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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Who Are The Primitive Baptists?

Potter vs Throgmorton Debate

Reprinted in the Primitive Baptist November 7th 1905

In July, 1887, a debate was held at Fulton, Ky., between Elder W. P. Throgmorton and Elder Lemuel Potter, the question being, “Who are the Primitive Baptists?” Elder Throgmorton represented the Missionary Baptists and Elder Potter represented the “Regular Old School Baptists.” The debate began on Tuesday, July 12, and
continued four days and two nights. Elder J. V Kirkland, then of Farmington, Ky., now of Fulton, Ky., was moderator for Elder Potter.
In the committee on the publication of the debate the “Regular Old School Baptists” were represented by Dr. H. C. Roberts and Elder S. F. Cayce. We know that Elder Potter was recognized as being a representative man among our people then, and we yet consider that he was. Elder J. V Kirkland certainly recognized him then as such. There are a few things in that debate that we wish to give our readers the benefit of, and we feel that all our brethren everywhere would do well to take heed to them at the present time. First we give
a statement, as it appears on page 18, in Elder Potter's first speech in the debate, while Elder Throgmorton was affirming that the Missionaries are the Primitive Baptists:

Brother Throgmorton, in his speech, has represented the Missionary Baptists as very liberal. I want to show you some of his liberality, according to his speech. However, I wish to make this statement; and I want him to understand that 1 shall have use for it (and if he does not agree with me, I want him to say so); I claim that if an organization of any kind be rent by the introduction of new rules, regulations or doctrines, that the innovators, and not the party that adheres to the old rules, regulations and doctrines, are the seceding party. That is my position. It occurs to me that it is sound doctrine. I apprehend that he will have no objection to that. I am going to take it for granted that he agrees to it. Please notice that he speaks of Elder Throgmorton's “liberality” This refers to the “liberality” of the Missionary Baptists in tolerating and fellowshipping so many different kinds of doctrines and practices. By reading Elder Throgmorton's speeches you will observe that he
claimed his people were the Primitive Baptists because they had no  bars to fellowship. Now observe that Elder Potter said, “I claim that if an organization of any kind be rent by the introduction of new rules, regulations or doctrines, that the innovators, and not the party that adheres to the old rules, regulations and doctrines, are the seceding party.” From this it is evident that the party who introduces the new measures is the party who departs from the original ground, and not the party who puts up a bar to the new measures. The party who puts up a bar against the innovations, new rules, doctrines or practices, is the party standing on the original platform or order of things in the organization. Elder Kirkland accepted Elder Potter's position then as being a correct and true one. We accept it now. When the new measures were introduced among the Baptists that finally brought about the division between our people and the Missionaries, those who introduced the new measures plead for “liberality” on those things, and Elder Throgmorton gives us to understand they yet have the “liberality.” So it is at this time-those brethren who have introduced the new measures that are causing
distress in our beloved Zion are pleading forbearance and “liberality.” But it is now as it was then- the innovators, and not the party that adheres to the old rules, regulations and doctrines, are the seceding party. The innovators claimed then that “liberty” should be allowed on those things, as they were not sufficient to cause a division. So, the brethren who are now advocating the measures causing the distress in the church say liberty should be allowed; as the things are not sufficient to cause a division and are not fundamental, but are minor points. We would ask, in all candor, if they are minor points, and are not fundamental, why not cease advocating and contending  for them? And if they are minor points, if they are not fundamental, then why does the minute of the St. Louis meeting say they are vital points? The word vital means, “Being the seat of life or that on which life depends; contributing to life; essential to or supporting life; necessary to existence or continuance.” If they are vital; if they are the seat of life of the church of Christ; if they are that upon which the life of the church depends; if they are essential; if they are necessary to the existence or continuance of the Old Baptist church, then are they minor points?-are they not fundamental? If they are necessary to all these things, why say they are not fundamental? If they were vital one year ago, are they not vital now? If not, why not? If they were vital one year ago, were they not vital from 1792 to 1832? (Remember that some of these things were involved in that period.) If not, why not? Do principles ever change? If they were vital one year ago. they were vital in 1832; and if they were vital in 1832, then the Missionaries were right in the division, and are now the original Baptist Church, or else the points are unscriptural. One of these two things are bound to be true-there is no escape. If we believed the points to be Scriptural, we would also necessarily conclude that the Missionaries are the original order of Baptists; and if we believed that, we would certainly leave the Old Baptists in peace and unite with the Missionaries. But we do not believe they are Scriptural; so we must conclude that the “Regular Old School Baptists” are the original or Primitive Baptists.
How did Elder Potter stand in the debate above mentioned? On Thursday, July 14, 1887, Elder Potter began in the forenoon in affirming that our people are the Primitive Baptists. We quote from Elder Potter's first affirmative speech, beginning on page 179 of the Throgmorton-Potter debate:

I am happy to have the opportunity of standing before you today, in order to set forth the principle features of what I deem to be the gospel truths of Christianity. As a matter of course, from the position in which I stand, you will expect me especially to set forth what is known by the people throughout this country as the features of the “Hardshell” Baptists. When I am through, whatever you may think of my claims to the church of Christ must be optional with you. I feel thankful to God that we have the liberty of exercising our own
judgment upon these important things; that there is no law to govern us religiously, outside the Bible, except our own conscience. You have been listening to the discussion for a few days in which my friend has
affirmed that his denomination, or the Missionary Baptists, are the Primitive Baptists. I am now to affirm that the Regular, or Old School Baptists, commonly known and universally called by my opponent, “Hardshells,” are the Primitive Baptists. I hope that you will pay respect both to the speakers and the arguments that may be introduced, the application of evidence and the general conduct of the discussion. In the first place, I will state that I believe that God has a church in the world;-that He is the author of it Himself, through His Son;-that it was predicted by the Prophet Daniel, in the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, when he said, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall never be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” - (Daniel 2:44). I believe that all Bible scholars that I have any knowledge of, on this passage of Scripture, agree that Daniel, in the Scripture, had allusion to the gospel church; and the time he alluded to was in the days of the Roman powers. Even Pedo Baptist scholars admit that this is the proper interpretation of that Scripture. I presume there will be no controversy between us as to
the date of the origin of the church of God; also that we agree that it has stood from the time it was first established until now. There is one more feature that we Baptists claim, that from the time of its organization on earth, it has stood distinct and visible, until the present time. The reason we claim that is, because the prophet says it shall never be destroyed. It was said to Peter, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Any statement that may be made by any person, coming from any quarter, that would have the tendency to make the impression that the church died for a while or was entirely out, contradicts God's word. Another feature of this church is, that Jesus Christ was its only law-giver. I want all parties to pay particular attention to that feature, that Jesus Christ was its only law-giver, so that no person is to be held under obligation by the church to observe any ordinances or perform any religious services, for which there can be found no warrant in the word of God. It does not matter how great that service may seem to other people; it matters not how popular that service may be, nor how zealously its claims may be urged by its advocates as great means in the hands of the Lord to facilitate the salvation of men, if there is no intimation of such a thing in God's word, it occurs to me that a Christian might conscientiously leave it entirely outside of all the catalog of religious duties or services. We stand upon that platform. We contend that the Bible teaches all that we ought to know, believe and do religiously. We limit our knowledge of the will of God to what the Bible says. We limit our obligations, religiously, to what the Bible requires. We believe in nothing, religiously, that we cannot find a warrant for in God's word. We believe that Jesus Christ Himself instituted the church; that it was perfect at the start, suitably adapted in its organization to every age of the world, to every locality of earth, to every state and condition of mankind, without any changes or alterations to suit the times, customs, situations and localities. We claim that a great many things change, but principles never change, that when the revelation of God was closed, that we have no right to make any demands upon the people religiously, that are not found therein.

I predicate the arguments I have just made upon the commission, recorded by (Matthew 28:19-20). “Go, ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world Amen. Now remember that here is a commission given by the Saviour, directly, to His apostles. While a great many people seem to notice the grand scope of this commission, who rejoice at the duty of conquering the world, I do also find a limitation to that commission, and it occurs to me from what I see here, that there are men that fail to see that limitation; that the minister is required to go and preach, I do not question, neither do “Hardshells,” as we are called that is charged upon us by my opponent and we deny the charge. We think it is our duty to preach everywhere. We contend that it is our duty to preach to every  person wherever we go; both to saint and sinner. And we think it is the duty of the minister who has been called of God to the holy work to make this his first calling, paramount to everything else pertaining to life. It is his business to preach. Now, then, as he goes forth to teach all nations and baptize them, in addition to teaching in accordance with the commission-it says, teaching them, the people, that is teaching them whom you baptize, to observe all things that are right and expedient. No sir! What then?
“All things whatsoever I have commanded you.” I wish to make a statement here. That is, it is even charged that we do not believe in good works. I stand here to speak for my people. I am going to make a proposition now and we will have opportunity perhaps to be corrected in this matter. I claim that our people do every good work, as a people, that is enjoined upon the people of God in the New Testament. If we do not, if there is anything we have overlooked, we will do it if it is pointed out to us. Brethren, are you all willing to do that?

Voices in the audience: Yes, sir; yes, sir! point it out. Mr. Throgmorton: You have proved it, Brother Potter.
Mr. Potter: Brother Throgmorton is learning. Perhaps our brethren  are as willing to do everything that the Bible says do, as any people in the world. I make this remark in order to show that the charge against us, that we do not believe in good works, is a false charge that we do everything that the New Testament enjoins upon us as Christians to do; that we do not oppose good works. If we do not, let him show us wherein we do not and we will go at it. The brethren have pledged themselves to do so. While we make this proposition I
wish to quote also another text of Scripture upon which we base this principle, which will be found in Timothy somewhere. I will vouch for the quotation if it is questioned: “All Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” We take it for granted that all good works are to be found in the Scriptures. All the catalogue of good works are there, and if so, then those works, that
are deemed to be good works, that are not to be found in the Scriptures, are entirely outside of the catalogue of good works; and we leave them entirely undone, with as clear a conscience as any other people on earth do them.

I will make a statement of our religious principles. That is this, our faith is that if the church and minister will teach exclusively what the Bible teaches, and practice just precisely what it requires, that all the good results that God intended to accomplish by the means will be brought about. That is our position. We are not uneasy for fear that the Lord will leave something back that is essential to the salvation of the people or the glory of His name. I presume that my opponent will not deny that the church continued until the days of Constantine, or even until now. I want to show you some of its distinguishing features. You have heard a great deal said
upon foreign mission work. I wish to travel out on that road and give you some of our views on that subject. Because I wish to set ourselves right before this people, on the subject of the ministry. I have objections to the foreign missionary work, not because I think it is likely to spread the gospel. That is not it. My friend urges that as our position on the foreign missionary work; that is not it. We object to it because of the plea for it. As I have clearly shown during this discussion, that it is indirectly preaching the doctrine of the universal
damnation of all people that do not hear the gospel. I object to foreign mission work with that plea. I would not contribute to that sort of doctrine I think this doctrine is unscriptural and unwarranted; that God is going to damn a majority of the race of men because they do not hear the gospel. That is the very foundation of the foreign mission work, as I intend to prove before the close of this discussion. I object to it on another ground. I do not believe it is warranted in God's word. Because in order to find even a shadow of authority for it
in the Scriptures its advocates say that the great commission was given to the church, instead of the apostles and ministers. Remember the position that I am here to prove is that the Missionary Baptists believe that doctrine, and that the advocates of modern missions say that the great commission was given to the church, instead of the apostles and ministers. To prove that they do put forth that claim I wish to quote from the “Great Commission and its Fulfillment by the Church,” by Mr. Carpenter He says, in speaking of the great

“All forms of evangelistic work and enterprise are based upon these words. (That is the words of the great commission.) Not ministers only but all Christians, ordained and unordained, male and female, old and young, are bound by them. Some can go further than others but all are to go on this errand of mercy; some are to give more than others, but all are to give, according to their ability, the means requisite for saving the lost; some are to preach officially and more regularly than others, but all are to preach in the sense of communicating saving truth to those in spiritual darkness; and all are to contribute to that great unceasing volume of earnest prayer which has only to become general and tenderly importunate to secure the salvation of a great multitude of God's elect who are now wandering unsaved on the mountains of sin in every land.”
A Missionary document says that the commission is assigned not only to the ordained but the unordained, male and female; that all are bound by the words of the great commission all are to go. Some may go further than others, for the commission is given to the church and that is the meaning of the commission, that the church must send ministers abroad in obedience to the commission. The Saviour said in the commission, “Go ye into all the world He did not say “send.” It would have been proper to say “send” if it was given to the church.  But He said, “Go ye into all the world,” talking directly to the apostles. They understood it that way and preached it that way. Turn to (Matthew 28:20): “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
To whom did He speak this language? To the eleven, not to the church, but to the eleven, so says the text itself. Let us also notice (Mark 16:14-16): “Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” To whom was this commission given by this text? To the eleven, not for the church. The church was not included there. But He gave it to the eleven, to the apostles, to the ministry. It belongs to them. And the
command of Jesus comes to the minister and tells him to go; it does not come to the church and tell her to send. Elder Potter went on to show how that the apostles went in obedience to the command, but we have not space to give more along that line.
This is abundance of proof that we are occupying the same ground on this point that the Baptists occupied then. But we wish to give another extract from this same speech. We find the following language on pages 194 and 195: (Acts 13:1-2,3): “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas and Simeon, that were called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had
fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them to school? No, not to school, “sent them away.” The Lord had called them. He called upon the brethren of the ministry and they laid their hands on them and sent them away. He said, “Separate me Barnabas and Paul for the work whereunto I have called them.” That is, they ordained them, if I understand it. If I am not correct in thinking that they were to be ordained, let my brother correct me. I claim they were to be ordained, and set apart for the work-that is, to the full functions of a gospel minister, because God had called them to it. “And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” I know that sometimes the Missionaries claim
that text. In the next place I will ask my opponent, if he has anything to say about it, if he thinks that the whole membership of the church laid their hands on the apostles and sent them away, or was it a presbytery of ministers whose work it was to ordain them and set them apart for the work of the ministry. If not the whole church it does not suit his cause very well. The Lord had called them to the work, and instructed the brethren to separate them from the world, and “they laid their hands on them and sent them away.” Was this a mission board? Is not this the way our brethren do, when the Lord calls one of our brethren to the work of the ministry? If he gives proof of his ministry among us, we believe that we are authorized by the same Spirit to ordain him and send him away. We pray and lay our hands on them, and send them away, and we implore the blessings of God upon them and upon their labors. We send them to where ever God in His providence may cast their lot. They did not send Paul to any particular place. They had no mission board, if they did travel extensively. He preached at Antioch for a long while, he labored at Antioch, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus and other places. Still, if those brethren who laid their hands on them and sent them away designated any particular place on God's earth where they should go, the record fails to give us any account of it. As already stated, these extracts are abundantly sufficient to show that we are occupying the same ground now we were then. We are sorry our brethren will not continue in these same principles; but by the help of the Lord we expect to remain there while our mortal life lasts. The Baptists occupied that ground when we united with them sixteen years ago, and we do not believe all of them will ever forsake those principles. The Lord has promised to never leave Himself without a witness. Let us all try to “let brotherly love continue” by standing firm on the time-honored principles given to us by the one great King and Lawgiver, for which many of our fathers have hazarded and given their lives, sealing them with their blood. And let us also be kind and gentle, and forbearing, where and as long as forbearance is required by our King. Brethren, pray that the Lord may sustain us and enable us to hold up the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel. C. H. C