A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Haldanites
HALDANITES, so called from Messrs. Robert and James Haldane, brothers of very respectable characters, who possess an ample fortune. These gentlemen seceded from the church of Scotland, and are what is called open communion Baptists. They admit to the fellowship of their churches, all whom they consider christians, though differing from them about baptism, and other subjects. Saintship they consider as the basis of christian union, and believe that the bible teaches Christians mutual forbearance, &c.
The first object the Messrs. Haldanes had in view, was to devote themselves to the propagation of the gospel in India; but being prevented by the East India Company, they turned their attention to its dissemination at home. Accordingly in 1797, they formed a society, whose professed object was to send forth men to preach the gospel in those parts of Scotland where they conceived this blessing was not enjoyed in its purity, and where it was not regularly dispensed. The members of this society travelled at different times, through the greater part of Scotland, preaching the gospel to their countrymen, and it was their invariable rule, not to receive any compensation for their labours. They spent large sums in the erection of convenient places of worship in Edinburgh and in Glasgow, and in other means of promoting religion.
This society reject all creeds and confessions of faith, and profess to take the scriptures as the sole rule of doctrine, discipline, and worship. They are independents in the strictest sense of the word; and no denomination disclaim more than they, either following men, or being followed by others in matters of religion.
The Messrs. Haldanes are pastors over a considerably large church in Edinburgh. When they became baptists, a very considerable number of the church separated. Some of these united together as a church, chose pastors, and to this day continue independents. Another part of them are under the pastoral care of Mr. Innes, who became a baptist, after examining the subject. His change of sentiment did not occasion a separation, as from his first settlement differences in opinion were made a subject of forbearance, which was not the case at first with the Messrs. Haldanes. Messrs. Erving and Wardlaw were in union with these gentlemen previous to their becoming baptists. At that time, and for some time after, various religious subjects were under discussion at Glasgow, and in several other places, where there were churches. These discussions led to inquiry in the various churches connected with them; under some of them a separation took place. The Messrs. Haldanes, and also Erving and Wardlaw, are said to favour some of the doctrines of Sandeman.
A few years since, a number of ministers came from Scotland to America, in the character of missionaries of the independent persuasion, and some of them were patronized by the liberal Robert Haldane of Edinburgh. These missionaries, after travelling a short time in different parts of the United States, were led to embrace the baptist sentiments. Some churches have been founded by the converts ;—among others, Mr. Walter Balfour has gathered a small church in Boston and Charlestown, to which he still ministers.
These churches disapprove of al connexion with the world, in the support of the gospel and with other churches in choosing and ordaining elders. They deny, that present ministers are successors of the apostles in the sense frequently conveyed on baptismal and other occasion; and that their office, as teacher and rulers in the church, should be known by any distinction in dress or titles. They maintain weekly communion-reject creeds and confessions of faith; and use no platform of church government but the scriptures.
They have been supposed by some to have imbibed Sandeman's notions of faith, divine influence, religious experience, &c. This charge they deny; but admit that they favour some of the doctrines of Sandeman, because they conceive they are taught in the scriptures.
- See a tract written by Mr. James Haldane on that subject; and also his Remarks on Mr. Jones' Review of his observations on forbearance.
- Benedict's History of the Baptists, vol. ii. p. 497, 408, 409.