Formation and Early History
With respect to the precise date of the constitution, there is some doubt, as the records of the early proceedings of this infant body were not preserved. There are no documents from which either the date or place of its formation can be fixed with certainty. It is most probable it took place at the Kiokee church. This was the mother church, and it would seem reasonable to suppose that the union was formed there. Indeed, Mr. Benedict, in his History of the Baptists, seems to admit it, and the testimony of Rev. Mr. Cartledge, then a licentiate in the church, goes to the same point, though the Rev. Mr. Sherwood, in his "Gazetteer of Georgia," places it at Fishing
creek church, but without any testimony now in his possession.
It is generally agreed that it was constituted in 1784. It is evident it was a regularly constituted body in 1785, because the Rev. Mr. Mercer and Rev. Mr. Smith were received by the Charleston Association in November of that same year as messengers from the Georgia, then but recently formed. Admitting, however, that it was constituted in 1784, then the constituent members would have been only Kiokee, Fishing creek, Upton's creek, (now Greenwood,) Red's creek, (now Aberleen,) and Little Briar creek; but if it be placed in 1785, then must be added the churches at Phillips' mill and Whatley's mill, constituted in that year.
The principal ministers belonging at that time to these churches were Abraham Marshall, Sanders Walker, Peter Smith, Silas Mercer, Loveless Savidge, William Franklin, and perhaps Alexander Scott. Mr. Scott soon after the war settled in South Carolina, and closed, (if he ever had any,) his connection with this body.
The Association, for some time after its constitution, held its sessions semi-annually in May and October; but of the body itself, or of the churches, which at that time increased with great rapidity, only a partial history can be given.
In May, 1786, the body sat at Fishing creek, but of the proceedings of that session there is no record, except the letter from the church to the Association, inviting the session of the body to be held with that church at that time. From this letter it appears that the Rev. Jeremiah Walker was then the clerk of the church and one of the messengers of the Association. Mr. Walker had then but recently emigrated from Virginia and settled on Broad river, in Elbert county, and as there was no church nearer, he united with this church, but was soon dismissed, with others, to form another church, which was constituted in this same year and called Hebron.
In October, 1787, the body assembled at Greenwood, as appears from a letter of correspondence from the church at Phillips' mill, but of the proceedings of that meeting there is no account.
In October, 1788, the session was held at Clark's station.
this meeting we have the first printed minutes, and it would seem that there ought to be minutes of all the subsequent meetings, as the churches were requested to send their contributions for this purpose; but, alas! but one solitary copy can be found until the session in 1795.
By the minutes of this meeting it appears that Abraham Marshall presided as moderator and Jeremiah Walker served as clerk. The number of churches represented at the meeting was thirty-one. Besides those mentioned before, there were at this time the following churches, viz: Horne's creek, South Carolina; Briar creek, Burke county; Stephens' creek, South Carolina; Vann's creek, Long creek of Ogeechee, Providence, Hebron, Walker's bridge, Buffalo, South Carolina; Ebenezer, Lower Rocky river, South Carolina; Upper Rocky river, South Carolina; Rocky creek, Dove's creek, Clark's station, Hutton's Fork, (now Sardis,) Millstone, Williams' creek, Tugalo, African, Soap creek, Cloud's creek, Falling creek and Indian creek. The additional ministers were Hezekiah Walker, James Mathews, Charles Bussey, Dozier Thornton, John White, Thomas Gilbert, Jeptha Vining, John Newton, Jeremiah Walker, John McLeroy, Nathaniel Hall, Mathew Talbot, and John Cleveland, besides about a dozen licentiates. The Rev. Alexander Scott and Jacob Gibson, from South Carolina, attended this meeting as visitors and were cordially admitted as assistants in counsel.
Several queries of moment were received and answered at this meeting, which will appear under the head of queries answered.
One thing, however, occurred on this occasion, which deserves a passing notice. Mr. James Hutchinson, a Methodist preacher, appeared at this session and requested an opportunity to relate his experience and faith in Christ, with a view to his becoming a member of the church at that place. This privilege was granted him, and his relation being satisfactory, he was received into membership. But although he gave up the Methodist discipline and doctrines, and embraced fully those of the Baptist denomination, he did not feel at liberty to give up his baptism, having been immersed, upon a profession of his faith, by the Rev. Mr. Humphries, a regular minister of the Methodist connection. This was made a question for the Association,
then sitting, and to the body there appeared so much of gospel order in it, that Mr. Hutchinson was admitted by the consent of the body upon his baptism thus received. But in the end it terminated unfortunately. Many were not well pleased with such a course, and therefore it led on to strife and confusion. However, as he was an eloquent man, and truly fervent in spirit, many were conciliated by his zeal and perseverance, and strong hopes were entertained that much good would be effected through his instrumentality.
Not long after this, Mr. Hutchinson made a visit to his relations in Loudoun county, in Virginia, and commenced preaching in the woods. The people erected a commodious arbor and stand, and here he continued his ministrations with great success for the space of twelve months. He received and baptized about one hundred persons as the fruit of his labors, and they were formed into a church. But here ended the joy; for no sooner did they apply for admission into the Association, than the validity of their minister's baptism was called in question, which, of course, involved a question as to the validity of the baptism of the whole church. It became a subject of deep interest in the Association; a majority prevailed against it, and consequently the church was rejected. At this particular crisis Mr. Hutchinson submitted to a re-immersion, and his people, with two or three exceptions, followed his example. Thus terminated a most fierce and distressing controversy. So much for admitting a paedo-Baptist administration of the ordinance of baptism!
Soon after this Mr. Hutchinson returned to Georgia, loaded with goods. He entered into merchandise, and in him was fulfilled the declaration of Paul to Timothy, "But they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." He plunged into worldly cares, lost his zeal for God, fell into transgression and was excluded from the church. And although he afterwards professed repentance, and was in some degree restored, he never regained his former standing and usefulness. He struggled
through a few miserable years in worldly pursuits, and died at last, under a cloud of darkness and deep distress.
In May, 1789, the Association assembled with the church on Long creek of Ogeechee. And regular annual sessions were held at Whatley's mill, Botsford's meeting-house, Powel's creek, Red's creek, Phillips' mill and Island creek, up to the year 1791; but of the proceedings of these meetings there are no records to be found. This is the more to be regretted, as some very important and truly interesting occurrences took place during this period. Besides the prosperity and rich increase enjoyed by the body, there was a season of sore trial--a season of distressing controversy and division. And it is now to be regretted that no record of these transactions has been left as a beacon to those who live in after times, to warn them of similar errors and similar troubles. As it is, however, we can only give a few sketches from memory.
We have already seen that the Rev. Jeremiah Walker had emigrated from Virginia and become a member of this Association. Mr. Walker had been a famous champion for the truth in Virginia. He had vindicated the doctrine of free and sovereign grace against the Arminian notions of free will and self-righteousness. He was bold and resolute in the defense of religious liberty against the intolerant measures of the established clergy. For this he was shamefully treated and imprisoned. But he endured all for Christ's sake, not counting even his own life dear unto him, and came off in the end more than a conqueror through Him of whose cause he was the fearless and uncompromising advocate. But strange to tell! after all this, this man yielded to temptation, and by transgression fell, shamefully fell, from his steadfastness, and sunk into disgrace!
Overwhelmed with a sense of guilt, he left Virginia, and sought refuge among strangers, in a strange land; but shame and conviction followed him, and after a short time he returned to his aggrieved and offended brethren, made an humble confession, and besought them to forgive and restore him to their fellowship. His plea was heard and he was restored. Thus reinstated, he returned to Georgia, sought and obtained a union and fellowship with the brethren here, and from his self-loathing and deep humility, his burning zeal and powerful talents, he
acquired again a considerable estimation among the churches. But now he adopted the Arminian scheme of doctrine, and began to build up the things he had in his better days attempted to destroy, thereby making himself, in the estimate of the Apostle Paul, a transgressor.
This change of sentiment was probably the result of a defiled conscience, together with mortified pride; motives, too, derived from the same corrupt source, might have induced him to bring the whole force of his mighty genius and the power of the weightiest arguments he could produce, to bear upon his newly adopted and beloved system of doctrines. He was soon joined by several others. These were Mathew Talbot, Nathaniel Hall, of South Carolina, and David Tinsley. Mr. Tinsley was his ablest ally. He had been the fellow laborer and joint sufferer of Mr. Walker in Virginia. They were confined for some time in the same prison. And Mr. Tinsley used to say that he received his first Arminian notions from Mr. Walker whilst thus shut up in prison. This occurred in the following way: As they were shut out from the world, incarcerated within the gloomy walls of a prison for the truth's sake, they frequently gave vigor to their minds, and wore the time away by taking different sides upon controverted points in theology. Mr. Walker used to take the Arminian side against his friend Tinsley, and most generally foiled him upon his own ground; at least he was successful in making "the worse appear the better reason," to the no small injury of his brother; for Mr. Tinsley was induced to adopt the system. This should be a warning to those who would sport with sacred things, or play with feigned arguments; like edged tools in the hands of children, they are always likely to do more evil than good. Mr. Tinsley was a man of fine parts, amiable manners and exalted piety. Mr. Hall and Mr. Talbot, though of humbler gifts, in point of piety, would suffer nothing from a comparison with him.
With such aids, it is not at all to be wondered at that Mr. Walker, for a time, spoiled the peace and disturbed the harmonious action of the Association. These men were labored with long and affectionately by several of the ablest ministers in the connection, but to no purpose. They continued to propagate their Arminian doctrines. This was the more distressing,
because it occurred simultaneously with the ingress of Methodist ministers into the State, who had already opened their artillery upon the principal ministers in the Association. Thus they were assailed by a strong opposition without, and annoyed by a powerful faction within.
The question, as to the propriety of continuing the union under such circumstances, was agitated in the Association; and after due deliberation, it was determined, that there was no propriety in associational intercourse, where there was no union; and as they could not maintain fellowship with those who were endeavoring to propagate the erroneous doctrines above mentioned, the churches were, by a large majority, advised to call these ministers to account, for the propagation of error, and for sowing the seeds of discord among brethren. They were dealt with accordingly, by the respective churches to which they belonged, and excluded. Few of the private brethren in this State adhered to them, except a minority of the church at Hebron, to which Mr. Walker belonged and of which he was the pastor. These also were excluded. The next step was to gather these excommunicated persons together, with such others as could be induced to unite with them, into little parties, which they called churches, six or seven in number, including the two entire churches on Rocky river, South Carolina, which went off with Mr. Hall, their pastor. Of these materials an associate connection was formed, which seemed to prosper for a time, but it soon proved to be of mushroom growth. Mr. Walker, in a very short time, was called to his account, which event had the effect greatly to dispirit his followers; and the body which he had formed, passed away as though it had not been. The remaining ministers and brethren, for the most part, made their recantations, and were restored to fellowship by their respective churches. Thus broke up a fearful and portentous dissension, which, like the dark cloud that passes off without rain, produced not such amount of mischief, as was at first apprehended.
The Association convened in October, 1792, at Fishing creek. Abraham Marshall was chosen moderator, and Peter Smith, clerk. It appears from the minutes of that meeting, that the number of associate churches had increased to fifty-six. Hence
there was an increase of twenty-seven churches in four years. The names of these churches are as follows: Shoulder-bone, Buck-eye creek; Callahan's mill, South Carolina; Scull shoals, Head of Briar creek, McBean, Buckhead, Bark camp, First Williamson's swamp, Second Williamson's swamp, Cag creek, White ponds, Fort Creek, Little Ogeechee; Shockley's ferry, South Carolina; Bonnell's creek, Upper Little Ogeechee, Ohoopy creek, Avorett's bridge, Little Ogeechee; Buck creek, Watery Fork of Buffalo, Fulsome's creek, Sandy hill, Ogeechee, Northfort creek, Beaverdam creek, and Fort of Tugalo. And of ministers, there appears also to have been the following increase: Isaac Busson, Thomas Daniel, Samuel Cartledge, George Franklin, Thomas Mercer, Benjamin Davis, John Thomas, Jesse Mercer, Timothy Carrington, Lewis Shelton, John Harvey, Benjamin Thomson, William Cone, George Tilman, John Henderson, John Stanford, and Edmund Byne.
In October, 1800, the Association met at Sardis, Wilkes county; Rev. Mr. Heflin delivered the introductory sermon, from 2 Corinthians, iv. 5, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." Rev. Sanders Walker presided as moderator, and Rev. Jesse Mercer acted as clerk. The church newly constituted at Poplar spring, Columbia county, was received at this meeting, and the Cloud's creek church was dismissed to join the Sarepta Association. At the request of the Sarepta brethren, the time of the annual meeting was changed to the Saturday preceding the second Lord's Day in October of each year.
At this session the following interesting resolution was adopted, viz: "That as a spirit of itinerancy has inflamed the minds of several ministers, who are desirous to enter into some resolutions, suitable to carry into effect a design of traveling and preaching the gospel, a meeting be, and is hereby appointed, at Powel's creek, on Friday before the first Sunday in May next, for that purpose; that the same day be observed as a day of fasting and solemn prayer to Almighty God, for prosperity on the design, and for a dispensation of every new covenant mercy in Christ Jesus." It must be highly gratifying to that part of those old brethren yet living, who entered into this resolution, to look back
and see how the blessing of the Lord has followed upon these labors of love and faith. It is true they may have sown in tears, but they have reaped in joy a copious harvest.
The meeting of the body in October, 1801, was held with the church at Williams' creek, Warren county. Two new churches were received at this session, Newhope, Jackson county, and Big creek, Oglethorpe county. A proposition was received from the Philadelphia Association, to form "a general conference, to be composed of one or more members from each Association in the United States." But the body, from prudential considerations, forbore to express an opinion upon the subject at that time. The churches on Horn's creek and Stephen's creek, South Carolina, took letters of dismission, to join the Bethel Association, it being more convenient to them.
A letter was addressed to the body this year from the meeting at Powelton, held in May preceding, "which called the attention of the Association to the propriety and expediency of forming a missionary society in this State, for the purpose of sending the gospel amongst the Indians bordering on our frontiers, which was unanimously and cordially approbated." The ministers of those times had too much of the spirit of the apostles in them, to be afraid of missions. It is presumed that a resolution of this sort at the present, would be styled in some places by way of derision, a new measure -- man's work -- a woolgathering business! Let those who call themselves "old side folks," consider this. The meeting adjourned to meet again at Salem, Oglethorpe county, on the 9th of October, 1802.
At the Salem Association, Rev. Mr. Marshall delivered the introductory discourse, from Isaiah lxii. 6, 7; "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem," etc. Rev. Mr. Marshall was chosen moderator, and Jesse Mercer, clerk.
At the meeting of the Powelton conference the foregoing May, upon the subject of an Indian mission, "it was proposed that a general committee of the Georgia Baptists should be formed, consisting of three members from each Association in the State, the leading object of which should be, to meet and confer with other christian societies, in order to remove differences, and if possible, bring about a more general and close union among real christians on the principles of eternal truth."
This being approved, the Rev. Messrs. Marshall, Walker and Mercer, were appointed to meet that committee at Powelton, on Saturday before the first Sabbath in May next ensuing. This looks very much like a Convention, and if the good sense and piety of those times had permitted, no doubt it would have been opposed as such.
In looking over the returns made by the several churches, we conclude there must have been a considerable revival during the last associational year. Seven hundred and thirty-two were returned as the whole number baptized, of which the African church in Augusta reported two hundred and twenty-Big creek, Oglethorpe, eighty-eight; County-line, Wilkes, twenty-three; Salem, Oglethorpe, twenty-six; Whatley's mill, Greene, (now Bethesda) forty-nine; Freeman's creek, Clark, fifty-six; Lower Beaverdam, Greene, twenty-eight; Philip's mill, Wilkes, thirty-eight; Powel's creek, Hancock, twenty-nine; Rocky Spring, Lincoln, thirty-one; Sardis, Wilkes, thirty-three; besides respectable numbers from several other churches.
The meeting of the body in 1803 was held with the church at Whatley's mill, Greene county. The introductory discourse was delivered by Jesse Mercer, from Solomon's Songs iv. 15, "A fountain of gardens." The same officers who acted the year before were retained.
The churches at Double Branches, Lincoln county, and Bethel, Hancock county, recently constituted, applied for membership and were received. The ministers present from other bodies this year were the Rev. Joel Willis, from Hephzibah, and Rev. John Cleveland, from the Sarepta Association; letters and minutes were received from the Charleston and Bethel, but no messengers. Also a letter on the subject of revivals, originally addressed to the churches of the Roanoke Association, Virginia, detailing an account of a most gracious work amongst those churches. An address, too, was read from the General Committee of the Missionary Conference at Powelton, and the Association concurring in its leading objects, a delegation consisting of Revs. Marshall, Walker and Mercer was again appointed to meet that committee. The last Saturday of April ensuing was appointed as a day of fasting and prayer for this committee -- "that it be guarded from errors on the one hand, and directed
to objects the most proper and useful on the other." General meetings were appointed at various places; and it was agreed that "if orderly ministers of other denominations should attend any, they should be treated with respect, provided they make themselves known. The number baptized this year was six hundred and eighty-nine; the whole number in connection was three thousand three hundred and forty-five. There were fourteen ordained ministers and seven licentiates. The minutes of this session appear not to have been printed until early in the year 1804, to which the clerk appended the following article: "Doubtlessly there is a glorious revival of the religion of Jesus. The wicked of every description have been despoiled of their boasted coat of mail; even deists, who stood in the front of the battle, have had their right arm broken, their hope disappointed, and their prognostications metamorphosed into falsehoods. As the fruit of this work, there have been added to the churches of the Georgia Association more than fourteen hundred. To those of Sarepta, more than one thousand, a year ago; we doubt not but that number has greatly increased by this time. To those of Bethel more than two thousand. There is, and continues, a great work in some of the churches of Hephzibah and Savannah, and is kindling in others. More than one hundred have been added to one church of the Charleston Association. We are authorized to say, that in six Associations in Kentucky there are at least ten thousand young converts. To all which we add, that the accounts from different and distant parts, verbally received, state that the Lord is doing excellent things in the earth. O most mighty Jesus, ride prosperously because of truth, meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thy kingdom come! come! come!"
The session of the Association in October, 1813, was held with the church on Fishing creek, Wilkes county. Mr. Rhodes being absent in consequence of indisposition, Rev. Mr. Mercer delivered the introductory sermon, from Genesis xxiv. 56, "Send me away, that I may go to my master." Mr. Marshall and Mr. Mercer were continued as moderator and clerk of the body.
The cloud of war still hanging over the land, on motion, a committee consisting of the clerk, Lumpkin, Rabun and Brown,
was appointed to draw up an article expressive of the sense of the Association on the subject. The article reads as follows:
"The article to be drawn up, expressive of our sense of the political state of our nation, was presented, and after being read several times, was adopted without dissent. It stands thus:
'That however unusual it may be for us, as a religious body, to intermeddle with the political concerns of our country, yet, at this momentous crisis, when our vital interests are jeopardized, to remain silent would indicate a criminal indifference. We, therefore, in this public and solemn manner, take the liberty of saying that we have long viewed with emotions of indignation and horror the many lawless aggressions committed on the persons, rights and property of the people of these United States, by the corrupt, arbitrary and despotic government of Great Britain and its emissaries. And as it has been found necessary to resist such wanton and cruel outrages by opposing force to force: Resolved unanimously, That it is the opinion of this Association that the war so waged against Great Britain is just, necessary and indispensable--and, as we consider everything dear to us and to our country involved in its issue, we solemnly pledge ourselves to the government of our choice, that we will by all the means in our power aid in its prosecution, until it shall be brought to an honorable termination. And we also exhort and admonish particularly the churches belonging to our connection, and brethren and friends in general, to take into consideration the command of our Lord by his apostle, 'To be subject to the powers ordained of God over us,' and to be jointly united in the common cause of liberty and independence--to be examples to all within their reach, by a peaceable and quiet endurance of the privations and afflictions of the present war; by a promptness to defend their violated rights when called on to personal service; and by a cheerfulness in meeting the accumulated, though indispensable expenses thereof; in all things showing themselves the real friends of liberty and religion, by bringing all their energies to bear on the measures of the government, thereby the more speedily (under God,) to bring about a happy termination of these calamities by the restoration of an honorable and lasting peace. And for that purpose we further exhort them to let their united
supplications ascend to the Lord of Hosts, that he would graciously preside over the councils of our nation, be our sun and shield, and cover our armies and navies in the day of battle.'"
The next session of the body was held at Powelton, Hancock county, October 8th, 1814, and the three days succeeding. Rev. Mr. Mathews, who had been appointed to open the services, being absent, the Rev. Mr. Davis supplied his place. The officers of the last year were continued.
On account of the low state of religion, and the calamitous state of the nation by reason of war, the second Thursday in December, the 18th of June, and the 24th of August, next after the Association, were set apart as days of humiliation and prayer. The ninth article of the minutes of this session, breathes so excellent a spirit upon the subject of missions, we cannot withhold it from the reader. It is as follows: "According to a suggestion in the letter from the Whatley's mill church, brother Mercer presented and read the circular and constitution of the ' Savannah Babtist Society for Foreign Missions,' and then moved for the approbation of the Association, which was given most willingly and unanimously -- whereupon it was thought proper to recommend the subject for its evident importance, to the consideration of the churches. And Friday before the first Sabbath in May next, was named as a day on which all who were individually disposed, as well of other Associations as our own, might meet at Powelton, in Hancock county, to form a society and digest a plan to aid in the glorious effort to evangelize the poor heathen in idolatrous lands."
The spirit of missions thus manifested has been increasing in this body ever since, as we shall see as we pass on.
In 1815, the Association met at Long creek, Warren county. The introductory discourse was delivered by Rev. Mr. Mathews, from Romans xii. 2: "Be not comformed to this world," etc. Rev. Mr. Marshall was appointed the moderator, and Mr. Brown the clerk.
We insert, verbatim, the seventh, tenth and fifteenth articles of the minutes of this session, as indicative of the state of feeling which pervaded the body on the subject of missions and other matters of general utility. The seventh article reads as follows: "Received from the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions
for the United States, through its agent, Rev. Luther Rice, the report of the board, accompanied by letters desiring the aid of this body in their laudable exertions to spread the Gospel of Christ among the heathen in idolatrous lands. The Association unanimously agreed to co-operate in the grand design, and the more effectually to do so, resolved itself into a body for missionary purposes; and appointed the brethren Mercer, Thompson, Roberts, Rabun and Brown, a committee to digest rules for its regulation; to send a circular address to the churches in our connection relative to the subject; and to hold correspondence with the corresponding secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions agreeably to request."
The Georgia Association was thus, in the year 1815, resolved into a missionary society. How has it then happened, that no complaint was ever heard of her proceedings in this respect, till she became connected with the General Association, or, what is now styled the Convention? The Association at that time proposed to co-operate with the Board of Foreign Missions; the Convention is only an enlargement of the plan of operations; other bodies, and other societies entering into the plan, in order to prosecute more successfully the great design.
The following article speaks well, not only for the Association, but for the presbytery with which they were to act for the suppression of vice and immorality: "Received a letter from the committee of the Hopewell Presbytery, requesting the appointment of some of this body, to meet in a General Association of the different denominations, to be assembled at Athens, Tuesday before the Commencement in 1816, to combine their efforts to promote morality and virtue, as well as religion. The brethren A. Marshall and E. Shackelford are appointed a committee for that purpose."
The articles that follow show a spirit of dependence upon the Author of all good for his blessings
"It is recommended that the 31st day of December next be kept by the churches as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, in consideration of the low ebb of vital religion. Let us, brethren, duly observe the day, by a prompt attendance at our places of worship -- in solemn assembly -- to confess our sins, mourn
over afflicted Zion, and implore Almighty God to pour out his Spirit upon us."
In October, 1818, the session was held with the church at Powelton, Hancock county. Rev. Mr. Reeves preached the introductory sermon from Psalm xc. 16, 17: "Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children: And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us."
The spirit of missions was rapidly on the advance in the body at this time, as will appear from the following extracts, taken from the minutes: "Received with pleasure, two circular addresses from the secretary of the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions in the United States. One containing a very flattering account of the prosperity of the mission cause generally--the other detailing their views respecting the establishment of a seminary for the education of candidates for the ministry. Our best wishes attend their laudable efforts."
"Received a communication from the secretary of the Kentucky Mission Society, inviting our co-operation in the establishment of a school in that State, for the education of the youth of both sexes, belonging to such of the neighboring Indian tribes, as may be disposed to avail themselves of the opportunity. The subject was taken up and considered by the Association as a beautiful theory, but very doubtful in practice. The moderator was instructed to communicate our disapprobation of the plan proposed."
"The mission board, having closed their proceedings for the year past, made the following report, which was read and approved:
The Georgia Association Board, for foreign and domestic missions, to the Association of which it is the board, report:
That on their appointment they received $260.87 1/2, of which sum they forwarded $143 00 to the treasurer of the general board, leaving a balance of $117.87 1/2, which is now let out on interest, being under an impression that it was best to economize, and begin with such sum as would enable the board to increase their appropriations as circumstances might require and their funds justify. Early in the spring they addressed letters to all the ministers of the churches in your bounds, with a view "to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance to 'this
grace;'" and the result is manifest in the good returns made to this session from the churches. The work in which the general board is engaged is confessedly great and of the first magnitude; especially as it combines the domestic with the foreign mission. The evangelizing of our own Indians is alone the broad work of ages. We invite the Association to inspect the moral state of the heathen in our own country, and ask, that if they had been taught to cheat, steal, lie and swear, by men called christians, does it not prove they can, and that it is a shame they have not been a long time ago taught the fear of God, the sin and Saviour of man, and also to pray! If everywhere on the face of the globe multitudes are perishing for lack of knowledge, like a harvest waving with more than golden ripeness, may it not be asked, with surprise, why we have been idle so long? We say, then, in the words of the report of the board of the Powelton Mission Society, "The obligations of christians to effectuate the great command are original and of the most binding force. The enlistment is during the service. The missionary fervor then should be vivid, firm and constant, and the efforts vigorous, prompt and perpetual." Will you, as invited by the Saviour, lift up your eyes on the fields and behold them white nigh unto harvest! And pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into his harvest. In this sentiment the board most cordially unite and say, "Thy kingdom come! thy will be done! As in heaven, so on earth; for thine, O Lord, is the kingdom and power, and thine be the glory forever. Amen!"
In 1820, the body had occasion to mourn the death of William Rabun, distinguished alike in church and State. The year following, a resolution was passed to form a General Association, to be composed of such associations in the State as should deem it proper to enter into such an organization. In 1822, in connection with difficulties in Williams' creek church, Rev. Thomas Rhodes is noticed as a disorderly man, and the part of that church which refused connection with said Rhodes is declared the true Williams' creek church. In 1825-6, etc., the body was efficiently engaged in promoting missions among the Indians at home and the heathen abroad, and education (theological) in assisting to rear up the Columbian College, District
of Columbia. In 1827-8, this body, with others in the interior, enjoyed a season of great refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Thousands were added to the churches. The cause of benevolence grew in favor with the people, and their charities were greatly enlarged. Sabbath-schools and Bible classes began to attract much attention and were generally encouraged. Indeed, it may be remarked here, that efforts for improving the world and the church have never met with such opposition in this Association as in others in the State. The reason of this, it is believed, is that the ministry has been more intelligent, if not more pious.
At the session in 1832, letters were received from the Ocmulgee and Flint River Associations, touching certain matters of difficulty existing between those bodies and the Georgia Association. A letter was also received from four seceding churches from the Flint River Association on the same subject. As the nature of these difficulties is fully set forth in the history of the Georgia and of the Central Association, already published, it is thought inexpedient to go into detail here. The case of the Eatonton church in the Ocmulgee, and of the Sharon and Teman churches in the Flint river, were the main matters. The Ocmulgee dropped correspondence with the Georgia and has never renewed it. The Flint also dropped for a few years, but renewed it soon after the division in her own ranks, which resulted in the formation of the Primitive Towalaga.
For a more particular account of this body, the reader is referred to "Mercer's History."
[J. H. Campbell, Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical , 1874, pp. 55-71. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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