The Association met with New Providence church, Amite county, October 21st to 23d. Davis Collins preached from John, 5:39, 40. Letters from seventeen churches were read, and Ezra Courtney was re-elected moderator, with David Lea as clerk. Nothing is said about electing another treasurer, so we conclude that Mr. Lea held both offices.
Hopewell church, Franklin county, was received, the delegates being J. F. Lee and J. Ford.
Davis Collins, Shadrach Coker and Jesse Crawford were the corresponding messengers from the Pearl River Association; J. Burch and N. Morris from the Union, and J. Hill from the Louisiana.
The appointments for the Sabbath services were Elders Morris, Courtney and Collins.
Ezra Courtney was paid the sum of $50, and Charles Felder $29.50, for missionary work.
The circular letter this year was written by Ezra Courtney, his subject being the "Omniscience of God," and beginning as follows:
"The book of nature and divine revelation declares the infinite wisdom, power and goodness of God. The starry heavens, moving in the most profound order for thousands of years without varying from the divine appointment, declare an infinite Creator who made them. God comprehends every inch of space and minute of time, with every creature and action, whether good or evil, that has been or may be, from the beginning of the world to the end thereof.
* * *
With God there is no progression of time or succession of thought; but all His decrees and determinations are coeval with Himself, and according to His good pleasure. He decreed to have a church or kingdom in the world of holy men and women to obey and serve Him in love. The number of these subjects with God are definitely known, from righteous Abel to the top stone that will be brought in with shouting, saying, 'Grace, grace unto it'; and they are in the all-comprehending mind of God, the future with the past; their names are written in heaven in the Lamb's Book of Life, and they are known with more accuracy than ever a military officer numbered his troops."
After writing along this line at some length, Mr. Courtney discusses heresies and divisions, and finally draws his sword on Alexander Campbell and his followers in this robust fashion:"When Alexander Campbell first came before the public as a writer his religious views and feelings were thought to be identified with the Baptists. Some thought him a champion in Israel; but it was not long before some discovered a want of stability in him. Like clouds that are carried about of winds, like a wandering star, he has gone from the highest views of Calvin to the lowest grade of Arminianism. Poor man! How desperately he has fallen! When Mr. Campbell announced that historically believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God was the only requisite to baptism, and that baptism was regeneration itself, the Baptists knew too well what these heresies had done, and would do again, if admitted. They withdrew their fellowship from Mr. Campbell and his followers. Though he thought to have escaped being noticed by crying out against popery and priestcraft, he has entirely failed. He is like the nurse that cries out against the child that she daily nurtures; he cries out against what his principles have produced and naturally lead to. Because the Baptists did not choose to build meeting-houses for their worst enemies, and hold in their communion those that were laboring to divide and destroy their churches, Mr. Campbell charges them with being the worst persecuting sect in Christendom, the Roman Catholics in Spain only excepted. This charge he knew was not true when he made it; but evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim. 3: 13.) Those Campbellites that have come among us, saying that they were Baptists and were not, we have found to be deceivers, railers at our faith, our associations, Christian experience, and the special operations of the Spirit of God on the soul. These schismatics have produced discord and schism between those that had long lived in unity. Some of them have shown no regard to the civil nor religious rites of the church, but have made their way to our pulpits with violence, in one instance forcing off the weatherboarding of a good house, and going in with impunity and speaking reproachfully of us. From the overbearing conduct and language of Campbell and his party, what would be the consequence were five-eighths of the United States of their faith?"From the foregoing deliverance on Mr. Campbell and his adherents it appears that considerable discord and excitement prevailed at this time. The incident of forcing off the weatherboarding of a church, referred to by Mr. Courtney, a footnote says occurred at Ebenezer, in Amite county.
The meeting was held with Mount Nebo church, Louisiana, not far from the present town of Amite City, beginning October 20th. Jesse Young preached the sermon from I Peter, 5:9, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." The presiding officer was Chas. Felder, and the clerk, David Lea.
There was much preaching at these meetings, as the following appointments will show: Those for the Lord's day being Elders Crawford, Courtney and Collins, while those for Monday were J. T. Fairchild, J. E. Bailey and Wm. Fortinberry. Several of these ministers were visitors. And here we meet with William Fortinberry for the first time.
It is no new thing for spirituous liquors to be sold at religious meetings, as this resolution. will indicate:
Resolved, That this Association do discountenance all traffic in spirituous liquors, beer, cider, or bread, within such a distance of our meetings as to in any wise disturb our peace and worship; and Wd do, therefore, earnestly request all persons to refrain from the same."
Another resolution was passed, complaining of a sad decline in religious activity, and of a violent spirit of political strife. Mention was also made of the fearful march of cholera and other wasting pestilences abroad in the land. Whereupon a day was appointed for solemn fasting and prayer to Almighty God that He might interpose His gracious and powerful arm in reviving the' churches, in restraining the spirit of violence, and in causing the pestilence to depart.
A committee was authorized to employ a suitable man as missionary within the limits of the Association, who should receive one dollar per day for his services.
Hepzibah church, Louisiana, October 19th, 20th and 21st. Charles Felder delivered the introductory discourse from Acts, 5:42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
Ezra Courtney was the presiding officer, while David Lea continued to do the writing. Two churches were received -- viz., Friendship, in Pike county, and Beulah, in Washington parish, Louisiana. Their delegates were Z. Reeves from the former, and W. Sibley and W. Hagan from the latter. This is our first introduction to Zachariah Reeves, who is to have a remarkable career for nearly forty years to come.
The appointments for preaching on the Sabbath were Elders Young, Coker, Felder and Reeves, the latter to conclude by exhortation. And the treasurer's report showed $156.62 on hand for missionary purposes.
The doctrines of Alexander Campbell, also the "two-seed" theory, were still agitating the public mind, and the old "Mississippi" makes another deliverance as follows:
"Resolved, unanimously, That this Association discountenance and will not fellowship or, knowingly commune with any church or individual member who holds the doctrines or dogmas held by the Christian Baptists, alias the Campbellites; and, also, those held by Elder Parker, alias the two-seed doctrine, so far as relates to the eternal existence of the devil and his being literally the father of a certain portion of the human family."
As we proceed along the years we find that each generation has its peculiar trials and difficulties. No time or place is exempt, and so it will ever be until the Christ shall come again and banish the reign of sin.
East Fork church gets the meeting this year, the time being October 18th to 20th. The sermon is delivered by the venerable Ezra Courtney from Acts 15:6, and the same officers are continued.
The Sabbath services were conducted by Elders Crawford, Courtney and Martin; on Monday by Elders Davis, Webb, Reeves and Coker. Some of these were visitors, and frequently no initials are given.
The Association withdraws from the Natalbany church (Louisiana) because of their having embraced the erroneous "two-seed" theory. A few female members had remained true, and they were advised to unite with some church of the Baptist faith.
It is most gratifying that our brethren of past generations were so correct and zealous on the question of world-wide evangelization. The following splendid resolution was adopted at this meeting:
Resolved, That this Association recommend the churches of her union to take into view the blessing of God on foreign and home missionary labors; that each individual should instruct himself by a liberal and prayerful zeal to send the gospel to every human being, for it is God's method by which He will give to His Son the heathen for His inheritance, and the remotest parts of the earth for His possession."
This tribute is paid to the memory of Elder James Cain, who had died since the last annual meeting:
"The Association laments her loss in the death of Bro. James Cain. His opportunities in the ministry had always been limited, but in soundness of faith and a gospel walk there are few that excel him. In his perfect senses, he met death in triumph, leaving a lonely wife and a large family of children to mourn their loss, while he entered into the joys of his Lord."
This meeting was held with Zion Hill church, Amite County, embracing October 17th to 19th. Elder Shadrach Coker preached the opening sermon from I Peter, 1:23-25, and the body was organized by the election of Chas. Felder moderator and Henry D. F. Roberts clerk, the latter being a new preacher from Hepzibah church, in Louisiana.
Two new churches were received -- viz., First Church, of Jackson, Louisiana, and Ramah church, in Lawrence County. Delegates from the former were S. M. Bryan and F. Bryan; from the latter, F. White.
J. P. Martin came as a messenger from the Pearl River Association; J. Fairchild and J. Webb from the Union.
The Sabbath services, conducted by Elders Webb, Fairchild and Courtney, were said to be deeply spiritual. It may be ob- served that the effort was made at these associational meetings to reach the unconverted, and frequently there were seasons of revival.
Another preacher appears on the scene this year in the person of Thomas M. Bond. He comes with Chas. Felder from East Fork.
The "Committee on Missions" made this report:
"Bro. Chas. Felder rode thirty days, preached thirty-six sermons, and traveled 444 miles, for which he is allowed $30. Bro. Jesse Young rode nineteen days, preached twenty sermons, and traveled 350 miles. for which service he is allowed $19."
It was reported on good authority that J. A. Ranaldson had embraced heretical views, and the Association withdrew from him in consequence. Mr. Ranaldson had held positions of honor and trust; had been often appointed to preach, and was evidently held in high esteem among his brethren. The incident is a sad one, and serves to recall Paul's admonition, "Be ye steadfast, unmovable."
The Association met with Galilee Church, October 15th to 17th. The first sermon was preached by H. D. F. Roberts, and the body was organized by re-electing the same officers. The church at Clinton, La., applied for admission, her delegates being James B. Smith and John M. Trescott.
The visiting ministers were James Bailie, Wm. Martin, Ashley Vaughan, S. S. Lattimore and Jesse Crawford.
The matter of forming another State Convention was considered, and it was recommended that a meeting, consisting of delegates from associations, churches and missionary societies, be held at Washington, Miss., in December following, to consider the propriety of organizing such Convention. This looked to the forming of the present State Convention.
Satisfaction was expressed that the great missionary, Adoniram Judson, had completed the translation of the Bible into the Burman language. And, the Judson Female Institute then being contemplated, was recommended to the friends of religion and literature.
The "Southwestern Religious Luminary," edited by Ashley Vaughan, Washington, Miss., was indorsed and recommended.
The meeting is with Jerusalem church, Amite county, October 14th to 16th. J. B. Smith preaches the sermon from Luke, 16:2, "Give an account of thy stewardship." Nineteen churches are represented, and the same officers are re-elected. Three more churches are received -- viz., Mount Enon and Bethlehem, in St. Helena parish, and Hebron, in Livingston parish, Louisiana. J. Strickland and S. M. Bankston were from Mount Enon; D. W. Chaney and A. Penning from Bethlehem; T. M. Bond and H. Achord from Hebron.
The usual correspondence was maintained; J. P. Martin and William Fortinberry coming from the Pearl River Association; N. Granberry, from the Union; G. Sommerill and J. Craft, from the Leaf River.
Elders Granberry, Martin and Collins were selected for the Lord's day services.
No mission work is reported, the funds having been turned over in 1835 to the Baptist Home Mission Society for Louisiana and Mississippi. And a resolution is passed, expressing gratitude and approval for the work of the Society.
Jackson, La., in the Presbyterian house of worship, is where the saints gather this year on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October. Zachariah Reeves is the preacher of the introductory sermon, the text being Titus 2:14. Letters from twenty-one churches are received, and the present officers are re-elected. Three new churches ask to be admitted -- viz., Mount Pleasant, Pike county, and the churches at Liberty, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La. Zachariah Reeves and R. Albritton came from Mount Pleasant; D. Lea and N. Chalfant from Liberty; P. Thomas and William Thomas from Baton Rouge.
The corresponding messengers from other bodies were: From Pearl River Association, William Fortinberry; from the Union, J. Bailey; from the Leaf River, G. Davis and T. C. Hunt.
Elders Davis Collins, Zachariah Reeves and H. D. F. Roberts were appointed to preach on the Sabbath; while Elders Fortinberry, Bailey, Bond and Davis were selected for Monday.
Ezra Courtney, possibly the oldest minister in the Association, who was in the organization more than thirty years ago, and who all this time has been an honored and leading man, finds himself in trouble with Hepzibah and Ebenezer churches. He presented a petition to the Association complaining of "corrupt and unjust conduct" towards him by these churches. The petition, however, was rejected on the ground that the Association had no right to interfere with the government of the churches, but recommended that an advisory council be called to investigate the trouble.
The Circular letter was written this year by H. D. F. Roberts on "Gospel Order."
The body convened October 5th, 6th and 7th with New Providence church. Thomas M. Bond delivered the Associational sermon from Ps. 126:3, "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
Twenty-six churches were represented, and the body was organized by re-electing Chas. Felder moderator, and by the election of C. E. Pinckney clerk. Two more churches were received, viz.: Mr. Ebal, in Livingston parish, and Mr. Moriah, in East Baton Rouge parish, La. R. Hutchinson came from the former, while M. Naul and D. Lewis were delegates from the latter. Visiting ministers were M. Chadick, William Fortinberry, W. Magee, S. Thigpen, W. Mullins and V. W. Brock. And the Sabbath appointments were Fortinberry, Reeves and Thigpen; while those for Monday were Brock, Mullins, Collins and Wall.
Whether the Advisory Council was ever called in the case of Mr. Courtney and the two churches mentioned, does not appear; but Hepzibah church complained to the Association that Mr. Courtney, whom she had excluded, had been received into fellowship by the church at Jackson, La. The body still refused to interfere, repeating the advice given last year.
The Association delivers an opinion on valid baptism, viz: That a regularly authorized administrator, a believer in Christ, and an immersion in the name of the Trinity, are the three things necessary. Therefore, immersion administered by Campbellite preachers, or "reforming teachers," as they styled themselves, was not valid baptism.
The Circular Letter was written on "Christian Communion," by Thomas M. Bond.
Ebenezer church, Amite county, is were the session is held this year, October 3d, 4th and 5th. Colossians, 2:4, is the text discussed by Chas. Felder, in preaching the Associational sermon. Twenty-four churches respond to the rollcall, and the organization is completed by continuing Chas. Felder in the chair, while J. B. Smith is selected to do the writing. Line Creek church, near the Louisiana line, is received, her messengers being J. Tate and L. Wall.
Elders N. R. Granberry, W. H. Anderson and M. Barlow were the visiting ministers. Preaching services on the Lord's day were conducted by Elders Granberry, Anderson, Reeves and Wall, and this observation is made: "The congregation was large, and although many individuals did not observe that order and give that strict attention which was desirable, yet we hope good was done, which hope was strengthened by the very favorable appearances in the close on Monday evening."
Elder N. R. Granberry represented the Executive Board of the Mississippi Baptist State Convention, and made an address before the Association. This was the present State Convention, and Mr. Granberry was called the agent of the Board. Nothing is said of co-operation.
The body mourns the deaths of two more of her preachers, viz: Davis Collins and N. A. Skillinger. Mr. Collins had long been active in the work of the ministry, while Mr. Skillinger had been only recently licensed. The obituary says: "Bro. Collins was a native of South Carolina, and for many years a respectable preacher in that State; but for the last nineteen years he has labored with great ability and acceptance in the State of Mississippi, making a period of fifty-two years in which he was engaged in the ministry."
No mention is made of the trouble between the Hepzibah and Jackson churches concerning Mr. Courtney, but his name appears as a delegate from Ebenezer.
The following is a list of the churches and delegates for 1840, and the reader will notice the custom then in use of employing single initials:
New Providence -- D. Cox, J. Thompson.
Ebenezer -- W. Jackson, E. Courtney.
East Fork -- C. Felder, J. Everett.
Zion Hill -- M. Seal, A. Butler.
Jerusalem -- W. B. Wall, H. Wall.
Hepzibah -- S. Walker, B. Taylor.
Mt. Nebo -- D. Sanders, P. Bankston.
Mars Hill -- W. Whittington, R. Roundtree.
Mt. Zion -- A. Cloy, W. Totton.
Hopewell -- T. Potter, M. Cuckles.
Galilee -- J. Stranghan, T. Causey.
Salem -- R. Quin, P. Bond.
Pinckneyville -- N. Bowren.
Friendship -- S. Coker, A. Moak.
Beulah -- W. L. Sibley, J. Brewer. Ramah -- J. Young, W. Clark.
Jackson -- F. Brian.
Bethlehem -- D. Morgan, A. Pennington.
Mt. Enon -- C. D. Strickland, S. N. Bankston.
Mt. Pleasant -- Z. Reeves, S. Prestridge.
Liberty -- J. B. Turnipseed, B. Bates.
Mt. Moriah -- D. Lewis, W. Vinings.
Line Creek -- J. Tate, L. Wall.
East Fork, Amite county, is the place of meeting on the 1st, 2d and 3d of October. Zachariah Reeves is the first preacher to be heard, whose text is Acts, 20:28. Letters are read from twenty-seven churches, and a new moderator and clerk are chosen -- viz., Shadrach Coker and Hamilton McKnight, both preachers. Six more churches send messengers across the country with letters, aking admission into the Mississippi Association, as follows:
Sharon -- C. Hughes, G. Hughes.
Mt. Pisgah -- W. H. Varnado, J. Brewer.
Bluff Creek -- D. M. Chaney, D. Morgan.
Mt. Gilead -- P. H. Harbour, J. Simpson.
New Orleans -- F. Clark.
Friendship -- G. Ryals.
These churches were all in Louisiana, except Friendship.
Whether the church from New Orleans is the one which, having been dismissed, had returned, is not stated.
The committee reported that Elders W. H. Anderson, William Fortinberry, F. Clark and Shadrach Coker would preach on the Sabbath in the order of their names.
Notice is taken of the death of Deacon John Stranghan, of Galilee church. He is spoken of as an esteemed member and an efficient laborer.
Strange as it may seem, for a number of years nothing has been said about any of the subjects of general interest, such as temperance, education, missions, etc. It is probable that the Association was still co-operating with the Baptist Home Mission Society for Louisiana and Mississippi; but, if so, no reports were made.
A familiar name appears in the list of delegates this year. It is that of A. W. Smith, from Mt. Enon church, in Louisiana. When a young man, Mr. Smith united with East Fork church, being baptized by Elder Chas. Felder one cold day, when the ice was plentiful. He afterward moved to Louisiana, where he lived to the great age of 86 years and eight months. He was in the organization of the Mississippi River Association, and was, beyond doubt, the last survivor of that meeting. For a number of years Mr. Smith was the treasurer, and afterward the moderator of that body. His death occurred December 12, 1901, in St. Helena parish, La., sixty years after he was in this meeting of the old "Mississippi."
Bluff Creek church, in Louisiana, was the place of meeting from September 30th to October 2d. Elder M. Barlow preached the introductory sermon from Romans, 3,28. Thirty-four churches answered to their names, and two others were received -- Jordan, in West Feliciana parish, Louisiana, and Spring Hill, in Franklin county, Mississippi. T. Woods and S. Woods were from the former. and J. Sojourner and H. B. Cole from the latter.
Chas. Felder and Thomas M. Bond were chosen moderator and clerk respectively. The visiting ministers were T. Rand, Jr., A. J. Spencer, J, Bailey, W. Mullins, William Fortinberry and Calvin Magee.
The name of the Pinckneyville church was changed to Fort Adams, in accordance with an act of the Mississippi Legislature, and the Association recognized the new name.
The committed on devotional exercises made this report: "That Brethren Magee, Mullins and Fortinberry preach on Saturday, and Brethren Reeves, Clark, Felder and Bailey preach on Sunday."
The Association had cause to regret that at different times there had appeared in a certain paper, the Banner and Pioneer," peculiar expressions, calculated to injure the views and characters of the ministry and churches of this body. Here are some of the expressions complained of: "Singing psalms in a cook loft"; "strikers"; "guardians of the faith"; "self-exalted, domineering keepers of conscience"; "pullers of wires," etc.
Nothing is said of the nature or location of this paper, but the Association "resolved'" that these things were "highly censurable."
The name of G. F. Webb appears for the first time as a delegate from Liberty. Mr. Webb is to be a prominent and useful member of the body for many years to come.
There is a report in this year's minutes on the "State of Religion," showing an increase in membership of two hundred and three. Concerning the New Orleans church, the report says:
"This church, under the pastoral labor of Bro. F. Clark, has experienced a steady and permanent growth; their congregations are well attended, and the smiles of God are continued to them. Among their number baptized, were two Pedo-Baptist preachers, men of talents and experience, who promise usefulness."
The Association met this year for the first time With the Liberty church, the date being September 30th to October 3d. Howell Wall preached the opening sermon from John, 3:16.
The Association was in mourning over the departure of her former Moderator, Chas. Felder, and a committee was authorized to prepare a suitable obituary.
Zachariah Reeves goes to the Moderator's seat for the first time, a position he is to fill for many years. H. D. F. Roberts was chosen to keep the records.
Seven churches asked for dismission with a view to organizing another Association. They were: Hepzibah, Clinton, Bethel, Jerusalem, Pierce's Creek, Fort Adams and Jordan. This move was to organize the Mississippi River Association.
The usual correspondence from other bodies was received, and a number of visiting preachers were in attendance. The Lord's day services are well spoken of, being held in a beautiful grove near Liberty. J. B. Smith, T. M. Bond, William Fortinberry and L. Schofield were the preachers, and it is said, "Many were moved to tears."
The matter of preserving the history of the Association was receiving attention at this early period, as the following item will show:
"By motion of Bro. Roberts, Bro. E. Courtney, with the aid of Bro. T. M. Bond, was appointed to draw up and furnish Bro. D. Benedict with a brief history of this Association, and of the elder churches composing it."
In the Baptist Encyclopedia, page 391, appears this brief note on the life of our former moderator:
"Rev. Chas. Felder, a pioneer preacher in Mississippi and Louisiana, was born in 1783; began to preach in 1809; came to Mississippi in 1819, and was an active co-laborer with Cooper, Reeves, Courtney and others in South Mississippi; was often moderator of the Mississippi Association; died in 1843."
The Associational committee selected to prepare a suitable obituary for the minutes, was composed of Elders J. B. Smith, Ezra Courtney and Thomas M. Bond. In their report they say:
"It has pleased an all-wise Providence to remove, since our last meeting, our beloved brother and moderator, C. Felder, who was in the 60th year of his age, and who has been thirty-four years a preacher; twenty-four years of that time he has lived in this Association. He was a sound, consistent and able minister or the New Testament. As a pastor he has been surpassed by none in our country; as an evangelist and revivalist, few exceeded him. His Christian deportment and soundness in the faith, connected with his indefatigable labors for the extension of the Redeemer's Kingdom, his malting and preserving peace in the denomination, and with all men, have embalmed his memory with undying esteem."
Mr. Felder was moderator first in 1827, and last in 1842. He was a popular and useful man in his day. His home was in the East Fork community, and here his body waits the Savior's second coming.
Mr. Felder's wife also died during the past year, whether before or after her husband, is not stated. A quotation says: "In life they were lovely and pleasant, and in their death they were not long divided."
The meeting was held with Galilee church, October 5th, 6th and 7th. Shadrach Coker preached the Associational sermon from Ephesians, 3:8, and was elected moderator, with G. P. Claughton clerk. Sixteen churches were represented, and three others received, as follows: Bethany, M. T. Conn and S. Foster, delegates; Mount Zion, William Martin and J. A. Reed, and Biogue Chitto, A. Reeves. Where these churches were located is not stated. It appears clear, however, that Bogue Chitto is the same church that was dismissed in 1820, to go into the organization of the Pearl River Association, and, after twenty-four years, returns. This may be gathered from the family names. In 1845 this church is represented by J. Thomas and J. Walker; in 1846, by J. Thomas and W. Gulledge.
A number of visiting ministers were in attendance from other Associations, viz: Elders Magee, Crawford, Granberry and Bond. Elder W. B. Wall came from the Mississippi River Association, but objection was raised on a question of orthodox and the corresponding letter was tabled until Monday, when the matter provoked considerable discussion, and Mr. Wall finally withdrew the correspondence. The point of difference between the two Associations is not given, but it is probable that it involved the matter of election, since the two bodies express this doctrine in different terms.
The Mississippi Association had under consideration at this time the matter of revising the fourth article of faith as respects form, a committee having been appointed for this purpose, composed of Ezra Courtney, S. Coker, J. Young, Z. Reeves, H. D. Roberts, W. Clark and T. R. Cheatham. In their report they recommend that no change be made in said article, and mention a number of Scriptures in support of the same.
Elders Granberry, Crawford, Bond and Young were named to do the preaching on the Sabbath, and it is said that the Word was preached with great power.
David Lea offered his resignation as treasurer and T. R. Cheatham, of New Providence church, was elected to the place. And a resolution was passed, thanking Mr. Lea for the fidelity with which he had discharged the duties of his office.
A custom was in vogue at this time of one church bringing charges against another church on doctrinal questions. We have a case in point this year, when Zion Hill presents a grievance against Liberty, and a committee is appointed to look into the matter; whereupon the Liberty church asked for dismission, but the request was denied on the ground of the existing difficulty.
The place of meeting was Mount Pleasant, Pike county, and the time October 4th, 5th and 6th. Elder M. T. Conn preached the first sermon from Titus, 2:14. Eighteen churches sent messengers, and the Association was organized by the election of Zachariah Reeves as moderator and G. P. Claughton as clerk. Four new churches were admitted at this meeting, as follows: New Providence, Copiah county, Z. Davis, delegate; Bethesda, Wm. McCoy and T. Johnson; Mount Moriah, U. Gill and J. H. Sutton; Sarepta, C. Stewart and B. H. Buckley. As in so many cases, the location of these Churches is not given, except that of New Providence; hence, it is difficult to decide whether they once belonged to this Association, and, being dismissed, had returned, or whether they were new organizations having the same names.
Elders Fortinberry, McKenzie, Brock and Bond conducted the Sabbath services. Nothing whatever is said of any mission collection, nor of any missionary operations. This long silence on the subject is somewhat surprising, especially, in view of the expressions and efforts of former years. The report of the Finance Committee showed $134.45 on hand, but this money was used in publishing the minutes and paying the corresponding messengers to other bodies.
The idea prevails that people of past generations were more or less indifferent to the cause of education; while this may have been true to some extent, it was not universally so. The following resolution, passed at this meeting, indicates that our Baptist leaders had a high appreciation of educational advantages: "Resolved, That this Association highly approves the plan now moving and progressing in some parts of our State, for the promotion of a regular common school system of education throughout all the counties of the State of Mississippi."
The doctrinal difference between Zion Hill and Liberty churches was reported amicably settled by the latter making some changes in her articles of faith. Just what the difference was is not clearly stated.
Mount Zion, Franklin. county, gets the meeting of the Association on the 3d, 4th and 5th of October. Elder Jesse Young is the preacher of the introductory sermon, his text being I Thes. 5:21. Letters are read from twenty-three churches, and the organization is completed by the re-election of Zachariah Reeves as moderator, and G. P. Claughton as clerk.
Two more churches ask for admission, viz: New Salem, West Feliciana, La., J. D. McFarland and B. Miles, delegates; Pierce's Creek, R. Tickle. The clerk adds, concerning this latter church: "It having withdrawn from the Mississippi River Association, and adopted articles of faith that were orthodox, was received without a letter of dismission from that body, on the ground that it did not come from a body of the same faith and order with us."
Elders Jesse Crawford and Calvin Magee came from the Pearl River Association, and Elder V. W. Brock from the Union. A number of ministers preached during the meeting, but we still have no mention of any missionary work being done by the Association.
Towards the close of the proceedings appears this resolution:
"Resolved, That we respectfully request the brethren and friends who may entertain this body at its future meetings, to refrain from presenting ardent spirits in their accommodations."
This indicates clearly what the social custom was sixty years ago; it also shows that our leaders realized the lurking danger of the custom, and accordingly raised a warning voice against it.
The Association agreed to unite with the Pearl River Association in setting apart Monday after the 4th Sunday in the following November as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer to God, that He would send more gospel ministers into His vineyard. The ranks of the ministry were being thinned by the hand of death, and the need of more preachers was felt. The departure of Elders William Martin and James Bailey was noted, and fitting, but brief, tributes were published, as follows: "We are called upon at this time in a truly solemn manner, to commemorate the death of one of our brethren in the ministry, William Martin, who departed this life in the midst of a field of usefulness, and has gone to reap the reward of all his labors. He was a member and pastor of the Mt. Zion church, Copiah county, Miss. We have not the particulars of his life, but we know him as a brother beloved in the Lord. He was truly bold and undaunted in defending the truth; pious in his life, amiable in his manners, and godly in his deportment."
"We are also called upon by an act of Divine Providence to mourn the loss of Bro. James Bailey, of Copiah county, one of our most amiable and gifted ministers. Bro. Bailey has been about thirty years proclaiming with great success the unsearchable riches of the Redeemer's grace; and for the last seventeen years was pastor of New Providence church, Copiah county, where his summons arrived from the throne of Jehovah, to yield up his earthly care, and attend to the presence of his Lord and Master."
The Association held her forty-first annual meeting this year with Pierce's Creek church, ten miles west of Woodville, Wilkinson county, October 2d, 3d and 4th. Elder Zachariah Reeves preached the sermon from this text: "And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It would be interesting to know what interpretation the old preacher gave of this passage, but of this we have not the slightest intimation. If a guess may be ventured, however, it was that the "rock" refers to Christ rather than to Peter.
The body was organized by continuing the same officers. Mt. Olive church, Franklin county, was received, M. Seal and W. C. Smith being the delegates.
Only one corresponding messenger was present at this meeting and that was Elder Jesse Crawford, from the Pearl River Association. Mr. Crawford was probably living at this time on Bogue Chitto river, in Pike county, and if the reader is acquainted with South Mississippi, he will know something of the distance this preacher traveled to attend the Association; nor was this a day of surreys and buggies, wide roads and good bridges.
The appointments for preaching on the Lord's day were Crawford, Reeves and Bond.
A letter was received from the corresponding secretary of the Baptist State Convention, inviting the co-operation of the Association in the matter of assisting weak churches within the State. But it seemed to meet with little interest or response. The only reply made was, that the subject should be referred to the churches, and if any of them should "feel free to give a helping hand," they were to send up such funds to the next meeting. This apparent indifference is not so surprising, when we remember that it is now twelve years since we have heard anything of missions in the Association.
It will be remembered that this body has not been in fraternal sympathy with the Mississippi River Association because of an alleged doctrinal difference. At this meeting a letter was received from the Pearl River Association, requesting the appointment of a delegation to meet in convention with similar representatives from other bodies with a view to an adjustment of the difficulty.
The question of preserving the history of this body was still in the minds of the brethren, and accordingly at this session Elder Thomas M. Bond was authorized to inquire into the cost of publishing in book form the minutes of the Association from its organization to the present time. If he found that the sale of the book would pay the cost of publication, he was to have the work done immediately. And Mr. Bond was to have any surplus that might arise from the sale of the book.
A circular letter on the "Resurrection of the Body" is published in this Minute, written by Elder Chas. Felder a short time before his death. A few quotations from the old preacher's parting message will be read with interest.
"For our knowledge of the resurrection of the body we are wholly indebted to divine revelation. Our faith in this doctrine rests entirely on the testimony of God. It is not analogous to any known law of nature, that animal bodies, once dead, should be reorganized and reanimated. These effects, however, can be produced by Onmipotence, and require no greater power and wisdom than were employed to form the body at first.
"The Athenians mocked when they heard of the resurrection of the dead; and the Sadducees, not knowing the Scriptures, rejected the resurrection as an unreasonable doctrine; and even the Corinthians drank more or less of the same poison. But however supernatural the work may be of raising the dead, no doctrine is more unequivocally asserted in the Bible -- none more emphatically and explicitly taught.
"Mr. Brown says, in his Bible Dictionary, that 'the law of God is given to our whole man, and is violated by our soul and body in connection. The body as an open part, admits of hints of good and temptations to sin. The carnal affections depending on the body, corrupt and mislead the mind. What outward actions the soul designs, whether good or evil, the body executes. When the heart is filled with hatred to God, the tongue and other bodily members are instruments to execute it. When the renewed soul loves and cleaves to the Lord Jesus Christ, the tongue utters his praise, and the other bodily members labor and endure suffering for his sake.' If these different parts of human nature share thus in actions of good or evil, it is reasonable they share together in the everlasting reward or punishment. Hence, the body must be restored to life and runited to the soul, never more to be separated.
* * *
"Our assent to the resurrection of Christ is to be governed in part, though not exclusively, by the testimony of those who were eye-witnesses. In this respect the account given by the evangelists and apostles carries irresistible conviction. Their conduct in asserting the resurrection of Christ is utterly unaccountable on any supposition except that of a firm belief, founded on the resistless evidence of their own senses. Like plain, honest men, they simply declared the fact. They persisted in declaring it. From what motives did they act? Did they seek for ease, or fame, or wealth, or honor? No. In asserting the resurrection of Christ they sacrificed everything usually esteemed among men; they exposed themselves to reproach and persecution, to poverty and distress. Would they have done these things if they had not had the most incontestable evidence that Christ had risen from the dead?
* * *
"That the same body will be raised, is evident from the very nature of a resurrection; for if the same body was not raised, it could be no resurrection, but a new creation. It is their bodies that were once vile and mortal, diseased and dead, that bore the image of the earthly Adam, that shall be raised, and changed into the image of the heavenly Adam, and suited to that spiritual and immortal felicity to which they shall be admitted. Although death and the grave will retain their captives until the morning of the resurrection, the Captain of our salvation has vanquished death, and by his burial sacrificed the grave to all believers; and his resurrection assures them that their bodies shall be raised in their triumphs of glory; their victory over death and the grave will be honorable and complete.
* * *
It is worthy of remark that all men will be considered in that day either as in Adam or in Christ; and the righteous being in Christ, who lived and died and rose again as their surety, representative, and intercessor at the throne, they being one in union with Him, will consequently rise to the resurrection of life, and be admitted into the full fruition of glory. But the wicked not being found in Christ and with his righteousness on, but in Adam, that is to say in his depravity, corruption and guilt; will be raised by the power of Christ, as Judge of the universe; but it will be to the resurrection of damnation, by which we are to understand everlasting shame, contempt and endless torment. While hell shall give up its, departed souls, the earth and sea shall produce their bodies, and soul and body will exist eternally under the wrath of God."
"Eternity! O dreadful sound
To wretched, dying men."
This year, 1847, is the first time we have a list of the ordained ministers of the Association. They were as follows: Ezra Courtney, Shadrach Colter, Zachariah Reeves, Thomas M. Bond. Wilson Clark, Jesse Young, J. D. McFarland, Ham McKnight, Moses Seal, Roland Wilkinson. There was one licensed preacher by the name of A. Cloy.
It will perhaps be of interest to many to give a list of the churches and delegates at this time. They were as follows:
New Providence -- R. Thompson, T. R. Cheatham.
Ebenezer -- T. M. Bond, Lewis Perkins.
East Fork -- R. B. Dickey, James W. Felder.
Zion Hill -- Isaiah Cain, A. Butler.
Shiloh -- W. F. Dyson.
Galilee -- J. Jones, G. P. Claughton.
Hopewell -- Elihu Gresham.
Mars Hill -- William F. Cain.
Salem -- B. Carter.
Friendship -- F. Young.
Ramah -- Wilson Clark.
Jackson, La. -- No delegates.
Mt. Pleasant -- Zachariah Reeves, Jas. Price.
Liberty -- A. M. Lea, W. Z. Lea.
Mt. Zion -- Willis Cotton, A. Cloy.
Spring Hill -- A. Richmond, T. W. Scott.
Bethany -- Thomas G. Bailey.
Mt. Zion -- L. Smith, J. Minton.
Bogue Chitto -- J. Thomas.
Sarepta -- C. Stewart, Elihu McCaa.
New Salem -- J. D. McFarland, B. Miles.
Pierce's Creek -- W. Rule, B. Tickle.
Mt. Olive -- M. Seal, W. C. Smith.
This is the first time we meet with W. Z. Lea, of Liberty, who is to be identified with the body more than fifty years.
Thus closes the 41st annual session of the old "Mississippi." It was up to and including this year that Elder Thomas M. Bond collected the Minutes for these forty-one years, and had them re-published and bound in book form, and in so doing, he performed a valuable service to the denomination. It is from this book that the present Abstract History has been written, mainly, thus far. While the old records are in some respects wanting in details, still they are valuable in transmitting to coming generations the main facts of the first Baptist Association in Mississippi.
Hopewell church, Franklin county, is the place of meeting from September 30th to October 2nd. The Associational sermon is preached by J. D. McFarland, whose text is 2 Cor. 5:20. Elders Ham McKnight and A. McKenzie are appointed reading clerks, this being the first time the readers of the letters are thus designated. The former officers are re-elected, viz.: Zachariah Reeves moderator and G. P. Claughton clerk; the treasurer holding office for an indefinite time.
Elders Jesse Crawford and William Fortinberry were present from the Pearl River Association, notwithstanding the perpendicular hills of Franklin county, and the quicksands of the Homochitto. The regularity with which these preachers, as well as others, attended the Associational meetings, sometimes traveling across two or three counties and facing difficulties and dangers, is little short of marvelous; and it shows that they were thoroughly in earnest in the cause of Jesus Christ.
The re-publication of the Minutes in book form under the supervision of Thomas M. Bond, was reported to be in type, and the Association earnestly recommended the churches and friends generally, to buy the book that there might be no pecuniary loss.
This query was received from New Providence church: "Is it according to gospel order to receive members from the Campbellites without re-baptism?" It was deemed improper to answer the query in the form in which it was presented, but in order that the Association's position might be definitely known, the following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That this Association deems it unscriptural for a church to receive a person as a member from the Campbellites, Reformers, or any other denomination without baptism."
Concerning the difference between this and the Mississippi River Association, the following report was made by Zachariah Reeves, T. M. Bond, Wilson Clark and G. P. Claughton: "The undersigned persons, appointed delegates by your body in session last year, to meet in convention with the Pearl River, Mississippi River and Eastern Louisiana Associations, for the purpose of settling the difficulties existing between this and the Mississippi River, beg leave to report that we performed the services assigned us, and that, after a full and free investigation and explanation, the difficulty was fully and satisfactorily settled so far as we are concerned."
The doctrine at issue is still not stated, nor is it intimated that the Mississippi River Association had made any change in her articles of faith. The phrase, "full and free investigation and explanation," seems to indicate that the difference, whatever it may have been, was one of form or terms, rather than a serious doctrinal deviation.
The long silence on the subject of missions is broken this year as follows: "Whereas, this Association does not transact missionary business, therefore, Resolved, That we recommend to the favorable attention of the churches, the Missionary Society in its bounds, as affording a facility through which they may carry out their benevolent designs on that subject."
A resolution of thanks for generous hospitality was passed, which in the first of the kind to appear.
Another watchman on the walls of Zion whose name has become familiar has laid aside his armor and entered into rest. The following is from the obituary adopted at this meeting: "It is with feelings of deep sorrow that this Association has been informed of the death of our beloved brother, Elder Jesse Young, lately deceased, who departed this life since the last meeting of this body, on the 28th day of May last. Our deceased brother was a native of South Carolina and emigrated to this State in 1811; professed a hope in the Lord and Savior and was baptized in the year 1812; was ordained a minister of the gospel on the 15th day of August, 1827, at Mars Hill church, in the county of Amite, in this State. He served as a private in the war of 1812, and distinguished himself among that glorious band of patriots who periled their lives in defense of our beloved country. As a minister of the blessed gospel of the Savior. Bro. Young was remarkable for his zea1 and activity. His labors as such were indefatigable and greatly blessed. As one of the pioneers of the gospel, he was greatly instrumental in promoting the Redeemer's Kingdom in the southern portion of this State, and in the destitute sections of Louisiana. Under various circumstances, in heat and cold, sunshine and rain, he proclaimed the truth of the gospel to a perishing world, and ceased only from his labors when he was called away to reap the reward of the righteous, an inheritance among the saints. The deceased was a prominent member and promoter of the various religious and benevolent institutions established by our denomination, and was, emphatically, a living exponent of missionary principles."
The Association met this year with the Bogue Chitto church, Pike county, October 6th, 7th and 8th. Alexander McKenzie preached the sermon from Acts. 15:2. Twenty-four churches were represented, and the body was organized by re-electing the old officers.
Correspondence was received from the Pearl River, Mississippi River and Eastern Louisiana Associations, and the committee on devotional exercises reported that Elders Fortinberry, Clark and Crawford would preach on the Lord's day.
The body adopted a resolution of gratitude to God for His distinguishing mercy, for general good health and uninterrupted peace, and for the fact that foreign ports were being opened, and the missionaries were entering heathen cities with the Word of God. It was also further resolved that "we earnestly recommend to our churches and all Christians this indication of Divine Providence, as a suitable time for them to unite in their prayers and contributions for the foreign missionary operations, to aid in the great work of giving the gospel to the heathen, and for all other efforts for its spread at home as well as abroad."
We receive this year our first introduction to M. S. Shirk, of whom we shall hear more in the coming years.
==============[From T. C. Schilling, Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association From Its Preliminary Organization in 1806, To The Centennial Session in 1906, 1908, pp. 55-71. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.] Go to Next Chapter
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