The administration of the ordinance of baptism and the Lord’s supper – J.C. Philpot

Posted in 2011 on Feileadh Mor. 

“As far as the administration of the ordinance of baptism is concerned, we have no doubt in our own mind that it is perfectly scriptural for any member of the church, say, for instance, the deacon, to administer such, where the place of the pastor is vacant.

As “all things are to be done decently and in order,” we give the preference of course to a minister of the gospel wbere his services can be procured, but we have no superstitious idea that it is indispensable to obtain them.

Both Peter and Paul (Acts 10:48, 1 Corinthians 1:14-17,) seem to have entrusted to others, most probably to what are called in ecclesiastical language “laymen”, the administration of baptism; and Philip, who was only a deacon certainly baptized the Samaritan converts.

And the wisdom and foreknowledge of the Holy Ghost seem to have been in these instances specially manifested.

The arrogant assumptions of the clergy, in which the essence of Popery exists, were foreseen, and foreprovided against by these instances left on record in the New Testament, Were there no example of Baptism or of the Lord’s Supper having been administered by other than the apostles, what strength would it have given to Rome’s arrogant claims, and to her daughter the Church of England’s no less bold pretensions, thaI the ordinances, or, as they term them, the sacraments, can only be administered by priestly hands.

And as there is a strong tendency in the modern dissenting priesthood to set up a similar claim, we are glad to take this opportunity of protesting against it, and of asserting the liberty of the churches.

As to sending for “an ordained minister,” the party that proposes that step should, to be thoroughly consistent, go a step further, and send for a Catholic priest.

If a man be sent of God to preach the gospel, he wants no ordination from man; and if God has not sent him into the vineyard, not all the ordination of man can make him a minister.

As Rushton well remarks, in the book which we lately reviewed, dissenting ordination “is but a pitiful imitation of the original. In the Church of Rome the dominion of an anti-christian priesthood appears in all its grandeur, but ours (dissenting ordination) has neither antiquity nor splendour to snpport it. ‘Theirs,’ says the ingenious Robinson, ‘is nature in the theatre of the metropolis; we are strollers, uttering bombast, in cast-off finery, in a booth at a fair’.”

Dissenting ordinations are, indeed, but a poor third-hand-mimicry, borrowed from the Church of England, which copied them from Rome.

We have spoken somewhat decidedly on this subject, as much of the clerical assumption of “Reverend,” wearing of robes in the pulpit, and other arts of priestcraft are clearly traceable to these dissenting ordinations, and are strongly stamped on some of our most zealous declaimers against popery, who do not see how inconsistently they act in condemning Rome when dressed out in her rags, and in protesting against her principles, when one of her strongest, the monarchical character of the priesthood, is manifested in all they say and do.

As we have in a previous number expressed our sentiments concerning the administration of the Lord’s Supper, we need not here repeat them. Suffice it to say, that we consider it quite scriptural for any member of a Gospel Church to break bread to the rest, their consent being obtained, where there is no Pastor.”

By J.C. Philpot and John M’Kenzie – 1842


  1. John T. "Jack" Jeffery · March 19, 2011

    Strong words, but needed then and now. So very many do not understand this, and are infected with Romish error, weighed down with the grave clothes of Romish priestcraft, and bound to a false clergy/laity hierarchy in the gathering. By the way, where did that photo come from?

  2. Andrew Suttles · March 21, 2011

    JM –

    How did these men (Gospel Standard men?, Philpot, etc) view the seminary? Do you have any idea? Their views seem somewhat similar to some of the primitive Baptist groups we have here in the states.

    Sadly, most Baptist churches I’ve been a part of have had a very strong clergy/layman distinction – due in no small part to the seminary (another catholic-modeled institution).

    I think I disagree with these good brothers regarding the publishing of the gospel (though I haven’t studied it in depth, to be honest), but it seems they have much to say to this generation.

    • jm · March 21, 2011

      Andrew, I believe the GSB’s probably frown on seminary in general but would not prohibit a seminary grad from ministering in one of their Chapels. I think it’s more scriptural to allow for Elders and the congregation to select who is the preaching/teaching Elder, if he lacks a seminary education he should not be disqualified…that all stated, the church must call men to lead. Not everyone who feels called is called. I’ll ask a friend who attends one in the UK to get a better understanding.

      PS: Philpot was a Seeder from the Church of England so he probably had a lot of education.

      • Andrew Suttles · March 22, 2011

        Thanks JM.

        You say above “elders and the congregation”…

        I assume these brothers are congregation-ally ruled as opposed to an exclusive elder rule as we see in many large churches.

      • jm · March 22, 2011

        Right. The church I belong to moved from single elder to plural elder rule just last year. It’s biblical and better for everyone…

      • Andrew Suttles · March 23, 2011

        I’m in an elder ruled church, but I would not consider it congregationally governed.

  3. jm · March 22, 2011

    The response I got back from a website:

    The Gospel Standard Baptists do reject seminary. We beleive that all true ministers are taught of the Lord. They are led by the Holy Spirit as to what they are to preach.

    Gospel Standard Baptist Churches will not allow any minister to preach in their chapels if the Lord has not called them to become a minister of the gospel by a divine call. Although we reject seminary, there have been many ministers whom the Lord has called to be a true minister after they have been to seminary for a few years. Those ministers have preached in Gospel Standard Churches and the Lord has blessed their ministry. [end quote]

    • Andrew Suttles · March 23, 2011

      Interesting. They sound very similar to Primitive Baptists and other similar groups here in the US.

      I have mixed feelings on the issue…

  4. jm · August 2, 2011

    Have you sorted out your feelings brother? I would say the GSB’s and Absolute Primitives are very similar in many ways.

  5. Neil Honea · August 4, 2011

    Bro JM- I know this post was from a while back but could you comment? You mention that your church moved to plurality of elders and this is better for everyone. We have discussed this in our church esp that it is clearly scriptural to have more than one elder in a church. Could you comment on the practical advantages? Thanks

  6. jm · August 4, 2011

    Br. Neil, check out this blog for more info.

  7. Neil Honea · August 6, 2011

    Thanks for the info Bro JM

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