I’ve recently come across a gold mine of Baptist history (www.baptisthistoryhomepage.com).
I’ve begun a random selection of biographies, essays and sermons. I first landed on this unknown (to me) Baptist, Thomas Armitage.
In his essay, Baptist Faith and Practice, he argues from Acts 28:22 that even though Paul was imprisoned in jail for his gospel related work that the Romans desired to hear from him.
Paul had been brought to Rome, a prisoner in chains; he was poor and friendless, and charged with being a ring-leader in the sect of the Nazarenes. His enemies had inveterate (unlikely to change) prejudices against him, because he was an abettor of the claims of Jesus. Still, knowing also his great intellectual power, his refinement of manner, purity of motive, and spotlessness of character, they professed a willingness to hear him plead the cause of Christ before they condemned its or judged him. This seemed manly. There is an air of equity, fairness and candor about their words, “we desire to hear from thee,” which commends the men who uttered them. And this was all that the Apostle asked. Give him an impartial hearing, in order to a right judgment in the matter, and then, if they rejected both him and his religion, he could do no more. A man of one religion pays a poor compliment to a man of another, and a poorer to his own, when he cannot, or dare not, investigate the religion of his fellow man; but to refuse him a frank hearing, betrays conscious weakness.
Armitage makes the following case for those who hold to the tenents and practices of a genuine convert…
- Injure no man, friend or foe, in his property, character or person.
- Be gentle in spirit and harmless in life.
- Don’t be “fornicators, or covetous, or railers, or drunkards, or extortioners.”
- Don’t be overly gloomy or depressed.
- Don’t be burdensome to the community.
- Do good.
- Work hard.
- Be ready to give a defense for your behavior.
In addition to his description of one who holds to the tenents and practices of a genuine convert, he gives a strong defense for the faith and practice of Baptists (read his entire essay HERE.)