Monday, October 22, 2012

Francis Wayland on Calvinism in 1856

Francis Wayland (AD 1796-1865) was a leading Baptist pastor, writer, educator. Among other schools, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary where he was influenced by Moses Stuart. He pastored First Baptist Church, Boston, Massachusetts, First Baptist Church, Providence, Rhode Island, and was president of Brown University. Wayland fought slavery and alcohol. 

He was a leader in the Northern Baptist Convention, yet also influential in the Southern Baptist Convention. Wayland was a mentor to J. P. Boyce and Wayland’s book, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches was highly recommended by B. H. Carroll. 

Historian Leon McBeth said of Wayland, “He became almost an oracle, a leader whose judgment on every subject was sought and usually followed.”

Below are some of Dr. Wayland’s thoughts, published in book form in 1856, on Calvinism and the extent of the Atonement:

“The extent of the atonement has been and still is a matter of honest but not unkind difference. Within the last fifty years a change has gradually taken place in the views of a large portion of our brethren. At the commencement of that period Gill’s Divinity was a sort of standard, and Baptists imbibing his opinions were what may be called almost hyper-Calvinistic.

A change commenced upon the publication of the writings of Andrew Fuller, especially his ‘Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation,’ which, in the northern and eastern States, has become almost universal. The old view still prevails, if I mistake not, in our southern and western States. This, however, does not interrupt the harmony which should subsist among brethren. Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Stillman differed in opinion on this subject; the former following Fuller, the latter adhering to Gill. No two ministers, however, ever lived in more fraternal intercourse, exchanging with and siding with and aiding each other, and rejoicing in each other’s prosperity, as it became the servants of one common Lord. I have known men believing the atonement to be limited, preach with great acceptance in New England, where the contrary belief prevails almost universally, and the contrary has been even more frequently the case. Men, in this respect, differ amicably; and it is found that when their hearts are warmed with the love of God and desire for the salvation of souls, they all preach very much alike.

It is difficult at the present day to conceive to what extent the doctrine of the limited atonement, and the views of election which accompanied it, were carried. I once knew a popular minister, who used to quote the passage, ‘God so loved the world,’ etc., by inserting the word elect before world: ‘God so loved the elect world’ etc.

I was, in the early part of my ministry, settled in a respectable town in Massachusetts. One of my members, a very worthy man, and the son of a Baptist minister, and reputed to be ‘very clear in the doctrines’ - (this was the term applied to this form of belief) - had an interesting family wholly given up to worldliness. I wished to converse with them on the subject of personal religion, and mentioned to him my desire. He kindly but plainly told me that he did not wish any one to converse with his children on that subject. If they were elected, God would convert them in his own time; but if not, talking would do them no good, it would only make them hypocrites. He was, I believe, the last pillar of Gillism then remaining in the church.”

-Dr. Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches, Sheldon & Co., New York; 1867. First published in book form in 1856; previous to that published in The Examiner. (The Preface in his book is dated October 28, 1856.)

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 22, AD 2012. 

Other Articles:
Books on Calvinism, Predestination

Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All
Adrian Rogers on Predestination, Calvinism
Paige Patterson on Calvinism
Acts 29, Alcohol, and the Southern Baptist Convention
B. H. Carroll on Hyper-Calvinism
More articles can be found in lower right margin.


What do you think?