And to show that the Baptist cause is still prospering in West Tennessee and Western Kentucky, I call attention to the doings of some of the associations in these bounds.
Unity Baptist Association
Unity Association convened on Saturday before the second Sunday in September, with Walnut Grove church, in Hardman county, near Bolivar, Tennessee. Bro. W. J. Hodges preached the annual sermon with telling effect. He portrayed in burning eloquence the truth in regard to the relation that Pedobaptist societies sustain to the old mother of harlots, the Romish Church. And in the same manner he pointed out the persecuted bride, the Lamb's wife, by the prophetic word and the light of authentic history.
Bro. L. Savage was reelected to preside as moderator of that body. He is an excellent man, good preacher, and stanch Baptist. Bro. W. A. Henry preached the missionary sermon in the house on Sabbath. He is one of those old preachers who, like Reuben Ross, got his education from the Bible while he was toiling to support his family. Bro. Reuben Day preached on Sunday evening with fine effect. He looks like a monument of the past generation. The writer preached in the Grove on Sunday to an attentive audience, in a torrent of rain, without any shelter except the streaming clouds.
Unity Association has the right name, for the brethren do "dwell together in unity." This is as sound a body of Baptists as can be found in the land. About one hundred and fifty baptisms were reported in the letters from the churches. Many of the churches have not yet recovered from the dreadful shock of war, but they appointed Bro. J. W. York to labor as missionary in the waste places of the association; and we are informed by Bro. York that God has greatly blessed his labors, and many have been immersed by him since his appointment. The business of the association closed on Monday evening, but several brethren remained with the pastor, A. S. Dorris, and they had a glorious time indeed. The meeting lasted a week, and at the close Bro. Dorris immersed thirty-four converts, among whom was his own father and two of his sons, with a nephew. May Bro. Dorris live to see some of these young men stand up as preachers of the gospel. Why do not all our associations close with a protracted meeting? This would give them much greater influence in the communities where they are held.
Central Baptist Association
Central Association was held with Hopewell church, in Dyer County, Tennessee, commencing on Saturday before the third Sabbath in September. The introductory sermon was delivered by Bro. M. H. Neal, who served so long in Methodism, but is now an able defender of the Baptist cause. His theme was the Communion, and he took the true ground that the Supper was given as an institution in the kingdom of Christ, and not in the various societies set up by human invention in these latter times; and, therefore, to get the Supper we must get into the kingdom where it is found. He also showed that the people now called Baptists have existed as the churches of Jesus Christ all the time from the apostolic age down to the present. Bro. Matthew Hillsman was reelectedMethodism is gradually subsiding in the bounds of old Central, under the faithful preaching of such men as Moses Senter, M. H. Neal, R. A. Coleman, Mat. Hillsman, G. W. Allen, and J. J. Greer, with many others of the same stamp. The two missionaries in the field for this association reported for the last three months one hundred and sixty-three baptisms. We would be proud to see all the associations in West Tennessee come up to the work like Central.
West Union Baptist Association, Kentucky
After leaving Hopewell, the writer took the train for Mayfield, Kentucky, the place appointed for West Union association to meet on the Saturday before the fourth Sunday in September. Rev. Thomas Pettit preached the introductory sermon with telling effect. He is a promising young teacher, who is not ashamed to preach a whole gospel. He showed the complete folly of the branch system of the churches of Christ, and also traced the modern branches up to their fountain-head, the Church of Rome. Bro. Robert Williams was reelected to preside as moderator. It was a pleasant time, indeed, to be permitted to meet with so many loved brethren with whom we had not met since the war. It was in this association that the writer commenced the work of the ministry, and labored for years as missionary, and fought his battles with the champions of Pedoism and Campbellism. May God in his mercy bless old West Union with his choice blessings!
But I was sorry to learn that some of the brethren of this association are still disposed to affiliate with
, to the great injury of the Baptist cause. I was informed upon good authority that an affiliation meeting was held in the town of Mayfield recently, where the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians were so nearly one people, that in the call for members they fixed three benches at once, one Baptist bench, one Methodist bench, and one Presbyterian bench, and each denomination extended the hand of fellowship to the others to welcome them into these branches! Baptists extended the hand to receive members into the Methodist and Presbyterian societies! And it was farther stated that the Baptist and Presbyterian preachers, both at the same time and place, went into the water together to immerse their converts! I wonder if that very accommodating Baptist preacher would refuse to commune with these same Pedobaptists? He must do so to be consistent. I also found that in some of these associations a tendency to drop the custom of electing the officers by private ballot as their constitutions require, and appoint them by nomination. This certainly is a departure from the ancient custom of Baptists. And this departure is pleaded on the ground of saving time. How much time would it take to ballot for the officers? It may save some in office who otherwise might not be chosen by private ballot, for very few will publicly vote against a good brother who has been publicly nominated, though he may not be their choice. Brethren, let us hold fast the old custom, time or no time. But I have extended this article too long. I do hope that every Baptist who is true to the cause will rally to the support of THE BAPTIST, and swell the number of its subscribers far above the old Tennessee Baptist.
D. B. R.
[From The Baptist newspaper, Memphis, February 8, 1867, pp. 5-6. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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