Newspaper Articles for 1904 (Part 3)
The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos, 2x2s
November 3, 1904, p. 8
We have received the following letter which is printed as written. Comment
on such a missive would be useless:—
Editor of Impartial Reporter - The Tramps
Kindly allow me space in your valuable Paper as I would like to make some remarks concerning what has been said about the Tramps now I must say that after reading the articles in the Impartial Reporter for weeks Past on the work of the Tramps to my mind as a Christian and in the light of Holy Scripture I must say that a lot of the criticism was very unscriptural I would like to see the Editor of a Paper or any other Person when they Criticise the work of the Children of God, that they would quote Scripture as their foundation for what they got to say was wrong you say there is vanity in repeating that you are saved well God says no. he says the Preaching of the cross is to them that Perish foolishness but unto us who are saved it is the Power of God 1st Corin 1: and 18. Titus: 3. and. 5 the Tramps you say. says the churches is all wrong. well. I must say when we measure them along side Holy Scripture that that they come very far Short [of] the Church which God is building to day is not a Building of Stone and lime, but is a building of living Stones. 1st Peter 2. and 5, it is not the Churches that is wrong to day but the People that occupies them. Where have we Scripture for a congregation to appoint a minister, we thank God for every minister that is called of God. But I must say that the College never got Power to make a minister, though education is alright in its Place. Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant men. Acts 4: 13 and what a Grand thing it would be for the People today if all Ministers were like them. I think all the Children of God must admit that Mr. Cooney and Mr. Irvine and many more along with them has Sacrificed their all as regards Position in this life for the work of God and the extension of his kingdom, so now in closing I only hope and trust that the Lord will give Mr. Cooney the joy of seeing many saved in and around Enniskillen.I am a Christian
71 Baranton St., Stirling
November 10, 1904, p. 5
The Very Rev. the Dean of Clogher, occupying the pulpit of the Parish Church, Enniskillen, on Sunday morning last, preached from 1st Corinthians, 12th chapter, and 13th verse—‘For by one spirit we are all baptised in one body,’ proceeded to say:—
A very beautiful conception of the corporate life of the church is given by St. Paul when he wrote thus to the Corinthians. He saw the Church as it ought to be, a body of people so well organized, so symmetrical; so mutually responsive, that it might be well compared to the human body in its relation to the head. In the church Christ was the head and Christians were the members of His body: ‘Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.’
But there was another side to the picture, in the opening chapter of his epistle he had to rebuke some who were endeavouring to destroy his ideal of Church unity by contention. ‘Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Appollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.’ To all these promoters of schism and disturbers of the peace of the Church, he addresses the remonstrances ‘Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?’
It is a legitimate inference from these words that those who were organising these separate and separated small bodies of Christians were using separate baptism as a mean of uniting each party together. St. Paul goes on to deal with many of the complex problems which had arisen in the large comprehensive society which he understood the Church to be, and then he enters on the ideal description of the organised visible Church which he compares to the body of Christ. We see from these facts the prophecy of our Lord in the parable of the tares and the wheat was fulfilled from the very beginning of Church life. Ananias and Sapphira were perhaps the first corrupters, and we find St. Paul contending against their successors. The tares are growing in the field to this day. The ideal and the actual pictures are well contrasted in the great hymn, ‘The Church’s one foundation.’ Look at the first:—
‘Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her Charter of Salvation,
One Lord, one Faith, one Birth,’
Then turn to the second—
‘Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore opprest,
By schisms rent assunder,
By heresies distrest.’
One of the many schisms and heresies which have come under notice in this neighbourhood lately, in the re-baptism by laymen of persons who have already received baptism in their infancy.
No one could reasonably object to any laymen endeavouring by elementary preaching or teaching to convert sinful people from the error of their ways. The Church has always sanctioned the preaching of deacons, and lay readers, and lay helpers, for this very purpose, but the re-baptizing of those who have been already baptized is quite another matter and a very serious error.
Those whom St. Paul rebuked were not doing this. They baptized, into separate communities, heathen who had not been baptized before. But we know from the Bible and from history that no such practice as re-baptism were ever heard of in the Church until 1500 years after the foundation of Christianity.
The great principle of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland is defined in the sixth article: ‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation so that whatsoever is not read therein, or may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith.’
We regret the modern doctrines of the Church of Rome, such as the Worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Belief in Purgatory and in the Infallibility of the Pope, on the sole ground that they are not found in Holy Scripture. For the same reason we object this new doctrine that baptized persons should be re-baptized by laymen. There is not a single instance in the Bible that such a ceremony was ever performed by the Lord, or by his disciples, or by any of the Apostles.
This re-baptising of baptised persons is one of the modern errors of the Church of Rome. It is done in scornful rejection of the claim of any one to be a Christian who is outside the membership of that Church. They admit that baptism may not be expected, but, in their opinion, heretical baptism is not true baptism, or the heretics are so careless that they have no evidence that the person was properly baptized. Therefore, on the ground that this former baptism was null and void, they confer what they call true baptism. On the question of re-baptising their converts, these new lay-teachers and the Church of Rome are in perfect agreement. Observe other characteristics. The Council of Trent pronounced an anathema or a denunciation on all who differ from the doctrines of the Church of Rome in the slightest degree. No one can be saved who does not accept her teaching, and a more modern Council declared its belief in the infallibility of the Pope. They alone are right. Everyone else is in the wrong and on the high road to perdition.
Those assumptions, being without a particle of scriptural proof, we refuse to admit that any man should by required to believe them.
The only ground on which a baptized person could be baptized again is when their former baptism was unscriptural, and therefore null and void. This is the ground practically taken up by the Ana Baptists. Let us consider what is involved in this assumption. The late Dr. Salmon puts the case well. He says:—‘I am about to show to you that the whole Christian world has not been in error—in error, without an exception, for 1500 years, and, with insignificant exceptions, for the remaining three or four centuries of the Church’s existence—in supposing that it was permitted them to bring their children to the Saviour, and from the earliest years to dedicate them to his service. I am about to try to show that our fathers, who have fallen asleep in Christ, lacked nothing essential to their salvation, that they did not live and die in disregard of their Master’s parting commands. I about to try to show that the baptism which alone we and they received, conferred on us, when we were helpless infants, was true baptism, and needs not to be repeated.’
The matter in dispute is not one of detail such as the difference between baptism of sprinkling water or total immersion. Every churchman has his choice whether his child shall be sprinkled or immersed. The rule in the prayer book is to dip the child, if it be certified that he be strong enough to bear it. In warm climates dipping would be very reasonable. In arctic regions it would be highly dangerous. We have no evidence from Scripture in any case of baptism how much or how little of the body was wet, but we know from church history that in the days of St. Chrysostom adults, both male and female, were totally immersed, and went through the ceremony absolutely naked. Such arrangements were only possible in a warm climate, and in separate apartments specially provided. Nor is the dispute about the detail of the ages of persons to be baptised. The church has made full arrangements for the baptism of infants, growing children, and persons of riper years, on the one condition that they have not been baptised before. The question is asked at the commencement of each service—‘Hath this child (or this person) been baptised before?’ If the answer be, ‘Yes," then baptism is not repeated. Let a single text be produced if such can be found. On the contrary, we know that the real point at issue is the assertion that the supposed error of baptising infants goes to the root of the very essence of the Sacrament, for the Anabaptists treat their baptism as null and void. Are we then to suppose that for hundreds of years there was not a single properly baptised Christian in the world, and that at the present moment there are only a few dozen baptised Christians in the vast Christian population of Ireland? But there is a more serious issue involved. The whole church having practised infant baptism for centuries, it would appear (according to their teaching) that our Lord, in instituting the Sacrament of Baptism, omitted to warn His disciples that infants were to be excluded from admission to His church, and that he completely misled St. Paul, who ventured to compare the baptism of Christians to the passage of the children of Israel through the Red Sea, knowing, as he must have done, that hosts of children were included among those who crossed it. When baptism was instituted by our Lord the Christian Church consisted only of Jews who had always been accustomed to have their male children admitted to membership in the church by the rite of circumcision on the eighth day of birth. If infants were to be excluded from baptism, ample warning to that effect would have been given, but not a word of such warning is found in Scripture, in which case he fully admitted that they ought to be baptised. Households generally contain children, and we find more than one mention of the baptism of households.
St. Paul admits, for instance, that he baptized the household of Stephanus, and he makes no reference to any provision made for the subsequent baptism of the children.
We cannot admit for a moment that our Lord by the defect of His teaching led the whole Church into a gigantic mistake which was not discovered until quite lately by a few laymen.
Let us now consider evidence as to the universal practice of the Church.
The root of the practice of baptising infants was the belief of the ancient Church in the doctrine of original sin, in which we also believe, and affirm it in our articles. Clemens Romanus lived in the time of the apostles. He speaks of infants as ‘liable to original sin’ and therefore in need of Christ’s salvation. Justin Martyr wrote his Apology about the year 148 A. D. He says in it that there were many christians of both sexes, some sixty and some seventy years of age, who had been made disciples of Christ from their infancy. Deducting their ages from that date, the days of their infancy would coincide with the time when St. Paul wrote his earlier epistles. The first christian writer who mentions any objection to the baptism of infants is Tertullian, who lived at the latter end of the second century. He pleaded that their baptism might be postponed until they were of years of discretion, unless they were in danger of death, in which case he fully admitted they ought to be baptized. His argument is proof that the custom of baptising infants, against which he argued, was universal.
Origen, who lived at the beginning of the third century, says: ‘None is free from pollution, though his life be but the length of one day upon the earth. And for that reason infants are baptised, because by the sacrament of baptism the pollution of our birth is taken away; and, ‘Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.’
In another place he affirms that the Church received the order of baptising infants from the Apostles. We need not quote further, for all admit that after the third century no question was raised about the universal custom of infant baptism.
We pass on, therefore, to consider how natural and right it was that the apostles and the whole Church should interpret the teaching of our Lord as they did, and should have established the practice of baptising infants.
We know that He has not only not forbidden us to bring our children to Him, but encouraged us to do so. The apostles on one occasion imagined that our Lord would be disturbed in His teaching if women were allowed to bring their children to Him that He might bless them.
Did He rebuke the women for their superstition in thinking that young infants were capable of receiving any blessing from Him, or that they could profit by the touch of His hands?
On the contrary, instead of rebuking the women, he proclaimed that they were right, and he rebuked his disciples who had tried to drive them away. He took the children in His arms and blessed them, and he proceeded to make what was done in this case a general rule for His whole Church. He said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.’ The Church has selected this passage in the 10th chapter of the gospel according to St. Mark, as the portion of the scripture to be read at the public baptism of infants. It maintains that parents do right and act in accordance with the mind of Christ, when they bring their little children to Him and dedicate them to His service from their earliest days.
If we are asked to define the nature of the blessing received by children in baptism, we may request the questioner to define the blessing which those babes received who were brought to Christ, and accepted by Him. Scripture is silent as to their subsequent history. They may have grown up well, or they may have turned out badly, but we may be certain that if any of them testified afterwards to love and serve the Lord, they would not have traced the origin of their religion to their own faith or their own merit, but rather have confessed, ‘We love Him, because he first love us.’
St. Paul’s words, which we are considering, give us one more subject of thought. He was regarding baptism not so much from the individual as from the corporate point of view. He says, ‘For by one spirit we are all baptised into one body.’
He abhorred schism, because he realized the danger and the injury it brought to the cause of Christ. His aim was unity. To the Ephesians he speaks of ‘Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.’ ‘There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.’
This beautiful teaching is completely opposed to the spirit of schism. If the Church were united, the strength of the cause of Christ would be doubled.
It is hard enough for a united nation to wage war successfully against a foreign enemy; it is impossible for a country distracted by civil war to conquer any enemy. Those whose aim is to break up the Church into small parties of contending sects, who order their converts to have no spiritual communion with their former brethren, are doing far more harm to religion in general than they are aware of. The same exclusiveness, practised by the Church of Rome, is one of the greatest barriers against Christian unity. St. Jude, in his epistle, warns Christians against the evil of schism and new doctrines. He exhorts them that they should contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The word ‘once,’ in the authorised version, is properly translated ‘once for all,’ in the revised version. That word warns us against all unauthorised novelties in religious doctrine and practice.
He further gives us certain characteristics by which we may recognize those who are imbued with the spirit of schism (see the revised version)—‘They set at nought dominion;’ ‘they rail at dignities;’ ‘they rail at whatsoever things they know not;’ ‘they are hidden rocks in your love feasts,’ ‘shepherds that without fear feed themselves,’ that is, act independently as their own shepherds. ‘These are they who make separations.’
Against all such teachers of error he gives Christians this wise advice—‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.’
This is sound counsel to which we, members of the ancient scriptural Church of Ireland, ought to give good heed in these dangerous days.
A new religious sect, described as the John the Baptist Pilgrims, has established itself in the north of Ireland where it is making progress in the rural districts among the poorer country folk, says the London Express.
The founder is Edward Cooney, son of an Enniskillen merchant and justice of the peace. Always of a deeply sentimental and pious nature, he left home mysteriously a few months ago and started an active propaganda of baptism by complete immersion in a river. Already over 100 converts have been received within the fold by undergoing baptism in the prescribed form and through their influence it is expected that many more will join the Pilgrims.
The present meeting place is on a bank of the river Ballycassidy. After prayer the leader and several of his disciples deliver addresses setting forth the principles of the new faith, which they defend with extracts from the Scriptures.
December 15, 1904
Monday night was cold in Enniskillen, and yet a small band of Cooneyites congregated at the Diamond, where the principle speaker was Mr. Edward Cooney who announced that he had been saved and that there was a time when he would be ashamed to stand on the Diamond of his native town and declare that he belonged to Christ. Thank God, he had been ‘saved,’ and had come away from all these things, thus giving the members of his body for Christ’s eternal purposes. It was not fashionable to speak of Jesus in Enniskillen! They might talk of Joe Chamberlain of Balfour or some such people, but the moment the name of Jesus was mentioned it was looked upon with shame! Yes, with shame. Thank God he had come to see the difference and to realize Jesus as his Saviour—the Saviour who would brighten things for him in the great world beyond. He asked his friends to come to Christ—to the loving Saviour who would help them to salvation. He asked them to be saved as he (Mr. Cooney) had been and give the members of their bodies to the eternal purposes of Jesus. He thanked God that he was saved. Because he was saved he had a new nature, new ambitions, new aspirations upon him. He had been that way, thank God, for some time. He implored his hearers who might think they had glorified Jesus to come down to Burgess’s rooms and learn of how man could be saved. If they followed the dictates of this world they would be satisfied here below.
Remember that was a great world beyond, and remember Christ was willing to love all who came to Him. Love Him! Believe Him!! Follow his examples and, therefore, go to Heaven! There was not, in Enniskillen, a single person who did not believe he was going to Heaven. He (Mr. Cooney) could tell them that there was a time when he was the same, but he had now a new nature upon him and, thank God, was saved. It was different with the children of the Devil. The Devil wanted all he could for the purposes best known to himself. All who were saved were free from that. If they lay down to die that night they had no fear, they knew—as he (Mr. Cooney) knew—there were brighter things for them in the world beyond. He asked them all to go down to Burgess’s rooms where all would be welcome to hear how to be ‘saved.’
The dozen people on the Diamond then marched in single file singing to Burgess’s rooms, and the open-air meeting ended.