Association Life, 1785-1800
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This research has been gathered by Elder Delmer Jones and posted by Elder Bobby Scott Sr. We make no claim to its truth, other than to say it is as close to the history of the Old Regular Baptist as far as we can surmise and it is published for the research of those who follow after us, about the Life of The Old Regular Baptist People.
If anyone knows of a correction that needs to be made, please notify Bobby Scott Sr. email@example.com
With the Kentucky frontier beginning to fill up with the Baptists from Virginia, Craig, Hickman, Taylor and others decided to enter into a form of organization with which they had been familiar in the Old Dominion. In John Taylor’s words,
We soon began to contemplate an association; For that
purpose, and partly to bring about union with the South
Kentucky Baptists, we held a Conference at South Elkhorn,
in June 1785
The minutes of that conference are fragmentary and the names of some of those assembled remain unknown. Lewis Craig was chosen moderator and Richard Young, clerk. Here is the list of churches and their messengers.
South Elkhorn. Lewis Craig, William Hickman and Benjamin Craig
Clear Creek. John Taylor, James Rucker and Richard Cave
Big Crossing. William Cave, Bartlett Collins
Tates Creek. John Tanner and William Jones
Gilberts Creek. George S. Smith and John Price
Note: Big Crossing later changed its name to Great Crossing.
The participants in the “Baptist Conference” agreed “to be ruled in any matter that should come before them by a majority.” The full agenda of the meeting has not survived, but it is clear that the crucial question concerned the use of the confession of faith. As was noted above, the Separate Baptist were opposed to the practice and the Regular Baptist preferred it. At this meeting, the Regulars won out, as the minutes reveal.
Query: Whether the Philadelphia confession of faith adopted by the Baptists shall be strictly adhered to as the rule of our communion or whether a suspension thereof for the sake of Society be best?
Answer: It is agreed that said confession of faith be strictly adhered to.
Exactly how the Separate Baptists perceived this conference is not recorded. At least by May 1788, and perhaps as early as October, 1787, the Separates organized their own confederation, South Kentucky Association, with out a confession of faith.
Meanwhile, north of the Kentucky River, the Regular Baptist proceeded with their plans. They met as an association at John Craig’s house at Clear Creek on Friday, September 6, 1785 at 3:00 p.m. William Hickman preached the introductory sermon from Exodus 23:31, “By little and little will I drive them out from before you, until you be increased and in inherit the land,” a text reflecting the pioneer Baptists’ consciousness of being a pilgrim people in a wilderness setting. At this meeting, an additional church, Limestone, appeared, represented by William Wood and Edward Dobbins. The following was the basis of the association’s organization:
Being assembled together, and taking into our serious consideration, what might be most advantageous for the
glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of the
dear Redeemer, and the mutual comfort, and happiness
of the churches of Christ, having unanimously agreed to
unite in the strongest bonds of Christian love and fellowship,
and in order to support and keep that union do hereby adopt
the Baptist confession of faith first put forth in the name of
the seven congregations met together in London in the year
1643 containing a system of the Evangelical doctrines agreeable to the Gospel of Christ, which we do heartily believe in and receive, but something in the third and fifth chapters in said book we accept if construed in that light that makes God the cause and author of sin, but we do acknowledge and believe God to be an Almighty Sovereign wisely to govern and direct all things so as to promote his own glory. Also in Chapter 31st concerning laying of hands on persons baptized as essential in their reception into the Church it is agreed on by us that the using or not using of that practice shall not effect our fellowship to each other; and as there are a number of Christian professions in this country under the Baptist name in order to distinguish ourselves from them we are of opinion that no appellation is more suitable of our profession than that of “Regular Baptist’ which name we profess.
Interestingly, the Association chose to organize, not on the basis of the Philadelphia Confession, but on an earlier English Baptist document, the so-called “London Confession” of 1644. The association’s “exception,” however, conform more exactly to the Philadelphia Confession of 1742, which was itself a revision of the so-called “Second London Confession” of 1689. In mentioning the London Confession, they were probably trying to emphasize to their Separate brethren that use of confession was no innovation in Baptist life. Later discussions in the association refer consistently to the Philadelphia Confession as the “Constitution.” The association would return to the matter of its constitution again and again in its early history.
At their session on the following day, the messengers elected William Cave from Great Crossing as moderator, re-elected Richard young as clerk, and “proceeded to business.” They appointed a committee to deal with the struggling congregation at Gilbert’s Creek, dealt with a doctrinal matter concerning “conditional salvation,” and, in reply to a question, they expressed the “opinion that it is lawful for any Christian to bear office either civil or military, except ministers of the Gospel.” They seem not to have been too concerned with the latter opinion, however, because several of the ministers in the early days of Elkhorn Association held civil positions of significant power. Concerned with keeping their fellowship alive and growing, they set up three “quarterly meetings” for the year, along with the next regular meeting of the Association, at South Elkhorn “the Saturday before the first Sabbath in August next.”
And so the Association was formed. Its growth in numbers and prominence during the next fifteen years was to be significant. A major reason for this growth was the infusion of new Baptist leadership into central Kentucky to join the “founding fathers,” Taylor, Hickman, and Lewis Craig. What follows is a brief “Who’s Who among the Early Baptist of Elkhorn Association.
These men were present as early as the conference at South Elkhorn in June, 1785. George Stokes Smith (d. 1809) may have been part of the Traveling Church led by Lewis Craig and was a close friend in Virginia of William Hickman. He preached at Gilbert’s Creek after the departure of Lewis Craig, later joining Craig at the South Elkhorn settlement. A member of the Constitutional Convention of 1792, Smith assumed the pastorate of Mt. Pleasant Church, Jessamine County, in 1801, a position he held until his death. In John Taylor’s words,
George S. smith was a man of great respectability as a man, was much of a doctrinal preacher, simplicity and plainness attended his whole course, his preaching operated but sparingly on the passions of his hears, for though his voice was strong and sonorous, yet lacking that soft melody, as a Gibeonite in the house of God, he was better calculated to hew wood than to draw water.
John Tanner (d. 1812) had a background of preaching in both North Carolina and Virginia, suffering persecution for his views in both colonies. Here had had experience among both Separate and Regular Baptists. Moving to Kentucky about 1784, Tanner was instrumental in founding the Tates Creek Church in Madison County. He was also associated with the churches at Boone’s Creek, the Crossing, and with Clear Creek church. He later moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, briefly, before emigrating to Missouri. James Rucker, the father-in-law of John Tanner, was a member and occasional preacher in South Elkhorn and Clear Creek churches, until, becoming dissatisfied with the Baptist churches in the Bluegrass, he, along with Tanner, helped from a “Reformed Baptist church” on Salt River, in Anderson County. Later, after returning briefly to Clear Creek, Rucker moved to Caldwell County, Kentucky, where he died about 1828.
Richard Cave (1750-1816) was the brother-in-law of Lewis Craig and brother of William Cave, one of the members of the Traveling Church and himself an influential member at the Crossing and later Bullittsburg. Richard Cave first settled at Gilbert’s Creek before moving to Clear Creek, where he presided over the Great Revival of 1800. John Depuy (1738-1837), a Virginia of Huguenot extraction who moved to Kentucky about 1784, was also associated with the ministry of Clear Creek and with the foundation of a short lived church on Buck Run, near Gilbert’s Creek.
John Price was the first pastor or Marble Creek (Now East Hickman Church) which became part of the Elkhorn Association in 1787. He served as pastor there until 1824 and, according to J. H. Spencer, “was active and useful in building up the young churches and carrying the gospel into new settlements.” He also served as clerk of the association for fifteen years.
Augustine Eastin and James Garrard were early Baptist ministers in the Bluegrass, who together gathered Cowper’s Rune or Cooper’s Run) Church in Bourbon County in 1787. Eastin, whose name appears frequently in the minutes of the association, was evidently a highly respected minister until he began to embrace “Arianism,” a view which holds that Christ was less than, not equal to, God. Garrard, his coworker at Cowper’s Run, was also a Virginian, but of Regular Baptist background. Garrard served as moderator of the association five times (1789, 1790, 1791, 1793, and 1795) and preached the “introductory sermon” at the meeting in May, 1793. Kentuckians primarily remember James Garrard, however, as the second governor of the Commonwealth, serving from 1796 through 1804.
Baptist historians such as Robert B. Semple and J. H. Spencer
have been less than enthusiastic in their treatment of Garrard. Like Eastin, he
moved away from orthodoxy toward Unitarianism, a result, Semple believed, of
seeking “the honors of men” more than “the office of God.” Spencer doubted
whether Garrard “was called of God.” because, “He had not the gift of a ready
speech, and was every way better qualified to make laws, than to preach grace.”
Yet, Spencer allows, Garrard was “the most popular man in Kentucky,” and the
historian commends Garrard’s “heroic deeds, in defense of his country, the
eminent services he rendered as a statesman, and the spotless purity of his
life, as a citizen and a Christian.
Two others remain from that distinguished company which formed the association, the most influential of whom was Ambrose Dudley (1750-1825). Ten times moderator of Elkhorn, Dudley’s primary ministerial labors were at the church at Bryant’s Station, founded in April, 1786, and David’s Fork, and “arm” of Bryant’s until it was constituted an independent church in 1801. In J.H Spencer’s view,
His fine natural gifts, his superior education, and his clear practical judgment made him a leader in business affairs of the churches and associations. He was a preacher of much zeal, but his zeal was tempered by wisdom.
James Ely Welch (1789-1876), an early Baptist missionary to the West who grew up near Bryant’s Station was acquainted with Dudley’s preaching, left this description:
His manners and general habits seemed to indicate that he was born for discipline. The very glance of his piercing eye was often sufficient to awe into silence. In his personal appearance he was unusually erect and neat, so that once when a stranger asked, in Lexington, where he could be found, he was told to walk down the street, and the first man he met having on a superfine black coat, without a single mote upon it, would be Ambrose Dudley. And but a few men have ever lived and died in the ministry who kept their garments more unspotted from the world. He was highly Calvinistic in his sentiments, and of unbending firmness where he thought truth and duty were involved. Whenever it was known that he had an appointment to preach, the universal declaration was, “whether it rain or shine, Brother Dudley will be there.” He never disappointed any engagement he made, unless sickness or some equally unavoidable providence prevented. In family discipline he was very decided. He never spoke but once. In political or worldly matters he took but little interest, except within the limits of his own plantation. He was a man of God, whose praise is in all the churches throughout the region where he labored.”
Not so influential as Dudley but certainly more controversial was Elijah Craig (1743-1808). Brother of Lewis and Joseph Craig. Elijah was among the best known of the Separate Baptist of Virginia. Converted at the age of twenty-one under the preaching of David Thomas. Craig soon, with the encouragement of Samuel Harris, began to hold meetings of new converts in his tobacco barn. Desiring baptism, he traveled to North Carolina to fetch James Read to preside at the ordinance. He entered into the organization of Upper Spottsylvania church where he was ordained in 1771, becoming pastor of the new church at Blue Run. Here Craig, like other Virginia pastors, suffered persecution. In the words of the historian David Benedict.
He was accounted a preacher of considerable talents for that day; which, united in his zeal, honored him with the attention of his persecutors. They sent the sheriff and posse after him, when at his plough. He was taken and carried before three magistrates of Culpepper. They, without hearing arguments, pro or con, ordered him to jail. At court, he, with others, was arraigned. One of the lawyers told the Court, they had better discharge them; for that oppressing them, would rather advance than retard them. He said, they were like a bed camomile; the more they were trod, the more they would spread. The court thought otherwise, and were determined to imprison them. Some of the Court were of the opinion, that they ought to be confined in a close dungeon; but the majority were for giving them the bounds. After staying there one month, preaching to all who came, he gave bond for good behavior, and came out. He was also confined in Orange jail, at another time.
Craig moved to Kentucky in 1785, being invited “to a seat” in the meeting of Elkhorn Association for that year. He located in Scott County, becoming founder of Georgetown and the primary preacher for the Baptist church at the Big Crossing. He became a very wealthy man, engaging in all sorts of business ventures, including distilling! By 1800 he “owned over four thousand acres of land, eleven horses, and extensive business operations in both Georgetown and Frankfort.” In addition, “His thirty-two slaves made him one of the largest slave-owners in the region and he was the second wealthiest man in Scott County.”
According to Baptist historians, Craig business dealings were a great hindrance to his ministry. In the words of J. H. Spencer,
The new country offered excellent facilities for profitable speculation. The temptation was to strong. He was soon overwhelmed in worldly business. It seems that he had no intention to abandon the ministry, but vainly imagined that he could serve God and mammon both. He became irritable, and indulged a spirit of fault finding. In fact Craig was at the center of several major disputes within the association, which will be discussed elsewhere. In spite of his faults, this colorful character, in John Taylor’s view, was the best preacher among the brothers.
His preaching was of the most solemn style, his appearance, as a man who was just come from the dead, of a delicate habit, a thin visage, large eyes and mouth, of great readiness of speech, the sweet melody of his voice, both in preaching and singing, bore all down before it; and when his voice was extended, it was like the loud sound of a sweet trumpet. The great favor of his preaching, commonly brought many tears from the hearers, and many, no doubt, were turned to the Lord by his preaching.”
Elijah Craig was only the second wealthiest man in Scott County. The wealthiest was “Colonel” Robert Johnson (1745-1815), a member of Great Crossing and one of the most influential lay members of early Elkhorn Association. A former member of Elijah Craig’s church at Blue Run in Virginia. Robert Johnson had arrived in Kentucky in 1781, finally settling at the Crossing in 1783. “Colonel” Johnson not only provided staunch leadership for the church at the Crossings; his name also appears frequently in the Elkhorn minutes as a messenger from his church, as a member of associational committees, and as clerk and moderator of the Association. One of his sons, John T. (1788-1856), became a minister; another son, Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850), served many times in Congress and was Vice-President of the United States under Martin Van Buren; and still another son, James Johnson (1774-1826), was clerk of Great Crossing Baptist church for twenty-five years. Robert Johnson was surely, in the words of his biographer, “a pioneer leader in education and religion” in early Kentucky. He last represented the Crossing church at the associational meeting of 1814.
Burning Spring Association
This fraternity, which takes its name from a spring that emits inflammable gas, in Magoffin county, is located in Morgan and the surrounding counties. It was constituted in 1814, of eleven churches, most of which were dismissed from the North district Association. These churches aggregated 403 members. For a few years this Association was in harmony with the general union of Kentucky Baptists; but it subsequently adopted the title of Regular Baptists, which it still retains. It is anti-missionary in theory, and practice, and opposes benevolent societies. For a long time, its growth was very slow. As late as 1860, it numbered only thirteen churches, aggregating 560 members. But after the close of the Civil War, it began to increase in numbers, very rapidly, and has since been quite prosperous. In 1880, it numbered thirty-one churches, aggregating 1376 members. It has thirty-two ordained, and nine licensed preachers, and its territory extends into at least ten counties. Its preachers are nearly all very illiterate, and are far from agreeing in doctrine and polity. Some of the older ministers are Hypercalvinists; but the younger are divided much in their views, some being inclined to Arminianism, some holding to Fuller’s views of the atonement, and some teaching parker’s doctrine of the Two-Seeds. Some of them believe in making special efforts for the salvation of sinners, and go so far as to hold protracted meetings. This is a modern innovation in this fraternity, to which, however, it owes its recent prosperity.
Daniel Williams, a plain, pious old preacher, was regarded the father of this fraternity. He was an early settler in Montgomery county, where he was, for a few years, a preacher in Lulbegrud church. Subsequently, he moved to Morgan County, then an almost unbroken wilderness, and settled on Licking river, where West Liberty is now located. For many years he preached to the settlers as they came into the country. At length he succeeded in gathering a number of small churches which united with the North District Association. In 1814, these distant churches, located in the upper part of Licking Valley, obtained letters of dismission, and formed themselves into the Burning Spring Association.
It has been already shown that the first Regular Baptist churches in Virginia were united to the Philadelphia Association, but held yearly meetings among themselves, in which many things were attended to, such as are simony done at Associations, and by which they were ripened for independence. In 1765 they were dismissed from the Philadelphia Association, and on the 19th of August, 1766, they met by their delegates at Ketocton in Loudoun. Their first meeting being at Ketocton, the Association took the name. There was four churches of this order in Virginia, all of which were represented by their delegates, as follows:
Ketocton: John Marks, John Loyd.
Smith and Lynville’s Creek: John Alderson.
Mill Creek: John Garrard, Isaac Sutton.
Broad Run: David Thomas, Joseph Metcalf.
The minutes of this Association say nothing of their appointment of moderator or clerk, nor of their numbers, nor of their regulations of any kind, except a resolution to send to the Philadelphia Association for instructions with regard to this Association, by which they probably meant such rules and regulations as had been, or should be, advised by the mother Association. As affectionate and exhortatory letter was connected with the minutes. The business transacted in the Association is so analogous to that of the other Associations already commented on that it is quite unnecessary to detail. We shall, therefore, in a kind of table represent the time and places, and etc, of hold the Associations, and then make some general remarks upon the whole. The first meeting of the Ketocton Association included the third Sunday in August as one of the days on which they were together. This has continued ever since. The day of assembling has been changed from Saturday to Friday, and from Friday to Thursday, which last has continued for many years. Thursday and Friday are devoted to the business of the Association, Saturday and Sunday to preaching and public ministrations. Until 1770, neither the number baptized nor the totals are listed in their minutes. In a few subsequent years, also, they are omitted.
In 1789, the Ketocton Association was divided into two by a line running from the Potomac a south course. The district above this line retained the name Ketocton; the other was called Chappawamsick. The districts met separately until 1792, when they again united. Some attempts at a division have again been made , but have not succeeded.
For more than twenty years after the Association was organized the custom of laying on hands upon all persons immediately after they were baptized was invariably practiced in this Association. It was an article in the confession of faith, and the want of it was deemed by many a bar to communion. After the great revival, first, the necessity and then the propriety of it began to be questioned until it was finally disused, and in the revival of the confession of faith that article was expunged.
In 1791, a case was brought before the Association which produced considerable agitation. James Hutchinson, who was born in New jersey, but raised in Loudoun county, Virginia, had gone to Georgia, and there first became a Methodist and then a Baptist Preacher. Previous to his joining the Baptists he had been baptized by a Methodist preacher. When he offered to join the Baptists of Georgia it was made a question whether his baptism, being performed by an unbaptized person, was valid. The Georgia Baptist decided that it was valid.
In the year above mentioned, Mr. Hutchinson came to Virginia to see his relations in Loudoun county. While he was there his preaching became effectual to the conversion of many. Mr. Hutchinson baptized them. These things stirred up the question in the Ketocton Association whether the baptism of Hutchinson and his new disciples was valid. The decision here was just the reverse of the decision in Georgia. They determined not to receive either him or those baptized by him, unless they would submit to rebaptized. After some time they consented and the ordinance was readministered. Their proceeding on this occasion was more strict than that of any other Association upon the subject. The question has been before most of the Associations at one time or other, and in every other instance they either deemed it unnecessary to rebaptized or left it to the conscience of the party to be rebaptized nor not. The arguments were: That the most important prerequisite to baptism was faith in the subject; that, although it was expedient to have a fixed rule for qualifying persons for the administration of the ordinances, yet the want of such qualifications in the administrator ought not to be viewed as having sufficient weight to invalidate the baptism. On the other hand, it was argued: That if such baptism was sanctioned everything like ordination might be dispensed with; that ordination was not only expedient, but an institution of the Bible, and, therefore, indispensable; that such proceedings, if allowed, might go to great lengths, and, ultimately, produce confusion.
About the same time the Association was consulted as to the propriety of a church’s requiring of each of her members to contribute to the expenses of the church according to their property. The Association determined that a regulation of that kind in a church was lawful, and that persons that would not submit to it deserved to be excluded from the privileges of the church. It was easy for the church to ask, and for the Association to give her advice, the correctness of which cannot be doubted upon right principles. But it was not quite so easy to execute. The attempt was made in some of the churches, but in consequence of the violent opposition it met with, they desisted from it.
In 1787, the lawfulness of hereditary slavery was debated in this Association. They determined that hereditary slavery was a breach of the divine law. They then appointed a committee to bring in a plan of gradual emancipation, which was accordingly done. They were treading upon delicate ground. It excited considerable tumult in the churches, and accordingly in their letters to the next Association they remonstrated so decidedly that the Association resolved to take no further steps in the business.
The Association took up the subject of the General Meeting of Correspondence at different periods, but in every instance decided against encouraging it. There are, however, within the limits of the district a very respectable party who are favorable to the institution of the General Meeting; and it is hoped that at no very distant day the whole Association will discover how requisite such a meeting is towards preserving peace and uniformity among a great people.
The office of moderator has been discharged by Messrs, Fristoe, Moore, and Munroe, alternately, each of whom seems to possess the qualifications requisite to fill the chair with dignity and skill. Their standing clerk for many years has been Mr. Thomas Buck. It is not presumable they will want any other as long as he is willing and able to act.
Mates Creek Association
This association has two different histories given for its origin.
This small Fraternity of Antimissionary Baptists is located in the eastern extremity of the State. It was constituted at the Mates Creek meeting house in Virginia, in 1849, at which time most of its churches were in that State. It extended its operations into Kentucky, and subsequently dismissed most of its original churches to form a new Association. At present, most or all of its churches are in Pike county, Kentucky, except Sulphur Spring, which is in Buchanan county, West Virginia. It had considerable growth for a time, and in 1878, numbered 16 churches with 729 members. Since that date, it appears to have declined. In 1880, it numbered 14 churches with 503 members.
In the list of the ministers appear the names of Gabriel Riffe, W. W. Fields and Basil Hatfield. The first named acted as moderator of the body a number of years. He was called to his reward, about 1878. Basil Hatfield has acted as moderator since 1877.
Mates Creek Association an arm from the New Salem Association 1849.
This Association was organized the second Saturday in July 1849. The Presbytery that was appointed: Elders William M. Salsberry, Jordan Ashley, W.M. Mullins. The presbytery met with the following churches, Enon, Pond Creek, Sardis, Louisa, New Liberty. These 5 churches met with the delegates from these churches at the Pond Creek Church, Pike County, Kentucky. This was the first offspring of the New Salem Association.
Mud River Association
Minutes of the first annual meeting of the Mud River Association of Regular Baptist held with the Providence Church, Lincoln County, West Virginia, September 21, 22, and 23, 1889. Now we note the minutes of the fifty-third annual meeting of the Pocatalico Old School or Particular Association. Held with the Sarah Church, Boone County, West Virginia, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1888.
One year prior to the convening of the first annual meeting of the Mud River Association. We find in the minute of the Pocatalico a division has sprung up concerning the Providence church or members that belonged to this church. At this time, 1888, Pocatalico Association convened with the Sarah Church, Boone County, West Virginia, and at this time the difference over the division in the Providence Church led to the divide in this association. Seven of the twelve churches met at the Providence Church in Lincoln County, West Virginia. Churches that met at this time namely Providence, Sarah, Salem, Liberty, Mt. Zion, Four Mile and Little laurel which constituted the Mud River Association of Regular Baptist and adopted the articles of faith of the Burning Spring Association. The Union Association record show that his association lettered to it in the year of our Lord 1910 and was received and their delegates were seated as far as we know the record shows that they have been a continues correspondence with the Union Association ever since. The records show that the Pocatalico Association was organized 1855 and was a particular or Old School Baptist Association, we do not know for sure as to where this association came from, But we rather believe that it was an arm form some of the earlier Baptist associations, that possible didn’t pay too much attention to the many handles that has been added to the Baptist since that time, now we do not have the organization of the church that made up the Mud River Association, since this association is a distance from us and minutes of some of these churches have been destroyed, therefore it sometimes is impossible for us to give the exact date as to their organization.
Done and signed by the order of the Mud River Association.
Elder Emory White, Moderator
Elder Ernest Breedlove, Assistant Moderator
Elder Whitzel Ball, Clerk
Elder Dow Hudley, Assistant Clerk
New Salem Association
This small fraternity is located in the counties of Letcher, Floyd, Perry, Breathitt and Pike, in the extreme eastern border of the state. It was constituted in 1825, of the following churches: New Salem, Mud, Sand Lick, Stone Coal, Union, Owen Fork, Raccoon, and Louisa Fork, all of which had probably been dismissed from the Burning Spring Association. Their Aggregate membership has not been ascertained. The country in which they are located, is rough and mountainous, and is thinly populated, even at the present time; and the Association has made little progress. In 1843, a revival prevailed among its churches, and its aggregate membership was nearly doubled within two or three years. In 1844, it numbered 14 churches with 758 members. But, during the next ten years, it gradually declined; and in 1854, it numbered only 13 churches with 465 members. It again enjoyed a season of prosperity, and, in 1859, reached a membership of 20 churches and 614 members. But at this date, it dismissed 9 churches, aggregating 284 members to form Union Association. After the War, it increased so rapidly, that in 1873, it reported 18 churches with 834 members, the largest aggregate membership it has ever attained. But this prosperity seemed to make it arrogant and presumptive. It had previously dropped the term “United,” from its title, and now styled itself “Regular Baptist.” The following proceedings will sufficiently explain both the attitude of the body, in regard to benevolent operations, and the cause of its rapid decline. In the midst of the greatest prosperity it ever enjoyed, it began to agitate the subject of benevolent societies. Evil counsel prevailed; and, in 1875, it recorded on its minutes, the following item: “The item to notice secret organizations, was taken up and debated. Resolved, therefore, That we, as the Regular Baptist Association, known as the New Salem Association, do declare a non-fellowship with all modern institutions, called benevolent: such as missionary, Bible and tract societies, Sunday-school Union and Masonry, and all societies set on foot by men, whether secret or open, religious or political, outside of the word of God.”
Some of the members of Union Association, one of its correspondents, as well as its daughter “filed an objection” against the above item. But instead of trying to give satisfaction to these brethren, it rejected the correspondence of the wounded sister, in 1876, and recorded on its minutes the following: “That we do declare a non-fellowship with all modern institutions: such as missionary Baptists, Bible and tract societies, Sunday-school Unions and Masonry, and all societies set on foot by men or devils, outside of the word of God.” This year, nine of the churches demanded letters of dismission, to form a new organization, which, when constituted, took the name of Sand Lick Association. From this time, New Salem Association gradually declined. But, as if crazed on the subject of benevolent institutions, it passed the following item in 1877: “We, as an advising council, say to all our churches, Cleanse yourselves of secret organizations.” In 1880, the body numbered 12 churches, aggregating 377 members.
Of the ministers who first carried the gospel into this mountainous region, very little is known. The famous pioneer, Daniel Williams, was the first to preach the word, on the upper waters of the Licking River. He gathered Burning Spring church, where Samuel Hannah and Ezekiel Stone were presently raised up to the ministry, and preached among the settlers. Caleb may was also raised up to the ministry here, and preached for a short time, with much acceptance. But he soon died of a cancer on his breast.
Simeon Justice was among the first preachers who settled on the upper waters of the Big Sandy river. He gathered a church called Stone Coal, on Beaver creek, to which he ministered a short time. He was a large, corpulent man, and was very nearsighted. Notwithstanding these barriers, he walked over an extensive area of that mountainous region, to fill his appointments. He lived but a few years after locating in this region. A story is told of him to the following effect: As he was returning from one of his appointments, while walking a narrow and somewhat dangerous path, he was confronted by a rattle snake. He detected the presence of the venomous beast, by its rattle, being so near-sighted that he could not see it, although it was within tow or three yard of his feet. The path was so narrow, and the mountain side along which it lay was so steep and rocky, that there was no way to get around the defiant reptile. Guided by the noise of its rattle, he threw stones at it until it became silent. He then walked cautiously over its mangled body, and proceeded homewards.
John Morris was born on Smiths river, in Virginia, about 1780. In early life, he emigrated to Floyd county, Kentucky, and settled on Beaver creek, where he spent the remainder of a very long and useful life. Here he united with the Stone Coal church, then under the pastoral care of good old Simeon Justice. Here he was ordained to the ministry, in 1819, and soon afterwards succeeded to the pastoral care of Stone Coal church. To this congregation he ministered, 50 years. To what other churches he preached, the author is not informed. He was much loved and revered by the people among whom he lived and labored; and his influence over them was very great. “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and much people was added to the Lord.” The Master took him to himself, when he was 90 years old, in 1870.
John A. Caudill was of a very numerous family of his name, which has produced many preachers, in the eastern counties of Kentucky. He was born in Ash County, North Carolina, January 1, 1798. In his childhood, he was brought by his parents to what is now Letcher county, Kentucky, where he grew up, with only such an education as enabled him to read and write. He was converted to Christ, about 1825, and was baptized into the fellowship of Sand Lick church, by John Dixon it is believed. In 1837, he was licensed to exercise his gift, and in 1838, was ordained to the ministry, by John Dixon and others. He was afterwards called to the care of Carrs Fork, Thornton and Indian Bottom churches, to which he is said to have ministered acceptably, and with profit. He also served Cowan church, for a time. He died, May 10, 1873.
William V. Mullins was born in what is now Hawkins county, Tennessee, November 24, 1803. He came to Kentucky at the age of 15 years. At a period not specified by his biographer, he united with a church under the care of William Tackett, by whom he was baptized. In 1832, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry, soon afterwards, by John A. Morris and Nathan B. Kelley. He raised up Joppa church, and a church on Licking river, the name of which is unknown, both of which he served as pastor. He was also pastor of several other churches in New Salem Association, at different periods.
Among the living ministers of this Association, William Cook appears to be one of the most prominent and influential. He is a man of fine cheerful spirit, is active and zealous in his holy calling, and has usually been moderator of his Association, for a number of years past. Tow of his stepsons, of the name of Hopkins, were pious young preachers in New Salem Association.
The New Salem Association is the mother of the following Associations:
1. Mates Creek Association, organized 1849.
2. Union Association, organized 1859.
3. Sand Lick Association, organized 1876.
4. Kyova Association, organized 1924.
5. Philadelphia Association, organized 1925.
6. Northern New Salem Association, organized 1957.
Note: Three churches withdrew from the Mates creek Association over the doctrine of Election, these three churches met and organized the Sardis Association , August 5, 1893.
The Indian Bottom Association originated form a division in the Sand Lick Association in the year 1896.
North District Association
North District Association resulted from a division of the Old South Kentucky fraternity, in August, 1801. Of the origin of the mother body, the minutes of North District, for 1831, says: “On the first Friday in October, 1787, at Tates Creek meetinghouse, in Madison county, eleven churches, who were called Separate Baptist, were constituted an association, on the Bible, and were called South Kentucky Association.” This organization continued to prosper about fifteen years, when its territory became inconveniently large, and a division deemed expedient. It held its last meeting, as the same house in which it was constituted, on the third Friday in August, and the day following, in 1801. This was the meeting at which the “term of general union” were ratified by this body. Her last act was to divide her territory. The line began at the head of Paint Lick creek, rand down that stream to its mouth, and thence down the Kentucky river to its junction with the Ohio. The churches north of this line formed the fraternity now to be considered.
North District Association held its first meeting at Unity meetinghouse in Clark county, on the first Friday in October, 1802. Messengers were present from 24 churches, which aggregated 1928 members. The churches were Spencer Creek, Lulbegrud, Bethel, and Sycamore, in Montgomery County, Providence, Unity, Red River, Upper Howard’s Creek, and East Fork, in Clark; Boffmans Fork in Fayette; Salt Lick and Bald Eagle, in Bath; Mt. Pleasant, in Franklin; Tates Creek, in Madison; Salem and Station Camp, in Estill; Jessamine, in Jessamine county; Griers Creek , and Hopewell, in Woodford; and Locust Creek, Johnson’s Fork, Brush Creek, Long Branch, and State Union, whose localities are unknown. The preachers in the body; were David Scott, Robert Elkin, Leonard Turley, James Quesenberry, Joseph Craig, Isaac Crutcher, Moses Bledsoe, Mahalaleel Shakle, Charles Finnell, Daniel Williams, John Davis, Edward Kindred, Henry Blackgrove, and jams Haggard.
This Association embraced all the churches north of the line described, from the east borders of Elkhorn and Bracken Associations, to the waters of Big Sandy river, from the time of its constitution, till Burning Spring Association was taken from it, in 1814. The churches of which it was constituted, had all been Separate Baptists, and although they had taken the name of United Baptists, this Association, like Tates Creek and South District, both of which had emanated from the same source, still kept up some customs that were not in accord with Regular Baptist usages. In 1804, Thomas J. Chilton, from a party of South District Association, which afterwards took the name of South Kentucky Association presented to North District charges against Jeremiah Vardeman and John Rice. As the party represented by Mr. Chilton, was not recognized by the Association, the charges were not entertained. But the next year, the same body entertained five charges against David Barrow, the ablest preacher in their body. These charges were presented by the messengers from Bracken Association, and pertained to Mr. Barrow’s sentiments on the subject of slavery, The Association, after hearing him, in his own defense, decided that his explanations and apologies were sufficient. Some of the churches, however, were determined to get rid of him; and new provisions were made for his expulsion. “Providence and Boones Creek churches inquire how a church shall deal with a minister who propagates doctrines that are unsound or pernicious to peace and good order? The Association advises that a church, in such case, withdraw all the power they gave such preacher; and [that] two preachers may suspend, or stop such preacher from preaching, until he can be tried by a council of five ministers, whose decision, in such case, ought to be obeyed, until reversed by the Association.” This rule, however profane, was applied to Mr. Barrow, almost immediately after the Association adjourned. At the next meeting of the body, in 1806, the following proceedings were entered on its minutes: “A committee or council of five ministers reported: that, agreeable to provision made last Association, for the trial of ministers, they had been dealing with brother David Barrow, for preaching the doctrine of Emancipation, to the hurt and injury of the brotherhood. And the Association, after considering the foregoing report, and hearing what brother Barrow had to say, in justification of his conduct, on that subject, and brother Barrow manifesting no disposition to alter his mode of preaching, as to the aforesaid doctrine, they proceeded to expel him from his seat in this Association.” They also “appointed a committee to deal with brother Barrow, in the church at Mt. Sterling, at their next monthly meeting, and report to next Association.”
Immediately after Mr. Barrow’s expulsion from North District Association, he commenced arranging for the constitution of an Emancipation association. A meeting was called to convene at the New Hope, in Woodford county, on the 29th of August, 1807. Eleven preachers and nineteen other messengers, were enrolled as members of the meeting. Preliminary steps were taken for the organization of an association, which was constituted of nine churches, aggregating 190 members, the following September. This Association, which took the name of Licking Locust.
North District Association saw the injustice of her rash act, when it was too late to counteract its evil effect. At her annual meeting, in 1807: The Association proceeded to annul and revoke the act of last Association, in expelling Elder David Barrow from his seat in the Association. But she had already lost at least three churches and two preachers by the transaction; and they did not choose to return. The subject of slavery continued to be agitated, in the bounds of the Association, nearly twenty years.
In 1811 and 1812, an extraordinary revival prevailed within the bounds of this Association, and, within these two years, 1078 converts were baptized into the fellowship of its churches. At the last named date, it numbered 28 churches, aggregating 2383 members. This was the largest membership it has ever attained. In 1814, about ten churches were dismissed to form Burning Spring Association. In 1815, the body expressed the opinion, that “buying lottery tickets is a species of gambling.” The subject of foreign missions was introduced in the Association, the following year; and it agreed to correspond with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. But on complaint of several of the churches, the correspondence was dropped, the following year. This was the only missionary movement this old fraternity has ever made; and that consisted merely in a correspondence with a missionary board, during a single year. During the same year, the Association decided that it is not “right for members of the Baptist church to sit in Free Mason lodges.” In 1823, the Association was again reduced, by the dismissal of six churches to go into the constitution of Boones Creek Association. After this, it continued to decrease till 1827, when it numbered 19 churches, with 1265 members.
Campbellism took root early, in North District Association. Mr. Campbell visited Mount Sterling as early as 1824, and preached three sermons there. John Smith, commonly known as Raccoon John Smith, the most attractive preacher, and the shrewdest manager, in the Association, was speedily converted to his views. Several other preachers, of less note, soon followed him. The churches withered under the constant disputations, for two or three years. But suddenly, about the close of the year 1827, a powerful religious excitement began to move the people here, as well as all over the northern part of the State. Multitudes professed conversion, and were baptized. The Campbellite preachers were by far the most active, in this work. John Smith’s Biographer avers that Smith immersed most of the converts. Of course, they were “baptized for the remission of sins.” This meeting has been called, not inappropriately, “John Smith’s Revival.” During the two years, 1828 and 1829, the churches of North District reported 1059 baptisms, while five new churches were constituted, “on the Bible.” The Association now numbered 24 churches, with 2265 members. But it was no longer a Baptist association. The Campbellites had an overwhelming majority in the Association, as well as in most of the churches. The Association went through the ordinary routine of business, in 1829, and appointed to meet, the next year, at Spencer Creek.
Instead of attending the meeting at Spencer Creek, where they knew they would be in a hopeless minority, the Baptists called a convention, which met at Lulbegrud, in April, 1830. Only seven churches were represented. The principal business, transacted by the meeting, was the examination of the records of South Kentucky and North District Associations, to ascertain what had been the duties and customs of those bodies. The investigation showed that the established customs of North District Association, had been repeatedly and flagrantly violated, during the last three years. The report of the committee, appointed to make the investigation, embraces the following points:
1. South Kentucky Association, until it was divided into South and North District Associations, maintained a particular watch care over the principles and practices of the churches and preachers.
2. The terms of general union did not abridge the privileges of that body, or those of its offspring.
3. The constitution of North District Association makes it the duty of that body to maintain a watch care over the churches, and to withdraw from such as act disorderly.
4. North District Association exercised a watch care over the churches and preachers, previous to 1827.
5. At the meeting, in 1827, Lulbegrud complained, in her letter, of a new mode of administering the Lord’s Supper. But the Association neglected to take any notice of the offending churches.
6. Goshen church complained, in 1829, of a new formula used in administering baptism. The Association took no notice of her complaint.
7. Lulbegrud and Cane Spring complained of disorders, in 1829. The Association refused to take cognizance of their complaint.
The report of the committee was adopted. James French was directed to take charge of the records of North District Association, and hold them subject to the call of that body, which fraternity could consist only of such churches as practice the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and administer the constitution of the Association, according to precedent, and the terms of general Union. The convention then appointed a meeting, to convene at Goshen, 4th Saturday in June, 1830. This meeting convened according to appointment. Ten churches were represented. Two questions, presented by the committee of arrangements, were discussed and decided upon as follows:
1. Has the North District Association departed from the former administration of her constitution, by abandoning the supervisor-ship of the churches and preachers? Taken up and answered. They have departed.
2. Has a church that takes upon herself to introduce and practice usages, unknown among the churches of Elkhorn and South Kentucky Associations, at the time of their union, departed from the constitution, and gone out of the union? Taken up and answered. They have gone out of the union.
After giving their reasons for their conclusions, and transacting some other business, they conclude as follows: “In conclusion, we declare, that we withdraw from all churches that have departed as before alleged, considering them in disorder, and gone out of the union. But at the same time, our fellowship is not broken with such minorities, or individual members, as are content with former usages of the churches.”
They append the following description of the manner in which they administer the ordinances and religious rites, in their churches:
Ordaining Ministers: Not less than two ordained ministers, lay their hands on the person about to be ordained, pray for him, one at a time, give him the right hand of fellowship, solemnly exhorting him to faithfulness and perseverance in the work to which he is now separated and set apart. A testimonial is given him, signed by the officiating ministers, stating the time of his ordination, his name, and whatever more they think proper, to identify and recommend the brother to the confidence and approbation of the society.
Ordaining Deacons: Two ordained preachers, or more, lay their hands on him, pray for him, one at a time, giving him the right hand of fellowship, and give him an encouraging address to the due performance of his official duties.
Constituting Churches: Two ordained ministers, at least, attend on them who are to be constituted a church; a constitution, covenant or creed, (whichever you please), being a compendium of gospel principles and duties, is unanimously assented to, and adopted by all included in the new constitution. The officiating ministers pray for them, and lovingly exhort, advise, and admonish them, give them the right hand of fellowship, and they to one another.
Subjects of Baptism: All those who know, not only by education, theory, or credence of others, but by heart impressions also, to deep indelible ever to be effaced; that they are undone, ruined, and guilty before the Lord, and are without strength, or hope of deliverance from the wrath to come; save only by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Baptism: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Mode of Baptism: The administer, and ordained preacher, and the person to be baptized, standing in water of suitable depth, the minister, in an audible voice, pronounces the baptismal words; then lays the person to be baptized, backwards into the water, until the body is covered, or overwhelmed with water; then raising the person to his or her feet.
Manner of eating the Lord’s Supper: The administrator, and ordained preacher, standing at the table, after singing a hymn of praise, implores the blessing of the Lord [and] breaks the bread into pieces small enough to be readily taken into the mouth. The deacons receive the bread, thus broken, and laid on plates or some other like convenience, at the table, and present it to the communicants, that every one may take a piece. All being served with the bread, the administrator invokes a blessing, pours the wine into vessels of the cup kind, and the deacons bear it from the table to the communicants: a song of thanksgiving closes the solemnity.
Northern New Salem Association
Wales, Kentucky, September 28, 1957. We the New Salem Association of Old Regular Baptist of Jesus Christ, in session assembled with the Enterprise Church; a Joint Petition was presented to us from the Following Churches, to-wit:
The Little Rebecca Church
The Little Jewell Church
The Maggie Home Church
The Little Ruth Church
The Little Polly Church
The Little Maudie Church
The Little Flock Church
The Little Memory Church
For Letters of Dismission as an Arm -- from the New Salem Association, to be organized into a new Association whom we dismissed by letters attached hereto, in Full Love and Fellowship -- when organized into an Association Body at Plymouth, Ohio, the 3rd Saturday in October, 1957, by a regular chosen Presbytery from the New Salem Association -- together with Ordained Authority from our corresponding Associations invited.
Done and Signed by Order of the New Salem Association
Elder F. A. Hopkins, Moderator.
Elder E. V. Hopkins, Assistant Moderator.
Brother L. G. Frazier, Clerk.
Brother Johnnie Tackett, Assistant Clerk.
Plymouth, Richland County, Ohio, This the 19th day of October, 1957 A.D.
The herein named ordained authorities, being duly appointed and authorized by the officers and delegates of the New Salem Association in its 133rd annual session, convened with the Enterprise Church, Wales, Pike County, Kentucky, on Friday before the fourth (4th) Sunday in September, 1957, did assemble ourselves together at the Little Rebecca Meeting house to execute such duties as was delegated to us to do.
After singing a few of the old songs of Zion, Elder Tack hall came to the stand and introduced the services and offered prayer, revealing a witness that surely God was pleased with our purpose. After prayer and supplication, and the intercession and thanks had been made, the ordained authorities from the New Salem Association, together with the invited ordained authorities from our sister Associations, in the presence of the Almighty God, and a host of beloved brethren and sisters of our faith, and a large and well ordered congregation of people, proceeded to organize themselves into a legal presbytery by selecting Elder M. V. Burke, Moderator Pro. Tem., and Elder Roy B. Akers, Clerk Pro. Tem.
The brother Moderator then took the stand and briefly outlined the duties of a presbytery, and reminded them of the solemnity of the occasion. He instructed them that loyalty belonged to God and obedience to the creature, and that they were assembled here to do the will of God with no intent to honor man.
The ordained authorities were then seated together. The Moderator Pro Tem, then entertained a motion for a permanent moderator and clerk. On motion of Elder Jonah Tackett, and a second by Elder Johnie Hall, Elder M. V. Burke was chosen Moderator, and Elder Roy B. Akers was chosen Clerk of the presbytery.
The Elders and Deacons that composed the presbytery are as follows: Elders: Tack Hall, Burton Howard, McCoy Combs, Johnie Hall, Jonah Tackett, Anthony Hamilton, Worley Kidd, Lloyd Mullins, Walter Akers, M. V. Burke, and Roy B. Akers. Deacons: William Hicks, and W. F. Compton, all from the New Salem Association. Elder Roy Hudson from the Union Association.
The delegates representing the churches that petitioned the New Salem Association for an arm to be organized into a new Association were assembled together. Their petitions were called for, and their delegates were properly seated.
Little Rebecca: H. N. Vanderpool, Willie Collins, and Banner Collins.
Little Jewell: Baxter Osborne, Steve Osborne, Forest Osborne, Jubel Music.
Maggie Home: John Mullins, Shade Meeks, and Isaac Rose.
Little Ruth: Woodroe Fuller, George Hamilton, and Webster Bartley.
Little Polly: G. H. Caudill, and Richard Griffith.
Little Maudie: Claude Ousley, Delmer Williams, and Tip Collins.
Little Flock: Joshua Hicks, and Ray Hamilton.
Little Memory: Roy B. Akers.
After reading the several petitions and finding them in order, the presbytery proceeded to examine each delegate and the church as to their soundness relative to Old Regular Baptist customs, practices, order and discipline. They were further examined upon their orthodoxy, and faith in the precepts, and commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Old and New Testament Scriptures, together with the Articles of Faith, Rules of Decorum, and the Constitution of the New Salem Association was used as a rule and guide to all questions asked, and the answers that were received. After a righteous examination had been made, and spiritual information had been obtained, the presbytery signified that they were satisfied with the examination.
The presbytery then pronounced that the above named churches were now organized into a legal Independent Association of churches with no power to Lord it over God’s heritage, but to act as an advisory council, with no respects to persons or churches on all questions and queries that may legally come before them when assembled together. They were advised to take up Godly correspondence with any, or all associations of the same faith and order, that they may deem worthy. “For in unity there is strength.” They were accorded the same benefits, rights and privileges as those enjoyed by the New Salem Association -- To stand firm in the doctrine of Jesus Christ, to advocate the Gospel as defined in the written record of God, to exercise all the gifts permitted by the holy scriptures, and to chose with diligence the course of action that is to guide them through the stormy seas of persecutions that inevitably lie ahead, so long as they remain true to the rules set forth in this work.
Elders: Tack Hall, Burton Howard, Johnie Hall, and McCoy Combs delivered wonderful, and righteous admonitions to the brethren that are to accept the burdened responsibilities that will out of necessity, for the cause of Christ be placed upon them. They were told that many heartaches, sore trials, and bitter persecutions await them. And that the enemies of Christ will seize upon these, and will devise many other methods to discourage and persuade them to leave the Ancient land marks. You must be willing to suffer on account of these things in defense of the doctrine that we advocate. For, if the doctrine is to be preserved until the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you cannot relax one moment lest the enemy slip in unaware. “Hew to the line and let the chips fall where they may.” “Work to the pattern that God gave Moses on the Mount.” Admit only those to your fellowship that come with an experimental knowledge of Grace. Deny fellowship to all who, by cunning and crafty methods, would seek to destroy your liberty, that has been given to you in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Moreover, brethren, don’t ever permit any doctrine that is not practiced by the Old Regular Baptist of Jesus Christ to come among you, lest you lose your identity as the true and righteous representative of the Earthly Kingdom of Israel’s God. With great joy the brethren of this presbytery hand to you this charter. It is stained with the blood of Jesus Christ. Its way has been marked by the sufferings, and persecutions, of the Pilgrims, and the Martyrs, from the banks of Jordan’s River, down to this very hour. It is given you in this life, and will follow you into Judgment. This charter has been sealed with blood, when coupled with the word of God. Guard it with your lives, and your sacred honor. And trust in the faith, that God will reward you according as your works shall be.
Elder M. V. Burke then read a charge to the brethren and begged them in the name of Christ always remember this charge. (Charge) 2nd Timothy 4:1. “I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at His appearing, and His Kingdom, etc.;” I John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanest us from all sin.” That you may ever be as the Father and Mother of the First Baptist. Luke 1:6. “And they were both righteous before God. Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” Eph, 4:3. “Endeavoring to keep the unity and the spirit in the bonds of peace.” Jude 1:3. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Eph. 4:4. “That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the slight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” I Cor. 15:58. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” II Cor. 6:17-18. “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, sayeth the Lord, and touch not the unclean things, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, sayeth the Lord almighty. ‘And may God never say to you as he said to the church at Thyatira.’ Revelation 2:20 and 22. “Not with standing I have few things against thee, because you sufferest that woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servant to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her, into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” II Cor. 13:14. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
It was regularly moved by Elder Johnnie Hall, and seconded by Elder Jonah Tackett, that the presbytery cease its work and be dissolved. And that our work be closed with prayer by Elder Burton Howard. The joyful ending of this work was a further manifestation that the spirit of God has prevailed. May the spirit and the blessings of God go with each and every member of this New Association, and protect them until the mighty hand of God shall bring about an end to all things, according as it is written, is the fervent prayer of each and every member that composed this presbytery.
Everything was done in decency and good order, and we hope to the glory and honor of God. Done and signed by order of this presbytery.
Elder M. V. Burke, Moderator
Elder Roy B. Akers, Clerk
Old Indian Bottom Association
The following article was copied from the Regular Baptist Sword and Shield, a monthly publication, published by Elder Joe Hall, Dry Creek, Kentucky of the Union association. January 1917. It is used to show the origin of the Old Indian Bottom Association.
The Sand Lick Church Controversy
In 1815 the Sand Lick Church of Regular Baptist was organized near the present Town of Whitesburg, Kentucky, now stands. Elder John Caudill was for several years the Pastor of this church and served in this capacity until his death.
Being the owner of the land on which the church had always met, he, before his death gave the church a tract of land on which to build a church house which the church afterwards built.
This church grew and prospered until the death of brother John Caudill. After his death his son Elder S. C. Caudill became the Pastor of this church and the church still continued to prosper until about the year 1896 when a controversy arose in the church between Elders Peter Adkins, Joe Fairchild and Robert Blair and S.C. Caudill over the doctrine; the former holding doctrine of absolute predestination of all things both good and evil and actual eternal vital union between Christ and the Church and S.C. Caudill opposing it. Of course, this led to confusion and culminated in a division of the church. In order to preserve and keep the history of this event straight we print below the orders of the Sand Lick Church made by the church during this controversy which reads as follows:
Sand Lick Church Records, May 19, 1896. The Sand Lick Church of Regular Primitive Baptist, met on the 3rd Saturday in May 1896 and after prayer, was called to order by Elder Peter Adkins and answered in full fellowship.
2nd. Then on motion by L.F. Adkins the Articles of Faith was read.
3rd. Then invited brethren of our Faith and Order to a seat with us, when Elder J.W. Fairchild rose and stated that he did not know whether he was of the same Faith or not that he preached an absolute predestination of all things and an eternal vital union with God and His people, which doctrine was objected to by Elder S.C. Caudill and was sustained by the church. When Elder Robert Blair, Peter Adkins and brother S. G. Fairchild withdrew from us.
4th. Then on motion by Elder L.F. Adkins, Elder S.C. Caudill taken charge of the church, being our present Moderator.
5th. S.G. Fairchild, our former Clerk having withdrawn from us we appointed L.F. Adkins clerk Pro Tem.
7th. Then called for reference and the action of the brethren withdrawing settled the reference relative to the doctrine of Elder Robert Blair, no further reference on record.
9th. By the advice of Elder S.C. Caudill agreed to bear with the brethren that withdrew until our next meeting.
Done in behalf of the church,
Elder S.C. Caudill Moderator
L. F. Adkins, Clerk
June 20, 1896
The Sand Lick church of Regular Primitive Baptist met, was found in love.
2nd. Then proceeded to business, our former clerk having withdrawn from us, it was moved that L.F. Adkins be and he is hereby appointed clerk.
3rd. Took up the case relative to the brethren withdrawing from our body, it was moved that we appoint Elder S.C. Caudill, brethren S.J. Caudill and Joseph Blair to demand Elder Robert Blair and Peter Adkins credentials, also our Church Record and to report at our next meeting.
Done in behalf of the church.
Elder S.C. Caudill, Moderator
L.F. Adkins, Clerk
July the 18th, 1896
The Sand Lick Church of Regular Primitive Baptist, met was found in love then proceeded to business.
2nd. Took up the case relative to the brethren withdrawing from our body. It was moved Elder Peter Adkins, Robert Blair and brother S.G. Fairchild be and they are hereby excluded from our body, for abruptly withdrawing from our body and organizing themselves into another body and calling it the Sand Lick church and refusing to give up the Sand Lick Church Records.
Done in behalf of the church.
Elder S.C. Caudill, Moderator
L.F. Adkins, Clerk
From the Record it is shown conclusively that Robert Blair and Peter Adkins were lawfully excluded from the fellowship of the church. What followed?
The Sand Lick Association met in September, after this split had taken place in the church and both of these parties from this church presented letters to the Sand Lick Association of which this church was a member each claiming to be the true Sand Lick church, whereupon Peter Adkins though an excluded member, arbitrarily took charge of the Association and acted as Moderator and when Elder S.C. Caudill presented the letter from the Sand Lick church he ordered Brother Caudill to sit down and refused to let him or those with him to speak or in any wise to be heard, those acting with Peter Adkins at this time proceeded then to make him Moderator of this Association with the full knowledge that he was an excluded member and had no right to act, when this was done the churches that wished to preserve good order withdrew from the Association for these and many other disorders which could be mentioned.
These churches after several years waiting for these dissenting Brethren to set themselves in order and they failing to do so, organized into an Association known as the Indian Bottom Association.
The question now arises: did these churches have the right to withdraw from this Association?
We affirm that they had such right, not only that, but it became their duty to do so. The Bible says: “Withdraw thyselves from every brother that walketh disorderly,” and what is true of individual members is likewise true of churches and associations. This being true those churches that withdrew did but do their duty for this association walked most disorderly by holding as Moderator an Elder who had been legally excluded and by refusing lawful Delegates of the Sand Lick Church and by refusing the brethren a voice so that the will of the whole brotherhood could be had upon this question.
This arbitrary usurpation of power on the part of Elder Adkins and his party has not a parallel this side the Pope of Rome, is foreign to the principles and practices of the Regular Baptist! Deprived the churches of a fair representation in the Association, to which they had a constitutional right, destroyed the bond of union and fellowship heretofore existing between them and subverted fundamentally the whole constitutional rights of these churches.
What right had they to appoint an excluded Person as Moderator? None. What right had he to serve? None whatever.
What remedy had those brethren preserve their purity and good order? None but to withdraw.
So it is clearly established that the Indian Bottom Association is in order and that the other party is in disorder.
Since her organization the Indian Bottom Association has steadly grown and increased in membership until today she is one of the strongest ecclesiastical bodies in East Kentucky, while on the other hand Robert Blair and Peter Adkins party has declined to death’s door.
Philadelphia Association 1707
Organization of the Philadelphia Association-Quarterly meetings--The early churches of the Body-Other Associations-Powers of an Association-The Declaration of the Association-The Separate Association in Virginia-John L. Waller-Discipline-Trouble in the Pennepek Church-The First Church, Charleston, S.C.-Requirements to Unite with a Church-Ministerial Education-Thomas Hollis and Harvard College-Scholarships for Baptists-Abel Morgan-The Academy at Hopewell-Missions-Oliver Hart-John Gano-Circular Letter on Education-Isaac Eaton-Brown University-James Manning-Dr. Ezra Stiles-The Charter-The First Commencement of Brown-The College Suspended-Resolutions on Temperance-Early Customs of the Baptists.
The organization of the Philadelphia Association in 1707, is one of the most far-reaching events connected with the Baptists denomination. The church at Pennepek has the following record: "Before our general meeting, held in Philadelphia, in the seventh month, 1707, it was concluded by the several congregations of our Judgment, to take choice of some particular brethren, such as they thought most capable in every congregation, and those to meet at the yearly meeting, which began the 27th of the seventh month, on the seventh day of the week, agreed to continue the meeting till the third day following in the work of the public ministry. It was then agreed that a person that is a stranger, that has neither letter of recommendation, nor is known to be a person gifted, and of good conversation, shall not be permitted to preach, nor to be entertained as a member in any of the Baptist congregations in the communion with each other."
"It was also concluded, that if any difference shall happen between any member and the church he belongs to, and they cannot agree, then the person so grieved may, at the general meeting, appeal to the brethren of the several congregations, and with such as they shall nominate, decide the difference; that the church and the person so grieved do fully acquiesce in their determination" (Minutes of the Philadelphia Association).
Before the formation of the Association the churches had a general meeting for preaching and administering the ordinances, which was held in different places. The first was at Salem, New Jersey, in 1688; this was about three months after the Lower Dublin Church was constituted. The next was held at the latter church, the next in Philadelphia, and the fourth at Burlington. Other meetings were held at various places. The people with whom the brethren met called the gatherings a yearly meeting because it met with them but once a year, but those who attended all of the sessions spoke of it as a quarterly meeting. The Association was designed to differ from the yearly meeting chiefly in this, that it was to be a body of delegates representing churches, and the yearly meeting had no representative character.
The brethren who constituted the association came from Lower Dublin (Pennepek), Middletown, Piscataqua, Cohansey, and Welsh Tract. The Philadelphia congregation, though giving its name to the Association, is not represented as a constituent member, because it was regarded as a branch of the Lower Dublin church. Morgan Edwards mentions with evident satisfaction that, though the Association was formed of but five churches, "it has so increased since as to contain thirty-four churches (in 1770), exclusive of those that have been detached to form other associations." The influence of the Philadelphia Association in shaping Baptist modes of thinking and working has been greater than any other body in existence.
The Philadelphia Association was followed by the Charleston, South Carolina. Wood Furman, the historian, gives the following account of this important transaction:
The settlement of Mr. Hart in Charleston is an important event in the annals of these churches. His unexpected arrival while the church was destitute of a supply, and immediately after the death of the excellent man who had occasionally officiated for them, was believed to have been directed by a special providence in their favor. He undertook the pastoral office with such seriousness, and soon entered on an extensive field of usefulness. His ardent piety and active philanthropy, his discriminating mind and persuasive address, soon raised him high in the esteem of the public, and gave him a distinguished claim to the affections of his brethren. Between him and the Rev. Mr. Pelot, actuated by the same principles and possessing very respectable talents, a cordial intimacy commenced. Mr. Hart had seen, in the Philadelphia Association, the happy consequences of union and stated intercourse among Churches maintaining the same faith and order. To accomplish similar purposes, an union of the four churches before mentioned was contemplated and agreed upon. Accordingly on the 21st of October 1751 delegates from Ashley River and Welsh Neek met those of Charleston in the said city. The Messengers from Euhaw were prevented from attending. It was agreed that an annual meeting should thenceforward be held on Saturday preceding the 2nd Sabbath of Nov. to consist of the Ministers and messengers of the several Churches; that the two first days should be employed in public worship, and a Sermon introductory to business preached on the Monday following at 11 o'clock.
The object of the union was declared to be the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom, by the maintenance of love and fellowship, and by mutual consultations for the peace and welfare of the churches. The independency of the churches was asserted, and the powers of the Association restricted to those of a Council of Advice. It was agreed to meet again in Charleston, Nov.1752. At that time the delegates from Euhaw attended, and the proceedings of the first meeting ratified. The instrument of Union bears the following signatures: John Stephens, Oliver Hart, Francis Pelot, John Brown, Joshua Edwards, Ministers; James Fowler, William Screven, Richard Bedon, Charles Baker, Benjamin Parmenter, Thomas Harrison, Philip Douglass, and John Mikell, Messengers (Furman, A History of the Charleston Association of Baptist Churches in the State of South Carolina, with an Appendix, 8, 9. Charleston, 1811).
By the year 1800, forty-eight associations had been organized as follows:
Philadelphia (1707); Charleston (1751); Sandy Creek, N. C. (1758); Kehukee, N. C. (1765); Ketocton, Va. (1766); Warren R.I. (1767); Rapidan, Va. (1770); Congaree, S. C. (1771, recognized as Bethel in 1789); Stonington, Conn, (1772); Redstone, Pa, and Strawberry, Va. (1776); Shaftesbury, Vt. (1780); Holston, Tenn. (1781); Salisbury, Md. (1782); Woodstock, Vt., Dover, Va., and Middle District, Va. (1783); Georgia, (1784); New Hampshire (1785 though 1776 is also given as a date. it was later called the York, Me.); Vermont, Elkhorn, Ky., South Kentucky, and Salem, Ky. (1785); Bowdoinham, Me. (1787); Roanoke, Va. (1788); Portsmouth, Va., and Yadkins, S. C. (1790); New York and Warwick, N.Y. (1791); Baltimore, Goshen, Va., and Shiloh, Va., (1792); New River, Va., and Tates Creek, Ky., (1793); Hepzibah, Ga., and Neuse, N. C. (1794); Ostego, N. Y. (1795); Rensselaerville, N.Y., New District, Tenn., Chemung, Pa., and Fairfield Vt. (1796); Miami, Ohio (1797); Delaware (before 1798); Mayo, N. C., Mountain, N. C., Sarepta, Ga., Green River, Ky., Cumberland River, Ky., (1790).
The powers of an association and its relation to the churches to ministers and members, were much debated. The attitude of the Cayuga Association fairly represents the situation. "A diversity of opinions prevailed in the churches," says their historian, "in relation to forming an association, and were expressed, both by their delegates, and in the letters to the body. Many, ever watchful against any infringement of individual rights, and ever vigilant in their defense of Baptist views of unrestricted liberty of conscience, and church independence, expressed their fears that an association body might become corrupt, and assume an unwarranted control of the actions and discipline of the churches. In their letters to the body, they expressed, in most definite terms, their belief "that Christ and not an association body of any kind, is the Law-giver and Head of the church" (Belden, History of the Cayuga Baptist Association, 8. Auburn, N.Y., 1851.
At first more authority was claimed by associational bodies than was finally granted to them. The following is from the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association, in 1749, in an elaborate statement in reference to churches, which has usually been accepted.:
At our annual Association, met September the 19th, 1749, an essay, on the power and duty of an association of churches, was purposed to the consideration of the Association; and the same, upon mature deliberation, was approved and subscribed by the whole house, and the contents of the same was ordered to be transcribed as the judgment of the Association, in order to be inserted in the Association book, to the end and purpose that it may appear what power an Association of Churches has, and what duty is incumbent on an Association; and prevent the contempt with which some are ready to treat such an assembly, and also to prevent any future generation from claiming more power than they ought-lodging over the churches.
After broadly stating the independence of the churches the Association in this essay says:
Such churches there must be, agreeing in doctrine and practice, and independent in their authority and church power, before they can enter into a confederation, as aforesaid, and choose delegates or representatives to associate together; and thus the several independent churches being the constituents, the association, council, or assembly of their delegates, when assembled, is not to be deemed a superior judicature, or having a superintendency over the churches, but subservient to the churches, in what may concern all the churches in general, or any one church in particular, and though no power can regularly arise above its foundation from where it rises, yet we are of an opinion that an Association of the delegates of associated churches have a very considerable power in their hands respecting those churches in their consideration; for if the agreement of several distinct churches, in sound doctrine and regular practice, be the first motive, ground and foundation or basis of their confederation, then it must naturally follow, that a defection in doctrine or practice in any church, in such confederation, or any party in any such church, is ground sufficient for an Association to withdraw from any such church or party deviating or making defection, and to exclude such from them in some formal manner, and to advertise all the churches in confederation thereof, in order that every church in confederation may withdraw from such in all acts of church communion, to the end that they may be ashamed, and that all the churches may discountenance such, and bear testimony against such defection.
The first Separate Baptist Association, held at Craig's Meeting House, Orange County, Virginia, in 1771, adopted the following article in their constitution:
We believe we have the right to withdraw ourselves from any church unsound in doctrine or irregular in practice.
On this article Semple made the following comment:
It is worthy of note, that one of the constitutional articles disclaims all power over the churches. Yet the next declares a right in the Association to withdraw from delinquent churches in certain cases. Nothing less can be meant by this article than that the Association, in behalf of all orderly churches in her correspondence, would discountenance all disorderly ones. It is then a question, whether a church, discountenanced by the Association, can any longer be considered a part of the Baptist Society? Would it not be deemed disorderly for any such other church to continue their fellowship towards one that could not meet in the same Association? Churches may not only become disorderly in practice, but heterodox in doctrine. To give an association power to deal with, and finally to put such out of their connection, must be proper, and, indeed, must be what is designed by the above article. By no other means could a general union be preserved.
The following comments on the power of associations by John L. Waller, of Kentucky, have met with favor:
First, does a church sustain the same relation to an association that an individual member does to the church?
Second, if so is it Baptist custom for an association to receive a church contrary to the wish and votes of another church or churches in the same association?
We answer the first question emphatically, that a church does not sustain the same relation to an association that an individual member does to a church. The relation between the member and the church is a divine ordinance--was instituted by Jesus Christ--and is regulated by the precepts and principles of the New Testament. But the relation between the church and the association had it origin solely in Christian polity and expediency, claiming no more warrant in the word of God than missionary societies, and other benevolent institutions. The association is formed by a compact between churches, for the purpose of correspondence and acquaintance and the promotion, by devotional exercises and mutual consultation, of their own and common welfare of Zion. As the churches are sovereign and independent, they sustain no relation to each other, except by agreement, and are bound in nothing except by express stipulation. Whatever they have not covenanted to do by the terms of association, is of no force or obligation. Of course, it would be something new under the sun, if a church should be dealt with according to the 18th chapter of Matthew for private or individual offenses; or in any way arraigned and excluded for moral delinquency like a member of a church. Our doctrine is, that a church is the highest ecclesiastical tribunal on earth; and when assembled in the name of Christ, He, the Great Head, is in her midst. But if our association can exclude a church, such as a church can exclude a member, then associations might do what the gates of hell cannot do, prevail against the church.
In short, an affirmative to the question, would be to regard a Baptist association, which we are wont to call a mere advisory council, as something beyond a Presbyterian Synod and a Methodist Conference! and ecclesiastical body supreme over supremacy, and controlling in cringing subserviency, independent sovereignties! But the supposition is too absurd to be entertained.
The plain, common sense of the case is simply this: When a church violates the compact upon which she agreed to meet in association with her sister churches, she forfeits her rights under that compact, and may, and ought to be denied the privileges of the association. But so long as she adheres to the terms of compact, she has a right to be regarded as a member. She can commit no offense over which the association can exercise jurisdiction, except a plain and obvious violation of the terms of compact; and when dropped from correspondence and association, she is still as much a church as she ever was. Connection with an association is not essential to the existence of a church; but piety, purity of doctrine, and walking in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless. So the New Testament teaches, so the Baptist believe.
The second question may be more summarily disposed of. But we beg leave to premise that we have given very little study to that code of discipline, held in high esteem by some brethren, called "Baptist custom," or "Baptist usage," a kind of ecclesiastical common law, found in tradition touching the practices of the churches in Virginia, the Carolinas, or New England; or else of the churches fifty years ago. We hope the brethren will avoid the yoke of "custom" and "usage" as much as possible. For ourselves, we have no more respect for Baptist than for Bapistical "usage," unless it is sustained by the Bible, or supported by sound Christian expediency. But the question.
The reception of a church by unanimity or by majority is a matter solely to be settled by the constitution or compact of the association. In the associations of our acquaintance, both modes obtain--by unanimity generally. It seems to us better not to receive a new church at the expense of the feelings of one already in connection. Fellowship ought to be preserved if possible. But when an objection is made, the reasons for it may be demanded and then it is entirely competent for the association to determine whether these reasons are good and sufficient. If good, let the church applying be rejected. If not good, the objectors ought to be required to yield, or else to be dismissed from the association. This seems to us to be a wise and prudent course; and some of our oldest and most intelligent associations pursue it.
These are the principles which generally govern Baptist associations in the United States.
The Associations and churches were especially strict on the subject of discipline. An instance of this kind came up in the Philadelphia Association in the year 1712. One Thomas Shelby made a disturbance and rupture in the churches at Philadelphia and Pennepek. The Association nominated persons to hear and determine concerning the differences; and they brought in their judgment and determination, confirmed under their hands, as follows:
With respect to the difference between the members and other, sometime belonging to the Baptist church in Philadelphia, as it has been laid before us, persons chosen by both sides, they having referred the whole of their differences to our determination; we, doing what within us lies for the glory of God, and the peace of the whole church, in regard to the transactions past, and what may be best for the future, for the interest of the gospel, upon due consideration of what has been laid before us, as follows, viz.: We do find the way and manner of dealing and proceeding with each other has been from the rule of the gospel, and unbecoming Christians in many respects, and in some too shameful here to enumerate the particulars.
As first we judge it expedient in point of justice, that Mr. Thomas Shelby be paid the money subscribed by him by the members of this church, and he discharged from any further service in the work of the ministry; he being a person, in our judgment, not likely for the promotion of the gospel in these parts of the country; and considering his miscarriages we judge he may not be allowed to communion.
And secondly, as to the members of this congregation, we do apprehend the best way is, that each party do freely forgive each other all personal and other offences that may have arisen on this occasion, and that they be buried in oblivion; and that those who shall for future mention or stir up any of the former differences, so as to tend to contention, shall be deemed disorderly persons, and be dealt with as such.
And thirdly, that those who exempted themselves from their communion on this account, except as above, be allowed to take their places orderly without contention, and such as refuse to be deemed disorderly persons.
"Let it be noted that the said Thomas Shelby, though he and his party referred to above said, yet he appeared afterwards very outrageous while he stayed in the province, and some of his adherents joined other denominations, and never returned to seek their places in the church, and the church did accordingly exclude them. But the greatest part took their places personally" (Minutes of the Philadelphia Association).
A notable illustration of the care with which members were received and discipline administered is found in the rules adopted by the First Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina. The rules were as follows:
1st. When a person desires to join the church, the desire shall be made known to the Pastor a sufficient length of time before the communion season, to allow of conversation and acquaintance; and for further satisfaction, the Pastor may appoint the deacons, or other of the brethren he may think proper, to visit the Candidate, for the purpose of obtaining all needful information concerning his or her experience and faith, character and life.
2nd. The Pastor, and those he may have sent to visit and converse with the Candidate, shall meet together, at such a place as he may appoint, to consider the qualification of the Candidate, and after which conference, the Pastor shall give such advice to each as may appear suitable. In the meantime, any of the members may visit the Candidate or Candidates, for the purpose of forming acquaintance, and obtaining fellowship, before the period of their reception into the church.
3rd. If the Candidate or Candidates be thought to posses those qualifications which may entitle them to a participation of the privileges of God's house, they shall appear before the church; which (as it is a garden enclosed) shall be privately convened for said purpose, and none but the members to be present, and each Candidate will then relate the reason for his or her hope, and give such answers to questions respecting their Christian knowledge, repentance and faith, as may afford consistent evidence of a gracious state; after which, satisfaction being obtained, they shall be baptized, and admitted to all the privileges of the church.
Philadelphia Confession of Faith
Of the Holy Scriptures
1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments. All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.
3. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.
4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, and may other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
7. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, that may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
10. The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.
Of God and the Holy Trinity
1. The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection, whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and with most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
2. God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and he has most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleases; in his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain; he is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands; to him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever he is further pleased to require of them.
3. In the divine and infinite Being there are three subsistence’s, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.
Of God’s Decree
1. God has decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken way, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet has not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to praise of his righteous grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
6. As god has appointed the elect unto glory, so he has, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto Salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
1. In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
2. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.
3. Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.
Of Divine Providence
1. God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end and for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.
2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he orders them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
3. God, in his ordinary providence makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure.
4. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully bounds, and otherwise orders and governs, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceeds only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approve of sin.
5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good.
6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as the righteous judge, for former sin does blind and harden, from them he not only withholds his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understanding, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, under those means which God uses for the softening of others.
7. As the providence of God does in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner takes care of his church, and disposes of all things to the good thereof.
Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof
1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
3. They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and make opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
5. The corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
Of God’s Covenant
1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
2. Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
3. This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms of which Adam stood in his state of innocence.
Of Christ the Mediator
1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and King; head and savior of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
2. The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of one substance and equal with him who made the world, who upholds and governs all things he has made, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her: and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scripture; so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in on person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.
3. The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and appointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety; which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who also put all power and judgment in his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.
4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made sin and a curse for us; enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul, and most painful suffering in his body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption: on the third day he arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered, with which he also ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of his Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto Him.
6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and today and for ever.
7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself, yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature its sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
8. To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, he does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
9. This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other.
10. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.
Of Free Will
1. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
2. Man, in his state of innocence, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead In sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that reason of his remaining corruptions, he does not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.
5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.
Of Effectual Calling
1. Those whom God has predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds Spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being made alive and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who works when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
4. Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operation of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.
1. Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.
3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
4. God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are no justified personally, until the Holy Spirit does in time due actually apply Christ unto them.
5. God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
6. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
1. All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.
1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also father sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more made alive and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abides still some remnants of corruption in every part, which arises a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so the saints in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word has prescribed them.
Of Saving Faith
1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.
2. By this faith a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehends an excellence therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellence of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatening, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relations to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
3. This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace temporary believers; and therefore, through it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
1. Such of the elect as are converted as riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling gives them repentance unto life.
2. Whereas there is none that does good and sins not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalence of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God has, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
3. This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, does, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.
4. As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
5. Such is the provision which God has made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation; that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
Of Good Works
7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a
1. Good works are only such as God has commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of Good intentions.
2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s Commandments, are the fruits and evidence of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end eternal life.
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary and actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment.
6. Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
man meet to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.
Of The Perseverance of the Saints
1. Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are with repentance, whence he still begets and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
3. And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
3. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden r vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
Of the Law of God
1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
2. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
3. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.
4. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of modern use.
5. The moral law does for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither does Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
6. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatening of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unalloyed rigor thereof. The promises of it likewise show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil. Because the law encourages to the one and deterring from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
7. Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.
Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof
1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
2. This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.
3. The revelation of the gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God; not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men’s natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.
4. Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, made alive or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.
Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
1. The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the rigor and curse of the law, and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and ever-lasting damnation: as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of Go, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.
2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrine and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
3. They who upon pretence of Christian liberty do practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, as they do thereby pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, so they wholly destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.
Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
1. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and does good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
2. Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures; and since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.
3. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one part natural worship, is by God required of all men. But that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, according to his will; with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and when with others, in a known tongue.
4. Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
5. The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord’s supper, are all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fasting, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner.
6. Neither prayer nor any part of religious worship, is now under the gospel, tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed; but God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly nor willfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God by his word or providence calls thereunto.
7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment , be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
8. The Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
1. We believe that (Acts 16:25, Eph. 5:19. Col. 3:16) singing the praises of God, is a holy ordinance of Christ, and not a part of natural religion, or moral duty only; but that it is brought under divine institution, it being enjoined on the churches of Christ to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; and that the whole church in their public assemblies, as well as private Christians, ought to (Heb. 2:12, Jam. 5:13) sing God’s praises according to the best light they have received. Moreover, it was practiced in the great representative church, by (Matt. 26:30, Matt. 14:26) our Lord Jesus Christ with His disciples, after He had instituted and celebrated the sacred ordinance of His Holy Supper, as commemorative token of redeeming love.
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgment, solemnly calls God to witness what he swears, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof.
2. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be sued, with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred; yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.
3. Whosoever takes an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn and act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knows to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns.
4. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.
5. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness; but popish monastically vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
Of the Civil Magistrate
1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end has armed them with the power of the sword, for defense and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
3. Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake; and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.
3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.
4. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.
Of the Church
1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
2. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
3. The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always has had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, al power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalted himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
5. In the execution of this power wherewith he is so entrusted, the Lord Jesus calls out of the world unto himself, through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit, those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which is prescribed to them in his word. Those thus called, he commands to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requires of them in the world.
6. The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ; and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.
7. To each of these churches thus gathered, according to his mind declared in his word, he has given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he has instituted for them to observe; with commands and rules for the due and right exerting, and executing of that power.
8. A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power and duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders, and deacons.
9. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.
10. The work of pastors being constantly to attend to service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls; as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who has ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
11. Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.
12. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
13. No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.
14. As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces, so the churches, when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.
15. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these mess4engers assembled, are not entrusted with any church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any churches or persons; or to impose their determination on the churches or officers.
Of the Communion of Saints
1. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
2. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; which communion, according to the rule of the gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relation wherein they stand, whether in families, or churches, yet, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended to all the household of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as saints, does not take away or infringe the title of propriety which each man has in his goods and possessions.
Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
1. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the Only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.
2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
2. Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
3. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
4. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.
Laying on of Hands
1. We believe that laying on of hands (with prayer) upon baptized believers, as such, is an ordinance of Christ, and ought to be submitted unto by all such persons that are admitted to partake of the Lord’s Supper; and that the end of this ordinance is not for the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, but for a farther reception of the Spirit of promise, or for addition of the graces of the Spirit, and the influences thereof; to confirm strengthen, and comfort them in Jesus Christ; it being ratified and established by the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in the primitive times to abide in the Church, as meeting together on the first day of the week was, that being the day of worship, or Christian Sabbath, under the gospel; and as preaching the Word was, and as baptism was, and prayer was, and singing psalms was, for as the whole gospel was confirmed by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost in general, so was every ordinance in like manner confirmed in particular.
Of the Lord’s Supper
1. The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.
2. In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the living or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself by himself upon the cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same. So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ’s own sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
3. The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use, and to take and break the bread; to take the cup, and, they communicating also themselves, to give both to the communicants.
4. The denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for an pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.
5. The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ, albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.
6. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood, commonly called transubstantiation, by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason, overthrows the nature of the ordinance, and has been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yeas, of gross idolatries.
7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; and the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
8. All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yes, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
Of the State of Man after Death and of the Resurrection of the Dead
1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none.
2. At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
3. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by his spirit, unto honor, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.
Of the Last Judgment
1. God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
2. The end of God’s appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
3. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come, and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen.
Philadelphia Association 1925
Organization of the Philadelphia Association in the Year of 1925
In the hear of 1925 the New Salem Association of the Old Regular Baptist met with the New Salem Church in regular session, its One Hundredth session, at Harold Post Office, Floyd County, Kentucky, September 25-26-27. At which time the following churches, to wit: Little Mary, Friendship, Jr., Rosa, Elizabeth, Mount Olive, and New Mt. Olive. These six churches petitioned the New Salem Association for a letter of dismission to be organized into an Association as an arm from this Association. By move and second being made to grant their request and we do hereby appoint the following committee of Brethren to go to the Little Mary Church, Greenup County, Kentucky, on the Friday before the fourth Saturday in November 1925 to act as a presbytery, to wit: Elders E.V. Hopkins, N.T. Hopkins, Hayes Maynard, Ben Hopkins, J.P. Martin, and John M. Akers. These Brethren must meet at the above date mentioned. These Brethren met at the place and time mentioned and organized a Presbytery with Elder N.T. Hopkins as Moderator and Elder E.V. Hopkins to serve as clerk of the presbytery. Then the brethren proceeded to examine this Arm that is mentioned above and upon finding them to be orthodox in the faith of the New Salem Association, organized them and called them by the name of Philadelphia Association and Elder Finis Adkins was elected moderator and Newton Tackett, Clerk. These churches lay or was located in Greenup and Boyd County, Kentucky. They are still in the Chain of Regular Baptist Correspondence with Elder John Moore, Moderator. As of this present time it has been served with different moderators since the death of the well beloved Finis Adkins. They have been served by Elders John Moore, Ellis Cotton, James Adkins and probably others, but are still having good meeting with a total membership as f 1960, 239 members and eight churches. This association adopted the Articles of Faith and Constitution of the Mother, the New Salem Association. This record was taken from the New Salem Record Book of their association but the record of the Philadelphia shows that two of the Elders that were appointed were not present and Elder C. Cole from the Kyova Association and Elder Leonard Oxley from the Mud River Association served in this presbytery.
This Association will have two histories for it.
Organization of the Sardis Association in 1893
The New Salem Association gave off the following churches to organize the Mates Creeks Association to wit; Namely Enon, Pond Creek, Sardis, Louisa, and New Liberty. The New Salem Association appointed for the Presbytery, Elders W.M. Salsbury, Jordan Ashley, W.M. Mullins, and Brother Alex lackey. These brethren attended the Pond Creek Church on the second Saturday in July, 1849 and organized the association. This association was in direct correspondence with several of our other associations and they sprung a controversy over the Doctrine of election and three churches withdrew from this association. The Sardis Brethren met at the Brushy Fork Church on August, first Saturday, 1893. After prayer by Elder G.W. Maynard proceeded to business and after the church was called to order and all present found in peace and love, and being no back reference, then by a move and second of the Brushy Fork Church to be organized into an association. An invitation was given to the Big Branch Church and also the Sardis Church, their brethren being present. With Brother Ali Ward of the Zion Association and Brother William H. Lane and T.F. Lowe of the New Salem Association, these Elders constituted a Presbytery together with Elder W.W. Fields, Moderator and T.J. Muncy, Clerk. They also received by recommendation, Brother J.W. Smith, Robert Cannedy and Emma Boggs. This is just a brief sketch of the organization of the Sardis Association but like other associations has its up and downs and at this time (1960) have been wonderfully blessed, they have 25 churches and 1515 members.
We, the Regular Baptist churches of Jesus Christ, composed of duly authorized delegates and members from the Brushy Fork, Sardis and Big Branch Churches, convened with the Brushy Fork Church on August 5, 1893 and organized by electing W.W. Fields, Moderator; and P.D. Bevins, Clerk.
Upon motion, the Moderator appointed Brothers G.W. Maynard and W.L. Smith as Committee to report the order of Business for this day. The report of said Committee was read, approved and the Committee discharged.
Upon motion and second, the Association declared the following to be the reasons for founding a new Association and they, in like manner, adopted the annexed Constitution and Articles of Faith.
We, the Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, convened with the Brushy Fork Church and composed as a working body for the transaction of business of duly authorized delegates from the Big Branch, Sardis and Brushy Fork Churches, deeming it necessary on account of a material difference of opinion existing between ourselves and other Brethren of the Mates Creek Churches to organize an Association separate and apart from our differing and yet highly esteemed Brethren in which we may live in harmony and perfect unison with each other.
NOW, BE IT KNOWN, in the presence of these witness and before Almighty God, the Supreme Judge of the World and all our actions.
First: That we do not object to the outline of Doctrine as we understand it to be have been written in the different Constitutions of the Churches composing the Mates Creek Association.
Second: That while we believe no one independent of God’s Almighty Power can be instrumental in the salvation of his soul, we do believe that man is responsible for his deeds, which thing we understand our Mates Creek Brethren to deny.
Third: That we object to the Doctrine held by our Mates Creek Brethren that man as a created being is compelled by God Eternal in all things to do just as he does, whether it be good or evil.
Fourth: We believe that man in the Creation was given limited power and that good and evil were set before him with the possibility of his choosing either. Therefore, we believe that when Adam partook of evil he did so not by compulsion but by choice, which thing we also understand our Mates Creek Brethren to deny.
Therefore, these things being essential in regard to the prosperity of the Church, and as members holding these different view cannot possibly live in true Brotherly love within the same Association, we thought it better both for our Absolute Predestination Brethren and ourselves that we organize a separate Association. Not that we object to the original Doctrine of the Mates Creek Association but that we believe that our Predestination Brethren have departed from these same Doctrines.
But to them and all others be it understood, with god as our Judge, that it is with malice toward none that we withdraw from the Mates Creek Association and adopt the following Constitution for our Church government, together with the foregoing Articles of Faith for each of the Churches composing our Body:
From a long series of experience we, the Churches of Jesus Christ, being regularly baptized upon profession of Faith in Jesus Christ, are convinced of the necessity of the combination of Churches in order to perpetuate a Union and Communion among us and to preserve, maintain and keep the Rules and Orders of an Association according to the following plan or form of Government.
Article 1: The Association shall be composed of members chosen by the different Churches and duly sent to represent them in the Association who shall be members whom they shall think best qualified for that purpose and, producing Letters from their respective Churches certifying this appointment, shall be entitled to a seat.
Article 2: The Letters from the different Churches shall express their number in full fellowship, their baptized, received by Letter, restored, dismissed, excommunicated and dead since the last Association.
Article 3: The members thus chosen and convened shall have no power to Lord it over God’s heritage; nor shall they have any Clerical Power over the Churches; nor shall they infringe on the internal rights of any Church in the Union.
Article 4: The Association, when convened shall be governed by a regular and proper Decorum.
Article 5: The Association shall have a Moderator and a Clerk who shall be chosen by the suffrage of the members present.
Article 6: New Churches shall be admitted into our Union who shall petition by Letter and Delegates and if found upon examination to be orthodox and orderly, shall be received by the Association and manifested by the Moderator giving the right hand of fellowship.
Article 7: Every Church in the Union shall be entitled to a representation in the Association.
Article 8: Every Query presented by any Church to the Association, being first debated in their own Church, shall be taken up by the Association.
Article 9: Every motion made and seconded shall be taken up by the Association except it be withdrawn by the member who made it.
Article 10: The Association shall endeavor to furnish the Churches with Minutes of the Association.
Article 11: The Churches shall send money by the Delegates of each Church for printing the Minutes of the Association.
Article 12: There shall be a record book kept wherein the proceedings of each Association shall be regularly recorded by a Secretary approved for that purpose.
Article 13: The Minutes of the Association shall be read and corrected, if need be, and signed by the Moderator and Clerk before the Association arises.
Article 14: Amendments to this Plan and form may be made at anytime by a majority of the Union when they deem it necessary.
Article 15: All matters coming before the Association shall be decided by the will of the majority; and receiving new Churches and correspondence with other Associations shall be done by a majority.
Article 16: The Association shall have power: (1) to provide for the general Union of the Churches; (2) to preserve inviolable a chain of communication among the Churches; (3) to give the Churches all necessary advice in matters of difficulty; (4) to inquire into the cause why the Churches fail to represent themselves in the Association; (5) to appoint any member or members, by and with their consent, to transact any business which they may think necessary; (6) the Association shall have power to withdraw from any Church in this Union which shall violate the Rules of this Association or deviate from the orthodox principles f religion; (7) to admit any orderly Minister of our order to a seat with us in the Association; (8) the Association shall have power to adjourn themselves to any future time or place most convenient to the Churches in our Union; and (9) no Minister shall be ordained unless forwarded by a Church, and it shall require two or more Ordained Ministers to compose a Presbytery for that purpose.
RULES OF DECORUM
Memo: the original, handwritten Minutes do no list a Rules of Decorum but the reconstructed Minutes as approved by the Association in the year of 1930 shows the following:
Article 1: The Association to be opened and closed by prayer.
Article 2: A Moderator and Clerk shall be chosen by the suffrage of the members present.
Article 3: Only one member shall speak at a time and he shall rise from his seat and address the Moderator when he is about to make a speech.
Article 4: The person thus speaking shall not be interrupted in his speech, except by the Moderator; until he is done speaking and shall strictly adhere to the subject and in no wise reflect on the person who spoke before or make remarks on mishaps, failures or imperfections but shall fairly state the case and matter as nearly as he can so as to convey his light on idea.
Article 5: No person shall rise and speak more than three times on one subject without consent of the Association.
Article 6: No person shall abruptly break off or absent himself from the Association with liberty obtained from it.
Article 7: No member of this Association shall have the liberty of laughing during the sittings nor whispering in time of public speech.
Article 8: No member of this Association shall address another by any other term or appellation but the title of Brother.
Article 9: The Moderator shall not interrupt a member or prohibit him from speaking until he gives his light upon the subject, except when he breaks the Rules of Decorum.
Article 10: The names of the several members of the Association shall be enrolled by the Clerk and called over as often as the Moderator requires.
Article 11: The Moderator shall be entitled to the same privileges as another member; provided the Chair be filled, but shall have no vote unless the Association be equally divided.
Article 12: Any member who shall willingly and knowingly break any of the Rules shall be reproved by the Association as they think proper.
Article 13: But three members shall take a seat in this Association from each Church.
Article 14: These Rules of Decorum shall be read by the Clerk at the commencement of every Association.
Article 15: No person shall speak more than five minutes at the same time without liberty obtained from the Association.
After adopting the foregoing, the moderator solemnly pronounced in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost this to be an Association.
The Association Proper, being perfected in organization, was opened with prayer by Elder G.W. Maynard. Following with Elder J.W. Smith preached the Introductory Sermon from the first clause of the 9th verse of the 7th Chapter of Solomon Songs.
Letters of Churches called for and responded as follows:
Sardis: By the hands of G.W. Maynard and Stanley Vernatter, both of whom received the right hand of fellowship. Sardis Church has 124 members; 4 Ordained Ministers; 1 Licensed Minister; and sent a contribution of $4.00.
Big Branch: At the hand of Brother Calvery Runyon, Jordan Maynard, William T. Smith and P.D. Blevins, all of whom received the righ hand of fellowship and took seats. Contribution $1.60 and members, 50.
Brushy Fork: By the hands of A.C. Lowe, W.W. Fields, Jerry Smith, William L. Lowe, Joseph Ray, O.B.M. Lowe and James Ray. Has a membership of 61; sent a contribution of $4.20; and has 2 ordained Ministers. Her delegates received the right hand of fellowship and took seats.
Resolved to be known as the Sardis Association.
Letter to the Zion Association read and approved.
Our next Association shall be held with the Sardis Church, Logan County, West Virginia, beginning on Friday before the second Saturday in October 1894, and the two following days. Elder W.T. Smith is appointed to preach the Introductory Sermon and Elder W.W. Fields, Alternate. The Clerk was ordered to superintend the printing of the Minutes and purchase a record book.
Closing sermon was delivered by Elder W.H. Layne. The Minutes were read and approved and the Association adjourned to met at the time and place above stated.
Done and signed by Order of the Association.
W.W. Fields, Moderator
P.D. Bevins, Clerk
ORDERS AND ADVICE
SARDIS ASSOCIATION OF OLD REGULAR BAPTIST
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
1893 to 1989
In humble obedience to an Order of the Sardis Association, Saturday’s session, Article 20, in the year of 1989, and with all humility to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who makes me able, I set forth hereinafter all of the Orders that are still in effect of our beloved Sardis Association from its organization in the year of 1893 to the year of 1989, as found in the Annual Minutes thereof.
The word “Advice” was added by me for the sake of completeness because, in my opinion, all of the Items set forth in the Minutes may not properly be classified as an “Order”. Whenever possible, exact quotations are shown.
Amendments to the Constitution, Articles of Faith and Rules of Decorum are not shown. Order that have been reprinted are shown in the year first printed. Orders that have been amended or changed are shown in the year of latest change.
Ralph W.E. Varney, Jr.
We, the Churches of Jesus Christ of Regular Baptist, are constituted on the following Faith:
1st: We believe in only one true and living God, the Creator of the heavens and earth and all things that are therein contained.
2nd: We believe in Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, who is Head and King of His Church.
3rd: We believe in the Holy Ghost, the sealer and applier of the redemption purchased by Christ.
4th: We believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and these three are One.
5th: We believe the Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be the infallible word of God and take it for our only rule of faith and practice and nothing is to be added to it or taken from it.
6th: We believe in the free atonement of Jesus Christ and that He tasted death for every man and that salvation is offered to all men and women upon the terms of the Gospel.
7th: We believe in the repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary previous to baptism, and that by immersion is the only right way of administering the ordinance.
8th: We believe that Christ has but one true Gospel Church and that it will finally preserve through grace to eternal glory.
9th: We believe in the Communion of the Lord’s Supper, this is, taking of the bread and wine, by the Church of Jesus Christ in commemoration of the death and suffering of the Son of God until His Second Coming.
10th: We believe that feet washing is an ordinance of Jesus Christ and ought to be observed and kept up by His Church until His Second Coming.
11th: We believe that Jesus Christ is the first resurrection from the dead and that He Lives forever.
12th: We believe in the resurrection of the just and unjust.
13th: We believe in the final punishment of the wicked and in the eternal happiness of the righteous.
South District Association
This fraternity was formed of the churches, located south of Paint Lick Creek and Kentucky River, which had belonged to the Old South Kentucky Association. It held its first meeting at Salt River Church, in what is now Anderson county, in 1802. This body, at its organization, was in correspondence with all the Baptist associations in the State, except Tates Creek. On motion to admit Tates Creek to correspondence, a heated debate arose, John Rice and Jeremiah Vardeman advocating the measure with great zeal. The motion was carried by a vote of 27 for, and 26 against it. The minority submitted for the present; but, averring that Jacob Lock and James Hill, corresponding messengers from Green River Association, and Joel Noel, from Tates Creek, had voted in the affirmative, and that, therefore, the motion was not legally carried, they resolved to bring the matter up at the next meeting of the body.
In 1803, the Association met at McCormack’s, in Lincoln county. The venerable Joseph Bledsoe was chosen Moderator, and Thomas J. Chilton, Clerk. Mr. Chilton also preached the introductory sermon. There were represented 24 churches, aggregating 1468 members. When the corresponding letter from Tates Creek Association was presented, objections were made to its being received, and again a warm debate ensued. John Bailey, Thomas J. Chilton and Joseph Bledsoe opposing, and Jeremiah Vardeman and John Rice favoring the reception of the correspondence. The motion to receive the letter was lost, by a considerable majority. Jeremiah Vardeman and John Rice immediately withdrew from the house, followed by their adherents, and organized the minority, under the style of South District Association. The majority also claimed the name and prerogatives of that fraternity. The minority was received into correspondence, by all the associations in the State, and the majority was rejected; after which the latter assumed the name of the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists.
The next meeting of the South District Association, of which the records have been preserved, convened at Cartwright’s Creek, in what is now Marion County, on the 4th Saturday in September, 1806. There were represented 15 churches, aggregating 937 members. The churches were: Forks of Dix River, Gilberts Creek and Sugar Creek, in Garrard county; Deep Creek, Stony Point, Shawnee Run and Unity, in Mercer county; Salt River, in Anderson County; Rush branch and McCormack’s, in Lincoln; doctors Fork and hanging For (Now Providence), in Boyle county; Pleasant Run and Buffalo Creek, in Washington county; and Cartwright’s Creek (Now Lebanon), in Marion County. The ministers of the body were Randolph Hall, James Keel, John rice, Jeremiah Vardeman, James Rogers and Owen Owens.
The Association increased very slowly, from this period till 1817. At the latter date, a revival commenced in it s churches, and continued about four years: so that, in 1820, the body comprised 21 churches, with 1703 members. In 1812, the Association recommended the churches to furnish Jeremiah Vardeman and Silas M. Noel with such information as would aid them in accomplishing their purpose to write “a comprehensive history of the Baptist Society.” Unfortunately, this laudable purpose was never carried into effect. In 1818, one M. Smith proposed to write “a history of the Baptists in the Western Country”; the Association discouraged the enterprise, on account of Mr. Smith’s supposed incompetency.
In 1820, Cartwright’s Creek church inquired of the Association of baptism, administered by a sect calling themselves Christians, should be received as valid? The sect referred to comprised the followers of Barton W. Stone, and were popularly known as Newlights, as they still are in some of the northwestern state, where they exist in considerable numbers. In Kentucky, they united with Campbellites, soon after the origin of that sect. They practice immersion, and baptize only adult believers, but deny the Godhead of Jesus Christ. The Association answered the question from Cartwright’s as follows: “We believe that all persons baptized by immersion, of good moral character, and sound in the faith, the administrator, himself, having been baptized by immersion, regularly ordained, and in good standing in his own society, ought to be received into any Baptist church.” This was doubtless intended to be an endorsement of alien immersion (as it is now phrased), under the restrictions specified, and, as for as known to the author, is the only instance of the kind that has occurred among the Baptist associations in Kentucky.
In 1821, the messengers from McCormack’s church were denied seats in the Association, because that church had practiced open communion. But on their promising that the practice should be discontinued, they were admitted to seats, on Monday. The next year, the subject of Free masonry was discussed in the body. The following question and answer were recorded, on the minutes of 1822: “Query, from Stony Point: Is it right for a gospel minister, or any member of the Baptist churches, composing our Association, to join himself to a ledge of Free Masons? Answer. We think the subject so intimately connected with the rights of private judgment, that ever person should be left to his own conscientious determination respecting it: But from the effect it has generally had on the churches, we recommend to our brethren, believing it will have a good tendency, that they, in no case, join the Masonic lodge.” This answer appears not to have been satisfactory: for, in 1824, the following question and answer were recorded: “Is it right for the members of a Baptist church to join the Masonic lodge, and [the church] hold them in fellowship? Answer: No.” During the same session, the following was adopted: “Resolved, That this association cordially recommend to the patronage of the churches the Latter Day Luminary and the Columbian Star…….. under the superintendence of the Baptist General Convention: the former, Monthly, at $2 per annum, the latter, Weekly, at $3.”
The influence of Campbellism began to be manifest in this Association, as early as 1828. Some of the churches were unsettled on the subject of creeds and confessions of faith, as the following proceedings of that date, show: “Owing to an unfortunate difference of opinion, existing among some of our members, in regard to the terms of general union: Resolved, That this Association still continue to cherish a high regard for that instrument, as a bond of union, and recommend to the churches an undeviating regard for the precepts set forth therein; as we believe them to be according to the Scriptures.”
The religious excitement of 1827--29, did not reach the same height, among the church of this fraternity, as in some of the neighboring associations. There were only about 500 baptized during the revival. This brought the Association in, in 1829, to a membership of 20 churches, with 1650members. But the Campbellite element in the churches, was larger than the gain made by the revival; and became so aggressive, not to say turbulent, that the Association, in 1830, adopted the following preamble and resolution:
“Whereas, Alexander Campbell’s writings have exerted a destructive influence over many of the Baptist churches, in Kentucky; so as to produce schisms and divisions among the brethren; therefore, Resolved, That this Association advise and recommend to the churches composing this body, the propriety of discountenancing the aforesaid writings, together with such preachers as propagate sentiments of said Alexander Campbell.”
This resolution caused much excitement among the churches, but ultimately produced the desired effect. It separated the Baptists and Campbellites. The churches at Springfield and McCormack’s were dropped from the Association, and minorities were separated from most or all of the other churches. The Association was reduced, in 1831, to 18 churches, aggregating 1260 members. In 1833, a revival began in the churches, and continued about two years, during which 505 were baptized. This gave the Association an aggregate membership of 1661, from which it did not vary a great deal for about eight years. In 1837, the Association appointed three preachers, B. Kemper, R. P. Steenbergen, and J. S. Higgins, to preach among the churches, during the succeeding year; and recommended the churches to sustain them. The same plan was pursued next year. In 1840, John S. Higgins was appointed an agent to visit the churches, and collect funds, for the spread of the gospel. A precious revival succeeded these active missionary operations. It commenced in 1842, and continued four years, during which the churches reported to the Association 1331 baptisms. The body now (year 1845) comprised 17 churches, with 2286 members.
In 1842, an attempt was made to form a union between South District and Tates Creek Association of United Baptist, on the one part, and South Kentucky and Nolynn Associations of Separate Baptists on the other part. For this purpose, a convention composed of messengers from each of these four associations, met at Crab Orchard, on the first Saturday in November. The union was not consummated; but the attempt resulted in the secession of several churches from the Separate Baptist Association. Of these churches, South Kentucky Association of United Baptist was formed..
From the time of the revival last spoken of, South District Association enjoyed pretty even course of prosperity, till 1860, when it numbered 26 churches, aggregating 3149 members. This is the largest aggregate membership the body has ever reported.
South District Association has been rather an enterprising body, from an early period in its history. It adopted something like a systematic plan of home missionary operations, as early as 1837. This was three years before either Elkhorn or Salem initiated such a measure. It very early encouraged foreign missions, Bible societies and circulation of religious periodicals, and has exhibited much of the same spirit, in each succeeding generation. Although its churches occupy parts of several counties, its territory is comparatively small, and has been so since its revolutionary division, in the second year of its existence. But it has very well illustrated the subject of its circular letter, for 1856. “Cultivate a small field.”
Regular and Separate Baptist--Two Associations
We have now followed the Baptists in the labors in Kentucky, during a period of one hundred years. We may make a brief pause, look over the field, and see what has been done. The first settlement was made at Boonesborough in the summer of 1775. As far as we can learn, all the first families in this settlement were of Baptist persuasion. The Boones, Callaway’s and Frenches were known to have been Baptist. The first marriage ceremony was performed, August 7, 1776, between Samuel Henderson and Betsy Calloway, by Squire Boone, (a younger brother of Daniel) who was a Baptist preacher. In the spring of 1776, Thomas Tinsley and William Hickman preached at Harrodsburg; in 1779, John Taylor visited the infant settlements; the following spring, Joseph Redding conducted a colony, principally of Baptists, to the present site of Louisville, and, during the two years last named, Baptist ministers began to settle with their families, in the new country. In 1781, three Regular Baptist churches were organized. At the close of the year, 1785, there had been constituted in Kentucky eighteen churches, eleven Regular Baptists, and seven of Separate Baptists. There were in the new country, at the same period, at least nineteen Regular Baptist preachers: Squire Boone, Joseph Barnett, James Garrard, John Whitaker, Augustine Eastin, William Taylor, William Marshall, John Tanner, George Stokes Smith, William Edmund Waller, Richard Cave, John Taylor, John Dupuy, Lewis Craig, Elijah Craig, William Hickman, William Wood, John Price and James Rucker. There were also seven Separate Baptists preachers: Benjamin Lynn, James Skaggs, James Smith, John Bailey, Joseph Bledsoe, Joseph Craig and Robert Elkin.
These churches and preachers occupied the whole of the country then settled. Wherever there was a settlement formed, some of these valiant soldiers of Christ hastened to occupy it in the name of the Master. If we would appreciate the true character of these noble men of God, we must not forget the circumstances that surrounded them. With a single exception, they were poor men, and most of them had “large and growing families.” They were compelled to live in small, rude cabins and wear coarse, rough clothing. To procure a supply of coarse food for their families, required much care and labor. Besides this, perpetual danger beset them and their families. The wily, vindictive savages attacked them when they were asleep, and spared neither age nor sex. They lurked in ambush along every trace the preachers had to travel over. They drove off their stock and wasted their growing crops. They burned their buildings, and slaughtered and scalped their wives and children, or carried them away into captivity. There was no hour in the year, day or night, when these hardy settlers could feel secure from attack by the relentless foe. Yet their zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men was such as to make them despise every toil, and dare every danger, not counting their lives dear, if they might finish their course with joy.
Most of the pioneer preachers lived and labored till the land was well peopled and subdued; when the savages had retired far towards the setting sun, the broad, dark forest had given place to green, fruitful fields, and their sons and daughters had entered comfortable homes of their own; when the people of God met to worship in commodious houses, God raised up strong young men to lead his people in right ways, and point the rising generation to the cross of Christ, and green, flowery church yards waited to receive the worn out bodies of the faithful old veterans of the Cross. But we are anticipating the day of peace and rest. They still had the harness on, at the time of which we write, and most of them had yet many years of toil and danger before them.
The year of 1785. Was one of the great interest, and much activity among the Baptists of Kentucky. Hitherto each little church had stood isolated from its sisters. No organization existed through which the churches could work together in harmony. But under the influence of the first revival that occurred in the country, they began to feel the need of a bond of general union. Early in that year, the brethren began to discuss the propriety of forming an association. But a grievous obstacle presented itself. Some of the churches were Regular, and others Separate Baptists: They were all essentially Baptists, and their differences were comparatively trifling. But they were sufficient to prevent cordial fellowship; and, these differences were the cause of the first general confusion among the Baptists of Kentucky, it will be appropriate to give a brief account of their origin.
Congregationalism was the established religion of all the colonies in New England, except Rhode Island, and conformity to the established religion was enforced by the civil law. To worship God publicly, in any way, except according to the rules and regulations of the Congregational churches, was so great a crime in the eye of the law that it was punished by fines, imprisonment, whipping, and banishment. The Baptists had to endure all these penalties, in New England, during a period of about one hundred and seventy-five years.
In early days, in New England, the Congregationalists required candidates, for membership in their churches to relate an experience of grace, as Baptists do now. After a while, they allowed applicants to relate their experience in writing, and, finally, abandoned “the giving in of experiences,” altogether. Their churches, which, at first , were spiritual, rapidly declined in piety, till it was believed that a majority of their preachers were unconverted. This state of affairs continued till about 1740, when vital godliness seemed almost banished from the land.
At that period, George Whitfield of England, was one of the most eloquent and renowned preachers in the world. He was an Episcopalian, and, for a time, was associated with John and Charles Wesley. But they became Arminian in doctrine, and he, being a decided Calvinist, soon parted company with them. In December, 1737, he came from England to Georgia, and remained in America nearly a year. He embarked for America a second time, in August, 1739. This time, he traveled and preached as far north as New York, from whence he returned to South Carolina. Being invited to visit New England, he sailed from Charleston, and landed at Newport, Rhode Island, September 14, 1740. He preached in New England about two months, and a most wonderful revival followed. Multitudes of church members and a number of preachers professed to be converted. Some of the ministers of the established churches, and among them the great and pious Jonathan Edwards, favored the revival, and labored to promote it; but a majority of them opposed it, and were supported by the colonial governments. This caused great confusion. Many persons, both men and women, were fined and imprisoned for laboring to promote the revival. Some of the Congregational churches divided on the subject. Those who favored the revival, and split off from the churches, were called Separates, because they had separated from the established churches. These formed themselves into bodies, and were called Separate churches. The old organizations were called Regular churches, because they were established by law. In this manner, the terms Regular and Separate first came to be applied to churches. At this time, neither of these terms had ever been applied to Baptists churches, in any part of the world.
When this great revival first commenced, the Baptist were confused about it, and, as it progressed, became divided on the subject. Some opposed, and others favored the work. At that time, there were only forty Baptist churches on the American continent, and most or all of them were very small. Of this number, nine were in Massachusetts, thirteen in Rhode Island, three in Connecticut and no other in the remaining of New England. The pastor of the Baptist church in Boston, Massachusetts, opposed the revival. This caused a small faction to split off from that body, in 1742, which was constituted a church, the next year. The new organization was called a Separate church, while the old one was denominated Regular Baptists. This was the first application of these two terms to Baptist churches, and was an inappropriate imitation of the Congregationalists. Other Baptist churches followed the example of that at Boston, a number of Separate Congregational organizations submitted to believers’ baptism and identified themselves with the Baptists, and the Separate Baptists became quite numerous in New England.
It will readily be seen that the division of the Baptists into these two parties was not caused by any doctrinal differences, but solely on the ground of one party’s favoring “the Whitfield revival,” while the other opposed it. But Mr. Whitfield was strongly Calvinistic in doctrine, and it soon became manifest that the Separates were much clearer in the doctrine of grace than the Regulars. The distinguished John Gill was so much pleased with the views of the Separate Baptists, that he made a present to the church at Boston, consisting of a communion set and a valuable collection of books.
During “the Whitfield revival,” two men in Connecticut, of moderate gifts and acquirements, were converted to the faith of the Separate Congregationalists. These men were destined to exert a wonderful influence for the cause of Christ, in the South. Their names were Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, the latter having married the sister of the former. Marshall went to preach among the Indians. Stearns joined the Separate Baptists, and began to preach with flaming zeal. After a short time, he became strongly impressed with the conviction, that there was a great work for him to do, far to the south. Under this impression, he took his family and started southward, without any definite idea as to where he was going. He made his first stop in Berkley County, Virginia, in 1754. Here he met Daniel Marshall, who had been compelled to leave the Indian country on account of a great war that had broken out among the savages. There was a small Baptist church where Mr. Stearns stopped, under the care of John Garrard. Marshall became convinced of the duty of submitting to believers’ baptism, and was soon baptized. Stearns became restless, in Virginia, and soon he and Marshall, with their families and a few others who had come with Stearns from Connecticut, set out to the southward. After traveling about two hundred miles, they stopped on Sandy creek, in Guilford County, North Carolina, November 22, 1855. Here they formed, of sixteen members, the first Separate Baptist church south of New England. This church grew so rapidly that it soon numbered six hundred and six members, and from it, sprang all the Separate Baptists of the whole South. When these zealous Separates spread like a flame over nearly the whole Virginia, the few Baptist in the northern part of that colony, most of whom originated from Pennsylvania, were called Regular Baptist, to distinguish them from the Separates. The Pennsylvania Baptists, and those of Virginia who originated from them, had adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. At first the Separates were even more Calvinistic than the Regulars. But they refused to adopt any formulated creed, and soon, some of their leading preachers began to differ widely in their interpretations of the Scriptures. John Waller, one of the ablest ministers among them, adopted the Arminian theory, and made a determined effort to convert the General Association to his views. Failing this attempt, he and his church withdrew from the body. At another time, the General Association was divided into two nearly equal parts, on the same question of doctrine. Finally, the brilliant and popular Jeremiah Walker drew off a party to the Arminian theory. These breaches were all healed, and union was restored, at least, to outward appearance. “But they were far from being uniform in doctrine.” It was while in this confused state of doctrinal sentiment, that they began to emigrate to the West.
Of the first twenty-five Baptist preachers that settled in Kentucky, twenty are known to have been Separate Baptists in Virginia and North Carolina; of the other five, only Joseph Barnett is known to have been a Regular Baptist. Yet, after they settled in Kentucky, eighteen of the twenty-five subscribed to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and identified themselves with the Regular Baptists. The name of the seven who retained the appellation of Separate Baptists, have already been given. They organized most of the churches on the south side of Kentucky river, constituted previous to the year 1786, and two, on the North side of the stream. The Regulars had two churches on the south side of the Kentucky river.
This was the attitude of the Baptists in Kentucky, when, in the spring of 1785, they began to consider the propriety of an association. Preparatory to the accomplishment of this object, a meeting was appointed for the purpose of attempting to consummate a union of the Regular and Separate parties. All the churches were requested to send messengers to the meeting. According to this appointment, a convention met at South Elkhorn in Fayette county, June 25, 1785. The following Regular Baptists churches, the names of whose messengers, are annexed, were represented:
South Elkhorn, Lewis Craig, William Hickman and Benjamin Craig.
Clear Creek, John Taylor, John Dupuy, James Rucker and Richard Cave.
Big Crossing, William Cave and Bartlett Collins.
Tates Creek, John Tanner and William Jones.
Gilberts Creek, George Stokes Smith and John Price.
Some of the Separate churches were also represented, but their names have not been ascertained. Lewis Craig was chosen moderator of the meeting, and Richard Young ,Clerk. James Garrard, Augustine Eastin and Henry Roach were invited to seats. It was agreed that the meeting should be governed by a majority, in any matter that should come before it. The first question that came before the body was worded as follows:
Query: Whether the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, adopted by the Baptists, shall be strictly adhered to, as the rule of our communion, or whether a suspension thereof, for the sake of society, be best?
If there were serious hopes of effecting a Union between the Regulars and Separates, this was the grave question of the meeting. It was known that the Separates had persistently refused to adopt any Confession of Faith. If the pending question was decided in favor of the Confession of Faith under advisement, the Separates must unequivocally abandon their ground, or reject the proffered Union. The query was answered in the following explicit terms: “It is agreed that the said recited Confession of Faith be strictly adhered to.” The proffered Union was rejected, and the breach made wider. The contention between the parties became more distressing. The Separates succeeded in drawing off factions from a number of their rival churches, and constituting them into Separate organizations in the immediate neighborhood of the bodies from which they had withdrawn. By this means, within the next five years, Tates Creek, Boones Creek, Hardins Creek and Forks of Elkhorn had, each formed from its members another church bearing its name, and adhering to the Separate Baptists. This state of confusion continued about fifteen years after this attempt to form a Union between the Separates and Regulars, and doubtless did much to stir up strife among brethren, and retard the progress of religion.
The next subject, discussed by South Elkhorn Convention, was the propriety of forming an association. This was decided in the affirmative, and a time was appointed for its consummation. Accordingly messengers from six churches met at the house of John Craig on Clear creek in Woodford county, September 30, 1785, and Elkhorn Association was constituted.
The Baptists of the more westerly settlements were separated from those on the waters of Kentucky river, by a broad belt of unsettled country, much infested by Indians. Communication between them was infrequent at the time of which we write. A journey from Louisville to Lancaster was performed by that most energetic pioneer, John Taylor, in six days, and, during the very year of which we now treat, a little church, planted in Shelby county, was so beset by the prowling savages, that it held no meeting for two or three years after its constitution. Under these circumstances, the little churches in the western settlements were ignorant of what their brethren were doing in Elkhorn. They were fewer in numbers of both members and preachers, than their brethren in the upper counties. But, like them, they appreciated the advantages, and felt the need of an association, in which they might meet at least once a year, and devise means for the advancement of the great cause that was dearer to them than all besides, and which afforded to them their only solace in the wilderness of toil, danger and wearying care.
On Saturday, October 29, 1785, four Regular Baptist churches met, by their messengers, on Cox’s creek, Nelson county, Kentucky, for the purpose of forming an association. A sermon suitable for this occasion was preached by Joseph Barnett, from John 2:17.
Joseph Barnett was chosen moderator, and Andrew Paul, clerk.
Letters from four churches were read and the following facts recorded:
Severns Valley, constituted June 18, 1781. Members 37. No pastor.
Cedar Creek, constituted July 4, 1871. Members 41. Joseph Barnett, pastor.
Bear Grass, constituted January, 1784. Members 19. John Whitaker, pastor.
Cox’s Creek, constituted April, 1785. Members 26. William Taylor, pastor.
This was the second Regular Baptist Association organized west of the Alleghany Mountains. It was constituted only twenty-nine days later then Elkhorn Association, and evidently had not heard of the existence of the latter organization. For, after adopting the “Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and the Treatise of Discipline thereto annexed” they proposed correspondence with the Philadelphia, Ketocton and Monongahela Associations, without mentioning Elkhorn.
The fraternity thus formed assumed the name of Salem Association of Regular Baptist, and comprised all the Regular Baptist churches in Kentucky, west of Frankfort, the church on Brashear’s Creek having been dispersed by the Indians. It had but three preachers within the bounds of its immense territory, and received but few accessions to its ministry, till it raised them up in its own churches. This body was very small at the beginning, and its growth was very slow till the great revival of 1803-04, when it received very large accessions, and has since maintained a prominent position among the associations of the State.
Sand Lick Association
This small Antimissionary community is located principally in Letcher County, and is the daughter of the New Salem Association. It was constituted at Indian bottom meeting house, in Letcher county, 1876, of the following churches: Cars fork, Mallet Fork, Laurel Fork, Indian Bottom, Sand Lick, Big Cowan, Colley Creek and Big Leatherwood. Its principal preachers were Henry Day, S. C. Caudill, Ira Combs, William Smith and Felix Combs.
Notwithstanding this Association adopts the name of “Regular Baptists,” it rejects the Hypercalvinistic sentiments usually held by the self-styled “Old Baptist.” Three of its articles of faith reads as follows:
Item 12. We believe washing one another feet is a commandment of Christ, left on record with his disciples, and ought to be practiced by his followers.
Item 13.We believe that any doctrine that goes to encourage, or indulge the people in their sins, or causes to settle down on anything short of saving faith in Christ for salvation, is erroneous, and all such doctrine will be rejected by us.
Item 14. None of the above named articles shall be construed, as to hold with particular election and reprobation, so as to make God partial either directly, or indirectly, so as to injure any of the children of men.
The young fraternity started off quite prosperously. At its constitution, in 1876, it numbered 8 churches with 390 members; in 1880, it reported 11 churches with 501 members.
Union Association of Regular Baptists.
This association has two different histories.
This small community is located in the east end of the State. In 1871, seven of its churches were in Pike County, two in Letcher, and three in the State of Virginia. It was constituted, in 1859, of nine churches, which had been dismissed from the New Salem Association for the purpose. These nine churches aggregated 284 members. The progress of the body has been very slow. In 1870, it numbered 11 churches with 227 members, and in 1880, 12 churches with 305 members. No information has been received concerning its old churches and ministers.
With the abstract of principals annexed, held with the Union church, Pike County, Kentucky, November 11, 12, and 13, 1859. Pursuant to an order of the New Salem Association, held with the Elkhorn Church, Pike County, Kentucky, the Friday before the Fourth Saturday in September, 1859.
The undersigned, a constituted presbytery, met with the delegates from the following churches: Thornton, Bethel, Elkhorn, Sulphur Springs, Pound Fork, Holly Creek, Union Cloe, and Raccoon at Union meeting house, November 11, 1859, for the purpose of forming an Association of these churches.
Elder M. T. Lipps preached the introductory sermon from Solomon’s Songs, 7th chapter and 1st verse.
We, the aforesaid presbytery, do constitute and organize the above named churches into an association upon the faith and principles of the New Salem Association, which shall be called the Union Association.
Presbytery: Jordan Ashley, J.A. Caudill, B.D. Caudill, M.T. Lipps.
Elder Jordan Ashley being chosen Moderator and Elder Joseph Craft, Clerk, proceed to the business of the Union Association.
This is a copy of the Articles of faith of the Union Association.
1. We believe in one true and living God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost and these three are one.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God and everlasting king; at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God.
Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
1st John 5:7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
Ephesians 4:4. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling.
Ephesians 4:6. One God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and you all.
2. We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures are the written word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
Proverbs 30:5. Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Proverbs 30:6. Add you not unto his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.
Philippians 3:16. Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
1st Thessalonians 5:21. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
2nd Corinthians 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith, prove your own-selves.
2nd Timothy 3:15. And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2nd Timothy 3:16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2nd Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
St. John 5:39. Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are which testify of me.
3. We believe in the doctrine of election by grace.
1st Peter. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
2nd Thessalonians 2:13. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
Acts 13:48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Romans 8:28. And we all know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 9:16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runs, but of God that showed mercy.
2nd Timothy 1:9. Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
St. John 6:44. No one man come to me, except the Father which has sent me, draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
4. We believe in the doctrine of original sin, and man’s impotency to rescue himself from the fallen state he is in by nature by his own free will and ability.
Romans 8:7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Ephesians 2:4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.
Ephesians 2:5. Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).
Ephesians 2:9. Not of works lest any man should boast.
St. John 6:65. And he said, therefore said I unto you, that no man can come to me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Titus 3:5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
5. We believe that sinners are called, converted, regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and all are so regenerated and born again by the Spirit of God shall never fall finally away.
Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 4:22. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:23. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him.
Romans 4:24. But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Romans 4:25. Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.
Acts 13:39. And by him that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
James 2:23. And the scripture was fulfilled which said Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God.
Romans 4:2. For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
6. We believe sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
1st Peter. (You) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Psalms 9:10. You that love the Lord hate evil; he preserves the souls of his saints; he deliverers them out of the hands of the wicked.
Psalms 37:28. For the Lord loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints; they are preserved forever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
St. John 6:37. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.
St. John 10:28. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
St. John 10:29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
7. We believe that baptism, the Lord’s Supper and feet washing are ordinances of Jesus Christ and that true believers are the only proper subjects of these ordinances and we believe the only true mode of baptism is by immersion.
Matthew 3:5. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the regions round about Jordan.
Matthew 3:6. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Matthew 3:11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
Matthew 3:16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straight way out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.
Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Mark 1:5. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
8. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and a general judgment and that the joys of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
St. Johns 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.
St. John 5:29. And shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have evil unto the resurrection of damnation.
1st Corinthians 15:51. Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
1st Corinthians 15:52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Matthew 25:31. When the Son of man come in his Glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.
Matthew 25:32. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
9. We believe no minister has the right to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, except such as are regularly called, and come under the imposition of hands by presbytery of the church.
St. John 3:27. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing except it is given him from heaven.
Acts 2:42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.
Acts 13:3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Acts 14:23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord on whom they believed.
Ephesians 4:11. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
Ephesians 4:12. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
1st Timothy 4:14. Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Hebrews 5:4. And no man takes this honor (priesthood) unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
By Rev. J. C. Swindall
Elder J.C. Swindall, Moderator of the Union Association 41 years from 1896 to 1938. He was a faithful soldier of the cross. He was a member of the Little Zion Church.
Concerning the Division in the Union Association in 1894.
In order to set forth a declaration of those things which are most assuredly believed and taught among us, and the reason why the Little Zion Church withdrew from the Three Forks of Powell’s River Association.
In the year 1894, we, the Little Zion Church, sent out letter and delegates as usual, but because I, as pastor of the church, was preaching that Christ died for all men, they rejected our letter and refused to seat our delegates, in violation of the constitution of the association, when it says:
“Every church when petitioning by letter and delegates, shall be entitled to a seat with us.”
The first objection filed against the Little Zion Church was, that she had departed from the orthodox principles of religion. They failed to sustain their position, and then asked me whit I believed about the atonement. I answered that I believed just what the Bible says, that, “Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man.” They said that they did not believe that. Then we withdrew from the Three forks of Powell’s River Association, and demanded of them that they let their record show the question asked by them, and our answer, but they refused to do so. Then I asked them what kind of a record they were going to make. They said, “we will let you know hereafter” and when their minutes came out , the 5th item was:
“We the Three Forks Association drop fellowship with the Little Zion Church until she sets her house in order, believing that she has departed from the orthodox doctrine of the atonement.”
So, dear reader, you can see that we stood on the word of God, while the Three Forks Association rejected it. Then, in September following the Union Association met at the Mount Pleasant Church, and when convened, their former moderator was not present, and Joseph Hall being clerk, called the association to order, acting as moderator without being chosen, and had had Robert Blair, of the Sand Lick Association called as clerk, before he had been seated in the body. Then a majority of the several churches demanded that the association be legally organized by electing a moderator and clerk, which the “Hard-side” of the association refused to do, in violation of our constitution, in spite of the majority. Then one of the deacons of the Mount Pleasant Church told Mr. Hall and Mr. Blair that if they would not hold the association according to the constitution, to get out of the house and let the brethren have it who would. This they refused to do, in violation of the constitution, and called for the letters from the churches, and accepted all the letters from the churches, which believed in the absolute predestination of all things, and a special atonement, and rejected those who believed that Christ died for all men.
We now put forth a challenge in this little book at all “hard-shells,” calling themselves Baptist, for a joint discussion, and will affirm that the doctrine that they preach is false and untrue, when they say Christ just died for the church alone, and that the gospel is just preached to the church alone; and that there is no resurrection of the bodies of men and women; and that a man has no soul prior of regeneration. Now, we as Old Regular Baptist affirm that they have departed from the old land marks, and have gone astray and have led away many good Christians after them. Now dear Christian reader, this is enough to convince you.
Twelve marks of the Apostolic
1st. The Apostolic Church consisted only of those who had been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and who had given signs of repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the son of God.
2nd. True Baptism that is Immersion of believers in water in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.
3rd. The members being, Baptized believers came frequently around the Lord’s table to commemorate the suffering and death of their precious Redeemer, by practicing of the common bread to represent his broken body and the common wine to represent his shed blood for them.
4th. The maintainance of strict discipline.
5th. The independent or congregation policy or the government of each Church subject only to the Headship of Christ, all the local Apostolic Churches being united by no outward bond or force, but by the inward bond of love that was given them through Christ Jesus.
6th. That religious liberty and soul freedom a complete separation of Church and State the entire independence of each church from all state control so far as regards the membership, ministry organization, faith worship and discipline of the church.
7th. With a few exceptions the members were generally poor, obscure, unlearned afflicted, despised and persecuted.
8th. The fraternal, the essential priesthood, of all the members, in accordance with which fact they choose to office among them those of their number whom they precieve to be already qualified there unto by the spirit of God. There being two classes of officers the Elders, or Bishops, and the Deacons, the fraternal equality of all members involving the eternal equality of the ministry.
9th. Possession of an humble, God Called and God qualified ministry.
10th. That while the ministry of church received voluntary help when needed its members the ministry was not salaried but labored themselves more or less for their own support.
11th. The sending out of the divinely called and qualified ministry by the Holy Ghost of Spirit in themselves and in the churches, their going forth whosesoever the Lord directed them simple independence upon him, and their preaching the Gospel to every creature whether Jew or Gentile and especially and as a Shepherd of the lambs and sheep of Christ.
12th. That it, the church, was absolutely the only divinely recognized religious organization in the world, these marks as applied to the Apostolic Church, are fully sustained by the new testament and for proof the reader is referred to the standard of faith and practice and they will find witness of these things in that blessed old book called the Bible.
The spirit of Zwinglianism reached its fullest development in the theology, political theories, and ecclesiastic thought of John Calvin (1509-1594). Perhaps ever more so than martin Luther, Calvin created the patterns and thought that would dominate Western culture throughout the modern period. American culture, in particular, is thoroughly Calvinist in some form or another; at the heart of the way Americans think and act, you’ll find this fierce and imposing reformer.
Calvin was originally a lawyer, but like Zwingli, he was saturated with the ideas of Northern Renaissance humanism. He was dedicated to reform of the church and he got his chance to build a reformed church when the citizens of Geneva revolted against their rulers in the 1520’s.
Geneva had been under the rule of the House of Savory, but the Genevans successfully overthrew the Savoys and the local bishop-prince of Geneva in the waning years of the 1520’s. The Genevans, however, unlike the citizens of Zurich, Bern, Basel, and other cities that became Protestant in the 1520’s, were not German-speakers but primarily French-speakers. As such, they did not have close cultural ties with the reformed churches in Germany and Switzerland. The Protestant canton of Bern, however, was determined to see Protestantism spread throughout Switzerland. In 1533, Bern sent Protestant reformers to convert Geneva into a Protestant city; after considerable conflict, Geneva officially became Protestant in 1535.
Calvin, by now a successful lawyer, was invited to Geneva to build a new Reformed church. Calvin’s efforts radically changed the face of Protestantism, for he directly addressed issues that early Reformers didn’t know how or didn’t want to answer.
His most important work involved the organization of church governance and the social organization of the church and the city. He was, in fact, the first major political thinker to model social organization entirely on biblical principles. At first his reforms did not go over well. He addressed the issue of church governance by creating leaders within the new church; he himself developed a catechism designed to impose doctrine on all the members of the church. He and Guillaume Farel (1489-1565) imposed a strict moral code on the citizens of Geneva; this moral code was derived from a literal reading of Christian scriptures. Naturally, the people of Geneva believed that they had thrown away one church only to see it replace by an identical twin; in particular, they saw Calvin’s reforms as imposing a new form of papacy on the people, only with different names and different people.
So the Genevans tossed him out. In early 1538. Calvin and the Protestant reformers were exiled from Geneva. Calvin, for his part, moved to Strasbourg where he began writing commentaries on the Bible and finished his massive account of Protestant doctrine, The Institutes of the Christian Church. Calvin’s commentaries are almost endless, but within these commentaries he developed all the central principles of Calvinism in his strict readings of the Old and New Testaments. The purpose of commentaries in Western literary tradition was to explain both the literary technique and the difficult passages in literary and historical works. Calvin wrote commentaries to ostensibly explain scriptural writings, but in reality he, like theologians before him, used the commentaries to argue for his own theology as he believed was present in scriptural writings. They are less an explanation of the Bible than a piece by piece construction of his theological, social, and political philosophy.
In 1540 a new crop of city officials in Geneva invited Calvin back to the city. As soon as he arrived he set about revolutionizing Genevan society. His most important innovation was the incorporation of the church into city government; he immediately helped to restructure municipal government so that clergy would be involved in municipal decisions, particularly in disciplining the populace. He imposed a hierarchy on the Genevan church and began a series of statute reforms to impose a strict uncompromising moral code on the city.
By the mid 1550’s, Geneva was thoroughly Calvinist in thought and structure. It became the most important Protestant center of Europe in the sixteenth century, for Protestants driven out of their native countries of France, England, Scotland, and the Netherlands all came to Geneva to take refuge. By the middle of the sixteenth century, between one-third and one-half of the city was made up of these foreign Protestants. In Geneva, these foreign reformers adopted the more radical Calvinist doctrines; most of them had arrived as moderate Reformers and left as thorough-going Calvinists. It is probably for this reason that Calvin’s brand of reform eventually became the dominant branch of Protestantism from the seventeenth century onwards.
The core of Calvinism is the Zwinglian insistence on the literal reading of Christian scriptures. Anything not contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures was to be rejected; on the other hand, anything that was contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures was to be followed unwaveringly. It is the latter point that Calvin developed beyond Zwingli’s model; not only should all religious belief be founded on the literal reading of Scriptures, but church organization, political organization, and society itself should be founded on this literal reading.
Following the history of the earliest church recounted in the New Testament book, The acts of the Apostles, Calvin divided church organization into four levels:
Pastors: These were five men who exercised authority over religious matters in Geneva;
Teachers: This was a larger group whose job it was to teach doctrine to the population.
Elders: The Elders were twelve men (after the twelve Apostles) who were chosen by the municipal council; their job was to oversee everything that everybody did in the city.
Deacons: Modeled after the Seven in Acts 6-8, the deacons were appointed to care for the sick, the elderly, the widowed and the poor.
The most important theological position that Calvin took was his formulation of the doctrine of predestination. The early church struggled with this issue. Since God knew the future, did that mean that salvation was predestined? That is, do human beings have any choice in the matter, or died God make the salvation decision for each of us at the beginning of time? The early church, and the moderate Protestant churches, had decided that God had not predestined salvation for individuals. Salvation was in part the product of human choice. Calvin, on the other hand, built his reformed church on the concept that salvation was not a choice, but was rather pre-decided by God from the beginning of time. This mean that individuals were “elected” for salvation by God; this “elect” would form the population of the Calvinist church.
This view of human salvation is called either the “doctrine of the elect” or “the doctrine of living saints” (in Catholic theology, a “saint” is a human being that the church is certain has gained salvation; in Calvinist theology, a “saint” or “Living saint” is a living, breathing human being who is guaranteed to gain salvation no matter what he or she does here on earth, although the elect obviously don’t engage in flagrant sin; not all good people were among the elect, but people with bad behavior were certainly not among the elect). It was incumbent on churches filled with living saints to only admit other living saints; this organizational principle was called voluntary association. Voluntary associations are predicated on the idea that a community or association chooses its own members and those members, of their own free will, choose to be a member of that community or association. In time, the concept of voluntary associations would become the basis of civil society and later political society in Europe.