A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE BAPTIST
DENOMINATION IN AMERICA, AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
By David Benedict
London: Printed by Lincoln & Edmands, No. 53, Cornhill, for the Author
Most of the Baptists in this state, except the Tunkers and Mennonists, for a great number of years from their beginning, were either emigrants from Wales or their descendants; but the first church of the denomination in the country was formed at a place called the Coldspring, in Buck's county, between Bristol and Trenton, by Thomas Dungan, who removed thither from Rhode Island in 1684, only three years after William Penn obtained his patent of Charles II. [Respecting Mr. Dungan, Morgan Edwards has the following note in his history of the Baptists in Pennsylvania: "Of this venerable father, I can learn no more than that he came from Rhode Island about the year 1684; that he and his family settled at Coldspring, where he gathered a church, of which nothing remains but a graveyard and the names of the families which belonged to it, namely the Dungans, Gapduets, Woods, Deyles, etc. that he died in 1688, and was buried in said graveyard; that his children were five sons and four daughters, namely William, who married into the Wing family, of Rhode Island, and had five children; Clement, who died childless; Thomas, who married into the Drake family, and had nine children; Jeremiah, who married into the same family, and had eight children; Elizabeth, who married into the West family, and had four children; Mary, who roamed into the Richards' family, and had three children; John, who died childless; Rebecca, who married into the Doyle family, and had three children; Sarah, who married into the family of the Kerrels and had six children; in all 38. To mention the names, alliances, and offspring of these, would tend towards an endless genealogy. Sufficeth it, that the Reverend Thomas Dungan, the first Baptist minister in the provinces now (1770) existeth in a progeny of between six and seven hundred.]
Pennepek, or Lower Dublin Church. -- This is now the oldest church in Pennsylvania, as the one gathered by Mr. Dungan was broken up in 1702. "The history of this church will lead us back to the year 1686, when one John Eaton, George Eaton, and Jane his wife, Sarah Eaton, and Samuel Jones, members of a Baptist church residing in Llanddewi and Nautmel, in Radnorshire, whereof Reverend Henry Gregory was pastor; also, John Baker, member of a church in Kilkenny, in Ireland, under the pastoral care of Reverend Christopher Blackwell, and one Samuel Vans, from England, arrived and settled on the banks of Pennepek, formerly written Pemmapeka. In the year 1687, Reverend Elias Keach, of London, came among them, and baptized one Joseph Ashton and Jane his wife, William Fisher and John Watts, which increased their number to 12 souls, including the minister. These 12 did by mutual consent, form themselves into a church in the month of January, 1688, choosing Mr. Keach to be their minister, and Samuel Vaus to be deacon. Soon after, the few emigrated Baptists in this province and West Jersey joined them; also those, whom Mr. Keach baptized at the Falls, Coldspring, Burlington, Cohansey, Salem, Penn's Neck, Chester, Philadelphia, etc. They were all one church, and Pennepek the center of union, where, as many as could, met to celebrate the Lord's Supper; and for the sake of distant members, they administered the ordinance quarterly at Burlington, Cohansey, Chester, and Philadelphia; which quarterly meetings have since been transformed into three yearly meetings and an association: Thus, for some time, continued their Zion with lengthened cords, till the brethren in remote parts set about forming themselves into distinct churches, which began in 1699. By these detachments it was reduced to narrow bounds, but continued among the churches, as a mother in the midst of many daughters. At their settlement, and during the administration of Mr. Keach, they were the same as they are now, with respect to faith and order; but when their number increased, and emigrants, from differing churches in Europe; incorporated with them, divisions began to take place about various things, such as absolute predestination, laying-on-of-hands, distributing the elements, singing psalms, seventh-day sabbath, etc. which threw the body ecclesiastic into a fever. In the year 1747, a tumult arose about the choice of a minister, which issued in a separation. But this, and the other maladies were healed, when the peccant humours had been purged off, and the design of Providence accomplished, which design is expressed in these notable words, 'There must be divisions among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest.' 1 Corinthians 11:19.
"The first minister they had was the Reverend Elias Keach. He was son of the famous Benjamin Keach, of London; arrived in this country a very wild youth, about the year 1686. On his landing, he dressed in black, and wore a band, in order to pass for a minister. The project succeeded to his wishes and many people resorted to hear the young London Divine. He performed well enough, till he had advanced pretty far in the sermon; then stopping short, he looked like a man astonished. The audience concluded he had been seized with a sudden disorder; but on asking what the matter was, received from him a confession of the imposture, with tears in his eyes, and much trembling. Great was his distress, though it ended happily; for from this time he dated his conversion. He heard of Mr. Dungan. To him he repaired to seek counsel and comfort, and by him he was baptized and ordained. From Coldspring, Mr. Keach came to Pennepek, and settled a church there as before related; and thence traveled through Pennsylvania and the Jersies, preaching the Gospel in the wilderness with great success, insomuch that he may be considered as the chief apostle of the Baptists in these parts of America. He and his family embarked for England, early in the spring of the year 1692, and afterwards became a very famous and successful minister in London. Sometime before his embarkation, he had resigned the care of the church to
"Reverend John Watts, who was born November 3, 1661, at Lydd or Leed in the county of Kent; came to this country about the year 1686; was baptized at Pennepek, November 21, 1687; called to the ministry in 1688; took on him the care of the church in 1690; continued in the care thereof to August 27, 1702, when he died of the small pox, and was buried at Pennepek, having had Mr. Samuel Jones to his assistant. Mr. Watts was a sound divine, and a man of some learning, as appears by a book he wrote, entitled, Davis Disabled. There was an order for printing this book, dated August 3, 1705, but it was not executed. He also composed a Catechism, or little system of divinity, which was published in 1700. Mr. Watts was succeeded by
"Reverend Evan Morgan, who came to this country very early, and was a man of piety and parts. He broke off from the Quakers along with many others of Mr. Keith's party in 1691; was baptized in 1697, by one Thomas Butter, and the same year, renouncing the reliques of Quakerism, was received into the church. In 1702, he was called to the ministry, and ordained October 23, 1706, by Reverend Messrs. Thomas Griffith and Thomas Killingsworth. He died February 16, 1709, and was buried at Pennepek, after having had the joint care of the church for upwards of two years. Mr. Morgan's successor, who had also been his colleague, was the
"Reverend Samuel Jones, who was born, July 9, 1657, in the parish of Llauddewi, and the county of Radnor; came to this country about 1686; called to the ministry in 1697; ordained, October 23, 1706, at which time he took part of the ministry with Mr. Evan Morgan. He died February 3, 1722, and was buried at Pennepek. He had Mr. John Hart and others to his assistants. The ground on which the meeting house stands was given by him. He also gave for the use of the church Pool's Annotations, 2 volumes, Burkit's Annotations, 1 volume. Keach on the Parables, and Bishop's Body of Divinity, etc. His successor, who also had been his colleague, was
"Reverend Joseph Wood, who was born in the year 1659, near Hull, in Yorkshire; came to this country about 1684; baptized by Mr. Keach, at Burlington, July 24, 1691; ordained September 25, 1708, at which time he took part of the ministry with Mr. Evan Morgan and Mr. Samuel Jones. He died, September 15, 1747, and was buried at Coldspring. Mr. Wood was succeeded by
"Reverend Abel Morgan. He was born in the year 1657, at a place called Alltgoch, in the parish of Llanwenog, and county of Carmarthen; entered on the ministry in the 19th year of his age; was ordained at Blaenegwent, in Monmouthshire. He arrived in this country, February 14, 1711; resided some time at Philadelphia, and then removed to Pennepek; took on him the care of the church as soon as he landed; and continued therein to his death, which came to pass, December 16, 1722. He was buried in the graveyard of Philadelphia, where a stone is erected to his memory. Mr. Morgan was a man of considerable distinction. He compiled a folio Concordance to the Welch Bible printed at Philadelphia in 1750; he also translated the Century Confession to Welsh, and added thereto article the thirteenth and thirty-first. Several other pieces of his are yet extant in manuscripts. His successor was
"Reverend Jenkin Jones, who became minister of this church in the year 1725, which was near three years after Mr. Morgan's decease; and had Mr. William Kinnersley to his assistant. Mr. Wood was yet alive, but not very capable of serving the church. He continued in the care thereof for upwards of twenty years, and then resigned it, to become the minister of Philadelphia church, where we shall say more of him. The next in office here was
"Reverend Peter Peterson Vanhorn. He was born, August 24, 1719, at Middletown in Buck's county, and was bred a Lutheran; embraced the principles of the Baptists, September 6, 1741; ordained, June 18, 1747; continued in the oversight of the church to 1762, when he resigned, and settled at the Newmills, in the Jersey. His assistant was Mr. George Eaton. His wife is Margaret Marshall, by whom he has children, William, Gabriel, Peter, Aaron, Thomas, Elizabeth, Marshal, Charles. His successor is
"Reverend Samuel Jones, D.D. who yet continues the pastor of this ancient and respectable church, although he is almost 80 years old. He was born January 14, 1735, at a place called Cefen y Gelli in Bettus parish in Glamorgan-shire; came to America in 1787; was bred in the college of Philadelphia; was ordained, January 8, 1763, at which time he commenced minister of Pennepek and Southampton; but he resigned the care of the Southampton church in 1770, in favor of Erasmus Kelly" [Edward's Materials for Pennsylvania, p. 6-17]. This church is now called Lower Dublin, from the name of the township in which it is situated.
Their first meeting house was a neat stone building, 33 feet by 30, erected in 1707, on a lot of one acre, the gift of Reverend Samuel Jones. This house was taken down in 1805, to make room for the more spacious one, which was immediately erected on the spot, and was built of stone, 55 feet by 45.
This church has about 600 dollars at interest, which is accumulating yearly. In addition to this, Dr. Jones has given them a handsome sum in his Will, to be for their use when he is gone.
PHILADELPHIA First, or Second Street Church -- This church is in reality nearly as old as Pennepek, and its history will lead us almost to the founding of the city.
"In the year 1686, one John Holmes, who was a Baptist, arrived and settled in the neighborhood. He was a man of property and learning, and therefore we find him in the magistracy of the place in 1691, and was the same man who refused to act with the Quaker magistrates, against the Keithians. He died Judge of Salem Court. In 1696, John Farmer and his wife, members of a Baptist church in London, then under, the pastoral care of the famous Hansard Knollis, arrived and settled in the place. In 1697, one Joseph Todd and Rebecca Woosoncroft came to the same neighborhood, who belonged to a Baptist church at Limmington, in Hampshire, England, where Reverend John Rumsay was pastor. The same year one William Silverstone, William Elton and wife, and Mary Shepherd, were baptized by Thomas Killingworth. These nine persons, on the second Sunday in December, 1698, assembled at a house in Barbadoes lot, and coalesced into a church for the communion of saints, having Reverend John Watts to their assistance. From that time to the year 1746, they increased partly by emigrations from the old country, and partly by the occasional labors of Elias Keach, Thomas Killingworth, John Watts, Samuel Jones, Evan Morgan, John Hart, Joseph Wood, Nathaniel Jenkins, Thomas Griffiths, Elisha Thomas, Enoch Morgan, John Burrows, Thomas Selby, Abel Morgan, George Eglesfield, William Kinnersley, and others. From the beginning to the last mentioned time, (1746) they had no settled minister among them, though it was a period of 48 years. The first, that might be properly called their own, was Jenkin Jones; the rest belonging to other churches. They did, indeed, in 1723, choose George Eaglesfield to preach to them, contrary to the sense of the church at Pennepek; but in 1725, he left them and went to Middleton. About the year 1746, a question arose, whether Philadelphia was not a branch of Pennepek and consequently, whether the latter had not a right to part of the legacies bestowed on the former. This, indeed, was a groundless question; but for fear the design of their benefactors should be perverted, the church, then consisting of 56 members, was formally constituted, May 15, 1746. "The place where these people met, at first, was the corner of Second Street and Chesnut Street, known by the name of Barbadoes lot. The building was a storehouse; but when the Barbadoes company left the place, the Baptists held their meetings there. So also did the Presbyterians, when either a Baptist or Presbyterian minister happened to be in town; for as yet neither had any settled among them. But when Jedidiah Andrews, from New England, came to the latter, the Baptists, as has generally been their lot, were, in a manner, driven away. Several letters passed between the two societies on the occasion, which are yet extant. There was also a deputation of three Baptists appointed to remonstrate with the Presbyterians, for so unkind and rightless a conduct; but to no purpose. From that time forth, the Baptists held their worship at a place near the drawbridge, known by the name Anthony Morris' brew-house; here they continued to meet till March 15, 1707, when by invitation of the Keithians, they removed their worship to Second Street, where they hold it to this day. The Keithian meeting house was a small wooden building, erected in 1692. This the Baptists took down, in 1731, and raised on the same spot, a neat brick building, 42 feet by 30. This house was also taken down in 1762, and a more spacious one was erected on the spot, 61 feet by 42, which was also built with brick at the expense of 2,200 pounds." This house was enlarged about 1808, so that their place of worship now is 61 feet by 75. The old lot was 43 feet front on Second Street, and 303 feet deep towards Third Street.
The additional ground purchased for the recent enlargement of the house, extends 37 feet from the old lot to a court called Fremberger's, on which it has a front of 150 feet. This, with the enlargement of the house, cost 18,000 dollars.
But to return: "An accident, in 1754, had like to have deprived the church, both of their house and lot; for then one Thomas Pearl died, after having made a conveyance of the premises to the church of England. The vestry demanded possession, but the Baptists refused, and a lawsuit commenced, which brought the matter to a hearing before the Assembly. The Episcopalians being discouraged, offered to give up their claim for 50 pounds. The offer was accepted, and contention ceased.
"This church experienced a painful division in 1711, occasioned by the turbulent spirit of an Irish preacher, who was among them, along with Mr. Burrows. His name was Thomas Selby. When he had formed a party, he shut Mr. Burrows and his friends out of the meeting house, who thenceforth met at Mr. Burrows' house in Chesnut Street. This was the situation of affairs when Mr. Abel Morgan arrived in 1711. But his presence soon healed the breach, and obliged Selby to quit the town, which he did in 1713, and went to Carolina, and there died the same year, but not before he had occasioned much disturbance. The ministers which this church have had from the beginning to the year 1746, are mentioned above, and some of them have been already characterized. The following are the ministers they have had since that time.
"Reverend Jenkin Jones. He was born about 1690 in the parish of Llanfernach, and county of Pembroke, and arrived in this country about 1710. He was called to the ministry in Welsh Tract in 1724; removed to Philadelphia in 1725, and became the minister of the church at that place, only, at the time of its reconstitution, May 15, 1746; for, theretofore, he had the care of Pennepek also. He died at Philadelphia, July 16, 1761, and was there buried, where a tomb is erected to his memory. Mr. Jones was a good man and did real services to this church, and to the Baptist interest. He secured to them the possession of their valuable lot, and place of worship before described. He was the moving cause of altering the direction of licenses, so as to enable dissenting ministers to perform marriages by them. He built a parsonage house, partly at his own charge. He gave a handsome legacy towards purchasing a silver cup for the Lord's Table, which is worth upwards of 60 pounds. His name is engraven upon it" [Edwards' Materials, etc. p. 41-7].
"Reverend Ebenezer Kinnersly, A.M. was contemporary with Mr. Jones. He was born, November 30, 1711, in the city of Gloucester, and arrived in this country, September 12, 1714; was ordained in 1743, and preached at Philadelphia and elsewhere to 1754, when he obtained a Professor's chair in the College of Philadelphia. Mr. Kinnersley was a companion of Dr. Franklin in philosophical researches, and has immortalized his name on account of his improvements in electricity. He died in the vicinity of Philadelphia, and was buried in the Baptist cemetery at Lower Dublin.
It has been asserted that this eminent man "left the Baptist communion, laid aside his clerical character, and joined the Episcopal church" [Retrospect of the 18th Century, note, vol. ii. p 354]. That he declined preaching after he engaged in the duties of his professorship is not denied, but that he joined the Episcopalians, Dr. Rogers declares, is incorrect: "Mr. Kinnersley," says he, "continued a firm Baptist till his death, and was a constant attendant and communicant in the First Baptist church in Philadelphia till he removed to the country." His wife was all Episcopalian, and probably his sometimes waiting on her to church, gave rise to the groundless report above mentioned.
The next pastor to Mr. Jones was Morgan Edwards, A.M. for whose character the reader is referred to his biography.
Successor to Mr. Edwards was William Rogers, D.D. who served the church about three years. During his pastoral labors a revival took place in which between forty and fifty were added. Dr. Rogers was born in Newport, Rhode Island, July 29, 1751, and was educated in Rhode Island College, being the very first student that entered that institution, was baptized by the late Gardiner Thurston of Newport, who was his uncle, in 1770, was sent into the ministry by the church of which he was pastor in 1771, and the same year removed to Philadelphia, where he has since resided. During five years of the Revolutionary War, he was a chaplain in the American army. In 1789, he was appointed a Professor in the University of Pennsylvania, which office he held till 1812, when he resigned it. Dr. Rogers has long maintained an extensive correspondence, and is extensively known among the Baptists in America, Europe, and India.
This church remained destitute of a pastor, during the Revolutionary War, but in 1782, Reverend Thomas Ustick, A.M. was inducted into the pastoral office. Mr. Ustick was born in the city of New York, August 30, 1755. He was baptized by the Reverend John Gano, in that city, when he was but little more than 13 years of age. At his baptism, Mr. Gano gave out the 138th hymn, first book, Dr. Watts, and in the second verse he parodied thus:
"His honor is engaged to save
The youngest of his sheep," etc.
"Why did you not give the words as they are?" said Mr. Ustick, 'The meanest of his sheep,' for truly I am so."
Mr. Ustick was educated at Rhode Island College, where he graduated in 1771. About three years after he left college, he was called to the ministry by the church in the city of New York, and on the 5th of August, 1777, was ordained at Providence, Rhode Island, by President Manning, Reverend Job Seamans, of Attleborough, and Reverend William Williams, of Wrentham. Previous to his ordination, Mr. Ustick preached awhile at Stamford, in Connecticut, and soon after he was settled at Ashford, in the same state. From that place he removed to Grafton, in Massachusetts, and from Grafton he removed to Philadelphia, as above related. In this city he continued his ministry, with much reputation, for almost 21 years. But his work in the church militant being finished, he was, we trust, removed to the church triumphant, April, 1803, in the 50th year of his age.
During his confinement, the Gospel, which he had delivered to others, he assured a worthy friend, who visited him a day or two before his death, afforded him the greatest consolation. On Lord's day, being visited by several brethren, he proposed to them after prayer, to sing the 138th hymn, first book:
"Firm as the earth thy Gospel stands," etc.
the same that was sung at his baptism. The night which closed the scene of life, (his son sitting up with him) sensible, no doubt, of his approaching dissolution, he was heard distinctly to say, "The Lord is my shield and my buckler." It pleased God to grant him an easy passage into eternity; departing without a groan, he fell asleep in Jesus. A funeral sermon was delivered on the next Lord's Day, by Dr. Rogers, who furnished this biography, from John 11:11. Our Friend Lazarus sleepeth.
Successor to Mr. Ustick was William Staughton, D.D. He was invited to the pastoral care of this church early in 1805, and continued with them about six years, when he resigned his charge to become the pastor of the new church in Sansom Street. Under his ministry the meeting house was enlarged, and nearly 300 added to the church by baptism.
Next to him was their present pastor Henry Holcombe, D.D. He was born in Prince Edward county, Virginia, February 22, 1762; was carried when a child to South Carolina; was a Captain in the latter part of the Revolutionary War, and when the United States Constitution was adopted by South Carolina, Mr. Holcombe was a member of the Convention. Before this he had began to preach, and was settled in the pastoral care of the church on Pipe Creek, in that State. In 1791, he settled at Euhaw, afterwards was pastor of the church, which arose under his ministry at Beaufort, from which place he removed to Savannah in 1799, planted a church in that city soon after, which he served about eleven years, and then removed up the country to Mount Enon, where he intended to spend the remainder of his days in retirement. From this place he received two calls, one from the first church in Boston, the other from the one which he now serves, with the pastoral care of which he was invested in 1811. This church has the most ample endowments of any of our connection in America. Their property appropriated expressly for the support of their poor members is, first, three small three-story brick houses, the gift of Mrs. Sarah Branson, which now rent for 900 dollars a year. Second, three hundred pounds Pennsylvania currency, or 800 dollars, the gift of Mrs. Sarah Smith; the interest of two thirds of this legacy is designed for the poor, the other is for the minister. Third, $13.60 per annum, the gift of John Morgan, to be distributed by the pastor at his discretion, May 8, every year. The property for the general benefit of the church is two brick houses, which now rent for 720 dollars a year, one of them was formerly the parsonage. In addition to these possessions, they have a lot of large dimensions on the river Schuylkill, on which, a few years since, they erected a building for baptismal occasions. It is of brick two stories high, 36 feet by 18. The lower story is fitted up in the form of a vestry, with a pulpit and seats, in which the minister discourses previous to baptism. The upper story is divided into two rooms for the convenience of candidates. This lot and building cost 1600 dollars. The rent of their pews, as now rated, amounts to about 2000 dollars a year, which is appropriated to the minister and sexton. [This, with much other information, was communicated by Dr. Rogers.]
Second Church. -- This church is situated in that part of the city called the Northern Liberties. It was constituted of twenty members from the First Church in 1803. They have a commodious brick meeting house 66 feet by 46, built soon after they were constituted. It stands on a lot 220 feet by 200. The building and lot cost about 11,000 dollars. About nine months after this body was organized, Mr. William White became its pastor, which office he still sustains. He was born in New York in 1768, began preaching in the church at Roxbury near this city in 1792, the year after was ordained at the same place, and for some years before he came to his present station, was pastor of the church at New Britain.
From this church originated that at Frankfort, a few miles to the north of it, in 1807.
African Church. -- This is the next in point of age, and was formed of twelve members from the First church, in June, 1809. They were supplied for a time by Mr. Henry Cunningham of Savannah, Georgia, but have now for their pastor Mr. John King, from Virginia. He joined the church before he began to preach, and was ordained to the pastoral office in 1812. This church has erected a small neat building 37 feet by 26, which they intend for a vestry, whenever they shall be able to build one of larger dimensions.
Third Church was constituted of 30 members, mostly from the first, in August, 1809. It is situated in Southwark, some distance from the other churches, and is under the care of Mr. John P. Peckworth, one of the constituent members. He was born in Chatham, Kent county, England, about 1770, came to Philadelphia at the age of thirteen, four years after was baptized in Wilmington, Delaware, by Mr. Thomas Fleeson, came back to this city soon after, joined the church then under the care of Mr. Ustick, by which he was approbated to preach in 1802.
This church has erected a ripe stone meeting house 60 feet by 50, which was opened for public worship February, 1811. It stands on South Second Street. Their lot has 68 feet front, is 200 feet deep, and 84 feet on the back side. This, with their house, cost about 16,000 dollars.
Sansom Street Church. -- This also originated from the ancient community in Second Street. Its constituent members were 91, and received the fellowship of their brethren as a distinct church, January, 1811. Soon after they were organized, Dr. Staughton resigned his former charge, and became their pastor. He was born in January 4, 1770, at Coventry, Warwickshire, England. His parents are both members of Dr. Rippon's church in London, his father was many years deacon of the church in Coventry, of which the late Mr. Butterworth, the author of the Concordance, was pastor. Dr. Staughton had his education at the Bristol Academy, under Dr. Evans, came to America and landed at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1798, spent some time in Georgetown in that state, where he planted the church now under the care of Mr. Botsford, came to the northward in 1795, spent a short time in New York and its vicinity, was afterwards settled at Bordenton, then at Burlington, New Jersey, and in the last place set in order the church, whose present pastor is Burgiss Allison, D.D. From Burlington he removed to Philadelphia, to succeed Mr. Ustick, as we have before related.
The church under consideration has erected a house of worship of an uncommon size and somewhat singular form. It is a circular building, 90 feet diameter, and with the lot on which it stands cost about 40,000 dollars. It is incumbered with a debt of no small amount, which however, individuals of the church have assumed in the form of a fund, until means shall be found for its liquidation. Their income from pew-rents and collections is said to be between four and five thousand dollars a year, and their prospect is fair soon to clear their great estate. None of their pews are sold or intended to be, and no society-men have any control of their house or affairs. As some readers may wish for a more particular description of the Sansom Street meeting house, I shall for their gratification transcribe it in the note below.
[The plan of this house within is a rotunda, ninety feet diameter, surmounted by a dome, crowned with a lanthorn or cupola, upwards of twenty feet diameter. The walls, with the dome, are elevated upwards of fifty feet above the ground, built of brick, and the dome constructed of short pieces of plank, upon the principle adopted in that of the Halle de Bled, at Paris. From the top of the walls, three steps encircle the building before the swell of the dome appears, the rise of which is at an angle of forty-five degrees. In front and rear of the rotundo, square projections, of sixty feet extent, come forward; that in the rear to provide space for vestry rooms; rising only one story; that in the front, to accommodate the stair cases of the galleries, rising on a marble basement to the common height of the walls. The front projection comes to the line of the street, in form of wings, separated by a colonnade, and are crowned by two belfries or cupolas. "The principal entrance, into the house is by a flight of marble, steps into an Ionic colonnade; on either hand are doors leading to the staircases of the galleries; from this colonnade you pass into the grand aisle, leading direct to the baptistery and pulpit; two other aisles run parallel with this, and one main aisle crosses the whole in the diameter of the house. At the termination of all these aisles, are doors of outlet from the building. The baptistery is situate in the center of the circle, in view of every part of the gallery, and is surrounded by an open balustrade, and when not in use for the ordinance of baptism closed over by a floor to accommodate strangers. The galleries, which are described concentric with the great circle, circumscribe the nave of the building, except in that section occupied by the pulpit, and are supported by twelve columns. The pulpit, which is placed to front the grand aisle, is a continual, on of the galleries, and comes forward supported by a screen of columns. The space under the pulpit is closed and thrown into the vestry rooms behind, but may at any time be opened, the screen being constituted of folding doors. The circumference of the building is lighted by large square windows below, and a ring of semi-circular windows above the galleries. The great lanthorn of the dome, immediately over the baptistery, lights the center and ventilates the whole house, being encircled with sashes, which open and shut; at pleasure. The height to the apex of this lenthorn, from the floor, is upwards of fifty feet. The foot of the dome is encompassed by a broad moulded band, above which two other bands run round. The lanthorn has its soffit enriched with mouldings. The pews below are so disposed as to run parallel with the transverse diameter of the room, the number of which, together with those in the galleries, exceed three hundred and twenty, and with the public seats contain, with comfort, upwards of two thousand five hundred people. The design of this building was furnished by Mr. Mills, a pupil of Mr. Letrobe, and as the direction of the execution of his design has been wisely committed to him, the building does credit to his talents, and proves an ornament to the city. "Mr. Mills is the first American architect, regularly educated to the profession in his own country." Picture of Philadelphia, p. 326-8.]
In the neighborhood of Philadelphia, a number of churches arose in early times, of which we shall give some brief accounts. Of those which have been formed of late years, but little information has been obtained.
Great Valley. -- This church was planted by people from Wales in 1711. Its seat is 18 miles westward from Philadelphia. It was once handsomely endowed with lands and funds; what is the present state of its temporalities I have not been informed. The first pastor at the Valley was Mr. Hugh Davis, a native of Wales. After him was John Davis from the same country; their present pastor, Mr. David Jones, is also of Welsh extraction.
Montgomery. -- This church was also founded by Welsh Baptists, and was constituted in 1719. Two of its pastors, namely Benjamin Griffiths and John Thomas were born in the Principality, the first in the county of Cardigan, 1688, the other in that of Radnor in 1703. Who have been pastors of this body since Mr. Thomas does not appear; it is now under the care of Dr. Silas Hough.
South Hampton was the seventh church which arose in the province of Pennsylvania, and was constituted in 1746. It was founded by some members of the church at Pennepek, and by the remains of a society of Keithians, who settled in the neighborhood about 1700. The first pastor was Mr. Joshua Potts, who was ordained the same year the church was constituted, and continued in office till his death in 1761. Since Mr. Potts, this church has had in succession for its pastors or supplies, Thomas Davis, once at Oyster Bay, New York, Dr. Samuel Jones, now of Lower Dublin, Erasmus Kelly, who died at Newport, Rhode Island, the late William Vanhorn, David Jones, now at the Great Valley, Thomas Memmenger, and Thomas B. Montanye, who is still with them, but talks of leaving his pleasant situation for the attracting, ultramontane regions of the west. Mr. Montanye was born in New York, 1769, was settled a number of years in Warwick in that state, and came to South Hampton in 1801. This church has a valuable estate, the gift of John Morris, one of its ancient members.
It is pleasant to find that so many brethren and sisters in the old churches through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, had the cause of Zion so much at heart, that they made provision for its support after they were gone. If more now would think of this matter, and if churches would see that all their members did their proportion, or else turn them out of fellowship, they would not have occasion so often to go down to Egypt for help.
From the South Hampton church originated those eminent ministers, Isaac Eaton and Oliver Hart.
The church at New Britain arose out of a division of the Montgomery, and was formed in 1754. Their three first pastors were Joseph Eaton, William Davis, and Joshua Jones, all from Wales.
The Hilltown Church also sprang from the ancient community at Montgomery, of which it was formerly a branch. It was constituted a distinct body in 1781, had for its first pastor Mr. John Thomas, next to him Mr. James McLaughlin, now pastor at Piscataway, and after his removal, Mr. Joseph Mathias, one of their number, began to preach, and was ordained their pastor in 1806.
Where a particular account of churches is previously given, the less remains to be said of the associations which they compose. We have already mentioned in Epoch Second, that this ancient Association was formed in 1707. It begun with five churches, but in process of time became a numerous body, and for many years extended from Ketockton in Virginia to Northeast-town in New York, a distance of about 400 miles. From it originated the Ketockton, Baltimore, and Delaware Associations in the south; on the north, those of New York, Warwick, and New Jersey. Its ministers were sent for, and traveled to assist in regulating churches in trouble, in the lower parts of Virginia and even to the Carolinas. Its influence was exerted with good effect among the turbulent churchmen of Virginia, and also among the fleecing Pedobaptists of New England. It being the oldest institution of the kind in America, was looked up to as a pattern of imitation by those which succeeded, and by it were given rules, and even doctrine, to many and indeed most of the first associations in the southern and western states. This body has long maintained a correspondence with her sister communities in both extremes of the Union, with a number in England, and lately with the brethren in India. In it originated the design for the Rhode Island College, and by it have been projected many other plans, which had particularly in view the welfare of the Baptist interest in America. It has now been in operation 106 years, and I do not find that it was ever complained of for infringing on the independence of any church in its connection, a convincing proof that associations, when skillfully conducted, are altogether harmless on this point.
About 200 miles west of Philadelphia, in and near to the Alleghany mountains, are the following churches belonging to the Baltimore Association, namely Konoloway, Sideling Hill, Huntington and Tuscarora Valley.
In the county of Luzerne, near the line of New York on the Susquehannah River, a small association was formed in 1807 by the name of ABINGTON
Its churches, in 1811, were only three in number. Its ministers were William Purdy, Elijah Peck, John Miller, and Samuel Sturdivant, and its total number of members about 250.
This body is situated in a region settled mostly since the last war in Pennsylvania and New York. The churches in Pennsylvania are in the counties of Luzerne, Northumberland and Lycoming. Those in New York are in the adjoining parts, the counties are not known. It was formed of five churches, namely Chemung, Romulus, Fredericktown, New Bedford, and Brantrim, in 1796. Its principal ministers appear to be Roswell Goff and Thomas Smiley. The oldest church, and the mother of a number of the rest, is the one called Chemung, which was founded in 1791, in the following manner. Soon after the war, Mr. Ebenezer Green and others from the Warwick church in New York, settled on the west branch of the Susquehannah, at a place called the Black-hole. There they kept up a meeting till they were visited by James Finn, who baptized some among them. Being disappointed about their lands, they soon removed in a body to the Chemung Flats, then just beginning to be settled. Here they were soon joined by many others from different parts, among whom was Mr. Roswell Goff who began to preach among them and under whose ministry they were gathered into a church at the time above mentioned. Mr. Goff was born in Spencertown, New York, in 1763, and was baptized at Deer Park, at the age of 25.
Mr. Smiley was born in Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, May 29, 1759, was brought up a Seceder, a rigid sect of Scotch Presbyterians, was baptized by James Finn in 1792, at Wyoming. In the contentions about lands in this region, about the year 1800, Mr. Smiley, on account of having some governmental papers about him, was dragged out of his bed, in the dead of the night, by a band of what were called the Wild Yankees, with their faces blacked, and who, with pistols at his breast, compelled him first to burn his papers, and then tarred and feathered him. Besides this they threatened his life on account of his adhering to the Pennsylvania side, which led him to flee for safety to White Deer Valley, on the west branch of the Susquehannah, now in the county of Northumberland. Here he founded a church in 1808, over which he still presides, but travels much as a missionary in the surrounding parts under the patronage of the Philadelphia Association.
In the neighborhood of this association is a large church founded by Elder Jacob Drake, from Canaan, New York, in 1796. They have become large and are scattered along the Susquehannah River to the distance of many miles. They have three Elders, whose names are David Dimock, Griffin Lewis, and Joel Rogers. They hold church meetings in eight different places every month. Their number of communicants is not stated, but it must probably amount to three hundred. They are said by their neighbors to be Arminians in every point of doctrine, except that of falling from grace. Their own account of their sentiments is as follows: "The Arminian principles we deny, believing salvation to be wholly and totally by grace; on the other hand, we deny particular election, and special vocation," etc. The reader must judge for himself how much these brethren have mended the matter.
THE RED STONE ASSOCIATION
Was organized in 1776. It is situated in the western part of this state, adjoining Ohio. Some few of its churches are in that state, and others are in Virginia. The center of the association is no great distance south of Pittsburg. One of its oldest churches was gathered in 1770, under the ministry of Elder John Sutton. It was at first called Great Bethel, now Uniontown, and is upwards of 50 miles south of Pittsburg, in the county of Fayette. This church was the mother of many others, which arose around it. Mr. Sutton was a native of New Jersey, and was one of five brothers, who were Baptist preachers. He settled in the Red Stone country, when it was in a wilderness state, and was long a laborious and much respected preacher throughout all extensive circle of churches, which were planted either wholly or in part by his means. The time of his death is not known, but it is believed to have been not far from the year 1800. Contemporary with this evangelical servant of God, was the pious and successful John Corbly, who was made to drink deep of the cup of affliction. Mr. Corbly was a native of Ireland, and while young agreed to serve four years for his passage to Philadelphia. After the expiration of that term he settled in Virginia, in or near Culpepper county, where he was converted under the ministry of the renowned James Ireland. While persecution raged in that state, he was, among others, thrown into Culpepper gaol, where he remained a considerable time. This was, probably, previous to 1770, for about that date he settled in the region now under consideration, and in conjunction with Mr. Sutton, planted the first churches in it. Mr. Corbly was probably educated a Catholic, as his first wife was of that persuasion, and was a thorn in his side during her life. After her death he married an amiable woman of his own sentiments, by whom he had seven children, four of whom with their mother, were taken from him in a barbarous and most afflicting manner. The Indians, at that time, were extremely troublesome in this county, and often committed terrible ravages among the inhabitants. Mr. Corbly and his family set out on a Lord's Day to walk to meeting, less than half a mile from his house. After going a short distance, it was found that his Bible which had been given to his wife, had been forgotten, which obliged him to go back. On his return to overtake his family, he saw two Indians run, one of whom gave a direful yell. Suspecting evil he ran to a fort or block-house a short distance off, and obtained assistance. When he came to the place, he found his wife killed with a tomahawk; her infant, after having its brains dashed out against a tree, was thrown across her breast. Three other children lay dead on the spot, two more were terribly wounded, and scalped, and apparently dead, but afterwards recovered. Only one out of the seven children remained unhurt; she was a little girl, an Indian caught hold of her and was about to dispatch her, but being seized by a large dog, she escaped and hid herself in the bushes. It was afterwards ascertained that seven Indians were engaged in this barbarous transaction. The feelings of the bereaved husband and father may better be conceived than described. For a while he remained inconsolable; but reflecting on the signal act of Providence in preserving his own life, he recovered his spirits, recommenced his ministerial labours, which, from excess of grief, were for a time suspended, married a third time, and continued a zealous and successful minister till 1805, when he finished his course in peace. One of his sons is now a Baptist minister in the Indiana Territory.
Two other incidents befel this good man, which were peculiarly distressing: The first was the conduct of a base woman, who accused him of making frequent criminal propositions her, which she offered to confirm on oath. When cited before a magistrate, she was taken with a fit of trembling, and for some time remained speechless. Some were for excusing the vile accuser, and letting the matter pass off; but Mr. Corbly insisted on her making oath -- which she did, and expressly declared, that he was altogether innocent, adding, at the same time, that it was a plot laid by certain persons, whom she named.
In the Whiskey Insurrection, so called, Mr. Corbly was suspected of aiding and abetting the insurgents, and on that suspicion was suddenly arrested, carried to Philadelphia, conducted in disgrace through the streets, and lodged in gaol, where he remained some time in great affliction. While there, he was comforted and supplied by Dr. Rogers and other friends in the city. His case was never tried, and of course it was not legally determined whether he was accused falsely or not. In the opinion of his friends he by no means deserved the treatment he received.
At Beulah, in the county of Cambria, in the midst of the Alleghany mountains, a church was founded by emigrants from Wales in 1797, under the direction of the late Morgan J. Rees. The original members of this body set sail from Milford Haven, South Wales, March 8, 1796, and landed in New York the May following. They soon went to Philadelphia, where they united in church fellowship with a number of their countrymen of the Independent and Calvinistic Methodist persuasions. Their minister was Mr. Simon James. After tarrying in Philadelphia a few months, a number of the members of this mixed communion church removed about 200 miles westward, and began a settlement, to which they gave the name of Beulah, hoping to experience the divine favor, which the term imports. This was in October, 1796. Others of their company followed them the ensuing spring, by which time the number of Baptists amounted to twenty-four, who, being dissatisfied with their plan of church building, in August, 1797, separated from their Pedobaptist brethren, and formed a community of baptized believers only.
Since that time, they have been visited by a number of ministers from their native country, some preachers have also been raised up among them, but many both of preachers and members, have traveled on to the State of Ohio, where they have founded two or three churches. Thomas Powel settled in Licking county, Henry George at Owl Creek, David Kimpton has lately gone to a place in the New Purchase, and settled near Wooster, where he has gathered a church. Beulah appears to have been a stopping place for many Welsh brethren, who have removed to more distant regions. The present pastor here is Mr. Timothy Davis, and besides him they have two preachers, whose names are William Williams and John Jones. They sometimes preach in English, but mostly in their mother tongue.
Mr. Rees died among this people in December, 1801; he had traveled much, not only in his native country, but in England, France, and America. His widow now lives in Philadelphia.
Beulah is about 80 miles east of the Redstone country, some distance north of the main road from Philadelphia to Pittsburg. Of the remaining churches and ministers in this Association but a little information has been obtained.
Mr. David Philips, pastor of Peter's Creek church, is a native of Wales, came to America when a child, lived in Chester county in this State, till 36 years of age, when he removed to his present situation, and was one of the early settlers of the country.
Mr. Henry Spears, pastor of the Enon church, also settled in this quarter, when it was but a little more than a wilderness. He is a native of Dunmore county; Virginia, is of Dutch descent, and has a very large, luxuriant plantation on the Monongahela river, about 26 miles from Pittsburg. The church at Connollsville on the Yohogany River was founded in 1796. Its principal promoters were two brothers by the name of Trevor, namely Samuel and Caleb, natives of Leicestershire, England. Dr. James Estep was the pastor of this church in 1809; whether he still remains with them I have not ascertained. He, with others, proposed forwarding additional information, which has never been received.
The doctrine of the laying-on-of-hands became a subject of dispute among the Redstone churches a number of years ago, most of them had, from their beginning, practiced the rite, but some were for making it a term of communion; it was, however, finally determined, that all should be left to act according to their respective opinions on the subject.
A church was formed in Pittsburg in 1812, which has probably united with the Association under consideration. In that year two Presbyterian ministers were baptized in Washington county, and another minister of the same denomination was to be baptized soon after at Chenango in Ohio, not far distant. [Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine vol iii p 205]
In the neighborhood of this association, a small collection of churches, some of whom were formerly members of it, have formed a Confederacy under the name of the Covenanted Independent Baptists. Their principal leader appears to be Dr. Thomas Hersey, a native of Massachusetts, who began preaching in the state of Ohio. These churches are, as they say, called by some Semi-Calvinists, by others, Semi-Arminians. From the best information it appears, that the principal difference between them and the Redstone Association turns upon the doctrine of the atonement as stated by Gill and Fuller. [Those who may wish for a further account of the sentiments of these Independent Baptists, may find them expressed in a Word, published by Dr. Horsey in 1810, entitled, "Experimental Views," etc.]