Among The Baptist
Appendix — Miscellaneous Articles
ON A MODEL CHURCH AND A MODEL PASTOR.
IN addition to my descriptions of the origin of the first
Christian churches, and my sketches of history pertaining to preachers,
preaching and pulpits, and my various comments on the different modes of
sermonizing in different ages, I shall make a few remarks on the proper course
which churches and pastors in their daily operations ought to pursue.
On a Model Church
I take it for granted that such a church as I am about to
describe receives none into its fellowship only on a profession of their faith,
and are baptized in the Baptist mode. And a church thus formed of the right
stamp will watch over its members with maternal solicitude, and not suffer them
to be dispersed to unknown regions beyond their knowledge and control, or to
become incurable backsliders in the sight of all their brethren, without using
due diligence to ascertain the condition of all who are without their bounds,
and to reclaim those who are within them.
By all our writers on this subject a church has been compared
to a family or a household; and all the bonds of consanguinity which such a
relationship implies, are often referred to also by the sacred writers, to
represent the endearing ties of the household of faith.
In a well-regulated family, every member, however large the
number may be, knows his place, and at stated periods is found in it. If any are
absent without leave, or a reasonable cause, all are troubled and concerned, and
the longer they are away the greater is the solicitude of those at home for
their welfare. What fearful forebodings often occupy the minds of a whole
household on such occasions. It may be that some one of feeble powers has
wandered into the dark mountains at an alarming distance, to be exposed to
dangers of various kinds, while others, in the thoughtlessness of childhood, or
the indiscretion of easy years, may have been beguiled by vicious companions to
forbidden ground, or to hurtful pursuits. In all such cases the course pursued
by a natural family need not be described, nor need we portray the alarm and
anxiety which will pervade it until the absent loved ones are reclaimed. And so
it will be with a spiritual household of the model class. But how many of our
churches fall very far short of the above description with regard to their
wandering and absent members. While all are busy here and there about other
matters, many members go off without the proper certificates of their
membership, or else they fail to report themselves in their new locations, and
there is often too little pains taken by the churches to ascertain whether they
confer honor or dishonor on their home connection, or themselves. Thus churches
go on, year after year, with the reputation of great numerical strength, and
stand in false positions in this respect. Their lists of absentees at length
become somewhat alarming; the discrepancy between the nominal and actual members
who are identified with any of the doings of the body, or even appear on the
ground, is too great to be longer endured, and one church after another report
to their associations the members who have been stricken from their lists.*
A model church will avoid the necessity of such a measure by
keeping its list well regulated.
A church which is managed according to gospel rule will not
suffer sin upon its members. However important the delinquents may be to their
worldly interests, or however painful may be the task of dealing with them, such
a body of faithful Christians
* Some churches in this region use the word dropped in
these cases. One of our authors recommends separated, while another
prefers erased. The first I think is the most objectionable, as no labor
is indicated, only that they let them slide. will decide that a plain duty must
be performed, an imperative law must be obeyed, and their camp cleared of Achans
and foul transgressors.
In a model church there are places for all the members and
all find something to do, and become more or less useful in some way or other.
"Yes," said a minister to a female member who complained that she was of no use
in the body, "you do a good deal by so uniformly filling your place in the
church, and you help me preach every time I see you there." For a few years
past, in this region, there has been a gradual giving away of that small portion
of our ministers and churches who formerly followed the rigid construction of
Paul's rule on female silence in the church, which came down to us from the old
Puritans; as they found, that, literally understood, it would hinder any women
from relating their experiences while they were candidates for church
membership, from speaking in covenant meetings, or from being witnesses in eases
The great mass of the Baptists in America agree with the
Methodists with regard to the freedom of females in their religious assemblies.
And with both parties, if now, and then, some of the sisterhood are not so
edifying in their performances as they might be, the same may be said of a still
larger number of the brotherhood.
By putting together what Paul said to Timothy, namely, "I
suffer not a woman to teach, or usurp authority over the man," and
what he said to the Philippians, "Help those women who labored with me in the
gospel, and also with Clement, and others of my fellow-laborers," etc., the
advocates for female freedomdismiss all scruples relative to the ancient doings
of the sisterhood. Nor do they feel disposed to lay any special restraints on
them in social gatherings, which, by the way, are not church meetings, in
the proper sense of the term.
Of the old Waldenses, it was said by their enemies, that in
their daily avocations their constant practice was either to learn, or to teach.
“Yes,” said an old inquisitor, "they say, every layman among them, and even
their women, ought to preach."* This, however, we must
understand as the language of reproach. The true version of the story would, no
doubt, relieve these worthy females from the charge of any improprieties in
their method of teaching among their own people, and rank them among the Phebes
and Priscillas of primitive times. A church of the model character needs no
agents from abroad for the collection of funds for benevolent institutions. Such
a body will no more depend on
* Discunt quod omnis laicus, et etiam, femina debeat
outside aid, in doing up business of this kind, than-in its own financial
And finally, a model church will take care of its own poor,
and will not permit them to suffer even the fear of the want of
reasonable aid, which, as a good writer has said, is sometimes more distressing
than the thing itself.
Many other traits of character, as pertaining to a community
of the description now under consideration, might be enumerated; but any one in
which those named, in the above list, is found in vigorous operation, may be
referred to as a good model for the imitation of others.
On a Model Pastor
In the first place he enters his field of labor from a full
conviction of duty; he dedicates himself to his peculiar laborious vocation for
life, and resolves that under his ministry there shall be no occasion for others
"The hungry sheep look up, but are not fed."
While such a pastor, as I am now attempting briefly to
describe, strives to make his pulpit services acceptable to his hearers, yet he
soon discovers the great importance of faithful pastoral labors. Such being the
persuasions of a pastor of the working class, into the business of visitation he
goes with all his might. Out he sallies in every direction with the fervent zeal
of a worldly campaigner. He makes up his mind in the beginning for hard labor,
and of course is not disappointed. "The grace of God will live where I can't,"
said Whitfield, while engaged in his evangelical explorations. And such are the
conclusions of the self-denying pastor. But no matter for that, he can sojourn
awhile amidst moral miasmas and the most loathsome degradations of mankind, for
their benefit and moral reform. With every nook and corner of his parochial
charge he soon becomes familiar; the forsaken and forlorn are comforted and
encouraged by his counsels and his prayers; and, as the result of the
self-sacrificing missions of this aggressive pioneer, he often brings subjects
to his Sunday School, and ultimately to his congregation and spiritual fold,
from the haunts of vice, the styles of intemperance, and, generally, the abodes
of squalid wretchedness and pollution.
Peace and harmony among the people of his charge, and with
all around him, will be the constant aim of the Christian watchman, now had in
view, so far as is consistent with gospel truth and ministerial fidelity. Such
were many of our pastors of olden times, and the savor of the spirit of these
pious servants of the Prince of Peace, pervaded their churches and vicinities
long after they were called to their rest.
The secret of conducting the Christian pastorship on this
peaceful mode, was disclosed by a then aged minister, some fifty years ago. It
consisted in one word, repeated at pleasure.
In the language of the venerable elder, the story may thus be
related: "My church," said he, "which has long been distinguished for quietness
and concord, was somewhat different when I became its pastor; and their
difficulties, generally, were about matters of little importance among
themselves. Being green in the business, I was often much perplexed in my mind
to know what to say to my disagreeing members, who all wished me to help their
own sides. In this dilemma, I chanced to overhear two of my female members
discuss the subject of family government. Both their households were large, but
quite dissimilar in their characters, which led the less favored matron to
inquire of her neighbor how it was that she succeeded so well in the management
of her numerous charge. 'My rule,' said the respondent, 'is very plain and
easily followed. It is this: when I discover any difficulties arising among my
children, or any members of my household I go around the house, and at all
needful points I say, Hush ! hush ! hush!'
"'That is it,' said I to myself; and now, for forty years, I
have found hush! hush! hush! the best argument I could use with disagreeing
In favor of pastoral assiduity, when accompanied with piety
and wisdom, I think we may safely main-rain, that it often does more towards
comforting Christians and building up churches, than eloquent preaching, without
it. It is not a little singular they seldom go together, or, at least, not so
often as they ought to.
I have known many cases, in my travels, of men of humble
pretensions as pulpit orators, who yet, were very successful in gathering in
members and building up churches.