Minutes of Philadelphia Association, 1746-1759
The elders and messengers of the congregations baptized upon profession of faith, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met at Philadelphia, the 24th day of September, 1746.
To the several churches we relate unto, sending Christian salutations.
Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus, our joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of his appearing, — We rejoice to see your care and diligence in maintaining annual correspondence and Christian fellowship in the gospel of Christ. We, your representatives, being met together in love and gospel affection, having perused your letters, to the general comfort, find that our churches are at peace and unity, having had, in most of them, some additions, and, in some of them, a very considerable this last year. Blessed be the great God and Father of mercies for his goodness towards us on this behalf. Our consultations have been loving and unanimous, without any contradictions or heats in debate. We have had several things under consideration, a narrative of which we shall hereunto annex.
Now, dear brethren and fellow Christians, we exhort you to study and follow after those things that tend to peace and unity, provoking one another to love and good works, not neglecting the assembling yourselves together, as the manner of too many is, to the great loss and detriment of the whole body whereunto they belong, and showing a bad example to others.
Be diligent in reading. the holy Scriptures, which are our only rule of faith and obedience, without which we can have no saving knowledge of God, or of Jesus Christ our Redeemer and hope. Put meditation also into practice, without which we cannot expect to profit. Pray without ceasing, in public and private, to the God of all grace, for the teaching and guidance of his Spirit, and his blessing to accompany your endeavors, and those of your ministers.
Brethren, we commend you to God and the word of his grace, praying that he would preserve you and us from enormities and immoralities in life, and make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be glory everlasting. Jenkin Jones, John Davis, Aaron Raily, Owen Thomas, John Griffith, Henry Harris, Benjamin Griffith, John Watson, Nathaniel Jenkins, Benjamin Stelle, John Stephenson, John Manners, John Davis, John Garrat, Robert Goeffry, Abel Morgan, Jephry Bentla, Job Shepherd, James Carman, John Thomas, Peter P. Vanhorn, David Davis, Daniel Griffith, Stephen Watts, Thomas Jones, Benjamin Phillips, Saml. Ashmead, Joshua Potts, John Vansand, Win. Ritenhouse. William Marshall,
1. Query from the church of Philadelphia: Whether it be lawful or regular for any person to preach the gospel publicly without ordination?
Answer: that which we have both rule and precedent for in the
word of God, is, and must be, both lawful and regular, in 1 Timothy iii. We have a rule for proving such; for, having spoken concerning bishops, at the 10th verse the apostle speaks of deacons, saying, Let these also first be proved. The words have as immediate a reference to bishops as to deacons, else the word also would be superfluous. We may here argue from the less to the greater; for if the deacons, who are concerned but with the outward affairs of churches, must be proved, how much more ministers, who are to be stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Timothy v. 22.
2. We have an undoubted instance in the case of Paul and Barnabas, who were teachers before their ordination. Acts xi:25, 26. We have an account of Barnabas going to Tarsus to seek Saul; his finding him, his bringing him to Antioch, and of their assembling with that church, and of their teaching much people; at which time neither Paul nor Barnabas were ordained; and had it been either unlawful or irregular for men to preach without ordination, such a good man, full of the Holy Ghost as Barnabas was, would not surely be guilty of such a thing himself, nor promote Saul in doing so. But teach they did, and teachers they were called before ordination. Acts xiii:3. But their ordination is expressed Acts xiii:3, after they had been a long time teachers, and, with others, had taught much people, as Acts xi:26. And it seems, by what Paul writes to the Galatians i:18, and ii:1, to be at least fourteen years if not seventeen.
Seeing men are called teachers, as Paul and Barnabas are in Acts xiii:1, and did undoubtedly teach profitably in the church of Antioch, before and without ordination, what reason can be given why there may not be in churches men of useful gifts, and profitable to teach all the days of their life without ordination? It is very probable that the Apostle Paul, seeing he occupied such a station himself a long time, speaks of such gifted brethren, Ephesians iv:11, by the name of teachers. Seeing they are mentioned besides the pastors, or that such useful men may be the helps the same apostle mentions, 1 Corinthians xii:28, for helps cannot be more useful in any thing than in teaching. Our churches have had such teachers very frequently, as we might instance in many of them by name, if need were as well as the church of Antioch.
Here it will be proper to consider what time of trial or probation is, or ought to be taken, in proving church officers in general. We must note that the Holy Ghost hath no where limited or bounded the time that a church is to take for the trial of any of her officers; and therefore every particular church is at liberty to use her discretion in this matter the call, choice, and ordination of her own officers being a special privilege that Christ hath given to his church under the gospel dispensation. See Davison's vindication of the Protestant ministers' mission. Since the Lord Jesus Christ hath left these important affairs to his church, and intrusted her to apply his directions, according to her circumstances, by the rules of prudence and discretion; therefore it must be an intrenchment upon her liberty and
privilege, for any to use means to force or constrain a church, either to put a person on trial or to hasten his ordination; both of which ought to be the free, joyful, and unconstrained acts of a church. It is an indication of a heavy, self-willed, obstinate, and ungovernable temper in any gifted brother to refuse to exercise his gifts as the church shall be inclined to call him; and a specimen sufficient to foreshow what may be expected from such a one if preferred. It is therefore running an imprudent risk, to ordain to office in the church of God men of such fluctuating temper, who, if in any wise offended, will behave strangely, and leave the assemblings of the church, and frequent other assemblies. Though they may have some fine endowments, yet they can hardly be deemed faithful men. How the steady,sound, and orthodox principles and regular behaviour of men shall be found without considerable time of trial, none can tell.
Besides, is it not a great honor to a man, if God fits him with gifts to be helpful in the ministry of the word in any measure? But such as will not exercise their gifts upon trial, or without ordination, or as gifted brethren, seem to come near to what the apostle speaks of, 1 Corinthians xii:15; "If the foot say, because I am not a hand, I am not of the body." Such arguings plainly say, If I am not admitted to be bishop I will not be a helper; and such reasonings do cast a reflection on some worthy persons who have labored joyfully as helpers all their days, and whose memory is precious and honorable among the saints, when themselves are gone to rest.
2. Query: Whether it is regular for any to use the office of deacon, or to exercise the office of a ruling elder in a church, without ordination?
Solution. As touching ruling elders or deacons; if there had been no other rule but mere parity of reason, it would appear necessary to have a proof of the persons delegated to those offices by a trial in the office itself; for experience teacheth that some very regular members cannot become useful officers when tried, and if persons, likely to bear the ministerial function, may be found unfit for the office when tried, though sound in the faith, and of approved conversation, so may well minded and well respected persons be found, when tried, to be unfit for inferior offices. If it be objected that we have a precedent for choosing and ordaining deacons, without any proof or trial, it may be sufficient to answer, that the precedent in Acts vi, is very proper to inform us of the nature and property of the deacon’s office; but cannot reasonably be pleaded to be imitable in future times, in that particular, in debate; because, 1. that was an extraordinary time, and done by extraordinary persons; and therefore not imitable in ordinary times nor ordinary persons, unless we could bring extraordinary times and persons to be alike, which we cannot. 2. Because the Holy Ghost, since that precedent, hath given us a positive rule to direct the church in ordinary times, which we are bound to follow, 1 Timothy iii:10; from which the church in after ages ought not to deviate. Ordinarily it is improbable we should find the qualifications of a man for office without a trial; therefore, to ordain men to office
in the church of God, without first being proved and approved, is against both rule and reason, and is therefore unlawful to be done by any church of Christ.
In ordinary, we see the churches of Christ inclined, and God's people are, by apparent motives, freely, lovingly, and affectionately moved, though not infallibly, to promote the ordination of such persons whose gifts, upon due exercise, they find to be useful by long experience, and whose apparent growth and proficiency, by long trial, is become manifest, and whose steady andcircumspect behaviour in all things in doctrine and practice, are agreeable encouragements to intrust them, as men found faithful and fit for the office intended.
3. Query: Whether women may or ought to have their votes in the church, in such matters as the church shall agree to be decided by votes?
Solution. As that in 1 Corinthians xiv:34, 35, and other parallel texts, are urged against their votes, as a rule, and ought, therefore, to be maturely considered. If, then, the silence enjoined on women be taken so absolute, as that they must keep entire silence in all respects whatever; yet, notwithstanding, it is to be hoped they may have, as members of the body of the church, liberty to give a mute voice, by standing or lifting up of the hands, or the contrary, to signify their assent or dissent to the thing proposed, and so augment the number on the one or both sides of the question. But, with the consent of authors and casuists, such absolute silence in all respects cannot be intended; for if so, how shall a woman make a confession of her faith to the satisfaction of the whole church? or how shall the church judge whether a woman be in the faith or no? How shall a woman offended, after regular private proceeding with an offending member, tell the church, as she is bound to do, if the offender be obstinate, according to the rule, Matthew xviii:17? How shall a woman do, if she be an evidence to a matter of fact? Shall the church grope in the dark for want of her evidence to clear the doubt? Surely not. Again, how shall a woman defend herself if wrongfully accused, if she must not speak? This is a privilege of all human creatures by the laws of nature, not abrogated by the law of God.
Therefore there must be times and ways in and by which women, as members of the body, may discharge their conscience and duty towards God and men, as in the cases above said and the like. And a woman may, at least, make a brother a mouth to ask leave to speak, if not ask it herself; and a time of hearing is to be allowed, for that is not inconsistent with the silence and subjection enjoined on them by the law of God and nature, yet ought not they to open the floodgate of speech in an imperious, tumultuous, masterly manner. Hence the silence, with subjection, enjoined on all women in the church of God, is such a silence as excludes all women whomsoever from all degrees of teaching, ruling, governing, dictating, and leading in the church of God; yet may their voice be taken as above said. But if a woman's vote be singular, her reasons ought to be called for, heard, and maturely considered, without contempt.
4. Query: Whether churches may regularly associate with such other churches that will not admit their members into transient or occasional communion, and will not dismiss their members whose residences are removed; nor receivesuch whose residences are removed to them if dismissed? Or whether a church, by refusing transient communion to the members of another church, whose messengers are received in to associate with their own messengers, do not forfeit their own right in the Association, unless some new offence be given, or some undiscovered error be found in the church so refused?
We answer, that churches ought to unite in faith and practice, and to have and maintain communion together, as it is expressed in our abstract of church discipline, in order to associate regularly, because’ the latter is founded upon, and arises from the former; and we count that such a practice, for churches that cannot hold free communion together, to have their messengers, notwithstanding, admitted into the Association, to be inconsistent, and not to be continued in nor winked at; because it opens a door to greater and more dangerous confusions, and is in itself subversive of the being and end of an Association.
5. Query: Whether it is regular for an Association to receive in, and admit as members of the Association, such as at the same time they would not admit to the church communion, if opportunity offered?
We answer, no.
Concluded, that Brother Benjamin Griffith should collect and set in order the accounts of the several Baptist churches in these provinces, and keep a record of the proceedings of our denomination in these provinces; and that the several churches should draw out and send him, as soon as possible, what accounts they have on record in church books of their respective constitutions, and by whose ministry they have been supplied.
Also agreed, that Benjamin Griffith should have satisfaction for his trouble.
The Association agreed to make a subscription towards printing a treatise in vindication of believers' baptism. The members have made free to subscribe their sums for the purpose, and hope their brethren will cheerfully assist, and send their collections to Mr. Jones, at Philadelphia, against the 1st of March next.
Voted, that the letter from the society party came into the Association disorderly, and their messengers are not to be received as members in the house; which passed without any contrary votes.
The Association, next year, begins on Tuesday before the fourth Sunday in September. The sermon begins at 3 o’clock, P.M., by James Carman; in case of failure, by Joshua Potts.
1747 The elders and messengers of the several congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, baptized upon profession of faith, met at
Philadelphia, October 22d, 1747. Unto the churches of Christ, in gospel order, to whom we are related,
Send our loving salutation. Dear and well beloved in Christ our hope, We are much refreshed and comforted in our spirits by your diligent care and industry in sending your letters and messengers to this our meeting, which when we read revived our hearts, finding the churches generally in love, peace, and unity, and some additions in most, with considerable increase in some. Our numbers are multiplied by reason of divers young churches constituted of late, and in a thriving, prosperous appearance, which, put together, raises our hope that God is remembering the dust of Zion, and building anew his gospel Jerusalem. Your united and fervent prayers to God for us, we believe, were accepted in the court of our King above, by reason of your love, unity and concord. This breathes as a reviving wind in every member of this house, and as if so many hearts and souls were cast into one mould. Praise be to God. As to the sneers and reflections cast by some on our answers to questions sent us last year, we leave the authors to delight themselves in the product of their admiring fancies, seeing no cause to alter our apprehension, being persuaded that it is the duty of the churches to call and prove their candidates for the ministry, whom we judge ought to wait with self denying meekness, humbleness, and lowliness of mind to a further approbation from the churches of their ordination and investiture into the sacred functions, and not, urge or hasten it themselves, contrary to the mind and judgment of the church which gave them a call to exercise their gifts. Contenting ourselves in the general satisfaction our churches have expressed in their letters of the comfort, edification, establishment, and consolation, they acknowledge to have received from our last letter, we desire and entreat you to weigh and deeply consider, that we are in the last days, the dregs and worst of times, of which we have been warned by the inspired writers, of scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 2 Peter iii:3; of perilous days, 2 Timothy iii:1. We are to mark those which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrines we have received, and avoid them, who, by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple, Romans xvi:17, 18, that of your ownselves, should men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them, Acts xx. Therefore, it concerns all who would be spiritually drest and beautifully adorned, to meet and be approved of the heavenly bridegroom; to be very careful how and with whom they walk; avoiding, both in principle and practice, in heart and life, in the church and in the world, in the family and in the field, whatever may cause us to contract filth or foulness on our beautiful garments; as Christ's virgins, look often in the glass of the gospel, espying and brushing away every spot of dust, keeping clean and neat for his everlasting embraces. Precious souls, suffer the word of exhortation, and be well established in gospel truths, in these shaking times. Look well that you be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ himself being your chief corner
stone. Take heed that you build not on wood, hay, and stubble of men's inventions; be sure it be the gold, silver, and precious stones of the sanctuary, that you may not lose what you have wrought, but may receive a full reward, 2 John i:8. Let it be your care to walk blameless and harmless, as the children of God, without rebuke, shining as lights in the world. Obey those who rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls. Grieve them not; provide for them as the word directs; neglect not meeting them in God's house at appointed times; avoid the spirit of contention, faction, and division; remember you are children of the, same parents, God and his church; forget not your covenant relation one with the other.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honest, whatsover things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever, things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things." We commend you to God and the word of his grace; who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to his power. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
From your affectionate ministers and messengers,
Wm. Darby, Wm. Coffin, John Davis, Recompese Standberry, James Tapscott, Abel Morgan, James Davis, Stephen Watts, James Carman, Joseph Weeks, Richard Evans, Joshua Potts, Ben. Johnson, John Manner, Peter P. Vanhorn, Thos. Huett, Robert Chalfant, John Stevenson, Nathaniel Evans, John Davis, Ben. Miller, Wm. Marshall, Jeffrey Bently, David Davis, Augustine Stillman, Nathl. Jenkins, Enoch Morgan, Job Shephard, Jenkin Jones, Thomas Jones. Danl. Griffith, Benj. Griffith,
1. Query from Pennepek: Whether it is agreeable to gospel rule for a church to permit a gifted brother to preach the gospel, who refuses to communicate with them, unless they will comply with his own terms?
Answered in the negative.
2. Query: Whether such brother, by so refusing, does not forfeit his right not only to communion, but also to preach the gospel.
Answered in the affirmative. Whereas the Association, having from time to time, for several years past, heard the allegations of the society party against the church of Montgomery, and all the endeavors used heretofore with said party not having had the desired effect:
Resolved: Not to enter upon their debates again, by receiving accusation or charges, either from the party themselves, or others espousing their cause, respecting the things that have been already heard and debated over and over, to little purpose.
The church lately constituted at Scotch Plains, in East Jersey, was received into the fellowship of this Association.
Likewise, the church lately settled at Horseneck, in the township of Greenwich, in New England, was received into the fellowship of this Association.
The members of the Association subscribed towards reprinting the catechism.
The Association sermon, next year, is to be on the Tuesday before the fourth Sunday in September, at 3 o'clock, P. M.
1748 The elders, ministers, and messengers of the several congregations baptized upon profession of faith, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met at Philadelphia, Sept. 20, 1748.
Send our loving salutation. Dearly beloved brethren, who, we trust, will be our joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus, we cannot but express our great satisfaction, that you congratulate us with your letters, which much refresh our bowels, hearing that our churches, for the most part, are at peace and unity, and some of them having had considerable additions. Praised, magnified, and for ever adored be the riches of sovereign grace, that the labors of the poor servants of God in their ministerial office are not altogether lost and fruitless. The Lord has been watering his garden with the increase of God, which we pray may abound more and more.
The satisfaction you express to have received from our last year’s narrative, encourages us to go on in the work of the Lord with cheerfulness. We trust, through your fervent prayers to God in our behalf, we met in love and gospel fellowship, and our debates and consultations were without heat and animosity; thanks be given to the most Nigh for this valuable blessing. The doctrines of the glorious gospel have been held forth among us with power and clearness, under which we enjoy some comfortable measure of the divine presence. We are about to part from one another, not knowing whether we shall ever see each other in the flesh any more; therefore be exhorted to strive together with us, that we may be found worthy, in the worthiness of our exalted and glorious Redeemer, to meet in the celestial mansions above, forever to behold the reconciled face of our heavenly Father, in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. To unwearied diligence in the use of all appointed means, read, hear, and meditate on the word; watch and pray without ceasing; give none offence, neither to the Jew nor to the Gentile, nor to the church of God; encourage and pray for your ministers, that God may furnish them with all necessary gifts and graces, for your edification and comfort, and that the word of the Lord may have free course in the hearts of poor sinners.
Finally, brethren, let your lights be shining, that you may be ready
whenever the heavenly Bridegroom may call you to the marriage, To him be glory in the churches, both now and forever. Amen.
We, your brethren in the best of bonds, Jenkin Jones, Wm. Marshall, Joseph Stout, John Davis, Will. Chapman, Edmund Drake, Abel Morgan, Wm. Derby, Thos. Cocks, Thos. Jones, Thos. Worthington, Wm. Buckingham, James Carmel, Jesse Bentley, Edward Everey, Joshua Botts, Jno. Thomas, Stephen Watts, Thos. Curtis, Jno. Marks, Samuel Aschmead, Peter Pet. Vanhorn, Jph. Page, Saml. Gui, James Stephens, Andrew Brey, Abraham Garison, Benj. Miller, Wm. Rees, Jno. Levington. Robert Kelsey, Nathaniel Evans,
Queries from the church at Horseneck, in New England:
1. Whether to deny the foreknowledge of the eternal God, concerning all future evil as well as good, be not a fundamental error?
Answer. We look upon such an opinion to be directly repugnant to Scripture; therefore exceeding erroneous and pernicious. First: Because it supposes God imperfect, and so no God, Psalm cxlvii:5; Hebrews iv:13. Secondly: If so, there would be no room for the divine Being to make provision for the redemption of mankind before the fall of man, which is contrary to express Scripture testimony, Proverbs viii:28, 35; 2 Timothy i:9. Thirdly: It is an error, which, in its nature and consequences, doth oppose and tend to overthrow the whole Christian religion, Acts ii:23; iv:28; Titus iii:10.
2. Whether a member of the church holding such an opinion, endeavors to propagate it, and obstinately persists in it, is not worthy of the highest censure, notwithstanding he pleads matter of conscience?
Answer. We judge such worthy of the highest censure; because a church is to proceed against a person who is erroneous in judgment, as well as against one vicious in practice, notwithstanding they may plead conscience in the affair. Titus iii:10; 2 Thessalonians iii:14. A query from the church of Bethlehem: Whether a man who hath two wives living may be received into communion on his profession of faith. Answer. By no means. Matthew v:32; xix:9.
Concluded, that the churches in general be advised for the future not to send any queries to the Association before the matter has been well debated at home among themselves first.
Concluded, that it is most expedient for our ministers, when desired to preach among the society party, to exhort them to be first reconciled to Montgomery church, and then the way will be clear; for, otherwise, we think that for our ministers to preach among them, would tend to strengthen. the party in their faction.
Concluded that the Association is to begin on Tuesday before the fourth Sunday in September, the next year, and the Association sermon to begin at three o'clock, P. M.
1749 The elders and messengers of the churches of Christ, met in Association at Philadelphia, September 19th, 1749.
Dearly beloved brethren, who profess to be called out of darkness into light, adopted into the family of God, united to Christ by faith, and waiting for his second appearance from heaven, for the consummate happiness of all his redeemed people. Your affectionate letters were read, and your messengers received, whereby we find the churches are generally in peace, and there have been considerable additions this last year in some places. Blessed be the Lord, who succeedeth the labors of his servants in the gospel, for the edification of his saints and ingathering of sinners.
Your prayers for us, at this public season, we trust have been answered. We find from divers places requests for ministerial helps. Let all the churches who are supplied bless the Lord, duly improve the means they have, and with sympathising consideration pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth faithful laborers into his vineyard, for the supply of vacant places. We recommend to you the consideration of your great privileges. Walk worthy of then, in all well pleasing; improve the means afforded you for your growth in grace endeavor after a comfortable manifestation of your interest in the love of God in Christ Jesus; live on the Lord, and near him; beware of gradual inward backsliding from him, and an outward withdrawing from practical godliness; be much in secret prayer; regular and constant in morning and evening family worship; avoid all occasion of. divisions; strengthen the hands of your ministry and one another; endeavor to fill up your place, in order to make your fellowship comfortable to yourselves; and recommend religion as desirable to others, that God may be glorified. That the God of mercy may fill your souls with, grace and peace, and prepare you for every good word and work, and present you blameless and faultless, to his eternal glory, is the fervent desire of your brethren in the gospel of our salvation. John Bartholomew, John Watson, John Davis, Ashbury Smith, Andrew Bray, David Davis, John Davis, John Stout, James Carman, William Smith, Saml. Ashmead, Abel Morgan, Thomas Smith, James Davis, Benj. Miller, Thomas Cox, Lewis Thomas, Joshua Potts, Crossen Collet, Nathaniel Jenkins, Isaac Eaton, Robert Chalfant, Jenkin Jones, Malachia Bonham, John Williams, Owen Thomas, Oliver Hart, James Dorset, Benj. Griffith, William Marshall.
Two queries from the church at Pennepek: 1st. Whether persons that make themselves parties with dismembered ones, after due admonition given them, and they continue obstinate, do not expose
themselves to the church's highest censure; and whether the church ought not to deal with them as such? Secondly, how often admonition ought to be repeated in such a case?
In answer to these queries, it is resolved, we entirely disapprove of such members continuing in their obstinacy, and condemn such a practice, and leave the church to their Christian prudence and discretion, to use all possible forbearance and lenity towards such members, if there is any probability of reclaiming them.
A query from the church at the Scotch Plains: Whether a person baptized by one that was not ordained, shall be received into the church, on the baptism already received; or whether he shall be baptized again, or shall such abide without the church’s privileges all their days?
In answer, we refer to the solution of the like query, in the year 1744.
The Association unanimously approved and agreed to an essay of Benjamin Griffith, respecting the power and duty of an Association, to be inserted in the Association book.
The Association hath resolved to acquaint the several churches they relate unto, that some contribution may be made in every church, in order to defray the charges of a scribe, to write a journal of the beginning and proceedings of the Baptist societies in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and, as far as may be found, the proceedings of the Association, according to an order of this Association.
Concluded, also, that every church, belonging to this Association, should consider that our principles are attacked anew, and monstrously represented; that, therefore, in order to our vindicating and justifying the same, money may be gathered in every congregation, in readiness against the next Association at Philadelphia; and we hope timely notice shall be given, both of the number of books to be printed, and what the charge will be to print them.
Concluded, that the ensuing Association is to begin on the Tuesday after the third Sunday in September.
At our annual Association, met September the 19th, 1749, an essay on the power and duty of an Association of churches, was proposed, as above hinted, to the consideration of the Association; and the same, upon mature deliberation, was approved and subscribed by the whole house; and the contents of the same was ordered to be transcribed as the judgment of the Association, in order to be inserted in the Association book, to the end and purpose that it may appear what power an Association of churches hath, and what duty is incumbent on an Association; and prevent the contempt with which some are ready to treat such an assembly, and also to prevent any future generation from claiming more power than they ought — lording over the churches.
Essay That an Association is not a superior judicature, having such superior power over the churches concerned; but that each particular
church hath a complete power and authority from Jesus Christ to administer all gospel ordinances, provided, they have a sufficiency of officers duly qualified, or that they be supplied by the officers of another sister church or churches, as baptism, and the Lord's supper, &c.; and to receive in and cast out, and also to try and ordain their own officers, and to exercise every part of gospel discipline and church government, independent of any other church or assembly whatever.
And that several such independent churches, where Providence gives them their situation convenient, may, and ought, for their mutual strength, counsel, and other valuable advantages, by their voluntary and free consent, to enter into an agreement and confederation, as is hinted in our printed Narrative of discipline, page 59, 60, 61.
Such churches there must be agreeing in doctrine and practice, and independent in their authority and church power, before they can enter into a confederation, as aforesaid, and choose delegates or representatives, to associate together; and thus the several independent churches being the constituents, the association, council or assembly of their delegates, when assembled, is not to be deemed a superior judicature, as having a superintendency over the churches, but subservient to the churches, in what may concern all the churches in general, or any one church in particular; and, though no power can regularly arise above its fountain from where it rises, yet we are of opinion, that an Association of the delegates of associate churches have a very considerable power in their hands, respecting those churches in their confederation; for if the agreement of several distinct churches, in sound doctrine and regular practice, be the first motive, ground, and foundation or basis of their confederation, then it must naturally follow, that a defection in doctrine or practice in any church, in such confederation, or any party in any such church, is ground sufficient for an Association to withdraw from such a church or party so deviating or making defection, and to exclude such from them in some formal manner, and to advertise all the churches in confederation thereof, in order that every church in confederation may withdraw from such in all acts of church communion, to the end they may be ashamed, and that all the churches may discountenance such, and bear testimony against the defection.
Such withdrawing from a defective or disorderly church, or that ought to be towards a delinquent church, is such as ariseth from their voluntary confederation aforesaid, and not only from the general duty that is incumbent on all; orthodox persons, and churches to do, where no such confederation is entered into, as 2 Corinthians vi:16, 17. Now, from that general duty to withdraw from defective persons or churches, there can no more be done, than to desist from such acts of fellowship as subsisted before the withdrawing, which is merely negative, and in no wise any thing positive. Churches, as they are pillars of truth, may, and ought to endeavor to promote truth among others also, which endeavors, if they prove fruitless, as they are but mystico
modo, they may be withdrawn; the withdrawing, therefore, must be accordingly; which is only to cease from future endeavors, leaving the objects as they were or are. But if there be a confederation and incorporation, by mutual and voluntary consent, as the Association of churches must and ought to be, then something positive may and ought to be done; and, though an Associationought not to assume a power to excommunicate or deliver a defective or disorderly church to Satan, as some do claim, yet it is a power sufficient to exclude the delegates of a defective or disorderly church from an Association, and to refuse their presence at their consultations, and to advise all the churches in confederation to do so too. A godly man may, and ought to withdraw, not only from a heathen, but from such as have the, form of godliness, if they appear to want the power of it, 2 Timothy iii:5, by the same parity of reason the saints, in what capacity soever they may be considered, may withdraw from defective or disorderly churches or persons; but excommunicate they cannot, there being no institution to authorize them so to do. But in the capacity of a congregational church, dealing with her own members, an Association, then, of the delegates of associate churches, may exclude and withdraw from defective and unsound or disorderly churches or persons, in manner abovesaid; and this will appear regular and justifiable by the light and law of nature, as is apparent in the conduct and prac tice of all regular civil and political corporations and confederations whatsoever; who all of them have certain rules to exclude delinquents from their societies, as well as for others to accede thereunto.
We judge those things in the 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles to be imitable by an Association, viz.: 1st, their disowning of the erroneous and judaising teachers, saying, to whom we gave no such commandment, verse 24; 2dly, the sending delegated persons of their own number, with Paul and Barnabas, to support their sentence in the place where the debate sprung up, verse 25; and a third thing followed in consequence thereof, viz., a delivering of the decrees to the other churches, to be observed, as well as the church of Antioch, Acts 16:4. Consistent therewith, the practice of after ages is found to be; when, because they had no council, synod, or association to convene, of course they called a council, in order to make head against any error or disorders, when in any particular church, such things grew too big for a particular church peaceably to determine, as the case about circumcision was at Antioch. In such cases all the churches were looked upon as one church, and all the bishops as universal, because of the unity of the faith and conformity of practice which ought to be in the churches of Christ; though in all other cases, the several distinct churches acted independent of each other, as Cyprian relates the practice of his time, viz: That the bishops were so united in one body, that if any one of the body broached any heresy, or began to waste and tear the flock of Christ, all the rest came immediately to its rescue. Cyprian, cited by Bingham, book 2, page 101. And the same author observes, that they disowned the faulty, and advertised all the churches of the same. And Mr.
Crosby relates, that an Association in London did disown a certain disorderlychurch in London, and did caution all the churches they were related to, not to countenance them in any way, nor to suffer their members to frequent their meetings; and thus an Association may disown and withdraw from a defective or disorderly church, and advise the churches related to them to withdraw from, and to discountenance such as aforesaid, without exceeding the bounds of their power.
And further, that an Association of the delegates of confederate churches may doctrinally declare any person or party in a church, who are defective in principles or disorderly in practice, to be censurable, when the affair comes under their cognizance, and without exceeding the bounds of their power and duty, to advise the church that such belong unto, how to deal with such, according to the rule of gospel discipline; and also to strengthen such a, church, and assist her, if need be, by sending able men of their own number to help the church in executing the power vested in her by the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and to stand by her, and to, defend her against the insults of such offending persons or parties.
The above is a transcript of the said essay, according to the order given by the said Association, which was ordered to be taken without the then introduction and singularity. Taking the substance and contents thereof as the judgment of the Association, respecting their power and duty.
Consented to and transcribed by me, Benjamin Griffith. Signed by the whole Association, whose names are — Nathaniel Jenkins, Moderator, John Watson, Jenkin Jones, Thomas Smith, Owen Thomas, Augsbury Smith, David Davis, Samuel Ashmead, John Davis, Lewis Thomas, James Carman, Thomas Coxs, Abel Morgan, >Ministers. James Dorset, Benj. Miller, John Davis, Joshua Potts, Robert Chain, Isaac Eaton, John Williams, Malachiah Bonham, James Davis, Oliver Hart, Andrew Bray, William Marshall, John Stout, Jno. Bartholomew, Crispin Collet. William Smith,
On application made to the Association, to appoint proper persons to examine and approve the transcript of the above said essay, before it be inserted in the Association book, Mr. Jenkin Jones and Mr. Joshua Potts were named, and such others as could readiest be got; and accordingly Mr. Owen Thomas and those above named, did peruse and approve of the same as it is above inserted.
Brother Peter Peterson vanhorn is to preach the Association sermon; and, in case of failure, Brother Isaac Eaton.
1750 The ministers, elders, and messengers of the congregations owning the doctrine and practice of believers' baptism, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met at Philadelphia, on the 18th, 19th, and 20th days of September, 1750.
Greeting: Well beloved and longed for, — It is good refreshment to us, your servants, that our labors and endeavors at former Associations have been accepted and approved by you, our principals; which we gather from your pathetical acknowledgment in your letters, and, your serious prayers for us, that we might be assisted from above with wisdom and strength to prosecute and press forward, to consider the things that are wanting, in order to the adorning and beautifying our little young Zion in this land, as we have heretofore made our efforts to defend and secure its foundations; and we confidently hope your prayers for us were accepted at the throne of grace, sweetened with the acceptable smell of the merits of our Lord and Redeemer. We met in love with God and thankful souls, that our blessed Lord has enabled the most of his servants in the ministry, at our small Zion, to be unanimous. Nothing has been presented from any of our churches whereby contentions or debates in the least might be moved. We hear from you of peace and agreement in the sound and wholesome principles of the gospel of our blessed Saviour. The old complaint is continued — deadness and indifference, coldness and decays of the first love; a sad distemper, but we hope not incurable, since our Mediator, after his ascension to the throne of his glory, has prescribed an infallible remedy, in the 2d and 3d of the Revelations, for inward and outward sores and maladies, which, if timely taken and rightly used, cannot fail of restoring you all to your former health, and warmth, and liveliness; yea, and make you stronger than ever you have been. Therefore, dear brethren and sisters, read and ponder the receipts of your soul's Physician; try and put in practice those wholesome directions, and you will never complain, for they are all peculiarly prepared by the most wise Artist, and suited for his spouse the church, of which you, in your small communions, up and down, are a part. Our dear flock and fellow members, we beseech and intreat you to improve the means of grace and your gospel privileges; prize your advantages, you that have pastors and teachers to break unto you the bread of life, and to direct you to the opened fountain, whereby, if you are well in the inner man, you may eat and drink that which isgood, and cause your souls to delight themselves in fatness. Oh, if you had heard the mournful complaints and requests of souls destitute of the means of the courts of God and his ordinances, sent to us from remote places, it would cause melting compassions in your hearts, as it did in ours. Highly value, therefore, your prerogatives, and provoke not the Master to remove his candlestick from you. Consider, dear people, that you are God's building; and, if so, dishonor not the Master by being careless of
your places and usefulness in the house of God; take heed that your communion be entire, at the call of your pastor, or according to your settled times. Beware of factions and rents in your churches; it is the old maxim of the enemy to divide and then to destroy. Keep together as an army with banners, terrible to those who would have you scattered from one another. Remember that you are God’s husbandry. A barren field, after much labor and cost, is near the curse; but, if fruitful, receiveth blessing from God. Herein is the heavenly husbandman much glorified when you bring forth much fruit. To this ye were called at first, and now created in Christ the second time. Endeavor to answer both ends better from day to day, that you may be ripening for the garner of the glorious owner of the field. We conclude, with our hearty prayer for your establishment in every truth, your growth in grace, and a right and regular walking, as a peculiar people, prepared for every good work, vessels of honor, meet for. the master's use. Amen.
Your messengers and servants in the house of our Lord Jesus. Steven Watts, Jos. Shepard, Abel Morgan, Rinold Howel, Robert Chalfant, James Carman, Wm. Marshel, Robert Chalfant, Jr., Joshua Potts, Thos. Edment, Dan'l. Underhill, Peter Vanhorn, Thos. Coks, Nath. Jenkins, Benj. Miller, Benj. Cheesman, Jenkin Jones, Malachiah Bonham, Geo. George, Benj. Griffith, Thos. Davis, Recompense Stanberry, Owen Thomas, Thos. Jones, Jos. Page, Griffith Jones, John Thomas, Alex. Edwards, John Davis,
Query from Philadelphia: Whether a member in a church be censurable on the evidence of one accusing him of a fault, said to be committed for some length of time before, and nothing mentioned of it till it come out in anger arising on another occasion?
Answer: On the consideration of the circumstances of affairs, as represented to us, it is answered in the negative. 1st, because it appears to us it may be the effect of passion or discord; 2d, it does not appear likely that one should encourage what is charged, and afterwards use severity in correcting for the same.
Appointed Brethren Owen Thomas and Benjamin Griffith to write a letter to some people in Fairfax county, Virginia, in behalf of the Association.
The Association, taking into consideration the advantages and benefits that will arise to the interests of religion and the cause we profess, from a public fund or stock in bank, well regulated, have concluded, to acquaint the several congregations we belong to with the proposal, that if it seem meet to them to further so good a purpose, by sending in yearly such sums as the Lord shall bless them with, and incline their hearts to contribute, that a beginning be made against next year.
Concluded to begin next year on Tuesday before the fourth Lord's day in September, and the sermon by Brother Isaac Eaton; in case of failure, by Brother Malachiah Bonham, at 3 o'clock, P. M.
1751 The elders and messengers of the churches, baptized on profession of their faith, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met at Philadelphia, 17th of September, 1751.
Greeting: Brethren, well beloved in our Redeemer, it rejoiced us much when we perused your letters, and found your unity and fellowship in the gospel of Christ, except a few disorderly and disaffected persons in some of our societies, which is no new thing; for, in the primitive churches, gathered by the apostles, such uncomfortable members were found. We met together in gladness and gospel unanimity. We had no contentions, hates, or animosities. Your prayers for us we hope have been answered. We recommend to you the following counsels. Loving brethren, we have cause to be frequent in blessing the great Jehovah, the father of mercies, and the God of all comforts, for his distinguishing goodness in calling you from darkness to marvellous light, when you were in the snares of the worst of enemies. Praises are due to him who imparted the blessed eye-salve, and opened your souls to look upon the great object, Jesus, the Mediator of his covenant, who is able to save to the uttermost from all the powers that may oppose. Endeavor, brethren, to adorn the doctrine of the Lord Jesus in all things; for that will be evidence that you are Christians indeed, and not in name only. Let your conversations be as becometh the gospel, that, as you maintain sound and scriptural principles, and so shed forth their power and virtue in your behavior, you declare that you are seeking a better inheritance than can be found this side of heaven. Keep close and diligent to your stated time of public worship. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. It rejoices the heart of a Christian when his fellow servants say, Come, let us goup to the house of God. The contrary practice causes coldness, indifference, and gradual withering, and, at last, absolute dying, as Jude tells us, "twice dead, plucked up by the root;" from which fearful ruin, we pray God save you all, that you may not be a grief to those who labor among you in the word and doctrine, nor be barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; nor want the comforts and hope of the glory that is to follow. You complain of deadness and lukewarmness in your; souls; what can be the reason, but earthliness, or a careless, indolent, and unstable resolution to go forward? The Spirit is always ready, did we but attend and cherish his motions. By frequently meeting together, you might be strengthened with all might, according to his power, to run with patience the race that is set before you. Go on in the strength of your God, making mention of his righteousness, and his only. Shake off all sleepiness and sloth. The house above is prepared;
the crown and seats are all ready; souls there wait for you, and wonder why the number is not yet completed. Long and pray for it. Be watchful unto death, and you shall enjoy a happy crown with them for ever. Seek for establishment in the ways of sincere piety, that you may grow like the palm tree in Lebanon. Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Obey them that rule over you in the Lord, that ye may be able to live in joy and not in sorrow, which will be unprofitable to you.
We recommend you to him who is able to do for you and ourselves far above what we are able to ask or think. To him be power and glory, dominion and thanks, for evermore.
From your fellow laborers in the mercy and grace of our exalted Saviour. Robert Chalfant, J. Williams, Nath. Jenkins, Job Sheppard, John Thomas, Jenkin Jones, George George, Malec. Bowen, Abel Morgan, Joshua Obdick, Rees Jones, John Davis, David Sutton, William Marshall, David Davis, John Stout, William Darby, Benjamin Griffith, Nathan Evans, Thomas Rees, James Carman, Robert Parsons, William Taylor, Peter P. Vanhorn, Arnold Francis, Wm. Cheesman, Jr., Joshua Potts, Isaac Stelle, B. Miller, Isaac Eaton.
Brother M. Bowen is to preach the annual sermon next year; in case of failure, Brother I. Stelle. To begin two days before the fourth Lord’s day in September, at 3 o'clock, P. M.
1752 The elders and messengers of the several congregations in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, baptized on profession of their faith, met in Association at Philadelphia, October 3d, 1752.
To the several congregations we represent, we send Christian salutation. Dearly beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ, whose interest we hope all of us have chiefly at heart, — We met, and, after the Association sermon, received your letters, and, with great satisfaction, accepted your messengers, and rejoice to see your care and unwearied diligence in keeping up our annual correspondence; and so much the more our joy is increased in that we find our churches, for the most part, are at peace and unity among themselves, and have had considerable additions, the which valuable blessings we bespeak the great Master of assemblies to continue, and make more and more to abound to the glory of his great name, and the comfort of us who labor in the word and doctrine, and the mutual benefit of you all with whom we are concerned. And now, dear brethren, as our consultations have been loving and unanimous, so we are going in. love
to part, not knowing whether we shall ever see one anothers' faces in time any more. Therefore, we solemnly charge you, in the fear of God, that you labor constantly to walk answerable to your heavenly calling, and to any of you, among whom there may be discord, strife, and debates, we say, that as Satan hath made an inroad upon you, beware of giving a helping hand to so dangerous an enemy, but labor by all means to heal the breaches in Zion, that the church may still appear a company compact together, as an army with banners. And, if any of you are complaining of deadness, barrenness, and leanness, though in the present enjoyment of the precious means of grace, we say, see to it. No doubt carelessness, unwatchfulness, and worldly mindedness, are the causes hereof. Remember from whence you are fallen, and repent. What we say further, we say to all, watch, that at the heavenly bridegroom's coming, either by death or judgment, ye may be ready to meet him with joy, and not with grief. We commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, who is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified. We rest your loving brethren in the faith and fellowship of the gospel. Amen.
Saml. Jones, Ephraim Thomas, James Carman, John Gano, James Mott, Isaac Stelle, John Stout, Jenkin Jones, Joshua Root, David Goons, Nathl. Jenkins, Peter P. Vanhorn, Wm. Juel, Benj. Griffith, Benj. Miller, Icabud Thompson, Abel Morgan, Wm. Marshel, Saml. Guy, John Davis, Augustus Stillman. Jno. Thomas,
Query from the church at Kingwood: Whether a person denying unconditional election, the doctrine of original sin, and the final perseverance of the saints, and striving to affect as many as he can, may have full communion with the church?
Answer: That the very consequence of it opposeth the absolute sovereignty of God over his own creatures contrary to express scriptures, which do declare and fully prove, the three parts denied by said questionist.
1st. That personal election is the truth of God, Ephesians i:5; Matthew xxiv:24; and our infallible hope is proved by John x:28; as also, the saints' perseverance, verse 29, John xvii:6; they are the gift of the Father to his Son Christ, who will, and is able to keep them and secure their happiness, John xvii:24.; Acts xiii:48. The foundation of God standeth sure, whatever becomes of the presumptuous counsels of obstinate men. 2 Thessalonians ii:18; Titus i:1; 1 Peter i:2-5.
2. That we are originally sinful or partakers of the first sin of human nature, being all included in Adam when he was created, and partakers of that happiness, with which he was indued, as his rightful heir; but he, forgetting that great favor bestowed freely upon him and his posterity, we, as well as himself, are justly shut out of
our native happiness, and have lost our right thereunto forever, unless our title be restored by the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, by being effectually called in time. Ephesians ii:12, 13; Romans v:12 to the end; Ecclesiastes vii:2. Upon which fundamental doctrines of Christianity, next to the belief of an eternal God, our faith must rest; and we adopt, and would that all the churches belonging to the Baptist Association be well grounded in accordance to our Confession of faith and catechism, and cannot allow that any are true members of our churches who deny the said principles, be their conversation outward what it will.
The Association, next year, is to begin on Tuesday after the second Lord's day, in October, at 3 o'clock, P. M. Brother Nathaniel Jenkins is to preach the sermon; in case of his failure, Brother Jenkin Jones.
1753 The elders and messengers of the congregations baptized on profession of faith, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met in Association at Philadelphia, the 16th of October, 1753.
To the several congregations we relate unto, send greeting: Dearly beloved brethren in our Lord Jesus Christ, — We rejoice to hear that the most of our churches are at peace, and in divers places have had some addition,for which valuable blessing we pray that our God may perfect praise from us and you. We thank you for your constant diligence in endeavoring to keep up this annual correspondence, and it is with much satisfaction that we hear our past counsels and admonitions are solemnly regarded by you. We have to inform you that we met together in love and peace, and we trust, that through your prayers, and the abundant supply of the Spirit of grace, our consultations and debates have been attended with valuable blessing; and now as we are to part from each other, we tenderly counsel and advise you, in the fear of God, that ye labor to walk close with him in the several duties incumbent on you as Christians. Be not satisfied with generals, but labor in a constant, actual derivation from Christ, to perform each particular duty with life and power. For want of careful attendance and watchfulness hereunto, many have had their minds and consciences defiled by sin, to their great discomfort, to the dishonor of God, and grief of their brethren. Labor, dear souls, to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace. The want of diligence in the prosecution of the several duties hereunto tending, is one great reason why particular communities are sometimes distracted with dreadful disturbances, with Satan's inroad upon them; and therefore, beloved brethren, be exhorted to watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation, that at the heavenly bridegroom's coming you may be ready to meet him with exceeding joy. We commend you to God and to the word of his grace, who is able to preserve you to his heavenly kingdom
through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever. Amen.
Your brethren in the best of bonds. Joseph Heart, Jno. Stiles, James Carman, Abel Griffith, Wm. Cheesman, Abel Morgan, Icabed Tompkins, Danl. Griffith, Isaac Eaton, Joshua Smaley, James Davis, John Davis, Samuel Morgan, Geo. Drake, Benj. Miller, Jonathan Smith, Jeffrey Bentley, Malachia Bonham, Wm. Marshal, Geo. Bentley, Isaac Still, Henry Crosby, Jenkin Jones, Thos. Jones, Benj. Stout, Benj. Griffith, Peter P. Vanhorn, Stephen Watts. Owen Thomas, John Thomas. David Lewis,
1. Query from the Church at Kingwood: Whether the assurance of faith be absolutely necessary in order for admission to baptism?
The judgment of this Association is: It appears to us, both from scripture and experience, that true saving faith may subsist where there is not assurance of faith. Therefore, in answer to the second query, That a person sound injudgment, professing his faith of reliance on Christ for mercy and salvation, accompanied with a gospel conversation, ought to be baptized.
Query from the church at the Scotch Plains Whether a person, observing the seventh day as a Sabbath, and keeping the first day in condescension, may be received into membership?
Resolved, That such may, provided nothing else appear to the contrary.
Agreed to receive the church lately constituted at Rocksberry into fellowship with us.
Concluded, that any brother called by any of our churches to exercise his gift, when approved of at home, should, before his ordination, visit other churches, and preach among them, and obtain from those churches concurring evidence of their approbation, that it is proper and convenient that such may be ordained.
The Association is to begin next year, on Tuesday after the first Lord's day, in October. Brother Owen Thomas is to preach the sermon at 3 o'clock, P. M.; in case of failure, Brother Benjamin Griffith.
1754 The elders and messengers met in Association at Philadelphia, October 8th, 1754. Greeting.
Dear brethren, our joy and crown in the day of the Lord, We delight to inform you, that we met your messengers, and are thankful upon hearing, in your letters, of the general peace in the churches, with considerable increase in some of them. We trust your prayers for us have, in some measure, been answered, in that
we have enjoyed sweet harmony in all our consultations to the great confirmation of one another. Being about to depart, suffer us to recommend to your consideration the following necessary things. Take heed, brethren, to maintain love and unity among yourselves. Beware of every thing that tends to schism. Exhort and provoke one another to love and good works, and the more as you see the day of deadness and lukewarmness approaching. Awake to repentance in the use of your temporal and spiritual privileges. Your professed and powerful enemy threatens and frowns; the obligations you are under, as followers of Jesus, are many and strong. Strive to uphold and strengthen your ministers. Omit not the duty of church relation one toward another; keep your place in the house of God. Be constant in family prayer, and frequent in secret; keep an hourly watch over your conduct in the world, lest you wound the precious cause of Christ.
Brethren, we commit you to the Lord and the word of his grace, praying for your establishment in the ways of Christ, the king of his church. Gird up the loins of your minds and be sober. Wait for the coming of the Lord from heaven with his mighty angels, to release his church from her militant state to glory and triumph.
Concluded, to receive the church of Ketockton, and the church of Opekon, in Virginia, into fellowship with this Association.
In consequence of the prevailing deadness that overspreads the land, and the imminent danger our continent seems actually to labor under, from the bold encroachments of our avowed enemies on our frontiers, concluded, that the second Thursday in November next, be observed as a day of humiliating, fasting, and prayer to God, that he may be mercifully pleased to remove the impending, judgment.
Sermon next year is to be on Tuesday after the first Lord's day, in October, at 3 o'clock, P. M., by Brother Benjamin Griffiths; in case of failure, Brother Abel Morgan. Benj. Stout, Obah. Robbins, Edwd. Lucas, Wm. James, Jon. Thomas, Jenkin Jones, Hen. Loyd, Jon. Gano, Benj. Griffiths, Abm. Ashburn, Jos. Davis, Abel Morgan, Dav. Sutton, Saml. Watson, Thos. Jones, Reun. Wingate, Wm. Marshall, Isaac Eaton, Ichad. Tompkins, Saml. Ashmead, Josa. Potts, Owen Howell, John Watson, Peter P. Vanhorn, Stn. Watts, Joshua Sheppard, John Davis, Thos. Curtis, Recompense Stansbury Malachi Bonham. Robt. Chalfant, Isaiah Mott,
1755 The elders and messengers of the several congregations of Christians baptized, upon profession of their faith, in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, met at Philadelphia, October 7th, 1755.
To the several churches we respectively belong, send our loving salutation:
Dearly beloved brethren, — We, your delegates, having met in gospel affection, were refreshed in hearing your letters, and finding peace subsists throughout our churches, and some addition in several of them. We hope the public cause is in progressive circumstances. We had affectionate and pressing requests from many places for ministerial help. Our souls are concerned for those who are like to perish for lack of vision; therefore, we entreat you to befervent and frequent at the throne of grace, that the Lord would send forth many faithful laborers into his vineyard. We earnestly recommend as necessary, that you might be free to spare your ministers some time to supply those who would otherwise be altogether destitute.
Be earnest and constant in attending on the duties of religion; neglect not secret prayer; pray for and with your families; labor for a general humiliation for your own sins and the sins of the land, seeing God, by his providence, calls loudly for it, and knowing that our civil and religious privileges are threatened. Improve the precious means of grace whilst you enjoy them. Strengthen and encourage your ministry; be careful to attend public worship; keep close to your communions; observe your place in all church meetings; and in all respects strive to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called. Committing you to the Lord and the word of his grace, we subscribe ourselves your brethren in gospel relation. Benj. Griffith, Moderator.
Samuel Borchilo, Jesse Binely, John Stiles, Samuel Jones, John Garet, Joshua Obesick, James Mott, John Thomas, George George, Edward Measly, David Evans, Jenkin Jones, John Lonmay, John Thomas, John Davis, Richard William, James Carman, Abel Morgan, Peter Cochlan, Job Sheperd, Joshua Potts, John Gare, Isaac Eaton, Peter P. Vanhorn, Wm. Marshel, Saml. Heaton, John Gano, John Hart, Daniel Smith, Isaac Still. Jehobold Tompkin,
Concluded, to receive the church lately constituted at Alloway’s Creek, in Salem county; the church constituted in New Britain, in Bucks county, November 28, 1754; also, the church constituted in Baltimore county, Maryland, and two churches constituted in the province of Virginia, viz., one in Fairfax county, Oketon Tract; the other at Mill Creek, Frederick county.
Appointed, that one ministering brother from the Jerseys, and one from Pennsylvania, visit North Carolina: the several churches to contribute to bear their expense.
Brother Thomas Davis is to visit Cape May this fall, and stay with them a month. Brother Abel Morgan, the second Sabbath in
March. Our ministering brethren have unanimously agreed to visit several vacancies the ensuing year.
Concluded, that it be left to the discretion of the ministering brethren that travel to Carolina, to ordain Mr. Jaret, in Virginia.
Concluded to leave the ordination of W. Chrisley to the Jersey ministering brethren. Our churches, in general, are advised to keep Thursday, the 23d of October, as a day of fasting and prayer, seeing our privileges, civil and religious, require it.
That Brother Abel Morgan is to preach the Associational sermon next year; in case of his failure, Brother David Davis, on Tuesday after the first Lord's Day, in October, at 3 o'clock, P. M.
The ministry that travel are to set out on Tuesday, the 28th of of October.
1756 The elders and messengers of the several congregations, baptized on profession of faith, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and provinces adjacent, met in Association at Philadelphia, October 5th, 1756.
To the several churches we respectively relate unto, do send our loving salutation.
Dear brethren, — We your messengers and fellow members of the same mystical body, having met together in love and gospel unity, were refreshed by hearing your letters read, finding that our churches are generally at peace, and in divers parts have had considerable additions. Blessed be our God therefor. And now, dear brethren, as we are about to part from each other, suffer us to express our constant love and care for you, by recommending to you the following necessary duties, viz: Be constant at the throne of grace for the several purposes revealed to you in the holy scripture; not in a dead, lifeless, and formal manner; but labor after free access to God, in the blessed Mediator’s name, that out of his fullness we may all receive, and grace for grace. Strive to excel in practical religion, and think that time lost wherein you do not make some advances in the Christian life. Be constant in reading, hearing, and meditating on the sacred word that you may profit thereby. Tremble at the thought of being found foolish virgins at last. Be careful of the instruction of youth, and those under your care that when you come to give up your accounts to Him that is ready to judge the quick and dead, you may do it with joy and not with grief. Encourage and strengthen the hand of your ministers, and freely consent to their visiting of vacant places, that others may share the blessings of the gospel of peace with you.
Finally, brethren, fear God, and honor the king by every expression of duty and loyalty, seeing our nation and land are in danger by a potent enemy, preparing the worst of times, while you hope and pray for the best.
So we commend you to God, and to the word of his grace. Praying