Revd. Henry Augustus Squire

Founder of the Old Baptist Union

BACK ROW: A. H. Atkins, A. Carrington, L. Hall, W. Bendy, J. G. Clifford.

MIDDLE ROW: I. Fowler, T. E. Bullis, C. Neal, E. Tucker, E. Hatcher, B. Braben, T. Tucker, W. Flanders, F. Bassett, A. N. Other, W. Prattent.

FRONT ROW: F. T. Ellis, H. S. Smith, A. Richards, G. Hobbs, H. Deall, I. Wicks, J. J. Saunders, T. H. Mottershead, W. Lockyer.

The History of the Old Baptist Union, 

by Rev. Chris Whiteley



The Story of the OLD Baptist Union




Revd. Henry Augustus Squire

Founder of the Old Baptist Union




This brief history was not written in order to exalt the Old Baptist Union, but as a testimony to the faithfulness of God, who has taken up the "Earthen vessel" and seen fit to use it for His Kingdom and glory.


The information has been drawn from scattered sources. Minute books, membership rolls, magazines, official correspondence, as well as personal recollections have all been used to compile the record. I have tried to ensure a reasonable degree of historic accuracy and not to make statements of fact for which I could find no authority. The interpretation of facts is, of course, a personal matter and I must ask that my opinions be weighed carefully and prayerfully.


Disproportionate attention may appear to have been given to some of the reported incidents as well as to the contributions of some of the Lord's servants. I hope that this has not distorted the picture for I have endeavoured to use names and events not to demonstrate their importance, but rather as representative of the mood and spirit of the period. The material is also governed by the information available. It has not been possible to include some contributions simply because little or nothing is left on record.


I can only ask that you understand the strictures imposed upon the writer who is by no means a historian and in fact has been concerned not so much to compile a chronological record of the work of the Old Baptist Union, as to write a "thank you note" to the Lord for all that He has accomplished through our witness during one hundred years. - Philip Warburton





New Testament Christianity



Full of the Spirit and of wisdom



Without purse or script



Many adversaries 



Let us go on





"Who is willing to accept and practise all that this book contains?" When Henry Augustus Squire held aloft a copy of the New Testament and challenged his hearers to return to the faith and practice of the Apostolic churches, a torch of truth was lit which still burns brightly in the hearts of those who belong to the Old Baptist Union, a small but vibrant fellowship of evangelical Baptist churches which has maintained a faithful Gospel witness in this country for a period of one hundred years.


The fellowship began, as all such movements of the Holy Spirit have begun, with a kneeling figure. Henry Squire was earnestly seeking the will of God for his future Christian service, when he received a request to conduct a series of cottage meetings at Stoke Newington, London. Believing it to be the answer to his prayer for Divine guidance, he accepted the invitation and commenced his ministry to a congregation of only three persons at 29 Victoria Grove West on Sunday morning 1st August 1880.


The following is Mr. Squire's own account of what happened next:- "In the afternoon and evening we tried to get audiences but were unsuccessful, nothing daunted however, I promised to be there again the following Wednesday. That evening brought a congregation of seven persons, to whom I preached. On Sunday, 8th August, I addressed eight persons in the morning and nine in the evening and I was urged to hold a meeting on the following day, which I consented to do.


"On the Monday evening a fair number had assembled, but before preaching several of the audience desired to ask me a few questions. The first was: 'What kind of minister are you?' I replied that I was an Old Baptist minister and then gave the following explanation: 'As an Old Baptist I thoroughly believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and look upon it as the Word of God. As an Old Baptist I believe in contend time it was given to the end of the world. I then continued to say that. although many believers had more or less departed from the faith and practice of Christ and His apostles, I, not withstanding. believed that God is with all honest Christians as far as they abide in His word, whether it be little or much.


"After answering their questions, as the time for the service had come, I determined to discourse more fully upon the doctrines of Christ, and took for my text. 'Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both Father and the Son. I spoke first, on that faith of which Christ is the Author and Finisher; secondly, on that repentance unto life, or true conversion taught in the Scriptures; thirdly. on baptism by immersion as commanded by Christ: fourthly, on the gift of the Holy Spirit promised in Acts 2:38 and 39 and the laying on of hands as mentioned in Hebrews 6:1 and 2 and fifthly, on the ordinance of the Lord's Supper."


The power of God rested upon both speaker and hearers. Mr. Squire was speaking for two and three-quarter hours, yet neither he nor the others present noticed the time until the end. At the close ten persons came forward with requests for baptism and the laying on of hands. Another remark. able confirmation of God's handiwork in bringing this tiny group of believers together was that no less than five of those assembled at the meeting were later to become ministers of the Old Baptist Union and founders of churches in which hundreds acknowledged Christ by faith as their Saviour.


A church was organised on the 18th of the same month and Henry Squire at the request of the members accepted the pastorate. From that time forward the parlour of 29 Victoria Grove West was always crowded with attentive listeners, and the work progressed rapidly. During the first eight months between seventy and eighty persons professed conversion to Christ. Several halls were hired to accommodate the worshippers, but these soon became overcrowded. In one year from the date of the first meeting, when Mr. Squire preached to a congregation of only three persons, a church of one hundred and eleven members had been established. Subsequently a chapel was erected at Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington, where the work has continued to this day. Although nowadays a struggling inner city congregation, the church has been mightily used of the Lord. Through its ministry many hundreds have been brought out of darkness into light, while at least fifteen of its members have responded to the call to full-time service in both home and foreign missions.


The vision of 1880 extended beyond Stoke Newington. The Lord's design was not merely one Old Baptist Church, but a union of such churches, sounding the call to New Testament Christianity far and wide.


Before we continue the exciting story of the Union's advance, however. we must answer two important questions prompted up in Henry Squire’s brief account of the early meetings. Why, for instance. was there a need for such a stirring call to New Testament Christianity, and why did the founder describe himself as an Old Baptist minister?


To answer the first question, we shall need to look closely at the prevailing conditions during the last half of the nineteenth century. It should be remembered that although Britain was the richest nation in the world, many of its people were the victims of the most appalling degradation. According to William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, one tenth of the population were denizens of a twilight world were poverty. hunger and discase were the common lot. General Booth's worst fears were confirmed by Lord Brabazon, who, in a moving appeal to the nation, declared that a population equal to that of the metropolis was constantly in a state of abject destitution and misery.


A. H. Taine. the French historian, in his "Notes on England" presents a graphic description of London life of the period. "I recall." he wrote, "the alleys which run into Oxford Street, stifling lanes encrusted with human exhalations: troupes of pale children nesting on the muddy stairs, seats on London Bridge where families, huddled together with drooping heads, shiver through the night. Every hundred steps one jostles twenty harlots: some of them ask for a glass of gin; others say: Sir. it is to pay my lodging. This is not debauchery that flaunts itself, but destitution and such destitution! The deplorable procession in the shade of the monumental streets is sickening, it seems to be a march of the dead. That is the plague spot of English society.


As we shall see later chapter Henry Squire, like William Booth, was deeply committed to the struggle for the relief of hunger and poverty. but to a sensitive Christian man concerned to know every step. it was evident that attacking the social evils besetting Britain was merely to treat the symptoms and leave the discase itself still virulent.


The real malady was not social evil, but "spiritual wickedness in high places". Only spiritual weapons are effective in the fight against spiritual wickedness. If the forces of evil are to be overcome the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God must be yielded with authority and power, but it was just here that Henry Squire believed the weakness to be.


Large numbers of professing Christians, be proclaimed, had departed from the faith once for all delivered to the saints". For them the Scriptures were no longer the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and practice.


By this time Rationalism had replaced Ritualism as the chief opponent of those who believed the Bible to be a Divine Revelation. Science, philosophy, and history were all employed in an attempt to discredit the Christian faith. Increasing scientific knowledge, whilst giving valuable insights into the work of God in creation, encouraged some to try to explain creation apart from God. As early as the 1830s Charles Lyall had published "The Principles of Geology" in which he argued that the present state of the earth's surface had been brought about by a long gradual development, but the debate reached crisis point only after the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" in 1859. Although in his monumental work Darwin had left room for belief in a creator, his theories were seen by many to be incompatible with the Genesis record.

Soon in the minds of people both inside and outside the church "evolution" usurped the place of God the Creator. From here it was but a short step to the rejection of the Bible doctrine of the Fall of man and his consequent need of salvation through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Another line of attack upon the Scriptures which developed chiefly in the 19th century was the so-called "Higher Criticism". As E. H. Broadbent has pointed out in his book "The Pilgrim Church", an illuminating history of evangelical Christianity, "This, like the investigations of science is in itself good, but Rationalism pushed it into erroneous theories”.


In order to determine data and authorship of the books of the Bible, higher criticism began by examining external information such as the historical context, geographical background, cultural influences, and literary style. So far so good, but whilst in many ways enriching our understanding of the Scriptures, this pre-occupation with external conditions and human authorship also led to theories which ignored altogether the question of the internal claims to Divine Authorship. Evidently some theologians were prepared to go further than the men of science and philosophy, advancing their "higher criticism" to deny the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures.


In order to determine data and authorship of the books of the Bible, higher criticism began by examining external information such as the historical context, geographical background, cultural influences, and literary style. So far so good, but whilst in many ways enriching our understanding of the Scriptures, this pre-occupation with external conditions and human authorship also led to theories which ignored altogether the question of the internal claims to Divine Authorship. Evidently some theologians were prepared to go further than the men of science and philosophy, advancing their "higher criticism to deny the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures.


That these influences were felt by church leaders of all the mainstream denominations is beyond dispute. Tutors in theological colleges and universities had been feeding these theories to their students for more than twenty years and by 1880 the "chickens were coming home to roost". Among Baptists, too, there was a relaxing of the grip on vital evangelical doctrines, a fact which led Charles Haddon Spurgeon to withdraw from the Baptist Union in 1887 in what has come to be known as the "Downgrade Controversy". Although Spurgeon did not join the Old Baptist Union, he was a frequent contributor to Union publications and a welcome preacher in our pulpits; an obvious ally in the fight against the rising tide of modernism.


Such was the condition of the Church in 1880. Behind the glories of Empire and under the cloak of Victorian respectability lay not only the social evils afflicting the destitute and hungry, but the spiritual wickedness of a Church losing its grip on the fundamentals of the faith, and therefore, ill-equipped to proclaim the liberating truths of the Gospel.


"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." The words of the prophet, Isaiah express a spiritual law, an abiding principle of divine operation.


It is no accident that so many evangelical movements were born at this critical point in the life of the nation. The Holy Spirit was at work calling out His standard bearers to lead the fight against liberalism. Just over a hundred years ago William and Catherine Booth were raised up by the Lord to establish the mighty work of the Salvation Army. In 1875 the Keswick Convention was formed for the promotion of practical holiness. The Scripture Union began its distribution of Daily Bible Reading Notes in 1879. In 1883 William Alexander Smith founded the Boys' Brigade, the first of the Christian youth organisations with its great object "The advancement of Christ's Kingdom among boys". There were the personal contributions of D. L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, who led the successful crusade to Britain in 1873-5 and, of course, C. H. Spurgeon, through whose powerful preaching thousands came to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.


The Old Baptist Union, too, had a vital part in what has been described as a "Second Evangelical Awakening". Henry Squire's distinctive call for a return to New Testament Christianity was equally important to the Lord's cause and never more necessary than in 1880.


The second question is just as important to our understanding of the nature of the work and witness of the Old Baptist Union. What did the founder mean when he described himself to the little group of enquirers at Stoke Newington as an "Old Baptist" minister?


Although baptised by immersion at the age of 22, there is no hint of any strong denominational allegiance in Mr. Squire's early life and ministry. There is nothing in the records of his itinerant teaching and preaching programme that would attach to him any of the conventional theological or denominational labels, except perhaps his unequivocal conservative stance upon the Bible as the infallible Word of God.


Perhaps the most formative years, doctrinally speaking, were the ten years from 1856 spent in the United States of America. Whilst living in Rhode Island he enjoyed fellowship with the Six-principal Baptists, whose title derived from their adherence to all of the six tenets listed in Hebrews 6:1 and 2 and described there as "the foundation" and "the principles of the doctrine of Christ". The Six-Principal Baptists were sometimes called Old Baptists and were generally believed to be the mother' of American Baptist churches, having been gathered under the leadership of Roger Williams, an emigrant from England, as early as 1639. It is interesting to note that Rhode Island, established in 1663 by Old Baptists, was the first spot on earth where religious liberty was made the law of the land.


That he was deeply impressed by the life and teaching of these Old Baptist churches is very clear. Certainly, with his own firm convictions about the Divine inspiration of Scripture, he would have responded warmly to the notion that what the New Testament Church had delineated as the foundation principles, actually taught by the Lord Himself, could not be set aside without the loss of much power and blessing.


Whether he learned of the Confessions of Faith of the English Baptists of 1611 and 1660, embracing the same six principles, in America or on his return to Britain is not a matter of record. It seems probable that in Rhode Island he would have learned that the original congregations there were made up of English or Welsh Baptists, who had carried their beliefs across the Atlantic to the new world. Whether the discovery was made at home or abroad we cannot say, but we do know that these early Confessions were the basis of the Articles of Faith upon which the Old Baptist Union was constituted in 1880. Even today these Articles are prefaced by the statement: "The following are the Articles of Faith of the Old Baptist Union, organised after the Scriptural principles of the General Baptists of 1611 and 1660; from which derivation we, being their true representatives, justly claim to be known as Old Baptists". This link with the early English Baptists is further emphasised by the fact that in early Union publications the year 1880 was not so much referred to as the date of the founding, but rather as the date of the reorganisation or revival of the Old Baptist cause in Great Britain.


1660 was the year of the Restoration of the Monarchy which, although Charles II, in order to obtain the crown, had promised liberty of worship, in fact heralded a quarter of a century of fierce persecution. The Confession of 1660 was presented to the King by two Baptist ministers named Grantham and Wright, in good faith that he would honour his promise. A postscript was added to the original document, which proved to be prophetic of the terrible persecution to come. It read as follows: "And in the belief and practice of these things (it being the good old Apostolic way) our souls have found that rest and soul peace that the world knows not, and which they cannot take from us. Of whom should we be afraid? God is become our strength, our light, our salvation; therefore, we are resolved, through grace, to seal the truth of these things in the way of suffering persecution, not only to the loss of our goods, freedom, or liberties, but with our lives also if called thereunto. Subscribed by certain elders, deacons and brethren met at London in the month called March 1660 on the behalf of themselves, and many others unto whom they belong in London and in several counties of this nation, who are of the same faith as us”.


Here followed forty signatures of the most prominent and influential Baptists of the period, and the historian, Crosby, adds the following sentence, "Owned and approved by more than twenty thousand".

The "prophecy" was not long in fulfilment. The Act of Uniformity was passed in 1662 requiring every minister to assent to everything contained in the Book of Common Prayer. Non-conformists were not allowed to hold meetings where more than five persons in addition to their own families were present. They were denied Government employment and could not hold office in any municipal body. Ministers who refused to submit to these laws were ejected from their livings and were forbidden to go within five miles of any corporate borough, or any place where they had formerly ministered.


How "Old" Baptists fared in the face of these cruel regulations is difficult to determine. Some undoubtedly fled to the new world, others remained, to work in the 'underground' church in Britain, while men like John Bunyan, the author of "Pilgrim's Progress" were thrown into prison for fearlessly and openly proclaiming the Gospel. Documents such as the Broadmead Records for Bristol demonstrate the fearful price of the non-conformity of the period, but still the witness continued. Knight's "History of the General Six Principal Baptists" (published in 1829) says:

"In 1688 there were in the City of London, six General Baptist churches, which were associated together to maintain the doctrine of the laying on of hands after baptism, and all the principles of Christ's doctrine set forth in Hebrews 6:1 and 2".


Although in the years following many General Baptists embraced Arianism, which denied the Divinity of Christ, whilst the Particular Baptists, reacting against liberalism, had lapsed into an inhibiting hyper-Calvinism, Knight traces the Six-principle Baptist history through the next one hundred and fifty years and names over two hundred churches who held to these principles, as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century. From that time forward we know very little except that "it pleased the Lord to use Henry August Squire to rekindle the Old Baptist light in ‘Darkest England’ in 1880”.





Oftentimes the process of preparing a Christian man for his divinely appointed work begins before ever he hears the call to special service. This was undoubtedly true of Henry Squire. He was born on 22nd February 1825, in the county town of Hertford, the fourth son of Mr.

Thomas Squire.


At the age of fourteen, while on a visit to Putney, he attended a Sunday evening service at a Methodist chapel and was powerfully convinced of his need of a Saviour. Two years late, when overtaken by a severe illness, those impressions were revived, and he vowed to serve the Lord if his life was spared.


The strong Calvinistic beliefs of his mother seem not to have influenced his theology unduly. In later years he would emphasise both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, recognising them as standing side by side in Scripture. In preaching the Gospel he would proclaim the possibility of full and free salvation for all who were willing to accept it.


Nevertheless, the Bible teaching of those early years and the encouragement of daily devotions in the home made a deep impression, prompting a love for truth, honour and justice which never deserted him.


As a young man he attended an Independent Chapel near his home. He became convinced of the need to be baptised by immersion through the instrumentality of an elder brother, and openly confessed the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism at the age of twenty-two.


Directly afterwards he felt the irresistible leading of the Holy Spirit to enter the ministry, and underwent a course of preparatory studies in Latin, Greek and Theology under the tutorship of the Rev. John Rowe, M.A., of Welwyn.


The formal training completed he spent the next eight years as an itinerant evangelist, travelling through most of the counties of England, preaching the Gospel wherever he was invited. He was later to confess that preaching to congregations of all denominations removed much of his prejudice towards those who were in error. "Preach Christ in the Spirit of Christ," he would say, "for God is with all Christians who are honest in heart and are walking up to the light they have received and know no better."


In 1856 Henry Squire went to the United States of America, where he remained for ten years during which he travelled from coast to coast preaching the Gospel. While in America he studied Hebrew, acquiring considerable proficiency in the language. It was there that he came into contact with the Six-principal Baptists and embraced the "foundation principles of the doctrine of Christ', which were to greatly influence his ministry for the remainder of his life.


Returning to England in 1866 he settled in Luton but continued his ministry as a travelling evangelist. In 1873 he was elected a member of the Luton Local Board, the body which preceded the Town Council as the Local Authority, being returned at the head of the poll.


In the same year during the farm labour agitation at a meeting held in the Town Hall, Luton, he was appointed Chairman of the Agricultural Workers' Movement in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, a position he held until a union of a thousand members was formed. Since Joseph Arch did not found his famous Warwickshire Agricultural Workers Union until 1888, H. A. Squire must have been one of the earliest pioneers in the long and bitter struggle for improved conditions for the down-trodden farmers. Despite fierce opposition and sometimes at great personal risk to life and limb, he travelled the Bedfordshire countryside urging and organising support for the agricultural workers.


Concerned also for the problems of the great cities, Mr. Squire later joined Z. B. Wolfendale's Committee for Opposing the Evils of Infidelity and was engaged almost every evening at the St. Pancras Arches and other places in London, where the opponents of the Gospel assembled. This work again involved him in physical danger, as well as exposing him to bitter personal abuse. These activities are indicative of courage and determination. Here we have the unusual combination of a tender heart, and an iron will, but what of the mind? Did Henry Squire have the spiritual insight that would fit him for the tasks of leading the Old Baptist Union?


In his own published works the founder affords us many opportunities to assess the wisdom and power with which he spoke. So much has been written in books such as "A Key to the Bible", "Life, Death and Immortality" and "The Gospel of the New Testament", that the choice of quotations must be restricted. Only three have been selected. Each of them was often repeated and indeed may be traced as a continuous thread through his teaching and preaching ministry.

The first is "A right understanding of the Godhead, is the foundation of all true theology". Henry Squire was a man who believed in laying firm foundations. No building, however well-constructed, was of much use if it was built on sand.


Undergirding his ministry was the foundation of the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture. All his books, pamphlets and published sermons are simply steeped in Scripture. It is difficult to find a single paragraph without a Bible reference. Nor was it indiscriminate use of the Word of God.

As a preacher he possessed that precious gift to be able to choose just the right quotation at the right moment. To compare Scripture with Scripture was his method; one might say his preaching style. It was the best way, he believed, in which a man could "rightly divide the Word of Truth".


Then there were the foundation principles of the doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1 and 2, not one of which could be lightly set aside at personal whim, or because it did not happen to fit into a certain tradition. Repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the doctrine of baptisms and the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement - these were principles of Christ's teaching, not incidentals but fundamentals of the faith. The way of salvation through repentance and faith; the way of sanctification through obedience and the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the way of glorification, the believer's hope of eternal life. What could be more basic than that? To build without a complete foundation was to erect a structure that would be found wanting in the storms of adversity.


Supremely there was the foundation vested in the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their power and Godhead. By far the greater proportion of his published works are occupied with this theme. There could be no compromise with those who attacked either the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ or the personality of the Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct and separate personalities, yet one in nature, one in purpose and one in every essential attribute. These were foundational truths, to go wrong here was to lose all perspective, to distort the truth of God into a lie.


The second of the founder's statements concerns the process of sanctification. He believed that "Every act of obedience brings more of the Spirit's power". The ordinances of the Gospel were the beginning of the process, the first steps of obedience to the commands of Christ. If the believer was to "go on to maturity", it would be by way of obedience to the Will of the Lord. To Henry Squire this was not merely a valuable precept, but a practical way of life. "Don't spare me, Lord," he was often heard to pray, "Work in me and out of me and through me, just as Thou wilt.”


This spirit was in evidence from his earliest years until his death at the age of 90 years. In the first eight years of his ministry, he walked 25,000 miles to preach the Gospel of saving grace. Who can tell the perils he faced whilst travelling across America in those wild and dangerous years, but he must preach the Gospel whatever the cost. In the violent, bitter struggle for farm workers' rights he risked life and limb, but social justice is an essential element of the Gospel of Christ. The work of the Old Baptist Union is, perhaps, the greatest testimony to his life of obedience. That his evangelising zeal, his willingness to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ was contagious, is demonstrated in the lives of so many who responded to the call to New Testament Christianity.


The last of the three statements was first uttered during the inaugural meeting at Stoke Newington. It is, perhaps, not so well remembered, but is nonetheless significant in the light of the subsequent development of the Union. "God is with all honest Christians as far as they abide in His Word, whether it be little or much". Here the large and generous tolerance of the true man of God shines out. H. A. Squire was no narrow-minded sectarian insisting on fellowship only with those who believed precisely as he did. Like John Bunyan before him he stoutly championed the doctrines of believer's baptism and the laying on of hands, but also like Bunyan he strenuously resisted the idea that either should be made conditions of church membership.


The earliest Statement of Faith drawn up on 18th August 1880, reads: "We believe that we should not be sectarian but should give the right hand of fellowship to all those who believe and love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and in truth: and this shall be the only test of fellowship required of all those who wish to be united with us as members of the Body of Christ". So strong was this conviction that the first of the Old Baptist Union churches to be established at Stoke Newington and Tunbridge Wells were named the "Unsectarian Christian Church". In that there has been any departure, for any reason, from this principle of fellowship, let us be clear that we have departed from the vision of 1880.


Here then is a portrait of God's chosen instrument. Not a testimony to human achievement, but to the matchless Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ without whom Henry Augustus Squire would be counted as nothing. A man of the Book, who, though having unshakeable convictions from which he would not be moved, was nevertheless tolerant and sympathetic with other members of the Body of Christ, whose understanding of God's Word differed from his own. A lion-hearted man with the courage and determination to confront the forces of evil and yet with the loving kindness that concerns itself with the plight of the weak and underprivileged. A man "Full of the Spirit and of Wisdom".


This is the stuff of which Christian leaders are made and it is the Lord who makes them.





The vision granted to Henry Augustus Squire extended beyond Stoke Newington. The Lord's design was not merely for one Old Baptist Church, but for a union of such churches sounding the call to New Testament Christianity throughout Britain and beyond.


One who came into close association with the work near its commencement has said that it was like "the times of the apostles over again". The power of God was mightily present. By 1890, twenty-two churches had been established chiefly in London and the Home Counties. During that ten-year period nearly three thousand souls were added to the churches.


Reading through the records one is deeply impressed by the incredible energy and enthusiasm of those early days. Minute books, magazines, church reports and personal correspondence alike bear testimony to the single-minded devotion of both ministers and members. Men and women were sent out, as were the disciples of Jesus, "without purse or scrip" to proclaim the Gospel and plant new churches. They walked by faith, not by sight, trusting only the Lord for their livelihood.


The first of these pioneers was James Wicks, one of the ten original members at Stoke Newington. Mr. Wicks had a gift for the unusual expression. He would often say that his only desire was to be "God's football". It was a measure not only of the humour, but of the humility of a man of God who was willing to be quite literally "kicked about" in the Lord's service. He was granted his desire. As early as 1881 he was sent to Tunbridge Wells. He arrived with only ninepence in his pocket, but the Lord supplied his needs, and he was able to establish a church through which hundreds found the Saviour. Minutes of the church meeting there, record that the preaching of the Gospel in the open air was often attended by persecution and physical intimidation, but that did not deter "God's football". The disciples grew and multiplied and at least six of the members followed James Wicks into the Old Baptist Union ministry.


Another of the early missionaries was Robert G. Allen; one of three men addressed by Henry Squire at the first Stoke Newington meeting. In August 1884, full of eager passion to win men for Christ, he arrived at Brighton. Not knowing anyone in the town, he approached a porter at the Central Station and asked if he knew a man of God in Brighton who would open his house for a prayer meeting. "Yes," replied the porter, "I am a man of God, and I am willing to open my house." It was enough, the prayer meeting grew and before long a church had been planted in the bustling seaside town.


By the turn of the century the work had spread out from the capital. Apart from the nineteen churches in London, fellowships had been established in Kent, Sussex, Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wales and as far north as Macclesfield in Cheshire. The Union now had thirty-eight churches and a further two thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight new members were added during the previous ten years. The June 1891 issue of the Union's magazine "Light and Truth" carries an interesting account of the development of the work in Wales. Some years before Pastors E. T. Lockyer and Alonzo Clark had conducted missions in the area and churches were established at Blaenavon and Talywain. The magazine records the founding of yet another church.


"The work of the Old Baptist Union in Cwmtillery was begun in the Spring of 1888 by Mr. E. Davis and several of the brethren from our Talywain church, which is about five miles distant in a direct line over the mountains, which separate the two places. These faithful workers joyfully walked the ten miles each Sunday that they might be instrumental in preaching the Gospel to their fellow men in this rising village. Praise God! Their self-denying efforts were not in vain. Twenty souls professed conversion to Christ within a few months, and when the President of the Union and Mr. James Wicks visited the place in the following year, a church of fourteen members was organised.


"Steadily the work grew, and members were added until the little hall which had been hired for the services became too small for the congregation. But then came a serious trial. Even this small place of worship was required by the owner for other purposes, and the little flock had the fear before them that unless something was done without delay, they would soon be without a home at all. Only one course appeared open to them and that was to build a suitable chapel, which, of course, meant an expense that the few working members were unable to raise.


"It was under these circumstances that the Pastor, Rev. C. Martyn, conceived the idea of building a chapel with his own hands, assisted by as much willing help as the men of the church could spare time to perform, from their daily employment. "A piece of ground was obtained and last summer the building was commenced. What perseverance, faith and self-denial the work demanded will probably be unknown until the day of reward; but gradually the labour proceeded until at last Mr. Martyn and his fellow workers have had the joy of seeing the edifice completed."


In February 1900 "New Testament Christianity", another of the Union's publications, carried the following report on the work of George S. Read, another indefatigable pioneer.


"He was baptised in October 1881, since when he has been an ardent worker in our ranks, and a warm exponent of our God-given principles. His first pastorate was at Chalk Farm, where he was instrumental in organising a church, which, as the Camden Town Branch, is still prospering and advancing. A mission hall under a railway arch was the first home of this church, Mr. Read labouring with his own hands, as well as contributing liberally, to fit it for its purpose.


"From that time this servant of Christ felt that as a pioneer, opening new branches of the Union, and preparing the way for other labourers who might not be so well-fitted for this foundation laying, he had found his special work, and consequently, he soon opened another mission at Brixton.


"Here, too, he was successful by dint of earnest prayerful labour in firmly establishing the Union. Stockwell soon followed, and both these branches are still flourishing O.B.U. centres.


"At Lewisham, Mr. Read's work was on somewhat different lines, for here a branch had already been opened, yet there remained many difficulties to be faced, not the least of which was a more suitable place of worship, and the new Pastor set at once to work to remove this disability. The comfortable chapel in which the church now meets, was the result of Mr. Read's activity and foresight, and when he left that branch to endeavour to establish the Union at Camberwell and Peckham, he had the pleasure of knowing that his efforts had been greatly blessed and used of the Lord to the furtherance of the Gospel. At Camberwell, and subsequently at James Grove Church, Peckham, our brother did an admirable work in leading those churches into closer union with the truth; and latterly he has opened a branch at Brentwood, where he is now labouring. For some years Mr. Read acted as Secretary of our Home and Foreign Mission, greatly to the prosperity and increase of that important effort. We wish him every blessing in his present sphere of labour, and hope that he will ere long. again take up his pioneer work and gain many more victories.


This article was immediately followed by a sermon on the text "Apart from Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Characteristically, Pastor Read had insisted on its inclusion as a condition on which the report of his activities could be published.


These accounts are typical of the evangelising zeal of the first twenty years of the Union's history. They were exciting years of growth. They were years of costly service. They were years when people were more important than buildings. In fact, buildings scarcely seemed to matter as churches were established in homes, behind shops, under railway arches and in hired halls. When buildings became necessary, they were erected, and many are the stories of the marvellous provision of the Lord as the people turned to Him in their need.


From the newly formed churches several have survived until the present day. Among these is Providence Baptist Church, Lewes, one of the earliest centres of Old Baptist Union witness, having been established by Robert G. Allen in 1884.


In London, the Lewisham Baptist Church is the oldest surviving fellowship apart from Stoke Newington.


We have already noted the work of G. S. Read in building the chapel at Albacore Crescent. Another record of outstanding service at Lewisham is that of Walter Prattent, who, in addition to his long and faithful pastorate became a distinguished President of the Union.


Through the instrumentality of Thomas A. Tucker the work at Walthamstow began in Hoe Street in 1884, though it was not until 1908 that the present building in Wood Street was erected. The church has a reputation for warm fellowship. and through the years has presented a clear and uncompromising call to New Testament Christianity. No less than four of its ministers have served as President of the Old Baptist Union. They were H. S. Smith, who had the unusual distinction of following his father into the pastorate, A. Richards, one of the longest serving Presidents, H. A. Emmins and R. F. Bourlet, who each served as both President and General Secretary.  At least two more, J. Clifford and G. A. Mitchell, have occupied the post of General Secretary.


The earliest record of an Old Baptist Witness in Luton is in 1888. when T. H. Squire, the son of the founder, held services there. Worship continued in the Gospel Hall, Williamson Street, but it was some years before the chapels in Stanton Road and Reginald Street were built.


In 1926 the intrepid church planter, Robert Allen, himself built the Mission Hall in Derby Road, which was later destroyed by fire. On 27th September 1952, the whole building and its contents were destroyed. The work might have ended there and then, but, of course, the Church is not merely the building; the Church is the people of God, the members of Christ's body utterly dependent upon the Lord, who is Head of the Church. Faith was tested as the work was carried on first in the potting shed of the West End Nurseries and then in school premises nearby, but faith in God is never misplaced. The Lord answered the prayers of His people and before long the new building at Stanton Road was erected bringing new opportunities to advance Christ's Kingdom. A succession of able expositors has left a church which is doctrinally aware and with a solid foundation on which to build for the glory of God in an expanding industrial township.


On the other side of Luton, the first recorded meeting was held at 17 Old Bedford Road on 23rd August, 1906. It was a further seven years before the chapel in Reginald Street was opened. The work grew and multiplied under the leadership of George Hobbs, another stalwart of the early life of the Old Baptist Union. An outstanding man of prayer, he was completely dedicated to the cause for which he suffered untold hardship. George Hobbs died in 1940 having served the Lord in Luton for thirty. four years. Albert Richards, Harold Joynes and the present President, Kenneth Argent are among those who have laid the solid foundations of a church which is still being mightily used of the Lord.


Bethel Baptist Church, Macclesfield, is another work which has stood the test of time. The church was blessed in its beginning through the preaching of the scholarly A. C. Jarvis. In 1899 Harry Deall began a long and fruitful ministry which lasted for thirty-eight years. Today, over forty years after his death, his name is still revered not only by surviving members of the congregation, but by many who have had little or no association with the church. "The Bethel", as it is invariably referred to by the townspeople, is another church whose faith has been severely tested in adversity. In 1933 the church roof collapsed. Mercifully, no one was hurt. though only hours before, the building had been crowded for special services. Once more the matchless grace of God proved sufficient. The money received by the church not only enabled the replacing of the roof but was enough for the erection of a new church hall. The church continues today and only recently has built a new extension, a church lounge, and improved classroom and catering facilities.


Faithful Men


The mention of the long ministries of George Hobbs and Harry Deall points up a significant change in the life and witness of the Union. In earlier years Pastors were appointed to their fields of labour, conference by conference, and in some cases remained in one church for only a few months before moving on to another area. This method of appointment may have been well-suited to a continuous church planting ministry. but after almost twenty years pioneering, consolidation had become a matter of prime importance.


In 1899 the "Three Years' System" was introduced in which Pastors were appointed to churches for a fixed period of three years. At the expiration of their term, they would be removed except a two-thirds majority of the members was in favour of retaining them for a further three years and they, themselves, were willing to remain. Before leaving a church, the Pastor was required to ascertain the view of the majority of the members as to whom they desired to succeed him and place the nomination before the Conference.


The introduction of the "Three Years System" was intended to go more stability to local churches and yet at the same time to ensure reasonably frequent pastoral changes. It was abandoned as "unworkable" after only a few years. Nevertheless, it left the way open for the much longer ministries with which we are familiar.


In the years following there were many such "marathon" pastorates. T. H. Mottershead went out from Bethel, Macclesfield, to establish the church at Newton Heath, Manchester. He remained for thirty-six years and nurtured a church which has continued his vigorous evangelistic witness until the present day. Pastor Mottershead was always ready to take the lowest place, to perform the most menial task in the furtherance of God's work.


When H. Stanley Smith was appointed to the pastorate of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Swanage, the church was empty, because earlier dissension had divided the Baptists in the town. He remained in Swanage for 35 years, a well-loved and faithful minister of a church which experienced division at its beginning, but by God's grace became a fellowship renowned among the thousands of holiday visitors to the lovely seaside town for the warmth of its welcome and fine Gospel witness.


Another long ministry of note was that of Arthur Carrington, for forty-two years Pastor of Higham's Park Baptist Tabernacle in London. A man with a great love for the "deep things of God", Pastor Carrington was a particularly keen expositor of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The duties he undertook on behalf of two teenagers resulted in an interesting chain of events: both were baptised, then united in marriage. Their two daughters were dedicated, and later, baptised, as were also their boy. friends. These two couples were married and later presented their children for dedication!


The doyen of all long-serving Pastors was undoubtedly A. D. Robertson of Brighton, who served the Lord with unfailing devotion at Islingword Road Baptist Church, for over fifty years. He delighted to tell the story of how he had been asked to take temporary pastoral oversight at Brighton and was still waiting to be relieved!


The writer recalls the occasion when, as a newly ordained minister of the Gospel, he was "billeted" with Pastor Robertson at a Conference. He awoke at about 6.30 a.m. one morning and saw at the other end of the room this elderly man of God then in his eighties on his knees beside his bed. He was quietly "discussing" with the Lord the passage of Scripture he had been reading. He spoke so simply and directly as if the Lord had been looking over his shoulder as he searched the Scriptures. He had no idea that there was another "watcher" until later, when in answer to an enquiry, he confessed that the secret of his long and happy life had been the three B's??? - the Book, the biscuits, and the beverage, in that order! He went on to explain that each morning at six he would spend an hour with the Lord and His Word, after which his wife would bring in tea and biscuits and join him in prayer. It is little wonder that Pastor Robertson "bore the shining image of the Master in his face.”


A New Century


Although the first quarter of the 20th century was a period of consolidation the pioneering instinct of the Old Baptist Union was to continue for many years to come. One exciting venture was the summer and autumn missions to the villages of England. Union evangelists in two Gospel and Bible vans "The Little Wanderer" and "The Messenger" toured the countryside preaching the Gospel, circulating Scriptures and other Christian literature. The Union's publications, too, were instrumental in furthering the Gospel witness. The magazines "Light and Truth" and "New Testament Christianity had a wide circulation. They were sold from door to door and in public houses and given away to passers-by at open-air services. Some branches disposed of between three and four hundred copies each month, by these means. The writer has sometimes been asked why we are unable to publish a monthly magazine today. Perhaps the answer is, because of the lack of the single-minded devotion of earlier days.


Among the earliest pioneers of the new century was Cornelius Neal. Pastor Neal was converted in the Salvation Army but being later convicted of the need to be baptised and receive the laying on of hands, he joined the Islingword Road Baptist Church at Brighton. Being a man with a deep concern for the lost he went out from there on evangelistic missions using a horse-drawn "Gospel Caravan". Not only were souls saved, but bodies were healed as the young evangelist exercised the precious spiritual gifts God had granted to him. His daughter, Mrs. D. R. Newman, recalls one incident. She tells of a father, who brought his son, who was on crutches to the caravan. As they were ushered in, the man asked, "Do you think the Lord can heal my son?" Cornelius threw back the challenge. "Do you think God can heal your son?" The reply was, "Yes, I do". The evangelist laid hands on the boy, who immediately put down his crutches. got up, ran down the steps of the caravan and around the field. The man was so overcome that he sat down and cried.


In 1904 Cornelius Neal was ordained and moved to Horsham, where for a time worship was held in the unlikely "Pump Room" in Pump Alley. The remarkable divine healing ministry continued and set the seal of God's Spirit on a fruitful work for the Lord, which continues to this day. From the "Pump Room" the church moved "up in the world" in fact to a stable with a brick floor. The men set to work to improve the little sanctuary by apparently sawing right round the floor of the hayloft above and carefully letting it down to form a wooden floor for the church!

From these small beginnings the church grew, eventually occupying the chapel in Oakhill Road, which remains to this day.


The Lord had yet another church-planting task for Cornelius Neal. After ministering for nine years at Horsham, he moved to South Norwood and began services in his own home. There was no money with which to build the church, but one evening when he arrived home from his daily round there was a telegram awaiting him from a Mrs. Dand. The message was brief and to the point, "Come at once. Mr. Dand is dying." Mrs. Dand was a Christian, but her husband was unsaved. On arrival at the home, Pastor Neal was met by a very worried Mrs. Dand. "I have had ministers from several denominations," she said, "but I am not satisfied." He was ushered in to see the dying man and was immediately constrained to read the words of the hymn - “Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain, Could give the guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain. But Christ, the Heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away, A sacrifice of nobler name, and richer blood than they.” At the end of the second verse, Mr. Dand's face lit up and there and then he received the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour. "It is all right," said Mrs. Dand, "I am quite satisfied." The Lord called Mr. Dand home and about a week later Cornelius received a cheque for £100. A local builder was engaged immediately to erect a corrugated iron building in Farley Place. There the work continued until 1944, when Pastor H. T. Newman, Cornelius Neal's son-in-law, was instrumental in obtaining the Zion Baptist Church, we know today.


Although the church at Hammersmith is over seventy-five years old, it did not move into the present building, so well-known by conference visitors, until 1956. In fact, the church met originally in a room above a shop in Greyhound Road, Fulham. As the work grew the fellowship moved to a small hall in Lillie Road and later into a railway arch in Cambridge Road.


Before moving to Dalling Road, the church gathered in the little chapel at Redmore Road. Renowned for its warm fellowship and hospitality, in recent years the church has become a favourite venue for conference services. Leslie Clark, the present Pastor, is the grandson of Alonzo Clark, one of the founding missionaries of the Old Baptist Union.


The Emmanuel Baptist Church at Eastleigh came into being as a result of an evangelistic mission conducted by Robert Williams, but it was not until 1934 that the present building was purchased from the Congregational Church by Pastor and Mrs. T. H. Squire. Robert Williams became the first Pastor and was later succeeded by J. C. Percy, who served for a brief period as President of the Union. R. O. H. White, A. C. Norris, T. Hedges, F. Broadhurst, who went out from Bethel Baptist Church, Macclesfield into the ministry and A. D. Thorpe have also served as Pastors in a church, which although never large, has remained faithful in proclaiming the whole counsel of God.


Later pioneers included Leonard Booth, who had a vision from the Lord to build churches. The vision became a reality at Leek, where he erected the Emmanuel Baptist Chapel. The church has "weathered the storms" of earlier years and more recently has blossomed into a work of solid worth.


Pastor Booth then moved to Swadlincote, where he set to work to "convert" a building in Alexandre Road into a temple fit for the worship of the Lord of hosts. It is difficult to imagine that the chapel renovated in 1948 and still in use today was once a butcher's shop!


A name well-known in the Northwest is that of Mrs. Rhoda Whiteside: "Sister Rhoda" to her many friends in the Old Baptist Union. As a Deaconess, Rhoda founded the church at Harpurhey, Manchester, where God's people met for worship in an upper room over a coal merchant's stable in Pickston Street. Early worshippers used orange boxes for seating, which in no way hindered their expression of the joy of the Lord. For the writer the rickety wooden staircase, the fierce heat from the old pot stove, the centrepiece for the church prayer meeting, are more than nostalgic memories, for it was in these humble surroundings that he made his first faltering profession of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was born in a stable and it was in a stable that he drew a young boy along with hundreds more with the cords of His wonderful love. The Harpurhey fellowship was the forerunner of Providence Baptist Church, Langley, which in recent years has had such a tremendous impact, particularly among young people, on the vast overspill estate on the outskirts of the City of Manchester.


And the Women


The work of Sister Rhoda is a timely reminder that the pioneer work of the Union was not the prerogative of ministers, nor even of men alone. The same sacrificial spirit and loving devotion characterised members of the congregation, who so often "gave according to their means and beyond their means". William Booth of the Salvation Army once remarked "Some of my best men are women.” The point is certainly driven home by the history of many churches of the Old Baptist Union, which, had it not been for the dedication and determination of an innumerable company of faithful women, would have closed their doors long ago.


It is impossible to name them all. It would indeed be unwise to name any unless the reader recognised that the list was merely representative of a "great cloud of witnesses", women of faith, who have been wonderfully used in the service of the Lord.


Many will remember Deaconess Rosa Gilbert, who gave a lifetime of service at Colwyn Bay. There she assisted Thomas Tucker, a quiet, dignified Pastor, who inspired great devotion in his people. In faith, Miss Gilbert took over "Theodore", a large house behind the Mission Hall in Abergele Road in order to provide home and holiday for children from poor homes. In her seventies, having suffered an embolism of the heart, she had her leg amputated. Near the end of her life, she is remembered, standing on leg and crutch, and singing;  “When by His grace, I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me.” Another "elect lady" of Colwyn Bay was Laurie Mottershead. Who can forget the beautiful winning smile of the most cheerful church treasurer one could ever wish to meet?


It seems that wherever one goes in the Old Baptist Union there is somebody who remembers with love and gratitude the sisters, Hilda and Elsie Thomas, of Lewisham. Many can trace the first stirrings of faith to the time spent in their Sunday School class, or in the splendid Girls' Brigade Company of which they were officers.


Winnie and Lily Tucker are two more sisters, whose love and devotion are an example to all. One remembers their neat, trim little home in the midst of the urban decay of inner city Stoke Newington, a testimony in itself to the determination not to desert the cause to which God had called them.


There are few more inspiring records of faithfulness than that of Hannah Redhead, who was Sunday School Superintendent at Stanton Road Baptist Church, Luton for 50 years! This was not a case of an elderly woman presiding over an ailing cause, grimly determined to serve out her time, whilst the work came to a standstill. The Sunday School at Stanton Road was and still is one of the largest and well run in the Old Baptist Union, perhaps even in the country as a whole. Mrs. Redhead in later years avoided the perils of long-serving leadership by accepting the advice of younger staff, whilst refusing to let go the high spiritual priorities of the work.


Apart from her lifetime of faithful service in the church, Deaconess N. Bolingbroke, of Horsham, was a regular contributor to the Union's magazines for well over twenty-five years. The consistent flow of neatly hand-written manuscripts was gratefully received by a succession of hard-pressed editors and always appreciated, especially by women readers.


Another lady who endeared herself to many people in the Old Baptist Union was Miss Rose Jennings of Hammersmith. A real trophy of grace, Miss Jennings was known not only in her own church, but throughout the Union, simply as "Auntie Rose. This in itself a testimony to her warmth and love for God's people.


All but one of these gracious ladies have "died in faith". They are representative of the women of their generation, whom God has honoured and blessed. There are others still living who have followed in their footsteps. Time would fail to tell of the contribution of the ministers' wives, those underpaid and overworked "curates", who have enriched the life and witness of so many churches. Besides being wives and mothers they have provided secretarial support, "oiled the wheels" of the church by their wise counsel, borne the brunt of criticism so often directed through them at their menfolk and been the eyes and ears of many a busy Pastor, who would have otherwise failed to notice that Mr. ____ wore a troubled look as he left the church, or that Mrs.____ was none too steady on her feet today. There have been others who have taken secular work to supplement a meagre family income. In earlier years there were ministers' wives who "took in washing" and one at least managed a fried fish shop to support her family! Their united testimony would be "The Lord has provided for every need." That is true, but whether the means of provision was always the Lord's first choice is quite another matter.


Though to summarise the work of the Old Baptist Union in the first fifty years of its history is a difficult task, one feature does stand out. It is the burning zeal of those who caught the vision of Henry Augustus Squire. A great passion for souls" gripped the people of God, resulting in an aggressive evangelism, an ever-restless spirit, never content merely to invite the sinner to come, but continually going out in search of the lost. The willingness of the pioneers to pay the price of such a costly ministry is not only a cause for thanksgiving for the amazing enabling grace of God, but a challenge to those who today are ready to settle for easier options.


There was, too, a dependence upon the Holy Spirit that is not always in evidence today. Adherence to the six principles of Hebrews 6:1 and 2 and particularly to the ordinance of the laying on of hands meant that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer was always kept to the fore. His guidance, His gifts of equipment, His power for service and above all His fullness were eagerly sought. They were not merely doctrinal issues, but principles which really worked in everyday Christian living.


Into all the World


The people obeyed the Lord's commission to "Go", but, of course, the command was to go "into all the world".


By 1906 the Old Baptist call had been heard in many different countries. Missions had been established in Perth, Western Australia, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Sask, Canada. There was even an Old Baptist Mission to Soldiers and Sailors in Gibraltar.


Links were formed with the General Six-Principal Baptists of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania in the U.S.A. In fact, they were now regarded as national conferences of the Old Baptist Union sending representatives to England and in turn receiving visitors from this country. Two ministers, A. C. Lambourne and F. J. Caterer, emigrated to America and became Pastors among the Six-Principal Baptists. A. C. Lambourne later became President of the Conference there.


On the continent of Europe, too, the work was expanding. In Germany there were nine small churches or mission stations making up the German Conference. Later the work advanced into Holland, where a Dutch Conference was established. The Union's ministry in The Hague continues to this day under the leadership of Pastor Adrian de Ridder, having been piloted through the dangerous days of World War I by Rev. Berend Fabrie and Dr. H. Van Osenbruggen. Struggling on alone, often isolated from the fellowship of kindred minds, these faithful brethren consistently proclaimed the call to New Testament Christianity.


One of the farthest outposts of the Old Baptist Union was in China. In 1898 Pastor George Cousins, who had previously served the Lord in no less than ten churches of the Union, was commissioned for overseas service. He sailed for China in January 1899, but after only one year's service there, was called Home. The sadness felt throughout the Union was expressed by T. H. Squire, who wrote: "As they kissed him for the last time, they little thought they should see him no more this side of the veil. A little over one year of eager toil on China's hard ground, a little glimpse of joy in seeing at last some manifest result of that labour; and the Lord of the harvest said: It is enough, come up higher. George Cousins belonged to us; we loved him and could ill afford to give him up, but he was willing, and so we laid our hands upon his head and devoted him to loneliness and separation, and exile and hardship. He became our sacrifice. Our sympathy, our prayers, our faith, and our resources sent him to China and, little did we deem it, to the grave. He was poured forth upon the sacrifice and service of our faith. And what now? If he could speak, he would say: "I joy and rejoice, and do ye also joy and rejoice with me" (Phil. 2:17-18).


After the death of George Cousins, a letter was received from Rev. James E. Bear, representing the Southern Presbyterian Mission (U.S.A.) to China. He said, "Your hearts will have been saddened ere this reaches you by the news of the death of our brother, Rev. G. Cousins. But while I mourn with you, I can but rejoice with you. Brother and Sister Cousins came into our midst a little over a year ago and by their loving Christ-like walk endeared themselves to all. While devoting himself conscientiously to the study of the language, he was still ready for any opportunity that offered whereby he might serve his Lord; and during the summer of last year, at the request of our community, he took charge of our Foreign Sunday Evening Service (English) preaching the word as he only who feels he must give an account to God can do.


"This last winter he held a morning Chinese service on Sunday in the 'Chapel' attached to his house. Once, when I asked him how many he had that morning, he replied, 'About 30'. I expressed surprise at there being so many present, as the Chapel is in a retired place, and he had so little command of the language. 'Yes,' he said, 'I was surprised, too, but my wife and I have made it a matter of prayer the night before. And the same could be said, I suspect, of every service he held.


"Dear friends, do not feel any of you, he came to China in vain. Who knows, but that the last day will show that the brief year has in God's hands accomplished more than the tens of years some others have spent here? Would he be living if he had not come to China? I ask, is it possible for the Christian to die before his work is done and the Lord's time has come? His time with us was short, but we all feel the better, the stronger for it. Like his Master, others, not himself, seemed uppermost in his thoughts. He is not, for the Lord hath taken him."


The work of Pastor and Mrs. Cousins was certainly not in vain. The great nation of China would remain on the hearts and in the prayers of Old Baptists for many years to come. Soon Pastor and Mrs. J. H. Curtis, who had ministered for three years at the Union's Tunbridge Wells Church, left to continue the work there and later Pastor and Mrs. Isaac Mann, who many today still remember, laboured long and hard for nineteen years in China, overcoming indescribable hardship by the grace and power of the Lord Jesus.


It should be remembered that throughout the period the exciting programme of evangelism and church planting was supported by the equally vital, though less spectacular work of administration.


One man who was used in both spheres was Dr. T. H. Squire. It was largely through his instrumentality that the churches at Highams Park and Enfield were raised. He was an eloquent preacher and the writer of much of the early literature of the Old Baptist Union. He served the Union as President, General Secretary and Editor of the three periodicals "Light and Truth", "New Testament Christianity" and "The Good Report".


Readers may be interested to know that four generations of the Squire family have become ministers of the Gospel. T. H. Squire was the son of the founder and father of Dr. T. H. B. Squire, who also served as President of the Union and Editor of the magazine. T. Berkeley H. Squire, great grandson of the founder, held pastorates at Enfield and Macclesfield. Henry Augustus Squire certainly laid firm foundations in his home and family life.


Albert Richards is another whose name is threaded through this record. He was educated at the old Hornsey Board School in Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington opposite the first Old Baptist Church. In a truly outstanding record of service, he held many pastorates as well as serving both as President and General Secretary of the Union. With H. S. Smith he established a Pastoral Training Centre at Stoke Newington and exercised a Godly influence on young men later to enter the Union's ministry. Among those who came under his influence were A. Carrington and H. A.

Emmins, both of whom served in the offices of President and General Secretary with great distinction.


Once again these names should be regarded as representative of all those who worked behind the scenes in various administrative posts, using their spiritual gifts in a quiet way to advance the Kingdom of God.


At the end of the first fifty years the members of the Union could look back with joy and thanksgiving for all the Lord had accomplished. The call to New Testament Christianity first heard by a handful of people was now widely proclaimed in eight countries. Thousands had received Jesus as their Saviour and many more had been "nourished on the words of faith." "A great door and effectual" was opening to the Old Baptist Union. The Lord had given the opportunity and the means with which to use it for His glory and praise.





The fiftieth anniversary of the Old Baptist Union should have been a time of great rejoicing as the people looked back in gratitude for all that the Lord had accomplished, and forward in anticipation of all He would yet do. But the note of joy was muted.


The year 1929 had been a bleak one. No one other than the Lord, Himself, could have foreseen that what began as an almost routine constitutional problem would develop into an issue that would rock the Union to its foundations and change the whole pattern of its life and witness for the next forty years!


A difference of opinion had arisen about the position and authority of the International President, as to what extent he had jurisdiction in the affairs of the various national Conferences. Such differences arise in any expanding organisation. Rules suitable for a small group of churches with a few overseas representatives may prove totally inadequate for a Union of such churches with several Conferences meeting in different countries. Usually, by the grace and wisdom of God these matters are resolved to the satisfaction and mutual benefit of all concerned, but in this instance, it was not to be. The Old Baptist Union was by schism rent asunder.


Ministers and members alike still speak with a sigh of regret about what is usually referred to as "the split". It is aptly described, for not only were ministers and churches forced to take sides, but old friends were driven apart and even families were divided.


The Union separated into two main groups, one known as the Old Baptist Union and the other named the International Old Baptist Union. Some churches left the Union altogether. Relationships with churches overseas were also affected. The minutes of the Rhode Island Conference of Six-Principal Baptists in the years following the division registered their confusion and uneasiness in being drawn into the arguments and asked to take sides. The reverberations were felt at home, for although some links were maintained by both groups with the churches and missions overseas, it has to be acknowledged that the very promising unity and harmony of earlier years was no longer in evidence.


Looking through the correspondence for the period it is possible to conclude that there was room for manoeuvre, perhaps even for compromise in what appears to be purely and simply an administrative dispute, but we are in no position to sit in judgement.


We shall not fully understand what happened fifty years ago. The personalities involved, the disposition of the protagonists, the fears of those primarily responsible and the questions of conscience which arose as opinions polarised, are matters which cannot be registered in minuted resolutions; nor can they find adequate expression in official correspondence.


We must refrain from apportioning blame and leave the matter in the hands of the Judge of all the earth who will surely "do right" when He calls all of His people to account for their stewardship.


Why then do we dwell on this dreadful episode?


First, because it would be dishonest to gloss over it. New Testament Christianity is concerned with truth, and it is untruthful to concentrate on the beauty and ignore the blemishes. If the division is to be seen in its proper perspective, it must first be seen.


Secondly, the incident itself is instructive. There are important lessons to be learned from it. Nothing is to be gained by covering it in a cloak of secrecy. Indeed, there will be great loss in not bringing it into the light. How much richer we are for knowing of King David's sin against Uriah and Bathsheba and Peter's denial of the Lord. Had these blemishes been hidden from our view, we should have known much less about the way the Lord brings conviction and leads to repentance, as well as about the mercy and forgiveness of God.


The Lord in His love and mercy did make a way back for the Old Baptist Union. In 1968 the two separated groups were re-united in loving fellowship. The way in which seemingly insurmountable obstacles were overcome has given Old Baptists the confidence that the unity they now enjoy is the Unity of the Spirit.


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was everywhere apparent as what had, for many, been the vision of a lifetime, became a reality. The willingness of A. Carrington, H. A. Emmins and D. W. Sargeson, the respective Presidents, to initiate talks; the humility of T. H. B. Squire in immediately resigning his office as International President, lest the title should open old wounds and so hinder re-union and the persistence and enthusiasm of H. T. Newman, a diligent General Secretary, in keeping the momentum for unity going when legal and constitutional issues threatened to halt the proceedings, are remembered with gratitude. The first meeting of the ministers began uneasily, but the reservations of men, some of whom had not spoken to each other for years, were soon broken down as the Holy Spirit took control. It was clear to all concerned that God was in the midst.


The writer recalls how his heart leapt when he received the initial letter from H. T. Newman and read of the desire to explore the possibility of re-union. The correspondence was eagerly passed on to H. A. Emmins. Just to be used as a kind of "post office" has always seemed an inestimable privilege. The re-union of Old Baptists then is another reminder that "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love".


There is one more lesson to be learned. This incident registers a solemn warning that the enemy of souls is exceedingly powerful. When men of God, and they were men of God, with long records of honourable service are dragged into a dispute which takes nearly forty years to heal. it must be acknowledged that Satan is a deadly adversary. That he should concentrate his wiles upon a movement like the Old Baptist Union is not surprising. A resounding call to New Testament Christianity cannot be ignored by the Devil. People who love the Saviour and honour His Word will not be free from his hostile intentions until the Lord comes in power and glory. That he should succeed as he did is a reminder that the people of God should never underestimate the adversary. Whatever may be thought of Satan, he must be respected as a remorseless foe, ever ready to unleash his evil power on any promising work for God. Christ has promised that where two or three meet in His name, He will be there. The Devil has made no such promise, but he is just as sure to be there as the Lord.


The third reason for exposing this tragic occurrence is that it is almost impossible to understand subsequent developments without taking note of it.


The years following the division witnessed subtle changes in the testimony of the Union. The call to New Testament Christianity remained. but the priorities were expressed in different terms. "A people prepared for the Lord" became the watchword, as the aggressive evangelism of the first forty years gave way to a more conservative teaching ministry. That is not to say that evangelism ceased, nor that previously there had been no teaching ministry, but rather that there was a change of emphasis. The earlier confidence of the movement was undoubtedly shaken. Perhaps the shock and embarrassment of the tragic schism inhibited outreach. It may simply be that retrenchment was seen as the best way to preserve doctrinal purity. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that the Union became more introspective than ever before.


The retrenchment was not without its compensations. One result was the development of the fine expository preaching gifts from which so many today have benefited. Of those who heard it, who will ever forget the moving Easter Conference Presidential Address by Pastor A. Richards on the test, “I want to know Him…in the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Or the typically original message based on the words, Thou art a God who hidest Thyself", by A. D. Robertson of Brighton (Isaiah 45:15). Another conference sermon by H. S. Smith, who preached on. "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:22, 23), was mightily used of the Lord and will live on in the hearts of God's people. Several decades after their utterance these sermons are still talked about. This was preaching at its best and typical of the steady exposition of the Word by which so many churches were blessed.


William Lockyer was another expository preacher who was greatly used of the Lord. David Sargeson, writing after his home-call in 1968, said, "It was his preaching which first interested me in our Union, for I felt sure that a Society which produced preachers of his spiritual stature must indeed be blessed of the Lord. My wife also received her spiritual education from our dear brother, for when she was a young convert and a 'stranger in a strange land', it was he who opened up the Scriptures to make her wise unto salvation”.


The phrase "who opened up the Scriptures" was never more apt than when used of these men of God. They explored the depths of the great themes of the Bible. They were never afraid to grapple with the difficult text or the controversial issue. The "hungry looked up and were fed" as the deep things of God were made plain by spirit-filled teachers of the Word.


It is certainly not the intention to create the impression that before 1929 all was well with the Old Baptist Union and that subsequently everything began to go wrong. That would be too simplistic a view of history and an altogether misleading notion. It would ignore the teething troubles of a movement which until then was still in its infancy, as well as the valuable work of consolidation which took place after "the split". "The vessel" may have been "marred in the hands of the Potter", but the Potter's hand was still on the clay, and the clay was still on the wheel. God had not forsaken the Old Baptist Union.


The fact that the pioneering and church planting had for the time being ceased did not mean that the selfless devotion of earlier years was at an end. In more recent times the Lord's people have confronted new challenges. One of these has been the urban redevelopment which has overtaken so many of our churches.


The Union has always been concerned for the inner city. There it began, and there the larger proportion of the member churches remain. It may sometimes have been easier to forsake these notoriously difficult fields of service and move into the more responsive suburbs, but that has not happened. In the event of comprehensive redevelopment, the churches have either stood firm and rebuilt on or near their traditional sites or have followed the displaced population out to their new homes on large council estates and built there.


Only those who have worked under these conditions will fully appreciate the cost of remaining in decaying inner-city areas for the sake of the Gospel. Christians are oftentimes made to weep for their children growing up in such surroundings. Few will realise that 60% of Britain's inner-city churches have closed their doors in the past twenty-five years and if the rate of decline continues, there will be no Christian witness in urban areas by the end of this decade.


The Gospel in the inner city is one of the major challenges facing the Church today. The Old Baptist Union is at the heart of it and must be determined to face up to its responsibility.


Calvary Baptist Church at New Cross in Southeast London is one fellowship which has made a brave stand to ensure that a lively Christian witness remains where it is greatly needed. The work began in 1923, when a small band of believers meeting at Brockley secured a small hall in the side streets of Deptford for use as a church. They became known as the Edward Place Baptist Church. The work continued under the most rudimentary conditions. People wanting to sit down at the services were requested to bring their own chairs! The baptistry was just a large box situated in the corner of the chapel, but many were the disciples who passed through the waters in obedience to the Lord's command. The small building survived the saturation bombing of the war years but in 1948 the church moved into a larger building in Napier Street, Deptford. The Pastor at that time was Harold Joynes, a courageous fighter for truth, who endured the hardness of continuous physical suffering as a "good soldier of Jesus Christ". By 1962 the church was struggling. A tiny congregation in a building so dilapidated that the new Pastor almost despaired of the future. The only encouraging feature of the work was a flourishing Company of the Boys' Brigade. It was the boys themselves who volunteered to help renovate the building and with the assistance of one of the parents, a master builder, the work commenced. All through the summer holidays the senior boys worked at the church and the Lord worked in their hearts. Not only was the building transformed, but the lives of many of those lads were completely changed as they trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.


Their work on the building was so effective that a Borough Council official making a valuation two years later remarked on its good condition in comparison with other buildings in the area. An assessment which substantially affected the compensation paid when the building was compulsorily purchased. The days of the Napier Street Baptist Church were numbered. The council needed the site for redevelopment, and in 1971 the building was demolished. Determined to continue its witness in the area the church insisted that alternative premises be provided by the local council. After much prayer the council eventually agreed to build a chapel, and a house for the minister, on a site only a few yards from the original. Meanwhile, the fellowship was required to use an almost derelict Church of England building. Conditions there were appalling, but the church had to survive a further two years in the vandalised premises. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ proved sufficient and in 1973 the Lord's people had the joy of moving to the new chapel erected in the shadow of one of the tower blocks on a vast new estate.


The story of Horeb Baptist Church, Hattersley, is another testimony to the glory of God in providing for the needs of those willing to work in difficult fields. The work originated in a converted public house in Garibaldi Street, Ardwick, Manchester and later due to redevelopment was forced to move to another building in nearby Longsight. This building, too, was demolished and the Pastor, David Sargeson, along with others in the area, was rehoused on the vast Manchester overspill estate at Hattersley.


In 1964 God spoke to Pastor and Mrs. Sargeson in the words of Revelation 3:8, "I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it". When Mrs. Sargeson applied for the key to their new home, an official informed her, "If your husband wishes to start services on the estate, tell him to apply to the council". Needless to say, the application was submitted, and the door opened. The Sargesons were offered a workmen's hut for services and decided to start with a Sunday School. Sometimes the hut itself was moved and sometimes the Sunday School had to move to another hut. Sometimes in the winter there was heating and sometimes there was not. The day came when the building ceased on the estate and the Sargeson's moveable Sunday School ran out of huts. They continued in their home until at length the Local Education Authority offered the use of the Youth Club. These premises were twice set on fire and had to be closed. A local Scout Group offered their hut. This to-ing and fro-ing continued for almost six years until in 1970 a new chapel was erected.


In 1977 it became necessary to demolish the imposing building of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enfield, which for many years served as the headquarters of the International Old Baptist Union. Only this year the new church, a smaller building but more suited to the needs of the present day, was completed. Once again, the congregation has faced several difficult years meeting in temporary buildings and often in the homes of the members. There have been frustrations and disappointments, but the "many adversaries" have been unable to close the door of opportunity, which the Lord has opened.





We must not live in the past. History is only profitable if we are prepared to apply its lessons. In the eyes of the Christian history is, after all, His story; the working out of the will and purposes of Almighty God, as year succeeds to year.


What then are the lessons to be drawn from the history of the Old Baptist Union and to what extent are we able to discern the mind and will of God in it all?


E. H. Broadbent in "The Pilgrim Church" has said, "Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the Church. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration has been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures".


Henry Augustus Squire's call to New Testament Christianity envisaged just such a return. The inspiring principle of the formation of the Union was the desire to return to the fullness of the Gospel and to the faith and practise of the Apostolic churches. The Articles of Faith, with their insistence on the plenary inspiration of Scripture and the need of obedience to all things whatsoever Christ has commanded, are a clear expression of that principle.


The writer has on many occasions been privileged to discuss these Articles at interdenominational meetings and ministers' fraternals across the country. The almost universal response has been one of respect and undisguised admiration. Indeed, they have found their way into the constitutions of more than one Independent Evangelical Church. The most common reaction is to commend the balanced way in which the Articles are presented. Without in any way compromising the great unchanging truths of the Gospel, they manage to avoid the harsh extremes which have so often divided even Bible-loving Christians. New Testament Christianity is balanced Christianity.


The Articles of Faith at the heart of our Constitution are an invaluable legacy. God has entrusted us with an inestimable treasure and one day He will call us to account for the way we have used it.


It is just here that we need to be concerned. Have we been good stewards? What has the Old Baptist Union accomplished in one hundred years? Why does it remain small and ineffectual after such a promising beginning?


Of course, these questions must be put into perspective. During that period many thousands have come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the witness and testimony of the Old Baptist Union. Countless numbers have been nurtured in the faith "once for all delivered to the saints". Others have gone out from our ranks into positions of responsibility and influence in many parts of the world. At tutors in theological colleges, as overseas missionaries and as ministers of the Gospel. Who can tell how great has been their influence both at home and abroad?


Frank W. Boreham became perhaps the greatest preacher of the Gospel in the history of the continent of Australasia. He was converted and baptised in the Old Baptist Union Mission in Pimlico. Joseph L. Green, a lecturer in theology and author of the excellent preaching manual

"To the Limit of Our Vision", became President of the Baptist Union of South Africa.


F. T. Ellis was another able minister of the Gospel, whose influence was widely felt beyond the Old Baptist Union. Through his service as a prominent member both of the Bible Testimony Fellowship and the Evangelical Alliance. Christians of all denominations were greatly blessed.


Time would fail to tell of others who have rendered faithful and loving service without seeking any reward other than the Master's "Well done”.


The Lord has used the Old Baptist Union in the working out of His purposes, of that there can be no doubt. Nevertheless, there is a case to answer. Even allowing for the unrelenting opposition of Satan, it must be acknowledged that our contribution to the life of the evangelical church in Britain has been a small one. We remain a very small company of God's people. Our human resources in terms of money and scholarship are severely limited. If our Articles of Faith are the treasure with which God has entrusted us, then it must be acknowledged that it is deposited in the most earthen of earthen vessels.


But the Lord uses earthen vessels to show that the "transcendent power belongs to God and not to us". He deliberately passes over the Eliabs and Abinadabs and looks for Davids to do His giant-killing. He systematically trims down Gideon's army to three hundred men and then gives them ridiculous weapons to fight with, because, as a matter of principle, He chooses "the weak things of the world to confound the mighty".


By all means let us thank the Lord for all He has accomplished through one hundred years of witness, "Great things He has taught us, great things He has done. But let us also be ready to acknowledge our weakness and frailty, to come before Him with humble and repentant hearts, recognising that in some respects we have been found wanting.


That is the best way to begin the next one hundred years. We cannot be certain what the future holds. When the vessel is marred on the wheel, another vessel is fashioned "as seems good to the Potter to make it”. It is not ours to determine the future. That is the prerogative of the Divine craftsman. He has a plan for the Old Baptist Union. Our part is to be available, malleable and usable.


But is that the condition of the Old Baptist Union today? Are we ready for anything the Lord may have in store for us? Or are we too set in our ways, too rigid and unbending for the Lord to be able to use us?


As far as the future is concerned, we may not know all the answers, but we must be ready to face up to some very tough questions.


What is most important to us - the vessel or the treasure; the Old Baptist Union or New Testament Christianity? Before we rush to answer, let us put the matter to the test.


Supposing the Lord were to decide that the Old Baptist Union, as we know it, had done its work and another vessel was best fitted to carry the treasure of the "whole counsel of God". Would we be ready to be used in a new way?


Take the very name of our Society itself. Is that so sacred that it must remain? Some years ago H. S. Smith suggested that we should change our name to The Evangelical Baptist Union! Now, there is a name which spells out both our objectives and our origins without the necessity of the long and complicated explanation which is so often required to distinguish us from the Strict or Particular Baptists.


What if the Lord were to require us to return to the pioneer evangelism which characterised the movement in its early days? It may, of course, mean leaving the buildings we know and love, but they are just a part of the earthen vessel and not the treasure itself. It is difficult to imagine how we can carry on the work in inner city areas unless we are prepared to change our habits of worship and service. Is it right to continue with services and church programmes designed for the needs of much larger and settled congregations, when in many cases all that remains is a small "cell of devoted workers? Are we ready to adapt to the challenge of different cultures in these areas, or shall we cling on to the vessel for dear life and in the end lose the treasure?


At a conference some years ago A. D. Robertson suggested that the written Word of God itself was really only an earthen vessel. The treasure was the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". The same point could be made about the six principles on which we have placed so much emphasis in the past and which I trust we shall proclaim with equal conviction in the future. Kenneth Argent, our present President, was once explaining our practice of the laying on of hands to a minister of another denomination: "That sounds very good," was the reply, "But does it work?"


Even the six principles can become a lifeless form. We have perhaps stressed Hebrews 6:1 and 2 in isolation from their context. These verses were first written as part of a rebuke which begins in chapter 5, verse 11. The Hebrew Christians were reminded that though they ought to be teachers, they needed someone to teach them again the first principles of God's words.


Could this be true of the Old Baptist Union today?


In recent years we have witnessed a renewed interest in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and of the church, which has transcended denominational barriers. Many nominal churches often with long-standing liberal traditions are beginning to submit to the authority of the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit breathes upon the Word to bring the truth to light. This is particularly evident in relation to the ordinances of baptism and the laying on of hands. During the past eighteen months the writer has baptised no less than sixty believers from four separate traditions, where there has previously been no emphasis on believers’ baptism by immersion. The laying on of hands, too, has increasingly come to the fore. After many years of silence on the subject attention is drawn to it at interdenominational conferences and in books. There has been a recovery of the doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ in which every member is called upon to exercise the gifts imparted to him by the Holy Spirit. Most significant of all, the Gospel of Salvation by grace through faith is being proclaimed from pulpits which traditionally have spurned the truth.


It is true that there have been excesses; distortions which have brought division and distress to many fellowships. Often in the area of worship, where rigid patterns have quite rightly been challenged, there has been a lack of sensitivity to the widely differing needs of all the worshippers. Doctrinal wooliness has also characterised some aspects of the new emphases on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, in some quarters the importance of sound doctrine is deliberately played down. Still more dangerous extremes are those where authority in matters of faith and practise is vested in an individual. The utterances of the new "apostles" are in some cases accorded the same authority as those of the New Testament writers. That is a very "slippery slope" indeed, cutting away at the foundations of the supreme authority of the Scriptures.


Now, where is the Old Baptist Union in all this? For one hundred years we have taught that "We believe in the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit, and in His continued presence in the Church; and that His gifts may still be claimed and exercised subject to His will". We have throughout that period practised the laying on of hands, not only in the ordination of Pastors, Elders and Deacons, but upon other members of the body of Christ, as was usually the case in the New Testament. Nobody in the Old Baptist Union could claim ignorance of the vital ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.


Should we have been the "teachers" in this new situation? Perhaps many of these excesses could have been avoided if we had been ready to accept our responsibility. Instead, we ourselves were caught unawares. We were confused by the changing situation. We needed someone to teach us. Was that because we had forgotten that Hebrews 6:1 and 2 contains seven vital principles not six? It is simply not enough to lay firm foundations over and over again. We must "go on to maturity", so that we may be the teachers who can "distinguish good from evil”.


Have we concentrated too much on the forms and too little on the power? Too much on the vessel and too little on the treasure?


None of the things so far mentioned in this chapter are in the nature of proposals. They are questions pointed questions asked in love and concern for our future life and witness.


The two parables, one of the treasures in earthen vessels and the other of the vessel marred in the hands of the Potter, have been interwoven here, not to arouse guilt, but to bring encouragement.


Here lies the hope that the Old Baptist Union will be of use to the Lord in the future as it has been in the past. The first picture enforces the need to have a right sense of priorities. To ask ourselves again and again what is most important to us. Our Union, our government, our name, our buildings, these are but the vessels. What really matters is "the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ".


The second picture reminds us of our utter dependence upon the Lord. He is the Potter; we are the clay. He will decide our future. We must be ready for anything He wills for us. It is a reminder too of our failure and weakness. If we are ready to acknowledge this, He will use us. God has said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."


The call to New Testament Christianity is as urgent and relevant today as it was in 1880. Let us go on, not in our weakness, but in His strength.


On to maturity, on to victory, on to glory.



BACK ROW: A. H. Atkins, A. Carrington, L. Hall, W. Bendy, J. G. Clifford.

MIDDLE ROW: I. Fowler, T. E. Bullis, C. Neal, E. Tucker, E. Hatcher, B. Braben, T. Tucker, W. Flanders, F. Bassett, A. N. Other, W. Prattent.

FRONT ROW: F. T. Ellis, H. S. Smith, A. Richards, G. Hobbs, H. Deall, I. Wicks, J. J. Saunders, T. H. Mottershead, W. Lockyer.