Baptist History Homepage



[Written by an appointed committee of: John L. Waller, J. M. Pendleton & William Vaughan]

      Beloved Brethren: - It has long been the practice of the Baptists, when any considerable portion of them have met in consultation upon the affairs of the Redeemer's kingdom, to lay the result of their deliberations before the world, as well as to address a circular letter to their brethren. In obedience to a custom so venerable, we your brethren, the representatives of many associations and churches, met in general association in the city of Louisville, for the purpose of consulting upon and putting into operation the best possible measures to unite and harmonize the churches, repress error, and to carry the great principles of Bible truth to every corner of the state, beg leave to present to you the plan of operations adopted by
us, together with some of the reasons that influenced our determinations.

      Being the pioneers of the Gospel to the Western country, Providence seemed to have destined the state of Kentucky for the Baptists. While yet our state was the haunt of savages and wild beasts, and the vast, sublime and unbroken forest west the Allegheny Mountains, was only here and there inhabited by civilized man, our ministers were found enduring all the privations of a new country and an unfamiliar climate, proclaiming to the hardy adventurers and settlers, the way of life and salvation. The Lord attended and blessed their labors. Churches were soon planted and extensive revivals of religion early prevailed. Even while the wild revelry of the Indian war-dance and the dreadful yells of embattled savages were to be heard in Kentucky, the hallelujahs and prayers of saints, the orisons of the redeemed of the Lord, cheered and made vocal the gloomy wilderness. Few now remain to recount the glorious perils of those times; but of the extensive and memorable revivals that so generally prevailed at two subsequent periods, many are left to tell, upon whose memory they are yet enstamped in fresh and vivid recollection. Until within the period of the last fifteen years, in point of zeal, influence, activity, efficiency and numbers, the Baptists ranked the first denomination in Kentucky. Contrasted with their subsequent condition, up to the period specified, we were comparitively a united, prosperous and flourishing people. Feuds and divisions there were, but they did not effect the entire condition, nor impede and impair the entire efficiency of the denomination. There too were seasons of coldness and declension, but the favorable countenance of the Lord was not long withheld from us, and after a few short and wintry nights, the cheering beams of the sun of righteousness would dispel the gloom, and spring time and harvest would again be felt and enjoyed in our land.

      During the time to which we have alluded, God in his providence opened a channel for the communication of the blessings of the Gospel among the heathen, and the claims of the perishing millions of the benighted inhabitants of earth, were presented to the churches of this state, and were responded to with a munificence and with a unanimity worthy of the cause. - Not the first syllable was uttered against the expediency or scripturality of missionary operations. The records of all the important associations in the state, attest the truth of this declaration. Indeed, the mother and model association of all those in the West, we mean the Philadelphia Association, that sanctioned and advocated what is termed the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith, was then a domestic and foreign missionary body, and she is one yet. Opposition to the spread of the Gospel being unknown, all were unitedly engaged in whatever tended to advance the glory of the name and the greatness of the kingdom of the Redeener. Whatever else might occasion schism, and controversies, none manifested a recreant spirit in coming up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Upon this subject, our denomination presented a undivided front - united they stood, and the powers of darkness assailed them but to little purpose.

      But, brethren, these comparitively halcyon days are past. Evil times and evil counsels have prevailed amongst us. - From being the most efficient, though still the most numerous, we now may be considered as but the third denomination in the state in point of influence and effciency. Our light glimmers in the vale, when it should blaze refulgently from the mountain tops. No wonder we have to lament schism, and contention, and heresy, when our own supineness and neglect of duty have occasioned the opening of the flood gates of error, through which have flowed the putrescent streams that have deluged the land! No man who knows any thing of our history, but laments our present melancholy condition, when contrasted with the past. Why have our churches been rent and rived asunder by artful and insidious heresiarchs? Why our present sickly condition? Why has the Lord so long withheld the light of his countenance from us? Why has he taken to himself so many of our most useful ministers, and left so many churches

and such large districts of country destitute of Baptist preaching?

      These are questions worthy of your most serious and deliberate consideration. An extended solution of them will form an important chapter in our history. For the present, we must content ourselves with a hurried sketch of some of the most important, of the multifarious and varied causes, which have contributed to the religious declension in the Baptist churches, and which, by consequence, have conduced to originate error and schism.

      As startling to some at the first blush, as may be the assumption, it is nevertheless our candid conviction, that no small portion of the religious declension which has been experienced of late years by the Kentucky Baptists, has been occasioned by the reaction produced from the subsiding of the great excitements in the revivals which formerly prevailed in the west; and by the meagre supply of our churches immediately after, with faithful gospel preaching. We do not mean to say that these revivals were not of the Lord - far from it; nor would we be understood to say, that much good was not consequent upon thern: but we mean, that the very fact of so many being brought into the churches under high excitement, both moral and physical, and that too ere they were fully indoctrinated in the great fundamentals of the profession they had made, is presumption of the strongest kind, that some evil and declension would ensue. - Besides, to support spiritual, not less than animal life, wholesome and nutritious aliment is necessary. The system of monthly preaching was but illy calculated to establish the truth in the minds of so many young disciples. Upon meals "so few and far between," no wonder many suffered for want of "the sincere milk of the word," not to say that more substantial diet, adapted to the vigorous constitution of senior disciples of Christ. Thus large numbers who had been hastily inducted into the churches, were left without proper instructions, and were fit materials for the mischievous machinations of artful demagogues in religious matters.

      Nor is it at all wonderful, that during the prevalence of religious excitement, many unworthy members were admitted into the churches, 'the fallow ground of whose hearts was nevee broken up;' and many such persons, in after times, became the dupes of the Campbellite fanaticism, and denied the operations of the Holy Spirit in regenerating the heart, because their own hearts had never been thus regenerated.

      The performance of religious duties has been too much neglected by the members of our churches. The reading of the scriptures is too little attended to. Were the Scriptures daily made the man of our counsel, we might more frequently feel a reproving conscience for our aberrations from the path of duty. But in nothing have we been more criminally deficient, than in the exercise of prayer, in public, in the closet, and in our families. The preaching of no minister can be successful to any congregation, where the people do not pray. This exercise is the very life's blood of the Christian, for "only while he prays he lives," That mind must forever be restless, gloomy, and dark - tossed too and fro by every passing breeze, that does not hold communion and "audience with the Deity." The Christian on his knees exhibits in epitome - in hieroglyphic, if we may be allowed the expression, the most sublime and glorious truths of our holy religion. A God omniscient, omnipresent - a Savior merciful and of long forbearance, whose eye is ever over the footsteps of the righteous, and whose ear is ever open to the cries of his people - the consoling doctrine that help has been laid on one whose [sic] is mighty and able to save - that there is one who can soothe every sorrow and defend his children from every assault - all are illustrated in the attitude of prayer. The most arrogant philosopher presumes only to imagine, what the humblest praying Christian knows and feels, of the grand and glorious doctrines of God and immortality. Had this duty been more attended to, so many would not "have been led into temptation," been given over to follow the vain imaginings of their own wayward hearts, and been thus seduced into error and into sin. Many and sweet are the promises in the Bible to those who perform

this duty - noble and illustrious ar the examples recorded there for our encouragement. Nor should we, as too many do, look upon this exercise as a mere matter of form, consisting of a routine of empty words to be repeated by us, which may, or may not be heard of God. No, we believe that if Christians would pray in more faith - that if they would ask the Lord for his mercies, believing that he would hear and grant their petitions, that he would do so. He has promised to hear and grant the prayer of faith, and when was he ever unfaithful to his word? Why then should we offer up distrustful any heartless petitions? Has our Savior forgotten to be merciful, or have his ears become dull of hearing?

      The discipline of the house of God has been neglected to the great detriment of vital religion. Without gospel discipline is promptly and efficiently enforced, the cause of God can never prosper. The light of the church becomes faint and flickering, if not totally extinguished. - Men of the world judge the religion of the Bible by the conduct of its professor; and how often is the Lord thus wounded in the house of his friends! Infidelity would be powerless in its assaults upon Christianity, were every unworthy professor excluded the pale of the churches.

      Personal piety has been held in too low esteem. Professors of religion have so conformed their habits of social intercourse, their deportment, their conversation and their attire to the world, as scarcely to be distinguished from it. In the young, a passion for the fashionable follies and giddy and vain amusements of the day, has been too little restrained; while in members of more advanced age, a grasping after the evanescent riches of earth - the insubstantial baubles of corruptible gold, has been encouraged to the disregard of that wealth which rust cannot corrode, and to that crown whose lustre time cannot diminish and eternity will not impair, reserved in Heaven for those that love the Lord Jesus. Hence, in those portions of our state usually considered the most wealthy, where many of the members of our churches are bloated with riches, error, strife, and schism prevail to the most alarming extent. God seems to have said, 'They are joined to their idols, let them alone!' True, since the late revulsion in money matters, some have manifested a disposition to return to their first love, and God has received and blessed the prodigals; but even yet, mammon has too many votaries in our churches - many who will not forsake his shrine for the most solemn and important duties of the house of God! Brethren, let us seriously examine our hearts, and let Achan be expelled the camps of Israel.

      Covetousness has been a blight upon the prosperity of our churches. Christians seem to have forgotten that "the silver and the gold are the Lords;" and that all they have, whether property or talents, should be devoted to the promotion of the cause and kingdom of the Redeemer. The great Head of the Church has sent out preaches [preachers] of the gospel, commanding that they should carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: for the laborer is worthy of his hire: plainly teaching that it is the duty of the churches to support the preachers of the gospel. Indeed, "God hath ordained that they that preach the gospel, should live of the gospel;" and yet how many churches in Kentucky have regarded this solemn decree of Heaven? How many preaches [preachers] of the gospel in our state, live of the gospel? And think you that God will hold them guiltless, who through covetousness, "which is idolatry," annul his solemn ordinance, and spurn his high authority? Is it a wonder then, that God has withheld the light of his countenance from them who would starve at the very foot of the altar, those that wait upon it? This covetousness which the apostle emphatically calls "idolatry," has driven many of our most pious, devoted and useful ministers to seek homes in the more new and more western states. Neglected by their churches to whom they had long and faithfully preached, with penury and starvation staring them in the face, many a faithful minister of Jesus has been almost compelled to beg his way to a new country, where, by working with his own hands, he might be enabled to provide food and raiment for his children! If the neglect of one servant of God by the Corinthians, was recorded

on the indellible pages of inspiration as an induring memorial to their disgrace, what must be said of the Baptist churches of Kentucky, cradled in affluence and munificently blessed with every temporal good, who have starved into exile many of the most useful ministers of Jesus? This is a serious enquiry, let those concerned, seriously answer it.

      It is mournful to relate, that there have not been wanting professed ministers of the gospel, who have fostered and encouraged this spirit of avarice in the churches. Unwilling to trust the Lord and their brethren for a support, or too ambitious of wealth to be content with a bare competence, these men usually devote a part of one day in seven to the work of the ministry, employing the remainder of their time in the field, in the school house, on the shop-board, or in some other way, to amass in abundance, the glittering dust of earth. Having left the work of their Master for the love of filthy lucre, such persons stun our ears by their clamorous outcries against those ministers who give their whole time to the work and receive a beggarly competence from their brethren. They not unfrequently set up themselves as examples, alleging that they preach without compensation. Well, admitting that they do, (which, by the way, is far from being the case,) still this pleads nothing against an ordinance of God's house. They do not labor, and are therefore unworthy of their hire. They do not preach the gospel, and should not live of the gospel.

      In such men and their churches, is verified the old proverb - "Like priest, like people." Brooding with a miserly soul over their coffers of gold, they point to the devoted missionary who has given up his all for the cause of God, and houseless and friendless, frequently enduring all the privations of hunger and cold to preach the gospel to heathens and strangers in a foreign land, and say - "behold the money-hunter, the hireling, the wolf in sheep's clothing, the greedy dog, the false prophets, etc." The Lord forbid, that the money bags of such men should become as millstones about their necks, to sink them in bottomless perdition forever!

      Another cause that has greatly contributed to the declension of the Baptist interest, has been opposition to missions, to the circulation of the scriptures, and other benevolent enterprizes of the church. The Anti-Missionary spirit owes its origin to the notorious Daniel Parker. Ha was the first person called Baptist that lent a hand to the Infidel and Papist in opposing the proclamation of the Gospel to every creature, and the translation and circulation of the Scriptures in all languages and among all people. Possessing a strong native intellect, and a bold adventurous imagination - with a mind cast in nature's most capacious mould, but for want of cultivation admirably calculated to be the receptacle of notions the most crude, extravagant chimerical, he generated an Utopian scheme of theology, the tendency of which was to subvert all practical religion. The grounds of his opposition to missions were - that the devil was an eternal "self subsis[t]ent being," (to use his own phrase;) that though God created all, yet the devil begat a part of mankind; that those begotten of the devil, were his bona fide children, and to their father they would and ought to go; and of course, sending them the gospel and giving them the Bible, were acts of such gross and supreme folly that no Christian should be engaged in them! On the other hand, he taught that the remaining portion of the human family were the actual sons of God from eternity, and being allied to Jesus Christ ere 'the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy,' by the nearest and dearest ties of consanguinity, being no less than "particles" of his body - bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, the Redeemer would, nolens volens, take them to mansions prepared for them in bliss: And hence Mr. Parker very wisely concluded, that if such were the case, the Lord had very little use for Bible or Missionary Societies!

      No sooner was this strange doctrine propagated, than strait there arose divers zealous advocates for the rights and prerogatives of his Satanic Majesty, who charged the friends of missions with designs of endeavoring by juggling and legerdemain, to introduce into heaven some

of those sooty sons of the bottomless pit! and strange to relate, they raised such clamor as to cause confusion in some the churches! But there were many who embraced only half the doctrines of Mr. Parker, and although they manifested no great apprehensions for the liege subjects of the Prince of Darkness, yet they expressed great alarms lest the missionaries should help the Lord to perform his work, and convert the souls of some in a way that God never designed they should be! - These were such staunch friends of the Lord's doing all his work, that they set upon and most terribly assailed their missionary brethren, for fear they perchance should by some means assist the Lord in the salvation of his elect! In their zeal against these ambitious strides of the missionaries, they have occasioned great disturbance and distress, - and by destroying the peace of Zion, the progress of religion has been greatly retarded, and the influence and usefulness of many ministers and churches utterly paralyzed.

      The last cause that we shall notice which has occasioned so much lukewarmness amongst us, is the Antinomian sentiments that have too profusely abounded in the pulpit exhibitions of many of our preachers. Upon this subject, we cannot do better than to present an extract from [John Angell] James' "Church Member's Guide [1829]," which though written for England, is strictly applicable to things in this latitude; and the author seems to have had before his eyes many of the preachers in Kentucky.

      "The existence and prevalence of an Antinomian spirit, is a fruitful source of schism in our churches.

      "As every age of the church is marked by its appropriate visitation of error, so little penetration is requisite to perceive that Antinomianism is the epidemic malady of the present, and that it is an evil of deadly malignity. It is qualified for mischief by the very properties, which might seem to render it merely an object of contempt - its vulgarity of conception, is paucity of ideas, its determined hostility to taste, science and letters. It includes within a compass which every head can contain, and every tongue can utter, a system which cancels every moral tie, consigns the whole human race to the extremes of presumption or despair; erects religion on the ruins of morality, and imparts to the dregs of stupidity all the powers of the most active poison."*

      "This ruinous spirit has already disorganized or convulsed so many churches, that it is high time the tocsin should be sounded against it, and all good citizens of Zion take the alarm. It must be confessed, however, that it does not always originate amongst the people. A perversion of divine truth so monstrous, so mischievous, and absurd, would hardly have acquired such power and prevalence, if it had not received the sanction of ministerial authority. I speak not now of those ministers who are the avowed and consistent patrons of the system, but of men more reputable, and whose strain of preaching is in general more scriptural; men who abhor the tenets of Antinomianism, but who are ignorantly the abettors of these tenets. When such ministers dwell only on the doctrinal parts of revealed truth, and state these in a phraseology capable of misconstruction; when their preaching is exclusively confined to a few topics, and to a stiff systematic exhibition of them; when a wretched taste for spiritualizing and allegorizing pervades their pulpit discussions; when the facts and doctrines of the gospel are abstractly stated, without being made the grounds and motives of social duty and moral excellence; when terms obviously scriptural are avoided, in compliment to a system which reprobates without understanding them, and their sermons are encumbered and disfigured with the phraseology of a false experience; when believers are flattered and caressed into a high conceit of their peculiar excellence; then, whatever be the preacher's tenets or intentions, must Antinomianism be generated and cherished. Oft times has this selfish spirit risen up to be the tormentor of the father that begat him; but is quiet till his head was beneath the clods of the valley, he has possessed and convulsed the church during the time of his successor.
* Robert Hall

      "To cure this evil, then, let ministers be cautious how they preach. Let them give a full exhibition of the doctrines of grace; but at the same time let them exhibit these doctrines in a scriptural manner, as the basis of holiness and moral excellence; let them introduce, in their preaching, all the varieties of revealed truth; let the avoid the trammels of system, nor ever attempt to corrupt [sic] the testimonies of scripture by making a text say what it was never intended to affirm. The chief source of Antinomianism is in the pulpit, and let the first effort, therefore, be employed on the fountain, to render this pure and salutary; and the next be devoted to drain off these streams, which are corrupting the churches.

      "When an individual, or any individuals, are known to cavil at the sermons of the minister, and to be employed in exciting a prejudice against him, by insinuating that he does not preach the gospel, they should be reasoned and expostulated with, both by the minister and the more judicious members of his flock. Every mild and persuasive method should be adopted and employed either to convince or silence them. If they cannot be convinced, they should at least be bound over to keep the peace, and brought under promise not to trouble the church, or attempt to sow the seeds of disaffection in the minds of the brethren. If they consent, on these terms, to remain in communion, they should of course be retained; but if again detected in the act of disturbing the society, they should forthwith be put away, as the troublers of Israel. I have known instances in which ministers of great eminence and influence have suffered such individuals to remain in communion, for the sake of peace, and have trusted to their own authority to prevent the mischief from spreading. This, however, is chaining the fiend, not casting him out, and leaving him to burst his fetters, when the hand that held him in vassalage is paralyzed by death, and permitting him to waste and devour the church, under the rule of a younger or inferior minister. - An act of authority, scripturally and seasonably exerted, would thus have destroyed an evil, which by a temporizing policy, is bequeathed to a successor who can neither destroy nor control it."

      These probably constitute the prominent causes which have contributed to decrease the religious influence that our denomination should ever have maintained. The mode to remedy these evils, at least the most of them, have already been anticipated; for a Christian under proper influences, needs but to know his faults, to reform them. But to enlarge our operations and to effect as much good as possible, it becomes us to suggest some plan and to urge the adoption of a definite mode of action. The Christian's life is not one of inglorious repose. We must either fight on the side of the Lord, or on that of his adversary. This warfare admits of no neutral ground. Not to be engaged in the service of God, is to be arrayed under the black banner of the Prince of Darkness. Negative goodness, is positive wickedness!

      We cannot pause to reason with those professed Baptists whose imaginations have penetrated the frigid zones of metaphysical dogmatism and theological frenzy, until their minds have become so congealed in the icebergs of antinomianism, as to deny that the gospel ought to be preached to sinners, or that unregenerate men ought to be called upon to repent and believe the gospel. We can only commend to such, prayer and a diligent search of the scriptures. But our appeal is made to plain old fashioned Baptists who have been accustomed all their lives to believing it was right that the gospel should be preached 'in all the world and to every creature;' and we most confidently expect to find them willing promptly to meet the emergency now presented to them. They cannot look at the appalling picture we are about to draw, without emotion. They will not - they cannot survey the extensive field of Kentucky spread out before them, large portions of it where Baptist preaching is seldom, if ever heard, and then folding up their arms in indifference and spreading themselves in supineness on their backs, exclaim - "we have no concern in all these matters!"

      The whole number of United Baptist churches in Kentucky is about 500,

containing an aggregate amount of not less than 40,000 members. The number of ordained ministers including, the superannuated, may be about 200: so that upon the most liberal estimation, there cannot be less than three hundred churches that have no ministers belonging them! We know of but eight churches in all the State, that are supplied with preaching every Lord's Day! More than two thirds of all our churches, it is believed, meet only once a month - leaving their houses three Sabbaths in four, entirely unoccupied for any religious purpose! Many of the members of our churches, probably not a large portion of them, owing to the infirmities of age, the inclemency of the weather, or their own indifference, do not attend on the public ministry of the word only in the houses in which their respective churches occupy, and this but once a month, hearing but about twelve sermons during the year! Besides, there are many large and populous districts of country, without either Baptist church or minister!

      It is probable that four fifths of those engaged in the ministry, are in very moderate circumstances, having to support their families by laboring with their own hands. These cannot devote their time and talents entirely to the preaching of the gospel. Many of them who are young, deficient alike in experience and in mental culture, and without the requisite means of information and improvement, are but imperfectly qualified to "rightly divide the word of God," as "workmen that need not be ashamed." Some of our ministers also are superannuated - veterans of the cross, who having passed the prime and vigor of their lives in the cause of their Master, having fought the good fight and almost finished their course, are about departing to receive their reward in the climes of Paradise. This establishes the utter impracticability of supplying (as things now are) our churches even with monthly preaching, much less of occupying the hundreds of destitute neighborhoods in the State. The population of Kentucky amounts to upwards of 700,000 souls; to supply which with stated preaching every Lord's Day, at the rate of one preacher for every 1000 inhabitants, would require 700 pastors - almost four times our actual strength! Yet even those preachers that we have, upon the most liberal calculation, are not engaged more than half their time in preaching the gospel! So that, as a denomination, we are only performing one eighth of the labor required at our hands! What an awful reflection! Could the hands of our two hundred ministers be, unfettered from secular cares, few and feeble as they are when contrasted with the extended field before them, and immense amount of labor to be performed, who can estimate the mighty revolution which, under God, might be effected in one year? How this waste might be made to bloom with flowers as fragrant and as perennial as those that flourished in the bowers of Eden!

      To produce concert and harmony among the churches, to supply the destitute with the preaching of the gospel, and to call into action and to arouse the dormant energies of our denomination in reference to the state of things presented above,"THE GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF BAPTISTS IN KENTUCKY," was organized. You will see by reference to its constitution and the minutes of the meeting which formed it, that in principle, it is precisely conformed to other associations in the state. Consistency can never approve the one and reject the other. The General Association claims no ecclesiastical authority. Its work will be, by a combination of the strength, and the resources of the denomination, to succor the weak and supply the destitute - if it is ascertained that there is a destitute section of country, and if a minister can be found whose church is willing to send him to labor in it, it will be the business of the General Association to see that said minister does not "go a warfare at his own charges." Or if it should be known that there was a poor and feeble church, having no pastor and unable to support one, this Association will aid such a church in the support of the pastor she may select. It is not contemplated by us to concentrate a fund to supply the destitution of the state, only so far as the churches and associations are unable or unwilling to do it. It is hoped that every

association in the State will take the matter in hand, and supply the destitute in its own bounds, leaving to the General Association nothing to do, but to send the gospel to those sections not comprehended in the limits of any church or association.

      It is hoped that if these measures are met and sustained by our brethren with a zeal and unanimity proportionable to the importance of the objects to be accomplished, that in a few years, by the blessing of heaven, the Baptist cause in Kentucky will shine with a lustre and culminate in a meridian, more brilliant and more elevated, than in any former period of its history, in this or any other country. The General Association is to be composed of representatives from those churches who will voluntarily enter into its objects. It asks no sacrifice of principle, seeks no unwilling advocates and coadjutors. It was formed to produce harmony of sentiment, and concert of action, and it never will - never can interfere with the rights and prerogatives of churches. Those churches that pride themselves so much upon their purity, as to fear contamination from our contact, it is expected will not be represented in this body. We hesitate not to say that the liberal minded and enlightened Christians will - must approve of this Association. - Had it been formed merely to produce a more general correspondence - to enable distant and strange brethren to meet annually and mingle in sweet intercourse, to speak thus often one to another, those principles of fraternal interchange every where inculcated in the Bible, would give to it a divine sanction. And what more lovely - what more comports with the character of a disciple of Jesus, than to be engaged in the best manner possible to promote the cause and kingdom of the Redeemer? What can be more pleasant or more interesting than to behold the churches unitedly and harmoniously laboring shoulder to shoulder, clad in the whole armour of God, and presenting one front and one heart in the cause of him that redeemed them, and made them kings and priests unto God! In charity we can say no less, than that the man who would attempt to excite jealousy and distrust of such an enterprise, must delight in evil in surmizing and evil speaking, and would revel in the bickerings of discord and the contests of schism.

      But the General Association by calling together brethren from all parts of the state, in large numbers, can give counsel and devise measures for the general interest and the promotion of the common cause not only in the state, but elsewhere. There is nothing that more intimately pertains to the prosperity of the Baptists in Kentucky, than the establishment of a school or schools for the education of those of our young ministers who may desire it. That age of folly is passed, which denied to a man because he was a preacher of the gospel, the right to improve his mind. - There is neither scripture nor common sense for saying that a man if he is called to preach, ought to go immediately to work, and use no endeavors and avail himself of no opportunity to obtain an education. There is nothing criminal in being learned - indeed, it is right and proper that every man, minister or layman, but more especially the former, to cultivate and enlarge by every means in his power, those faculties with which he was endowed by his Maker, to enlighten and benefit mankind. It cannot be wrong for a minister of Jesus to be taught to read the inspired language of the scriptures - the language which the Holy Ghost used in revealing the glorious truths of the Bible, it cannot be criminal for any one to read, much less him whose peculiar business it is to expound and enforce it.

      We are lamentably behind several other denominations in the great work of educating the rising generation. In gratitude to a government that has guarantied [sic] to us such inestimable privileges, we should be forward to train the youthful mind in those great principles of truth and morality, without which the glorious fabric of our constitution must totter and fall. Experience has sufficiently demonstrated that the higher institutions of learning cannot be sustained, unless fostered by some religious denomination. The success of a college under the patronage of our denomination in this state, has

hitherto been discouraging and unpropitious; but the fault of our failure in a great degree, lies at our own door. Would the Baptist[s] but be united in effort and rally as one man to the support of an institution, it would flourish, as every thing else pertaining to them has hitherto flourished, maugre the oppressions of power and the petty persecutions of spiritual oligarchs.

      The importance of the Baptists turning their attention to the subject of education, and of resolutely determining lo sustain literary institutions of a high order, further manifest from the fact, that popery is raising its hydra-head at our very doors and infusing its venom into our very houses! Can we be indifferent spectators of the machinations of the crowned heads of Europe, who are straining every nerve and resorting to every expedient, to make the old world disgorge the refuse of its teeming population upon the New, to be used as instruments to subvert our government, and to rear upon its ruins a civil and ecclesiastical despotism! Hords of priests and nuns, supported by the Pope and his European minions, are dispersed through the length and breadth of our land, as instructors of our youth, and since their support is guarantied to them by their masters, they can easily underbid all other instructors in the price of tuition; - and lamentable to relate! in order to save a dollar or two, hundreds of unsuspecting Baptists are sending their children to those schools, to have engrafted on their infant minds the servile and degrading mummeries of papistical superstition and idolatry, alike inimical and destructive to the untrammelled development of intellect, to the purity of religion, and reverence for political and ecclesiastic liberty! Such things should not be. Baptists are thus lending a willing hand the support of a power, that for ages has been the scourge of Christendom and a blight upon the prosperity of the church - a power that prophets long ago predicted should be infamous in crime, and terrible and unrelenting in its persecution of the saints of God!

      In providing for our own destitution let us not forget to let our prayers and alms ascend before God in behalf of the idolatrous millions of earth. Foreign missionary operations in modern times, owe most of their success, under God, to the Baptists. Taught by their Bibles, which is our confession of faith, to look upon the world as the field of their labors, some of our ministers for the last half century, have courageously surmounted ever difficulty, patiently endured every privation, and fearlessly encountered ever danger that might oppose, to illuminate the dark corners of the earth, by the light of the gospel. We cannot look upon this enterprise with indifference. The labors of our brethren have been greatly blessed. Churches have been planted where once idolatry reigned unmolested. Numbers who but a while ago bowed down to stocks and stones, now worship the true and living God. But the earth is to be given to the saints of the Most High. - God has given the heathen to his Son for an inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for his possessions. Let us then bestir ourselves in this glorious work. Can we be content to sit still when we look at the map of the world and see, that Christendom itself appears but as a speck, when contrasted with the dark foul blot, where the craven wing of idolatry and superstition yet hover over mankind? Content! - and yet the country where Jesus wrought miracles and the apostles preached, is trodden down of the Gentiles? The standard of the false prophet waves on the brow of Calvary, the scene of the Savior's sufferings and of his triumphs; and the debased Moslem mumbles his orisons almost at the very altar over which once gleamed the Shekinah! Do not tell us that there is contentment in the Christian breast until the shrine of every false God is obliterated from the world, and the light of the gospel cheers and animates the heart of every inhabitant of earth!

      The vast and populous empire of China, providence seems recently to have more especially given to the Baptists than to any others. It will be remembered that the Bible Societies of Europe, Asia, and America, have adopted resolutions declaring it 'inexpedient to circulate any version of the Scriptures unless conformed

in its principles to the common English version.' They have refused peremptorily to aid in the circulation of translations of the Holy Scriptures made by Baptist missionaries, because they had translated baptizo by a word in the vernacular tongue signifying immerse. They have solemnly resolved to countenance no version unless so far conformed to the English version in common use, that all the religious denominations represented those Bible Societies can consistently use them in their communities. This measure if carried out in its letter and spirit, forever forbids that any translation of the Scriptures into Chinese, should be circulated by the Societies named. All who know any thing about the Chinese language, tell us that such is its structure as not to admit of the introduction of any foreign word into it. To conform a version of the Bible in that tongue, to our English Bible, baptizo must be transferred. This cannot be done. - Therefore, no Bible conformed in its principles to our common version, can ever be circulated in China. It is plain then that the British and Foreign Bible Society, its auxiliary at Calcutta, and the American Bible Society are pledged to the universe never to circulate a China Bible! This work is given to the Baptists. They are not so squeamish as be horrified at the idea of presenting to the world, the truth and the whole truth of the revelation of God. They have formed the American and Foreign Bible Society for the avowed purpose of giving the word of God without concealing or diminishing one of its glorious truths, to every people. China with its teeming millions, must look to this Society for the Scriptures of divine truth.

      As intimately connected with foreign missions, and the course of policy adopted by the Bible Societies alluded to above, the Baptist denomination are [sic] called upon to engage in the glorious work of giving the word of God to the nations. Indeed, there is no duty in which we can more safely engage, or which is more honorable and more important than this. The circulation of the Bible is free from all those causualities [sic], or liabilities to error, which are attendant on almost every other enterprize. No one should fear that he will injure his neighbor by putting into his hand the volume of inspiration. As innoxious as the zephyrs of Paradise, none need apprehend, contamination from its truth, or pollution from its usage. Containing all that is sublime in morals and all that is true in religion; replete with sentiments of the most disinterested benevolence towards man, and containing the only accurate conceptions of Deity; filled in a word, with wisdom that from omniscience alone could eminate, and stored with a philanthrophy that nought but goodness could originate, an angel's mind would scan with wonder and improvement, its hallowed pages.

      And who that feels one generous throb beat in his bosom for the welfare of his species - who that would impart to misery a solace, or would minister consolation to the afflicted - that would arrest the mind from the grovelling sensualities of earth, and elevate it to that meridian in which it was designed to culminate and which it was formed to adorn - is there such a one we ask, who can deny to mankind in their own language, an account of the wonderful works of God - the plan divised for the redemption of sinful men? He that goes forth to circulate the Holy Scriptures, goes,

"From out the armory of God equipped,
Invincible to conquer sin, to blow
The trump of freedom in the despot's ear,
To tell the bruted slave his manhood high,
His birthright liberty, and in his hand
To put the writ of manumission, signed
By God's own signature; to drive away
From earth the dark, infernal legionry
Of superstition, ignorance, and hell;
High on the pagan hills, where Satan sat,
Encamped, and o'er the subject kingdoms threw
Perpetual night, to plant Immanuel's cross,
The ensign of the gospel, blazing round
Immortal truth; and, in the wilderness
Of human waste, to sow eternal life;
And from the rock, where sin, with horrid yell,
Devoured its victims unredeemed, to raise
The melody of grateful hearts to heaven."


      To give circulation to the Bible is like sending out the prophets and apostles as missionaries to the heathen! Thus, in the hut of the Burman and in the wigwam of the Savage, the holy anthems of the sweet singer in Israel may be chanted! - the sublime, enrapturing strains of Isaiah may salute the ear, with all that elevation of style, grandeur of thought, and purity of sentiment, as when first with a coal off the altar of heaven, the cherub touched the hallowed lips of the prophet! The law though bereft of those natural terrors that accompanied it, when Deity descended clad in the terrible habilaments of lightning and thunder, may yet fulminate it mandates to the guilty, soul with an energy, more resistless, and with a power more searching, than ere felt the trembling Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai in Arabia. The Saviour in the Bible yet preaches to the inhabitants of the earth in those sweet, wooing, amiable accent of love, characteristic of no being but himself. Peter, with all his original boldness, yet cries out - "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins." Paul, as if yet looking with a pitying eye on the folly and madness of men, in worshipping the works of their own hand, proclaims - "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now, commandeth all men every where to repent." In a word, by circulating the Scriptures, the Apostle though dead, yet "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," excelling their labors of old, in that they are now almost endowed with the spirit of ubiquity.

      All the systems of morals and of policy that human wisdom ever devised - no social compact, no legislation nor code of laws - the most perfect government of man's devising, administered with all the skill and prudence of the most discreet magistrate, can never so much tend to smooth the rough asperities of our nature, and to soften and civilize our species, as the diffusion of the Bible. It assuages the turbid billows of the soul, like oil poured upon the agitated sea. When in the dark and dreary wilderness of conscious sin, it is a lamp to the path that leads to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. In sickness for sin, it tells of the balm in Gilead and the Physician there. It illuminates the dark caverns of the charnel house, and decorates its gloomy vaults with the gems of eternal hope; the promises of immortality and bliss. Bursting in bright refulgence over the night of the grave, it pours a flood of perennial glory upon the dismal dominions of the tomb, radiates the dark empire of death: and where the "grim monster" once revelled unmolested, it spreads the carnival of the blessed; and on the very throne of mortality, plants the ensign of eternal life.

      Brethren! Baptist[s] of Kentucky! such hurriedly and imperfectly sketched, are some of the important enterprizes in which the signs of the times seem to indicate that you should engage. "Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you." We have no time to fall out by the way. Let no minor considerations divert you from a participation in those benevolent efforts, for which this age has been rendered conspicuous and illustrious. On us have emphatically come "the ends of the world." The last event predicted by prophecy, preparatory to the ushering in of that glorious period when the "greatness of the kingdom" of Jesus shall fill the whole earth, has almost met its consummation! The little stone which Daniel saw cut out of the mountain without hands, has already smitten the feet of the image, and must shortly become a mountain and fill the world! Let us be found with our lamps trimmed when the bridegroom cometh. We have no time to be idle. Christendom, like Judea just preceding the advent of Messiah, appears to be in anticipation of some uncommon event. The light of prophecy flickers, and a few more of its predictions fulfilled, it must expire - all will be accomplished. The world is in a restless, feverish condition. Mystical Babylon and the throne of the false prophet are tottering to fall. Events proclaim in trumpet tones, that the great battle must shortly be fought. Before the

rapid increase of the gospel, the powers of darkness must flee away; or at most, engaging in the desperate effort to extinguish it, must perish forever. The black hosts of the prince of the power of the air, are already marshaling, preparatory to one grand assault upon the armies of Israel! And let the contest begin. The Lord of Hosts is our sure defence. Amid the fall of diadems and the crush of empires, the throne of the Redeemer will be erected. Already in the events of the world, he says - "Surely I come quickly!" "Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen."

[From the Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky. Provided by the J. H. Spencer Historical Society via R. Charles Blair. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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