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Queries Propounded and Answered
History of the Georgia Baptist Association,
By Jesse Mercer, 1838

(Only the most important ones, however.)

      We find the following Queries and Answers upon an old sheet of paper, which appears to be a part of the Minutes of some of the first Sessions of the Association; but as this document has no date, we are unable to say positively, in what year these Minutes were taken; - probably as far back as 1785-6.

     But for the queries: (Taken from the past year.)

1. "Were the twelve disciples, mentioned in the 19th chapter of the Acts, rebaptized or not?"
"Ans. - We believe they were baptized again, not because John's baptism was not Christian Baptism, but because, we conceive John did not baptise them, and that their former baptism was disorderly."

2. "When the distance and situation of the members of a church make it necessary to carry on discipline in two or more places, ought not they to be so many distinct churches?"
"Ans. - We think they ought, and recommend constitution in such cases."

3. "Can a Minister properly have the Pastoral care of more churches than one?"
"Ans. - We think he may occasionally officiate, as far as he has opportunity, at the call of any church."

4. "Quere. - Whether an orderly member of a Baptist church, who has lived in fellowship, and preached the Gospel ten years, ought not to be ordained or silenced?"
"Ans. - The churches have the power to silence any person whose gift they think not for edification, and a Presbytery of Ministers have authority to ordain any whom they think qualified."

5. "By a Methodist. - "Is it principally held and preached among you, that God damns infants?"
"Ans. IS NOT!!"

     The Queries and Answers that here follow, are found in the Minutes of 1788, viz.
1. "Quere from Fishing Creek, viz. What state of perfection is attainable in this life? Or, What is Gospel perfection?"
"Ans. - We conceive it is for persons already justified through the righteousness of Christ imputed, and having Christ formed in their hearts to exercise themselves to have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men."

2. "Quere from Hebron. Is that part of Scripture contained in James 5:14, 15, 16, a rule of duty to christians in these latter days?"
"Ans. - About two years ago we answered a Quere of the same import with this, in the affirmative, and we see no reason to recede from our former opinion."

3. "Quere. What are the reasons why the Baptists will not hold communion with churches of other denominations?"
"Ans. -
1. Because all churches who make the Lord's Supper the badge of communion, suppose Baptism ought regularly to precede it. The primitive practice corresponds therewith. And as we conceive Infant Baptism to be null, because unscriptural, we would as soon commune with persons professedly unbaptised as with those baptized only in infancy.
2. No churches of other denominations contiguous to us are strictly congregational; and the manner in which their members are admitted, and their discipline exercised, is so lax and unscriptural, that were we to commune with them, our own excommunicated members might meet us at their tables, to the subversion of all order and discipline.
3. The sentiments of some churches with respect to the necessity of human literature, would nullify the ordination of most of our Ministers; and the practice of others in confining their Preachers to a sameness of doctrines, would exclude our Ministers their pulpits; so that only the shadow of communion would remain in such cases."

4. "Quere from Greenwood. Is the phrase Baptized with the Holy Ghost applicable to all christians, or does it respect miraculous gifts only?"
"Ans. - We suppose it is not used in reference to the converting and sanctifying influences, but to the extraordinary operations of the Spirit."

     The Queries and Answers that here follow, are found in the Minutes of 1795, viz.
1. "What number of members is sufficient for the constitution of a church?"
"Ans. - Any number containing the several officers of a church, and sufficient to carry on discipline according to the 18th of Matthew."

2. "In what situation are those members to be, in order to their constitution?"
"Ans. - They shall be so situated as not to be within the bounds of another church, except by mutual consent."

3. "By whom are they to be constituted?"
"Ans. - By at least one regularly ordained Minister, and other able helps from churches in good standing."

     Found in the Minutes of 1797:
1. "Quere from the Northfort creek, viz. Is a private member of a Baptist church obliged to pass a Presbyterian or a Methodist congregation, and go several miles further to attend his own stated meetings, when he has filled his seat the day before conference; or may he turn in and worship with them without being reprehensible to his own Society?"
"Ans. - We think it necessary for all the members of a Baptist church, to pay a special attention to their own meetings; yet, not so as thereby they may not go and worship, at times, with other denominations."

     Found in the Minutes of 1798:
1. "Quere from Powel's Creek, viz. What would the Association recommend a church to do which has ordained a Deacon whose wife is not a church-member?
After some debate the following answer was proposed and adopted, that is to say,
As the answer given to the Quere from Nail's creek church last year, was expressive only of our opinion, it is not to be considered obligatory, we, therefore, recommend to the churches to act as they may think proper in such cases.

2. "A Quere was taken up, from the Rocky Spring church, to wit: Does the word of God require that professors of religion keep up public worship in their families?
Which was answered in the affirmative."

3. "A brother present proposed the following Quere, to wit: What shall be done with those professors who do not hold worship in their families?"
Which was thus answered: It is our opinion that the churches to whom such professors belong, first, admonish, exhort and reprove them, but if they will not be reclaimed, then deal with them as neglecters of known duty.

     Found in the Minutes of 1799:
1. "A Quere from the Clark's Station church. What method should Ministers and Churches fall upon, to answer the valuable end of a revival of Religion?"
"Ans. - We think this Quere, so extensive in nature and construction, that a full answer cannot well be given here; but recommend, that our Churches be found much in fasting, prayer, and a faithful execution of discipline: that our Ministers make reciprocal visits, not only in a common, but quarterly meeting capacity; that the members of the several Churches, as opportunity may permit, convene, for a mutual exchange of Religious exercises; and in an especial mariner, that prayer-meetings be promoted and kept up."

     Found in the Minutes of 1800:
1. "A Quere from the Table was taken up and investigated, to wit: Is it lawful for a Minister of the Gospel to frequent Mason Lodges?"
"Ans. - We think it inconsistent both with the Word of God and the Christian Character, therefore all such are hereby admonished to withdraw from such Company; or be subject to Gospel Discipline, as offenders of their brethren, whose duty it is to call them to an account for their conduct."

     Found in the Minutes of 1801:
1. "A Quere from Clark's Station was taken up, to wit: In what manner shall a Minister of the Gospel be taken under dealing?"
"Ans. - We think it should be done according to 1 Timothy 5:19th. Before two or three witnesses.

     Found in the Minutes of 1804:
1. "The following Quere. was laid before the Association by the Bethel church in Hancock county, to wit: Is it consistent with Divine Writ for a member of the church, whose wife has taken up with another man, to marry again, after obtaining a bill of divorcement?
After deliberately weighing the subject in the balance of the sanctuary, and taking into view the probable consequences attending such suffrage, it was answered pretty unammously in the negative."

     Found in the Minutes of 1805:
1. "Quere. - Is it consistent with good order to grant letters of dismission to members, whose dissatisfaction with the church is the cause of the application?"
"Ans. - We are of opinion, that when such dissatisfaction goes to affect rite [right] union of the churches, it would be highly improper; but when the uneasiness does not respect christian fellowship, we think the Church is not a Prison, nor should membership deprive its subject of any privilege, or possible temporary happiness."

     Found in the Minutes of 1807:
"Two Queries were read from the Table and taken up in order:
1. Should a person be, at his request, rebaptized, who declares his baptism to have been received in unbelief, though in all other respects orderly?"
"Ans. - No: except the evidence, that it was so, be most certain and clear."

2. "Shall a Deacon be dismissed in, his office, and shall his ordination he valid in the church where he may be received should they see proper to call him to the office?"
"Ans. - In the affirmative."

     Found in the Minutes of 1808:
1. "A Quere was taken up from Whatley's Mill, to wit: Should a brother he continued in fellowship, who, though able, will not assist in supporting the Gospel?"
"Ans. - We are of opinion where the ability is obvious on the one hand, and the unwillingness positive on the other, and the brother cannot be brought to his duty by proper means, he ought to be excluded."

     Found in the Minutes of 1809:
1. "Quere, from Williams' creek. Is it consistent with Gospel Discipline, to retain members in the church who have lived together as man and wife for a considerable time, then parting without any constraint, and taking others in the lifetime of the former: they being slaves?"
"Ans. - No."

     Found in the Minutes of 1810:
"Took up the Queries from the Churches:
1. From Fishing Creek, Wilkes: Shall any person be received into our communion on a baptism received from a Methodist or Paedo-baptist minister? And if not, what shall be done with those who may have been received on such baptism?
"Ans. - In the negative; and recommend that such as have been received on such baptism be rebaptized.

2. "From Freeman's creek: When a number of charges are received by the Church against a member, and he is excluded on the first, shall all those charges be entered on his bill of faults, or that only for which he was excluded?"
"Ans. - We think that no person should be excluded on one charge, when there are others against him, and that all or any part of them should be given him on application."

     Found in the Minutes of 1811:
Took up the Query referred from the last Session to this, to wit: Is not the common form of Letters of Dismission (which suspends the dismission till they are given up to some other church) at variance with, and contradictory to the record made on the church-book at the time of granting them, and the return made to the Association before it is known that they are given up to any other church?"
"Ans. - Affirmatively; and recommend to the churches to make their dismissions accord with the church and associational proceedings had on them."

     Found in the Minutes of 1812:
Took up, sad answered the query referred from our last, to-wit: "Does this Association think it entirely proper to receive and baptize persons, on their application, at private meetings, at this advanced state of christianity?"
"Ans. - We think it would be improper for any part of the church, except when authorized for that purpose, to receive any one to membership, or to encourage any application for baptism, but to the church in conference; yet, if any should be led by inward impression to desire it, at any other time or place, and under such circumstances as make it necessary, in the view of those present, we are of opinion it should be granted.

     Found in the Minutes of 1813:
"Investigated the query from the Newford church, to wit; what is to be done in a case of difficulty or contradiction among brethren, where there is no evidence on either side to establish facts?"
"Answer thus: We advise a close attention to all the circumstances of the case, in order to obtain light which may direct to a satisfactory issue; but if none can be obtained, let the church advise the parties to a mutual and Christian forbearance with each other - but if they will not be reconciled, let the obstinate be excluded, retaining the forbearant."

     Found in the Minutes of 1814:
"A query was read and taken up, from the church at Ebenezar, to-wit: Is it consistent with Gospel order for a member of our church to teach music on the Sabbath, for money, or for other members to encourage him by sending their children?"
Answer: Be it consistent or inconsistent, we think it not necessary, not expedient, and therefore advise against it."

     Found in the Minutes of 1815:
"Took up the following query, from the church at Mount Olives, viz: What way shall we receive members of colour into our churches, who have been hurried off from their native land, without letters of dismission?"
Answer: We would recommend to the churches, to be careful to procure suitable letters of dismission, or recommendation, from the churches where such members formerly belonged, (if in existence) otherwise the most satisfactory testimonials that can be had, relative to the respectable standing of the applicant, should be required."

     Found in the Minutes of 1820:
Query found on the table, "Is the restoration of an excluded minister to membership, considered restoration to his office?"
Investigated and answered in the negative."
"Should a minister be excluded, and restored to membership; what way should the church do, to restore him to his ministerial office?"
Answer: Let the church call an able committee of ministers, and other brethren of uderstanding, to whom the question shall be referred."

     Found in the Minutes of 1821:
"Considered the query from Bethesda: 'Is a church in good standing in our connexion, which has no pastor, and has used no prompt and proper means to obtain one?'
"Answered in the negative."

     Found in the Minutes of 1822:
"Considered the query from Centre: What is the duty of a church towards persons living in its vicinity, who hold letters of dismission from other churches, and yet neglect to unite with any church, until it becomes burdensome to the Lord's people?"
"Answered thus: In our opinion, it should first be ascertained that the party complained of be actually delinquent in the manner specified; and then, that the church under whose eye the offending member lives, should be authorized to deal with him in the same way as with its own acknowledged members. To meet the design of this answer, we recommend that all letters of dismission should certify that the bearer is considered as being under the care, and answerable to the authority of any Baptist church in connexion with us, wherever he may reside or sojourn."

     Found in the Minutes of 1823:
"Took up the query from the Springfield church: 'What shall be done with a man and his wife, who are in the church, living asunder, and yet no lawful reasons why they should do so?'
To meet this query, the Association appointed the brethren Sherwood and Davis, to attend with the messengers of that church, and give such advice as is wanting."
"Considered the query from the Kiokee: 'Is it consistent with the Scripture account of washing the saints' feet, to consider it a church ordinance, and attend to it immediately after the celebration of the Lord's Supper?'"
"Answer: We are of opinion it is not to he regarded as an ordinance or to be observed in connexion with the Lord's Supper, but to be performed socially among brethren, as may be orderly and convenient."

     Found in the Minutes of 1824:
"Should a person on profession of his faith, receive baptism by immersion at the hands of a minister who is of the same faith, but of another and Arminian denomination, on a change of sentiments and a desire to come into union with a regular Baptist church, be required to submit to the ordinance again?"
"Answer is the affirmative."

     Found in the Minutes of 1827:
"Considered the query from the Bethesda, viz: - 'Shall corresponding brethren, sent by order of conference to visit a sister church, at their instance have a vote in the conference, to which they are sent? if yea, say how.'"
"Answer: We consider they have no right."

     Found in the Minutes of 1828:
"Considered the following query, viz: From the Damascus church, 'Is it lawful for a brother in the church, to marry his brother's widow, when she has issue, and in the church?"
"Answered, it is lawful."

     Found in the Minutes of 1829:
"Took up the following query found on the table: Should a church receive into fellowship, or dismiss by letter, any member, over the head of any opposing member, or members, provided they have a reasonable objection, or fellow hip be wanting?"
"Answered in the negative, unanimously."

     Found in the Minutes of 1830:
"Considered the following query: Is it good order in this our day, for a Baptist minister to baptize without the consent of the church, and give a letter to join any gospel church?"
"Answer: It may be lawful but seldom expedient."

     Found in the Minutes of 1831:
"Is it consistent with gospel order for one church to take under her watchcare a member regularly dismissed by letter from a sister church, and suffer him to retain his letter without any idea of removing out of the bounds of said church?"
"Answered no."

     Found in the Minutes of 1835:
"The following queries were presented by the delegation from the Shiloh Church, which were considered and answered, viz:
1. Is it the duty of church members to partake of the Lord's Supper, when regularly administered in the church?
Answer yes!
2. Are members excusable who merely take their seats in order, but refuse to partake of the elements?
Answer no!
3. Is it the duty of the church or not, when members take their seats and do not commune, to inquire into the reason thereof?
Answer yes!
4. When members take their seats at communion, and fail to partake on account of a want of fellowship with some brother or brethren, and yet do not lay charges against those for whose sake they refuse to commune, ought the church to deal with them who thus act?
Answer yes, after Gospel steps have been taken!
5. Is any member of the church justified in refusing to partake of the Lord's Supper, because he has not full confidence in the piety of one or more members?
Answer no!"


[Jesse Mercer, History of the Georgia Baptist Association, 1838. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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