It is wise and well for the present generation of Baptists, within the range of the Christian Respository, to take a retrospective view of the "Footsteps of the Fathers," copy their noble qualities and avoid their mistakes. The historical facts pertaining to the rise, progress, and peculiarities of the three forms of denominational existence in the old Southern States and the Mississippi Valley, are but dimly seen, and not well understood, by the present generation.
The "Distinctive Principles of Baptists," have been already discussed. The peculiarities of certain parties will now come under review. The parties called Regular and Separate Baptists came from Virginia and the Carolinas, among other pioneers, at the period of the earliest settlements in Kentucky, about the close of the revolutionary war, and constituted churches and organized associations co-eval with each other. Though the lines of non-intercourse were not tightly drawn, there was not mutual co-operation and a regular correspondence for some years. Let us look into the origin of these parties, and search out the peculiarities that prevented affinity.
The Regular Baptists may be traced to Wales, and formed, among the colonists that came from that country to America, from 1685 to the period of the American revolution. In some instances Baptist immigrants came over in an embodied church relation, with their pastor as a spiritual guide. During the same period English Baptists, more especially ministers, corresponding in principles with the Welsh Baptists, immigrated to the American colonies. In England, these were called Particular Baptists, to distinguish them from another English party, denominated General Baptists.
Their difference consisted in their diverse explanations of certain passages of scripture, and their philosophical reasonings, or rather speculations; and their inferences and conclusions, drawn from the premises adopted by their opponents. Historically, there was no connection between the General Baptists of England and the Separate Baptists in America, though their habits of thought and modes of reasoning were quite similar; and hence their doctrinal notions accorded.
It may here be understood, once for all, that no true Baptists, with due knowledge of their own fundamental principles, ever adopted any Confession of Faith, or human formula, as a "standard of doctrine and practice in the churches." It would subvert their foundation as a religious denomination, to adopt as a scheme of government any human interpretation of the inspired writings as their guide in faith and morals. We shall show presently the Regular Baptists did no such thing, and had no such design in the exposition of faith they put forth. Baptists are distinctive from most other sects in taking the scriptures -- the Old and New Testaments -- in their plain, obvious meaning, as their standard of faith and practice in religion. No human exposition can bind the conscience as a matter of faith. And in all religious controversies, the obvious meaning of the languages in which the revelation of God has been written, and not a mere translation, should be the last appeal.
The Regular Baptists in the middle Atlantic colonies, originated the Philadelphia association, in 1707, by several churches in Pennsylvania and New Jersey sending messengers to hold a meeting in common. Baptist associations had their origin in Wales, and anciently were organized for missions and other philanthropic purposes.
The doctrines they taught, as they interpreted the scriptures, may be found in a little book, commonly called the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith," because it was adopted, revised, and published by the Philadelphia Association, in 1742.
As much has been said, some dispute arisen, and many mistakes made in by-gone years, both by the nature and design of this document, it is necessary to present briefly the facts of the case.
This "Confession," in substance, originated from the ministers and messengers of seven congregations [churches,] of English Baptists, and signed in the name of these congregations, (including one French congregation, holding the same principles,) in July, 1643, in and near London. The names of the persons who signed it on behalf of the churches, were Thomas Gunne, John Mabbitt, Benjamin Cockes, Thomas Kilikop, John Spilsbury, Samuel Richardson, Thomas Mnden, George Tipping, Paul Hobson, Thomas Goane, William Kiffin, Thomas Patient, Hanserd Knollys, Thomas Holmes, Christopher Duret, and Dennis LeBarbier.
They gave their reasons for sending out such a document. The churches and brethren were charged by other sects of holding gross errors, of denying common faith of Protestants, of holding dangerous opinions, subversive of all government; and from the pulpit and press they were calumniated by opprobrious epithets. And they put forth this Confession of Faith for the purpose of clearing themselves from these unjust aspersions. Editions were published and circulated abroad in 1643, 1644, and 1646. Copies were placed in the hands of members of Parliament, and the effect in relieving this sect, "every where spoken against, was astonishing." Dr. Featley, one of the most inveterate and bitter opponents, acknowledged this was an orthodox confession, with the exception of infant baptism.1
In 1689, a convocation of ministers and messengers from upwards of one hundred Baptised congregations, (such is the term in the book,) in England and Wales, met in London on the 3d of July, and continued until the 11th of the same month. Seven of the congregations were in Wales, and the remainer in England. The object of this great association of churches was for the purpose of inquiring into the condition of the churches, and adopting measures for their future prosperity. The subject of providing means of education for the ministry was the most important before this assembly, and the foundation was laid for the Bristol Academy, the oldest institution of the kind in England. The Confession of Faith put forth by the churches in London, forty-six years previous, was carefully revised, many sentences introduced from the Confession of Faith of the General Assembly of Westminster, purposely, to show they accorded in certain doctrinal tenets with the Presbyterians; and also from the Savoy Confession of the Independents, or Congregationalists of 1658.
A commission of thirty-seven persons revised and prepared this document, and signed their names, "In the name and behalf of the whole Assembly." At the head of this committee we find the venerable name of Hanserd Knollys, then in the ninety-first year of his age. William Kiffin, Andrew Gifford, and Benjamin Keach, names well known in Baptist history, are registered among the signers. 2
As this Confession of faith is a scarce article in our ordinary Baptist literature, we appreciate space for the Introductory Address:"To the Judicious and Impartial Readers:
"COURTEOUS READER: -- It is now many years since divers of us, (with other sober Christians then living, and walking in the way of the Lord -- we profess,) did conceive ourselves to be under the necessity of publishing a Confession of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those who did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession, by reason of the strange representation of them, by some men of note, who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehensions of us and them. And this was first, put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations, then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions [editions] thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed, in a good measure, answered, inasmuch as many, (and some of those men eminent, both for piety and learning,) were thereby satisfied, that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors, which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground, or occasion given on our part.
"And forasmuch as that Confession is not now commonly to be had, and also since many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world, of our firm adhesion to those wholesome principles, by the publication of this which is now in your hand.
"And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments, in this, doth vary from the former, (although the substance of this matter is the same,) we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work, was, (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of baptism,) but also the profit that might from thence arise unto those who have any account of our labors, in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the gospel; in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him, in all our ways, is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of. And finding no defect in this regard, in that fixed on by the Assembly, and after them, by those of the Congregational way; we did conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession. And also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confession, (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others,) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense, concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part, without any variation of terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example, in making use of the very same words with them, both in these articles, (which are many,) wherein our faith and doctrine is the same with their's; and this we did the more abundantly, to manifest our consent to both, in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others, whose orthodox confessions have been published to the world, on behalf of the Protestants in divers nations and cities.3
"And also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words, which hath been in consent of the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them, in that wholesome Protestant doctrine, which with so clear evidence of Scripture they have asserted. Some things, indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but those alterations are of that nature, as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in Faith, from any of our brethren, on account of them.
"In those things wherein we differ from others, we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness, that none might entertain jealousy of ought secretly lodged in our breasts, that we would not the world should be acquainted with. Yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility, as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours.
"We have also taken care to affix texts of scripture at the bottom, for the confirmation of each article in our Confession; in which work we have studiously endeavored to select such as are most clear and pertinent, for the proof of what is asserted by us. And our earnest desire is, that all into whose hands this may come, would follow that, (never enough commended,) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things they preached to them were so or not.
"There is one thing more which we sincerely profess, and earnestly desire credence in, viz: That contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter. And we hope the liberty of an ingenious unfolding of our principles, and opening our hearts unto our brethren, with the scripture grounds, on which our faith and practice, will by none of them be denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished if we may obtain that justice, as to be measured by our principles and practice, and the judgment of both by others, according to what we have now published; which the Lord, (whose eyes are as a flame of fire,) knoweth to be the doctrine, which with our hearts we most firmly believe, and sincerely endeavor to conform our lives to. And oh, that other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all, upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called, might for the future be, to walk humbly with their God, in the exercise of all love and meakness towards each other to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavoring his conversation such as becometh the gospel; and also suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the practice of true religion, and undefiled in the sight of God our Father. And that in this backsliding day, we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts and ways; and then to quicken all, that we may have influence upon, to the same work; that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves by resting in, and trusting to a form of godliness without power of it, and inward and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them.
"And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day, which we cannot but touch upon, and earnestly urge the redress of; and that is, the neglect of the worship of God in families, by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters who have not trained up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young. But have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them so to catechise and instruct them, that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God, as revealed in the Scriptures. And also by their own omission of prayer, and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having inured them first to a neglect, and then contempt of all piety and religion. We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any; but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof. They indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go without warning; year, led them into the paths of destruction? And will not the diligence of Christians, with respect to the discharge of these duties in ages past, rise up in judgment against, and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now.
"We shall conclude with our earnest prayer, That the God of all grace will pour out those measures of his Holy Spirit upon us, that the profession of truth may be accompanied with the sound belief, and diligent practice of it by us, that his name may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ our Lord: Amen.4
We commend this "Address" to the careful perusal of our readers. It expounds to us the motives, views, feelings and habits of the largest body of the denomination, 165 year[s] since. In addition to much other corroborating evidence, it puts beyond all question the fact that Baptists never made this Confession of Faith as a "Standard" amongst themselves, or as having any binding authority on the churches or the ministry, not even when formally adopted by them. The inspired writings were their standard -- their "sole rule of faith and order." And they agreed among themselves as nearly, and were in union as fully, without this Confession as with it. They held similar views of the doctrines they supposed the scriptures taught, and co-operated as Christian churches, in a general brotherhood, just as readily and heartily without as with this "Confession of Faith."
Their object was to defend themselves against the uncharitable surmising and slanders put forth against them by others. Their first formula 1643, performed a most valuable service. Good men of other sects admitted they were correct by this exposition of Scripture doctrines; and by reading the "Confession," many candid persons were prompted to examine their peculiar and distinctive views of baptism, and adopt them, and the churches were strengthened.
We do not find in any authority of that, or of any preceding period, that Baptists needed a summary of faith as a bond of union, or a test of orthodoxy amongst themselves. In Jones' History of the Waldenses, and in several other authorities, we find these formulas of faith; and in several other authorities, we some expressed with great brevity, others more in detail; and nearly all in a negative form, showing they did not believe and practice as the "church [Romanists] did." At the same time they gave just enough of their belief and practice to enable us to identify a peculiar people, whom we could own in the gospel brotherhood.
These facts expose the mistakes made by two parties, first, by a few baptists in former times, whose opportunities for information were very limited, and who imagined the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith," or some other "Confession," was a "standard" -- a rule to measure the soundness and order of churches and ministers.
The "Redstone Association," in an early period of its history, adopted a rule, requiring the churches to state each year in their letters, whether they believed in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. This rule, like many other things, was neglected, until it became obsolete. One of the ministers, who fancied himself endowed with gifts to set in order things that were wanting, and who, if our traditional recollection be correct, came originally from the Methodist connection, and by one vast leap, rose from the quicksands of legality to some of the highest and bleakest crags of fatality; or, in other words, jumped from low Arminianism to hyper-Calvinism -- rather to the frozen regions of Antinomianism; not understanding the nature and design of the Philadelphia Confession, he imagined it set forth his crude notions, and finding the old rule of the Redstone Association, that had fallen into disuse and was forgotten by many, conjured it up, and, as moderator, enacted of each church a declaration of faith in the Philadelphia Confession. The book had become a scarce article, and had been long out of print. The churches would give their own articles of faith, which were admitted to be orthodox, but they did not obey the rule. The result was divisions. Some went to the opposite extreme, and denounced all "Confessions," and made war on "creeds." Those who followed old-fashioned Baptist usages, worked themselves out of this dying concern, and formed the Monongahela Association. The Antinomian party, and, of course, the anti-missionary party, continued a few years longer and thus the oldest Baptist Association west of the Allegany mountains dwindled away. It is possible some fragments of churches may still exist, like fossils remains without life or motion.
We give this, not as a history of "Regular" Baptists, but as a very irregular fagment of the denomination.
Similar notions, and equally fallacious, and contrary to the principles of the Regular Baptists and the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, have prevailed in Kentucky and other western States, to a limited extent. They still retain a name to live, and glory in being "Particular" Baptists.
But, secondly, new sects, with the Baptist imprint of immersion on profession of faith, have arisen from sounding the tocsin against "creeds" and "Confessions of Faith." The objections of their progenitors and leaders might have been well enough in controversy with those sects who, have such standards for their government, but were wholly inapplicable to the great body of Baptists, whether Regular, Separate, or United. The objections would have been in point if the anti-creed parties had proved it is wrong or unscriptural to tell other persons what we believe or think the scriptures teach on certain items of faith and practice. Baptists plead a non sequitur to all the objections urged and arguments used against their confessions of faith.
There were some diversities among Regular Baptists on certain points expressed in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Each put his own construction on divers phrases used, and as it furnished no rule or standard by which the orthodoxy of ministers and churches could be tried, there was just the same diversity without it as with it. The purpose answered, was not that of union among the churches. The English work was revised by a committee of the Association in 1742, and two articles, or chapters, were added; one on "Singing of Psalms," the other, "Laying on of hands" on baptized believers on admission to the church. A short treatise on church discipline, by Elder Benjamin Griffith, was annexed.
No intimation is given on the records of the Association that the Confession of Faith was to be a rule of doctrine and practice, by which the churches were to be governed. The object was the same as produced the document in England -- to teach others what Baptists believed and practiced. The motion was, "for reprinting the Confession of Faith, as set forth by elders of baptized congregations, met in London, A. D. 1689." It was "Agreed that the thing was needful and likely to be very useful." Application was made to the churches for money to pay the printer, and Jenkin Jones and Benjamin Griffith were appointed to prepare the new articles and the treatise on discipline, and they were instructed to proceed in the publication -- provided the collections were sufficient to defray the charges of the work.
The particular idea we desire to impress on our readers is this: That the adoption, revision, and publication of this Confession by the Philadelphia Association made not the least change in the ecclesiastical position of the churches. The Association was nothing more than an annual convention for mutual convenience and benevolent purposes. The brethren who attended were ministers and messengers. The incongruous terms "representative" and "delegates," had not found a place in the Baptist vocabulary at that period. These terms, in their true sense cannot express the relation sustained by persons sent on errands to Associations and other meetings by Baptist churches. They have been borrowed from our Puritan neighbors, and foisted into our convocations by those over whose English education the schoolmaster has slept. Let us reclaim and bring back to its legitimate use, this old Baptist term "Messenger," lest some fancy, as has been done already, that independent churches, held in entire subordination to the law Christ has made, can send men with delegated, or representative authority, to act in another and higher body I any unauthoritative way. No alteration has been made in this Confession of Faith, since its publication by the Association, at its session one hundred and twelve years since.
We now give the introduction to the Treatise on Discipline, as it contains some historical items well worth preserving in the "Repository and Review.""To all those into whose hands the forgoing Confession of Faith, unto which the following Abstract concerning our Discipline is now annexed, shall come: --
"Our last Association met in Philadelphia, Sept. 25th, 1742; taking into consideration the general interest of the gospel, and especially the interests of the Churches they related unto and did represent, judged it expedient to re-print the Confession of Faith, put forth by the Elders and brethren of upwards of one hundred congregations, baptized upon profession of faith, in England and Wales, met in London sept. 3, 1689, with the additions concerning Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in the Worship of God.
"The Association likewise thought it proper to annex an Abstract, or brief Treatise, concerning our Discipline, but not having (for some reason) fixed on any particular piece extant, they left to Mr. Jenkin Jones and myself to prepare a short narrative, in the most compendious manner we could; but Mr. Jones, by reason of his other vocations, not being able to prepare any thing in due time, requested me to take it upon myself, which, after we had consulted on some particulars, (though many other things at this juncture requiring my time and employing my thoughts, I could wish some other persons had undertaken,) I accepted, that I might prevent any disappointment, and have endeavored to perform as my small leisure would permit.
"And we having a small tract published by Mr. Elias Keach, and having also found a manuscript left by my brother Abel Morgan, deceased, which he intended, (had he lived longer) to have revised and put I print for the benefit of our churches; I have transcribed some things out of said manuscript, and some other things out of Mr. Keach's -- some things without variation, and some things with variation. Besides, while I have in some cases consulted Dr. Gwen and Dr. Goodwin, and in some things I have followed the agreement that our Association came to some years ago, especially concerning the admission and dismission of members.
"I have endeavored to include the most material things in Discipline, (though very briefly,) in a few following pages. And I desire the reader may be pleased to take the pains to peruse the scriptures referred to in every particular, that the grounds of our practice may be better understood.
"That this account of our principles and practice may be accompanied with the blessings of God, to be beneficial unto men, is the hearty prayer of
"Your well-wisher, and servant
In all gospel service,
The leading doctrines and religious practices held by the Regular Baptists, as set forth in their Confession of Faith, are contained in thirty-four chapters. These contain a summary of their views of the Holy Scriptures on the following topics:
1. The Holy Scriptures. -- 2. God in Trinity. -- 3. God's Foreordination, or Predestination. -- 4. Creation -- 5. Divine Providence. -- 6. Fall of Man and Punishment. -- 7. God's Covenant of Grace. -- 8. Christ the Mediator. -- 9. Free Will. 10. Effectual Calling. -- 11. Justification. -- 12. Adoption -- 13. Sanctification -- 14. Saving Faith -- 15. Repentance unto Life and Salvation -- 16. Good Works -- 17. Perseverance of the Saints -- 18. Assurance of Grace and Salvation -- 19. The Law of God -- 20. The Gospel, and the extent of the Grace thereof. -- 21. Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience. -- 22. Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day. -- 23. Singing of Psalms in Social Worship. -- 24. Lawful Oaths and Vows. -- 25. Civil Magistracy and Government. -- 26. Marriage. -- 27. The Churches -- Churches and Officers. -- 28. Communion of Saints. -- 29. Baptism and the Lord's Supper. -- 30. Baptism. -- 31. Laying on of Hands. -- 32. The Lord's Supper. -- 33. State of Man after Death and Resurrection of the Dead. -- 34. The Last Judgment.
The articles themselves should be interpreted in reference to the theological disputes of that age, and the technical or peculiar theological sense in which certain words and phrases were used at that period. The universal rule that every sect and every individual has the right to explain the meaning of the terms used, and the consequences he admits is strongly and unreasonably trampled on in religious disputations in print. Three-fourths of the unpleasant discussions in periodicals and between parties are the consequence of a violation of this rule. Truth and justice require us to take the interpretation given by the writer or party, as he or they use theological terms. Following this rule, the terms employed in this ancient Confession, which some think teaches fatality -- or as in conflict with the claims of the gospel on every man's conscience -- are very much modified. It is wicked to charge the men or the party with holding doctrines which we deduce by our own inferences. We must find out their meaning and admit it, however contrary it may be to our preconceived and prejudiced notions.
But there are some things which Regular Baptists have been accused of propagating, and some speculations preached by good men, which cannot be found, or legitimately inferred, by implication from this Confession of Faith. These things are not there, and can not be implied from the doctrines taught:
1. "That God is the author of Sin." So far from any such idea being taught directly, or deduced by any fair implication, just the reverse is taught explicitly. In chapter 3d, entitled "God's Decree" -- but which we have given in the foregoing synopsis, as being more intelligible to our readers, "God's Council and Foreordination, or Predestination" -- after stating the doctrine that God's council and foreordination includes "all things whatsoever cometh to pass," the chapter in explanation says, "yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."
2. Regular Baptists in the Mississippi Valley have enunciated a dogma as unscriptural, unphilosophical and useless as this. Some may yet imagine and teach that the Spirit regenerates the elect without means, or the subordinate agency of his gospel. But in this they teach directly contrary to the unequivocal declarations of the Confession of Faith, no less than against the scriptures. The doctrine of means, or the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration, as well as in all its adjuncts, is taught very plainly and directly in chapters 1st, 7th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, and 20th; and is taught by implication in several other chapters. The only exception made is in chapter X, under "Effectual Calling," sec. 3: --
"Elect Infants, dying in Infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh, when and where, and how he pleaseth. So also all other persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word."
The construction put on the first clause of this section by brethren in the Philadelphia Association was this: That the phrase "Elect Infants" includes all who died in a state of unconscious infancy -- that the second clause referred to adult idiots, and others, who were rendered incapable of being "outwardly called by the ministry of the word," by some providential acts.
The authors and revisors [sic] of this "Confession" would have repudiated with the expressions of horror, the mischievous speculation that God has an elect people, scattered among the nations of the earth -- that he knows his own -- and that he quickens or regenerates these without the gospel or any of the instrumentalities he has provided. REGULAR BAPTISTS were missionary Baptists, and knew the meaning of the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature, specially in view of their conversion and salvation
The Confession of Faith teaches the doctrine of "particular election," without regard to human merit; but it also teaches the necessity of preaching the gospel to all men, without which sinners capable of hearing the gospel cannot be saved. The anti-christian dogma that the gospel need not be preached to sinners of every class and grade, for the specific purpose of being the instrument of their conversion and salvation through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, has no place in the Confession of Faith of Regular Baptists.
The first Baptist preacher of Old Virginia came from England in 1714, and gathered a church in the Isle of Wight, where he administered until his death, in good old age, 1725. His name was Nordin. Two years after his decease, Richard Jones and Casper Mentz, both Baptist preachers, came over from England and settled in the same district, and Jones became pastor of the church. These men belonged to the General Baptist in England. In 1756, this church sent messengers to the Philadelphia Association, and was visited by missionaries from that body; but in a few years after we lose sight of the church, and it appears no more in history.
Baptist churches, that from their associational connection should be called "Regular," were gathered in Virginia, between the years 1751 and 1756. The church on Opeckon Creek, in Berkley county, was the first received from that colony by the Association. This church had been formed by colonists from Maryland, about the year 1743, but, owing to the subsequent downfall of their minister, their meeting were broken up. They were visited by Elders Miller, David Thomas, and John Gano, missionaries from the Philadelphia Association, in 1751, and re-organized, and received into the Association the same year. The Philadelphia Association sent itinerants, two in company, each year to Virginia and the Carolinas, for several years in succession, and by their labors the older churches of the Ketocton and Kehukee Associations were gathered, and those Associations brought into existence.
Elder David Thomas, who had made repeated visits to Virginia, removed his family to Berkley county, in 1760. Two years after he changed his location to Fauquier county, and became pastor of Broad Run church. Mr. Thomas was of Welsh descent, and born at London Tract, then in Pennsylvania, (now Delaware,) and educated at Hopewell Academy, N. J., under Professor Eaton. Mr. Thomas became an able minister of Jesus Christ. He had by nature a strong intellect, had received a classical education, his voice was strong and melodious, and he was an eloquent and persuading preacher as well as an accurate reasoned. His style of address was pathetic, and he felt deeply for the unconverted. He was sorely persecuted, assailed by mobs, and followed with slanders and revilings by a corrupt priesthood and a wicked class of churchmen. Bet [But] he was successful in the ministry, traveled extensively, and preached in the principle settlements through several counties in Virginia. The people would travel fifty miles to hear him. Jeremiah Moore, Daniel and William Fristoe, Richard Major, and many other preachers,were raised up under his ministry.5
Rev. Dr. Semple says, (History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia,) "Before the year 1770 the Regular Baptists were spread over the whole country in the Northern Neck above Fredericksburg. Between 1770 and 1780, their cords still continued to be strengthened."
The term "Regular" was appended to the name Baptist, after the rise of the "Separates" in Virginia, whose origin and progress must be reserved to a future number of the Repository and Review. _______________ Notes
1 Benedict's Old History, vol. 1, p. 199.
2 Hanserd Knollys was at first an Episcopalian minister, and became a Baptist. He came to New England in 1633, and was the first minister who settled in Dover, N. H., where he preached from 1635 to 1639. He could not agree with the New England clergy, and said some hard things of the government of Massachusetts, for which he made public acknowledgment in Boston. He returned to England in 1642, and next year was prominent in the Baptist Convention in London. He raised up a large Baptist church in that city, of which he was pastor for nearly half a century. His biographer says: "He was a man of great learning, sound principles, solid piety, and true pulpit eloquence." He died in London, September 19th, 1691, aged ninety-three years.
3 Reference is here had to the Presbyterian and Congregational Confessions of Faith, and to various other Protestant Confessions, from which the committee made extracts for the reasons they assign.
The style of this address is by no means agreeable to modern readers in English composition.
4 The edition before us, and from which this "Address" is taken, is the seventh issued from the Philadelphia press. This imprint is by "John Dunlop, at the newest printing office, in Market Street, Philadelphia, M,DCC,LXXIII."  The title page reads, "A Confession of Faith, put forth by the Elders and Brethren of Many Congregations of Christians, (Baptised upon Profession of their Faith,) in London and the country."
"Adopted by the Baptist Association, met in Philadelphia, Sep. 25th, 1742."
We have also before us a later edition published in 1818, by Anderson and Mehan, in 8mo form, 108 pp. It has all the matter contained in earlier editions.
A new edition has been issued recently, by Elder Peter Long, Greenville, Bond County, Illinois, and meets with considerable circulation amongst that class of Baptists who call themselves "Old School."
5 Rev. J. B. Taylor, in his "Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers," says, p. 44, "Elder Thomas ultimately removed to Kentucky. He lived to an advanced age, and for some time before his death was nearly blind." Can any of our friends learn and communicate the facts to us, of this distinguished minister while in Kentucky? Where did he live and where did he die? Is any person living who heard him preach? Has he left any descendants?
Rock Spring, Illinois,
J. M. Peck
[From Samuel H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, January, 1855, pp. 41-56. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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