By J. M. Peck
Many of the early settlers of this State, were Baptists. Some came as early as 1775, and several Baptist ministers, amongst whom were the late John Taylor, and Lewis Lunceford, (known in Virginia as The Wonderful Boy,) made a visit to this land of promise. They returned to Virginia for a period, without constituting any churches. The few brethren they found in the country were in an unpleasant state, cold and neglectful in religion, constantly exposed to Indian depredations, and destitute of provisions in a great measure, except what the wild game furnished. The soil was luxuriant, and the country enriched with all the beauties of uncultivated nature. The people lived in "stations," or forts. These ministers preached a few times, and gave the people such advice as suited their circumstances.
About 1781, several Baptist preachers and many brethren migrated to this new country. At that period, removal from Virginia to Kentucky was a slow and hazardous business. -- Two modes were adopted, one by land, the other by water. The first was performed on horseback, with a few bare necessities of life on pack horses, over a vast tract of mountainous wilderness. Exposure to attacks from the Indians compelled them to perform their journeyings in caravans, with sentries stationed round their camps at night. The other mode was to embark on the Ohio river in a flat boat, and float down with the current to Limestone, or to Bear-grass Creek, (now Maysville and Louisville,) the two principle landings.
The church called Nolinn is supposed to have been the first Protestant religious society organized in the great West. The church at Gilbert's Creek was organized in Spotsylvania County, Va., under the pastoral charge of Lewis Craig, south of Kentucky river, according to Asplund, in 1783. Cedar Fork church is also dated 1782.1
The Baptist immigration into this State was, in a great degree, from Virginia. A few families came from the Red Stone country in Western Pennsylvania, and a few more from New Jersey. This denomination was not only the earliest in preaching the gospel and forming churches, but for numbers and influence held the ascendancy for many years. It is still the most numerous, influential and wealthy denomination in the State.
In the early settlements of the Western and South-western States, all denominations, to a greater or less extent , held prejudices against affording their ministers regular salaries, even when raised by voluntary contributions; and against the importance of a liberal education as a preparative to the successful prosecution of the ministerial office. Baptists especially have partaken largely of this prejudice. Its influence is lessening every year, and more enlarged and consistent views are fast increasing in the churches and amongst the people generally. These prejudices against the an educated ministry, and against regular ministerial support, have exerted a pernicious influence throughout the whole Western valley, and have contributed more than all things else to excite opposition to missionary societies, and other forms of benevolent action. And although the principles of truth are illuminating the public mind, and a reformation, interesting in its rapid progress and beneficent action, is fast dispersing these mistaken notions, yet it is proper to advert to the more remote cause of this state of things.
With the exception of the portion of emigration that originated from New England stock, and which is found principally along the northern borders of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and throughout Michigan, Wiskonsan [sic], and a portion of Iowa, the habits, customs, feelings, modes of thinking, and general character of the population of this great valley were cast in the mould of Virginia and the Carolinas in early times.
It is well known that in the early Colony of Virginia, a branch of he English Episcopal church was established by parliamentary and legislative authority, and continued its legal existence, until the people threw off the yoke of colonial subjection in the Revolutionary contest. The colonial legislature in 1721 enacted that every minister, received into any parish by the vestry, should have an annual salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco; and glebes, of not less than 200 acres, were to be provided in every parish. In 1757, a season of unusual failure in the tobacco crops, the staple of he colony, it was further enacted that the clergyman should receive, at his option, a substitute in cash, equal to eighteen shillings per hundred weight. This gave rise to the celebrated lawsuit in which Patrick Henry made his successful debut at the bar. The parishes in Virginia, in those early times, were dependent on the mother country for a supply of pastors. Clergymen who were of good character and fixed in comfortable livings at home, were not easily induced to go out to the colonies. It is no disparagement to the Church of England, or to the piety and evangelical character of the Episcopal church in the United States at this period, to state, what is matter of history, that a large proportion of the clergy who came out to occupy these glebes, perform parochial duties, and live on a salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco, were quite unfit for evangelical purposes. The testimony of the Rev. Dr. Hawkes, the worthy and talented historian of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia, will surely not be suspected of exaggeration. He says, "The class which usually came was one unfitted, from entire ignorance of human nature, as well as from the absence of discretion and prudence, to appreciate the true condition of the country. They were utterly incapable to accommodate themselves to the perpetually occurring exigencies of a new country, and a state of society, of which, as the past afforded no precedent, so neither could it furnish any guides to conduct.
"Many of the clergy, therefore, were, as it might have been anticipated, unfitted for their stations. The precariousness of the tenure by which they held their livings, contributed also not a little to beget in them a spirit of indifference to the discharge of their duties; and to complete the list of unpropitious circumstances, the irregularities and crimes of an unworthy clergyman could not be visited effectually with severities of ecclesiastical censure. Far removed from his diocesan, and standing in but little awe of the powers of his commissary, he sometimes offended religion and morals with impunity, and still remained in the church a reproach to her ministry."2
"With such priests, it is easy to believe what is recorded of the people. The Sabbath day was usually spent by them in sporting, and no question seems to have been made whether the practice was right or wrong. And with such a people, it is not probable that the errors and vices of their teachers, formed the subject of every serious complaints, or that direct efforts were often made to displace an unworthy clergyman."3
In a petition preferred to the Legislature in 1755, by the clergy themselves, the petitioners say, "that so many who are a disgrace to the ministry find opportunities to fill the parishes."
In numerous instances we have heard from the lips of old men, lamentable descriptions of the immoral and profligate livers of these rectors, to which they were witness in their youthful days. Two or three days in each week, during the season, were spent in fox-hunting with their irreligious parishioners, and the dinner closed with bacchanalian orgies, in which the clergyman would usually be prominent. We have seen a manuscript volume of poetry, composed by one of these Virginia shepherds, that for amorous levity would have raised the blush on the cheek of Horace.
These clergymen were frequently the second and third sons of decayed families, who in morals and talents were unfitted for the army, but through the influence of some patron, they could obtain "Holy orders," on condition of becoming chaplains in the colonies, and accepting of a tobacco stipend. They claimed the advantage of a collegiate education, but in the circle of frivolity and dissipation, they had accomplished but little more than "going through college."
The historian, quoting from an author of the day, says, "Many came, such as wore black coats, and could babble in a pulpit, roar in a tavern, exact from their parishioners, and rather by their dissoluteness destroy than feed their flocks. Loath was the country to be wholly without teachers, and therefore rather retained them than be destitute; yet still, endeavors for better in their places, which were obtained, and these wolves in sheep's clothing by their assemblies questioned, silenced, and some forced to depart the country."4 Their destitution of religious character, and their efforts to secure the tobacco salary, or its substitute in cash, fixed in the minds of the great mass of the people that claims to a collegiate education and to a regular salary necessarily characterized incompetent spiritual instructors.
The Baptists, who were the most numerous class of dissenters, were amongst the first to resist the established hierarchy. Their ministers were generally poor men, of only limited English education, but they were warm-hearted, affectionate, simple in their manners, and spent much of their time in gratuitous efforts to promote the spiritual welfare of their fellow-men. The Presbyterians co-operated in the same good work, but were confined more entirely to their own congregations. The Baptists travelled into the remote frontier settlements, often held large meetings for several days in continuance, and preached the simple truths of the gospel with an unction and power that awakened up the common people and called out multitudes to hear them. These early pioneers were often men of respectable talents, but entirely deficient in a classical education. They were destitute of libraries and the ordinary means of acquiring knowledge; but they constantly studied ONE BOOK, and with that they became familiar. The parochial clergy, probably through the action of their friends and adherents, were regarded as their persecutors. The laws regulating the parishes were against them, and fines and imprisonment were frequently their earthly reward.
Lynch law, also, (as popular violence is now called,) was frequently put in execution. Many of the early preachers in Kentucky and Tennessee had, while residents of Virginia, preached to the weeping multitude without, through the grates of the prison, or had been ducked in the river, or shamefully beaten by the mob. Under such circumstances, it was natural for these men, associating as they did their cruel persecutions with the "college-learned" and "salary" clergymen, to make these the frequent topics of address, and to urge their appeals to popular sympathy against them. The people became thoroughly imbued with this feeling, associated as it was with all that was sacred in liberty of conscience, freedom to worship God without charge in form of an odious tobacco law, and the dearest rights of republicans. The same spirit spread through the Carolinas. Presbyterians in a degree partook of the same feeling. During the revolutionary contest, the most impulsive motive of action to a Virginia Baptist, was deliverance from a vicious, ecclesiastical hierarchy, and entire liberty of conscience in religious worship. They, and thousands of others, regarded the voluntary principle in religion as the unalienable birthright. These were the men who planted themselves in the wilderness of Kentucky and Tennessee, and they carried across the mountains all the feelings, convictions, and prejudices they had imbibed in the "old Dominion," against salaries and a collegiate education for ministers of Jesus Christ. Had these good men, in their migration westward, forgotten the state of things that existed in Virginia before the Revolution, in the days of clerical domination and ecclesiastical laws; had they taken the plain, common sense view that ministerial education and support are claimed and sanctioned in the word of God, and are alike the dictates of propriety and justice; had they inculcated in a just and scriptural manner these duties in their early ministrations in the West, a very different state of things would have been the result. -- But this is more than could have been expected from human nature. Hence the fathers of the Mississippi Valley carried with them all their prejudices and modes of action against an educated and salary-sustained ministry. -- Kentucky and Tennessee, in habits, feelings, and prejudices, were but the imprint of Virginia and Carolina, and these States, by sending out swarms of settlers to all the newer States and Territories west and south, have produced the same impression.
In most of the evils of life there is an admixture of good. Deficient as they were in a liberal education, the ministry of these States, as approved by the whole community, did by their numbers and self-sacrifices, what could never have been done for want of the men, had the qualifications of a collegiate education been regarded as indispensable. They have spread the truths and influences of the gospel into every settlement, and to the remotest frontier. The Baptists and Methodists, chiefly, were the pioneers in the work. The Cumberland Presbyterians, at a later period, co-operated in the work on the same broad principles of action. These pioneers, in a vast multitude of cases, have performed this warfare at their own charges. And whenever sustained by the people, it has been in a private way, and as an expression of personal regard, rather than wages stipulated. A large proportion of he ministry in Western Valley spend a vast deal more time than the mere labors of the Sabbath. Hundreds could be counted up who devote in gratuitous services, and in absence from their families, more than half their time for years in succession.
It is obvious to those who are conversant with the feelings and habits of the churches in the western and southwestern States, that the neglect of providing a regular and competent support to the ministry does not originate in the destitution of a spirit of liberality and generosity. No people are more lavish in providing for the accommodation of religious meetings. We have repeatedly witnessed, in the expenditure for a single camp or protracted meeting, enough to have provided a competent salary for a pastor for the year. But it is encouraging to notice the reform that is gradually progressing. Ministerial education and support are now topics of earnest discussion in all our religious convocations. The churches in all the States are calling for pastors of classical and theological education, and many can be found, who have had no opportunities of a regular education themselves, yet are zealous and active in urging it on the young brethren in the churches, whose hearts are directed to the work of the ministry.
We have dwelt at some length on these topics, but it seems to be necessary that this exposition should be given, and from the origin of he state of things in reference to our early ministry, no place seemed to be so appropriate as that under the head of Kentucky. 5
At that period, in Virginia, the Carolinas, and in the new settlements of Kentucky, Baptists were divided into "Regular," and "Separate." The regular Baptists were professedly and some of them very high Calvinists, and moulded [sic] after the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. The "Separates" originated in Virginia and North Carolina, by the agency of Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, who had been formerly Congregational Separates in the New England States. The Separate Baptists at this period would be claimed as moderate Calvinists. They were suspicious of imposing upon men's consciences any form of human creed, otherwise than the form and substance of the Holy Scriptures; hence may of their churches were organized without a verbal confession of faith. They usually adopted a written covenant, expressive of their obligations to God and to each as members of the same church, and frequently in these covenants would be incorporated substantially some of the principle doctrines of Scripture. The two parties having become united in North Carolina in 1777, and in Virginia in 1787, various attempts at union were made in Kentucky, but for a time without success. The Separates were fearful of being bound by the Confession of Faith, and the Regulars were unwilling to unite without some "form of sound words."
The years of 1800, 1801, and 1802, were distinguished for the great revival in Kentucky. It commenced in Boon[e] County, on the Ohio River, but soon extended over a great part of the State. All denominations shared in the work, and though it resulted in extravagant excitements, nervous affections, and disorderly religious conduct, in some instances, it cannot be doubted but there was a great and marvellous [sic] outpouring of the Divine Spirit. Of the thousands who made profession of religion, in various denominations, at that period, a very large proportion gave honorable testimony to the reality of a saving conversion, by the sobriety and consistency of their subsequent lives. Amongst the Baptist churches generally there was less of confusion and mere excitement than many have supposed. They were zealously affected and much engaged, but they made no efforts to produce excitement. The number of converts baptized and added to their churches in this revival, exceeded ten thousand. Migration has since spread them over a large portion of the Mississippi Valley. Doubtless this revival was a gracious and wonderful visitation of Divine mercy, preparatory to the establishment of the kingdom of Christ throughout the West. One of its happy effects was a formal union of Regulars and Separates in one connection, under the name of UNITED BAPTISTS. As this name designates a large proportion of the denomination throughout the States south of the Ohio, and west of the Mississippi, including a number of Associations in Indiana and Illinois, and as the "Terms" then adopted constitute their Confession of Faith, it becomes necessary to insert the document in this place. 6
It should be noticed that these were not Terms of Compromise. This may be seen in reference to the 9th article. Some of the preachers held forth a limited atonement. -- Others of the Separate order preached with equal conscientiousness general provision, or that Christ tasted death for every man. Both parties retained their views, but agreed that his diversity should be no bar to communion. There was also some diversity in their views of church government and associational power; hence the phraseology used in the 10th article. As Baptists, both parties held no sentiment or practice as binding on the churches or ministry, without a "Thus saith the Lord," for its sanction, though they differed in some minor particulars as to the meaning of the Lord's sayings in the Scriptures.
As early as 1805, some ministers and brethren in Elkhorn, North District, Bracken, and perhaps other Associations in Kentucky, agitated the question of involuntary, hereditary slavery as inconsistent with the Christian profession, and took a stand against it in principle and practice. The Elkhorn Association, in 1805, expressed its disapprobation of ministers, churches, or associations meddling with the subject of emancipation from slavery. -- This gave great offence to the emancipators, produced a rupture, and ended in a painful breach. In September, 1807, messengers from the churches of Licking, Locust, Bracken, Fox Creek, West Creek, Ebenezer, Bethel, New-Hope, Lawrence's Creek, and Etham, met in Mason County, Ky., and organized themselves into an Association, and named their body "The baptized Licking Locust Association, Friends to Humanity." The ministers present were Carter Tarrant, David Barrow, Donald Holmes, and Hampton Pangburn. At a previous meeting, held in Woodford County, August 29, 30, and 31st, at which David Barrow, Donald Holmes, Carter Tarrant, Jacob Grigg, George Smith, Samuel Lyons, John Ficklin, William Bulkley, William Hickman, William Morris, and Owen Owens, ministers, were present, and about twenty brethren, a series of principles in the catechetical form were adopted, and have since been known as "Tarrant's Rules," from their articles author's name. From removals, deaths, and other causes, the Licking Locust Association soon disbanded. Some of the ministers and brethren fell back into the ranks of the United Baptists, and others removed to Ohio and Indiana. As several of the existing Associations in Illinois hold to the same principles, and distinguish themselves by the appellative Friends to Humanity, we may as well give those principles in this place, although no longer connected with affairs in Kentucky. These are given in answers to various questions laid before the meeting in Woodford County.
Q. "Can any person be admitted a member of this meeting, whose practice appears friendly to perpetual slavery?
A. "We think not.
Q. "Is there any case in which persons holding slaves may be admitted to membership in a church of Christ?
A. No; except in the following, viz. -- 1st. In the case of a person holding young slaves, and recording a deed of their emancipation at such an age as the church to which they offer may agree to. 2nd. In the case of persons who have purchased in their ignorance, and are willing that the church shall say when the slaves or slave shall be free. 3rd. In the case of women, whose husbands are opposed to emancipation. 4th. In the case of a widow, who has it not in her power to liberate them. 5th. In the case of idiots, old age, or any debility of body that prevents such slave from procuring a sufficient support; and some other cases, which we would wish the churches to be at liberty to judge of agreeably to the principles of humanity.
Q. "Shall members in union with us be at liberty in any case to purchase slaves?
A. "No; except it be with a view to ransom them from perpetual slavery, in such a way as the church may approve."
The progress of the Baptists in Kentucky at various periods, has been somewhat diverse. At times there have been unpleasant dissensions in some of the Associations. About the period of the controversy concerning emancipation in the Elkhorn Association, a dispute about property arose between two individuals, which, by unskillful and improper management, produced a wide breach, and terminated in the division of the Association, and the formation of the Licking Association. In 1830-31, another series of divisions resulted from the propagation of the peculiar tenets of Mr. Alexander Campbell, of Bethany, Brooke county, Va. -- Churches became divided, ministers shifted their ground, and unpleasant feelings abounded. Of late years, Mr. Campbell, who was once recognized as a Baptist minister, attempts to show that he has not departed from acknowledged Baptist principles as far as his former brethren believe, but that he uses the terms regeneration, conversion, salvation, &c, in a different sense from what he regards as the technical meaning of the theologian.
In a former period, some little breach was made by a man by the name of Easton, who with portions of two or three churches were dropped from the Elkhorn Association, for defective, if not directly heterodox views of the person and the atonement of Christ.
These breaches, however, were soon healed by accessions of converts and revivals. The churches of this State have lost in their ministry and membership, to no small amount, from the constant emigration to new States. Our churches in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, contain large numbers who professed religion in the revivals of Kentucky.
Some of the leaven imported from Virginia still remains, manifested in the form of opposition to missionary societies, and other organized systems of benevolence. A very large majority of he churches and brethren, however, now profess to encourage such institutions.
As early as 1802, the Elkhorn Association adopted measures to send a missionary to the Indians. The project was not carried into effect. The first visit of the late Rev. Luther Rice to this State, in 1815, awakened up much feeling among the churches, and called forth the most liberal contributions of any part of the United States. By 1816, six societies for Foreign Missions, auxiliary to the Baptist Board, had been organized, and in 1817, two delegates, brethren Warder and Hodgen, were in the Triennial Convention.
In 1818, one of these auxiliaries, "The Kentucky Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel," established an Indian School at the Great Crossings in Scott County, and through the agency of Elder John Ficklin, obtained eight or ten young Indians from Missouri. For several years, this school was under the supervision of this society, aided by occasional donations from the national government. It resulted in the establishment of the Choctaw Academy, at the Blue Springs, in the same county, and has been sustained wholly by government funds in the form of annuities to the Indians. The number of students from some years has exceeded 100 annually. Some hundreds have received the rudiments of education with appropriate moral and religious instruction, and a number have gone through a course of study equal to a full collegiate course. This Institution is located on the farm, and has been under the paternal care of Col. R. M. Johnson, the late Vice President of the United States.
The pecuniary pressure of 1820-21, in Kentucky, with other causes, lessened missionary contributions, the impulse produced by the visits of Mr. Rice partially died away, and but little was done for several years.
About the year 1826, Elder Spencer Clack, a most worth, pious, and active minister, established a weekly religious paper, at Bloomfield, in Nelson County, called the Baptist Recorder. This paper aided in no small degree in arousing up the denomination to more active and systematic measures for the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom. The Recorder was continued till the close of 1829, when Mr. Clack retired from the editorial chair, and subsequently removed to Palmyra, Mo., where, in 1832, he fell a victim to cholera. In January, 1830, Mr. Uriel B. Chambers commenced the "Baptist Chronicle and Literary Register," a monthly pamphlet, of respectable character, which he continued three years, when he merger it in a weekly paper, which he entitled "The Cross and Baptist Banner." Eventually, this paper became merged in the "Baptist Journal" of Cincinnati.
The Kentucky brethren, not satisfied without a paper as the organ of the denomination in their own State, encouraged a talented young brother, Mr. John L. Waller, to commence "The Baptist Banner," at Shelbyville. This was removed to Louisville, and at the commencement of 1838, purchased and enlarged by J. Eliot & Co., with the view of establishing a large weekly periodical, that would receive the patronage and meet the acceptance of the denomination through a large portion of the Valley of the Mississippi. Mr. Waller still continued the editor. Previous negociations [sic], which met the approval of the brethren in Illinois, having been completed, the "Western Pioneer," conducted by J. M. Peck, was united to the Banner, and the paper took the name of "The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer." It is now issued on a larger sheet than any other Baptist publication in the world. Subsequently, an arrangement was made with Rev. R. B. C. Howel[l], of Nashville, Tenn., editor and proprietor of "The Baptist," a monthly imperial quarto, and still later with the "South Western Luminary," a Mississippi and Alabama paper. By these several arrangements, the Banner and Pioneer has not only secured the confidence and support of a large majority of the denomination in the great valley, amongst which several thousands are circulated weekly, but it has obtained a strong editorial corps. Mr. Waller having retired from the more laborious part of editorial duty to engage in the agency of the General Association, though he still continues a contributor to its columns, his place is supplied by the Rev. W. C. Buck, whose time is devoted to the office. The co-editors are J. M. Peck, of Illinois; R. B. C. Howell, of Tennessee; A. R. Hinckley, of Indiana; and W. C. Crane, of Alabama. This system of mutual co-operation appears to work well, and the joint stock paper exerts an influence, great and beneficial throughout the wide range of its circulation. The periodical press has proved its importance and value in moulding [sic] the character and directing the energies of the denomination in these States.
Some twelve or fifteen years since, a Baptist by name of ISSACHAR PAWLING, devised in his will a fund for the education of pious young men, approved by the churches, for the ministry. This fund, known by the name of the Pawling Fund, amounts to twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars, the interest of which only is to be applied for the purpose designed. In January, 1829, the Legislature granted a charter of incorporation, with the special view of protecting and applying this fund to "The Trustees of the Kentucky Education Society," with authority to establish a college. A building was erected for an academy at Georgetown, in Scott County, with other valuable property and donations, was offered and accepted, and the institution opened in 1830, under the presidency of Rev. Joel S. Bacon. The secessions from the Baptist ranks to those of the "Reformers," under Mr. Campbell, and the unfortunate election of some others, whose doctrinal views were hyper-calvinistic, and opposed to what is usually termed a theological education in the ministry, caused dissensions in the Board of Trustees, and resulted in the resignation of the president and some of the professors for a season, threatened to terminate this noble beginning, to provide for the education of the Baptist ministry in this State. Through a merciful Providence, and by the indefatigable efforts of a few efficient brethren, the college was again placed under Baptist control, and the late Rev. R. Giddings chosen president, and with him were associated a respectable faculty. In 18__________ most devoted spirit and untiring exertions, raised a fund for the endowment of the institution and to enlarge its means for ministerial education, exceeding $100,000, which is secured by notes drawing interest. Just at the completion of this great work, he was attacked with fever, and sunk into an early grave! His name, virtues and labors will long be held in remembrance by the Baptists of Kentucky. -- The college is now in a prosperous condition, under the presidency of the Rev. Howard Malcom, with an able faculty, and nearly 100 students, of which some eight or ten are preparing for the ministry.
At the session of the Elkhorn Association in 1831, a conference of ministers and brethren was held for consultation on the condition of the denomination, and to suggest modes of operation to promote its interest and that of religion generally. The conclusion was that some organized system of mutual co-operation in missionary and other works of benevolence, that should rally and combine all those who were disposed for such modes of religious operation was necessary. The Baptist Convention of Kentucky was soon formed, and commenced, on a small scale, home missionary operations. These have been enlarged, and the Convention changed into "The General Association of Baptists in Kentucky." Under this organization, which was effected in 1837, the denomination is making rapid progress. A prominent object of this combination is to provide pastors for the churches, and arouse them up to provide the means of support. Much, very much has already been accomplished.
Within three years, by the instrumentality of pastoral labors, missionaries, and voluntary evangelists, nearly 30,000 converts have been baptized, and the churches have increased in numbers about 20 per cent, with a vast increase of the spirit of union and mutual co-operation. Still there are ministers and churches , and some associations that are paralyzed with an Antinomian influence, opposed to the various organized forms of gospel benevolence, and who refuse co-operation with their more active brethren.
Other Benevolent Associations
The "China Mission and Roberts' Fund Society" was formed in 1836, to aid in sending the gospel to China, and the Rev. I. J. Roberts is patronized as its missionary. -- This Society co-operates with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions In May, 1839, a special convention of the denomination was held at Lexington for several days, during which the subject of missions, Bible societies, education, &c., underwent full and able discussions. At the close was formed "The Kentucky and Foreign Bible Society, auxiliary to the American and Foreign Bible Society." Several branch Societies already exist. A "Ministerial Conference" for the cultivation of harmony, and for mutual _____________ amongst a large circle of ministers in a central part of the State. Though much has been gained within a few years, much remains to be done by the denomination in Kentucky. The "General Convention of Western Baptists," which met for several years in Cincinnati, held its last session at Louisville, and appointed its session for 1841 in that city.
We have devoted a large space to our notes on Kentucky, but desire it to be understood, to avoid repetition, that much in the development of principles of action, of character, habits and circumstances, equally apply to the denomination in the other States in the Western Valley.
Kentucky, within a few years, has lost some of her most efficient ministers by death, while many more have gone with the flood of emigrants to other and newly settled States. Of the deceased, the names of Noel, Warder, Warfield, Moorman, and many others will be long held in grateful remembrance.
1. At the close of 1785, there were three Associations, 12 churches, and 13 ministers in Kentucky, and perhaps more. The ministers' names, as recorded by Asplund, were Lewis Craig, Joseph Bledsoe, George S. Smith, Richard Cave, James Smith, James Rucker, Robert Elkin, John Taylor, William Taylor, James Tanner, John Bailey, Joseph Craig, and Ambrose Dudley.
2. Contributions to Ecclesiastical History, pp. 88, 89.
3. Contributions to Ecclesiastical History, p. 116.
4. Ecclesiastical History of Virginia, p.65.
5. In 1785, the Baptists had become sufficiently numerous in Kentucky to form three Associations, -- the Elkhorn, in the region north of the Kentucky River, composed of three churches, Tate's Creek, Clear Creek, and South Elkhorn; the South Kentucky, of Separate Baptists, in the country south of the Kentucky River, consisting of four churches, Rush Branch, Head of Boon's Creek, Gilbert's Creek, and Pottenger's Creek; and the Salem, in what is now Nelson County, of four churches, as Cox's Creek, Severn Valley, Cedar Creek, and Bear-grass churches.
6. TERMS OF UNION BETWEEN THE ELKHORN AND SOUTH KENTUCKY OR SEPARATE ASSOCIATIONS.
"We, the Committee of the Elkhorn and South Kentucky Associations, do agree to unite on the following plan:
1st. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the infallible Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
2nd. That there is one only true God, and in the Godhead or divine essence, they are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
3rd. That by nature we are fallen and depraved creatures.
4th. That salvation, regeneration, sanctification, and justification, are by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
5th. That the saints will finally persevere through grace to glory.
6th. That believer's baptism by immersion is necessary to receiving the Lord's Supper.
7th. That the salvation of the righteous, and punishment of he wicked, will be eternal.
8th. That it is our duty to be tender and affectionate to each other, and study the happiness of the children of God in general; and to be engaged singly to promote the honor of God.
9th. And that the preaching Christ tasted death for every man, shall be no bar to communion.
10th. And that each may keep up their associational and church government as to them may seem best.
11th. That a free correspondence and communion be kept up between the churches thus united.
Unanimously agreed to by the joint committee. Ambrose Dudley, John Price, Joseph Redding, David Barrow, Robert Elkin, David Ramsey, Thomas J. Chilton, Moses Bledsoe, Samuel Johnson."
Return to Kentucky Baptist Church Histories
Return to American Church Histories
Return to Homepage