"He had judgment, strong and discriminating, to seize his subject by the right handle, and set it before you in its proper point of view. He had knowledge, ample and various, to inform, and learning, beyond that of almost any one of his contemporaries, to enlighten you; and, what was of great importance, he was the master of it, and not its slave. He was, therefore, always instructive without being ever pedantic, and gave you the light of the lamp without its smell. At the same time, he was always strictly and purely evangelical, and, of course, remarkably practical. His style of preaching, indeed, naturally partook of the character of his personal religion, to which we have already adverted. Accordingly, he could not, or would not separate Faith and Duty for a moment from each other, in his public ministrations, any more than in his private conduct" (An Oration Commemorative of the late John Holt Rice, D. D.)
John Holt Rice was the first professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary. On what was his theology founded? In his inaugural address he lays out his presuppositions:
1. The sacred Scriptures are the source from which the preacher of the gospel is to derive all that doctrine, which has authority to bind the consciences, and regulate the conduct of men.
2. That the Scriptures afford the only information on which we can rely, in answer to the all-important question, "What must we do to be saved?”
3. That the Scriptures contain the most perfect system of morals, that has ever been presented to the understanding, or urged on the conscience of man.
May the Lord continue to grant seminary professors, and the pastors they train, these convictions about the word of God.
As Baptists and Presbyterians spread throughout the growing United States in the 19th century, debates about baptism became more prevalent. Thus the century saw many books written on the subject of baptism: its meaning, its mode, its recipients. The subject has not lost its importance, and sometimes the writings of the 19th century can be more helpful than modern works. We'll put as many as we can find on our website eventually, but for now check out one from the early 19th century (John Holt Rice's Essay on Baptism), and one from a 19th century man in the early 20th century (Thomas Cary Johnson's Baptism in the Apostolic Age).