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A BAPTIST Brother writes:—
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Enclosed is one dollar for TOWER for this year and please send me two copies of M. DAWN, paper covers. There are some excellent things in DAWN, but to my mind some chaff as well as wheat.
I appreciate your writings. I am pastor of a Baptist church. You do not quite understand the Baptist freedom and privilege. I preach the truths your paper contains, and am not hindered from doing so by my congregation, and I am under no other earthly jurisdiction. You seem to think, a Baptist church is a monarchy. It is not so. Yours truly, W. C__________.
[DEAR BROTHER:—We greet you, glad indeed to learn of your liberty. I am well aware that Baptist churches are independent, in the sense of not being under the control of Conferences and Presbyteries. I know, too, that once they occupied the same position that we hold regarding the division of God’s people into sects by names and formulated creeds outside the Bible, and that the name “Baptist” was attached to them slurringly by their enemies, while they, as we do now, simply called themselves Christians.
But, dear Brother, I also know that today the liberty of Baptists is in name mainly; for they follow closely the practices of other sects except in the matter of immersion. If you have come across a company of people among them, who will “endure sound doctrine,” and to whom you do not shun “to declare the whole counsel of God,” you have certainly come across a rarity, or else have been a very faithful and successful pastor whose flock is highly favored. What a power such a church should be—full of zeal and of the spirit of truth.
If such is your church, it is a proper Christian, earthly organization, but no more. It is still true, that the real church, the body of Christ, is only that whose names are written in heaven, and whose only name is Christian. Of this however be assured, that unless your congregation consists of overcoming saints only, there will ere long come divisions produced by your faithful presentation of the truth, because we are in the “harvest,” the separating time. And the more advanced your teachings, and your people, the sooner will come the separation by the sickle of truth. Thrust in the sickle for the harvest is come.
As for not seeing eye to eye with the Editor of the TOWER on every point, I would say: We do not limit our recognition of the Brotherhood thus. We recognize every believer in the ransom living a moral life, as a justified child of God: and every such one who went further and in the acceptable time presented himself a sacrifice and was baptized into the body of Christ by being baptized into his death, we recognize as a fellow-member and joint-heir in “the body of Christ“—the church, the little flock. As such fellow-members we are all growing in grace and knowledge, building one another up continually. But we believe the time is near, if not present, when all such may and should see eye to eye—for the set time to favor Zion has come. The thought of some that “of course” we cannot see alike and have unmixed truth, is often a fruitful cause of stumbling over plain clear truths.
— August, 1887 —