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The Covenant and Early History of the
First Separate Baptist Church in Virginia
The Christian Repository

THE SEPARATE BAPTIST COVENANT. -- "Holding believers' baptism, laying on of hands, and particular election of grace by the predestination of God in Christ; effectual calling by the Holy Ghost; free justification through the imputed righteousness of Christ; progressive sanctification through God's grace and truth (which we believe to be revealed in the Old and New Testament, and those containing a perfect rule for our faith and practice), and final perseverance, or continuance of the saints in grace. The resurrection of these our bodies after death at that day by Jesus Christ, by the power of God, by the resurrection of Christ, and life everlasting. Amen."

"FOR A PERPETUAL MEMORIAL."

"Be it remembered till time shall be no more; and let the true Israel of God, through all succeeding ages, till nature shall be dissolved, speak of the wonderful goodness of God. In the midst of his judgments, even he should remember many multitudes of precious souls, inhabitants of many countries, in the colony of Virginia, that had long lain in darkness; but about the year 1766 began to see a great and marvelous light, in that the wonder-working and prayer-hearing Jehovah was graciously pleased to call several of his ministering servants, who lived in the southern climes of North America, to come first into the counties of Orange and Spotsylvania, preaching the acceptable year of the Lord -- lifting up their voices like trumpets, and proclaiming abroad salvation for poor sinners that should believe in Jesus; which doctrines have happily blessed to the conversion of many precious souls, who give, by their exemplary lives and pious conversation, hopeful signs and very manifest proofs of the work and impress of Godís spirit in their souls. Of the southern ministers, whose labors seemed to be most blessed among us, was Samuel Harris, of Spotsylvania county. This spiritual father was the first minister of Christ that many of the saints of God ever heard blow the blast on the silver trumpet of free grace.

"Whenever he preached in the audience of great crowds that attended on his ministry, the fruits of his preaching bore a great resemblance to that of his Master. Afterwards came James Reed, with said Harris. The said Reed is an inhabitant of Granville county, North Carolina; and having received very evident teaching from the spirit of God to visit the northern climes of Virginia, came, nothing doubting. This man's labors were apparently blessed by and owned of God amongst the people. Numbers dated their awakening from the force of his ministry; and according to Daniel, 12:18, these brothers, who have turned many to righteousness, shine as the stars in heave, when the service of them here is ended upon earth.

"In the month of August, 1767, Elijah Craig and several others went out to North Carolina in order to bring an ordained minister of the Separate Baptist order, and a sufficient number of their persuasion to Camp Compose, in Orange county, Virginia, and to receive the experiences of sundry persons that were desirious to join that church. At the said Craig's return, he brought with him James Reed, minister of a church at Grange Creek, North Carolina. And Samuel Harris, William Graves, John Lankford, and the said Craig, having joined said Reed's church while he was gone, was also a member of the church which was sitting at the said Craigís house. Several persons offered in their experiences, and seventeen members, whose names are recorded at the other end of this book (Spotsylvania church-book), were received into fellowship and were baptized. Meeting then breaking up there, and being adjourned to the house of John Waller, jun., in Spotsylvania, the church received and baptized seven members, whose names are also recorded in the aforesaid place.

"These meetings being dismissed, the church sent a petition to our Association, to be held at Hard Run meeting-house, North Carolina, the second Sunday in October following. The purport of the petition was, setting forth many inconveniences we were likely to grow under by being a branch of Grassy Creek Church, which was such a distance from us that rendered them incapable of watching over us, and praying that we might be incorporated into a separate constitution from that church, that we might watch over one another in love, and deal with transgressing members, &c.

"Which petition was carried by our brethren, James Childs and Joseph Craig; and being received by the Association, in order to redress our grievance, they delegated four certain ministers, or any three of them, to appear at the house of John Waller, jun., on the 19th of November following, to inquire into the mind of the Lord by examining the members aforesaid with regard to their stability and ripeness for a constitution. Whereupon James Reed, Dutton Lane, and Samuel Harris appointed at the time and place aforesaid. After examining more particularly James Childs, Lewis Craig, Elijah Craig, John Waller, Joseph and Thomas Maston, they found it to be fit for a church, and constituted it accordingly" (1)

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Note

1. This sketch, transferred from the old Transylvania [Spotsylvania] church-book, is the only original account of the first Separate Church in Virginia. I have copied it from the old Mount Pleasant church-book. shf.

[Taken from Samuel H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, September, 1858, pp. 645-647. The title is added as this was extracted from Fordís essay on Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, History of the Kentucky Baptists, Chapter 19. - Jim Duvall]



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