A History of the Baptists
A Number of Baptist Activities.
Alien Immersions?J. L. Reynolds?Crosby?Philadelphia Association?The Case of James Hutchinson?Jesse Mercer?The Christian Review?Benedict?Education?Colombian College?The Triennial Convention on Education?An Address?The Effect of the Revolutionary War?The Charleston Association?Baptist Education Society in the Middle States?The Massachusetts Education Society?A School of Theological Instruction in Philadelphia?Washington, D. C.?The Progress of the Colombian College?President Monroe?The Resignation of Rice?Newton Theological Institution?Hamilton College?The Education Society in South Carolina and Georgia?Mercer College?Other Colleges?State Conventions?The General Convention of Western Baptists?Home Missions in the West?Sunday Schools?Baptist Publication Society?Newspapers and Periodicals?Conclusion.
In all this period of strife and schism the Baptists were slowly groping their way into a place of purpose and action. These troubles had a unifying effect. The controversies in a measure proved a blessing. There were great and unnecessary losses but these were not without compensations.
The subjects of alien immersions and the proper administrator of baptism often arose among the Baptists of this period. This was especially accentuated by the defection of the anti-mission forces and the followers of Alexander Campbell. After the American Civil War it sometimes became acute. There have always been differences of opinion on this subject; but among early American Baptists, perhaps, the vast majority rejected such baptisms and accounted them as invalid. Only a few instances and expressions can here be quoted, but they are sufficient and authoritative enough to indicate the general trend of the thinking of the denomination.
Professor J. L. Reynolds, D. D., Professor in Columbia College, South Carolina, formerly President of Georgetown College, Kentucky, and once Professor in the Theological Department of Mercer University, Georgia, says of rebaptism:
In Africa the question attracted attention at an early period and received a prompt decision . . . The ground on which the validity of heretical baptism was denied, that there could be no real baptism out of the true church.
He further says:
The Novatians, dissatisfied with the lax discipline of the Church of Rome, seceded from it, A. D. 251, and organized themselves on the most rigid principles. Claiming to be the true church they baptized, without distinction, all who were admitted to their communion. Applicants from other churches, were of course, rebaptized. They were the first Puritans?Cathari?and there is little doubt that they were opposed to infant baptism . . . The ground assumed by those separatists, as well as those who succeeded them, was that the Catholic Church (so-called) was become corrupt and anti-christian.
In all cases of rebaptism to which I have referred, the principle of action was the same-out of the true church there was no baptism. This was a point on which all, whether heretics, or Catholics, seem to have agreed.
He further says:
The Mennonites (so called from Menno, who died 1571) rebaptized all who were admitted into their communion. Thin is the statement of Neudecker, Lebrd. Dogmende, 621.
The vast body of the Mennonites adhered to the ancient practice which they had received from the earlier Anabaptists (The Christian Index, May 26 and June 16, 1843).
Thomas Crosby, speaking of the Baptists in London, in 1615, says:
They rejected the baptism of infants as being a practice which had no foundation in Scripture; and all baptisms received either in the Church of Rome or England, they looked upon to be invalid, because received in a false church, and from anti-christian ministers (Crosby, The History of the English Baptists, I. 273. London, 1738).
The Philadelphia Association, the oldest among the Baptists of America, in the year 1788, decided against the validity of baptism administered by persons who had not been lawfully baptized and ordained. They assigned four reasons for the decision. The fourth is as follows:
Because such an administrator has no commission to baptize, for the words of the commission were addressed to the apostles and their successors in the ministry, to the end of the world, and these are such whom the church of Christ appoint for the whole work of the ministry.
Reference may also be made to similar decisions of this Association in 1729, 1732, 1744, 1749 and 1758.
The Richmond Association, in 1809, decided:
Three things are required to make gospel baptism, viz.: a gospel mode, s gospel subject and administrator (Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America, II. 472. Boston, 1813).
In 1791 a case was brought before the Ketockton Association which produced considerable agitation. James Hutchinson, who was born in New Jersey, but raised in Loudon county, Virginia, had gone to Georgia, and there first became a Methodist, and then a Baptist preacher. Previous to his joining the Baptists, he had been baptized by a Methodist. When he offered to join the Baptists of Georgia, it was made a question whether his baptism, being performed by an unbaptized person, was valid! The Georgia Baptists decided that it was valid.
In the year above mentioned Mr. Hutchinson came to Virginia to see his relations in Loudon county. While he was there, his preaching became effectual to the conversion of many. Mr. Hutchinson baptized them. These things stirred up the question in Ketockton Association, whether the baptism of Hutchinson and his disciples was valid. The decision here was just the reverse of the decision in Georgia. They determined not to receive him or those baptized by him, unless they should submit to be rebaptized. After some time they consented, and the ordinance was readministered (Semple, History of Virginia Baptists).
Jesse Mercer, in a Circular Letter adopted and published by the Georgia Association, in 1811, assigns "the reasons, briefly, which lead us to deem Pedobaptist administrations, though in the proper mode, invalid." The first reason assigned is:
The apostolic church, continued through all ages to the end of the world, is the only true gospel church.
After laying down several propositions he proceeds:
From these propositions, thus established, we draw the following references, as clear and certainly true; That all churches and ministers, ,and not successively to them, are not in gospel order; therefore, cannot be acknowledged as such.
Again he says in the same Circular:
Our reasons for rejecting baptism by immersion when administered by Pedobaptist ministers are
I. That they are connected with churches clearly out of the apostolic succession, and therefore clearly out of the apostolic commission.
II. That they have derived their authority, by ordination, from the Bishops of Rome, or from individuals who have taken it on themselves to give it.
III. That they hold a higher rank in the churches than the apostles did, are not accountable to it, and consequently not triable by the church; but are amenable to of among themselves.
Further on he remarks:
The Pedobaptists by their own histories, admit that they are not of it (the true line of the succession of the churches). But we do not; sad shall think ourselves entitled to the claim until the reverse is shown clearly. And should any man think that authority derived from the Mother of Harlots sufficient to qualify to administer a gospel ordinance, they will be so charitable as not to condemn us from preferring that derived from Christ . . . If any think the administration will suffice which has no pattern in the Gospel, they will suffer us to act according to the Divine order with impunity.
The Christian Review, Boston, 1846, in a long article on Rebaptism, says:
We next consider the case of those who, though adults, baptized in the proper mode and form, yet at that time held grossly heretical doctrines; of adherence to which their baptism was a profession to the world: such as Unitarians, who deny the faith of the Trinity;?Universalists, who deny all future punishment; Campbellites, whose acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God implies neither a belief in the divinity nor vicarious sufferings of Christ, nor a profession of a change of heart. Even the Mormons, it is said, baptize in the name of Jesus. When persons who may have been baptized in a profession in any of these forms of error, are afterwards brought to the truth as it is in Jesus, is it their duty to be rebaptized? In such cases, the first baptism, is surely to be regarded rather as a profession of disbelief, than of belief in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. It should therefore be esteemed quite invalid, and be repeated by those who embrace orthodox doctrines. Nor can their subsequent faith make good their former baptism (The Christian Review, July, 18l6. XI. 198, 199).
David Benedict, the historian, probably held a more extensive correspondence with the Baptists of America in his day than any other man. He was doubtless correct when he summed up the situation as follows: "I have ascertained by my extensive correspondence, that by far the greatest part of our denomination both rebaptize and reordain all who join them, from whatever churches they come" (Benedict).
Much attention was turned to educational matters. The origin of the Columbian College was one of the general results of the Triennial Convention. The necessity of well-educated missionaries and the need of an enlightened ministry at home were keenly felt. There was at that time no institution in this country connected with the Baptists for the education of young ministers in theological learning. Individuals, like Dr. Stoughton and others, had given private instruction with ability and zeal. The time had arrived when more enlarged and systematic measures were necessary. The Convention justly concluded that one of the urgent needs was the training of young ministers. In the Constitution of the Convention it is stated that it is the duty of the Board to "employ missionaries, and, if necessary, to take measures for the improvement of their qualifications" (Art. IV.).
A Committee consisting of Drs. Furman, Baldwin and Stoughton, was appointed "to prepare an address on the subject of Foreign Missions, and the general interest of the Baptist denomination." After a fervent appeal to the churches for the support of foreign missions, the following is added:
The efforts of the present Convention have been directed chiefly to the establishment of a foreign mission; but it is expected that when the general concert of their brethren and sufficient contributions to a common fund shall furnish them with proper instruction and adequate means, the promotion of the interests of the churches at home will enter into the deliberations of future meetings.
It is deeply to be regretted that no more attention is paid to the improvement of the minds of pious youth, who are called to the gospel ministry. While this is neglected, the cause of God must suffer. Within the last fifty years, by the diffusion of knowledge and attention to liberal science, the state of society has become considerably elevated. It is certainly desirable, the information of the minister of the sanctuary should increase in an equal proportion. Other denominations are directing their attention, with signal ardor, to the instruction of their youth for this purpose. They are assisting them to peruse the sacred writings in. their original languages, and supplying other aids for pulpit services, which, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, may become eminently sanctified for the general good. While we avow our belief, that a refined or liberal education is not an indispensable qualification for ministerial service, let us never loose sight of its real importance, but labor to help our young men, by our contributions, by the organization of education societies, and if possible, by a general theological seminary, where some, at least, may claim all the advantage which learning and mature studies can afford, to qualify for acting the part of men who are set for the defense of the gospel. Improvement of this nature will contribute to roll away from the churches the reproach of neglecting to support the ministry of the word. They will be unwilling to receive for nothing that which coat their ministers much (Minutes of the Convention, 42, 43).
The Revolutionary War came nigh destroying all educational work among the Baptists. They had entered into the struggle for independence with ardor. Their most useful ministers were chaplains; and most of the male members bore arms in defense of the country. The result was a universal dispersion, which practically broke up the local habitation of the denomination. For example, the First Church, New York, which at the beginning of the war had over two hundred members, had been reduced to thirty-seven at the close of the struggle. The tendency was to destroy all of those institutions formed and sustained by combinations?such were the institutions of learning and plans for the education of the ministry. The compensation came with the universal dissemination of the truth. These faithful men went everywhere preaching the Word throughout the United States, and thus the Baptists were exceedingly multiplied.
Comparatively little was effected in behalf of education in the denomination for nearly a half century after the commencement of the Revolution. In addition to their dispersion through the wilderness of an almost illimitable extent, a taste had been acquired and habits formed, which were totally adverse to these pursuits. Many, during this period, through necessity, entered the ministry without any literary preparation, the tendency of which was to diminish, in all, a sense of its importance. The circumstances, added to the depressed condition of the country, arising from the long continuance and severity of the war, and, subsequently, from a depreciation of the currency, rendered a recommencement of these efforts for the education of the ministry exceedingly difficult.
The Charleston Association had, in 1789, put in operation a plan to establish a permanent fund for the education of ministers, and in 1792 the committee was incorporated by the legislature of South Carolina. So that by the year 1810 the committee had approximately received for this fund ten thousand dollars; and had educated thirteen young men for the ministry. Among this number were Jesse Mercer and W. T. Brantly. The Warren Association followed the Charleston Association in making, in 1791, similar plans. Three years later the society was incorporated by the legislature of Massachusetts.
The Baptist Education Society, of the Middle States, was formed in 1812, at Philadelphia: Its object is thus expressed:
Its avowed and explicit object is, with a divine blessing, the assisting of pious young mea in obtaining such literary and theological aid as shall enable them, with greater ease to themselves, to fulfill the public duties of the Christian ministry (The Christian Review, June, 1837. II. 269) .
At the next Convention, May, 1817, Dr. Furman "placed before the body, in a speech of considerable length and great interest, the very serious and religious importance of a well informed ministry." The following article was added to the Constitution:
That when competent and distinct funds shall have been received for the purpose, the board, from these, without resorting at all to mission funds, shall proceed to institute a classical and theological seminary, for the purpose of aiding pious young men, who, in the judgment of the churches of which they are members, and of the board, possess gifts and graces suited to the gospel ministry (Art. XIV. Minutes of the Convention for 1817, p. 139).
Through an arrangement with the Education Society of Philadelphia a school of theological instruction was opened in that city in a private house, and a number of young men were received as pupils. W. S. Stoughton was principal and Irah Chase one of the professors. So that by the meeting of the Convention, in 1820, "a General Education Plan," was adopted (The Latter Day Luminary, II). The Constitution was again amended as follows:
When the Convention shall have located an institution for education purposes, it shall be the duty of the board, under the direction of this body, and exclusively from education funds, to erect or procure suitable buildings, for the accommodation of the students, and to pursue such measures se may be found most conducive to the progress and prosperity of the institution. They shall also judge of the qualifications of persons approved by the churches as possessing suitable gifts, and called of God to the work of the gospel ministry, who shall apply for admission as beneficiaries of the board. They shall have power to appoint suitable instructors in the different departments of education, and determine on the compensation to be allowed them for their services, and superintend, generally, the affairs of the institution.
The question of the proper site for the institution was one of great importance, and had for sometime occupied much attention. Philadelphia had strong attractions, but a location further south was deemed advisable. A location had been provided at Washington by Rice and others. April 26, 1820, he had written as follows:
It has afforded me no small pleasure to find it convenient, incidentally to other matters in hand, to bestow some attention to the object of providing at Washington a site for the institution to promote the education of the ministry, and ultimately for the foundation of a college, under the direction of the general Convention.
These premises were offered to the Convention, consisting of forty-six and one-half acres, together with a building erected for the purpose. The following resolutions came before the Convention
1. Resolved. That the institution for the education of gospel ministers be located in the city of Washington, or in its vicinity, in the District of Columbia; and that the board be directed to cause its removal thither, whenever suitable preparations shall be made for its reception in that place, and when, in their opinion, such a removal shall be expedient.
2. Resolved. That this Convention accept of the premises tendered to them for the site of an institution for the education of gospel ministers, and for a college, adjoining the city of Washington; and that the board be directed to take measures, as soon as convenient, for obtaining a legal title to the same; and that the board be further directed to keep the institution, already in a state of progress, first in view, and not to incur expenses beyond the amount of funds which may be obtained for the establishment of the institution (The Latter Day Luminary, II. 128).
These resolutions were adopted. For a period the college prospered greatly. President James Monroe warmly commended the enterprise as follows:
Its commencement will be under circumstances very favorable to its success. Its position north of the city, is remarkably healthy. The act of incorporation is well digested, looks to the proper objects and grants the powers well adapted to their attainment. The establishment of the institution within the federal district, in the presence of Congress, and of all of the departments of government, will secure to the young men who may be educated in it many important advantages; among which the opportunity which it will afford them of hearing the debates in Congress, and in the Supreme Court, on important subjects, must be obvious to all (The Latter Day Luminary, II).
But debt occurred and the board loaned the college ten thousand dollars of mission funds (Ibid, II. 363). At length things went from bad to worse. In 1826 the Convention passed the following resolutions:
Resolved, That no charge against Luther Rice as to immoral conduct has been substantiated.
Resolved. That many imprudences are properly attributed to him, for which, however, the urgent embarrassments of the College furnish at least a partial apology.
Resolved, That from the various developments it appears that Mr. Rice is a very loose accountant, and that he has very imperfect talents for the distribution of money (Minutes of the Convention for 1826, 18).
In April, 1827, the entire faculty resigned, and the students were dispersed. For a year there was no school. Rice was compelled to resign as agent and treasurer though he never ceased to labor for the college during his life. At a later period when he was led candidly to consider the affairs of the institution he said:
Four unfortunate errors produced, in the first instance, the embarrassment of the institution, viz.: going in debt,?too much cost and parade of faculty,?incautiously crediting students, and supporting beneficiaries without means,?and by remaining so much of my time at the college to assist in managing its affairs, instead of being constantly out collecting funds. This erroneous course was fallen into more readily, because, at the time, funds were circulating freely through the community, and subscriptions and collections were easily obtained. But when debts were contracted, an over proportion of faculty employed, students largely indulged on credit, with beneficiaries on hand, a great change took place in the financial condition of the whole country; still, hoping the state of things would prove only temporary, the correction was not immediately applied, as it ought to have been, and serious embarrassment, at length, began to be felt.
However deplorable was the situation "the most searching investigations of his conduct, in connection with the embarrassment of the college leave not the shadow of suspicion on his integrity. In his whole history as agent, he sought not his own; and for years actually toiled without fee or reward beyond his personal expenses." He fell on sleep September 25, 1836, in Edgefield District, South Carolina. A large marble slab with a full inscription was placed over his grave by the Baptist State Convention of South Carolina. His only earthly possessions were an old horse, a worn out buggy, and a spotless reputation which he dedicated to Columbian College (Knowles, History of Columbian College, The Christian Review, III. 115. Also VI. 321. Sears, Memoir of Luther Rice). Unfortunately the college had a troubled history from its inception.
The Newton Theological Institution was founded by the Massachusetts Education Society, at Newton Centre. A beautiful and elevated site of seventy acres was secured for the institution. Under the direction of Irah Chase the school was opened November 28, 1825. There were present three students.
The Society made the preliminary arrangements, in 1825, for the founding of the Institution. The incipient measures are thus recorded:
May 26, 1825. Thursday morning, met at Dr. Baldwin?s, according to adjournment. The Board took into consideration the establishment of a theological seminary in the vicinity of Boston; when the following preamble and resolutions, proposed by brother Sharp, were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, it appears to be the earnest desire of influential brethren in our denomination, that there should be a theological institution in the vicinity of Boston, therefore,
1. Resolved, That it is highly expedient, that the Board take immediate measures to accomplish thin important object.
2. Resolved, That Rev. Dr. Baldwin, Rev. Mr. Sharp, and Rev. Mr. Wayland, be a committee to draw up a plan for a theological institution, and recommend such place or places for its location, as they deem proper.
3. Resolved, That Rev. Dr. Bolles, Deacon Heman Lincoln, Rev. Mr. Going, Rev. Mr. Sharp, Mr. N. R. Cobb, and Deacon Levi Farwell, be a committee to solicit subscriptions to aid is the establishment of the institution aforementioned.
The first meeting of the New York Education Society met in Hamilton, May, 1817; and as a result the Hamilton Institution, now Colgate University, was founded in 1819. "It appears that in 1817," says Joseph Belcher, "when three flourishing colleges were sustained within the State, there were but three Baptist ministers in all the State west of the Hudson, who had enjoyed the advantages of a collegiate education. A general diminution of influence was the inevitable consequence, and the attention of sagacious brethren began to be drawn to the subject. In May, 1817, (at the very time the venerable Dr. Baldwin, of Boston, was urging the claims of ministerial education before the general convention assembled at Philadelphia) five or six individuals (not knowing of the meeting at Philadelphia) met at the house of deacon Samuel Payne, in Hamilton, to converse and pray over the same subject. Thirteen brethren, after mature and prayerful deliberation, proceeded to organize the Baptist Education Society !of the State of New York, subscribing one dollar each" (Joseph Belcher, Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record, 153. May, 1844).
Many of the ministers of Maine were conscious of their poor equipment for their work. In a Circular Letter prepared in 1807, for the Bowdoinham Association, Rev. Sylvanus Boardman characterized the ministry of the district as it was very largely at that time, when in a plea for the support of those whom the churches had called to preach, he spoke of "their want of education, not understanding their mother tongue, compelled to devote their time to study, even to obtain a knowledge of the English language sufficient to qualify them to acquire knowledge of logic, mathematics or philosophy." Three years later the association organized a plan of an institution to promote literary and theological knowledge. Colby College was finally located at Waterville, and a charter obtained February 27, 1813.
The Cincinnati Domestic Missionary Society was formed in 1824 and one of its objects was: "To promote the cause of gospel missions, and the education of ministers, called, chosen and faithful." From this movement the Granville College, now benison University, was organized, at Granville, Ohio, December 13, 1831, with thirty-seven students, the oldest among them being thirty-seven years of age, the youngest eight. Twenty-seven of them were from Granville, and all but two, William Whitney and Giles Peabody, were from Ohio. There were five preachers among them.
John M. Peck founded the Rock Springs Academy in Illinois. Several years later he gives the following account of the enterprise:
In 1826, when not a single academy or boarding school of any kind (except the Catholic seminaries) existed in Illinois or Missouri, I went to the Atlantic States, "on my own hook" (to use a western figure), to obtain aid in the establishment of a seminary. Next year, 1827, the building and institution known as Rock Spring Seminary was started . . . During that season (1826) I visited every prominent institution, college, high school, etc., in my range of travel, to learn all I could of their system of management.
The following interesting incident is recorded:
One day a young Presbyterian minister, Rev. John M. Ellis, a graduate of Andover Theological Seminary, and who had then recently come to Illinois, was riding on horseback through "the Sangamon Country," as the region here in question was called. As he was making his way over the lonely prairies, interspersed here and there with patches of timber, he came to a small clearing in the midst of hassle and black-jacks, and was arrested in his progress by the sound of an axe. Observing the woodsman more nearly, he called to him with the question, "What are you doing here, stranger?" "I am building a theological seminary." "What, in these barrens?" "Yes, I am planting the seed." This was Dr. J. M. Peck, founder of the Seminary at Rock Springs. Mr. Ellis was afterwards active in originating the Illinois University at Jacksonville.
This led to the organization and ultimately to the founding of Shurtleff College, at Upper Alton, Illinois (Baptist Memorial anal Christian Chronicle, 204. July, 1842).
An education society was organized in Indiana, in 1834, and in 1835, there appeared in The Cross and Journal, in Cincinnati, a number of articles on such subjects as the following: "What influence ought the Baptist denomination to exert upon the religious and literary world?" "What influence do we exert upon the religious and literary world?" "The importance of religious education in the formation of the character of youth?" There were discussed many more subjects of like character.
The result of the agitation was that a Manual Labor Institute was opened in Franklin, in 1837, and became Franklin College, in 1844.
The Kalamazoo Literary Institute, Michigan, was chartered March 21, 1837. It was at first conducted as a branch of the State University, at Ann Arbor, and was partly supported by appropriations from the treasury of that institution. This anomalous state of affairs terminated at about the close of 1846, when the branches were all given up, and the resources and energies of the university were concentrated at Ann Arbor.
The Baptists of Kentucky selected Georgetown as the site of their college, and a charter was obtained for the institution January 15, 1829. William Stoughton was selected as President of the new institution, but died en route to Georgetown to take up his duties. Joel S. Bacon was elected president June 11, 1830. He struggled manfully with the embarrassment occasioned by the lack of funds, by suits and injunctions, and controversies over the management of the property.
There was formed in 1817 "the Baptist Society in South Carolina and Georgia, for the education of pious young men, designed for the ministry." The following extract is taken from an address sent forth on the occasion:
By our constitution, you will be informed of the designs which we entertain, of the principles which are to guide our operations, and of the methods which will define our proceedings. To the formation of this union, we have been induced by several considerations. The increasing demand in several parts of our country for Baptist ministers with suitable qualifications; the progress of general literature in all classes of society, requiring a proportionate improvement in those who exercise the sacred office; the frequent instances which bring to our view young men of piety and promise, destitute of the requisite means for improving their talents, and a sincere hope, that with the Divine blessing, our cooperation in the proposed measure might contribute to the increase and extension of genuine piety are some of the motives which have excited us to the course into which we now affectionately invite your benevolent activity. Such motives are so true in fact, and so obvious to common inspection, that they must necessarily disturb the repose of the indolent, and assail the observation of the inconsiderate. In the field, brethren, which we propose to cultivate, there is an impressive call to united zeal and diligence.
So far are we from wishing to arrogate to ourselves the merit of originality in this scheme, that we take pleasure in alleging the example of brethren in other places, as an additional incentive to ardor, in a pursuit where they have led the way. In different parts of the United States are societies united for the accomplishment of designs, in all respects like those for which we solicit your favorable regard. Such examples inspire us with the greatest confidence. But admitting that no other association resembling that which we have contemplated had been formed, is there any want of evidence in favor of its claims? Do not the circumstances of many young brethren, eager to break through opposing difficulties, and stand forth as the ambassadors of Christ, make an affecting appeal to our piety and exertion. Do not Christians of all denominations, combining their energies in order to give greater prevalence to the Word of Life, invite our endeavors to something that may accord with the spirit and animation of the present times? Does not that extensive union for missions, which promises to embody the strength of our denomination in this country, demonstrate the expediency of such methods as might augment the number of laborers for a field of action so widely diffused?
Reverend Silas Mercer, in 1793, employed a teacher to, open a classical school in his residence. Jesse Mercer attended this school. It could not be called a theological seminary, but was designed to furnish instruction to such ministers as cared to avail themselves of its advantages. This school continued three years.
A conference of ministers and others was held at Powelton, in May, 1801, and in 1803 the "General committee of Georgia Baptists" was formed. Itinerant preaching and a school in the Creek nation were the leading objects. It was determined the next year, at Kiokee, that measures be taken to establish "the Baptist College of Georgia." An attempt was made to obtain a charter from the legislature, but this was refused because it was alleged that it would injure the State University. An academy was opened at Mount Enon, near Augusta, in 1807, which flourished for a period and then declined.
Mr. Pennfield, of Savannah, in 1829, bequeathed twenty-five hundred dollars for educational purposes on the condition that the Convention raise a like amount, which was quickly done. In January, 1833, a manual labor school was opened, seven miles north of Greensborough, with thirty pupils, a few of whom were licentiates. In the first and second year a powerful revival was experienced, and a large number professed conversion. The village was called Pennfield and the school was named Mercer Institute, in honor of Jesse Mercer, who has been called "the most influential minister of the denomination ever reared in the State" (The Christian Index, July 21, 1832).
Out of this general movement grew Furman University of South Carolina. The formation of a school in the State had long been agitated. Consequently, in 1826, the Furman academy was established in Edgefield Court House. It was not of long life, but the theological department was preserved. After many struggles in 1851 Furman University was organized.
The Wake Forest College, North Carolina, was established in 1834. At first the institution was to be a manual labor school. So a large farm of 600 acres in Wake Forest county, near Raleigh was purchased and Dr. Wait became president. The school passed through a long period of debt and perplexities before it reached its present large usefulness (The Christian Index, September 8, 1832).
The beginnings of the Virginia Baptist Seminary are recorded in an appeal that the Virginia Education Society, through a committee composed of Eli Ball and William ands, made to the Baptist churches of that State. The methods pursued accurately describe conditions of other similar institutions of learning of those times. The committee says:
This Society has now been formed about two years; its object is to aid pious young men, recommended by their respective churches, in improving themselves for the ministry. None are received except members of a Baptist church, of good report, blameless deportment, and who give evidence of an aptitude to teach. The great object of the Society is, to enable those who have determined to consecrate themselves to this most responsible office, to become qualified by a course of study and mental discipline, for discharging with faithfulness and ability their duties.
Eleven young brethren are now under the care of the Society; the greater portion of them under the care of bro. Edward Baptist, and three of them are with bro. Ball. Others are waiting to place themselves under the patronage of the Society, as soon as the institution shall be ready to receive them.
The Society has hitherto encountered much difficulty and labored to great disadvantage for want of a building where the students could be collected together, and placed under the superintendence of a teacher whose whole time could be devoted to the work of instruction. This difficulty has been removed by the purchase of a farm well adapted to the purpose the Society had in view.
The farm contains over 200 acres of land, the improvements are sufficiently commodious, with a little expense, to accommodate 30 or 40 students. The situation is pleasant and perfectly healthy. It is situated in a Northern direction from Richmond, about four and a half miles distant, and about one-half mile West of the Brooke Turnpike.
It has already been intimated that it is the intention of the Society to connect manual labor with the instruction of the students. They have two objects in view in this course;?to lessen the expense and to improve the health of the students. The greatest economy will be introduced into every department of the Institution; the Society having solely in view the important object of effecting the greatest possible good with the smallest possible expense. They know and feel sensibly the great destitution of our churches, and the necessity of supplying that destitution as speedily as possible, and this knowledge will govern them in all their expenditures. A majority of the board are practical business men, who have been taught by long experience to expend nothing uselessly.
The property has been secured to a body of trustees; men well known and esteemed in their churches. Every precaution has been taken to guard the Institution from falling into the hands of individuals not members of a regular Baptist church. In case of a departure from the principles of those churches, they are bound to surrender their trust.
A teacher, possessing the confidence of the brethren, Elder Robert Ryland, has been appointed and daily expected. As possession of the farm will be given on the 1st of July, the school will then be ready to receive additional students, and will go into immediate operation. It is not intended to have a summer vacation.
The purchase of the farm, with the growing crop, has cost the Society $4,500. One-third of this sum will be wanted immediately, as the first installment will be due on the first of next month. This payment will be met by some of the brethren in this city, but we trust that our brethren in the country will not suffer them to bear this burden long.
It is very desirable, that at least ten thousand dollars should be obtained this year. The whole of the purchased money should be paid without delay; and a very considerable expense must be incurred in the purchase of a library, &c.?furniture and provisions for the family;?altering and repairing the buildings;?providing stock for the farm, implements of husbandry, mechanical tools, &c.?as well as the salary of the Principal. Our friends who have funds on hand, or who can furnish them in a short time, are requested to forward them without delay (The Christian Index, July 7, 1832).
A charter was obtained in 1842 and it became Richmond College.
Approximating the close of the period now under survey several other important schools were founded. In this list is included Mississippi College; the Judson in 1838 and the Howard, in Alabama; the Union, 1842, in Tennessee. In all of these states where these schools are located there were many preliminary efforts leading to their formation. The Colombian College delayed some of these organizations; and after they were formed they weakened the influence of that institution. American policies have run largely on state lines.
It was apparent to all Baptists who had studied the situation that something was lacking in their organization. The association had been the unit of their counsel and missionary operations. The Triennial Convention was made up of missionary societies and such other bodies as cared to cooperate. To remedy this manifest defect State Conventions, or General Associations, were formed in various states. These gave a medium of communication, a rallying place for all of the interests in the bounds of the state, and a method of coordinating the work of the several states. These conventions brought compactness and unity of purpose to the churches of the denomination.
By the year 1832 there were fourteen state organizations as follows: New York and South Carolina, 1821; Virginia and Georgia, 1822; Connecticut and Alabama, 1823; Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, 1824; New Hampshire and Rhode Island, 1825; and New Jersey and North Carolina, 1830.
The Triennial Convention was constituted preeminently in the interests of foreign missions; and while it had given some attention to home missions, many persons felt that this was only a secondary consideration. This feeling was especially true in the vast territory of the new states of the West. A numerously attended General Meeting of the Western Baptists in Cincinnati, was held November 6, 1833. As a result of this preliminary gathering the Convention of Western Baptists, assembled in the same city, November 5, 1834. It was declared that "the business of this Convention shall be to encourage and promote, by all lawful means the following objects, to-wit:
Missions, both domestic and foreign; ministerial education, for such as have first been licensed by the churches; Sunday schools, including Bible classes; religious periodicals; tract and temperance societies, as well as all others warranted by Christ in the gospel.
The following statements were made in regard to domestic. missions:
In the Report upon Home Missions presented to this body last year, we had a general exhibition of the disorganized and inefficient condition of the Baptist denomination in years gone by, particularly in the western states, together with some of the natural causes of so deplorable a state of things; also, a brief outline of our home missionary operations in the different states, and the abundant success with which God has crowned these efforts. Your committee deem it unnecessary, at so early a period, to survey the, same ground again. According to the report above named, regularly organized associations for missionary purposes were in successful operation in four of the western states, viz.: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. In Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and some of the states further South, the work was going on through the agency of the Baptist Home Mission Society with increasing success, and local societies were forming for the carrying on of the good work in a more systematic and efficient manner. To these statements we need only add, that the Illinois Baptist convention has been organized, and in Missouri the brethren have taken measures for a similar organization (Proceedings of the fist Anniversary of the General Convention of Western Baptists, at Cincinnati, 7. Cincinnati, 1835).
Sunday schools had made no great progress; and those who favored such schools were usually on the defensive. There was much opposition manifested from many sources. While they had not attained the efficiency and popularity of later times, they had begun to fill a large place in Christian instruction.
"There are many individuals of our denomination in the West," says J. M. Peck, "and sometimes whole churches, who are opposed to Sunday schools. The cause is from misunderstanding the design and plan of such institutions among Baptists. They imagine that Sunday-school teaching by others is to instill into the minds of children sentiments, and form habits, not in accordance with their views of divine truth; or else to teach children head religion merely, and leave the heart unaffected; and that their tendency will be eventually to exclude the Spirit of God in conversion. If these brethren could be convinced that this is not the design, nor the tendency of these institutions, they would not only approve, but cordially cooperate in sustaining them. We pretend not but some unwise persons may have spoken of Sunday-school instruction in an unguarded manner, and produced the impression of this tendency. But let our brethren look at this subject without prejudice, make themselves acquainted with the facts pertaining to it, distinguish properly between the good, the imperfect, and the wrong modes of instruction, and they will perceive that their fears, distrust and jealousies are without foundation.
"The committee pretend not to advocate, or even approve all schools taught on the Lord?s day, and which may be denominated Sunday schools, or of all things that may be taught in such institutions. They wish their brethren, as they do themselves, to make due discrimination. They advocate Sunday schools and Bible class instruction on the same broad principles as they do public preaching, and instruction from house to house. No one approves all kinds of preaching, nor all that is preached even by good men; no one approves all kinds of Sunday schools, nor of all that may be taught therein. And it would be just as unwise and unfair to oppose all preaching, as to oppose all kinds of Sunday-school instruction" (Report on Sunday Schools and Bible Classes, November 7, 1834. Proceedings of the First Anniversary of the General Convention of Western Baptists, 19. Cincinnati, 1835). Such was the spirit and temper of the times in regard to Sunday schools, and these opinions prevailed not only in the Vest but in many other sections of the country.
The American and Foreign Bible Society was formed by the ^cession of members of the Baptist denomination from the American Bible Society, in 1836, because the Board declined to render aid in printing the Bengalee Scriptures translated on the principle adopted by the American Baptist missionaries in Burmah, involving the translation of the word baptizo. The seceding parties organized the American and Foreign Bible Society May 12, 1836. Its efforts were expended chiefly in foreign fields, in the missions of the Baptist denomination (Baird, The Christian Retrospect anal Register).
The first local Baptist Publication Society was formed in New England in 1811, under the name of the Evangelical Tract Society. It was "not, however, strongly denominational, never became vigorous, and has long since ceased to exist except in name. The necessity of some means for the publication of Baptist tracts was very generally felt in different sections of the country. John S. Meehan and the students for the ministry under the care of Dr. Stoughton, in Philadelphia, as early as 1820, discussed the question of organizing a society for this purpose. But Mr. Meehan?s sudden removal to Washington, D C., prevented the consummation of their plan. Rev. Samuel Cornelius, of Virginia, and others seriously contemplated a movement in this direction. It was reserved in the providence of God for Rev. Noah Davis?, a young minister ordained at Saulsbury, Maryland, December 21, 1823, to take the first effectual steps toward the organization of a tract society. Very soon after his ordination he wrote a letter on the subject to Mr. J. D. Knowles, his former class mate, a student at Colombian College, Washington, D. C., and editor of The Colombian Star. The letter was the occasion of much conversation, and led to a meeting on the 25th of February, 1824, at the house of Mr. George Wood, in Washington, for the purpose of organization. It was originated "as a national society, a center round which the Baptists of every section of the country might rally, a fountain from which should go out streams of blessing to every corner of the land. Its support, however, for the first few years came almost exclusively from southern Baptists." Of the $1,010.33 received the first two years, all but $133.73 came from the southern States.
"About six weeks after the Society?s organization a few tracts were printed, and the first Depository was opened April 2, 1824, in the office of The Colombian Star, Washington, D. C. At first it was under the care of Mr. John S. Meehan, afterwards in charge of Mr. Baron Stow, then a student in Colombian College. On November 14, 1826, a special meeting of the Society was held in Washington, at which it was resolved to transfer the headquarters of the Society to Philadelphia. This was done that better facilities for shipping to southern cities and elsewhere might be secured. A committee of brethren residing in Philadelphia was appointed to act in behalf of the Board, and on the 25th of December of the same year that committee convened in the house of Dr. J. L.. Dagg. The first meeting of the Society in that city was held January 7, 1827, Dr. Dagg acted as chairman and Dr. Howard Malcolm as secretary" (Fiftieth Annual Report of the American Baptist Publication Society, 7-12).
The first religious periodical published by the Baptists in this country was The American Baptist Magazine, established in 1814. The Western New York Baptist Magazine was edited and published by the Hamilton Baptist Missionary Society. The Latter Day Luminary was commenced by a committee of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, in Philadelphia, 1818. For the first four years it was published every three months, in 1822 it was removed to Washington and appeared monthly. The Christian Watchman, a weekly paper, was established in Boston, in the beginning of the year 1820. The Religious Intelligencer, a weekly paper, was published in Providence, Rhode Island, in May 1820. The Colombian Star, began in February, 1822. On the same day The Christian Secretary began in Hartford, Connecticut. About the same time The Waterville Intelligencer was printed in Waterville, Maine.
In the year 1836 the following Baptist newspapers were published in the United States: Zion?s Advocate, Maine, Adam Wilson, Editor; The Eastern Baptist, Maine; The New Hampshire Baptist Register, Edmund Worth, Editor; The Vermont Telegraph, Orson S. Murray, Editor; The Sabbath School Treasury, Boston, J. H. Purkitt, Editor; The Christian Review, James D. Knowles, Editor;. The Baptist Register, Utica, New York, Alex. M. Beebe, Editor; The American Baptist, Jonathan Going, Editor; The Mothers Journal, Utica, New York, Mrs. M. Kingsfort, Editor; The Perennial Register, Philadelphia, I. M. Allen, Editor; The Monthly Tracts, Philadelphia; The Monthly Paper, I. M. Allen, Editor; The Witness, Pittsburgh, Samuel Williams, Editor; The Religious Herald, Richmond, William Sands, Editor; The Biblical Recorder, Newbern, North Carolina, Thomas Meredith, Editor; The Southern Baptist, Charleston; The Christian Index, Washington, Georgia, Mercer and Stokes, Editors; The Jackson. vine Register, Alabama, William Wood, Editor; The Baptist, Nashville, R. B. C. Howell, Editor; The Baptist Banner, Shelbyville, Kentucky, John L. Walter, Editor; The Cross and Baptist Journal, Cincinnati, J. Stevens, Editor; The Baptist Advocate, Cincinnati, J: Stevens, Editor; The Pioneer, Upper Alton, Illinois, J. M. Peck, Editor; The Baptist Memorial, New York, was established January, 1842, Rufus Babcock and J. C. Choules, Editors. The oldest Journal West of the Alleghany Mountains was The Gospel Herald, 1813, published at Frankfort, Kentucky, by Silas M. Noel (Henry C. Vedder, Journalism in the Baptist Church in the United States, The Chautauquan, August, 1895. XXI. 602) .
There were many other institutions established among the Baptists which were to attain mighty proportions. Such were Sunday schools, temperance societies, and others of like character, but they were either just beginning or had not as yet attained prominence.
Books for further reference:
Henry M. King, Education among the Baptists of this Country during the last One Hundred Years, The Baptist Quarterly, X. 445-466. Philadelphia, 1876.
Alvah Hovey, Progress of a Century, The Baptist Quarterly, X. 467-489.
E. Thresher, An Address prepared for the Semi-Centennial of Denison University, The Baptist Review, III. 572-592. Cincinnati, 1881.
James D. Knowles, History of the Columbian College, District of Columbia, The Christian Review, II. 115-136. Boston, 1837.
Ministerial Education in Georgia, The Christian Review, II . 579-584.
Philip Schaff, Progress of Christianity in the United States, The Princeton Review, LX. 209-252. New York, 1879.
James David Butler, American Pre-Revolutionary Bibliography, Bibliotheca Sacra, XXXVI. 72-104. Andover, 1879.
Daniel C. Stevens, The American Baptist Publication Society. One Hundred years of Service and Growth, The Review and Expositor, XXI. 397-407. Louisville, 1924.