Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association
From Its Preliminary Organization in 1806 To The Centennial Session in 1906
By T. C. Schilling
[This portion is 1817-1830]
The Association convened with Bogue Chitto church, Pike county, October 18th to 21st. David Cooper preached the opening sermon from II Timothy, 2:15. Letters from thirty-one churches were received and read. The moderator and clerk were David Cooper and Benjamin Davis. Five churches asked for admission, as follows: Vermion, New Chapel, Canaan, Green's Creek and the First Church of Natchez. A. Harper and H. Tilman were from New Chapel; J. Stringer and W. Cooper from Green's Creek, while B. Davis and N. Robinson came from Natchez. No names are given from Vermion and Canaan. The Lord's day services were conducted by Elders Scarborough, Davis, Ranaldson and Courtney.
It was decided to recommend a plan for raising a fund to aid pious young men, called of God, in the matter of securing an education. A committee of three, David Cooper, James A. Ranaldson and Benjamin Davis, reported the plan and published an address to the churches, beginning as follows: "Education is the subject to which we now invite your attention. This, next to the gospel, is our choice theme. After religion, it is of the highest importance to the world.
"Philosophers, who know how much literature is indebted to Christianity, must value the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Christians, who know how much education has contributed to the furtherance of the gospel, must appreciate learning. The one is an auxiliary to the other; and both are connected with the glory and happiness of man.
* * *
Although we do not consider a classical education absolutely essential to the qualifications of an evangelical preacher, yet he should not be a novice. It is the first principle of the oracles of God that they be able to teach. They should be able to communicate their ideas with sound speech that cannot be condemned.
* * *
The practical preacher should be able to deliver his sermons with boldness, without arrogance, with sound doctrine, with grammatical correctness, with logical strength, with elegance of rhetoric, and with simplicity of truth."
This was an advanced position for these early times, such as we would hardly expect to find: and yet it shows that our people did not ignore the question of education.
It was agreed to dismiss the churches on the west side of the Mississippi river, on account of the difficulties they experienced in attending the associational meetings. The names and number of these churches are not given; neither is the list of churches diminished at the next meeting, so we are left in the dark as to these Baptists, west of the "Father of Waters." It is quite impossible for people of this day, with all modern facilities and equipments, to appreciate the difficulties of the early days.
That the Association was thoroughly missionary in belief and sympathy is shown by this striking paragraph:
"After some free conversation on the subject of Foreign and Domestic Missions, deeply interesting to this body, it was agreed that our brethren, Thomas Mercer and Benjamin Davis, be requested to visit the Creek Indians, to inquire what can be done towards the establishment of schools and the introduction of the gospel among them."
The meeting this year was with New Providence church, Amite county, commencing October 17th. Elder Josiah Flowers delivered the first sermon, his text being Matt. 16: 17, 18. Thirty-one churches were represented, and eight others received, as follows: Pinckneyville, Sharon, Dilling's Creek, Beulah, Bala Chitto, Silver Creek, east of Pearl river, Friendship and New Orleans. The messengers were: T. Hunter and J. Ellsberry, from Pinckneyville; J. A. Ranaldson and E. Estes, from Sharon; J, P. Martin and J. Barnes, from Dilling's Creek; H. Bond and William Cook, from Bala Chitto; William Sparks and William Stamps, from Silver Creek, east of Pearl; T. Matthews, from Beulah; N. Williams, from Friendship, and B. Davis, from New Orleans.
David Cooper was again chosen to preside, while William Snodgrass continued to do the writing.
Elders Cooper, Ranaldson and King were selected to do the preaching on the Sabbath.
A communication was received from the Baptist Mission Society of Kentucky, concerning work among the Indians, and it was agreed that the Association should prepare a suitable memorial, to be signed by the Moderator and Clerk, setting forth the deplorable condition of the Indian tribes in the United States; and forward the same to Congress. Thus our Baptist forefathers were seeking to elevate and save the Red Man ninety years ago.
A letter from Beulah church, in Louisiana, was received, requesting assistance to organize an association of the churches in that quarter, and a committee was appointed for this purpose.
Bayou Pierre church sent this query: "Should a brother be held in fellowship who prefers the rights and privileges of the Masonic Lodge to the communion of his church?" The Association answered "No."
The venerable Moses Hadley, the Association's first Moderator, and who had been so closely identified with the work since the organization of the body, had passed away this year, and sympathetic regard is expressed for the old preacher. "A valuable life, spent in the vineyard of the Lord, left the world with comfort and in hope of immortal gain."
The following tribute to Mr. Hadley is from "Mississippi Baptist Preachers," page 328:"This pioneer minister in the southwestern portion of the State located within the bounds of the Mississippi Association about the year 1806, and labored with much zeal and ability for twelve years in Wilkinson and adjoining counties. He was held in the highest esteem by his brethren, as is seen in the fact that. he was chosen Moderator of the Association at its second annual session, when both David Cooper and Thomas Mercer were present. In 1810 he wrote the circular letter of the body on 'Religious Declension,' an able document, in which he treats the causes and the cure in a forcible manner. In 1812 he wrote again, on 'Union of Churches.' The same year he was sent to Opelousas, Louisiana, to ordain Mr. Willis and constitute the first church in Louisiana. He was, in 1817, one of a committee to write a summary of discipline for the churches. He died in 1818, much regretted by his brethren." (Baptist Encyclopedia, p. 484.)The Association had at this time about forty churches, with a total membership of 1,072; and the territory occupied was from Natchez to New Orleans, north and south, and from the Pearl to the Mississippi river, east and west. Indeed, it extended east of the Pearl, and had been west of the Mississippi. But the question of forming other associations was now being considered, and so a division will soon come.
1819 Hepzibah church, Feliciana parish, Louisiana, was the place of meeting on the 16th of October. Elder Geo. W. King preached the introductory sermon from II Peter, 1:5, 7, and in organizing the same officers were retained. One new church, St. Francisville, Lonisiana, was received, the messengers being J. A. Ranaldson and E. Andrews.
For the Lord's day services Elders Chas. Felder, David Cooper and S. Marsh were chosen. This is the first time we meet with the name of Charles Felder, who is to be prominent in the work of the Association in the coming years.
Eight churches north of the Homochitto river asked for dismissal, with a view of organizing a new association, and it was recommended that the first meeting should be held with Bayou Pierre church the following September. This was the Union Association. A like request came from several churches east of Pearl river, whereupon the Association advised these churches, including the Pearl river district, to call a convention for the following April, to meet at Dilling's Creek church, for the purpose of considering, the propriety of division.
It was resolved to send a letter of correspondence to the "new Association west of the Mississippi in the State of Louisiana," and Elders David Cooper and Ezra Courtney were selected as the messengers, who were to receive fifteen dollars each for traveling expenses.
Another one of the heralds of the cross had finished his course and gone home. It was Thomas Mercer, whose name has become so familiar and who, like Moses Hadley, had been identified with the Association from the first. This brief tribute appears in the minutes:"Departed this life since our last annual meeting, our much beloved and venerable Elder Thomas Mercer. The Association offer this as a testimony of their affectionate remembrance of him, whilst they regret their loss, in the death of one who was zealous and indefatigable in his ministerial labors, useful and much. beloved."It is stated in the Baptist Encyclopedia, pages 781, 782, that Mr. Mercer came from Georgia and settled in Southwestern Mississippi, and was an early laborer in spreading Baptist sentiments. To facilitate the cultivation of song-service in the churches, he compiled a collection of excellent hymns. He aided in the formation of the Mississippi Association, and was Moderator in 1811. And it is further said that, while he and Benjamin Davis were on their journey to the Creek Indians in 1817, Mr. Mercer died and was buried among strangers.
Up to this time old Salem stood at the head in the list of churches. However much the clerks might change the places of other churches, Salem always came first. But the old church sent no delegates to this meeting, and after this her name disappears from the minutes. We have already seen that for some years there has been internal strife in the body. The following sad account of the final dissolution is from "Protestantism in Mississippi," pages 57, 58:"Old Salem, the first church, presents a sad and melancholy picture to a pious heart. After it had enjoyed about fifteen years of prosperity, and about 1812 and 1813 had been favored with the most extensive revival known in the country up to that date, differences of opinion grew up between some of the leading members, which led to ill-temper and angry words, and finally were brought up in the monthly conferences of the church, where they were long debated, until parties were formed, and the membership was agitated from center to circumference. From that unnatural and unchristian feud we date the decline and ultimate downfall of the first Baptist church in Mississippi. The faithful few struggled hard and long to maintain their organization, but, having no more revivals to recruit their numbers, and suffering diminution constantly from deaths and removals, they at last yielded to their hapless fate and ceased the bootless strife. About twenty-five or thirty years ago [about 1835 or 1840] the woodwork of the church edifice was accidentally destroyed by fire, since which time the brick walls have been gradually taken away for neighborhood purposes, until now nothing remains to designate the spot to the passerby but the graveyard, where reposes the dust of some of the best of our race."1820 Zion Hill, Amite county, is the place of meeting, and October 14th the time. David Cooper preaches the sermon from Zach. 1:7, and the body is organized by re-electing the same moderator, while Elliott Estes is elected clerk, and J. M. Mumford, of Ebenezer church, is chosen treasurer to succeed William Causey. The Sabbath services were conducted by Elders Flower, King and Ranaldson.
* * *
"But the fruits of old Salem are not all lost. In her chivalrous days she sent out a number of vigorous colonies, which yet live and prosper."
This query was presented by Zion Hill church:"Shall a church be deemed censurable in the reception of an individual excluded from any sister-church?" To which this answer was given by the Association: "The excommunicated person should give suitable satisfaction to the church which excluded him before he can be consistently received by a sister-church."Mount Zion church, Franklin county, was received, whose delegates were T. Swearingen and M. Murrah.
The body was gratified at receiving corresponding messengers from the Union, Bigby and Louisiana Associations.
The following fourteen churches were granted dismission for the purpose of organizing the Pearl River Association: Mount Nebo, Pearl River, Half-Moon Bluff, Fair River, Dilling's Creek, Poplar Springs, Silver Creek, Pike county, Silver Creek, east of Pearl river, New Chapel, Bogue Chitto, Pike county, Antioch, Beulah, Bailey Chitto and Friendship.
The matter of forming a convention or general meeting was being discussed, as the following resolution will show:"Resolved, That it be earnestly recommended to our sister-Association that we meet annually, by delegates appointed, in one general meeting, for the purpose of corresponding and of eliciting the energies of the whole in aid of the missionary cause and other benevolent and evangelical objects."David Cooper, Samuel Marsh, E. Courtney, Howell Wall and J. A. Ranaldson were selected to meet with other delegates at Zion Hill church in the following May.
The Association recommended a union, or ministers' meeting, to be held on the fifth Sundays in the following year at different places, and that the ordinance of the Lord's Supper should be observed at these meetings.
The place of meeting is Bethel church, in Wilkinson county, on the 20th of October. Elliott Estes is the preacher of the Associational sermon, whose text is Joshua, 24: 15. Samuel Marsh is moderator, and Elliott Estes is clerk. Elders King, Balfour and Marsh are the preachers for Sunday. It was often the case that ministers who preached at these meetings were visitors from other bodies, those present this year being Davis, O'Quin and Irion, whose initials are not given.
At this date there are four other Associations with which the old Mississippi has correspondence -- viz., the Union, Pearl River, Louisiana and Bigby. These early settlers evidently had the cause of religion much at heart, as shown by the progress made during these fifteen years. Apropos to this devotional spirit we find the following resolution in this year's minutes:"On motion, Resolved, That the first day of January ensuing be observed with fasting and prayer for the enlargement of the Redeemer's Kingdom."How different from the present time, when the New Year is a kind of holiday, welcomed by the ringing of bells and the sounding of whistles; when greetings are freely exchanged and sumptuous dinners are served.
The body convenes with Ebenezer church, October 19th to 21st. Samuel Marsh preaches the introductory sermon. David Cooper returns to the moderator's chair, while William Balfour keeps the records. Preachers for the Lord's day are D. McCall, D. Cooper and D. Collins, and the services are reported as being spiritual and profitable.
A committee was appointed to prepare a memorial to be presented to the State Legislature, asking for the repeal of such parts of a late law as deprived the African churches of their religious privileges. Elders D. Collins, G. W. King and S. King came as messengers from the Pearl River Association; Elders D. McCall and L. Scarborough came from the Union.
Samuel Marsh, J. A. Ranaldson, William Balfour, Chas. Felder and David Cooper were selected to attend a missionary meeting at Zion Hill, July, 1823.
It was again recommended to all the churches that they observe the first day of January as a day of fasting and prayer for the more general effusion of the Divine Spirit and the universal spread of the gospel of Christ.
Another preacher, in the person of Howell Wall, had ceased from his earthly labors. The Association pays this tribute to his memory:"In the death of Elder Howell Wall this Association has to regret the loss of a highly-esteemed brother, whose moral deportment, whose goodness as a man, whose meekness of temper, and whose zeal and faithfulness as a minister of Christ, commanded esteem and respect from his acquaintances and endeared him to his brethren."1823
Mars Hill, Amite county, entertains the Association this year from the 18th to the 23d of October. I Peter, 2: 9, is the text used by Chas. Felder in preaching the opening sermon. Fifteen churches answer to the rollcall, and the same moderator is continued, while Elliott Estes returns to the secretaryship. Elders Cooper, Collins and King are the preachers for Sunday.
Elder John Smith was requested to write the next circular letter on this subject: "The high responsibility and criminality of those who do not contribute, according to their circumstances, to the cause of religion in general."
Elders D. Collins and S. King were the messengers from the Pearl River Association, J. Birch and N. Perkins from the Union. while the visiting ministers, not under any appointment, were S. Coker and E. Andrews.
January 1st was still designated to be kept with prayer and fasting "in behalf of poor sinners, and for the general prosperity of the ransomed of the Lord."
Messengers were appointed to meet with like representatives from the Pearl River and Union Associations at Bogue Chitto church, Pike county, on Saturday before the third Lord's day in February, 1824, "to assist in forming a constitution for the more systematic and efficient appropriation of your talents in the great concerns of religion." This move looked to the forming of a State Convention.
This minute closes with these words: "The duties of the meeting being accomplished, the Moderator made a serious, affectionate address, prayed to the Great Head of the church, and pronounced the apostolic benediction."
New Providence, Amite county, October 9th, 10th and 11th. Elder Irion preached the sermon from John, 17: 10, "And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them."
Galilee and Sandy Creek churches were cordially received, the delegates being D. Thompson and J. Birmingham from the former, and R. M. Green and A. Holmes from the latter.
Davis Collins and Shadrach Coker came from the Pearl River Association, and the appointments for the Lord's day services were Elders Cooper, Collins and Courtney.
It appears that a State Convention had been organized, as this item, will show: "Agreed that our delegates to the next meeting of the State Convention be D. Cooper, E. Courtney, E. Estes, S. Marsh, G. A. Irion, C. Felder and W. Balfour; and that this Association loan the Convention all their unappropriated funds for the promotion of Domestic Missions."
Another preacher had answered the summons of death, and the brethren, express their sympathy and esteem in this way:"We have to lament the death of our beloved brother, Elder John Smith, who departed this life since our last annual meeting. His zeal in the cause of his Master was great. His loss is very sensibly felt amongst the churches who enjoyed the benefit of his labors. But we hope our loss was his gain, and that he has received the crown of righteousness which was laid up in heaven for him. This ought to admonish us that here we have no continuing city, and calls for our most fervent prayer that God would send forth more laborers into his vineyard."Mr. Smith had prepared the circular letter on "Contribution for Religious Purposes," and it is published in this year's minutes. The letter makes a strong plea for greater liberality in the cause of religion, and especially for pastoral support, as the following interesting extract will show:"The minister of Christ has a work of infinite value committed to his trust; a work which he cannot neglect without wounding his own soul and dishonoring the cause of his divine Master. To this work he feels it his duty entirely to devote himself. This he is unable to do, however, unless his labors are reciprocated by those to whom he ministers. Ministers are earthen vessels to whom this treasure is committed, men of like passions as others, formed of the same clay, fed with the same aliment, clothed with the same raiment as others, and this clay must be nourished, this food provided, this raiment furnished to them as to other men. The Apostles and early ministers thought it not good for them to leave the Word of God to serve tables; and so in the present day, when the minister of the Word is compelled to abandon the holy calling six days in the week for the sustenance of the body, and to procure himself the means of traveling and preaching on the seventh, the church must be neglected, and languish in consequence. He has had no time during the fatigues of the week for study, for pious contemplation or retired communion with his God. His mind is unfurnished to convey instruction; his heart cold and languid. He cannot arouse his sleepy audience by feeling and pathetic exhortation, for he cannot feel. Discouraged in spirit, he cannot strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees of his brethren, for he needs the same kind offices."This remarkable message of the dying preacher, written in 1824, is clear and scriptural, and needs to be heeded even yet.
October 15th, 16th and 17th the body was, in session with Shiloh church, Wilkinson county. Elliott Estes was the preacher of the introductory sermon, the text of which was I Thes. 2: 19, 20. For the second time, Ezra Courtney was elected moderator, and a new secretary was installed, by the name of Elisha Andrews.
The messengers from Pearl River Association wel1e Norvell Robertson and J. P. Martin. The name of the former is given as N. Robinson, but this is evidently an error, as both the time and section of country suit for Norvell Robertson, Sr. We are informed by L. S. Foster in "Mississippi Baptist Preachers," page 579, that Mr. Robertson, though a Virginian by birth, spent his ministerial life in Georgia and Mississippi. He was a preacher for more than fifty years, and was the father of Norvell Robertson, Jr., the author of "Handbook of Theology."
Mr. Martin was also a Virginian, coming to Mississippi in 1817. He was M. T, Martin's father, and was a man of strong native ability. Both these preachers lived to see their ninety-first year.
Those appointed to preach on the Lord's day were Chas. Felder, Norvell Robertson and J. A. Ranaldson.
Delegates were appointed to the next State Convention, and S. Hopkins, of New Hope church, was requested to procure a file of the minutes of the Association from the time of organization. The circular letter was on "Christian Zeal," and was written by Elliott Estes.
Hepzibah church, Feliciana parish, Louisiana, was the place or meeting, from the 14th to the 16th of October. The first sermon was by Elder Balfour, from I Peter, 5: 2-4. Ezra Courtney was re-elected moderator, while J. A. Ranaldson was chosen clerk. Salem church was received, the delegates being W. Jacobs and H. Bond. The location of this church is not given in the minutes, but, judging from the names or the messengers for this and the next few years, it is believed to have been in Pike county.
Elders Cooper, Felder and Ranaldson did the preaching on the Sabbath, and a collection or $110.75 was taken for domestic missions, which sum was paid over to the treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist State Convention. This was not the present State Convention, but one formed from the associations in Southwest Mississippi, and which ceased to exist about 1829 or 1830, as we hear no more of it after this date.
A resolution was adopted recommending all members of the churches to discontinue the too common use of ardent spirits as a "luxury," and to use them only in case of necessity as a medicine. This is the first admonition we find against the use of this "luxury", and shows that the evil of drink was being felt.
1827 The Association held its meeting this year with the Woodville people, October 19th to 21st. The introductory sermon, from I Cor. 15:15, was delivered by Chas. Felder, who was also elected moderator, while Chas. G. Hatch was chosen secretary. One new church, the Natalbany (Louisiana), was received, the delegates being R. Beavers and T. Packston.
Elders Cooper and Marsh came as corresponding messengers from the Union Association, and Elder Brakerfield from the Pearl River. Initials are not given.
The churches at St. Francisville and Sharon had mutually agreed to become one church, taking the name of Feliciana, and so notified the Association.
January 1st was still recommended to be observed as a day of humiliation and prayer. And it was stated that the day of American independence was too generally abused; hence, the churches were requested to assemble on the Fourth of July for prayer, praise and preaching.
Elders Newland, Marsh, Cooper and Creath did the preaching on the Sabbath, and at the close or the services the Lord's Supper was observed.
It is difficult to account for the decrease in membership this year, when about the same number of churches is reported. Last year, 612; this year, 348.
It may be of interest to give some items from the meeting of the Mississippi Baptist State Convention, as a minute for this year (1827) is at hand. This minute, now eighty years old, and still in a good state of preservation, belongs to Mr. Winchester Everett, of East Fork.
The convention met at Mars Hill, November 2d, 3d and 4th, this being the fifth annual session. Elder Norvell Robertson preached the convention sermon from Luke, 2:49, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Messengers were present from three Associations -- viz., the Union, Mississippi and Pearl River. David Cooper was chosen president; J. Creath, secretary, and Davis Collins, corresponding secretary. The trustees were Chas. Felder, J. P. Martin and J. Thigpen.
David Cooper, J. P. Martin, Norvell Robertson, Chas. Felder and A. Mercer had labored as missionaries of the Convention during the past year, and their reports were very gratifying. They had traveled hundreds of miles, preached to large crowds of attentive listeners, and baptized many people. The fund on hand was $569.80, from which the missionaries were paid.
We find the following strong resolution in this old minute:"Resolved, That this Convention considers drunkenness one of the most injurious and worst of vices in the community, and we deeply deplore the destructive ravages made in our country and churches by the excessive and improper use of ardent spirits. And we do, therefore, most affectionately exhort our brethren to use their best efforts to check this worst of evils."The old saying that Baptist preachers once commonly carried whisky in their saddle-pockets is not much in accord with this resolution.
The custom of having "circular letters" published in the minutes was continued by the Convention; but, the appointee having failed to prepare one for this year, the body substituted an address by S. M. Noel, of Kentucky, on the subject of "Creeds," from which the following extracts are taken:"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Standing fast in one spirit, with one mind, speaking the same thing -- of one accord, of one heart, and of one soul -- acknowledging one Lord, possessing one faith, practicing one baptism; speaking the truth in love, growing up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ, making one body in Christ. Not one in name or theory only, but one in their religious experience, one in their views of the plan of salvation; animated and encouraged by the same hope, while observing and practicing the same duties. Such is the unity and symmetry of the church of Jesus Christ as described by the pen of inspiration.The address takes a strong position for unity of faith and practice, as opposed to creeds. Whether Mr. Noel was a relative of the present distinguished Governor of Mississippi is not known.
* * *
Can a church, a New Testament church, keeping the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace and love, be found in that miserable babel composed of Trinitarians, Unitarians, Hutchinsonians, Universal Restorationists, Rellyan Universalists, Destrovetionists, Swedenborgians, Mystics, Dunkers, Jumpers, Shakers, and all others who profess to take the Bible for their guide?"
The Association convened; with Zion Hill, beginning October 17th. Ezra Courtney preached the opening sermon from Acts, 20:28. Chas. Felder was retained as moderator, J. A. Ranaldson being chosen secretary.
Mount Nebo church was received, returning from the Pearl River Association. The delegates were P. Bankston and J. Tate. The usual correspondence was maintained, and a mission collection was taken on the Sabbath, amounting to $93.37 1/2, which was delivered to the delegates to the State Convention.
The churches were requested to report the dates of their constitution at the next annual meeting, and the body adjourned to meet with Jerusalem church next year.
October 16th to 18th the Association was in session with Jerusalem church, Amite county. The opening sermon was by Ezra Courtney again this year, and he was made moderator, while Mr. Ranaldson was re-elected clerk. The correspondence with other bodies was still large, the Pearl River Association sending Elder Jesse Crawford, whose name appears for the first time.
The preaching on the Lord's day was by Elders Cooper, Courtney and Ranaldson, and a mission collection of $66 was received. Treasurer J. M. Mumford reported amount on hand as $146.12.
The place of meeting is Ebenezer, and the time October 15th, 16th and 17th. Chas. Felder preaches the sermon from I Cor. 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
Ezra Courtney is again chosen to preside, and a new man, Maston Crain, is the scribe. J. M. Mumford resigns the office of treasurer, and David Lea is elected to succeed him.
About this time the doctrinal teaching of Alexander Campbell was exerting a mischievous influence, bringing strife and divisions, and the Association warned the churches to discountenance these heretical doctrines; also, not to invite into their pulpits any preacher holding the same.
A. S. Mercer had been engaged as associational missionary the past year. His report showed that he had traveled 670 miles, being engaged ninety-seven days, and had preached to about eighteen hundred people. He was paid $37 for this service.
Salem church presented this query for consideration: "What will amount to heresy in a Baptist church in a scriptural point of view?" To which the following answer was given: "A departure from any gospel doctrine is heresy, according to the Scriptures. The Baptists believing that their faith is in strict conformity to the Scriptures, whatever is contrary to their faith is heresy to them."
One by one the old preachers are passing away, and we hear of them no more. This time it is David Cooper, whose name we have so often heard, and who had been so active and faithful all these years. He was the Association's second moderator, and served in that capacity at different times for ten years. Mr. Cooper came from old Salem church, and was associated with such men as Richard Curtis, Moses Hadley, Ezra Courtney and Thomas Mercer.
The following brief sketch is from the Baptist Encyclopedia, page 274:"Rev. David Cooper, M. D., was a distinguished pioneer Baptist in southwest Mississippi, who combined the callings of minister and physician. He came to the State in 1802, and from this time until his death in 1830 he was assiduous in his labors in Southwestern Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, and, perhaps, did more than any other man to give character to these early Baptists. Himself a man of learning, he was a vigorous advocate of ministerial education. He was also an active promoter of missions."Mention is made in the minutes of the departure of the old servant of God as follows:"Resolved, unanimously, That we do very sensibly feel our very great loss in the death of our dearly beloved and venerable Dr. D. Cooper. He was a laborer in this vineyard in early times. He labored long for the prosperity, union and happiness of these churches under circumstances and seasons that tried the souls of men. He endured hardships as a good soldier, distinctly characterized for firmness, decision, gentleness, prudence and circumspection. He persevered with patience and untiring zeal in the great and benevolent enterprise of the gospel. He died as he lived, strong in the faith, exemplary in fortitude and holiness, giving glory, honor and praise to God in the highest. His light was shed on all around; his influence and usefulness were realized by all. But his work is done; he is gone to his long and happy home; the mourners are seen in his beloved family, in all the churches, in all the Associations. And our sorrow, though not without hope, will continue as long as his memory lives in this body."It is worthy of remark that up to this time Mr. Cooper was never called "Doctor," in the associational minutes. In fact, titles were not much in use among these early Baptists. They sometimes employed the term "Elder," but more generally all titles were left off.
[Taken from T. C. Shilling, Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association From Its Preliminary Organization in 1806 To The Centennial Session in 1906, 1908, pp. 31-47. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Go to the Next Chapter
Baptist History Homepage