Thursday, August 12, 2010

Christian Politicians?

A portion of a letter by Francis Wayland (1796-1865), a well-known Baptist pastor and educator. He was once the president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and also pastor of the First Baptist Church there, the first Baptist church to be established in America. He published a book in 1863 entitled, Letters on the Ministry of the Gospel. The letters do not have dates, nor are recipients identified, but they contain a treasure of wisdom for all serious-minded ministers of the Gospel. This particular letter describes what the pastors were like when he was young compared to those in the latter year of his life. The following paragraph addresses the subject of politics with regard to the old guard of ministers in the Baptist denomination.

Our brethren of the former generation were a people of a somewhat rugged character, having but little to do with the great world, and the more time to devote to religion; ready to bear their portion of the burdens of society, and forward, according to the standard of the time, in extending the knowledge of Christ; but neither seeking for the rewards of office, nor indeed were they often tempted by the offer of them. They stood aloof from political agitation. When a Christian man became a politician, it was a source of alarm to his brethren. I well remember to have heard it remarked, that since such or such a brother had become a politician, his Christian character and his interest in religion had sadly deteriorated; and his brethren feared that it would lead to his final apostasy.

Letters on the Ministry of the Gospel, by Francis Wayland, Gould and Lincoln, 1863, pp. 21-22.

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