Accepting the invitation of the previous Moderator, Eld. Robert Williams, and of brethren White and Ray, of Clinton, where the meeting was held, we left this city at 11 o'clock Friday night, and reached Clinton in time to be introduced to the Association before adjournment, on Saturday. To say we were kindly received by the brethren would be far too weak an expression. The preaching we heard on Saturday and Sabbath nights was truly excellent. Bro. Pettit's discourse on the "design and order of the ordinances of the church," was Scriptural and eminently according to the old landmarks of the Baptist church. Bro. R. Williams' discourse on Monday night was a masterly exposition of the atonement. Bro. W. resides "down in The Purchase," and is scarcely numbered among the ministers of Kentucky, and yet we doubt if he has many superiors as a close, clear, logical thinker, and energetic and forceful preacher. He is greatly beloved by his Association, and is honored with its presidency from year to year. We met Elds. Boldry and Benson, two dear old Tennessee brethren, here, with whom, in other years, we associated in the General Association of Middle Tennessee. It recalled those glorious old times of prosperity and brotherly love, ere envy and strife, fell spirits, disturbed our harmony.
The delegation was not large. The churches were not fully represented. Great discouragement seemed to pervade the minds of the brethren. The past year had been measurably barren of results - few revivals - the fields broad and white - the laborers few, very few, and no young gifts coming forward. The meeting on Monday was one of the most singular and interesting ones we ever witnessed. A more immediate and striking answer to united prayer is vouchsafed to a community of Christians. After reading of the mission report - it was not flattering - a short silence, and Eld. White, an aged minister, arose and moved a suspension of the Rule, and that the writer be requested to lead the Association in special prayer that God would raise up and send out more laborers into the harvest, and put it into the hearts of his people to support those missionaries and pastors already laboring. It was a most solemn occasion. Every heart seemed to up as the heart of one man to the Lord of Sabbaoth. His people felt it was their time of need, and they called upon God for help from the sanctuary - they wept and supplicated before him, and he heard them.
After prayer, a proposition was made by Bro. F. M. Ray that each brother, then and there, make a free-will offering, at least one-half cash, to put two or more missionaries immediately into the field. An old brother's opposition well nigh defeated it, but it carried, and in a few moments, notwithstanding their poverty, between three and four hundred dollars were laid upon the table mostly in cash! Never did we see money and tears flow down as they did during that precious half hour. It was a most glorious revival. We asked permission to make a request. It was granted. We stated that as we all felt and saw that God had answered one of the two petitions of our prayers - and we felt a consciousness that he would the other - and that there were several present even in the Association whom God had called to preach but they had hitherto refused obedience to the heavenly calling - even so much as to acknowledge it. We called upon and urged each brother so impressed to come forward and give us the hand - when three brethren came forward, and with great feeling confessed that they had long been impressed with the duty. Two were young men of more than usual promise - one was much older. A song was sung, and the Association gave these the hand of fellowship. We will not attempt to describe the scene that closed the morning session. That day will ever be remembered by each brother present. It was the breaking of the morning on West Union Association. We predict a prosperous year for its missions, and glorious revivals throughout its bounds. We ran truly say that we never participated in a more delightful Association. In the afternoon session it was resolved by the Messengers that they go hence to work and never give over until they had a Baptist Sabbath School in every church - and they appointed a large delegation to meet with the Southern Baptist Sabbath School Union that holds its annual meeting with the church in Paducah on the 23d of November next - and requested every church to send one or more delegates, that that enterprise may be revived and sent forth with a thousand-fold power upon its great mission. And we would join our request here, and entreat every friend of Baptist Sabbath Schools to make the necessary sacrifice of time and come up to Paducah this year, if they never meet it again. Come up and decide the questions that must come before that meeting. Shall the Union live, and its Board be located at Memphis? or shall it be left to die without the attendance of its friends - effects and work and field be given up to the Sunday School Board at Greenville, if that Board will take them as a gracious gift - which some regard as exceedingly doubtful, as the Sabbath School books already published - fifty thousand volumes in all - are truly and strongly denominational? Ministers and brethren of Southern Kentucky at least, come to Paducah on the 23rd of November.
The religious meeting Monday night indicated the presence of the Spirit, and many bowed for prayer. We expect to hear of gracious results.
Thus closed West Union Association for 1867, a meeting richly blessed with Divine Presence.
[From The Baptist, Memphis, October 5, 1867, p. 4; CD edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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