A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE BAPTIST
DENOMINATION IN AMERICA, AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
By David Benedict
London: Printed by Lincoln & Edmands, No. 53, Cornhill, for the Author
There are, at present, four Associations wholly in this State, viz. the Charleston, the Bethel, the Saluda, and the Edgefield; and two others, viz. the Broad-river and Savannah-river, which are partly in South-Carolina and partly in the adjoining States. The Broad-river is in the northwest corner of the State, and a few of the churches are in North-Carolina. The Savannah-river is composed of churches which are situated in the southeast parts of South-Carolina and the neighboring parts of the State of Georgia.
The history of each of these bodies will be given in their proper order. From the first settlement of the Baptists in this Province in 1683, there have always been a number of respectable characters of the society, but their numbers increased very slowly for a great number of years, insomuch that in 1751, when the Charleston Association was formed, there were but four churches, and these not very large, to compose it. Soon after this period, Baptist sentiments began more rapidly to prevail. A number of churches were, in a few years, formed from the old ones, or raised up on new ground, in their vicinities, and united in Association with them. About the year 1760, the Separate Baptists from North-Carolina began their evangelical exertions in the upper parts of the State, where their sentiments took a rapid spread, and a number of large churches were soon gathered. And in 21 years after the formation of the Charleston Association, viz. in 1772, there were, in South-Carolina, according to Morgan Edwards?s account, who then visited the country, 20 churches including the Separates, in which were 16 ordained ministers, 21 exhorters or licensed preachers, and almost 1100 communicants. And these 20 churches had erected for their use upwards of 40 meeting-houses, as some of them were large and consisted of a number of branches. There were, at the same time, in this State, three churches of the Tunker and one of the General Baptists; in all of which, however, there were but a little more than 100 communicants. But for 34 years subsequent to the last mentioned date, the Baptists increased in this State in a much greater proportion; for it appears by a statement furnished by Dr. Furman, of Charleston, in 1806, that there were then in South-Carolina, of the Calvinistick Associated Baptists, about 130 churches, in which were about 100 ministers, and 10,500 communicants.
The history of the Baptists in South-Carolina naturally divides itself into two branches; and in pursuing it, we shall, in the first place, relate the affairs of those who emigrated hither from other parts, in the early settlement of the province, who settled along the sea-coast, and in the lower parts of the State, and from whom have originated most of the churches in these regions. We shall, in the second place, take notice of those who were at first, and for a number of years, called Separates, who settled in the middle and upper parts of the country, from whom have sprung a major part of the Baptists now in the State.
Of the early settlers of South-Carolina, a considerable proportion were Baptists. They came in separate colonies, about the year 1683, partly from the west of England, and partly from Piscataway in the District of Maine. Those from England, came with Lord Cardross and a Mr. Blake, whose wife and her mother, Lady Axtell, were Baptist members, and settled, some about Ashley and Cooper rivers, and others about the mouth of the river Edisto. Those from the District of Maine were led hither by Reverend William Screven, who, with a considerable number of his brethren, fled from the persecuting rage of the New-England Pedobaptists, and settled on Cooper-river, at a place called Summerton, [Summerton was probably the name of a plantation, as I am informed that there is no such place now in the region] at no great distance from the place where Charleston now stands.
Here this company were formed into a church by Mr. Screven, who became their pastor. The names of the constituents are said to have been the Screvens, the Atwells, the Bulleins, the Elliots, the Ravens, the Bakers, the Barkers, the Blakes, the Childs, the Caters, the Whitakers, the Bryants, the Butlers, the Chapmans, etc. It appears pretty evident, that the Baptists from Old and New England, arrived in South-Carolina about the same time; but it is suggested by Mr. Edwards, that those from Piscataway settled here first, and had formed the church before their brethren from England arrived, and that the small body which had been formed, received considerable additions on their arrival. [Mr. Edwards dates the beginning of this church in 1664. His accounts were collected from the traditions of ancient people, who must have made a mistake of about 20 years; since it is very evident from Backus?s history, that Mr. Screven did not leave Piscataway until some time after the year 1680.]
Before the year 1693, most of the members had removed from Summerton towards the neck, on which Charleston is built, which made it necessary to remove the seat of the church to the town. They held their worship on their removal at the house of one William Chapman, in King-street, until they raised a temporary building in the same street, which they occupied but a short time. In 1699, they erected a brick meeting, house, on the same lot with the parsonage-house, in Church-street, which was demolished in 1808, having been some time in a ruinous condition. The building at present occupied by them, is a commodious brick edifice, 59 feet by 42, and was erected in 1746. Its erection was owing to a singular interference of the Provincial Legislature. A party had drawn off some years before, and formed a church upon the sentiments of the General Baptists, the history of which will be given in its proper place. The lot on which the meeting and parsonage houses had been erected, was given by William Elliot, whose son was now a leading man among the General Baptists. In 1745, the trustees, to whom the above lot had been given being all dead, without conveying the trust to others, the church, for the purpose of securing their property, and preventing disputes which might arise, now presented a petition to the General Assembly, signed by 17 persons, praying that trustees might be appointed by Government. The General Baptists had, at that time, a minister of learning and abilities, whose name was Haywood. The minister of the Particular Baptists (the original church) was Mr. Simmons, generally respected as a good man, but then in his dotage, and under the influence of his son-in-law Dr. Dale, a man of intrigue and a friend of Mr. Haywood. By the Doctor?s means a misunderstanding had taken place between Mr. Simmons and his church; in consequence of which, Mr. Simmons was suspended from the exercise of his office, and the doors of the house of worship shut against him; but a small party forced the doors, and introduced him by violence into the pulpit. This was the situation of affairs when the petition was presented; it was, therefore, soon followed by a counter petition from Mr. Simmons and Mr. Gracia, a deacon, praying that the Legislature would not permit the church, whom they styled a party, to deprive Mr. Simmons of his pastoral office and living. A bill was, therefore, brought in, to revive the trust of the lot and buildings in question, by the Assembly, and trustees were appointed, some of, whom were of Mr. Haywood?s congregation; Mr. Gracia was also one. The Particular Baptists then remonstrated, and prayed that none might be appointed as trustees, but such as were in communion with them and governed by their rules, declaring the church under Mr. Haywood to be in no connection with them. They produced evidence to prove, that the original church were Calvinists, and that Mr. Elliot was professedly the same at the time of the donation, and many years afterwards. The Assembly finally passed a law to confirm the donation in the hands of the trustees first nominated in the bill; and in a clause of the law they say, "that as the General Baptists are Antipedobaptists as well as the Particular Baptists, they shall have equal right in the said property." Thus the General Baptists, taking occasion from the dispute between the Particular Baptists and their minister, and making him subservient to their purpose, were, by an act of the Legislature, put in possession of a property, to which, it does not appear, they ever made a previous claim. After Mr. Simmons?s death, Mr. Gracia and a few others, who countenanced his opposition, confessed their fault, and were again united to the original body.
This determination of the Assembly bears date May 25, 1745. Thus they went on until Oct. 9, 1758, when both parties agreed that the General Baptists should have the sole use of the meeting-house, and the Particular Baptists the sole use of the parsonage, which (said Mr. Edwards in 1772) is the present posture of their affairs, and suits the latter well enough, as they had been obliged in 1746 to build another place of worship.
In 1787, this church recovered peaceable possession of the whole property, and has held it ever since. In 1801, the City Council having an idea that one half of it had become public property, in consequence of the General Baptists being extinct, took measures for securing it for the benefit of the Orphan-House. But upon hearing a committee of the church, who substantiated their title, by an exhibition of authentick records, the Council gave up their claim, and officially confirmed the right of the church; which acknowledgment was entered on the public records of the State. It has already been stated that William Screven was the founder and first pastor of this ancient and respectable church. He was a native of England, where he was born about the year 1629. When he settled at Piscataway, cannot be ascertained. An account of the sufferings which he and his brethren endured in that place, and which drove them to seek an asylum in the more tranquil regions of the south, may be found in the history of the District of Maine. In Piscataway he married Bridget Cutts, by whom he had children, Samuel, Mercy, Sarah, Bridget, Elizabeth, Robert, Permenas, Joshua, William, Joseph, and Elisha. But little can be learnt of the history of this numerous family; but it is known that the posterity of this venerable progenitor, although mostly under other names, has been and continues to be respectable, and considerably numerous. The late Colonel Thomas Screven, an influential man in the Baptist society in Charleston, and Reverend Charles O. Screven, of Sunbury, Georgia, are amongst the number. Mr. Screven, though not a classical, was a good English scholar, and was eminent for piety and usefulness. After his removal to South-Carolina, the Baptist church in Boston, of which he had been a member, being destitute, sent for him to be their pastor. His answer, dated June, 1707, contains this passage: "Our minister, who came from England, is dead, and I can by no means be spared. It is a great loss and a great disappointment; but the will of the Lord is done." Aug. 6, 1708, he wrote to them as follows: "Our society are for the most part in health, and I hope thriving in grace. We are 90 in all." He wrote "An Ornament for Church Members," which was printed after his death. One passage of which runs thus: "And now for a close of all, (my dear brethren and sisters, whom God hath made me, poor unworthy me, an instrument of gathering and settling in the faith and order of the gospel) my request is, that you, as speedily as possible, supply yourselves with an able and faithful minister. Be sure you take care that the person be orthodox in faith, and of blameless life, and does own the confession of faith put forth by our brethren in London in 1689," etc.
In the latter part of his life, Mr. Screven removed to Georgetown, about 60 miles to the north of Charleston, where he died in peace in 1713, having arrived to the good old age of 84 years. He is said to have been the original proprietor of the land, on which Georgetown is built.
After the death of its first pastor, the Charleston church underwent a number of changes, as to numbers and harmony. His successors in office were Messrs. Peart and Simmons. Previous, however, to the settlement of the first of them, Mr. White and others preached occasionally with them. Reverend William Peart came hither an ordained minister, but from what place I cannot learn, about the year 1717, and continued the pastor of the church, until he died in 1728. He married Sarah, widow of Paul Grimball, but had no children. She afterwards married a Mr. Smith, and under that name gave a legacy to the first Baptist church in Philadelphia, of about 900 dollars. Mr. Peart?s successor was Reverend Thomas Simmons, who was born in England, but came to Charleston from Pennsylvania, where he had been ordained. His father gave him an academical education, and then bound him to the carpenter?s business, which he did not like. He, therefore, came to America, that he might be free to follow his inclination, which was towards the ministry. He had two children, Thomas and Hannah. The son died childless; the daughter married Dr. Thomas Dale, and had many children, who removed to England after their father?s death. Mr. Simmons published one piece, entitled: "Some Queries concerning the Operations of the Holy Spirit, answered." Under his ministry, the church passed through a series of trials, occasioned by the schism and encroachments of the General Baptists, and by disputes among themselves; and towards the close of it, was reduced to the verge of extinction, there remaining but one man and two women, who were communicants. But when Mr. Whitefield first visited Charleston, there was a great revival under his ministry, and this church sharing largely in its salutary influences, soon received the addition of about a hundred members. Mr. Simmons died January 31, 1747, and was succeeded by Reverend Oliver Hart. His settlement in Charleston was an important event to the South-Carolina churches. His unexpected arrival, while the church was destitute of a supply, and immediately after the death of the excellent Mr. Chanler, who had occasionally officiated for them since Mr. Simmons?s death, was believed to have been directed by a special providence in their layout. He undertook the pastoral office with much seriousness, and soon entered on an extensive field of usefulness. His ardent piety and active philanthropy, his discriminating mind, and persuasive address, raised him high in the esteem of the public, and gave him a distinguished claim to the affections of his brethren. (For an interesting account of Mr. Hart, see his biography.)
Mr. Hart having, for his safety, retired to New-Jersey at the beginning of the American war, this church was for many years destitute of a pastor. But in 1787, it had the felicity to settle among them Reverend Richard Furman, D.D. who yet continues their much-esteemed and affectionate pastor. Dr. Furman was born at Esopus, on the Hudson-river, in the State of New-York, about 1748:* his extensive and successful exertions for the benefit of his own church, of the Baptist interest in South-Carolina, and the cause of Zion generally, will furnish interesting articles for some future biographer; but pursuant to the maxims we have adopted respecting the living, they cannot here be minutely detailed. [* I am not certain about the time of Dr. Furman?s birth; but I suppose that he is now about sixty-five years of age, and that would bring it as above stated.]
The Charleston church has now (1813) existed 130 years, and is among the largest in South-Carolina. It is remarkable for its hospitality to visiting brethren, and its abundant charities to those who are in necessitous circumstances.
This was the second church which was formed in South-Carolina. From about the time the Baptists first settled in this vicinity, they had stood connected with the Charleston church, as a branch of that body. But on May 24, 1736, the members here, to the number of twenty eight, were constituted into a distinct church by a special covenant, under the pastoral care of Reverend Isaac Chanler. The constituents were Isaac Chanler, pastor, William Cater, John Bullein, Richard Bedon, Jr., Benjamin Child, John Sheppard, Jr., Charles Barker, Charles Filben, Francis Sheppard, Alexander Sheppard, Jacob Bradwell, John Angell, Thomas Ramsay, Richard Bedon, Sr., Sarah Baker, Mary Cater, Susannah Brad-well, Christiana Brown, Ann Maam, Elizabeth Chanler, Elizabeth Bullein, Joyel Griffin, Elizabeth Bedon, Elizabeth Salter, Susannah Baker, Elizabeth Marrion, Mary Sheppard, and Ann Peacock.
Mr. Chanler was born at Bristol, England, 1701; came to Ashley-river about 1733, and continued the much-esteemed pastor of this church, until he died, Nov. 30, 1749, in the 49th year of his age. Mr. Chanler was a man of distinguished talents, piety and usefulness. He was the author of a treatise in small quarto, esteemed an able defense of the Calvinistick doctrines, and entitled "The Doctrines of Glorious Grace unfolded, defended, and practically improved." He also published a "Treatise on Original Sin," and a Sermon on the death of Reverend William Tilly. The late Isaac Chanler, M.D. was his son.
Reverend John Stephens succeeded Mr. Chanler. He was born on Staten-Island, in the State and near the city of New-York. Of his early life, I can learn no more, than that he settled first at Horse-Neck, in Connecticut, where he gathered a little church in 1747, having been ordained at Oyster Bay, on Long lsland, the same year. He came to Ashley-river in the month of May, 1750, and shortly after was invested with the pastoral care of the church. In this office Mr. Stephens continued with high reputation, for a number of years; but by an unhappy fondness for strong drink, he was obliged to quit both the church and ministry in 1769.* From this dreadful fall he never fully recovered, but professed and was believed to be penitent, and was improperly admitted again to preach. He died suddenly at Black-river in 1785. The defection of Mr. Stephens was a circumstance peculiarly painful to the friends of Zion, and happened about the time Mr. Bedgegood, another celebrated minister, was disowned for a crime which will be mentioned in the history of the Welsh Neck church. From this period the Ashley-river church declined, and in the revolutionary war became extinct. Its property, consisting of the lot on which the house of worship was built, about fourteen miles from Charleston, a valuable parsonage, church plate, several negroes, and some hundred pounds in fund, were seized by a sacrilegious individual, and converted to his own use. [* In Mr. Edwards?s account of this unhappy affair, I find the following curious remarks: "Has not a dumb spirit, a deaf spirit, an unclean spirit, etc. been cast out? and who knows but Jamaica spirit will one day be exorcised out of this country, where it makes such dreadful havok? The Indians themselves lament its being brought hither, though they are excessively fond of it. Surely if any creature of God were not good, rum would be it."]
The Welsh Neck church, as to its constitution, is older than the Ewhaw; but as this originated from the Charleston church, we shall give its history first.
The foundation of the Ewhaw church was laid in the year 1683, when, it is said, that some Baptists from England, in company with those who settled at Ashley-river, and founded Charleston church, arrived here with the lord Cardross. They were visited by Mr. Screven and the succeeding ministers of Charleston, until God raised up a minister among themselves, whose name was William Tilly. The names of the original emigrants were William Fry, Thomas Grimball, Providence Grimball, Ephraim Mikill, Joseph Sealy, Joseph Perminter, Isaac Perminter, Thomas Perminter, and some others, whose names are not known. These persons settled on Edisto-Island, where was the seat and center of the community, which stood as a branch of the Charleston church. About forty years after this settlement was made, the Baptist families here began to remove their habitations, some to Port-Royal, an island to the south of Edisto, on which the town of Beaufort now stands, and others to Ewhaw, otherwise called Indian-Island. But the brethren who went to Port-Royal soon followed those who had gone to Ewhaw, and by this means the seat of this body was removed from Edisto to the place where it now is.
This church has built three meeting-houses. The first was erected on the island of Edisto, in 1726; for before this time they met in a common meeting-house, which they were turned out of in 1722, by their overbearing brethren, the Presbyterians. The meeting-house at Ewhaw, which is 36 feet by 30, was built in 1751; and it so happened, that as soon as it was finished, Mr. George Whitefield came along, and preached in it for the first time. Besides these, they built a house at Hilton Head, on the island, about 18 miles off, where was formerly a branch of the church. It has already been mentioned, that the first minister which this people had to live amongst them, was William Tilly. He was a native of Salisbury, in England; was called to the ministry, and ordained by the church in Charleston. He resided on Edisto until his death, which happened April 14, 1744, in the 46th year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Chanler, wherein he thus speaks of the deceased: "A minister he was, able and faithful to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. Some of you were ear and eye witnesses of his steadfast faith and hope on his death-bed. With what composedness of mind and solid satisfaction received he the awful summons! How free from all slavish fear of the king of terrors! How affectionately recommended he you to the blessing and protection of God! and with what cheerful resignation gave he up his spirit to the hands of a dear Redeemer! He lived and died in the Lord."
Mr. Tilly died two years before the Ewhaw church was constituted. This people, for upwards of 60 years after their settlement here, remained a branch of the Charleston church, and for reasons which are not known, took much pains to be considered in that relation, though solicited by the mother body to become a distinct church. But in May, 1746, they were dismissed and organized into a church, by the assistance of Reverend Isaac Chanler, of Ashley-river.
Reverend Francis Pilot, A.M. was the first minister they had after this period. He was born at Norville, in Switzerland, March 11, 1720, of Presbyterian parents, where he received a good education. He arrived in South-Carolina, in 1734, and ten years after embraced the principles of the Baptists. Soon after the Ewhaw church was constituted, he was called to be its pastor, in which office he continued with much reputation, until his death, in 1774. Mr. Pelot was a very distinguished man, in his day, amongst the South-Carolina Baptists. He possessed an ample fortune, and a valuable library, and devoted much of his time to books. Mr. Edwards, in speaking of this eminent man, who was then alive, observes, "he possesses three islands, and about 3785 acres on the continent, with slaves and stock in abundance. This (said he) I mention, not to flatter my friend Pelot, but in hope that his conduct may influence other such planters to preach the gospel among the poor Baptists, when God inclines their hearts to it." Mr. Pelot assisted in ordaining the late Drs. Samuel Stillman of Boston, and Hezekiah Smith of Haverhill, [these ministers were both ordained in S.C. one at Charleston, and the other at Pedee] and preached the sermons on the occasions.
His successor was Reverend Joseph Cook. For an interesting account of him, and of his ministry at Ewhaw, see his biography.
The next in office at Ewhaw, was Reverend now Dr. Henry Holcombe, of Philadelphia. Dr. Holcombe became the pastor of this church in 1791, and served them about eight years, residing the first part of the time at Ewhaw, and the latter at Beaufort, where a branch of the church lived. In 1799, he removed to Savannah, and officiated as the pastor of the Baptist church in that city, about eleven years, and then removed to his present situation. Reverend Joseph B. Cook, son of the late Joseph Cook, succeeded Dr. Holcombe in the pastoral care of the church, over which his venerable father formerly presided. Here he continued until 1804, when the Ewhaw church was divided, and the Beaufort church was formed from it, with the pastoral care of which Mr. Cook was immediately invested. Thus the Ewhaw church was again deprived of its pastor, by his removing to a promising station. Aaron Tison, and then William B. Johnson, now pastor of the church in Savannah, each officiated at Ewhaw a while after Mr. Cook?s removal. For a few years past this church has been under the care of Reverend James Sweat. Mr. Sweat was baptized by Dr. Holcombe the same day he was ordained. His ministry at the Ewhaw has been attended with great success. A revival commenced here not long since, in which a large number were hopefully born into the kingdom of God, and in one instance Mr. Sweat baptized seventy persons in a day.
This church was at first called Pedee, from the circumstance of its being situated on the Great Pedee-river, 60 miles north of Georgetown; but when other branches were settled on the same river, it became necessary to give this a more special name, and accordingly the compound name of Welsh-Neck was selected, which is descriptive of the people who founded the church, and of its local and peninsulated situation. This church originated in the following manner: In the year 1737, the following Baptist members of the Welsh-Tract church, which was then in the province of Pennsylvania, but now in the State of Delaware, arrived here; viz. James James, Esq. and wife, and three sons, Philip, who was their minister, Abel, Daniel, and their wives; Daniel Devonald and wife, Thomas Evans and wife, one other of the same name and his wife; John Jones and wife, three of the Harrys, Thomas, David, and John and his wife; Samuel Wilds and wife, Samuel Evans and wife, Griffith Jones and wife, and David and Thomas Jones and their wives. These thirty members, with their children and households, settled at a place called Catfish, on Pedee-river, but they soon removed about fifty miles higher up the same river, where they made a permanent settlement, and where they all, except James James, Esq. who died at Catfish, were embodied into a church, Jan. 1738.
James James, Esq. was the most distinguished of this Company of emigrants, for he was the head of the party, and his son Philip became the pastor of the church. Of him I can learn no more, than that he died at Catfish. His son Philip, the first pastor of the Welsh-Neck church, was born near Pennepeck, Pennsylvania, in 1701: he was ordained over the church in 1743, by Messrs. Chanler and Simmons, and died in 1753. This venerable man passed through a very singular scene about three months before his death; the narrative is related in full by Mr. Edwards, but we shall be able to give only the substance of it here, which is as follows: He was greatly afflicted for the death of a favorite child, and bewailed his loss in the language of David, O Abel, my son, my son, would to God I had died for thee, etc. In the midst of his wailings he fell to the ground as if dead, and was taken up and put on the bed, where he continued for near an hour, without any signs of life. When he revived and saw the people about him weeping, he bid them desist, adding, "had you seen what I have seen, you would not be in trouble about the dear little one." His wife and the company urged him to tell what he had seen concerning the child. He was reluctant to it, but their importunity prevailed, and he went on, "The child now enjoys more happiness in one moment than compensates for all the miseries he endured through life, and the pangs of death also." He then related how he had been transported by a celestial conductor to the paradise of God, where he was chided for his excessive grief, and saw his child in the full stature of a man, in company with the angelic hosts, and uniting in their songs of praise. At length his conductor said to him, "I am one of that company, and must join them." Having said this, the entranced spirit began to sink fast, and soon found itself united with the body. This account is preserved by the family, and is signed by four respectable witnesses. [Edwards?s MS. Hist. etc. p. 19, 20.] After this vision, the old man minded no worldly thing, but was full of heavenly joy, and attentive only to spiritual concerns.
His successor, who had been his colleague, was Reverend John Brown. He was born near Burlington, New-Jersey, in 1714, but was brought up at Frankfort, near Philadelphia. He came to Pedee about the time the above-mentioned company emigrated hither, where he was baptized and called to the ministry, and where he was ordained, May 7, 1750; but for some reasons he continued not long in the care of the church. He preached in different places around, until his death, and for aught that appears, supported a character becoming his profession.
The next pastor of this church was Reverend Joshua Edwards. He was born in February of 1703, in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, from which place he emigrated to Welsh-Tract, in Delaware, where he continued almost 30 years, and then removed to South-Carolina, and had the care of this church about six years. He then removed to Cashaway (afterwards called Mount Pleasant) where he was invested with the pastoral office three years. His next remove was to a church on Little Pedee, over which he presided until 1768. After this, he did not engage in the pastoral office of any church, but continued to preach, and was useful till his death, which happened Aug. 22, 1784. He lived to see his posterity, 12 children, 58 grand, children, and 32 great-grand-children; 82 in the whole. His son, Abel Edwards, who was long an esteemed and highly useful deacon of the Welsh-Neck church, died in 1793, aged 54.
Reverend Robert Williams succeeded Mr. Edwards. He was born at Northampton, North-Carolina, in 1717, and was ordained at Welsh-Neck in 1752; but by some means he continued but a short time in the pastoral office here. He died April 8th, 1788. His funeral sermon was preached by Reverend Evan Pugh, who gave him the following character: "He was kind to the poor, and remarkably so to the afflicted; a man of excellent natural parts, and a minister who preached the gospel to the edification and comfort of souls, as many have testified to me; and to crown all, a sincere Christian," etc. Hon. David R. Williams, of South-Carolina, is grandson of this venerable divine, and the only son of Mr. David Williams, who received a classical education, at Charleston, was a very useful and amiable man, and died at the age of 86, about the year 1775.
The Welsh-Neck church had, for its next pastor, Reverend Nicholas Bedgegood, who was born at Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England. Mr. Bedgegood received his first serious impressions under the ministry of the famous George Whitefield. He came to America in 1751, and was, for some time, Mr. Whitefield?s agent in the Orphan House, for which employ he was very capable, as he had received a classical education, and had, in his younger days, studied the law three years, under the direction of an able master at Bristol. He was brought up an Episcopalian, but embraced the sentiments of the Baptists a few years after he came to America, and was baptized at Charleston, by Reverend Oliver Hart. The means of determining his suspense about the validity of infant baptism, was a sermon of Dr. Watts, intended to establish the point. He concluded that the Doctor had said the best that could be said on the subject; and if so, he saw that the best only proves, that sprinkling children is an unscriptural practice. He was ordained in 1759; and after officiating for a short time as an assistant to Mr. Hart in Charleston, he removed and became the pastor of this church; and it was here that the marriage took place for which he was disowned by the Association. A number of our ministering brethren from England, and some of distinguished abilities, have acted a similar part with Mr. Bedgegood, although they have not all shared the same fate. He left a wife in England when he came to America, and after he had been pastor of the Welsh-Neck church a number of years, he married another, and alleged in justification of his conduct, that his first wife would not come after him to America, and that he had been informed of her death before his second marriage. His brethren were by no means satisfied with this statement, but requested him to attend the Association, and give them a more full and satisfactory explanation of his conduct. To this summons he did not attend, and was, therefore, disowned. In this situation, Mr. Bedgegood continued until his death, which happened about 1774. He was an accomplished speaker, and a sermon preached before a Society of Planters (the only one he ever published) shows him to have been a man of classic learning and of good understanding. Notwithstanding his being disowned by the Association, I do not find but that he had the care of this church until his death.
Mr. Bedgegood was succeeded in the pastoral office by the famous Elhanan Winchester, who afterwards became a zealous advocate for the doctrine of universal restoration. He continued in the care of this church four or five years. Next to him was Mr. Botsford, now of Georgetown, South-Carolina. After Mr. Botsford?s removal, this church had in succession David Lilly, Frame Woods, and Daniel White. Mr. White is from Scotland, but has lately left this church, and it is now destitute of a pastor.
The Welsh-Neck church is the oldest in this part of the State, and has been the mother of a number of others. Cashaway, now called Mount Pleasant, Cape-Fear in North-Carolina, Lynch?s Creek, Mars Bluff, and Cheraw Hill, and probably some others originated from it. Some of these churches are now extinct. The late Dr. Smith, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, spent a year with the church which was then called Cashaway.
Having related the history of these old churches, of which the Charleston Association was at first composed, we shall now go back to the organization of that body, and give a history of its progress from its first formation to the present time.
Mr. Wood Furman, of Charleston, South-Carolina, son of Dr. Furman, has lately published, in a very handsome style, a 12mo. vol. entitled, "A History of the Charleston Association," from which many of the foregoing articles have been selected, and from which the following narrative is transcribed.
Mr. Hart, who was now the pastor of the church in Charleston, had seen, in the Philadelphia Association, the happy consequences of union and stated intercourse among churches maintaining the same faith and order. To accomplish similar purposes, an union of the four churches before mentioned was contemplated and agreed on. Accordingly on the 21st of October, 1751, delegates from Ashley-river and Welsh-Neck met those of Charleston in the said city. The messengers from Ewhaw were prevented from attending. It was agreed that an annual meeting should thenceforward be holden on Saturday preceding the second Sabbath of November, to consist of the ministers and messengers of the several churches; that the two first days should be employed in public worship, and a sermon introductory to business preached on the Monday following, at 10 o?clock.
The object of the union was declared to be the promotion of the Redeemer?s kingdom, by the maintenance of love and fellowship, and by mutual consultations for the peace and welfare of the churches. The independency of the churches was asserted, and the powers of the Association restricted to a council of advice. It was agreed to meet again in Charleston, November, 1752. At that time the delegates from Ewhaw attended, and the proceedings of the first meeting were ratified. The instrument of union bears the following signatures: John Stephens, Oliver Hart, Francis Pelot, John Brown, Joshua Edwards, ministers; James Fowler, William Screven, Richard Bedon, Charles Barker, Benjamin Parminter, Thomas Harrison, Philip Douglas, and John Mikell, messengers.
The Association thus formed, held its meetings for a number of years at the place of its organization, and hence took the name of the "Charleston Association."
In 1765, the Association, taking into consideration the destitute condition of many places in the interior settlements of this and the neighboring States, (then provinces) recommended to the churches to make contributions for the support of a missionary to itinerate in those parts.
Mr. Hart was authorized and requested, provided a sufficient sum should be raised, to procure, if possible, a suitable, person for the purpose. With this view he visited Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the following year, and prevailed with Reverend John Gano to undertake the service, who attended the annual meeting, and was cordially received. The Association requested Mr. Gano to visit the Yadkin settlement in North-Carolina first, and afterwards to bestow his labors wherever Providence should appear to direct. He devoted himself to the work: it afforded ample scope for his distinguished piety, eloquence and fortitude; and his ministrations were crowned with remarkable success. Many embraced and professed the gospel. The following year he received from the Association a letter of thanks for his faithfulness and industry in the mission. At the same time, the expediency of raising a fund to furnish suitable candidates for the ministry with a competent share of learning, was taken into consideration; and it was recommended to the churches generally to collect money for the purpose. The members present engaged, in behalf of their constituents, to furnish one hundred and thirty-three pounds to begin the fund; and Messrs. Stephens, Hart, and Pelot were chosen trustees. In 1759, Mr. Evan Pugh was proposed by Mr. Gano as a candidate for the ministry. He was examined, approved, and put on a course of studies. Having gone through them, he preached before the Association in 1762 with acceptance, and was soon after ordained.
The general contribution from the churches was not so great as was wished. But a society instituted in Charleston in 1755, which was called the "Religious Society," and flourished many years, was highly useful in aiding the Association in its benevolent design. Several young men were furnished by it with the means of pursuing studies preparatory to the ministry. Of this number were Messrs. Samuel Stillman and Edmund Botsford, both from the church in Charleston. The former was ordained there February 26, 1759, and in 1807 finished at Boston a long life, distinguished by fervent piety, shining talents, and eminent usefulness.
The latter survives as the venerable pastor of the church at Georgetown. In 1763, Reverend Hezekiah Smith, from New-Jersey, was ordained at Pedee by the assistance of several ministers of this body, and resided there a year, supplying the Cashaway church, and visiting those adjacent. In 1767, the Association having previously called the serious attention of the churches to the subject, formally adopted the confession of faith, published by the London Assembly of 1680. This had been previously held by the churches in their individual capacities, particularly that of Charleston, from the beginning of the eighteenth century. The church at Ashley-river adopted it March 18, 1737. Messrs. Hart and Pelot were appointed to draw up a system of discipline agreeable to Scripture, to be used by the churches. This they brought forward in 1772, and Reverend Morgan Edwards and Mr. David Williams were requested to assist the compilers in revising it. In 1773, it was examined by the Association, and adopted. That and the confession of faith were printed under the inspection of Mr. Hart.
Several churches in North-Carolina having joined the Association in 1758, it was determined, for their accommodation, that an annual meeting of ministers, belonging to this body, should be holden at Pedee in the spring; the object of which, besides preaching, was to consider of the general concerns, and particularly of those in North-Carolina; their proceedings, however, subject to revision by the more general delegation at Charleston. In 1760, five other churches in North-Carolina, viz. Great Koharah, Fishing-creek, Tosniot, and two on Tar-river, joined the confederacy, but soon withdrew.
Several churches of the Separate Baptists were formed in the new settlements of South-Carolina about 1760. One of them situated on Broad-river, sent a letter by their minister, Philip Mulkey, to the Association, in 1762, stating several queries, which Mr. Hart was appointed to answer. An union with this people was thought desirable, and Messrs. Hart and Pugh were delegated to attend one of their general meetings in North-Carolina, and endeavor to effect it. In 1773, Reverend Daniel Marshall, Joseph Reese, and Samuel Newton, commissioners appointed by a general meeting of the Separates held at the Congaree, attended at Charleston for the same purpose. The Association testified their desire of union by proposing liberal terms, which allowed their brethren the observance of their peculiarities, reserving to themselves the right of friendly discussion on the points of difference. But the Separates would be satisfied with nothing short of the Regulars coming fully into their views. So the desirable object was not then accomplished.
In 1772, a correspondence was begun with the Philadelphia Association, by means of the Reverend Morgan Edwards, one of their ministers, who was present.
In 1773, the first regular and full account of additions and other alterations in the churches was taken. Their number of churches was then reduced to 8, which contained 390 members. Mr. Gano attended as messenger from the Philadelphia Association in 1774. He and Messrs. Hart and Pelot, by appointment of the Charleston Association, addressed the Baptist Associations throughout America, in favor of a plan of contribution, for augmenting the funds of Rhode-Island College. Mesrs. Hart and Williams were nominated to receive contributions for that institution, and to transmit the same to Colonel Job Bennet, in Newport. In 1775, a correspondence was begun with the Warren and Ketockton Associations. The churches were urged to contribute for the relief of their brethren in Massachussetts, suffering from restrictions on their religious liberties; and the money which should be raised, was directed to be sent to the care of Reverend Isaac Backus.
There was no meeting in 1776, on account of the unsettled state of the country, threatened with invasion. From the first formation of the Association, particular days had been frequently set apart for humiliation and prayer, or for thanksgiving and praise. In 1777, four were appointed for these purposes, both on account of the situation of public affairs, and the state of religion. At the same time the Association expressed their hearty approbation of the American measures. In 1778, the time of meeting, which ten years before had been changed to February, was restored to the original season.
For a number of years after the Association began, religion flourished among the churches in a remarkable manner. Much happiness and harmony prevailed, and annual additions were made. But in 1765, and some following years, a great declension was complained of. Not long after, several unhappy circumstances took place, which pained the real friends of Christianity. Two ministers, Stephens [Mr. Stephens professed and was believed to be penitent before his death and was admitted again to preach] and Bedgegood [see his biography in the history of the Welsh-Neck church] who had been in high repute, were disowned; the first for drunkenness, the last for polygamy. About 1777, a revival commenced, several new churches joined the union, and considerable additions were made by baptism. In 1779, a standing committee was chosen to transact business of emergency during the recess of the Association; particularly to treat with government on behalf of the churches; to correspond with other Associations; to detect impostors, and recommend traveling ministers of good character. Messrs. Hart, Pugh, Borsford, Furman, and Cowan, were the committee nominated. By the State Constitution established in South-Carolina, during the revolution, the different denominations were put on a footing, and incorporation was allowed to individual churches, on application to the Legislature. The Association advised those in its connection to avail themselves of this privilege, which gave them the legal right of holding and recovering property. Several accordingly made application, and obtained it.
South-Carolina soon becoming the theater of war, churches were scattered, and their intercourse suspended. Several ministers, who had been the active friends of the revolution, retired for safety to neighboring or distant States. Mr. Hart, who had acted so conspicuous and important a part in the concerns of this body, removed with his family to New-Jersey.
In 1782, a meeting of the Association was held at Welsh-Neck. Ministers were appointed to visit destitute churches. The 7th of November was set apart as a day of thanksgiving, for the interpositions of Providence in favor of America.
In 1783, the standing committee was revived, consisting of Messrs. Pugh, Botsford, and Furman. Three years after, the same nomination took place, with the addition of Messrs. Cook, Lewis, and Holcombe. A faithful and useful minister, Reverend Timothy Dargan, having died in this year, the Association declared their "high sense of the worth of that eminent servant of Christ, and their concern to have the memory of his amiable life and virtues perpetuated."
In 1785, Reverend Silas Mercer and Peter Smith appeared as messengers from the Georgia Association, lately formed, and were cordially received. A correspondence with this Association was introduced.
In 1786, Reverend Joseph Cook was desired to open a correspondence with the Kent and Sussex Association, in England, on behalf of this body. The Circular Address of this year contains the following exhortations: "It is our ardent desire that the members of our churches be well established in the evidence as well as the necessity and importance of Christianity; and that the reasonableness and consistency of its particular doctrines be well understood. We recommend, therefore, that a thirst for divine knowledge, together with a laudable desire to excel in every grace and virtue, be entertained in all your breasts. Pay particular attention to the education of your children with this view; and where it has pleased God to call any of his young servants to the work of the ministry, let the churches be careful to introduce them in the line of study and improvement; and make suitable exertions to furnish them with the necessary means for this end. We have for several years given intimation of our concern, that the representation of churches in Association has not been better supported, and we are sorry to observe, that this has not had the desired effect. Permit us now to entreat you by all the arguments which arise from the love of Christ, and that dear uniting affection, by which his saints are bound together; by the support, honor, and advantage which the church enjoys from a due regard to the interests of her union, and the tendency it has to promote the divine honor; that it may be attended to, not as a matter depending on convenience, but as of sacred and religious regard. Let each church extend its views beyond its own particular interests, to the happiness of churches abroad, and the general spread of the gospel; and it will be impossible to indulge a backwardness therein."
In the same letter they express their joy at the introduction of several promising young men into the ministry, and at the success of the gospel in Great-Britain, and in different parts of America. The expediency of applying for incorporation was considered and agreed on. In 1787, a covenant with this view was drawn up and signed, and a committee appointed to petition the Legislature. A meeting sufficiently numerous was, however, not obtained during the recess; and at the next annual meeting, some members doubting the propriety of the measure, it was relinquished. A few years after, the object was obtained in a different form, and to general satisfaction.
In 1789, the Bethel Association, newly formed in the northwestern parts of the State, and consisting of 16 churches, was represented by the Reverend James Fowler. A correspondence was commenced, and in consequence of a motion to that effect, made by Mr. Fowler, a proposal was made from the Charleston Association to unite the two bodies; but on account of some inconveniences, apprehended by the Bethel, it failed of accomplishment. Letters and breviates of English Associations were received, and distributed to the churches, and recommended to their perusal.
The object of having a respectable and permanent fund established for the education of pious young men, candidates for the ministry, having been seriously contemplated and earnestly wished by several members of the Association, it was this year taken up, and particularly recommended to the churches. At the following meeting a draft of a plan for the purpose was brought forward by a committee, consisting of Messrs. Furman, S. Mercer, Mosely, and Holcombe, and adopted by the Association. By this it was proposed, That a sermon should be preached annually in each church, followed by a collection. 2d. That delegates, one from each church, should meet at the same time and place with the Association, whose business it should be to examine candidates for the assistance of the churches, and to make application of the fund. The Circular Letter, drawn up by Mr. Holcombe, urges the hearty adoption of this plan. After recounting the disadvantages the Baptist denomination had sustained in various parts of the world, but especially in the interior parts of America, from the neglect of learning, it proceeds --
"We hope, therefore, brethren, that the consideration of diffusing useful knowledge, of capacitating your ministers to acquit themselves with propriety and dignity in the important duties of their functions; of adorning the Christian profession, increasing the respectability of our order, and above all, glorifying our Royal Master, will engage you to make the necessary exertions for completing the proposed design, so manifestly tending to answer such truly laudable purposes. The laws of reason and religion require it at your hands. We not only see, but feel the necessity of it, and beseech you, by your obligations to promote the Redeemer?s honor, and your tender regards for the prosperity of Zion, to make it a matter of serious and religious concern."
[Though the plan for raising and supporting a fund for the purposes mentioned, was adopted unanimously by the delegates assembled, it met with opposition in several of the churches, so that, at subsequent meetings of the Association, objections were raised against it, which, though answered and generally given up in that body, by those who proposed them, appeared to be retained by the dissatisfied churches; as they either withheld their aid altogether, or contributed very partially toward the fund.]
In this year died Reverend Joseph Cook; and the Association paid a tribute of affection and regard to his memory, as "a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, and an able minister of the New Testament."
In 1791, Mr. Furman having, at the request of the Association, published his sermon preached before them in 1789, presented them with fifty copies of the same, and received the thanks of the body. The committee for the Education Fund reported, "That they had a system of rules under consideration, though not fully matured; that they had agreed, when the rules were completed, to apply to the Legislature for incorporation; and that they conceived it might be proper to invest the committee with power to recover and take into their possession any glebes or other property belonging to churches in this connection, which either are or may become extinct, when liable to revert to the public, or become private property, and apply the same to the interests of the union." The Association, after receiving and considering this report, unanimously approved the plan of enlarging the powers of the committee, and of its obtaining incorporation. They further agreed that due care ought to be taken, that the business and powers of the committee be fully defined, and that they might not interfere with the rights and privileges of the churches as independent bodies, in things either spiritual or temporal.
In 1793, the attention of the churches was called to "the threatening and warning dispensations of Providence, and the declension of religion," and the third Wednesday of December was appointed as a day of solemn fasting and prayer, to implore the mercy of God on the churches and the country at large; to pray for the peace and prosperity of the United States; for a general reformation among the people, and for the direction and preservation of the government; also, for a sanctified use of the afflicting dispensations of Providence, particularly that by which Philadelphia had been recently visited. [In this year this city was first visited with the yellow fever.]
Contributions had been made for reprinting the Confession of Faith, Church Discipline, and Catechism; but not being fully adequate to the object, Mr. Furman was requested to have the Discipline put to the press immediately, and to import the rest. Accordingly 1000 copies of the Catechism, and 200 of the Confession of Faith were imported, and 2000 of the Discipline printed.
In 1794, to accommodate some of the southern churches, it was proposed to have two meetings in a year; and one by way of experiment was appointed to be holden the ensuing May at Ewhaw. Delegates from Charleston, Ewhaw, Coosawhatchie, Pipe-Creek, and Black Swamp, attended. They concluded that the plan of holding two meetings in the year was impracticable, and recommended instead of it, that the annual meeting should be held in the northern and southern parts alternately. This recommendation was afterwards complied with. They also took into consideration the General Concert of Prayer, proposed to be holden on the first Tuesday of January, April, July, and October; the object of it being to unite with a number of good men of different denominations, at home and abroad, for "the revival of religion among Christians; the propagation and success of the gospel among the heathen, and the conversion of the Jews to Christianity." The observance of this Concert was earnestly recommended, and the recommendation renewed from year to year. The Circular Letter of 1795 contains the following admonitions:
"The situation of the church calls for deep humiliation before God, serious concern respecting the state of our souls, vigorous exertions in the cause of God, and diligent use of the appointed means of grace. In vain do we acknowledge our imperfections, or professedly lament our leanness, if our hearts are not affected. And what blessings can we reasonably expect, while the rational and most proper means, which God has put within our power, and to which his word directs, are neglected? Permit us, dear brethren, to suggest our fears, that the duties of the closet and the discipline of the heart, are awfully neglected in the present day. We fear the views of even those who have made the most serious profession, are too much limited to the present life. Have we not almost forgot to consider ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth? Is not the spirit of ambition, pride, and covetousness prevalent to a high degree? Who are they that feel anxiously concerned for the things which are Jesus Christ?s? Who burn with zeal for the honor of Jehovah; mourn for the abominations of the land; and feel bowels of compassion for perishing and immortal souls? Has not the gracious and holy Spirit of God, the Comforter, been grieved by our untender walk, by our unbelief, ingratitude, formality, and neglect or abuse of our privileges? Have not the solemn meetings for prayer, repeatedly recommended, been either shamefully neglected, or attended with a coldness and indifference unbecoming those who profess to know Jesus Christ, or to believe the awful realities of eternity? Rouse, brethren, from your lethargy; reason, interest, obligation call; judgments threaten; mercies invite; all that is sacred to the heart of a rational immortal creature, requires your activity, seriousness, and diligence, in the cause of your God and Redeemer. Render to Jehovah his unquestionable and too long detained due, and prove him herewith, if he will not pour you out a blessing, that there even shall not be room sufficient to receive it."
In 1797, a letter was received from Mr. John M. Roberts, expressing gratitude for the assistance afforded him in obtaining education for the ministry; and his "firm determination to use his best exertions to obtain every suitable qualification, and to devote himself to the great work;" which gave much satisfaction.
Reverend Gabriel Gerald, a member of the church at the High-Hills of Santee, having advanced sentiments subversive of the Christian Sabbath, and a difficulty existing between him and the church in consequence of the same, the Association was applied to. Mr. Gerald then published a pamphlet in defense of his opinions and practice. At the request of the Association, a letter was written in answer to his publication, with a view to convince him of the obligation to observe the Sabbath, and to reclaim him from what appeared a dangerous error; but it proved ineffectual. The church put Mr. Gerald under censure, and he appealed to the Association, complaining of unfair treatment. A letter was also received from the church, requesting assistance. Messrs. Furman, Botsford, and Fowler, were appointed a committee on behalf of the Association, to meet both parties. Next year the committee reported, that according to their judgment, some of the church?s proceedings had been irregular; but that they had just cause of dissatisfaction with Mr. Gerald, both on account of his principle and conduct; that a liberal plan of reconciliation, proposed by the committee, had been rejected by him, and that he persisted in the sentiment and conduct he had defended from the pulpit and the press, he died soon after, without having recanted his sentiments.
In 1800, the proposition of the Philadelphia Association, to establish a general conference of the Baptist Associations throughout the United States, was taken into consideration, and it was voted, that "if a well-digested plan should be devised for such a coalition, in which the proper objects were clearly pointed out, with suitable measures to attain them, and the danger of perversion and abuse well guarded against, and if a general concurrence in the undertaking should be obtained of the churches in the United States, this Association are disposed to give it their support."
In the same year, the Association recommended to churches destitute of pastors, to endeavor to support public worship by engaging some of their members to read sermons, and take a lead in prayer. In 1801, they petitioned the Legislature for an amendment of the law, passed the preceding year, imposing restrictions on religious meetings, so far as respects persons of color. The petition was renewed the next year, and attended with a degree of success. The thanks of the Association were returned to General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Major Thomas Pinckney, and Henry William Desaussure, Esq. for their patriotic exertions in its behalf.
In 1802, provision was made for the employment of a missionary to travel and preach in destitute places. The object failed of accomplishment for the want of a suitable person to undertake it. A mission, however, to the Catawba Indians, which had for some time been contemplated, was now commenced. Reverend John Rooker was engaged for a year to preach to them, at least once a month, and to consult the chiefs and other persons of influence, on their disposition to have a school founded among them. Mr. Rooker at the next meeting reported, that "the Indians had given him a very favorable reception; were much pleased with the attention the Association had shown by appointing a missionary to them; had attended very seriously to his preaching, and from the first expressed an earnest desire that a school might be established among them for the instruction of their youth: also, that there appeared the beginning of a work of grace among the white people, who attended on his preaching when ministering, to the Indians; and that he was in hopes the Indians would share in the blessing." It was, in consequence, determined to continue the mission, and Mr. Rooker was authorized to employ a teacher to instruct the youth in the common branches of education, and the principles of Christianity. A school was accordingly established, and has been continued. Samples of writing done by the Indian youth, have been exhibited from year to year, evincing considerable proficiency. Letters also have been repeatedly received from the chiefs of the nation, requesting a continuance of the mission and school. At the meeting of 1806, Robert Marsh, an Indian of the Pomunky tribe, living with the Catawbas, and a licensed preacher, was present, and preached with acceptance to a large and affected audience.
Dr. Ramsay, in his history of South-Carolina, lately published, hath in a note inserted the following observations on this subject: "It is truly honorable to the Baptists, that they have done so much for the instruction of the Indians; and it is lamentable that the State has done so little. The Catawba Indians have, for a long time, been friendly, and have lived among, or rather been surrounded by white people, and yet no one effort has been made by the State for the civilization and instruction of this tribe, nor of any of the Indians. A century and half has not passed away, since this people were the sole possessors of the whole of this extensive and beautiful country; but these former lords of the soil have been driven from river to river, from forest to forest -- rolled back nation upon nation, till they are fugitives, vagrants, and strangers in their own land. Carolinians! cherish the few that remain, and prevent their cursing the day that white men landed in the country of their forefathers." ["The Catawba Indians are a small tribe, who have one town called Catawba, situated on the Catawba river, north lattitude 34 degrees and 49 minutes, on the boundary line between North and South-Carolina, and contains about 450 inhabitants, of which about 150 are fighting men. They are the only tribe which resides in the State. 144,000 acres of land were granted them by the proprietary government." --Morse. It is said that their territory at present is about 16 miles square; but they have been degenerating for many years, and their number and strength have probably decreased since the above account was taken.]
In 1803, Dr. Furman, Mr. Borsford, and Mr. Roberts, were appointed a committee of correspondence, and in particular to correspond with the committee of the Philadelphia Association, to aid their design of publishing general religious information.
This year died the Reverend Evan Pugh; on which occasion the Association thought it incumbent on them to express their high sense of his "eminent abilities and worth, as a man, a scholar, a Christian, and a divine." Reverend Aaron Tison, David Owen, and Jeremiah Rhame, "three zealous and much approved preachers of the gospel," died in 1805; and in 1806, Reverend Lewis Collins, "an aged and faithful minister, eminent for his piety, and useful in his day."
In 1804, the Association petitioned the Legislature for a law to abolish the practice of duelling.
In 1808, Dr. Samuel Jones, of Pennsylvania, presented the Association with 160 copies of his Century Sermon, preached before the Philadelphia Association, to be applied to the uses of the Education Fund; and a vote was passed expressing gratitude for this instance of his liberality.
A motion was made this year to have the Association Sermon in future preached on the Saturday of the annual meeting, and the business then entered on, with a view to expedite it, but was negatived. It was resolved to continue the usual mode of conducting the business, and the following reasons were assigned by the Association: " First, because devotion and the exercise of the best ministerial gifts at those general meetings are objects, in our estimation, of the first importance. Secondly, as the administration of the Lord?s Supper is a part of the solemn service appointed for the Sabbath on these occasions, it is proper and necessary that the exercises of the Saturday should be preparatory to the sacred transaction of approaching the table, and that the mind be as little as possible diverted from the great object, which then claims its attention. Thirdly, the plan of hurrying through the business of the Association, we think is wrong; the subjects which come under consideration, being generally very serious and important, and requiring time for deliberation. In general, they have been too much hurried. It is, therefore, recommended to the ministers and delegates, in future, to come with an expectation that the business will not conclude before Wednesday. And as it too often happens that the ministers meet on Saturday, without any expectation to preach on that day, and if called to preach, deliver hasty, indigested discourses; which circumstance has a bad effect on the general state of the meeting; it is requested that they in general endeavor to come prepared to preach, and that on subjects the most useful and important, suited to excite a fervid, yet rational piety.
The death of Reverend Samuel Eccles, and Mr. Alexander M?Neal, was noticed with affection and respect for their memory, as "of men, of whose usefulness in the ministry the most pleasing hopes were entertained. The first had been for several years a student under the care of the general committee; and the other had lately arrived from Scotland."
In 1809 Reverend Messrs. Johnson and Collins were appointed a committee to act with the Missionary to the Indians, in superintending the school, and occasionally visiting the nation.
It was recommended to the churches and the public to encourage, by subscription, the undertaking of Mr. Woodward, of Philadelphia, to republish Dr. Gill?s Exposition; and each church was advised to provide a copy for the use of its minister.
It was determined also, to encourage the author of this History in his undertaking, the design of which he had then announced. In 1810, this Association determined to patronize the publication of the Confession of Faith, System of Discipline, and Catechism, in one volume; and to address the other Baptist Associations in the State with a view of obtaining their concurrence.
From 1773, when the first account of additions, etc. was taken, till 1790, the following changes took place -- nineteen new churches were added to the Association -- two joined other Associations -- and three became extinct. The whole number of churches being twenty-two. In this period there were baptized 980; received by letter 284; dismissed by letter 520; excommunicated 105; dead 213. Whole number 1904.
From 1790 till 1810, twenty new churches were added; seven were dismissed to the Savannah-river Association, two were excluded for not maintaining their representations and two became extinct. The whole number of churches remaining, thirty-three. In this period there were baptized 2874 -- received by letter 660 -- dismissed 1615 -- excommunicated 458 -- restored 56 -- dead 525. Whole number of members 2907.
This account closes with 1810. Since that time, although but one new church has been added to the Association, yet it has greatly increased, so that in 1812 it contained 3498 members. 525 were added that year. The foregoing history of this Association contains most of the information which we shall be able to give of the churches, which it comprises. Of the few following, however, it may be proper to give a few historical sketches.
Congaree. -- This church, which has been the mother of a number of others, now belonging to this Association, originated from the Separate Baptists, and was gathered in the following manner. About the year 1764, Philip Mulky began to preach in this neighborhood, and so successful were his labors, that in the course of a year or two the following persons were baptized, viz. William Rucker, Jane Curry, Martha Goodwin, Isaac Rayford, Joseph Reese, Thomas Norris, and Timothy Dargan, (these three afterwards became ministers) Benjamin Bryon, Nathan Ellis, John Gill, and others, to the number of thirty-three, who, in November 1766, were constituted into a church, by the help of Reverend Joseph Murphy, of North-Carolina. Concerning the progress of this church, from a short time after its formation to the present time, we have but little information. It soon became very extensive, and branched out on almost every side; of these branches, those at the High-Hills of Santee, Wateree, Twenty-five-mile Creek, and Amelia township, have since become distinct churches, and now have a seat in the Charleston Association.
The first pastor of the Congaree church was the famous Joseph Reese, of whom we have given a biographical account. Reverend John Newton was for a time associated with him in the care of this extensive community. I can learn but little more respecting him than that he was a native of Pennsylvania, and was an excellent man. He preached many years in North-Carolina, in connection with the Separates, where his labors were much blest; he came to Congaree in 1765, and three years after received ordination at the hands of Messrs. Oliver Hart and Evan Pugh, for which, as they were Regular Baptists, he was censured and silenced, by the Sandy Creek Association, which assuming body at that time claimed the jurisdiction of the Congaree church. After remaining in this situation for some time, he was restored to his ministry, but never fully engaged in it, after this arbitrary occurrence.
High-Hills of Santee. -- This is a church of some celebrity, and as it is a branch of the last mentioned, we shall briefly state its origin and progress. About the year 1769, Mr. Jeremiah Dargan preached in this place, which was then wild and irreligious. Soon after, Mr. Joseph Reese visited them, and by his preaching alarmed the whole neighborhood; and so successful were the labors of these faithful and zealous men, and particularly the latter, who is considered as the founder of the church, that in a short time a great number were baptized, and among them was Dr. Furman and his first wife. These new converts joined the Congaree church, as has already been suggested, and stood as a branch of that body, until the Santee church was constituted in 1772. The number of constituents was about 70. A few months after the church was organized, Mr. Furman was by them called to the ministry; he was ordained here in 1774, by Messrs. Reese and Pugh. Soon after his ordination he became the pastor of the church, and continued in that office until 1787, when he removed to Charleston. After his removal, the church was without a pastor about ten years, when they had the happiness to settle among them Reverend John M. Roberts, who remains their worthy and useful pastor.
The seat of the original church is about three miles north of Statebury, and about a hundred north-west of Charleston. It has two or three other places of worship, not many miles distant. The Santee church has been a mother establishment; for the churches of Ebenezer, Lynch?s Creek, (2d of that name) Upper Fork of Lynch?s Creek, Swift Creek, Bethel, Camden, and Calvary, all originated from it. Being in a central situation, it has frequently been the place of the Association?s meeting.
Georgetown. -- It may be seen in the biography of Reverend William Screven, that he made Georgetown his place of residence for a number of years in the latter part of his life; but it does not appear that there were ever many Baptists in the place, until ministers of this order began to be invited here by Mr. William Cuttiro. Mr. Cuttiro (was a native of the town, but was a resident in Charleston, where he was baptized by Reverend Oliver Hart, in 1767. Two years after, he returned and settled in Georgetown. From this time, by his solicitation Baptist ministers began to visit the place. Dr. Furman was the most frequent visitor, as his labors were the most acceptable. He, for many years, annually spent several weeks in visiting and administering to the brethren here; for Mr. Cuttiro had now a number of his family and some others united in profession with him, and by Drs. Furman and Staughton, they were formed into a church in 1794. For one year immediately subsequent to its constitution, this church was supplied by Dr. Staughton, now of Philadelphia, who had then just come to America. In 1797, Reverend Edmund Botsford removed from the Welsh-Neck church, and settled in the pastoral office at Georgetown. Mr. Botsford was born at Woburn, in Bedfordshire, England, November, 1745; he came to America when he was about 20 years of age, and soon after was baptized by Mr. Hart, of Charleston; and after studying with him between two and three years, he began to preach at Tuckaseeking in Georgia, in 1771. In that State he tarried about seven years, when he traveled and preached abundantly with much success; but in the American war he was obliged to fly from the country, with the loss of most of his estate. He then settled at the Welsh-Neck, where he continued until he removed to his present situation. Mr. Botsford was a very successful laborer in the vineyard in his more active days; and although his ministry in Georgetown has been highly reputable in the view of all, and much esteemed by the pious, yet it has not been so successful as he and his friends could have wished. Most of the old members have died, and few others have succeeded them, so that the church is now in a feeble state. This church has a handsome and commodious wooden meeting-house, which was well finished in 1804. It stands on a lot of one acre, which was given in reserve by the Reverend William Screven, when the town was first laid out; but was not occupied until almost a hundred years after his death. This house, which is about 60 feet long, is situated on a delightful eminence, directly opposite the market-house, and commands a view of the whole town from the front of it, and of very extensive rice fields from its rear.
Beaufort. -- This town is situated on the island of Port-Royal, about 70 miles S. W. from Charleston, and is remarkable for its healthy situation, and the hospitality and politeness of its inhabitants. The Baptist church here originated from the division of the ancient one at Ewhaw, and was formed in 1804.
The foundation for this church was laid by the labors of Dr. Holcombe, now of Philadelphia, who resided here a number of years, while he was pastor of the Ewhaw church, and by whom many of the constituents of the church were baptized. While Reverend Joseph B. Cook was pastor at Ewhaw, he also devoted a part of his labors to this branch of that body; and soon after the church was formed, he became its pastor. In this office he continued until 1809, when he resigned his charge, and is now settled at Camden, where a church has lately been formed. About the time of Mr. Cook?s resignation, Reverend James Graham, from Scotland, came to the place, and had the care of the church a short time; but his connection with this people was not altogether happy for himself nor them, and was therefore soon dissolved.
Reverend William S. Brantly, their present pastor, succeeded Mr. Graham. Mr. Brantly is a native of North-Carolina, where he was born in 1786. He received considerable assistance towards his education, from the Charleston Education Fund, and graduated at Columbia College in 1809. The Beaufort church has a valuable and commodious house of worship, built of a composition of oyster, shells, and mortar made of the same marine materials. [There are in Beaufort, and along the sea-coast in that region, many stately edifices built of this composition. Oysters of an inferior quality grow here in an abundance, of which there are no examples in the northern States. They appear to be short-lived, and the shells are wafted in vast bodies along the shore, so that whatever quantities are desired may be procured with ease. A sufficient portion of them are reduced to lime, and much mortar is necessary in this work, with which the shells are intermixed, and with this composition the wall is made, which, when it is thoroughly dry, is as impregnable as rock, and I know not but of equal durability. The nicest structures of this kind are plastered without and within, and make an elegant appearance, while stables and coarser buildings, are left in a rough, unplastered state and present to the view of a stranger, a ragged and curious sight.]
Columbia. -- Although the church in this town is of a recent date, yet considering its situation and the circumstances of its origin, it demands a brief description. In 1804, Jonathan Maxcy, D.D. a Baptist minister, formerly President of Rhode-Island College, settled in this town in the Presidency of the South-Carolina College, which had been established here a little while before. The doctor commenced a course of preaching in connection with his presidential duties, which, however, on account of debility, he was obliged to relinquish in about six months. It does not appear that there was much preaching here by the Baptists from this period until 1808, when Mr. Brantly, now of Beaufort in this State, then a student under President Maxcy, by the request of the inhabitants of Columbia, preached to them about a year, during the latter part of his residence in College. Next to him was Mr. Johnson, now of Savannah, who began preaching here in the beginning of the year 1809. Mr. Johnson removed hither from the church at Ewhaw, of which he was pastor. He found in the place upwards of twenty Baptist professors, belonging to different churches. He began preaching in the College Chapel, and his ministry was crowned with success. Under him the church at Columbia arose; it was founded in the latter part of the year 1809, of about 36 members, and has now increased to upwards of 100, and has erected a commodious brick meeting-house 40 feet square. Since Mr. Johnson?s removal to Savannah, this church is left destitute of a pastor.
The Baptists, whose history we have thus far related, were denominated Particular or Regular, when these terms were in use among our southern brethren. They are the most ancient, and have always been the most active and influential in all matters of public concern although they have for a number of years, been inferior in number to those who originated from the Separates. The beginning of this people in South-Carolina has been briefly related in the history of the Separate Baptists of North-Carolina, Virginia, etc.; and for the purpose of preserving the thread of our history, we have in the preceding narrative given an account of one of these churches, viz. the Congaree, with its numerous branches. What remains is to give as good an account as we can collect of the Associations and numerous churches, which have originated from that zealous people, improperly called SEPARATES, who were devout and successful almost to a proverb, wherever they began their early and evangelical exertions.
Mr. Furman?s history does not describe this people, as it is confined to the Charleston Association. Mr. Edwards has left some sketches of their history; and the author of this work traveled much among them, and took much pains in his historical inquiries respecting them; yet he will be able to say but little of them, compared with what has been said of their brethren in the lower parts of the State; partly for the want of historical facts of any kind, and partly for the want of such, as would make a diffusive narrative sufficiently interesting to the reader.
About the year 1760, a number of the Separate ministers of the Sandy Creek connection in North-Carolina, began to travel and settle in this State, some a little before and others a little after the above-mentioned period. Among the ministers, Daniel Marshall and Philip Mulky appear to have been the most distinguished. These evangelical adventurers were accompanied by many of their brethren in their removals. Marshall settled at Beaver Creek, where he soon gathered a church. Here he tarried not long before he removed to Stephen?s Creek, where he gathered another, and then crossed over the Savannah River and settled in Georgia, where the remainder of his useful life was spent in the service of his Master.
Mr. Mulky exercised his ministry in different places, in the upper regions of this State, where he was for many years a very reputable and successful minister; but the latter part of his life was most sadly beclouded. The Fairforest church, now belonging to the Bethel Association, was founded by him, and as it is the oldest of the Separate Baptists in the State, and became the mother of many others, we shall relate its early history at large.
In the year 1759, Philip Mulky and wife, Stephen Howard and wife, Obadiah Howard and wife, Joseph Breed and wife, Benjamin Gist and wife, Charles Thompson, Thomas Thompson, and Rachel Collins, all members of Deep River church in North-Carolina, arrived in this State, and settled first at Broad River, where they embodied into a church, and chose Mr. Mulky for their pastor. After tarrying here about two years, and increasing to 104, the above-named thirteen persons, (leaving the rest behind) removed to Fairforest, where they were again formed into a church in 1762, which, in about ten years, increased to 167 members. Some of their habitations were a hundred miles from each other; and besides the main establishment, there were four branches, which, in process of time, were organized into distinct churches.
Mr. Mulky?s conversion, as related by Mr. Edwards, was truly remarkable. His success in the ministry, says this historian, was so great, that he became exalted above measure in his own esteem, and in that of his converts; but at length, to the grief of the friends of Zion, he began to stumble, and soon fell into many heinous sins, and remained, when an old man, an outcast from the church, and a disgrace to that precious cause, of which he had been such an eminent champion.
In 1771, the following churches, viz. Fairforest, Stephen?s Creek, Congaree, Bush River, Little River of Broad River, Little River of Saluda, and Mine Creek, formed an Association, to which they gave the name of Congaree. This body, by the means of Morgan Edwards, soon opened a correspondence with the Philadelphia Association; other churches united with it soon after it was formed, and it traveled well for a time. But the old New-England Pedobaptist policy, which Shubael Stearns introduced into the Sandy Creek Association, was soon put in practice here. The Association began to tamper with the discipline of the churches, and infringed on their independency; it of course became embarrassed in its proceedings, as all Associations will, when they attempt to see and act for the churches, and in a few years was entirely broken up.
But the churches do not appear to have been impeded in their progress by the dissolution of the Association; they continued to increase and send forth their branches in different directions; and in 1789, many of those which had belonged to the Congaree Association, and others which had been raised up since it was dissolved, united in forming an establishment to which they gave the name of the
This body, at its constitution, consisted of sixteen churches. They immediately delegated James Fowler, one of their principal ministers, to the Charleston Association, who was cordially received; and who, pursuant to his instructions, so far adjusted the little matters of difference, which had heretofore prevented their union with the Separates, that a correspondence was opened, which has been maintained to the present time.
From this period the name of Separate began to be disused, and was soon entirely laid aside; so that the Baptists in South-Carolina, from whatever source they originated, have for many years past been united in their external order and doctrinal sentiments.
The Bethel Association has been a very flourishing body, and has had within its bounds a number of very extensive revivals. It also shared largely in that extraordinary work which prevailed in the southern and western, and some other States, from 1800 and onward.
In 1803, there were received by baptism in all the churches of which it was composed, 1411 persons, which made its total number, at that time, notwithstanding the Broad River and Saluda River Associations had been set off from it before, 3518.
The Edgefield Association has been formed from it since, and many of its members have removed to the western country, so that it is not so large as it was at the close of the great revival, but still it is a large and respectable body.
From the foregoing sketches it appears, that the Bethel Association has been an increasing and nurturing community, beyond any of the kind in the State. It does not appear that any of its ministers have been distinguished for literary acquirements; but it has generally contained a number of men of very respectable talents, who have been remarkably zealous and successful in the most noble and benevolent employment on earth, even winning souls to Christ.
David Lilly was an eminent minister in this Association nearly if not quite from its establishment, until the Edgefield Association was taken from it, when he united with that body, and died within its bounds, about 1809. There were sufficient materials for an interesting memoir of his life, which his friends proposed to publish, and from which I intended to select a biographical sketch of his character; but this tribute of respect, which was due to the memory of an eminent and worthy minister of the gospel, has never been paid.
James Fowler was long a very useful and distinguished minister among the churches in this region. What little I have learnt of his history is as follows: Some time before the Bethel Association was formed, he, with two other men who were brothers, by the name of Rogers, were together pursuing the same occupation, in a situation remote from any of the Baptist denomination. They were brought up Presbyterians, and emigrated hither from some one of the northern States. Their minds were awakened to religious concerns; and, regardless of the traditions of their fathers, they took the Bible for their creed, and from it they, according to the best of their understanding, formed a religious system of their own. They at length heard of a Baptist preacher, who lived about 20 or 30 miles from them, and to him they delegated one of their number, to see how far his religious tenets and theirs would agree. When the messenger returned, he informed them, that the minister?s principles and theirs were exactly alike, and that he had a large church of the same mind. Having thus found a people with whom they were agreed, and with whom they could associate for the communion of saints, they immediately repaired to them, were baptized, and admitted into their community. Returning home, they soon set up little meetings where they lived, in which Fowler was generally put forward. In this way he began his labors, and soon became an eminent minister of the gospel of Christ, and finished his course with joy in February, 1802, being about 60 years of age. He was generally the Moderator of the Bethel Association, and was, for many years, one of the principal ministers in that body.
In the year 1800, the bounds of the Bethel Association having become very extensive, the fourteen following churches, situated in the north-west corner of this State, and in the adjoining parts of North-Carolina, viz. Tiger River, Boiling Spring, Green Creek, Goucher Creek, Sandy Run, Buffaloe, Green River, Cedar Spring, French Broad, Mountain Creek, Bill?s Creek, State Line, Buck Creek, and Long Creek, in answer to their request, were dismissed, with permission to form an Association by themselves. They were organized shortly after, when the above-mentioned name was given to it, with reference to the river on both sides of which the churches are situated. The Broad River rises in the mountains, and unites with the Saluda in forming the Congaree, which is the main branch of the Great Santee.
This Association experienced very great enlargements soon after it was formed. In the spring of 1802, the powerful work which prevailed at that time throughout this country, began to be experienced by the churches in this body, and continued more or less for three successive years, in which the Broad River Association received an addition by baptism of 1296 members, which increased the whole number to upwards of 2000. But by different means it has been greatly diminished since that period, notwithstanding large additions have at different times been made to the churches. Great numbers have removed beyond the mountains, to the western States and territories; and in the course of five years, viz. from 1803 to 1808, there were excommunicated from the churches in this Association 285 persons; which circumstance proves that they received much chaff with the precious grain, as is too often the case in such great ingatherings; it also proves that they have used a commendable degree of diligence in winnowing it out, when it was discovered. A number of preachers were raised up in the time of the great revival, most of whom continue to be successful laborers in this part of the Lord?s vineyard. Most of the churches in this Association are in the neighborhood of the Blue Ridge, and none of them are far distant from the mountainous parts of the back country. Those of Sandy Run, Green River, Mountain Creek, Bill?s Creek, Silver Creek, north of Catawba River, Providence, Concord, and Smyrna, are in the counties of Rutherford, Burk, and Lincoln, in North-Carolina. Those in South-Carolina are in the districts of Greenville, Spartanborough, Union, and York.
This also originated from the Bethel Association. In 1802, the nine following churches, viz. Big Creek, Fork Shoal, Brushy Creek, Cross Road, Sciona, Keowee, Woolyray, Middle Fork of Saluda, and Shoal church, were dismissed from that body. The churches of Ebenezer, Shackley Ferry, Bethuel, Cathie?s Creek, Neal?s Creek, Salem, Hopewell, and Wilson?s Creek, which had never belonged to any Association, united with those above-named in forming the Association, whose history we are now relating, which was organized in 1803. This body is in the south-west corner of the State, and like the Broad River extends to the mountains. Reverend Elnathan Davis, a native of Maryland, of whom we have given some account in the biography of Shubael Stearns, was one of the principal ministers in this Association, and continues, in his old age, to be esteemed a father in the churches, having been a successful preacher of the gospel about fifty years.
Reverend Moses Holland is also an old and respectable preacher, and was one of the constituents of the community.
The churches which compose this Association are mostly in the districts of Greenville, Abbyville, and Pendleton, on both sides of the Saluda River, from which it received its name.
This is another flourishing establishment, from that fruitful mother of churches, the Bethel Association. It was formed in 1808, when it was called Beulah; but the next year its name was exchanged for that of the district in which most of the churches are situated, which joins the Savannah River, and is opposite Augusta in Georgia. Of this body we are able to give only a short but pleasing account; for soon after it was formed, a happy revival commenced, which became very powerful and extensive; and in the course of about eighteen months, about fourteen hundred persons were baptized. In the course of this revival, Samuel Marsh, one of their principal ministers, baptized in two churches about five hundred of this number.
A pleasant anecdote is related of one of the converts in this revival, which it may not be improper here to insert. A Mr. F -- , who had been famous for hilarity and worldly amusement, was taken under concern of mind. His associates were very unwilling to give him up, and tried various methods to divert his attention from what they esteemed a needless anxiety, and draw him again into his former vain and sinful pursuits; but all their efforts proved ineffectual. At length they contrived a shooting-match; and as Mr. F -- valued himself on his skill with the rifle, they laid a considerable wager against him, and doubted not but their plan would succeed. Two gentlemen, one of whom has since been a member of Congress, waited on him with much gravity, and explained to him the object of their visit. He saw at once through their design; he hesitated at first, but on the whole manifested a willingness to exert his skill, provided they would let him use his own rifle, and load it himself. This request they declared was altogether reasonable, and seemed much pleased that they had obtained his consent.
Mr. F -- then stepped up to his book-case and took down his Bible; "This (said he) is my rifle." And, turning to Acts 13:10, he handed his Bible to one of the men, and said," There is my load." The astonished gentleman read as follows:" O full of all subtilty and mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" He immediately hung his head, and settled down, as if shot indeed. Conviction from that time fastened on his mind; his brother, also, and both of their wives were convicted, and in a short time were hopefully converted, and united with the tempted but faithful man in a religious profession. This was called F--?s buck-load.
HISTORY OF THE GENERAL BAPTISTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA, FROM THEIR COMMENCEMENT UNTIL THEY BECAME EXTINCT.
There was never but one society of this people in this State. Some sketches of their history have been given in the account of the Charleston church. They originated about 1733, when several members of the Charleston church withdrew from that ancient body, and embraced the sentiments of the General Baptists. William Elliot, Jr. was the leader of this separation. He appears to have been a man of wealth and influence. Soon after these people had withdrawn, they sent to England for a minister, and obtained a Mr. Robert Ingraham. In 1736, they were organized into a church; the constituents were Reverend Robert Ingraham, William Elliot, William Elliot, Jr. Thomas Elliot, Joseph Elliot, Bernard Elliot, Frances Elliot, Elizabeth Elliot, Henry Toomer, Mary Toomer, Mary Toomer, Jr., Richard Butler, Joshua Toomer, George Tinnons, John Clifford, Thomas Tow, Thomas Davis, Dorothy Jones, Ann Bonneau, Amorintha Farr, and Ann Chidely.
The seat of this church was at Stono, about 16 miles southwest from Charleston, where they had a meeting-house and some temporalities. They also claimed, for a while, a part of the estate belonging to the church from which they separated, as has been before related. This church flourished considerably for a time, and had some able ministers for its pastors. But after existing about 50 years, it became entirely extinct; and the temporalities, which it possessed to a considerable amount, which were bestowed upon it mostly by the Elliots, after suffering many diminutions, were converted to private use.
Reverend Robert Ingraham, their first minister, was a native of Lincolnshire, England, but came hither directly from Farnham, near London. He was pastor of the church but a short time, for he died in 1758. Reverend Henry Haywood was his successor. He arrived hither from Farnham in 1739, and soon after was invested with the pastoral care of the church, in which he continued until his death, which happened in 1755. His character is that of a scholar, but an oddity in person and conduct. Mr. Whiston speaks handsomely of him; but Dr. Gill very indifferently. He translated into English Dr. Whitby?s Treatise on Original Sin; and prepared for the press a pretty large volume, in defense of the Apostolical Constitutions. He published a defense of Dr. Whitby against Dr. Gill; also a catechism, which he dedicated to three ladies, but saw himself neglected by the chief one of them, when on her death-bed; for she then sent for Reverend Oliver Hart, to assist her in that serious situation. Mr. Hart waited on her, and moved that her own minister might be sent for; she replied, "Mr. Haywood is a good companion for the living, but he is not fit to die by, for he thinks but little of Jesus Christ."
Reverend Daniel Wheeler was the next in office here. He was a native of Calne, in Wiltshire, England; arrived in Charleston in 1757, and after serving the church about ten years, died in 1767, in the 61st year of his age. All that is said of him is, that he was esteemed a pious and honest man.
The fourth and last pastor of this church, was Reverend Caleb Evans, A.M. He was born in 1743, in the parish of Lanafonfowr, in the county of Brecknock, Wales; received his education at Aberdeen, in Scotland; arrived in Charleston in 1768, and died in 1772. About the time of Mr. Evans?s death, this church consisted of but eight members; part of them resided at Stono, and the others in Charleston: it continued in a declining way for a few years after, and then became extinct.
From the preceding history it appears, that for more than a hundred years the Baptists have held a respectable standing in South-Carolina, and that they have increased with great rapidity within about twenty or thirty years past. This great increase has been mostly in the middle and upper regions of the State, which were formerly immoral and irreligious to a proverb. The prevalence of religion has had a very pleasing effect in moralizing, and, indeed, in humanizing the manners of the people. Most of the famous racegrounds are now deserted, and the barbarous sports, which were once very common, are now but little known. The author having previously heard so many reports to the disadvantage of the people, in what are called the back countries in this and the adjoining States, entered those parts with some unpleasant apprehensions. He expected to find many saints to befriend him, but he was fearful of meeting with some heedless sinners who might molest him. But he has the pleasure of declaring, that he was most agreeably disappointed in the general manners of the people, and was treated by all classes with much civility and hospitality. There are, it must be confessed, the remains of that class of people, who gave this country such a bad name, who occasionally commit acts of violence and outrage, but they are generally among themselves, and not on strangers or sober people.
This reformation in manners, so much to the credit and happiness of the people in this country, must not be ascribed wholly to the exertions of the Baptists; for the Presbyterians and Methodists are entitled to a respectful share; and to the powerful and salutary grace of God belongs all the praise. The great revival in this country, soon after the commencement of the present century, has often been referred to in the preceding narrative. We should be pleased to give a more particular account of it than we have hitherto done, or than we, for the want of materials, are able to do. The most we can say is, that between the years 1800 and 1803, there were most surprising movements of a religious nature on the minds of the people in South-Carolina; and notwithstanding the manifest enthusiasm of many, the great Shepherd of the sheep gathered into his fold a large and precious number of Adam?s ruined family. Of these, between three and four thousand joined the churches belonging to the Bethel and Broad River Associations. Large numbers were, at the same time, added to the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.
Camp meetings, during these refreshing seasons, were often held in the middle and upper regions of the State, which were promoted mostly by the Methodists and Presbyterians. Many of the Baptists, however, attended them, and united with their brethren of other denominations, so far as they could consistently with their principles. They also held meetings of a similar nature among themselves, so long as the necessity for them continued; and when that ceased, they returned to their usual places of worship.
The two following letters will give the reader a view of the manner in which the meetings above-mentioned were conducted.
The following is an Extract of a Letter, written by Reverend David Lilly, dated Aug. 23, 1802, to the Editor of the Georgia Analytical Repository, and from the 3d Number of that Work it is now transcribed.
"Reverend and dear Sir,
"I take my pen in hand to transmit to you good tidings. A great work of God is going on in the upper parts of this State. Multitudes are made to cry out, ?hat shall we do to be saved??A few days ago, I returned from our Association. We have had a truly refreshing season. A vast concourse of people assembled on Saturday, and considerable appearances of solemnity soon took place; but no uncommon effect till Sunday late in the evening. Then the Lord was pleased to manifest his power to many hearts. Numbers were powerfully exercised through the whole night, and some were thrown to the ground.
"On Monday the work increased. The hearts of many were made to melt; and several men, noted for their impiety, were stricken and lay among the prostrate. I must acknowledge it was a memorable time with my soul; the like I had not felt for many years before. In general, the people were much engaged through the greater part of Monday night. Before sunrise, on Tuesday morning, the sacred flame began to burn afresh; several, who had been before unaffected, came to the earth. The Association rose about 3 o?clock in the afternoon; and such a degree of brotherly affection as appeared among the ministers and messengers of the churches, I scarcely ever saw. It was enough to melt the heart of the greatest infidel living. So very intent were the people to hear, that they petitioned for preaching, after business was finished; and some of the ministers continued with them, in constant exercise, till midnight. During this time, the work appeared to increase. About twenty persons came to the ground, several of whom were lusty strong men; and many more were made to pray heartily to God. Among the number very deeply affected, were several officers of considerable rank, and others of equal respectability. Be assured, my brother, the Lord is doing great things for his people in this country.
"The hearts of sinners melt before the word of truth, like wax before the sun. Infidelity is almost ashamed to show its head. Several deists have been constrained, under a sense of their lost condition, to cry out aloud for mercy. A few, even of those who attributed the effects produced among us to infernal agency, have been reached, and overcome by an influence, which they now acknowledge to be divine.
"The work under the preaching of the Presbyterian ministers, is going on rapidly indeed, and has already extended northwardly into Virginia and through the upper country southwardly to Georgia. The clergy of all denominations, join hand and heart, in the common cause of Christianity. In some of the churches of our Association here, the great revival is but just beginning; in others it rapidly increases.
"Among the most successful of our ministers in this work, are the brethren Slackleford, Palmer, Holland, Clayton, and Greer. Besides their churches flourishing to a degree that exceeds all former experience, there are several others where the work is almost as great; and very few without some promising appearances. Ministers preach day and night; and when they make no appointments, are surrounded by distressed souls. These are daily obtaining the most satisfactory sense of peace with God, and pardon through the blood of Christ. After believing, they openly profess their faith, and crowd into our churches.
"A few weeks past, Mr. Slackleford baptized thirty-six at one time. Two of those were little girls; one was twelve, and the other but ten years old, yet they both gave satisfactory evidence of a gracious change. With these I must mention two lads, but little past those ages, and several young ladies of nearly the first respectability in the back country, who were not ashamed to follow Christ through the liquid grave. On this occasion, it was supposed, that there were no less than two thousand persons present; a third of whom, at least, were in tears at the same moment of time. Crowds came up to the ministers to be prayed for, and many fell helpless on the ground. This took place at Woodruff?s meeting-house, in the district of Spartanburgh. The number baptized in our Association, since last year, is seven hundred and three.
"God has greatly magnified, and is marvellously magnifying his word. In some way and degree or other, almost every one seems to feel and acknowledge its power. My poor soul, some time ago much dejected and bowed down, is now rejoicing in God my Savior. At this instant my eyes overflow with tears of gratitude and joy, while the flame of divine love burns in my heart. Yours, etc. D.L."
A Letter from Dr. Furman of Charleston, to Dr. Ripport of London. Charleston, 11th Aug. 1802.
"Reverend and dear Sir,
"Having promised you some information respecting the extraordinary meeting at the Waxhaws, to which I purposed going at the time I wrote in May, and having accordingly attended it, I now sit down to perform my promise.
"It was appointed by the Presbyterian clergy in that part of the country, but clergymen of other denominations were invited to it; and it was proposed to be conducted on the same principles and plan with those held in Kentucky. The place of meeting is about 170 miles from Charleston, in the midst of a large settlement of Presbyterians, but not far distant from some congregations of Baptists and Methodists. This Presbyterian congregation is one of the first which were formed in the upper parts of this State; has for its pastor a Mr. Brown, who is a respectable character; and is furnished with a commodious place of worship. But as the place of worship would not be in any wise equal to the numbers expected, a place was chosen in the forest for an encampment. The numbers which assembled from various parts of the country, formed a very large congregation, the amount of which has been variously estimated; to me there appeared to be 3000, or perhaps 4,000 persons; but some supposed there were 7000 or 8000. My information respecting the number of ministers who attended, was probably not correct; but from what I observed, and collected from others, there were 11 Presbyterians, 4 Baptists, and 3 Methodists. The encampment was laid out in an oblong form, extending from the top of a hill down the south side of it, toward a stream of water, which ran at the bottom in an eastern direction, including a vacant space of about 300 yards in length and 160 in breadth. Lines of tents were erected on every side of this space; and between them, and behind, were the wagons and riding carriages placed; the space itself being reserved for the assembling of the congregation, or congregations rather, to attend public worship. Two stands were fixed on for this purpose: at the one, a stage was erected under some lofty trees, which afforded an ample shade; at the other, which was not so well provided with shade, a wagon was placed for the rostrum.
"The public service began on Friday afternoon, the 21st of May, with a sermon by the Reverend Dr. M?Corkel, of the Presbyterian church; after which, the congregation was dismissed: but at the same time the hearers were informed, that they would be visited at their tents, and exhorted by the ministers, during the course of the evening. To this information an exhortation was added, that they would improve the time in religious conversation, earnest prayer, and singing the praises of God. This mode of improving the time, both by the ministers and a large proportion of the hearers, was strictly adhered to: not only were exhortations given, but many sermons also were preached along the lines in the evening; and the exercises continued, by the ministers in general, till midnight; and by the Methodist ministers, among their adherents, nearly or quite all the night.
"On Saturday morning, the ministers assembled, after an early breakfast, and appointed a committee to arrange the services for that day and the two following. The committee consisted wholly of Presbyterian ministers. They soon performed the work of their appointment, and assigned the several ministers present their respective parts of the service. By this arrangement, two public services were appointed at each stand for that day; three for the Sabbath, together with the administration of the communion, at a place a little distant from the encampment; and two at each stand again for Monday. The intervals, and evenings in particular, to be improved in the same manner as on the former day: Necessary business calling me away on Sunday evening, I did not see the conclusion of the meeting. This, however, I can say, it was conducted with much solemnity, while I was at it; and the engagedness of the people appeared to be great. Many seemed to be seriously concerned for the salvation of their souls; and the preaching and exhortations of the ministers in general were well calculated to inspire right sentiments, and make right impressions. In the intervals of public worship, the voice of praise was heard among the tents in every direction, and frequently that of prayer by private Christians. The communion service was performed with much apparent devotion, while I attended, which was at the serving of the first table. The Presbyterians and Methodists sat down together; but the Baptists, on the principle which has generally governed them on this subject, abstained. Several persons suffered at this meeting those bodily affections, which have been before experienced at Kentucky, North-Carolina, and at other places, where the extraordinary revivals in religion within this year or two have taken place. Some of them fell instantaneously, as though struck with lightning, and continued insensible for a length of time; others were more mildly affected, and soon recovered their bodily strength, with a proper command of their mental powers. Deep conviction for sin, and apprehension of the wrath of God, was professed by the chief of them at first; and several of them afterwards appeared to have a joyful sense of pardoning mercy through a Redeemer. Others continued under a sense of condemnation, after those extraordinary bodily affections ceased; and some from the first, appeared to be more affected with the greatness and goodness of God, and with the love of Christ, than with apprehensions of divine wrath. In a few cases there were indications, as I conceived, of enthusiasm, and even affectation; but in others a strong evidence of supernatural power and gracious influence. Several received the impression in their tents; others in a still more retired situation, quite withdrawn from company; some, who had been to that moment in opposition to what was thus going on, under the character of the work of God; and others, who had been till then careless. The number of persons thus affected, while I was present, was not great in proportion to the multitude attending. I have, indeed, been informed several more were affected the evening after I came away, and the next day; but in all, they could not be equal to the proportional numbers which were thus affected at some other meetings, especially in Kentucky. Several, indeed a very considerable number, had gone 70 or 80 miles from the lower parts of this State to attend this meeting; of these, a pretty large proportion came under the above described impressions; and since their return to their houses, an extraordinary revival has taken place in the congregations to which they belong. It has spread also across the upper parts of this State, in a western direction. There are some favorable appearances in several of the Baptist churches; but my accounts of them are not particular enough to be transmitted. Taking it for granted that you have seen the publication entitled ?Surprizing Accounts,? by Woodward, of Philadelphia, containing the accounts of revivals in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North-Carolina, I therefore say nothing of them; but only, that the work in North-Carolina increases greatly; opposition however is made by many; and I am informed that the congregation, of which I have been writing so much, (that at the Waxhaws) is likely to be divided on account of it; and that Mr. Brown has been shut out of the place of worship since the meeting was held there, by some, I suppose a majority, of his elders and adherents. A particular reason of the offense taken by them, as I have understood, was the practice of communing with the Methodists. Having mentioned this denomination frequently, I think it proper to say, that it is that class of Methodists who are followers of Mr. Wesley, which is intended; few of the followers of Mr. Whitefield are to be found in the United States, not at least as congregations. These general meetings have a great tendency to excite the attention, and engage it to religion. Were there no other argument in their favor, this alone would carry great weight with a reflecting mind; but there are many more which may be urged. At the same time, it must be conceded that there are some incidental evils which attend them, and give pain to one who feels a just regard for religion. Men of an enthusiastic disposition have a favorable opportunity at them of diffusing their spirit, and they do not fail to improve the opportunity for this purpose; and the too free intercourse between the sexes in such an encampment is unfavourable. However, I hope the direct good obtained from these meetings will much more than counterbalance the incidental evil. "I am, reverend and dear Sir, your friend and servant in the gospel, RICHARD FURMAN."
Most of the first settlers of South-Carolina were members of the Church of England; Episcopacy of course became the established religion of the Province, and remained so until after the American war, when, by the State Constitution, all denominations were placed on a level as it respects the favors of government. During the Provincial government, dissenting ministers were not permitted to celebrate the rites of matrimony; large glebe lands were appropriated for the benefit of the clergy, which the society still hold, and the money to build their churches was drawn from the public treasury.
These were some of the exclusive privileges which the civil government conferred on the Episcopal establishment. But it does not appear that the Baptists or any dissenters have ever been much molested in this government, either by corporal punishments or those perplexing, provoking, and rapacious things, called in New-England ministerial taxes. Though the Baptists, as a denomination, have never suffered much persecution in a legal form, yet some individuals, and especially a number of their ministers, have suffered from the improper interference of unworthy magistrates and unauthorized and bigotted persons.
Morgan Edwards gives the following account of the arbitrary proceedings of a magistrate near the Cheraws on Pedee River, by the name of Alexander Gordon, who is said to have been a Presbyterian. "One Joseph Cates held a meeting in his neighborhood. His worship presently fetched the aggressor coram nobis, and got three others to assist him to form a spiritual court, The preacher was then asked, "Who gave you authority to preach?" He replied, "The same that gave the apostle Paul authority." Upon which, his worship angrily said, "He blasphemeth! What say you, gentlemen?" The gentlemen were of his mind, and the Baptist preacher was severely whipt. The thing gave great offense in the neighhourhood, insomuch that his worship found it requisite to propagate evil reports concerning the preacher?s moral character, in order to justify the action; for persecutors always represent the persecuted as devils rather than men." But these days of rancour and opposition are past. The Baptists are now a large, respectable, and indeed powerful body, and are more in danger of being affected to their disadvantage by prosperity than adversity. The communicants and adherents in South-Carolina are estimated by Dr. Furman at upwards of 70,000 souls, which is more than one-sixth of the population of the whole State.
The Education Fund belonging to the Charleston Association, with Mr. Roberts?s Academy, and the funds which have been collected for defraying the expenses of the mission to the Catawba Indians, will be noticed under the respective heads of Literary and Missionary affairs.
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