October 12th. — At 3 o'clock, P. M., the Association was opened with a suitable discourse, from Jeremiah 23:28, "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully: what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord;" by our beloved Brother Isaac Stelle.
2. After Divine service, Brother Benjamin Miller was chosen moderator, and Brother William Vanhorn, clerk. Letters from thirty-nine churches were read.
3. October 13th. President Manning, of Rhode Island, Benjamin Coles, of Connecticut, and John Corbley, of Virginia, ministering brethren, being present, their company and assistance were desired.
4. A letter and minutes from the Baptist Association, held at Medfield, in the Massachusetts Bay, September 13th and 14th, 1774, were read, which informs us, that they had a very comfortable interview; that 146 had joined their churches by baptism, and that three churches more were received, which increases their number to twenty-seven. Our much esteemed brother in the ministry, Isaac Backus, was their messenger to us.
5. A letter and minutes from the Ketockton Association, held at Brenton, Virginia, August 17th — 19th, 1774, were read, by which it appears that the brethren there are walking in truth, and increasing in number daily; 217 have been added by baptism, and three churches were received. Their messengers to us were our esteemed brethren, David Thomas and Daniel Fristoe.
6. A letter and minutes from the Association held at Charleston, in South Carolina, were read. The plan adopted by them respecting Rhode Island College, recommended to us.
Agreed, To recommend the same to the churches we stand respectively related unto; and that our Brethren John Gano and William Rogers receive the monies so raised, and remit the same to Colonel Job Bennet, treasurer.
7. A letter from the Baptist church, at King's street, in Fairfield,
Connecticut, constituted November 3d, 1773, was read, requesting to join this Association; which was granted, after satisfaction given of their faith and practice, and their messenger, William Brundage, received.
8. Letters from well disposed people in different places, requesting supplies, were read, viz: Mudderkill Forrest, in Kent county, Carnarven, in Berks, and Tolbert, in Northumberland, in the province of Pennsylvania; also, from Baltimore Town, in Maryland.
9. A Letter from our Brother James Sutton, setting forth the loss of his papers and effects by fire, was read:
Agreed, That this minute certify his regular standing in the ministry; and, in lieu of the interest of the Association fund, which he requested, agreed, rather to recommend to the churches to contribute to his necessities.
10. After deliberations on some queries from the church at the Welsh Tract, it was finally agreed, that our Brethren Abel Morgan, Isaac Backus, Isaac Stelle, and Samuel Jones, form a minute in answer to them, which being done and approved, is here inserted: "Whereas, a book was published, entitled, 'The Customs of the Primitive Churches', which the author proposed should be altered, amended, and corrected, by his ministering brethren, and then re-printed for the use of the churches, which was never done; and whereas, we have reason to think, that it is understood by many abroad to have been adopted by us in its present form, as our custom and mode of church discipline and practice; it is therefore thought meet, that we should thus publicly testify to the contrary, as it is not, nor ever has been adopted by us, or by any of the churches belonging to the Association."
11. The Association considering that the catechising or instructing youth in the principles of the Christian religion, though so plain and important a duty, is yet too generally neglected, have thought it expedient to recommend to the churches, seriously to consider and promote the same.
12. The general letter formed by Brother Samuel, Jones, being read and considered, was approved.
13. The case of our brethren suffering under ecclesiastical oppressions in New England, being taken into consideration, it was agreed to recommend to our churches to contribute to their necessities, agreeable to the pattern of the primitive churches, who contributed to the relief of the distressed brethren in Judea. And that the money raised for them be remitted to Mr. Backus, to be by him, in conjunction with the committee of advice in said colony, distributed to the brethren.
14. The case of our brethren above considered, induced us to appoint a committee of grievances, who may from time to time receive accounts of the sufferings and difficulties of our friends and brethren in the neighboring colonies; and meet as often as shall appear needful in the city of Philadelphia,to consult upon and prosecute such
measures for their relief, as they shall judge most expedient; and may correspond with the Baptist committee in the Massachusetts Bay, or elsewhere. Accordingly, the following gentlemen I were appointed, viz.,
Robert Strettle Jones, Esq., Mr. Samuel Davis, Mr. Stephen Shewel, Mr. Thomas Shields, Mr. George Wescott, Alexander Edwards, Esq., Benjamin Bartholemew, Esq., Rev. William Rogers, A. M., John Evans, Esq., John Mayhew, Esq., Edward Keasby, Esq., Rev. Samuel Jones, A. M., Rev. Morgan Edwards, A. M., Rev. William Vanhorn, A. M., Mr. Abraham Beakly, Abel Evans, Esq., Samuel Miles, Esq., Mr. James Morgan, and Mr. John Jarman.
Any five of them to be a quorum.
15. Agreeable to a proposal made in the last Association, held at New York, Brother William Rogers was requested to copy off, into the Association book, all the letters from all the Associations corresponding, or to correspond, with this; and the letters from this Association to them, together with the letters from this Association to particular persons.
16. Voted, That £18, arising from Mrs. Hubb's donation, be given to Mr. Burgess Alison, he to give the usual obligations to the trustees.
17. Voted, That Brother Gano be paid by the treasurer the interest due on the Association fund, towards defraying his expenses in travelling the last year: accordingly he received £12.
18. Recommended to our churches to continue four days of fasting and prayer in the year ensuing, viz., the Friday before the last Lord's day in November, February, May, and August, to humble ourselves before Almighty God, implore his blessing on the means of his grace, and the interposition of Divine Providence in this day of public calamity.
19. The money raised for increasing the fund of Rhode Island College, is as follows: The church at New York raised above what was proposed by the plan adopted.
£ s. d.
Church of Cohansie, 0 15 0
Church at Salem, 0 4 6
Hugh Glassford, 0 7 0
Andrew Bray, 0 5 0
The four last sums above mentioned were received by Brother William Rogers.
20. The collections for the Association fund are as follows:
£ s. d.
Philadelphia, 3 0 0
New York, 2 0 0
Southampton, 1 0 0
New Mills, 0 12 6
Newtown, 0 10 0
Hugh Glassford, 0 5 0
The above sum of £7 7s. 6d. was paid to George Wescott, treasurer.
21. Supplies, were granted to the following destitute places: Hopewell,
Oyster Bay, New Mills, Lyon's Farms, Vincent, King Street, Mudderkill, Peak's Kiln, Baltimore town. Brother David Sutton, William Worth, and Elkana Holmes are to visit the inhabitants of Tolbert township, at times to be fixed upon by themselves.
22. Brother Peter Peterson Vanhorne was requested to write a letter to the Associations of Warren, Rhode Island, Ketockton and Rappidanne, in Virginia; also, to that of Sandy Creek, and Quekuky, in North Carolina, and to the Congaree and Charleston Association, in South Carolina.
23. Brother John Gano and Brother William Rogers were appointed messengers to the Warren and Rhode Island Associations, and Brother Isaac Stelle and William Worth to the Ketockton Associations, in Virginia.
24. A motion being made and the question put: — Whether this Association divide, and another be held annually at New York? After deliberation, it was voted, not to divide.
25. The Association. meeting twice in the year, not answering so well as was expected;
Agreed, To meet annually; and that it be held next year at Philadelphia.
26. Voted, That the Association begin on Tuesday after the second Lord's day in October, at three o'clock, P. M.; and that Brother William Rogers preach the introductory sermon; or, in case of failure, Brother William Vanhorne.
27. Agreed, That Brother Abel Morgan prepare a general letter against the next Association.
N. B. The printing of the memorial, drawn up by the committee of grievances, and read before the Association, is, for special reasons, deferred.
BY REV. SAMUEL JONES.
The Association of elders and brethren of the several Baptist churches in Pennsylvania and the colonies adjacent, held at Philadelphia, October 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1774.
Send our Christian salutation.
Beloved brethren, — Agreeable to the plan adopted at our last.Association, for the general letter to the churches, we come now to address you on the next article contained in our Confession of faith, which treats of the being and perfections of God, and includes the doctrine of the Trinity.
This is an important article; a foundation, a corner stone in the Christian faith. Remove this, and the whole superstructure will fall. Material then it is that we clearly conceive of, firmly believe, and without wavering, hold the same agreeable to the form of sound words, wherein it is held forth in divine revelation.
First. That there is an only living and true God, the supreme and eternal Jehovah, is manifest.
1. From the reason of things. Since there cannot be an effect without cause, there must be a first cause, self existent and independent.
2. From the works of creation, all marvellous and astonishing from the least to the greatest. As also,
3. From those of Providence, in sustaining and well ordering the whole universe, through all the successive periods of time. And especially,
4. From the consciousness of a Supreme Being impressed on every rational soul. Above all,
5. From the holy Scriptures. Deuteronomy vi:4;xxxiii:89; iv:35 Psalm lxxxvi. 10; Isaiah xlv:5.
Secondly. The perfections of God may be easily deduced from the same sources, especially his wisdom, power, and goodness infinite. And though his mercy, justice, truth, and holiness be not so clear from the works of creation and providence, yet there is a strong consciousness of these, as well as of his omniscience, omnipresence, &c., while they are also abundantly manifested by his word and Spirit.
Thirdly. Now, in this Divine and Infinite Being, there are three subsistences, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son, or word, eternally begotten of the Father, John i:14, 18; iii:16; 1 John iv:9; and the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, John v:26, constituting, in the undivided essence of the Godhead, a trinity of persons, each of them possessed of all divine perfections, and every way coequal, and these three are one, the One God. 1 John v:7.
That there are three appears through all the sacred writings, in reference to the works of creation, providence and grace, 1 Peter i:2; in whose name baptism is administered, Matthew xxviii:19; and to whom divine worship and adoration are addressed, 2 Corinthians xiii:14; and that these Three are One, or that there is One, and but one God, is no less clear as above. Now, that we may further explain this doctrine, and remove some difficulties attending it, so far as the mysteriousiless of the subject will admit, we shall endeavor to resolve the following queries.
Question 1. How can Three be One, and One Three?
Answer. Three are not said to be One, and One Three, in the same respect strictly. We do not say that there are Three persons in One person, nor that there are Three Gods in One God; but three persons or subsistences in the undivided essence of the One God.
Question 2. Why are these three subsistences called persons?
Answer 1. Because they are distinguished by personal relative properties; the Father begetting, the Son begotten, and the Holy Ghost proceeding.
2. They are styled I, Thou, and He. They speak, are spoken to, and spoken of.
3. They have each of them understanding and will. And besides,
4. They have personal characters, as Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Comforter, Intercessor, &c., and are covenanted with, sent, &c. Psalm cx:1, 3, 6, 7; John viii:16; xiv:16, 17, 26.
In one word they have attributed to them and spoken of them every thing essential to and descriptive of personality.
Question 3. In what respect is Christ the only begotten Son of God?
Answer 1. Not with respect to his human nature; for he was the only begotten Son of God before. In that case the Spirit would have been the Father. And in his human nature he was manifested to be what he was before, namely, the only begotten of the Father.
2. Nor with respect to his resurrection; for he was so before he rose by his own power. And by his resurrection from the dead, he was manifested to be what he was before. Romans i:4.
3. Nor yet with respect to his mediatorial office; for it is his sonship that adds lustre to this office, Hebrews iv:14, as well as efficacy. 1 John i:7. Neither is there any thing in that office that should give rise to the title Son, only Son, only begotten. Further, this did not make the Son a son, but a priest. Hebrews i:8; vii:28. And his priesthood and sonship are distinctly spoken of, Acts viii:37 ix:20; while also in the capacity of a Mediator he was a servant.
4. It remains, then, that he was the only begotten Son of God by eternal generation, inconceivable and mysterious. He was his Son, John v:18; 1 John v:5; his own Son, Romans viii:3, 32; his only begotten Son, John i:14, 18; iii:16; 1 John iv:9; was with him in the beginning, John i:1; before his works of old, even from everlasting, Micah v:2; Proverbs viii:22, 23.
Question 4. If he was the Son of God by generation as to his, divine nature, how could he be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father?
Answer. When we conceive of the Father and the Son, there is a priority in the order of nature, but not in the order of time. As God's eternal decrees, the mind and thought, the sun and light; though these be prior and successive among themselves in the order of nature, yet not in point of time. The instant the sun existed, light did exist also, proceeding, from it, or, as it were, generated by it. So the instant there is a Father, there must be a Son; and as the Father exists a Father from eternity, so does the Son a Son.
Thus, dearly beloved, we have endeavored to set before you this essential article of our faith in as clear a manner as the narrowness of our limits, and the mysteriousness of the subject, would permit. But let no one presume to think that he can, by searching, find out the Almighty to perfection, nor vainly inquire where the Lord has not revealed. Let us rather be humbly thankful, that the Divine Majesty has condescended to make such wondrous discoveries of his being and perfections.
Let us set the Triune God before us in all our ways and enjoyments, and rejoice in him, who is worthy of our highest confidence and purest affection, worthy of all divine worship and adoration. Finally,
[p. 146] brethren, let us be established in the present truth, nor suffer any to remove us from the firm basis of divine revelation. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all honor, glory, divine worship, praise, power and dominion, both now and evermore. Amen.
BENJAMIN MILLER, Moderator. WILLIAM VANHORN, Clerk.
THE MINISTERS AND MESSENGERS AT THE ASSOCIATION, AND STATE OF THE CHURCHES DURING THE YEAR.
NOTE. — The ministers' names are in SMALL CAPITALS. Those marked thus * were not present. The churches marked thus † sent neither letters nor messengers, and their numbers remain as last year. A dash — denotes no settled minister.
[A. D. Gillette, editor, Minutes of Philadelphia Association, 1774 (Fall), 1851; rpt. 2001. — jrd]
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