. The Home of Rest. — A home is provided at Brighton,
a beautiful watering-place on the English Channel, for the
use of ministers and missionaries. It has accommodations
for about thirty visitors.

8. The ministerial recognition department. — This is
something quite unique. Its object is "to prevent the un-
worthy and unfit from entering the ministry;" and to assist
the worthy and qualified in finding pastorates. The Baptist
Union has a standing committee, which has this delicate
and difficult matter in charge. Men who wish to be recog-
nized as accredited Baptist ministers must make their peace
with this committee. The committee proceeds under a sys-
tem of rules and regulations. An applicant who has gradu-
ated from a recognized college must present the testimonial
of the president and one professor as to his character, pro-
ficiency, graduation, etc. The applicant must also present

37o Baptists in Great Britain and Ireland

another testimonial as to his moral and personal fitness for
the ministry. An applicant who is not a college graduate
is subjected to two written examinations. A list of text-
books is provided for two extended courses of reading in
theology, general history, homiletics, church history, etc.
On the basis of these textbooks, the first and final examina-
tions are conducted.

The Baptist Union urges the churches to safeguard their
own interests and the interests of the denomination against
unworthy or unqualified ministers by refusing to employ
pastors who are not accredited by the Recognition Com-
mittee. In doubtful cases churches are urged to correspond
with the committee. Cases that are really doubtful are very
few in number, because the Baptist Union publishes in its
yearly Handbook a complete list of all the recognized and
accredited ministers in the British Isles. Under each name
in the list there also appear the college from which the
minister graduated, the degrees he holds, and the institu-
tions that granted them, the churches of which he has been
pastor, and in connection with each of these items, the appro-
priate data. In this way the educational and pastoral his-
tory of each minister is seen at a glance. If a man's name
does not appear in the list, it is morally certain that some-
thing is wrong. If the man is all right, he need have no fear
of the ministerial Recognition Committee; but if he is an
ignoramus or a fraud, the committee will be likely to find it
out. That is the very business of the committee. It is an
excellent device, by which the churches and worthy ministers
protect themselves against deceivers and disreputables.

9. The local preachers' organisation. — The object of this
is to give public and official recognition to local preachers,
and to assist them in preparing for greater usefulness. To
get his name in the accredited list, the local preacher must be

Departments 0} the Baptist Union 371

a member of a Baptist church, and must pass the prescribed
examinations. He must also hold himself in readiness to
do regular work if called upon by his church. The Union
holds itself pledged to provide circulating libraries of suit-
able books, to prepare and publish annual courses of study,
and to promote conferences and lectures for the training of
local preachers.

10. The Young People's Union. — The object of this is
to federate the various young people's societies; to bring
them into vital connection with the Baptist Union; to pro-
mote their study of Baptist history and principles, and to
enlist them in the life and work of the denomination.

11. The Chapel Property Committee. — It is the duty of
this committee to obtain information as to the titles and
holdings of all properties; as to the names of the trustees;
and as to the custody of the trust deeds. The end in view
is to see that the titles to church properties are in legal
shape, that the administration of these properties is accord-
ing to law ; and to be on the watch that properties belonging
to the denomination are not alienated and lost.

12. The committee of arbitrators. — If any church be-
longing to the Baptist Union gets to quarreling, its dispute
may be submitted to this board of arbitration, whose de-
cision is final. The disgrace and expense of going to law
may in this way be avoided. The arbitrators do not receive
any fee or pecuniary reward for their services, but their
necessary expenses are borne in equal parts by the parties
in dispute. In order to preserve intact the inalienable rights
of Christian liberty, it is distinctly understood and declared
that the reference of any dispute to the committee is wholly

13. The library. — The Baptist Union maintains a library
which is designed mainly for the preservation of literary

372 Baptists in Great Britain and Ireland

works written by Baptists and of works relating to the
history of the Baptists.


Recently the Union has completed its commodious
Church House, which is situated in the heart of London,
on Southampton Row near High Holborn Street Here are
denominational headquarters, the offices of secretaries and
editors, committee rooms, an assembly room, etc. On the
ground floor is the bookstore, and on the second floor is
the library.


The president of the Baptist Union is elected annually,
the choice falling upon some man of national reputation,
either some celebrated divine or some distinguished member
of Parliament. The general secretary of the Union is Rev.
J. H. Shakespeare, one of the very brightest and most
aggressive of English Baptists.


In describing the Baptist Union and its relation to the
denomination, a paragraph ought to be devoted to the
General and the Particular Baptists. Time was when these
two parties were in bitter and violent antagonism. The
General had drifted into Unitarianism and the Particular
into hyper-Calvinism, and each hated the other venomously.
Daniel Taylor saved the General Baptists by sifting out the
Unitarians and forming the "New Connection;" and
Andrew Fuller saved the Particular Baptists by toning
down and softening their hyper-Calvinism. Nevertheless,
many decades passed before the two could coalesce.

General and Particular Baptists United 373

The Particulars founded their Foreign Missionary-
Society under Carey in 1792. After a time the Generals
were moved to do foreign work. They offered to turn in
and assist the older society, but the Particulars would not
harbor them. So, in 1816, they organized their own inde-
pendent society. Then for seventy-five years, the two
societies were operating in the foreign field separately and
independently. By that time the theological differences had
so diminished, and the sentiment in favor of union had so
increased, that each society was prepared for amalgama-
tion. The actual union was brought about in 1891, and
since that date the Baptist Missionary Society has been the
one society of both General and Particular Baptists.

In much the same way the two parties came together
in the Baptist Union. In 1864 Dr. Underbill set forth to
the Baptist Union the doctrinal positions of the General
Baptists, i. e., of the Dan Taylor New Connection wing of
the General Baptists. The extreme shades of Arminianism
and of Calvinism had so far faded that the brethren could
not discover that the two sorts of Baptists differed in any
important particulars. The one sort had ceased to be Uni-
tarian and the other sort had ceased to be hyper-Calvinistic,
and both sorts seemed to be equally evangelical. The result
was that, in the course of time, the two streams merged into
one, and today in the Baptist Union the membership is com-
posed of both kinds, the old terms "General" and "Par-
ticular" being now seldom heard, and the old distinction
being wholly lost. The Union consists of members who are
simply Christian and orthodox.

There still remains an insignificant sect of General Bap-
tists, Unitarian in sentiment, and an insignificant sect of
Particular Baptists of extreme Calvinistic proclivities, but
in numbers and power they have dwindled out of notice and

374 Baptisls in Great Britain and Ireland

account. The most famous and honored Baptist in all
England — Dr. Clifford — was once a General Baptist, but
today he is the foremost leader in the London Baptist Asso-
ciation, the Baptist Union, and the Baptist Missionary
Society. The actual, formal, organic coalescing of the two
bodies in the Baptist Union occurred in 1891.


There are seven Baptist colleges that hold membership
in the Baptist Union. These cannot appropriately be called
colleges in our use of that word. They are rather theological
training schools. They are, most of them, small and poorly
equipped. Many of our Baptist ministers gained their classi-
cal education in the English and Scotch universities and
in various high-grade secular schools. In 1905 the condition
of the seven Baptist colleges was as follows :

1. Bristol. — Founded in 1680; last year's income, $10,-
000; number of students, 24. These students get their
classical, mathematical, and scientific training in Western

2. Midland. — Founded in 1797; last year's income,
$4,000; number of students, 13. These students get their
classical, mathematical, and literary training in Nottingham
University College.

3. Rawdon. — Founded in 1804; last year's income,
$8,000; number of students, 20.

4. Regent's Park. — Founded in 18 10; last year's in-
come, $20,000; number of students, 25.

5. Manchester. — Founded in 1866; last year's income,
$10,000; number of students, 20.

6. Cardiff. — Founded in 1807; last year's income,
$4,500; number of students, 26.

7. Bangor. — Founded in 1862; last year's income

The Down-Grade Controversy 375

$4,500; number of students, 21. These students get their
collegiate training at University College.

It will thus be seen that our seven Baptist colleges have
an income of about $60,000 a year, and that in them about
150 students are being trained for the ministry. There is
one other college which has no connection with the Baptist
Union. When Spurgeon withdrew from the Union he took
his Pastor's College with him. This college was founded
in 1856. Last year's income was $15,000, and the number
of students is 55.


This is the proper place in which to speak of Mr. Spur-
geon's controversy with his Baptist brethren, and of his
withdrawal from the denominational organizations. It is
known as the down-grade controversy. Spurgeon was a
Puritan in his theology. He has been called "the last of
the Puritans." He most sincerely believed that the old-
time Puritan dogmas were the very truth of God. When,
therefore, his fellow-ministers began to entertain more
modern ideas, he antagonized these ideas with all his might.
When the doctrine of Evolution began to find acceptance,
he looked upon it as tantamount to atheism. When scholars
began to give countenance to the historical and literary criti-
cism of the Bible, he felt that such a handling of the Word
of God was sacrilegious. Any departure from the doctrine
of the person of Christ, as set forth in the old creeds, led
straight to Unitarianism. He set himself with all his power
against all such innovations. There appeared a series of
articles in the Szvord and Trowel in which Baptist ministers
were accused of declension from the orthodox faith. All this
engendered strife and bitterness. He took the matter to the

376 Baptists in Great Britain and Ireland

London Baptist Association and insisted that the constitu-
tion should be so changed as to express a stiff orthodox
creed. His brethren tried to persuade him out of the
notion. When they could not in conscience yield, he with-
drew from the Association.

He took the matter to the Baptist Union. He had
always been its staunch and ready helper, but now he in-
sisted that an authoritative creed should take the place of
the old constitution. Many of his friends who were in full
sympathy with his theological views did not believe that a
test of orthodoxy, inserted in the constitution, would remedy
the evil; nor did they feel justified in following Spurgeon
in withdrawal. The officers of the Union tried to com-
promise with him and sent deputations and offered
resolutions. Nothing could move the orthodox Puritan. He
carried out his purpose of severance from all denominational
organizations. Since then the Metropolitan Tabernacle has
had nothing to do with the London Association, the Union,
or the Missionary Society. None of these bodies would tie
up their members to Spurgeon's Puritan creed, and so he cut
loose from them all. The Baptist Union loved Mr. Spur-
geon and were willing to go all reasonable lengths to please
him, but he was asking more than intelligence and con-
science could concede. They passed a resolution justify-
ing their action, and vindicating those men whom Spurgeon
had aspersed. Many of the pastors who had been educated
in Spurgeon's college followed their leader, but many of
them, on the other hand, refused to deprive the Baptist
ministry of its liberty. Spurgeon's own brother stood with
the Union, and gradually those who went out are returning.
It is believed by the more hopeful that the time is not very
far distant when the Metropolitan Tabernacle will be again
in fellowship.

World Congress and Twentieth-Century Fund 2>1'1



From what has already been said, it is obvious enough
that the Baptist Union is a Hve institution. There are
three notable undertakings with which the Union has just
recently been connected which are worthy of mention.

First, the placing of a bronze statue of Mr. Spurgeon
in the entrance hall of the Church House. This was a
specially worthy and gracious act, when we remember that
Mr. Spurgeon withdrew from the Union and compelled
that body to vindicate itself and to censure his illiberal
spirit and conduct. While the Baptist Union was adorning
its new church house with statues and pictures, and medal-
lions and panels, giving honor to John Bunyan, Robert
Hall, and other saints and heroes, it reserved the best place
for a statue of Charles Spurgeon. It was unveiled at Exeter
Hall, in the midst of the meetings of the Baptist Congress,
on July 17, 1905. The address was delivered by Dr.
MacLaren in the presence of Baptist ministers and dele-
gates from almost every country in the world.

The second recent achievement of the Baptist Union
was the Baptist World Congress, July 11-19, 1905.
The Union was aided by a committee from the Baptist
Missionary Society, but it itself assumed the responsibility
of defraying the heavy expenses of providing entertain-
ment for the delegates, of arranging the programme, and
of publishing the proceedings. As the outcome of the con-
gress, a Baptist World Alliance was formed of which Dr.
Clifford is president, and Dr. Shakespeare chief secretary
— both Baptist Union men.

The third recent achievement of the Union was the
raising of what is known as the Baptist Union Twentieth-

378 Baptists in Great Britain and Ireland

Century Fund. More than the amount asked for was
secured. The Union asked the Baptists of the British Isles
to give a million and a quarter of dollars (£250,000) to be
expended as follows: $625,000 for church extension and
evangelization in destitute districts; $150,000 for the
assistance of the weaker churches; $150,000 for annuities
for aged ministers and ministers' widows; $30,000 for
scholarships open to students in Baptist colleges; $125,000
for educational purposes; $170,000 for the erection in Lon-
don of a Baptist church house, to be the home of the Baptist
Union. This magnificent scheme was carried to a success-
ful accomplishment, and more money was secured than was
asked for. Extra contributions enabled the Union to erect
a church house costing $250,000.


Our review of the present status of our Baptist cousins
across the sea would not be complete without a brief state-
ment of their belief in doctrine and their practice in polity.

Here in America our two great confessions are the
Philadelphia and the New Hampshire — both strongly Cal-
vinistic. It cannot be denied, however, that our Baptist
people generally (especially in the North) have adopted a
much more liberal theology. The new learning has been
frankly accepted by many of our most influential leaders.
There is a strong and increasing school of thought that
frankly accepts evolution, the higher criticism, and the
recent teachings in psychology and philosophy. They are
out of conceit also with the theology that was taught in our
seminaries thirty years ago. It is perfectly safe to say that
no books on theology will ever again be issued like those
of Hodge, Shedd, Dodge, Northrup, Pendleton, Strong,

Doctrine and Polity 379

Hovey, Boyce, and old-time Calvinists of that school. That
day has passed by forever.

I am inclined to think that in doctrine the British Bap-
tists pretty closely resemble their American cousins. There
are extreme conservatives who follow in the wake of Spur-
geon, there are radicals who are too far in advance of their
brethren, and there are sober, progressive men who are not
.afraid of truth and whose minds are open to the light. It
was men of this type who resisted Spurgeon and who re-
fused to shackle the Baptist Union with a cast-iron creed.

In the matter of polity, the case is somewhat different.
American Baptists, in both North and South, insist upon
immersion. Theoretically, likewise, as a denomination, they
insist upon restricted communion. A silent and great
change, however, has taken place, especially in the North.
A formal invitation to the Supper, barring out non-Baptists,
has ceased to be extended. Many pastors are avowedly open
communionists, and many more are in quiet sympathy with
that position. The question no longer agitates northern
Baptists, It is a dead issue.

What is the sentiment of the British Baptists on these
points? Over there things are somewhat mixed. In the
course of history all sorts of ideas have prevailed. Some
strong leaders in former times were restricted communion-
ists, and some, equally strong, were open. Bunyan was
open, and so was Robert Hall, and so was Charles Spur-
geon. On the whole, the English Baptists have been almost
as stoutly open as the American Baptists have been re-
stricted. In Wales the case has been somewhat different.
Formerly the Welsh were strict, but latterly they, too, are
becoming open. There still exist restricted-communion
Baptist churches, both in Wales and England, but they are
both weak and decreasing.

380 Baptists in Great Bntain and Ireland,

But how is it with the other ordinance? Over here we
are stoutly and strictly immersionists ; but over there, from
open communion the English Baptists are passing to open
baptism. There are very many churches in which the mat-
ter of baptism is left entirely to the individual. If he is
satisfied with his sprinkling in babyhood, the church ad-
mits him to membership without further ado.

This open baptism is certainly on the increase, and the
day seems to be not far distant when practically all of our
English churches will occupy this position. Let me read a
few lines from a newspaper report of the Baptist World
Congress (July, 1905) :

Perhaps the most astonishing Baptist phenomenon in Great Brit-
ain is the "mixed" church. Among the Free Baptists of this
country, at one time at least, some of the churches admitted unim-
mersed persons to "watch and care" membership. Those thus
received were not given the privilege of voting or holding office,
and the membership was more nominal than real. In the larger body
of American Baptists such a thing as admitting to church member-
ship one who has not been immersed is unheard of. In England,
and especially in London, many of the Baptist churches are made up of
immersed and unimmersed people, and English Baptists have unim-
mersed members. No distinction is made between the two classes,
so far as standing and privileges are concerned. One would naturally
assume that under such conditions the pastor would not feel free to
emphasize Baptist beliefs lest a part of his constituency should feel
affronted. The assumption does not seem to be warranted by the
facts. Rev. F. B. Meyer is pastor of a mixed church which does not
even bear the name Baptist, and yet, no man who appeared before the
congress spoke out more constantly and uncompromisingly for funda-
mental Baptist beliefs than did Mr. Meyer. Taken as a whole, it
seems quite certain that British Baptists lay quite as much stress upon
historic Baptist principles as we do, whatever may be thought of their
lack of consistency.

All sorts and conditions of Baptists are found there as here, and
some varieties are found on English soil that have not yet been

Dissenters Outnumber the Anglicans 381

transplanted. For example, in the discussion concerning doctrinal
statement carried on in the committee appointed to formulate a con-
stitution, the fact was brought out that in England there are Uni-
tarian Baptist churches. It is not uncommon in America for one
Baptist to charge another with being Unitarian in sentiment, but, so
far as we know, we have no Unitarian Baptist churches. It is hardly
necessary to say that churches of this kind are not recognized by the
Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

The free churches in England are those that have no
connection with the state, and in this they are distinguished
from the EstabHshed Church which is a department of the
state and owned and controlled by it.

The Baptist denomination is, therefore, one of the free
churches. These free churches (Baptist, Presbyterian, In-
dependent, Methodist, etc.) have formed themselves into
what they call the "National Council of the Evangelical Free
Churches." These Dissenters or Non-conformists now out-
number the Established Church. The statistics are as fol-
lows: In 1700 the Non-conformists were to the Church of
England as i to 22; in 1800, as i to 8; in 1900 as i to i.

Online LibraryEri B. (Eri Baker) HulbertThe English reformation and Puritanism, with other lectures and addresses → online text (page 26 of 33)