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Georgia Baptists : historical and biographical / by J. H. Campbell

Part 1

 

  page  8]  
HISTORICAL.

Chapter 1

 

  page  9]  
HISTORICAL.

INTRODUCTION OF BAPTIST SENTIMENTS INTO THE
STATE.

THE first account we have of any Baptists in the province of Georgia was in the year 1757. Mr. Nicholas Bedgewood, who was employed in the capacity of agent to Mr. Whitfield's Orphan House, near Savannah, had several years previously been convinced of the truth of Baptist sentiments. In that year he went over to Charleston, and was baptized by Rev. Mr. Hart, the pastor of the Baptist church in that city. He was soon licensed to preach, and his ordination to the ministry took place in 1759. In 1763, he baptized several persons in and about the Orphan House, among whom was Mr. Benjamin Stirk, who afterwards became a minister of the gospel. To these persons, who were probably a branch of the Charleston church, Mr. Bedgewood administered the Lord's Supper, the first Baptist communion ever held in the province.

Mr. Stirk, having lost his wife while at the Orphan House, married the mother of the late Rev. Thomas Polhill, of Newington, in the vicinity of Goshen, eighteen miles above Savannah, to which place he removed in 1767.

He appears to have been a man of good learning, fine natural parts, and eminent for piety and zeal. As there was no Baptist church in Georgia, he united with the church at Euhaw, S. C. He soon began to preach, and set up places of meeting, at his own house, and at Tuckaseeking, twenty miles higher up the country, where there were a few Baptists, and who constituted a branch of the Euhaw church. But of the useful labors of this faithful servant of Christ, they were soon deprived, as he was called to his reward in the year 1770. This was the second bud of a Baptist church in the State; indeed, it is not certainly known that they ever became a regular church.

In the meantime, Mr. Botsford, a young licentiate of the

 

  page 10  
Charleston church, while on a visit to the Euhaw church, received an invitation to come over and help this feeble and destitute branch. Encouraged by the mother church, and accompanied by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Pelot, he came and preached to them his first sermon, on the 27th of June, 1771. His labors being highly acceptable, he yielded to their solicitations, and remained with them for more than a year. But his anxious spirit would not permit him to remain in one place. He traveled extensively, preaching in all the surrounding country; and towards the close of the next year, he went still higher up the river, and commenced an establishment at what was at first called New Savannah, but now Botsford's Old Meeting-house, about twenty-five or thirty miles below Augusta. Here he had the pleasure of seeing the work of the Lord prosper in his hands.

 

A little previous to Mr. Botsford's coming over to Tuckaseeking, Rev. Daniel Marshall, with other Baptist emigrants, arrived and settled on the Kiokee creeks, about twenty miles above Augusta. Mr. Marshall began forthwith to preach in the surrounding country. His principal establishment was on the Big Kiokee, and from this circumstance it received the style of the Kiokee Meeting-house. It was located on the site now occupied by the public buildings of Columbia county, called Applington.

Although Mr. Marshall was neither profoundly learned nor very eloquent as a preacher, yet he was fervent in spirit and indefatigable in labors, and the Lord working with him, he soon had the happiness of receiving and baptizing many new converts; these, together with the emigrant Baptists in that section, were constituted into a regular church in the year 1772. This was the first Baptist Church ever constituted in Georgia. At this time, Mr. Daniel Marshall was the only ordained Baptist minister in the State; but, besides him, there were several zealous licentiates, i. e., Abraham Marshall, Sanders Walker, Solomon Thompson and Alexander Scott. By these the word of the Lord was proclaimed through all the up-country, and the scattered sheep of Christ were gathered into this fold from the remotest frontiers. Thus the word of the Lord ran and was glorified, believers abundantly multiplied, and the church greatly enlarged.

 

  page 11  

By this time, Mr. Botsford had received ordination by the church in Charleston, that he might be more fully qualified to enter the large and interesting field of usefulness that lay before him. He had already visited Augusta, Kiokee and other places, which at that time lay along the frontiers of Georgia and South Carolina. He became acquainted with Mr. Marshall, and though there were at their first acquaintance certain slight differences between these ministers with respect to externals, Mr. Botsford being of what was then called the regular, and Mr. Marshall of the separate order, a more intimate acquaintance soon destroyed these distinctions, and these devoted servants of the Most High became perfectly united in their efforts to disseminate the truth and to build up the Redeemer's kingdom. Previously to the ordination of Mr. Botsford, Mr. Marshall baptized for him, but subsequently, he baptized himself many of the happy converts who believed under his ministrations at New Savannah and in the surrounding country; and in the year 1773 he had the additional satisfaction to see a church regularly constituted in that place. This, Botsford's Church, was the second church in the State. It is still a highly respectable body, and is a member of the Hephzibah Association.

These devoted heralds--missionaries of the cross--may well be considered the founders of the Baptist interest in Georgia. They continued, each in his sphere, aided by licentiates, to labor incessantly for the up-building of the churches, and to publish throughout the widely extended frontier settlements the gospel of the Son of God with a success that furnished unequivocal evidence that the Lord was with them. Yet it does not certainly appear that any other churches were constituted by them, though materials for several others were prepared.

Mr. Botsford married and settled on Briar creek, in Burke county, in the year 1774. But although he purchased land, stuck down his staff and built for himself a house, and for a time thought that he would enjoy his peaceful home for life, his heart was so fully set upon his work that he could not rest. He suffered not the charms or cares of domestic life to abate his fervent desire for the salvation of his dying fellow-men, nor to diminish aught from his activity in the cause of his blessed

 

  page 12  
Master. For, as his biographer says, "From the tabernacle which he had pitched upon Briar creek, he darted out into many surrounding regions, both in South Carolina and Georgia, and preached the gospel of the kingdom with his accustomed fervor and success." During this time, the church on the Kiokee was multiplying. Mr. Samuel Cartledge, Loveless Savidge and Silas Mercer were added to the number of her licensed ministers.

 

But about this period, the Creek and Cherokee Indians became very troublesome on the frontiers, and by their frequent incursions greatly harassed [harrassed] the inhabitants, and at length quite broke them up. Soon after, the deeper horrors of the revolutionary war began to fill all with dismay--Savannah fell--Sunbury surrendered--General Ash was defeated, and at length the whole country was brought to submit to the British arms. Many sought safety in flight. Among these were Mr. Mercer and Mr. Botsford. These gentlemen were refugees in the interior States till the close of the war. But the intrepid Marshall stood his ground, and never deserted his post; like an apostle, having his dear people in his heart, to live and to die with them. Though the din of war was heard, rapine and violence and bloodshed filled the land with consternation, the zeal and perseverance of this brave soldier of the cross were not in the slightest degree abated. Assisted by a few licentiates who remained on the field with him, the good work went on; the spirit of pure religion was progressive, and even in those times which tried men's souls, very many were converted to God.

During the troubles above mentioned, it does not appear that many churches were constituted, yet the foundations for them were laid. Indeed, it is possible the Red's creek (now Aberleen) church, was constituted within that period. The Rev. Loveless Savidge, who was pastor of this church, was one of the early licentiates of the Kiokee church, and it is natural to suppose, that he soon succeeded in raising the church; but of this, we have no certain information. There was also constituted a church on Little Briar creek, in 1777, which still exists, but under whose labors we cannot now ascertain; probable by the zealous efforts of the Rev. William Franklin and Joseph Busson, who were resident in this section at the close of the war.

 

  page 13  
They were useful ministers in their day, abundant in labors and good fruits, and their praise was in all the churches.

 

Shortly after the termination of hostilities, when peace spread her balmy wings abroad, and prosperity began to bless the country with her genial smile, the refugees returned; and those who had remained, both ministers and common members, who had been very much scattered, depressed, and almost estranged from each other, now became animated, arose in various settlements simultaneously, flowed together as by one common impulse, and were soon constituted into many churches.

The Rev. Sanders Walker, who by way of distinction has been called the meek, residing at that time on Fishing creek, five miles north of Washington, in Wilkes county, having been ordained to the gospel ministry in the mother church, preached the gospel of the grace of God in the regions round about him. There were in his vicinity a number of Baptists, who either had emigrated thither, or were the fruits of the labors of Mr. Walker, himself and others. Among these brethren was Mr. John Milner, Sr., a most zealous and fervent exhorter, who afterwards became a preacher, and was very successful in his efforts to advance the cause of God and truth amongst his people. These were soon gathered together, and in 1783, were formed into a regularly constituted church, under the style of the Fishing creek church.

The following year, 1784, Upton's creek church was constituted. This was situated in the lower part of Wilkes, and went by the name of Upton's creek for some time, but upon building a new and convenient meeting-house some miles below, in a pine wood, surrounded by evergreens, it received the style of Greenwood, by which it is still known. By whom this church was founded we know not, but doubtless it was constituted of members from the Kiokee church, and formed under her auspices. Here the Rev. Peter Smith was settled soon after the war closed, and it is altogether probable that he was instrumental in the formation of the church. He was the first pastor. In a short time, however, Mr. Smith removed to the State of Ohio, where he ended his earthly career.

These were the churches in the State when the Georgia

 

  page 14  
Baptist Association was organized, and it would seem, were the constituent members of the body.

 

INCREASE OF THE DENOMINATION.

Soon after the close of the revolutionary war, the Baptist ministers began to extend their labors into the regions around them, which were rapidly settling up. The Lord gave them great success, so that the increase of the denomination has been almost unparalleled. In general, this increase has been gradual. Yet, as in other countries, the people of God in Georgia have experienced seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The first great and general revival of which we have any account remaining, was as early as 1802, during which about seven hundred were baptized in the Georgia Association. The heralds of the cross who reaped this harvest were doubtless extraordinary men. They preached because a stern necessity was upon them. They could not live contentedly without warning sinners to flee from the wrath to come. The idea of gain did not seem to enter their minds--the good of souls impelled them to labor. In most cases, the infant churches (recently sprung up in what was then a wilderness) were unable to do anything towards the support of the ministry. These zealous servants of the Lord supported themselves by their own labor--and yet went everywhere preaching the word. They delivered their message in private dwellings, in log meeting-houses, or under the forest trees, as God gave them opportunity. But wherever they went, the Lord went with them, and multitudes were born into Zion.

In 1812-'13, a great work was carried on by the Holy Spirit. Over twelve hundred were baptized in the Sarepta Association. Many dated their awakenings from the shocks of earthquakes felt in 1812. The Lord's ways are not as our ways.

The late war with Great Britain had an unhappy influence on the prosperity of our churches. With this painful subject the public mind was engrossed; and though a blessed work of grace was experienced along the seaboard in 1822-'23, yet no general refreshing was experienced until 1827, when the most remarkable and memorable revival broke out in Eatonton, that has

 

  page 15  
ever blessed the churches in this State. Upwards of fourteen thousand were brought in during its progress. In only three associations, (the Georgia, Ocmulgee and Flint river,) over five thousand were reported in 1828 as having been baptized during the associational year. An impulse was then received by the denomination which has not been, and perhaps will never be, lost. The cause has been onward and upward--not only onward in the increase of its members, but upward in their improvement in every good work, in education, missions, etc.

 

The following estimates, taken from authentic sources, will give some idea of the rapid increase of the denomination. In 1825 there were ten associations, two hundred and sixty churches, one hundred and thirty-three ordained and licensed preachers, and eighteen thousand four hundred and eighty-four members. In 1829, there were three hundred and fifty-six churches, sixty-six of which were constituted in the two latter years, about two hundred ministers, and twenty-eight thousand two hundred and sixty-eight communicants. In 1835, there were twenty-one associations, five hundred and eighty-three churches, two hundred and ninety-eight ministers, and forty-one thousand eight hundred and ten members. And now in 1845, there are forty-six associations, four hundred and sixty-four ministers, nine hundred and seventy-one churches, and fifty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-eight communicants. As will be seen, when we come to notice the associations separately, there are some churches belonging to several of these bodies in the adjoining States. But it is believed the above estimates give as correct an idea of the real strength of the Baptists in Georgia as could be expected on such a subject. In 1860 there were eighty-six thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight members, and in 1873 about one hundred and sixty thousand members.1. The denomination is stronger in Georgia by twenty thousand, than in any other State in the Union, and stronger by twenty-five thousand than all other denominations in this State combined.

Part 3

 

  page 16  
BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS.

MISSIONS, EDUCATION, TEMPERANCE SOCIETIES, SUNDAY-SCHOOLS,
ETC.

As all these objects are nearly akin, it is thought proper to connect them together in this sketch of the Baptists in Georgia. The first two ministers that ever constituted churches in this State were friends of missions and education, to wit., Daniel Marshall and Edmund Botsford. Both acted as missionaries--one as a foreign, the other as a domestic missionary. Marshall's flaming zeal carried him to the Mohawk Indians--Botsford traversed the wilderness from Ebenezer, near Savannah, to Kiokee, above Augusta, to bear the glad tidings to his neighbors, who were "perishing for lack of knowledge." () Abraham Marshall spent a great portion of his life as a traveling preacher, (a domestic missionary,) and was untiring in his efforts, with his brethren of the General Committee, in favor of missions and education. He educated both his sons at Franklin College, Athens, and in 1815 preached a sermon before the trustees of that institution, in which he distinctly urges the importance of ministerial education. (See his biography.) In 1793, Silas Mercer established a classical school on his own premises, and continued it until his death in 1796. Here his own son, Jesse Mercer, then a married man and an ordained minister, pursued a course of study in the languages, which he had commenced with Rev. Mr. Springer two years before. In 1805, at Bark Camp, A. Marshall reports that they had petitioned the Legislature for a charter of a college, but without success. In 1805 the circular of the Georgia Association, by Jesse Mercer, notices some of the objections and fears entertained by some in regard to the General Committee. Some feared that one object of the body was to commune with pœdo-Baptists--others, that they aimed to establish religion by law--and others, that they intended to have a learned ministry only. These are most triumphantly refuted.

In about 1806 the "Mount Enon Academy" (a literary and theological school,) was opened, and was continued some five or six years. It had funds, supposed to be worth some three or four thousand dollars, and for a short time enjoyed some

 

  page 17  
prosperity under Mr. Thomas H. Dixon, and subsequently under Rev. C. O. Screven. But from causes unknown to the writer, it was finally abandoned. No systematic plan for educational purposes was attempted for several years. But even during this period, the cause. of education found many warm friends among our people in this State. In proof of this, it need only be mentioned that some $20,000 were drawn hence for the Columbian College, District of Columbia.

 

In 1813 the Savannah River Association formed a standing committee for domestic missions. In 1814 the Georgia Association, after having read the minutes of a mission society in Savannah, recommended those friendly to unite in forming a similar body at Powelton. Accordingly, in May, 1815, a large society was formed, and had the next year in its treasury $483 433/4. In 1816, the committee raised for the purpose the preceding year, reported rules touching the grand missionary design--twelve trustees were chosen, called "The Mission Board of the Georgia Association." This board had existence till 1825, when the business was turned over to the State Convention. In 1816-'17 the Ocmulgee Mission Society was organized, and one in the Sarepta, perhaps a year earlier. Similar movements in favor of this object were made in the Sarepta and Ebenezer Associations about this time.

In 1819, Rev. F. Flournoy was appointed agent to the Creek Nation of Indians to consult in regard to a school, and in 1820 the plan for Indian reform was formed, and was to be under the direction of the Ocmulgee, Georgia and Ebenezer Associations. In 1821, the Ocmulgee appointed delegates to aid in forming the General Association, which was done at Powelton, Hancock county, in June, 1822. In the same year the mission society of said Ocmulgee Association was voted to be incorporated by a unanimous vote. Strange, that now, in 1874, that association is anti-missionary! But so it is.

The above, though nothing but a brief sketch, would seem to be sufficient to prove as clearly as that the sun produces light, that the Baptists in this State, as a people, have always been friendly to ministerial education, missions, etc. And yet it is doubted by many at home and abroad.

The Temperance Cause is believed to have found its first

 

 

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friends and advocates among the Baptists. The first society formed in the State was at Eatonton, and was suggested by Deacon Thomas Cooper and Rev. A. Sherwood, D. D., now of St. Louis. A State Temperance Society held its anniversary for several years in connection with the sessions of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Afterwards it was located in Milledgeville, and was held during the sittings of the Legislature.

 

On the subject of Sabbath-schools, we will treat at large in our notices of the State Convention, Associations, etc.

BAPTIST CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA.

The suggestion for the formation of this body appeared in the minutes of the Sarepta Association, of October, 1820. The resolution was drawn by Rev. A. Sherwood, and presented by Charles J. Jenkins, father of ex-Governor Jenkins: "Resolved, that we suggest for our consideration, and respectfully that of sister associations in this State, the propriety of organizing a general meeting of correspondence." The original resolution was: "Resolved, that we suggest to sister associations in this State," etc. The Ocmulgee, being earliest in session the next year, approved the object of the suggestion, and appointed messengers to meet such as might be sent by other associations. The Georgia, which met in October, also appointed messengers, named Powelton as the place of the first meeting, and June succeeding, 1822, as the time. The Sarepta, however, at her very next session, resolved that she saw no need for any such meeting!

1. In June, 1822, messengers from the Georgia and Ocmulgee met and agreed on a constitution, in which the body was styled "The General Association," and to be composed of delegates from such associations as chose to unite.

ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION.

1. This body is constituted upon those principles of christian faith exhibited in scripture, generally acknowledged and received in the Baptist denomination.

2. The constituents of this body are the Baptist associations in the State of Georgia, or as many of them as may think

 

  page 19  
proper to accede to the terms of this Convention; and also two delegates from such auxiliary societies as contribute annually to our funds, whose constitutions may be approved.

 

3. It shall be known and distinguished by the name of "The Baptist Convention for the State of Georgia," and shall form the organ of general communication for the denomination throughout the State.

4. Each association may send not less than five, and not more than eight delegates, to represent them in this body; and all delegates shall hold their appointments until others are elected to succeed them.

5. The officers of this union shall be a moderator, a clerk and assistant clerk, and a treasurer, who shall be appointed by ballot at each annual meeting, and shall form a committee of the body during the recess of the meeting; but this committee may be increased as occasion may require; and have authority to fill any vacancies which may happen, and also that of the treasurer.

6. The moderator shall perform the same duties that devolve on moderators in the several associations, and in addition to this, shall be authorized to call meetings of the committee in the interval of annual meetings, should he deem it expedient.

7. The clerk shall enter in a book, all the of this body. The assistant clerk shall take charge of all distant communications, to or from this body, and shall write all the letters which it may require.

8. The treasure shall take charge of all the moneys, specialties, and property of all kinds, belonging to the body--give sufficient security for the amount in his hands--report the state of the funds from time to time, as the Convention may direct--and hand over to his successor in office all its moneys, property, etc.

9. Questions of difficulty may be referred from any of the individual associations, to the deliberation and advice of this body.

10. The acts and proceedings of this body shall be submitted, from time to time, to its constituents for inspection; and none of its decisions shall be binding on the associations or auxiliaries.

 

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11. The following are the specific objects of this body, viz: 1. To unite the influence and pious intelligence of Georgia Baptists, and thereby to facilitate their union and co-operation. 2. To form and encourage plans for the revival of experimental and practical religion in the State and elsewhere. 3. To aid in giving effect to the useful plans of the several associations. 4. To afford an opportunity to those who may conscientiously think it their duty to form a fund for the education of pious young men, who may be called by the Spirit and their churches to the christian ministry. 5. To correspond with bodies of other religious denominations, on topics of general interest to the Redeemer's kingdom, and to promote pious and useful education in the Baptist denomination.

12. It shall have power to form rules, make arrangements, and appoint committees for the accomplishment of any and all the above projects: Provided, none of these rules and arrangements shall be inconsistent with the scriptures and the known principles of the associations.

13. Two-thirds of the whole number of delegates shall form a quorum, and a majority shall decide a question.

14. When its funds will justify it, this body may send delegates to the General Convention of our denomination in the United States.

15. The above constitution shall be liable to amendment or alteration, by two-thirds of the delegates present: Provided, the change may have been proposed by a member of the convention at the preceding meeting.

2. In 1823 the session was again in Powelton. The Sarepta sent corresponding messengers. Several subjects of importance engaged the attention of the body: practical religion, weekly meetings, Sabbath schools, observance of the Sabbath, etc. Rev. W. T. Brantly, Sr., and A. Sherwood preached on the Sabbath.

3. The meeting for 1824 was at Eatonton, in April. The Sunbury Association, having approved the constitution, became a member of the Union. Letters from distinguished brethren in various parts of the United States, in answer to the correspondence of the clerk, touching a uniform system of doctrine

 

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and discipline, were read. All the associations in the State were invited to take up the subject; but the scheme was abandoned, after an ineffectual effort.

 

4. The session of 1825 was also at Eatonton. The Yellow River Association, having been formed the preceding year, appointed five corresponding messengers, of whom only Rev. Joel Colley attended. Rev. Jesse Mercer read an exposition of the twelfth chapter of Revelation, and an essay on the permanent officers in a church, was read by Rev. Henry J. Ripley, now professor in Newton Theological Institution. The dissertation read last year by Rev. A. Sherwood, and his introductory sermon of this session, with Mr. Mercer's exposition, were ordered to be printed. The agents had brought in $67, and after Mr. Mercer's mission sermon on the Sabbath, $218 were collected. Rev. William B. Johnson of South Carolina was present and preached at this session. John M. Gray was appointed general agent.

5. Augusta entertained the body in 1826. By an amendment of the constitution, auxiliary societies were allowed to send delegates. The Hephzibah auxiliary sent J. Key and J. H. T. Kilpatrick. The Georgia and Ocmulgee Associations transferred their funds to this body, that it might conduct the business of missions, etc., amounting to $857,071/2 from the former, and $107 from the latter. "Rules for interpreting scripture," and an "Essay on a call to the ministry," by W. T. Brantly and I. L. Brookes, were read and ordered to be printed in the Columbian Star. J. Toole, and indigent young minister, who had been studying under Mr. Brantly in Augusta, was adopted by the Convention, and money appropriated for his support. He afterwards prosecuted his studies with Rev. James Shannon, who succeeded to the pastoral care of the Augusta church upon the removal of Rev. Dr. Brantly to Philadelphia.

6. The sixth session was at Washington, in April, 1827. The Flint River auxiliary was admitted as a constituent: John Reeves and Benjamin Willson, messengers. Fifty dollars were appropriated for theological works for indigent ministers, and J. Toole and Thomas Walsh (lately a Methodist) were beneficiaries.

7. In May, 1828, the body convened at Monticello. New auxiliary

 

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societies were represented--the Sarepta by Jeremiah Reeves and Thomas Walsh, and the Yellow River by B. H. Willson and J. Travis. The name of the body was changed to "Convention." An essay on the talents mentioned by Matthew, was read by Rev. Mr. Kilpatrick, and ordered to be printed in the Star. The Eatonton church proposed to furnish instruction by its pastor, Rev. A. Sherwood, to all young ministers who desired to improve their minds, and also board--provided the Convention would supply as much as the church's present contribution. One young brother was examined and sent to Eatonton, and the next year two others were sent to the same place. "Rules to regulate the reception of beneficiaries" were adopted at this session.

 

8. The eighth anniversary was held at Milledgeville, in March, 1829. Rev. B. M. Sanders' exposition of Matthew, eleventh chapter and twelfth verse, was read and directed to be printed, and Rev. Mr. Mercer's "prerequisites to ordination," to be published in the minutes. Mr. Josiah Penfield (late of Savannah) had bequeathed to the Convention $2,500 as the basis of a permanent fund for the purposes of theological education, to be paid on condition that a like sum should be raised by the body for the same object. Our people had not been accustomed to pay large sums, and it was considered a happy circumstance that notes were promptly given by responsible persons to the amount of $2,500, the sum required to be made up. This may be considered an epoch in our history in Georgia, for an impulse was then given to the cause of ministerial improvement, which has already resulted in incalculable good, and which it is believed will be felt for ages yet to come. Already has this small beginning been augmented to near $200,000. In Savannah, where he lived, and labored, and died, the name of Penfield will be long held in sacred remembrance; and among the Baptists of this State he will ever be regarded as a benefactor of God's people.

Pike county auxiliary society was received at this session.

9. The Convention in 1830 was held at Bethesda church, Greene, county. New auxiliaries joined--McDonough and Rocky creek, in Laurens. The labors of several missionaries, employed a portion of the previous year, amounted to more

 

  page 23  
than two years' service of one man. Many valuable theological works had been distributed among our indigent ministers, whose libraries had been thereby greatly improved. From year to year there was a slow, but perceptible and profitable, improvement in our ministry. Several essays and sermons, all bearing on this important subject, were ordered to be printed for gratuitous circulation. Thus that mighty engine, the press, was doing its work to aid in rousing the energies of our people in favor of this object. And all this was necessary: for during several preceding years, the Convention was compelled to bear up against most formidable opposition, in the objections of many influential ministers and laymen. Dissatisfaction and disaffection were increasing and spreading to the remotest parts of the State; and were shown more violently by some who had formerly been its professed friends, than by any others. This opposition was fast tending to a crisis.

 

10. Buck-head church in Burke county received and entertained the body in 1831. Several new auxiliaries joined: Lagrange, Jasper and Putnam county societies. The following important resolution was passed with great unanimity, viz: " Resolved, that as soon as the funds will justify it, this convention will establish, in some central part of the State a classical and theological school," to be connected with manual labor, and those preparing for the ministry only to be admitted. This resolution was not suffered to die without being carried into effect--for though a site was not purchased until the following year, yet it was only because the committee to whom this matter was confided could not find an eligible location. Rev. A. Sherwood, with his characteristic decision and energy, agreed to raise by subscription $1,500 for the purchase of lands, etc. This engagement was faithfully fulfilled and the amount raised.

While education, particularly the education of the ministry, was thus engaging much of the attention of the Baptists in this State, the cause of missions was by no means overlooked. On the contrary, the streams of benevolence in this respect were widening and deepening every year, and these were pouring forth the blessings of the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.

It was announced that the Ocmulgee Association had withdrawn

 

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from the Convention; also, that the Convention had been incorporated by the Legislature.

 

11. Powelton, Hancock county, was the seat of the session in 1832. Auxiliary societies were admitted from Morgan and Gwinnett counties, and from the Chattahoochee and Tugalo Associations. Brethren Campbell, Lumpkin and Kilpatrick preached on the Sabbath. Mr. Lumpkin's sermon, on ministerial education, was ordered to be printed. Beneficiaries were reported as being under instruction at Athens, Crawfordville, Gainesville , Ruckersville, and under Rev. Mr. Sherwood near Eatonton--eight in all. This was a season of mourning and distress on account of the recent death of Rev. Jabez P. Marshall. The plan of a manual labor school, to be called "Mercer Institute," was adopted, and the site, (now called Penfield, in honor of the late Josiah Penfield of Savannah, Georgia,) seven miles north of Greensboro' in Greene county, was selected.

12. The session for 1833 was at McDonough in Henry county. The attendance was very numerous, and the deepest interest manifested by all in the proceedings of the Convention. Rev. A. Sherwood's introductory discourse was ordered to be printed, as also, Mr. Mercer's dissertation on "Resemblances and differences between associational and church authority." While strong opposition had shown itself in various parts of the State, still it was evident that the body was rapidly growing in public confidence and favor. At the close of the session, Mr. Sherwood, who had served as clerk for ten years, resigned.

13. In 1834, the body met at Indian creek church, Morgan county. New auxiliaries were received from Athens, and Talbot, and Walton counties. Jesse Mercer, N. W. Hodges of S. C., and James Shannon, preached on the Sabbath. Mr. Mercer's discourse on ministerial education was ordered to be printed. Recommended the organization of a Baptist Sunday-school Union for the State. The Manual Labor School at Penfield was reported to be in a prosperous condition, having about eighty pupils--five of whom were looking forward to the gospel ministry. A gracious revival had been experienced during the year, when some thirty of the pupils were baptized. The "Mercer Institute," from its commencement, had been under Rev. Billington M. Sanders as principal, than whom a

 

  page 25  
more laborious and indefatigable instructor perhaps never lived. He continued in this position seven years.

 

14. The session of 1835 was at Shiloh church, Greene county. Introductory sermon by Rev. J. H. Campbell. The Georgia Association was the only association belonging to the Convention. It was made up mostly of auxiliary societies in different parts of the State. This session the Central Association joined, being represented by Thomas Cooper, James Evans, John E. Dawson, Jesse Travis, Lot Hearn, J. H. Campbell and William Hearn. The following auxiliary societies also joined: Twiggs county, Putnam county, Mercer University, Newton county, Mountain creek, in Harris county, Island Ford, in Gwinnett county. Letters were received from the south western part of the State, "entreating that brother Everett be continued as a missionary in that section of the country." Agreed to endeavor to raise $3,000 during next year for foreign missions. Resolutions were adopted in favor of the religious instruction of our colored population. A package of tracts in Burmese was received from brother Simons, our missionary in Burmah. Agreed that the constitution as amended, be printed in connection with the minutes.

15. The fifteenth meeting was at Talbotton in 1836. New auxiliaries: Sarepta, Meriwether, Upson, Bibb, Coweta and Heard county, and Piney Grove Society. A plan for a Southern Baptist college was presented in a report, and the names of fifty persons, from among whom trustees should be selected by the executive committee of the Convention. During the preceding year the body had pledged itself to endeavor to raise $3,000 for foreign missions. But it was ascertained at this session that she had more than redeemed her pledge--$5,712 17 having been sent up for this object alone. It was resolved to attempt to raise $10,000 next year, but owing to the reverse in the pecuniary affairs of the country, this attempt was a failure in part.

It may be proper to state that the "Southern Baptist College" was suggested at Washington, Wilkes county, in the spring of 1835, and some $10,000 subscribed in that county alone for the object. By this time over $35,000 had been subscribed, and the Central Association had resolved to raise $20,000

 

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for the endowment of a theological professorship, etc. In the fall of 1836, a charter was obtained and the trustees appointed. These trustees met at Athens, in August, 1837, and though about $100,000 had been subscribed, strong objections were made to Washington as the site. The project was abandoned with reference to that place, and the executive committee were requested to endeavor to carry out the main design, if practicable, at some other place. The Central Association soon held a session at Madison, and recommended the raising up of "Mercer Institute" into a college. The agents then went to work with the subscribers, to prevail upon them to change the direction of their subscriptions in favor of Penfield. In this they were generally successful. In December, 1837, the powers of the executive committee of the Convention were so enlarged by the Legislature that they could establish a college and confer degrees. In May, 1838, the Convention chose new trustees and appointed the first meeting of that board to be on the 10th of July ensuing. " Mercer University" was the name given to the institution, in honor of Rev. Jesse Mercer.

 

16. The anniversary for 1837 was held at Ruckersville, in Elbert county. The Hephzibah, Apalachee  and Mountain Associations became component members, and new auxiliary societies (Bethel and Monroe counties) were received. The interest of this session was greatly enhanced by the ordination of Edward A. Stevens, of the Sunbury church, as a missionary to the East. He had but recently finished his theological course at Newton, Mass., and been accepted by the Board of Foreign Missions, and was the first native Georgian who had been destined to labor among the heathen of the Eastern world. The amount for foreign missions received during the year was $6,215 20. Funds in the hands of treasurer for education of ministers, building, etc., $21,562 60, besides lands and improvements at Penfield and subscriptions for "Mercer University."

17. The 17th session was held at Monroe, Walton county, in 1838. Washington Mission Society was received. The college charter was approved and appended to the minutes. Messengers were in attendance from South Carolina Baptist Convention. A catechism for Sabbath-schools, prepared by teachers of the Sunday-schools in Augusta, Ga., was favorably noticed.

 

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The following notice was taken of the American and Foreign Bible Society:

 

The committee appointed to report a resolution with respect to the American and Foreign Bible Society have had the subject under consideration, and feel deeply impressed with the idea of the importance of the institution. An effort to give the Bible, faithfully translated, to the world, is no common undertaking, and should, in the view of the committee, draw forth the best feelings and engage the most cordial co-operation of all christians. Therefore,

Resolved, That we have entire confidence in the board of managers of this society; that we approve its objects, and that we request our brethren generally, so far as they have opportunity, to contribute to its funds.

Amount received for foreign missions and kindred objects, $5,334 831/2.

18. In 1839 the body convened at Richland, Twiggs county. New constituents: Columbus and Rehoboth Associations. At the request of "Cave Spring Manual Labor School," in Floyd county, a committee was appointed to confer with the trustees on the interests of said school. The Mercer University was reported to be in successful operation, with ninety-five students in the two departments. Upwards of $5,000 were sent up to the session for the various objects of the Convention, and the whole amount in the hands of the treasurer, about $28,000. Sixty-one delegates, from various associations and societies, composed the body, with a congregation of between three and four thousand in attendance.

19. Rev. Asa Chandler delivered the introductory discourse to the nineteenth anniversary, at Penfield, May 1st, 1840. Jesse Mercer was re-elected moderator, J. E. Dawson clerk, and C. D. Mallary assistant clerk. The Christian Index, (with printing press, dues, etc.,) was received as a donation from Rev. Jesse Mercer. After considerable discussion, the offer was accepted "without a dissenting voice," and resolutions adopted expressive of the gratitude of the Convention to the reverend donor for his generosity. The printing office and house was worth some $2,000--some $3,000 due the concern--about $1,000, money advanced for the office, he discounted in favor of the

 

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Convention--and furnished the office with a new font of type worth $500. The usual objects claiming the attention of the body are gaining ground in the estimation and charity of the denomination.

 

20. The delegates who formed the session of 1841 met at Thomaston, Upson county. Introductory by Rev. Albert Williams. Rev. B. M. Sanders, moderator, in place of Jesse Mercer, who had been called to his home on high during the previous year. In his death, the Baptists have sustained perhaps the greatest loss they had ever experienced in the State. Dr. Curtis, an Englishman, pastor of the church in Macon, delivered the sermon on education, on Sabbath--a rare production. No business of extraordinary interest transacted.

21. The session at LaGrange, Troup county, in 1842, was very numerously attended. Rev. J. H. Campbell introduced the meeting by a sermon from 2 Cor., v. 14: "For the love of Christ constraineth us." The Flint river and Western Associations were received as constituent members. The trustees of Mercer University held a session during the recess. Some differences which had existed among them were adjusted, and peace once more reigned. B. M. Sanders was moderator, W. H. Stokes clerk, V. R. Thornton assistant clerk. The interests of "Hearn Manual Labor School" excited much attention. J. H. Campbell proposed a plan for its relief, which was finally successful. The management of the female school at Penfield excited some unpleasant discussion in this meeting.

22. The Convention was at Madison in 1843. Introductory by S. G. Hillyer. B. M. Sanders president, W. H. Stokes secretary, and V. R. Thornton assistant secretary. The body was composed of delegates from thirteen associations and three auxiliary societies. The Bethel Association joined here. Isaac McCoy, (missionary to the Indians,) J. S. C. F. Frey, the Jew, and Rev. William B. Johnson, were in attendance; also, J. G. Binney, late pastor of Savannah church, and now under appointment as a missionary to Burmah. Eight domestic missionaries have been sustained more or less of their time, and the same number of beneficiaries are under instruction in Mercer University. The Convention became auxiliary to the American Indian Mission Association, (much interest having been excited

 

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therein by Rev. I. McCoy, their agent,) and appointed H. Posey and E. Dyer to attend as messengers. In the adjournment, the parting hand was given to brother Binney and his wife, whose faces were expected to be seen no more by the members of this body--a most touching scene!

 

23. The twenty-third anniversary was at Cave Spring, in Floyd county, in 1844. Owing to the remoteness of the situation, the attendance was not as numerous as usual, yet it was quite respectable. B. M. Sanders moderator, Thomas Stocks clerk. Besides the ordinary transactions, (which show the body in a prosperous condition,) arrangements were made to take possession of "Hearn Manual Labor School," voluntarily offered to this body by its board of trustees. A most valuable situation for a school is thus secured to the denomination, believed to be worth twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars. "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us!"

ROUGH ESTIMATE OF DOMESTIC MISSIONARY LABOR, ETC., PERFORMED
BY THOSE EMPLOYED BY THE CONVENTION.

The missionaries have performed about eighteen years' labor in destitute parts of the State, i. e., their services have amounted to the labors of one man for that time. This is a very low estimate--probably twenty-three or twenty-four years would be nearer the truth. They established the first churches in the bounds of the Western Association, in Troup and contiguous counties, out of which that body was formed in November, 1829. The principal missionaries in that region were James Reeves and John Wood. In Cherokee country, too, the first churches were gathered by brethren in the employ of the Convention, of whom Jeremiah Reeves, Phillips and Pearson were prominent. Several of those in Randolph, Lee, etc., in the Bethel Association, were gathered by the labors of Travis Everett, another missionary.

These evangelists have circulated bibles, religious books and tracts in great numbers. Much gratuitous service on behalf of the body has also been performed, in order to remove prejudice and stir up the churches to practical godliness. Many indigent ministers have been furnished with libraries, and others have received from the Convention valuable additions to their religious

 

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reading. Upwards of forty young ministers have been aided, more or less, in their education by the charity of the body. And many thousands of dollars have been sent far hence to heathen lands, to aid in sustaining a living ministry and diffusing abroad the Word of Life. Without the means of ascertaining the precise amount, it is believed that not less than $40,000 have passed through the treasury for the foreign mission cause alone.

 

24. In regard to the session of this body for 1845, the author is dependent on his memory, having failed to obtain a copy of the minutes. He remembers that it was held at Forsyth; that it was largely attended by both delegates and visitors, and that Sanders was moderator and Mell, clerk. Dr. Burrows, then of Philadelphia, now of Richmond, was present, also Isaac McCoy, missionary to the Indians, through whose efforts a deep interest was awakened in favor of that long neglected and much injured race. It was agreed to continue correspondence with the American Indian Mission Association, and Rev. V. R. Thornton was appointed a messenger. This association was organized to remedy, in some measure, the neglect with which those tribes which held slaves were being treated by the Northern boards. Isaac McCoy was one of the most devoted and useful missionaries of modern times. His whole soul seemed to be absorbed in the welfare of the poor Indians.

25. The Convention met in Macon in May, 1846. The introductory sermon was preached by Rev. Josiah S. Law, and was a masterly effort. The same brother subsequently read an "Essay on the Religious Instruction of the Colored Race among us," for which a vote of thanks was tendered to him, and the essay ordered to be published, as was also his sermon. The clerk was instructed "to print in the minutes the names and post-offices of all the ministers of the Baptist denomination in the State," occupying seven pages. This record was renewed eighteen years in succession. The utility of such publication, made annually, is not entirely apparent to the author. The executive committee reported that the domestic missions under their supervision were in a prosperous condition: E. Hedden in Cherokee Georgia, and David Ryals in Tattnall and Irwin counties. Said committee had recommended to the Marion

 

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Board, James Huckins and W. M. Tryon as missionaries in Texas, under the assurance that liberal contributions for their support would be forthcoming from Georgia. They were appointed, and were among the most useful men who ever preached in the "Lone Star State." Tryon soon fell at his post. Huckins finally left Texas, and became pastor of a church in Charleston, S. C., where he fell a martyr to the cause of the South, having died suddenly from over-exertion in attending to our wounded and dying soldiers during the late war. His opposition to Abolitionism drove him from New England, of which he was a native, about thirty years ago. "Hearn Manual Labor School" is noticed in the minutes of this session, but as it is designed to give a separate history of that institution, the author will not allude to it further in the history of the Convention.

 

26. The session for 1847 was held in the city of Savannah. Introductory by Rev. A. T. Holmes, and the education sermon by J. L. Reynolds, then residing in Virginia. Dr. Shaver, of that State, now editor of the "Christian Index," was in attendance, also R. Holman, of Alabama, and R. Furman, of South Carolina. The Southern Baptist Publication Society was organized at this meeting. The project originated with the author of this work. Other brethren joined him in a call for the meeting in Savannah. Said meeting was attended by delegates from several Southern States, and the society was constituted under favorable auspices. Its headquarters were established at Charleston, S. C. Twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars, first and last, were raised to sustain it, and a number of valuable works (among which was "Soul Prosperity," by ) were issued by it; and finally it died--why, or how, the author has never been able to ascertain. Rev. A. M. Poindexter and Rev. J. P. Tustin were its general agents for several years, and prosecuted their agency with great energy. They were succeeded, if the writer's recollection is not at fault, by Mr. J. J. Toon, recently proprietor of the "Christian Index." The society maintained a sort of ephemeral existence until the commencement of the late war, when it seems to have died intestate. What became of its assets, if it had any, is a mystery which yet remains to be solved.

 

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The boards of the Southern Baptist Convention held a meeting during this session, Rev. W. B. Johnson, D. D., of South Carolina, in the chair.

The death of Rev. Humphrey Posey, James Lunsford and Joseph Ross were noticed in appropriate terms.

The body listened to an interesting verbal report from Rev. David Ryals, then missionary in Appling county and regions adjacent, and adopted measures, at his request, to secure a colaborer with him in that destitute field. David Ryals was a sound and impressive preacher, a devoted and highly successful missionary, and one of the most godly and pure-minded men the writer has ever known. Sermons delivered by Revs. A. T. Holmes and J. L. Reynolds were requested for publication.

27. The Convention assembled in Griffin, May 5th, 1848. The introductory sermon, by Rev. V. R. Thornton, from Eph. i. 22, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church," was a discourse remarkable for its clearness, depth and power. As a gospel preacher--particularly as a doctrinal preacher--the writer has never heard Thornton's equal.

Hon. Thomas Stocks, who had been elected moderator the previous year in Savannah, was re-elected to preside over the body, and was continued in the chair until the session in Augusta, 1847, when he declined a re-election. Rev. P. H. Mell was elected clerk, and C. M. Irvin assistant clerk. Correspondents were present as follows: From Virginia, J. B. Taylor; from Alabama, R. Holman; from South Carolina, M. T. Mendenhall and R. Furman, and A. D. Cohen, agent for the American Society for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews. Rev. Mr. Parsons and Rev. Mr. Safford, Presbyterians, also took seats on the floor of the Convention. It was the custom in those days to invite ministers of other evangelical denominations to seats with the body.

The Southern Baptist Publication Society again held a meeting during the recess of the Convention.

Rev. C. D. Mallary read a most interesting and powerful document on Sunday-schools, which was afterwards published by the Southern Baptist Publication Society.

The Marietta church applied for aid in completing their meeting-house,

 

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which was granted, "so soon as the state of the general purpose fund will warrant such appropriation." The executive committee soon paid them one hundred dollars.

 

Rev. A. D. Cohen, a converted Jew, was invited to address the body in favor of the American Society for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews. Much interest was manifested in regard to the "Christian Index," a report was made on the subject, and the following resolution was adopted: "That the improvement and increased circulation of the 'Christian Index' demand the immediate and prayerful consideration of this convention." Under the direction of the executive committee, domestic missions were being vigorously and successfully prosecuted in different parts of the State. Rev. D. G. Daniell was at work in Atlanta, preaching, and having a meeting-house built for the use of an infant church of twenty members, recently constituted. Ryals was still sowing the good seed of the kingdom in Telfair, Appling and adjacent counties, assisted by Sauls. Duggan was doing likewise in Montgomery county and other portions of the pine regions. Bibles and religious books were furnished to those missionaries, which they scattered in their fields of labor. These were some of the means employed by the Convention in those days for the promotion of the good cause in Georgia. The blessing of God attended them, and glorious were the triumphs of truth.

28. The session for 1849 was held at Athens, commencing May 18th. Introductory by Rev. C. D. Mallary. Stocks continued as moderator, and Mell as clerk. Visiting ministers, who took seats with the Convention, J. S. Baker, B. Manly, Jr., of Alabama, Drs. Hoyt and Church, of the Presbyterian church, Magill, of the Congregational, and Boring and Key, of the Methodist. Correspondents were present as follows: A. M. Poindexter, (then corresponding secretary of the Southern Baptist Publication Society, from South Carolina Baptist Convention; Mendenhall, Boyce, Cuthbert, Ball and others. Ball was announced as general agent of the Richmond Board for Georgia.

The trustees of Mercer University were instructed "to fix terms of scholarship, single, perpetual and family." It was stated, on good authority, "that out of the whole number of

 

 

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students graduated at Mercer, there is not one who is not either engaged in some useful and honorable employment, or diligently preparing to be thus engaged."

 

Regret was expressed that the patronage of the Female Seminary at Penfield was so limited.

Rev. J. S. Baker had resigned the editorship of the "Christian Index," and B. M. Sanders was conducting it témporarily. A select committee suggested its removal "to Macon, Atlanta or elsewhere."

Mr. J. E. Willett had been elected Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in Mercer University. The trustees never made a better appointment.

Peter Northen, one of the best of men, and a competent and faithful officer, was re-elected treasurer of the convention. He has since gone to his reward in heaven.

29. Marietta was the place of meeting in 1850. The opening sermon was delivered by Rev. Robert Fleming, and the education sermon on Sabbath by W. H. Stokes. The old officers continued.

The Middle Cherokee Association and the Middle Association were received as constituents.

An application for membership from a missionary society formed in Griffin Baptist church was at first rejected, but the rejection was reconsidered and the subject referred to a special committee, (of which the wise and venerable ex-Governor Wilson Lumpkin was chairman,) who recommended its reception, and such a change in the constitution "as hereafter to exclude all auxiliary societies from direct representation in this convention." The author doubts seriously whether a money basis. upon which auxiliary societies obtain representation, is entirely consistent with Baptist principles.

"General Duff Green, by permission, made some remarks on the subject of education, and closed with an offer to this body of twenty thousand dollars to endow two institutions, a male and a female, at Dalton, provided others will contribute twenty thousand dollars more." This proposal was referred to a committee, of which Rev. J. S. Baker was chairman, who subsequently reported: "The objects of this society, however, (the one represented by General Green,) are so multifarious, and

 

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their accomplishment depends on so many contingencies, that this Convention, at its present session, cannot act understandingly upon them;" which report was adopted. The speech of General Green was characteristic, and will not likely ever be forgotten by those who heard it.

 

A legacy of eight hundred dollars, "for the support and promulgation of the gospel," from the estate of John Turner, of Upson county, was secured to this body, and paid over by Rev. A. T. Holmes, Jacob King and others.

The committee on publications, of which T. U. Wilkes was chairman, after recommending several publications, say: "Last of all, and above all, we recommend the Book--the Bible--the composition of the Holy Ghost, the word of the living and only true God, which is able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus."

The trustees reported that they were still adding improvements to the buildings and campus of Mercer University. Nothing further, out of the ordinary routine of business, transpired at this session, if we may except a proposition emanating from Griffin and advocated by Rev. V. A. Gaskill, to remove Mercer University to that city, which elicited much warm discussion, and which was rejected.

30. According to appointment, the Convention assembled at Perry, Houston county, May 23d, 1851. The introductory sermon by N. M. Crawford, and that on ministerial education by J. E. Dawson.

A communication from the Georgia Association was received, requesting the Convention "to recommend a proper catechism for the religious instruction of our families." Referred to a special committee, who reported a recommendation that a committee be appointed to suggest some work of the kind which our people may be willing to adopt. W. H. Stokes was appointed chairman of that committee.

From the report of the special committee on the report of the trustees of Mercer University, the following sentence is extracted: "The official term of the board of trustees expiring with this session, your committee cannot forbear to express their unfeigned admiration on the review of their faithful discharge of the obligations, their prudent management of the interests,

 

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and their enlightened and noble designings of the enterprise committed to their care." This is only one of many similar records made by the Convention concerning not only the board of trustees, but also the executive committee.

 

Reports on missions, Sunday-schools, etc., were all encouraging, and the following resolution, offered by Rev. Joseph Polhill, on the subject of schools, was adopted: "That it is cause of rejoicing to us that so many seminaries, for the education of males and females, have sprung into existence and are sustained under Baptist influence; that these seminaries are important agencies for the advancement of the Baptist cause and the progress of truth; that in view of these facts, our brethren be affectionately but earnestly requested to educate their children at these institutions."

Mr. Dawson's sermon on education, preached on Sunday, was requested for publication.

J. H. Campbell declined re-election as a trustee of Mercer University, and at his instance Mr. James Clark, of Lumpkin, was appointed in his place.

The executive committee reported having appointed Rev. J. F. Dagg as editor of the "Christian Index," and that a "full, complete and final settlement" had been effected with Rev. J. S. Baker, "of all matters relating to his former interest in the paper."

31. The introductory sermon to the session at Columbus in 1852, was preached by Rev. S. C. Hillyer, and the education sermon on Sabbath by S. Landrum. A copy of the latter was requested for publication. The old officers were continued.

The venerable William C. Buck, of Kentucky, corresponding secretary of the Bible Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was in attendance, and addressed the Convention. A large number of delegates and correspondents, besides many visitors male and female, were also present.

The order of business was suspended on Saturday, at noon, "to afford the Rev. S. Bonhomme, agent of the American Society, for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews, an opportunity to address the Convention."

A committee was appointed at Lagrange, who were expected

 

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to "exercise a general supervision of the Bible interest" in Georgia, of which James Culberson was chairman.

 

A large and spirited meeting was held at night in favor of Mercer University, addresses made by T. J. Burney, Hillyer, Dawson and Dr. Dagg, and the following resolutions adopted: "That the ample endowment of Mercer University is a matter of gratitude to Almighty God, and encouragement to our denomination," and "That this Convention set apart a day of concerted prayer for more young men who may become qualified for the labors of the ministry."

The death of the faithful Domestic Missionary of the pine region, David Ryals, was recorded with lamentations.

The report on education expresses the gratitude of the Convention for the educational advantages afforded by Mercer University. But it does not stop there; it records the gratification of the members that seminaries are springing up in all parts of the State for the improvement of both males and females, and that other denominations are vying  with the Baptists in promoting this good work. They rejoice also, in the means of education afforded by the State to the deaf and dumb, as well as to the blind.

The subject of removing the Christian Index from Penfield to some larger town was again considered, without arriving at any definite conclusion.

One hundred and forty students had been admitted into Mercer University within the collegiate year.

It was decided that henceforth there shall not be a sermon on education preached annually as heretofore.

32. At Atlanta, on the 22d of April, 1853, the introductory sermon to the thirty-second session of the Georgia Baptist Convention, was delivered by Rev. B. F. Tharp.

A large number of visiting ministers were present, among whom were T. J. Bowen, J. S. Dennard and W. H. Clark, missionaries under appointment to Africa. Bowen had recently returned from that country, having spent several years there; but was intending to sail again soon, accompanied by Dennard and Clark. A meeting was held on Sunday night, which was largely attended, when addresses were delivered by said missionaries.

 

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Bowen's address especially excited deep interest, as he spoke from experience.

 

The delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention, soon to assemble, were requested to bring the subject of establishing a mission or missions in Burmah, to the attention of that body.

It was suggested by the executive committee, that the female Academy at Penfield, with its buildings, apparatus, etc., be transferred to the citizens of the village, it being a local institution, which suggestion was approved, and it was accordingly so transferred. It had not been, on the whole, a flourishing school, and the management of it had given the Convention a good deal of trouble.

Mercer University was reported to be highly prosperous, the number of students being greater than at any former period.

At the instance of the Bible Board at Lagrange, the locality of that Board was changed to Savannah, and a new Board appointed, of which Rev. J. P. Tustin was chairman.

It was agreed to memorialize Congress "in favor of religious toleration of citizens of the United States all over the world," and a committee appointed for this purpose, of which Rev. S. Landrum was chairman.

Donations of books were made to several ministers, among whom was A. T. Spalding. This had been a practice of the body for many years, and many of our ministers were greatly improved in this way.

A Sunday-school convention was held in connection with this session, and the report of its committee published in the minutes.

It was ordered that the constitution of this body, as amended in 1848, be published with the minutes.

33. The body assembled at Washington, Wilkes county, in April, 1854. The introductory discourse was delivered by Rev. J. P. Tustin, and the old officers re-elected.

Revs. Samuel Henderson and Joseph Walker of Alabama, J. B. Jeter, R. B. C. Howell, and J. B. Taylor of Virginia, and J. G. Binney, late missionary to Burmah, were in attendance.

On Sabbath, Revs. Howell, Mallary and Binney preached in the Baptist church, and Jeter, Campbell and Henderson in the Methodist. Dr. Mallary's sermon, preached by invitation, was

 

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commemorative of Rev. B. M. Sanders, recently deceased, and was subsequently published in book form. Rev. N. M. Crawford preached to the colored congregation.

 

The constitution was amended so as to allow each association four delegates, without reference to its numbers, and to an "additional delegate for every five hundred members; provided the number of delegates for any one association shall never exceed fifteen." This is the numerical basis of representation. The constitution already provided for the representation of auxiliary societies upon a money basis--each society, paying annually fifty dollars, being entitled to one delegate, and to an additional delegate for every hundred dollars; provided that such societies shall never have more than three delegates. The constitution thus amended, remains substantially the same to this day.

The Bible Board at Savannah, had collected about three thousand dollars, had nine colporteurs employed, and were vigorusly prosecuting their work.

Ten beneficiaries were being educated, and nine preachers had received donations of books.

34. The place of meeting, April 20th, 1855, was Newnan, Coweta . H. H. Tucker preached the opening sermon from Psalms, cxxii. 1: "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord," which was a most appropriate and effective effort. The old custom of having an annual sermon on ministerial education was revised, and has been kept up since.

Among the visiting ministers were J. M. Chiles, of South Carolina; G. L. Sandidge, J. H. Eaton and J. R. Graves, of Tennessee; A. M. Poindexter, of Virginia; S. Henderson and J. T. Tichenor, of Alabama; J. P. Tustin, of Charleston, S. C.; A. C. Dayton, of Nashville; and H. F. Buckner, missionary to the Indians, and A. D. Phillips, soon to sail for Africa; also, A. E. Stevens, from Burmah. On Saturday forenoon the regular order was suspended, and H. F. Buckner delivered one of the most impressive and telling speeches ever made in the Georgia Baptist Convention, upon which a collection was taken up for Indian missions, amounting to $1,139 00, and resolutions passed encouraging the Southern Baptist Convention to accept the

 

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charge of those missions should the transfer be proposed by the Indian Mission Association. This transfer was effected and said association was dissolved.

 

Quite a number of ministers had died during the year: Joshua S. Callaway, Isaac R. Eskew, Wyche Jackson, Samuel Cannon, Evans Pearsons, Henry Garland, W. W. Arnold, and Henry Stevens.

A package of books was donated by Dr. Adiel Sherwood, for which the thanks of the body were voted him.

Mercer University was reported "in a flourishing condition." Dr. Dagg had resigned the presidency, and Rev. N. M. Crawford had accepted the position.

35. The associations and societies composing the Convention were represented in Savannah, April, 1856, by one hundred and fifty-six delegates. Introductory by Rev. E. B. Teague, from Psalms, li. 12, 13.

Hon. Thomas Stocks was prevailed upon to act as moderator, and was re-elected. "The former clerk having declined a reelection, J. F. Dagg was chosen clerk, and William C. Wilkes assistant clerk."

"On motion of brother Warren: Resolved, That the sincere thanks of the Convention are hereby tendered to brethren P. H. Mell and C. M. Irvin for the very faithful and efficient manner in which they have served this body for eleven years as its clerks."

Rev. P. W. Samson, now President of the Columbian College, D. C., was present as a correspondent from the Maryland Union Association.

For more than a year preceding this session, the public mind of the denomination had been unusually disturbed on account of the affairs of Mercer University. At the instance of the trustees, Dr. Dagg had resigned the presidency, and Rev. N. M. Crawford had been elected in his place and had accepted. Professor Mell and other friends of Dr. Dagg had shown great dissatisfaction on the occasion, and he and Professor Hillyer, (a son-in-law of Dr. Dagg,) had resigned. The trustees had labored to quiet these dissensions, and had apparently been successful; but they soon broke out again and became more serious than ever. Finally, the only course left to the trustees, as they

 

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believed, was to dismiss Professor Mell, which they did by giving him, under an existing rule, six months' notice; whereupon, with the consent of the board, he retired at once from the institution, and very soon thereafter published and circulated a pamphlet styled "An Exposition of Recent Events in Mercer University," arraigning the Board at the bar of public opinion. To this pamphlet neither the Board nor any member thereof had made any reply.

 

It was under this unhappy state of affairs that the Convention met in Savannah in April, 1856. The following extracts from the minutes show the action of the body on the subject:

"Read the report of the trustees of Mercer University, and, on motion of brother Gaskill, adopted the following resolution: ' Resolved, That the report of the Board of Trustees be referred to a select committee of seven, and that said committee be requested to examine the proceedings of the Board of Trustees concerning their dealings with brother Mell, seeking all the information they can get from both parties.'

"In accordance with this resolution, the moderator announced the following committee: Brethren M. A. Cooper, R. L. McWhorter, V. A. Gaskill, J. S. Baker, D. W. Lewis, and H. C. Hornaday.

"Brother Baker having resigned his place on the committee to whom was referred the report of the Board of Trustees, the moderator appointed brother D. A. Vason to fill the vacancy."

 

"The committee to whom was referred the report of the Board of Trustees, reported on Monday afternoon. During the reading of the report the convention adjourned until eight o'clock." At the appointed hour, "Resumed the reading of the report of the committee to whom was referred the report of the Board of Trustees, which was adopted," and is as follows:"

REPORT ON THE REPORT OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES.

"The committee to whom was referred the consideration of the report of the trustees of Mercer University, report that they have endeavored to discharge the duties assigned, as indicated by the resolution of their appointment, which requires them 'to examine the proceedings of the Board of Trustees concerning their dealings with brother Mell, seeking

 

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all the light and information they can get from both parties.' Your committee deemed it most advisable to invite from Rev. P. H. Mell and the trustees respectively, a full exposition of the facts deemed by them pertinent and material to the subject submitted to them, and to require of each to submit what he had to present in writing, whether it consisted of testimony or ex parte statements. After careful examination of all the information afforded by the parties, your committee find the facts to be as follows, to-wit: beginning in July, 1854, on Monday of Commencement week, President Dagg, at Mercer University, was found feeble and infirm, unable to meet with the Board of Trustees. He expressed his willingness to retire from the presidency, and take a subordinate position. The Board informally decided on this as desirable, and informed President Dagg of their views. His resignation was tendered and accepted. The resignation of Dr. Dagg is ordered to be published with the reasons of its acceptance by the Board. The reasons stated in the notice to be published, as the grounds of acceptance are the 'failing health and want of strength' of Dr. Dagg.

 

"He objects to the reason as stated, as to the grounds of acceptance. On the 7th of August, Dr. Dagg, by letter, calls on the faculty to testify to the fact that 'failing health and want of strength' are untruly stated as reasons stated in the proposed notice of resignation. On the same day, three of the professors, to-wit: Mell, Sanford and Willet, responded and testified as desired by Dr. Dagg. Professor Willet dissenting to some particulars.

"Professor Crawford declines to unite with these professors in this testimonial, assigning as his reasons, by letter, dated 14th August, addressed to Professors Mell, Sanford and Willet, in reply to Professor Mell, inclosing the letter of Dr. Dagg and the reply of the three professors, requesting the signature of Professor Crawford to the reply.

"On the 13th December, 1854, the trustees met at Penfield. Dr. Dagg being present, presented to the Board his letter to the faculty, and the reply of Professors Willet, Sanford and Mell. A trustee asks if all the faculty had signed it. Another trustee replies that one member of the faculty had not, but had declined

 

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doing so, giving his reasons in a letter to the other members of the faculty. As this letter had not been produced with the testimony, he had a copy of it, which was at the service the trustees. Dr. Dagg asked if that letter was addressed to the board? The reply was, 'it is not.' A trustee asks, has any one authority for presenting it to the Board? A trustee replies that he has authority whenever he deemed it necessary to explain the course of its author. He then deemed it necessary. It was then produced and read. It is the reply of Dr. Crawford, setting forth his reasons for not signing the testimonial sought by Dr. Dagg of the faculty.

 

"The trustees pass resolutions in favor of Dr. Dagg, explanatory and commendatory. Dr. Dagg expresses himself entirely satisfied.

"The trustees elect Dr. N. M. Crawford President of the Mercer University; Professors Mell and Crawford being the only names voted for.

"Dr. Crawford accepts the office, and at the suggestion of the committee notifying him of his election, has an interview with Dr. Dagg, which, as far as conducted, is by Dr. Dagg declared satisfactory.

"Dr. Dagg agrees to continue as professor of theology until July thereafter.

"At commencement in July, 1855, it is found that there had been a want of co-operation between Professor Mell and President Crawford.

"On the 23d of July, 1855, at Penfield, Dr. Dagg resigned the professorship of theology.

"Professor Mell resigned his professorship of languages at this time also, giving as his reasons his dissatisfaction with Dr. Crawford as the president. It is accepted. At this time Professor S. G. Hillyer also tendered his resignation, and it is accepted.

"On Tuesday following the trustees reconsidered their acceptance of the resignation of Professors Mell and Hillyer, and appointed a committee to strive for a reconciliation of the faculty.

"On this day President Crawford also tendered his resignation

 

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as president. This was not acted on, but left to wait the action of the committee.

 

"On Wednesday thereafter, the committee reported that a reconciliation had been effected, so as to produce co-operation in the faculty.

"Thereupon President Crawford, Professors Mell and Hillyer were, by the trustees, requested to withdraw their resignations, and Dr. Dagg requested to continue as professor of theology.

"The resignations are withdrawn, and Dr. Dagg agrees to serve as professor of theology, if such services are needed. The election of Dr. Crawford as president is reaffirmed by unanimous resolution of the Board of Trustees, concurring in the choice and tendering him their cordial support.

"The president and faculty now meet with the board, and evince a purpose to co-operate in their business.

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