CHAPTER VII. Baptists of North and South Carolina
The Baptists of the two Carolinas are very closely allied, but each State has its early centers of Baptist influence. We will begin with the South State . Of late years South Carolina and Virginia have been mentioned as the most lax of any of our Southern States upon this question. But South Carolina , like Virginia , shows no traces of it, so far as we can ascertain, in her early history.
The Charleston Association is the second oldest in the United States, being constituted in 1751, and like all the old Associations adopted the London or Philadelphia Confession of Faith, which has already been abundantly quoted on this question. The history of this Association is the history of the early Baptists of South Carolina. The close relation between this and the Philadelphia Association and the frequent exchange of pastors, and the fact that they both had the same Confession of Faith, is sufficient ground to assert their oneness in doctrine and practice.
The following query and answer found in the minutes for 1758 have been quoted by alien immersionists as an instance of alien immersion:
“Whether baptism administered by Paul Palmer, a disorderly person, be valid?
“Answer: Though Palmer was a disorderly person, yet as he baptized according to the word of God, persons baptized by him may be received into our churches, upon satisfactory examination as to principles and grace.” Furman’s Hist. Charleston Association, p. 37.
Who was Paul Palmer? He was a General Baptist, and to him is ascribed the planting of the Baptist standard in North Carolina . He was baptized into the fellowship of the Old Welsh Tract church by their pastor, Owen Thomas, and was ordained in Connecticut . ( See Hist. Sandy Creek Association, p. 42, and Hassell’s Church Hist., p. 662.) His baptism and ordination were regular. He was a Baptist. Just what the “disorder” referred to here consisted in we are not informed. He is said to have been loose on requiring his candidates to relate an experience of grace before baptism; and this may be the “disorder” referred to here. This is most probably it, for in the same year they passed an action endorsing such baptisms. (Hist. Charleston Ass., p. 37.)
We turn our attention now to North Carolina . The Sandy Creek Association is the third oldest in the United States , being constituted in 1758, mainly through the labors of Paul Palmer and Shubael Stearns. Much of their early records are lost, but enough remains to ascertain how they stood on this question. In 1822 we have the following, viz.:
“Query: If a man representing himself to be a legally ordained minister of the gospel, receives persons into the church and baptizes them, but is afterward found not to be in possession of proper credentials, are such persons, so baptized, to be considered regular members of the church, and entitled to privileges thereof?
“Answered in the negative. If a minister acts without church authority, his ministerial acts are invalid. If he be clothed with valid church authority, his acts are valid, though he may be a bad man; that is, the validity of his official acts depends upon his being a member of the church, and clothed with ministerial authority. If he has no church membership, and is without ordination his acts are invalid.” Purefoy’s Hist. Sandy Creek Ass., p. 122.
Again, in 1839, a query from Pleasant Grove church:
“Is it consistent with the spirit of the gospel, and according to the Scriptures, for any regular Baptist church to receive into her fellowship any member or members of another denomination, who have been baptized by immersion, without baptizing them again?
“Answer: We think it is not. The vote on this query was unanimous. The Baptist is the only denomination that is not guilty of schism—of making a division when it came into existence. They existed prior to any Pedo-baptist denomination now in existence. Baptists have never seceded from any other denomination. All other denominations have either seceded from Rome or one another; they made a division when they came into existence, instead of receiving their baptisms as valid, they are to marked and avoided for causing divisions. Rom. 16:17 .
“We cannot admit the validity of their baptisms without admitting that they are true and Scriptural gospel churches, if we do this we unchurch ourselves, for God never set up or authorized but one Christian denomination. He is not the author of confusion or antagonistic denominations.
“The Baptist is the only denomination that can claim descent from the apostolic churches, through the true persecuted and witnessing church, that fled into the wilderness for 1,260 years. See Rev. 12:6 and 14.
“That the Baptists have descended from this true church is susceptible of the clearest proof. This is not true of any other denomination. We all know the day when, and the man or men who set them up, and not one of them had existence before A. D. 1500. Ordinances cannot be validly administered by both Baptists and Pedo-baptists. God is not the author of but one of them, consequently we cannot receive members upon baptism administered by them, without repudiating the ordinances administered by ourselves.” Hist. Sandy Creek Asso., p. 179.
We suppose the reader will have no difficulty in understanding the language just quoted.
We now turn our attention to the Kehukee Association of the same State, being the fourth oldest in America , constituted in 1765, A. D. This Association at first adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, but in 1777 they abridged it, and retain it until today in this shortened form. The Sixteenth Article reads thus: “We believe that no minister has a right to the administration of the ordinances, only such as are regularly called, and come under imposition of hands by the presbytery.” (See Burkitt & Read’s Hist. Kehukee Ass., p. 54.
This is a clear statement that baptism (as well as the Lord’s Supper) is confined to regularly called and ordained ministers of the church. If any one has any further doubt as to the meaning of this Association upon this point, let them refer to the following questions and answers which occurred in the same meeting in which this Confession of Faith was adopted:
“Query: From the Church in Chowan: “Suppose a man to be a member of the Presbyterian church, and therein ordained a minister of the gospel, and administrator of the ordinances thereof with approbation of them in their way, afterwards submits to believers baptism—is his ordination valid to the Baptists? Answer, No.”
Again : “From the church in the Isle of Wight: “What shall a church do with a minister who labors to make them believe that, difference in judgment about water baptism ought to be no bar to communion?
“Answer: Such a practice is disorderly, and he who propagates the tenet ought to be dealt with as an offender.”
These statements are clear, and show that no authority in “ordination” was recognized except it come from a Baptist church.
Six years later, in 1783, the following occurs:
“Is the baptism of a believer a legal baptism, if performed by an unauthorized minister?
“Answer: It is our opinion that the person who administered the ordinance was very much out of his duty, and displeasure ought to be shown to such a practice; but as for the person’s baptism, as it was done in faith, we esteem it legal.”
This has been cited as a case of alien immersion. But to my way of thinking it does not involve that point. The minister referred to was evidently a Baptist minister. This is shown by the answer, which implies that he is a subject of church discipline. It follows then, we think, clearly (as nothing is said concerning ordination) that he has baptized some one on his own motion, without the action of any church, as, for instance, an itinerant or traveling minister, baptizing on his own score. Any one who will take the pains to examine the records will see that this very point was dismissed at this same sitting of the Association.