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Early Customs of the Baptists -- The Character of their Preaching
By J. H. Spencer, 1885

The early settlers of Kentucky were chiefly from Virginia and the Carolinas. Yet there were some from all the old States, both north and south, and from all the different localities there were some Baptists. These had their different local customs and prejudices, which often made it difficult to harmonize them in church relation. The early Baptists of Kentucky were distinguished by the titles, Regular and Separate. Originally the Separate Baptists were more extreme Calvinists than the Regular Baptists; but refusmg to adopt any creed or confession of faith, they were constantly changing in their doctritial views. They also held a wide diversity of opinions among themselves. The Regular Baptists, especialiy in the Middle and Southern States, generally adopted the London Baptist confession of faith, or rather the American edition of that instrument, which was called the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. The Separate Baptists of Virginia finally adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith almost unanimously, and thereby paved the way for an easy union between them and the Regular Baptists, which was happily consummated in that State in 1787. But in Kentucky they were much divided on the subject, a majority, however, opposing all human creeds, and refusing to have even Rules of order, or decorum written. This 1ed to an extensive division among them. The more Calvinistic, including nearly all of their most valuable preachers, united with the Regulars in the new country, adopted the confession of faith, and henceforth traveled with them in much harmony. The Arminian party of the Separates, constantly diverged farther and farther from the common standard of orthodoxy, till many very grave heresies crept in among them, as will be seen in the progress of their
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history. The Regular Baptists adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, both in their several churches and also in their associations, amending, from time to time; such expressions as seemed to them erroneous. Various conventions were held for the purpose of accommodating the differences, and forming a union between the Regular and Separate Baptists. The first attempt of this kind was made in June, 1785, before any associations were formed in the new country. Again, hearing that the Regulars and Separates had united in Virginia, a second attempt was made, in 1788, to form a similar union in Kentucky, but without avail. A third attempt was made in 1793. This also was unsuccessful. However, five churches and as many ministers split off from the Separate Baptist Association. Four of these churches formed themselves into a United Baptist Association the same year, and, in 1794, the fifth one united with them. This fraternity took the name of Tate's Creek Association of United Baptists. They did not, at first, adopt any confession of faith, but in general terms endorsed the doctrines of the Elkhorn Association of Regular Baptists. After a few years, however, they adopted the confession of faith, and thus fully harmonized with the other associations of orthodox Baptists. No other formal effort was made to unite the Regulars and Separates till during the progress of "The Great Revival." This will be noticed in its appropriate place.

Universalism was introduced at an early period among the Separate Baptists of Kentucky. It was then called the doctrine of Universal Restoration. It taught that the wicked would all go to Hell, and remain there till they suffered the penalty of the crimes they had committed during their lives, in the flesh. This might require a hundred years, a thousand years, a million of years, or even a much greater period. But ultimately, they would all be redeemed from their torments and carried to Heaven. The system is called, in many of the early records of the Baptists, in Kentucky, Hell redemption, or redemption from Hell. The most prominent advocates of this chimerical notion in Kentucky were John Bailey and William Bledsoe, who were also the most eloquent and influential preachers among the Separates. Bailey was excluded from his people in 1791, and remained out of the church a number of years. He was afterwards restored to the Separate Baptists on condition that he might hold this doctrine
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"as a private opinion," but should not preach it. Bledsoe was also excluded from his church. He soon became an avowed infidel, and lived a profligate life till he died. This heresy gave the young churches very considerable annoyance from about 1790 till 1800. After this, it measurably disappeared.

Eternal Justification was a speculation that caused some disturbance among the early churches in Kentucky. The doctrine, as the term imports, supposed that all the elect of God were justified in His sight, from all eternity. William Marshall, who had been a distinguished Separate Baptist in Virginia, was the principle advocate of this doctrine in Kentucky. He became so infatuated with this idea, that he pressed it to such a degree as caused the church at Fox Run (now in Eminence), to exclude him from its fellowship, and he died out of the church. This notion, prevailed more among the Regular Baptists than among the Separates. Still South Kentucky Association, which comprised all the Separate Baptists in the State previous to 1819, saw fit to declare non-fellowship for all who held the doctrine.

Slavery was by far the most fruitful of mischief of all the questions that agitated the Baptist churches of Kentucky from 1788 till 1820. Opposition to slavery extended to every part of the territory, and engaged the talents of some of the ablest ministers of the denomination. Cornelius Duese, John Murphy, John H. Owen, Elijah Davidson, and Carter Tarrant, all men of piety and influence, openly opposed slavery in Green River Association, from the constitution of its first churches. Joshua Carman, Josiah Dodge and Thomas Whitman, disturbed the churches of Salem Association, by preaching against slavery until that fraternity was threathened with dissolution. The opposers of slavery, in Elkhorn and Bracken Associations, were among the ablest men in those bodies. Among them were William Hickman, John Sutton, William Buckley, Donald Holmes, George Smith, George Stokes Smith and David Barrow. But this subject has been sufficiently presented in detail in the former pages. It is only necessary in this place to group it among the causes that disturbed the churches, and retarded the growth of the Baptist denomination in the West in its infancy.

Early Customs in our Baptist churches that do not prevail at the present time. Some of these were borrowed from other religious societies around us. Some of them were expedients
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of the times, and some of them were cumbersome ceremonies, deduced from misinterpretations of the holy oracles.

Ruling Elders were nominal officers in many of our early churches. The name can only be appropriate when applied to the officer it designates, in a church having a Presbyterian form of government. In a Baptist church, the term is a misnomer. The office did not exist among the early Baptists of New England. It was most probably introduced into the Baptist churches of Virginia, by the zealous Separate Baptists who borrowed it from the Puritans. Like most of our early customs, it was brought from Virginia to Kentucky. There being no place in Baptist church polity, for the office of ruling elders, the churches were constantly perplexed to know what to do with it. Tates Creek Association decided that one ordained preacher and two elders might constitute a church. But since one ordained preacher, with the advice of two judicious brethren (or without it, in case of emergency) could constitute a church, the elders could not be necessary in this work. After taking a year to study the subject, Elkhorn Association disposed of the matter in 1790, as follows: "QUERY from Coopers Run -- Whether the office of elder, distinct from that of minister, be a gospel institution or not? ANSWER: It is the opinion of the Association [that] it is a gospel institution." But no opinion is given as to the purpose of the institution. The churches continued to inquire of their advisory councils, as to the proper functions of the office, without any satisfactory results. The church at New Liberty, in Owen county, took up the subject in 1806, and arrived at the conclusion: "That there ought to be such persons [as ruling elders] appointed, and their work agreeable to the Word of God, is to be the overseers of the flock of God, in their respective neighborhoods to see that no improper conduct is carried on by the members that are under their notice, to see that offenders are dealt with according to the gospel, and to endeavor, as in them lies, to promote the peace, union, and happiness of the church."

John Scott was the wise, prudent, and influential pastor of this church. He had been raised a strict Presbyterian, and hence his ideas concerning the eldership. But as every member of a Baptist church is under obligation to discharge all the duties here assigned to ruling elders, their ordination to that office,
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was wholly superfluous. The churches soon saw the matter in this light, and the office long since ceased to exist in Baptist churches.

Laying on of Hands was a ceremony in common use among the early Baptists of Virginia and Kentucky, as well as some other regions. David Benedict traces the custom back many centuries, and thinks it prevailed generally among the Baptists of the Old Wor1d. The ceremony has been fully described in the preceding pages. It was the final rite administered to candidates for church membership. After baptism, the pastor, or other ordained minister, laid his hands on the head of the candidate, gave him a few words of advice, or solemn admonition, and offered up a prayer for him. This completed the ceremonies of formally inducting the convert into the full fellowship of the church, and was, in that respect, equivalent to the present custom of extending the right hand of fellowship to persons, after their baptism formally admitting them to church fellowship. The ceremony of laying on hands has long since been discontinued among the churches in Kentucky.

The Washing of Feet was a very common ceremony among the early churches of Kentucky. It prevailed to some extent among the Regular Baptists, especially those of them who had been brought up among the Separate Baptists, as was the case with many of the Regular Baptists in Kentucky. The Elkhorn Association decided, as early as 1788, that: "As to feet washing, the Association is not unanimous, but agrees that the using or not using that practice shall not affect our fellowship." Among the Regular Baptists, it was practiced partially a few years, and then went entirely out of use. It was strenuously insisted on among the Separate Baptists, and has continued to be practiced among them to the present time. The following resolution, passed by the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, in 1873, shows the position of the Separate Baptists on the question of feet washing: "10. That Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Washing of the saint's feet, are ordmances of the gospel, to be kept up until the commg of our Lord and Master." Some of the Anti-missionary Baptists also keep up the practice of feet washing to the present time. The ordinance is deduced from the example of our Savior, as recorded in the 13th chapter of John, and is there sufficiently described.

Quarterly Meetings are frequently referred to in the
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early records of the Baptists, both in Virginia and Kentucky. These were not business meetings, as are those gatherings of the same name among the Methodists. They were meetings, appointed by the Associations, usually, if not always, at the solicitation of the churches with which they were held, only for public worship. They generally continued three days, during which there was much preaching, prayer, exhortation, and singing. The ministers, and other brethren, came together from the neighboring churches, and the occasion was generally a reunion of brethren, as well as a happy season of worship. Four of these "big meetings" were held at different times, and at different localities, in the bounds of the Association appointing them. This gave all the ministers and most of the other brethren an opportunity to attend at least one quarterly meeting during the year. Sometimes there would be but three of these meetings appointed for the year, the meeting of the Association sufficing for the fourth.

Union Meetings was only another name for these quarterly gatherings, and had no reference to the union of different sects, in holding a meeting, as the term frequently signifies, at a later period. Sometimes there would be but one of these reunions, or union meetings during the year. In this case it was called a yearly meeting.

These meetings, by whatever name they were known, were of much value to the churches, at the early period in which they prevailed. There was no attempt made to publish a religious periodical, in Kentucky, before 1812. Private letter writing, as a means of inter-communion among the churches, was both tedious and costly. The meetings of the Associations were great occasions, and often afforded opportunity for hearing from churches in all parts of the State. But all could not attend these gatherings, besides which they were too infrequent to satisfy the demand for a knowledge of the condition of the churches, or to afford the desired intercourse between the preachers who were laboring in a common cause. The union meetings, held in each association, three or four times a year, afforded opportunities for much pleasant and profitiable intercourse. The need of such intercourse among the active servants of Jesus Christ, was not only felt then, but always will be felt by those who labor and pray for the success of a common cause.
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Benevolent Enterprises, for advancing the Redeemer's kingdom, and bettering the condition of men, received the hearty approval of the early Baptists of Kentucky. From the organization of their first churches and associations, down to the year 1815, a period of more than thirty years, there appears no dissent from the spirit and practice of missions, on any accessible record. This was the golden age of missions among the Kentucky Baptists. True, they lived in but a partially subdued wilderness, and possessed but little of the world's goods, and but few of the advantages of commerce. They could not, therefore, give much money to the cause of missions. Yet, of the little they had, they gave a portion cordially, and their prayers went with their contributions. Those who had nothing to give regretted it; but never thought of opposing those who were able to contribute to the cause of missions. An Anti-missionary Baptist was unknown, in Kentucky, previous to the year 1815. Abundant evidence of the universal prevalence of the doctrine of missions, among the Baptists of that period, is at hand. But it is intended at this place only to call attention to the fact, and not to discuss it. It will be seen at the proper place, that the Anti-missionary doctrine arose at a later period.

In nothing, perhaps, was the Baptist denomination more grossly misrepresented, than in regard to their position on the subject of Education. No one accuses them of being opposed to education now. And yet there is as much ground for such an accusation, to-day, as at any past period. They teach now, just what they have taught in the past: That a liberal education is not necessary to the salvation of a sinner: That a collegiate education is not indispensible to the preaching of the gospel. But that education is of vast importance to the happiness and enlightenment of mankind, and to the fuller understanding and higher enjoyment of revealed truth. Baptists have been staunch advocates of both secular and theological education, wherever their history is known. The first classical school taught in Kentucky, was established by Elijah Craig, a distinguished Baptist preacher, at what is now Georgetown, the first of January, 1788. But it is hardly needful to refute the old misapprehension now.

The idea that the Baptists were generally very illiterate and
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ignorant at an early period of our commonwealth, was probably asserted by their enemies, again and again, but it has been kept alive more through their own defiant retorts, than by their simpering and affected opponents. But by whatever means the assertion gained currency, it is untrue. It would be safe to assume that a larger proportion of the prominent citizens of Kentucky, have been members of Baptist churches, than have belonged to the churches of any other, one sect. It is well known that a large majority of our public men, in the early days of the commonwealth, were openly irreligious men, and not a few of them were avowed infidels. Yet some of the leading spirits of that "age of infidelity" were men of pure faith and godly lives.

James Garrard, the second governor of the state, and who served two terms in that capacity, was a Baptist preacher before he was elected governor. After him, Gabriel Slaughter, J. T. Morehead,. T. E. Bramlette and P. H. Leslie were Baptists and governors of the State. Among the military heroes of the commonwealth were Col. Robert Johnson, General Joseph Lewis, Colonel R. M. Johnson, General Aquila Whitaker, Colonel Abraham Bowman, Gen. Henry Crist, and many others who are known to haye been pioneer Baptists. Among the distinguished judges in the early days of the commonwealth, John Hall, Michael W. Hall, Porter Clay, Henry Davage and Silas M. Noel were prominent in Baptist churches. Among the early members of Congress from Kentucky, who are known to have been Baptists, were James Johnson, Henry Crist, R. M. Johnson, Richard French, Thomas Chilton, James T. Morehead and J. T. Johnson. In every department of the social compact, the Baptists have from first to last, held as honorable and conspicuous a position as any other religious denomination in the State. It is not designed to claim any superiority for the Baptists, in this respect. To be prominent in human society, or in positions of worldly honor and emolument, is far from being an evidence of piety, much less is the boasting of such prominence a proof of godliness. These simple facts have been presented, to show how wholly unfounded were the assertions of that most contemptable class of petty snivelers, who hope to elevate themselves by traducing their neighbors.
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At the close of the last century, the Baptists were in a position to exercise an extensive influence on the masses of the people in Kentucky. They had planted churches in all the principal settlements of the State, and most of these churches were supplied with preaching, suitable to the wants of the people among whom they were located. There were many good, pious preachers, of small gifts, and limited attainments, who, nevertheless, were good and true men, whose lives had been such as to gain the confidence of their neighbors, and who were sufficiently taught in the Word of the Lord, to be able to clearly point out the way of salvation to the unconverted. In the older and more thickly peopled settlements, there were preachers of a high order of talent. Gano, Hickman, Redding, Dudley, Taylor, Barrow, Sutton, Lewis and Elijah Craig, and a number of others would have been acceptable preachers in any part of the United States. In point of intellect, general culture, and practical knowledge, they ranked with the ablest lawyers and politicians of their times. Yet they gave themselves, with true zeal and consecration, to their holy calling, and, whatever wicked men may have thought of religion, they did not doubt the sincerity of these men, who so consistently advocated it, and practiced its precepts. If the time should come when the then skeptical masses of the people should become convinced of the truth of Christianity, these faithful ministers of Jesus, would exercise over them a mighty influence for their good.

Another feature of Baptist polity, at this period., tended greatly to increase their influence over the people, when the time of religious awakening came. During the long season of coldness in religion, and the great increase of infidelity among the people, the Baptists had kept up a vigilant discipline in their churches. They kept constantly before the eyes of the world the practical workings of Christianity. Men were made practically better by its rigid discipline, administered in love. During the long, gloomy period of religious declention [sic], which extended, with but slight relief, on two or three briefoccasions, from 1789, down to the close of the century, the churches were kept in as strict order as if they had been enjoying a constant revival. The contrast between the church and the world was so striking, that infidels, themselves, could not fail to see the superior influence of religion.
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In all the transactions of the churches and associations, there was a manifest jealousy for the purity of the churches, both in doctrine and practice. Heretics who could not be reclaimed, and offenders who could not be brought to repentance were promptly excluded. Disorderly churches were dropped from associational union. Churches of suspicious character, as regarded either doctrine or morals, which applied for admission to associational fellowship, were either rejected or held in suspense till the doubts could be removed. Clerical impostors were watched with a close scrutiny, advertised in the minutes of associations, and the churches were warned against encouraging them, or being deceived by them. By these means the doctrines and morals of the churches were preserved in a good degree of purity. As to the spirituality of the membership of these churches, that was beyond the control of human discipline, and at the period now under consideration, was so low as to appear almost extinct.

But that which gave the Baptists the greatest advantage over other denominations was, that their ministers asked no pay for preaching. As the Baptists have been somewhat misunderstood on the subject of the support of the ministry, or, at least, have been occasionally misrepresented on that subject, it may not be out of place to correct the misapprehension of those who do not understand their doctrine, on that particular feature of their church polity. First, then, the Baptists believe that every true minister of the gospel is called of God to that office, and, therefore, it is his duty to preach the gospel to the extent of his ability, whether he receives any compensation for it or not. They believe it is the duty of the churches to support their ministers, and their teaching has been uniformly to that effect. That there have been ignorant, covetous or bitterly prejudiced individuals, or even some little ignorant churches, that have taught otherwise, is not doubted. But this does not mitigate the general teaching of the denomination; for the same thing may be said of every other religious society. As early as 1787, the following query and answer were placed on the records of Elkhorn Association:
"QUERY -- Whether it is agreeable to Scripture for churches to suffer men to preach. or have the care of them as their ministers,
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that are trading and entangling themselves with the affairs of this life?
"ANSWER -- That it is not agreeable to Scripture, but that it is the duty of the churches to give their ministers a reasonable support, and assist them in these respects."
This was less than two years after the constitution of this, the oldest, and then much the largest association in the State, and which at this period, represented more than half the Baptists in the Mississippi Valley. This has been the general teaching of the Baptists in the West, as well as everywhere else. Even the Anti-missionary Baptists, which arose in Kentucky, about thirty years after this, teach that it is the duty of the churches to support their pastors. The early churches, e. g. Cox's Creek, Clear Creek, Bryants and others, fixed the salaries of their pastors, before the close of the last century. But while the preachers agreed with their brethren, on this subject, none of them required that it should be so done unto them, at that early period, and many of them refused to accept any compensation for their ministerial labors, even where it was offered them. Not because they thought it wrong to receive a compensation, but because they thought it inexpedient. Their great desire was to lead sinners to Christ. If they took money for preaching, it would arouse the prejudice and excite the suspicion of the illiterate backwoods people, and thereby destroy their irifluence over them. The preachers preferred to support themselves by their own labor on their little farms, or in some other secular avocation, rather than lose their influence for good over their neighbors. They were not mistaken as to the immediate effects of such a course. They labored on, from year to year, working with their own hands to support their families, and preaching much to the people, without expecting or desiring any worldly compensation. The people were convinced of their sincerity, and looked to them as real benefactors. The ministers of other religious sects demanded a stated salary of their flocks, or at least, they demanded of them a support. Good old David Rice, of the Presbyterian church refused to administer the Lord's Supper, to his congregation, at Danville, because they refused or neglected to pay him his salary, alleging that it was not right to admit persons to that holy table who
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were not faithful in their pecuniary engagements.1 "Father Whelan," the first Catholic priest that settled in Kentucky, (in 1787) sued his people for his salary, and behaved so rudely in the affair as to be fined 500 pounds for slandering the jury.2 These things were well calculated to turn the hearts of the people away from these men, whom they regarded as mere hirelings, to the Baptists, who not only demanded no pay for preaching, but often refused compensation when it was offered to them.

One other advantage possessed by the Baptists, was the greater popularity of their preaching compared with that of their rival sects, at the period under review. Not that they were more learned than others; for this was not the case. But they mingled constantly with the masses of the people. They entered fully into their sympathies, and understood the force of their local dialect, and worked side by side with them, in the same occupations. In preaching, they discarded all written preparation. Even the briefest notes were discarded. Their sermons were literally extemporaneous. They drew their illustrations from the daily habits of their hearers, and spoke with that unstudied and impassioned eloquence that evinces deep feeling in the speaker, and is sure to be deeply felt by the hearers. A constantly repeated prayer, both in the pew and in the pulpit, was that the preaching might come from the heart of the minister, and reach the hearts of the hearers. The prayer was usually answered; for it was offered in faith and strong desire. The preachers were intensely anxious for the salvation of sinners, they wept profusely, and their voices trembled with emotion, as they exhorted and persuaded their neighbors to seek the salvation of their souls. The people were convinced that these men of God were their friends, and really desired their good.

But it must not be supposed that all the early Baptist ministers of Kentucky were ignorant or illiterate. This imputation was often repeated, by men every way inferior to those whom they thus stigmatized. But the false assertion gained more credence by being repeated in contempt and derision, by popular writers and speakers among the Baptists themselves, than from the assertions of their religious opponents. While there
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were but few Baptist preathers among the early settlers that were full graduates of colleges and theological seminaries, there were many, self educated, who were superior jn true and generous scholarship, to a majority of the full graduates among the ministers of their opponents. David Barrow was a stronger writer than David Rice; John Gano and David Thomas were, to say the least, the equals of any Presbyterian preacher of their generation in Kentucky. William Vaughan proved himself superior to William L. McCalla in theological discussion, and Silas M. Noel had no superior among the ministry of Kentucky as a polished scholar, a chaste speaker, and an elegant and forcible writer; and few will deny the superiority of John L. Waller as a polemic. But these men had no inclination to boast of their learning. They had an infinitely higher aim. Their nobler ambition was to glorify God in bringing sinners to the cross, and in this they succeeded beyond all competition. Of the Presbyterian preachers of the time, contemporary writers of their own and other denominations, speak candidly and to the same purport. John M. Peck, a Baptist writer of ability and candor, says of the Presbyterians of the Mississippi Valley, in early times:
"Most of their miniisters who first came, were below mediocrity in the pulpit. In the estimation of impartial judges, Baptist preachers were much their superiors in preaching. The Presbyterians read long sermons on dogmas of faith, 'fenced the tables,' preparatory to the Lord's Supper, by a tiresome exposition of the ten commandments after the old Scotch fashion; sung Rouse's version of David's psalms; were rigid in enforcing the observance of the Sabbath, without a due porportion of christian morality on other days of the week, and were successful only in rendering themselves unpopular. They had the reputation of having been educated at college, and probably, had made some acquisitions in literature, but were deficient in common sense."

"They soon rendered themselves obnoxious by their claims for regular salaries, at a period when the country was destitute of money; when salt, iron, and other indispensable articles of living were transported on pack-horses over the mountains, and no market was to be had for the sale of surplus produce. "3

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"Father Rice," as he was called, the first Presbyterian minister that settled in Kentucky, says of his contemporaries in the ministry:

"They were men of some information and held sound principles, but did not appear to possess much of the spirit of the gospel."4 "Upon [seeing] this," continues Father Rice, ""my spirit sunk pretty low, verging on deep melancholy. I was often made to cry out passionately -- Oh for the Tennents, the Blairs, and the Daviesses, to come and preach to us in Kentucky."5 Speaking of John Gano, a Baptist preacher, Father Rice says: "1 heard him with great avidity and satisfaction. He appeared to preach the gospel in its native simplicity with honest intention to promote the glory of God and the good of men. He preached in the neighborhood a second and third time, and sfill in the same spirit. To me he appeared as one of the ancient Puritans risen from the dead."6 Robert Bishop, Professor of History in Transylvania University, and himself a Presbyterian, in speaking of the early preachers of his denomination in Kentucky, says: "And yet the very best of these worthies were far, very far, from being what they might have been."7

One more witness will suffice to show the character of fhe Presbyterian ministry in Kentucky, and its lack of adaptability to the wants of the people at the period under review. Dr. Davidson, author of the History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, aliuding to the ministers of that church, says:
"Had they all been men of marked ability, devoted piety, and unblemished reputation, the salutary influence they might have exerted in moulding the character and institutions of the growing West would have been incalculable. Unhappily, with two or three shining exceptions, the rriajority were men barely of respectable talents, and a few above mediocrity; and so far from being patterns of flaming zeal and apostolic devotion, a dull formality seems to have been their general characteristic."8
Such is the testimony of the approved authors of the Presbyterian church, concerning the unfitness of their ministers for the work of the gospel in this dark hour of infidelity.

The Methodists had barely gotten a foothold on the soil of Kentucky, at this period. J. M. Peck estimates the number
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of their preachers, at this time, at about a dozen in the whole Mississippi Valley, and of them, he says, they were deficient in education and unskilled as casuists. David Rice, better known as "Father Rice," says of the first Methodist preachers that came to Kentucky:
"Though they were very passionate in their addresses, they seemed to be men of tender, catholic spirits, and advocates for good morals. For some time their coming encouraged and revived me, in some degree, but as soon as they had gained a little footing in the country, they began to preach what they called their principles, that is those doctrines which distinguish them from other societies. This, so far as I could learn, produced its genuine effects -- a party spirit and alienation of affections among the people." 9
The Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists were the only denominations of Christians that had gotten any considerable foothold in Kentucky at the close of the last century. The Baptists were considerably more numerous than both the other sects together. J. M. Peck, who is remarkable for his accuracy as a historian, gives the number of preachers in the Mississippi Valley, in 1799, as follows: "Baptists, ninety-five; Presbyterians, about forty; and the Methodists, about twelve." These were the laborers in the vast field already white unto the harvest. But we may now turn our attention more particularly to the character of the field to be rept [kept] and trace out some of the causes that led to the deplorable moral and religious condition of the people of the West, and especially of Kentucky, at the beginning of the present century.


1 Christian Review of Oct., 1852, p. 495.
2 Ibid. foot note, pp. 495, 496.
3 Christian Review, Oct., 1852, pp. 494-495.
4 Rice's Memoirs, pp. 69.
5 Ibid., p. 70.
6Ibid., p. 316.
7Ibid., p. 70.
8Ibid., p. 129.
9 Rice's Memoirs, p.70.

[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume I, Chapter XXV, 1885; reprint, 1984, pp. 482-496. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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