From the cession of Acadia, - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were originally included under this designation, - by France to Great Britain, in 1713 till1776, when Henry Alline, the celebrated New Light preacher, entered on his fervid, trumpet-toned, evangelistic ministry, a dead formalism in religion almost universally prevailed in these provinces, with only here and there a faint glimmer of evangelical doctrine and spiritual experience.
But amid this moral desolation three or four Baptist ministers appeared almost simultaneously in Acadia, - Rev. John Sutton, with a company of emigrants from New Jersey, settled at Newport, Nova Scotia, in 1760, and there preached and baptized converts, and Daniel Dimock also. Rev. James Sutton, brother of John, was also at Newport. Rev. Ebenezer Moulton, of South Brimfield, Mass., came with the first settlers to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1761, and preached among them, and baptized a Mrs. Burgess, and probably other converts; and his preaching subsequently in Horton, Nova Scotia, was attended with great success. Rev. Nathan Mason, with a number of Baptists in church order, emigrated from South Swanzey, Mass., and settled at Sackville, New Brunswick, in 1763. No church, however, appears to have been formed here by either of them, and in a few years they returned to their own country.
In 1776, Henry Alline came forth from obscurity like John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord; many were converted under his ministry, and churches, composed of Baptists and Pedobaptists, were formed. The time, however, soon came for a distinct Baptist movement.
The pioneer Baptist church of the Maritime Provinces was formed of ten members, at Horton, Nova Scotia, Oct. 29, 1778. Rev. Nicholas Pierson, one of their number, was ordained as their pastor Nov. 5, 1778. The Second Baptist church in the provinces was formed at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1795, Rev. John Burton being pastor. The Third church was organized at Newport, Nova Scotia, in August, 1799; and the Fourth Baptist church was organized at Sackville, New Brunswick, in October, 1799, Rev. Joseph Crandall being ordained their pastor. Six others must have been formed previous to 1800.
The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Baptist Association, the first in these provinces, was formed at Lower Granville, Nova Scotia, June 23, 1800, and comprised ten churches, — Upper Granville, Lower Granville, Digby, Digby Neck, Yarmouth, Cornwallis, Horton, Newport, Chester, and Sackville. Mixed communion was allowed for a time in some of these churches, but was soon discontinued.
The ministers who united in forming this Association were Thomas Handley Chipman, James Manning, Enoch Towner, Harris Harding, Edward Manning, Theodore Seth Harding, Joseph Dimock, and Joseph Crandall.
These churches, located thus widely apart in the two provinces, were true Baptist Christian centres, whence spiritual knowledge and influence were diffused through the surrounding communities; and the ministers were true watchmen and evangelists, who bore abroad the torch of divine truth and the message of the gospel to guide the perishing to Christ.
The Baptist denomination, whose origin in these provinces has now been briefly traced, is a large and influential body; and the movements and events which will now be mentioned will indicate its progress, and also the means of its further expansion.
Organized home missionary efforts were originated at the meeting of the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Association in 1815, and were immediately followed by the most encouraging success, and home mission work has ever since been carried on in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with great spiritual results.
The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Association, composed of 31 churches, with 1827 members, and 22 ministers, was divided into two in 1821, the churches in Nova Scotia forming one Association, and those in New Brunswick forming the other. As in 1810 the membership of the Association was 924, the above figures show that it was nearly doubled in eleven years.
In 1825, Rev. Dr. Tupper, from Nova Scotia, and Rev. Joseph Crandall, from New Brunswick, evangelized on Prince Edward Island, and were the first associated Baptist ministers to labor in that gem of the St. Lawrence, though Rev. A. Crawford, a Scotch Baptist, had successfully commenced operations there as early as 1811.
In 1825, 1826, and 1838, Rev. Joseph. Dimock evangelized for several months in Cape Breton, and with the happiest results. Now our home missionary enterprise is one of the most interesting and important of the denomination, and the field is as large as the three provinces and Newfoundland.
The use of the press for denominational and Christian purposes indicates life and progress. The Nova, Scotia and New Brunswick Baptist Magazine was commenced in St. John, New Brunswick, in 1827, and continued to be the organ of the denomination in the provinces till 1836, when the Christian Messenger, published weekly at Halifax, Nova Scotia, took its place.
In 1847 the Christian Visitor was issued at St. John, New Brunswick, as the organ of the denomination in that province. Both these papers continue as Baptist organs, and have been very influential in promoting denominational interests.
Education. - The Baptist Association at Horton in 1828 adopted measures for establishing an institution of learning for our youth, and especially with a view to the proper training of young men called of God to the gospel ministry; and as a result Horton Academy was opened in May, 1829, with more than 40 pupils, under charge of Rev. Asahel Chapin as principal.
In 1833 the New Brunswick Baptist Association originated a similar movement; and as a result the Baptist Seminary at Fredericton was opened in January, 1836, with Rev. F. W. Miles as principal.
In the autumn of 1838 circumstances in Nova Scotia impelled the Baptists to make a further advance in the work of higher education; and Acadia College sprung from the resolve then taken, and was opened in January, 1839, with Rev. E. A. Crawley and Rev. John Pryor as professors, to which Prof. Isaac Chipman was added a year later, and continued his valuable services until he was drowned in the basin of the Minas, in June, 1852. Notwithstanding opposition, difficulties, and loss, Acadia College has grown and attained a leading position among the colleges of these provinces. It has now an endowment of $84,112.46, with other sources of income, and six professors, with Rev. Dr. Sawyer as president. Though the college building at Wolfville was destroyed by fire in December, 1877, a new edifice soon adorned College Hill, flanked on the east by Acadia Seminary, a high school for young ladies, and by Horton Collegiate Academy on the west. The Baptists of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have an equal share with those of Nova Scotia in the ownership and government of these institutions.
Foreign Missions. - The organized movement to send out missionaries to the heathen world commenced, like that for home missions in 1815, at Chester in 1838, and in this action the New Brunswick Baptist Association cordially concurred, and Rev. R. E. Burpe, of the latter province, was accordingly sent out to Burmah in 1845 by the Baptists of these provinces, — their first missionary to the heathen. The denomination has now four missions established among the Teloogoos, with native preachers and assistants, under the direction of the missionaries.
The New Brunswick Baptist Association, comprising 50 churches, with 4806 members, and 29 ministers, was divided in 1847 into two Associations, - the Eastern and Western. The figures indicate an increase of over ninefold in the membership of that body in twenty-five years.
The Nova Scotia Baptist Association, comprising 72 churches, with 8967 members, and 54 ministers, was also divided in 1850 into three Associations, the Western, Central, and Eastern.
In July, 1868, the Prince Edward Island Baptist Association was organized, with 13 churches, containing a membership of 600, dismissed for the purpose from the Nova Scotia Eastern Association, and the membership of the denomination in that island is 1622, or nearly three times what it was twelve years ago.
Union. - The leaders of the Baptist denomination in these provinces provided for the union of all the churches and Associations in denominational work, and through their wise forethought the Baptist Convention of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island was organized in the city of St. John, New Brunswick, in September, 1846. This Convention is now the most influential of the Baptist organizations in the Maritime Provinces. To its direction and management are committed the great public benevolent enterprises of the denomination, - home missions, education, and foreign missions, - and the greatest care is exercised to conduct matters wisely and efficiently, and yet not to intrench on great denominational principles.
Revivals of a genuine type have all along been a vast means of growth, and they are still needed to promote healthful enlargement. Our churches and denomination should aspire wisely and well to realize the highest ideal of Christian life, activity, and progress.
Newfoundland. - There are a few Baptists on this great island, but no Baptist church or minister. Revs. J. B. McDonald, M.D., and George Armstrong, spent a few weeks in missionary work there in 1875, and Rev. George Armstrong evangelized for nine weeks in 1879.
The following figures show the numerical progress of the Baptist denomination in the Maritime Provinces for the past eighty years:Year Churches Ministers Members
1800 10 8 *600 1810 14 9 924 1820 29 19 1,785 1830 70 40 4,633 1840 115 64 9,041 1850 --- -- 13,773 1860 260 139 21,579 1870 257 145 27,400 1880 356 195 36,700
[From William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988, pp. 859-861. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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