Chapter XI - Elkhorn Association
We must pass a moment from the continuous stream of events, flowing immediately from the Great Revival, to take a sweeping glance along the lines of the Baptists, as the scenes of that astonishing drama gradually disappeared.
The Elkhorn Association shared largely in the gracious visitations of God's spirit. In their midst, indeed, the great revival commenced. From the gentle moving of the waters, under the preaching of John Taylor, the widening circles swept noiselessly, peacefully, till wave after wave visited the most desolate spots, where two or three were gathered together in the name of Christ. The Association, before so feeble, with its prospects so utterly rayless, awoke, and put on "her strength," and "her beautiful garments," and appeared bright as the sun, fair as the morn, and "terrible as an army with banners." In her midst had God "set down the right foot of his power." He had "made bare his holy arm in the sight of all the people."
To bring the review fully before the eye, the following is given. 1
Minutes of the Elkhorn Association of Baptists "Held at South Elkhorn, Fayette county, Ky., August the 8th, 1801.
The Association was opened with divine worship.
Sermon from Galatians, 6:14 - 'But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
Letters from twenty-six Churches were read.
Brothers David Barrow, Moderator, Brother J. Price, Clerk.
Ten Churches applied for admission, and were received.
Received letters and messengers from Salem, Bracken, and Tate's Creek Association[s].
Brethren Joseph Redding, A. Dudley, and John Price, are appointed to arrange the business of the Association.
Brother Bainbridge appointed to write to the Salem Association, and Brother Eastin to Tate's Creek Association; Brother Smith to the Middle District Association; Bro. Craig to the Ketockton Association.
Adjourned till Monday, 8 o'clock.
Monday, 10th August.
Met according to appointment. After prayer, proceeded to business.
Circular letter read and approved. Letters to the corresponding Associations read and approved.
Request from South Elkhorn, to send missionaries to the Indian nations. Agreed to appoint a Committee of five brethren, to hear and determine on the call of any of our ministers, and if satisfied therewith, to give them credentials for that purpose. To set subscriptions on foot, to receive collections, and apply the same for the use of said mission. And it is recommended to the Churches, to encourage subscriptions for said purpose, and have the money lodged with the deacons, to be applied for that purpose whenever called for by the Committee. The following brethren are appointed - David Barrow, Ambrose Dudley, John Price, Augustine Eastin, and George Smith, or any three of them.
Agreed, that a Committee be appointed to attend the Separate Association, and write them a friendly letter, and use such means as may appear to them right to bring about an union; and if it should appear necessary, that they call a convention of the Churches to carry the union into effect. The following brethren are appointed -- David Barrow, Ambrose Dudley John Price, Wm. Payne, and Joseph Redding.
Agreed to appointed a Committee to draw a plan to restore excluded members emigrated to this country, and present it to the next Association. Brethren Dudley, Eastin, and Price, are appointed.
Brother Wm. Payne to write the circular letter, for 1802.
Agreed that the Churches, who are in union with us that reside in the north part of our bounds, are at liberty to use their own discretion in forming an Association, and that brethren Eve and Bainbridge advise them.
Members appointed to attend the corresponding Associations - brethren Hickman and Taylor, the Salem; Corban and Bourn, the Tate's Creek; Eastin and Payne, the Bracken.
Next Association to be held at Cooper's Run, second Saturday in August next.
Introductory sermon, Brother Gano; in case of failure, Brother Redding.
Agreed, that brethren Walter Carr, Richard Young, Charles Smith, Jilson Payne, Jams Hayden, and John Mason, be appointed a Committee to receive the bounty of the Churches for the benefit of our aged brethren, J. Gano, D. Thomas, and J. Sutton, as an indication of our love and care for them in their old age; and it is recommended to the Churches to make frequent contributions, and send them to the Committee, who are to distribute the same as to them may appear right; and render an account to the Association, what they have received, and from whom, and how they have distributed the same."
We have presented the Minutes of this year in full, deeming it worthy of careful perusal and study. We have traced the Elkhorn Association from where its infancy was nursed, amid savage dangers in the unpeopled forest, poor, few, feeble, yet nerved with strength and energy divine, battling, growing, striving together for the faith of the gospel, till its messengers, from the three little Churches, in 1785, taking counsel in a fort in the woods of Woodford county; going forth, bearing the precious seed, and weeping, returned rejoicing; and now, in 1801, numbering one hundred messengers from thirty-six Churches, embracing more than five thousand communicants. "The character of her ministry, well known throughout America, commanded the respect of the societies." The names of Garrard, Eastin, Sutton, Barrow, Tarrant, Smith, Dudley, Price, Redding, Bainbridge, Gano, Thomas, and other ministers, gave weight and wisdom to her councils. But the seeds of error had been sown, and amid the glorious harvest field and the golden grain, the rank weeds of error were beginning to appear. The following year was one of quiet, but of unceasing suspicion.
The Seventh AnniversaryAt Cowper's Run, on the 14th August, 1802.
Introductory by Elder Redding.
A. Eastin, Moderator, John Price, Clerk.
Letters from thirty-six Churches, members, and twelve new Churches received, in all, forty-six Churches, counting 5,310 members. New Churches - Ridge of Dennon's creek, Union, Mount Gilead, Mount Pleasant, Mill creek, David's Fork, Hillsboro', Bank-lick, Brush fork, Clover bottom, Rockbridge, Twelve-mile.
A serious difficulty between the Church at Crossings and that at M'Connell's Run - A committee, sent to heal it.
South Elkhorn inquires, what constitutes baptism valid?
Answer - The administrator ought to have been baptized himself, by immersed. Legally called to preach the gospel, and ordained as the scripture directs. And that the candidate for baptism make a profession of his faith in Jesus Christ; and that he be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by dipping the whole body in water.
Mode of receiving persons excluded in other States. The Church, which the person wishes to join, should write to the Churches which excluded him, for a statement of the offence committed; of which, with the acknowledgment, they are to judge. But if the remote Church be dissolved, the other may act at discretion.
Arminianism and Socinianism had been embraced by many of the members of the Church where the Association was held - Cowper's run, near Paris. These ruinous errors had, in fact, been privately propagated by the pastor, A. Eastin, the Moderator of the Association; and added to his own influence was that of a member of his Church, one of the ablest and most popular men in Kentucky, Gov. J. Garrard. The Association had no sooner closed its session that Eastin began to advocate publicly and zealously the speculations which had already rent the Presbyterian Church, and were the rallying points of the New Lights. Controversy and agitation were spreading and disturbing the Churches. Were the Baptist ranks to be beleaguered or subverted as the Presbyterian had been, by the withering dogmas of the skeptical Dr. Priestly?
An extra session of the Association was called, and met at Great Crossings, the third Saturday in April, 1803. David Barrow was chosen Moderator, and John Price, Clerk. Letters from thirty-three Churches were received. It was, after calm and prayerful deliberation,
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed (Barrow, Price, Dudley, Redding, and Tarrant) to visit the Churches at Cowper's Run, Flat Lick, Indian creek, and Union, to endeavor to convince them of their heresy, respecting the Trinity, and make report.
Enquiry - Does this body believe the doctrine of the Trinity, as contained in the confession of faith?
Answered, unanimously - They do.
The reports of this Committee were unavailing, as will appear from the synopsis of the
Eight Anniversary At Town Fork, on the 13th of August, 1893 [sic - 1803 jrd].
Introductory by G. Eve.
A. Dudley, Moderator, John Price, Clerk.
Letters from 40 Churches - members, 4,422.
Cowper's Run Church dropped from union of this Association, for denying the doctrine of the Trinity, and holding that Jesus Christ is not truly God.
Agreed, That that part of Flat Lick Church, who hold to their constitution, and believe in the divinity of Christ, be considered the Church.
Voted unanimously, That the union formed with the Baptists south of Kentucky, does not removed them, in the least, from their constitutional principles.
The session was threatening. Influence and wealth were on its side; yet such has ever been the attachment of Baptists to the vital truth of Christianity, and such is the simplicity of the discipline, that the storm soon expended itself, and not a trace even of its effects could be discerned. The Churches infected soon expired.
1 I promised, and intended to have followed out, in this chapter, the results of the revival in originating the "Current Reformation." I find myself not quite prepared for it, nor would my readers be, without looking at the condition of the Baptists at the time. My object is to present the Baptists in their true light. This can only be done by an insight into the state of things around them. We shall have incidents, thrilling enough to detail; and though bare statistics appear dull, they will be found the back-ground, setting off the whole picture.
[From Samuel. H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, February, 1857, pp. 69-74. Footnote changed to endnote; symbol changed to number. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Ford's Kentucky Baptist History
Baptist History Homepage