Baptists and the American Civil War: March 19, 1863

wayland_francisFrancis Wayland (1796-1865), venerable Northern Baptist minister, educator and author, is in the twilight of his career. Having served as the president of Brown University (1827-1855) and pastor of the First Baptist Church in America, Providence, Rhode Island (1857-1858), Brown now devotes his time to writing.

Having long ago published his anti-slavery views in a prior volume, this year marks the publication of Wayland’s ninth book. Letters on the Ministry of the Gospel focuses on pastoring and preaching, offering practical advice for ministers and ministers-to-be. “There is a great deal of good sense and practical wisdom in this little volume,” the The American Quarterly Church Review and Ecclesiastical Register notes of the 210 page book.

The Monthly Religious Magazine elaborates, endorsing the volume in a qualified manner:

Happily for those who are known as Unitarians or Liberal Christians, these letters were not written by one of them. If they had been, how much should we have heard in every orthodox quarter of the demoralization which surely results from any abandonment of traditions in theology! Dr. Wayland mourns over the decline of Gospel simplicity in the pulpit and in the pews, that ministers have so often become men of letters and fashionists at that, essayists, tourists, rhetoricians, whilst their parishioners are often only baptized worldlings. The explanation is not far to seek. The kingdom of God is not put first. We should differ from the Doctor entirely in his apparent assumption that the ministry is the only sacred calling. All callings are sacred. The Christian will insist upon so regarding and making them. But we agree with President Wayland most fully and heartily, when he insists upon the folly, uselessness, and wickedness of haranguing about the Gospel in a professional way, — so much eloquence for so much money, so much learning for so much position. Gospel ministrations are either amongst the most earnest of human works, or they are wretched farces. Dr. Wayland is keenly alive to this truth, and we hope that his book will rouse to life many a church which has now ” only a name to live.” E.

Presently influential, Wayland after his death is remembered as a leading Baptist of his time.

Sources: Francis Wayland, Letters on the Ministry of the Gospel, Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1863 (link); The American Quarterly Church Review and Ecclesiastical Register, Vol. XV-1863-64, p. 314 (link); The Monthly Religious Magazine, Vol. 29-30, Boston: Leonard C. Bowles, 1863, p. 359 (link); Francis Wayland, Wikipedia, including image (link)