We shall now attempt to trace the history of the Kehukee Association from 1803 to 1833, under the guidance chiefly of Elder Joseph Biggs, of Williamston, N. C., and pastor of the church at Skewarkey for many years and up to the period of his death, which occurred in 1844.
On Friday before the first Sunday in October, 1803, the Association convened, pursuant to appointment, at Conoho (sometimes called Log Chapel), Martin County, N. C. Elder John Wall preached the introductory Sermon. Elder Jesse Read was chosen Moderator, and Elder Lemuel Burkitt Clerk, who called to his assistance brother James B. Jordan. Letters from twenty seven churches were received and read ; from which it appeared there had been added to them by baptism in one year 628 per- sons, and that there were then in fellowship 2,855 members. Visiting brethren in the ministry from sister Associations were invited to seats, when Elders Brame, Poindexter, Sorey, Bunting, Barnes and Bennett seated themselves. Letters from the Virginia Portsmouth Association, by the hands of her messengers, Elders Browne and Murrell, and from the Neuse, by Elders Thompson and Oliver, were handed in and read. Three churches were added to the number at this meeting, viz. Cross Roads, Edgecombe County ; Little Coneto, in same county ; and Connaritsey, in Bertie County ; making now thirty churches in all. A letter was received from the Flat River Association. Elders Browne Ross and Poindexter were appointed to preach on Sunday. Elders Read and Ross were appointed messengers to the Neuse, and Elders Burkitt and Spivey to the Virginia Portsmouth Association. Minutes were received from the following Associations, viz. Virginia Portsmouth, Neuse, Flat River, Middle District, Dover, Roanoke District, New York and Kentucky Associations. The Association authorized the following paragraph, taken from the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association, to be inserted in the Minutes of this year, Viz.:
"Ninety-four years have rolled on since the first meeting of this Association (the first in America), and then composed of only five churches; but viewing the state of the churches at present, our connections in this country, we perceive it to be at least at this time as the thousands of Israel, embracing numerous Associations, composed of at least (at this time) twelve hundred churches, containing more than one hundred thou- sand members."
At this Association a subject was introduced in the shape of a query, which gave distress, trouble and anxiety to the minds of brethren belonging to this body for twenty-four years. Some were in favor, and others stood opposed to the measure. There never was a perfect agreement as to its merits, a feeble and tardy assent was given to it by a majority for a while, but perfect satisfaction never; and at length, in the year 1827, it was settled by discarding the subject and all measures connected with it. It was a new thing introduced to the notice of the Association, and after the body had been in existence thirty-seven years! It gave rise to contentions, heartburning, bickerings, animosities and strife, broke the peace of the brethren, and was a fire-brand in their midst. The subject was that of Missions, which was introduced by the following query, submitted by Elder Martin Ross, then a prominent minister in the Association; and at a time when the zeal and credulity of many hundreds of new converts were at their height. This was one drawback to the great revival which had just occurred within the bounds of the Association. But for the revival, so called, this new measure and great departure from the custom of the fathers would, probably, have received no favorable consideration among the staid old members of the Association. This was the query under consideration:
"Is not the Kehukee Association, with all her numerous and respectable friends, called on in Providence, in some way, to step forward in support of that missionary spirit which the great God is so wonderfully re- giving amongst the different denominations of good men in various parts of the world?"
Simply to state this query is sufficient to show a settled purpose to depart from original ground, previously occupied by Baptists, and to exhibit the state and standing of the Association or church in a different light from that previously discovered in her history.
When was it known before that the Association had "numerous and respectable friends?" When had she before discovered "different denominations of good men in various parts of the world?" When had she found it necessary before this time "to step forward in support of" any work which the God of Heaven was already carrying on? If God Almighty was reviving a missionary spirit among different denominations of good men in various parts of the world, without the aid of men made missionary societies, then wherefore the necessity for their creation to enable Him to carry it on? We see none. A very few quotations will show the antagonism of their "query" to the true condition of God's church and people.
"Why callest thou me good " there is none good but one, that is God" (Matt. xix. 17). "There is none that doth good, no, not one" (Romans iii. 12). "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John xv. 18, 19).
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God" (James iv. 4). "He spake, arid it was done; He commanded, arid it stood fast" (Psalm xxiii. 9). "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, arid there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me ; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah xvi. 9, 10).
The idea of 'respectability' and to "be like other people" and to "help the Almighty carry on His own work" has always been damaging to the people of God, whenever entertained by them in any age of the world. It was so under the old dispensation, and has been so under the new. It was so in Andrew Fuller's day, and was so in Martin Ross's day. The Lord's people have always been a poor and afflicted people. They have always been few in number, the persecuted among men in all ages - everywhere spoken against and cordially hated for their Master's and his truth's sake. A woe has befallen them whenever they have wrangled among themselves to see who should be the greatest, or to see how near they could be conformed to the religions of the world and still retain their identity as the peculiar people of God.
The subject matter of this query was referred to the next Association, and coming up then, in 1804, for consideration, it was agreed that the following named persons, Elders Lemuel Burkitt, Martin Ross, Aaron Spivey, Jesse Read and John McCabe, be appointed delegates to meet such as might be appointed by the Virginia Portsmouth and Neuse Associations at Cashie meeting-house, Bertie County, on Friday before the third Sunday in June, 1805, to devise ways and means to support the missionary cause. The proceedings of this meeting held at Cashie meeting-house we have riot succeeded in finding; it was not reported to the Association, so as to be spread upon her minutes, but arrangements were made to enter upon a system of collecting money to aid missionary purposes.
The scheme was plausible to many; it was new and beautiful to some; it was well dressed up; it was urged by good words and fair speeches, calculated to mislead the minds of the inexperienced. Those who supported it were represented by the orators of the occasion to be warm-hearted, noble Christians; while those who opposed it were denominated cold-hearted or lukewarm Christians, who cared but little for the salvation of their fellow-creatures. And thus the new project for a season prevailed, against the warnings and opposition of a few faithful soldiers of Christ, who were ready to mark them who caused divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which they had learned, and avoid them (Romans xvi. 17); but who were unable at the time to make a sufficient stand against this new thing.
In 1804, on Friday before the first Sunday in October, the Association convened with the church at Parker's meeting-house, Hertford County, N.C. of the body ; all those clenches on the north side of Roanoke River were to be called the Chowan Association, and those on the south side of that river were to retain the name of the Kehukee Association.
The churches on the north side were to meet at Newbiggin meeting house (formerly called Flatty Creek), Pasquotank County, on Friday before the third Sunday in May, 1800, to organize themselves into an associated body. The churches left to retain the name of Kehukee were to hold their next meeting with the church at Skewarkey, on Friday before the first Sunday in October, 1806.
It was agreed at this time that, after defraying the expenses of printing the Minutes for this year, the surplus fund be equally divided between the two Associations, and that each body correspond with the other annually. The division was only for greater convenience, as the bounds had become large and the churches numerous. This was the third division that had taken place among the churches composing the Kehukee Association. She might therefore be considered then the mother of the Virginia Portsmouth, the Neuse and the Chowan Associations three noble daughters, who annually visited and greatly respected their mother, until their minds became poisoned with the leaven of the Pharisees, which induced them to adopt human (devices as a means of saving sinners and gaining respectability among worldly societies. They fell in love more and more with the new men-made institutions, as a substitute for the atonement of our precious Redeemer ; and their mother had less and less confidence in these things, and finally declared non-fellowship for them and for those who engaged in them. This produced a separation between mother and daughters, but brought peace and fellowship among the churches of the Kehukee Association, which has been but little interrupted for fifty years. The number of communicants remaining in the Kehukee Churches after this third division was 1,589.
In 1806, on the 3d of October, the Association met with the church at Skewarkey, Martin County. Elder Nathan Gilbert preached the introductory sermon. Brother Nathan Mayo was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk. Elder Burkitt, who had been Clerk of the Kehukee for so many years, but now belonged to the Chowan Association, presented himself as a messenger front that body, and was received, with twenty-five copies of her Minutes. Letters front nineteen churches were read, from which it appears seventy-nine had been added by baptism since the last session, and the number then in fellowship was 1,736. Correspondence was kept up with the following Associations, viz,: Neuse, Chowan, Virginia Portsmouth and Cape Fear. Elder Gilbert was to visit the Neuse, Elder Biggs the Chowan, Elder Lawrence the Virginia Portsmouth, and Elder Thomas Ross the Cape Fear, all of whom were to bear letters. Elder Joseph Biggs was appointed treasurer of the Association fund, to whom Elder Burkitt paid over the amount that was in his hands. Elders Lemuel Burkitt and Aaron Spivey were requested to preach on Sunday.
On Friday before the first Sunday in October, 1807, the Association met at Haywood's meeting-house, in Franklin County. Elder Joshua Lawrence preached the introductory sermon. Brother Nathan Mayo was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk. Letters from twenty-three churches were read, which showed 111 baptized, and whole number to be 1,640. Elder Joseph Biggs was appointed a messenger to the Chowan, and Elder Amariah Biggs to the Neuse Associations. It was at this time:
"Resolved, That the Wednesday before the second Sunday in December, 1807, be observed by the churches of this body as a day of general thanksgiving to God for His mercies bestowed on the labors of the husbandman, this and the past seasons ;" and it was recommended to "unite in solemn prayer for the prosperity of Zion."
Elder Moses Bennett was appointed a messenger to the Flat River Association. Elders Joseph Biggs and John Thompson were requested to preach on Sunday.
In 1808 the Association met at Cross Roads, Edgecombe County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Philemon Bennett preached the introductory sermon. Brother Nathan Mayo was Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Bennett Barrow. Twenty-seven churches represented themselves by letter, from which it appeared 116 had been baptized during the past year, and then in fellowship 1,686. A letter from the Neuse Association, by Elder Dupree, their messenger; one from Chowan, by Elder Spivey; and one from the Virginia Portsmouth, by Elder Buntin, were received.
A church in Hyde County, on the south side of Mattamuskeet Lake, was received into membership at this session. Elders Spivey, Buntin and Lancaster were requested to preach on Sunday. Elder Luke Ward was appointed messenger to the Neuse; Elder Lancaster to the Chowan; and Elder Read to the Virginia Portsmouth Association.
In 1809, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October, the Association was held with the church at Morattock, Washington County. Elder Joshua Lawrence preached the introductory sermon. Elder Philemon Bennett was chosen Moderator, arid Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Dempsey Battle. Letters from twenty-six churches were read, from which it appeared 49 had been added by baptism, and then in fellowship 1,661. A letter was received from the Chowan Association, by their messengers, Elders Martin Ross and John Wall; and one from the Virginia Portsmouth, by their messenger, Elder Murrell. A newly-constituted church at Moore's meeting-house, Nash County, was received a member of the Association. Elder Richard Poindexter, a special messenger from the Chowan Association, appeared and took his seat. Elders Benjamin Morsely, Robert Murrell and Martin Ross were requested to preach on Sunday. Elders Amariak Biggs and Benjamin Joyner were appointed messengers to the Neuse; Elders Philemon Bennett and William Lancaster to the Chowan; and Elders Joshua Lawrence and Moses Bennett to the Virginia Portsmouth Association. Elder Benjamin Morsely was present from the South Carolina Association. An article in the Minutes of the Chowan Association, recommending the establishment of a meeting to be called "A Meeting of General Correspondence," embracing all the Associations, either in whole or in part, that have sprung from the Kehukee Association, was presented for consideration. The matter being entirely new, it was thought best to defer it ; and accordingly it was postponed until the next Association.
In 1810 the Association convened at Kehukee meeting-house, Halifax County, Saturday before the first Sunday in October. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder William Lancaster. Elder Philemon Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk who called to his assistance Elder Moses Bennett. Brethren in the ministry from sister Associations were invited to seats, whereupon Elders William Creath, Richard Dobbs, William Hatchett, Thomas Gardner, William Dossey, James Ross, John Purifoy, Thomas Ross, Thomas Dupree and Hillary Morris seated themselves. Letters from twenty-eight churches were read, from which it appeared there had been baptized the past year 66, then in fellowship 1,663. Elders Creath, Dossey and Dobbs were requested to preach on Sunday. Correspondence by letter was continued with the Red River, Raleigh, Neuse, Chowan and Virginia Portsmouth Associations.
The subject of a "Meeting of General Correspondence," to be held in North Carolina, was again presented to the consideration of the Association, through Elder Dossey, as suggested in the Minutes of the Chowan Association; whereupon Elders Lancaster, Read, Philemon and Moses Bennett were appointed messengers from this to meet such as may be appointed by other Associations, to assemble at the meeting-house at the Falls of Tar River, on Friday before the second Sunday in June, in 1811. And thus another new thing was introduced among the Baptists of the Kehukee Association and others, unknown to them in former ages. It was deservedly of short duration, however.
In 1811 the Association was held with the church at Mearn's Chapel, Nash County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Richard Dobbs preached the introductory sermon. Elder Philemon
Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance Elder Moses Bennett. Letters from twenty-eight churches were received, from which it appeared 182 had been added by baptism, and 1,627 were then in fellowship. A church newly constituted at Spring Green was received at this session a member of the body. A letter of correspondence from the Red River Association was received. One from the Virginia Portsmouth, with a file of Minutes, was received; and one from the Chowan and Minutes, by the hands of her messenger, Elder Spivey, were also received. Elder Read delivered to the Association thirty copies of the Minutes of the General Convention of North Carolina Baptists. What the character of these Minutes was does not appear, but we infer that they favored men-made missionism. This proves that the Kehukee Association was implicated in this business at that time. But how much implicated in the way of financial responsibility may be gathered from the fact that the Treasurer of the Association was ordered to hand to Elder Philemon Bennett two dollars! advanced by him to defray the expenses of printing the Minutes of the Convention held in June, 1811. Elders Dobbs, Spivey and Robert T. Daniel were requested to preach on Sunday. A letter from the Neuse Association was handed in by her messengers, Elders Dupree and Robert T. Daniel. Letters were forwarded to the Virginia Portsmouth, Chowan, Red River and Raleigh Associations. The following messengers were appointed to visit sister Associations, viz.: Elder Lancaster to the Chowan, Elder Lawrence to the Raleigh, Elder Luke Ward to the Neuse, Elder Joyner to the Virginia Portsmouth, and Elder Philemon Bennett to the Merherrin. The Constitution of the General Meeting of Correspondence of North Carolina Baptists, which assembled at the Falls of Tar River in June, came under deliberation; but after being discussed it was not sanctioned. This was additional evidence that the Kehukee Association was still backward in the support of new things, and viewed this Convention with a jealous eye. The innovation was young, it is true, but it was assuming vast proportions, and the fear was that it would eventually claim dictation to the churches, and thereby destroy their liberties. Elders Lawrence, Lancaster, Philemon and Moses Bennett were appointed delegates to the next General Meeting of Baptists in North Carolina, expected to convene in the city of Raleigh in June, 1812. Thus it appears the Association, though not exactly satisfied with it, permitted it to live a while longer.
1812. The Association met this year on Saturday before the first Sunday in October, at Great Swamp, Pitt County. Elder Philemon Bennett preached the introductory sermon. He was then chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Bennett Barrow. Letters from twenty-one churches exhibited an increase by baptism for the past year of 257, and the number then in fellowship to be 1,869. A church at Frying Pan, Tyrrell County, was received as a member of the body. A letter from the Chowan Association, with twenty-one copies of her Minutes of 1810, and twenty-five copies of 1811, by her messenger, Elder Spivey, and one from the Neuse Association, with twenty-five copies of her Minutes, by her messenger, Elder John McCabe, were received. A certificate, setting forth the appointment of Elder John Gully as a delegate from the Raleigh Association, with twenty-five copies of Minutes, was received, but Elder Gully failed to attend. A letter from the Virginia Portsmouth Association, accompanied with thirty copies of her Minutes, was received by the hands of Elder Robert Murrell. Twenty-five copies of the Minutes of the Baptist General Meeting of Correspondence in North Carolina were received. Elders Lancaster, Spivey and Biddle were appointed to preach on Sunday. Correspondence with the following Associations Was ordered, viz.: A letter to the Red River; a letter to the Chowan, Elders Read and Philemon Bennett messengers ; one to the Virginia Portsmouth, Elder Benjamin Joyner, messenger; and one to the Raleigh, William Lancaster, messenger.
The Constitution of the General Meeting of Correspondence came up for consideration again, and the Association passed the following resolution, with the view, it seems, of making that body as little burdensome and dictatorial as possible:
"Resolved, That the 8th, 9th and 12th Articles of the Constitution of the General Meeting of Correspondence be altered to read thus Article 8th. That a fund to defray the expenses of this body be raised by a voluntary contribution. Article 9th. That the General Meeting of Correspondence may adopt measures to extend religious acquaintance, to encourage the preaching of the gospel and to diffuse useful knowledge. Article 10th. This body shall have an annual meeting, so as to benefit the several Associations, of which the General Meeting may have been composed, but shall be considered only as an advisory council. Article 12th. That when a majority of the Associations of which the General Meeting may have been constituted shall concur in such a wish, then this Constitution may be altered or this meeting dissolved." From the tenor of this resolution we should infer that the Association in 1812 regarded the General Meeting suspiciously, and looked forward to its probable dissolution. Elders Lancaster, Read, Lawrence and Philemon Bennett were appointed delegates to the next General Meeting of Correspondence, to be held at the Fails of Tar River, on Saturday before the fourth Sunday in July, 1813; and the Association contributed three dollars to the fund of that meeting.
In 1813 the Association met at Williams's meeting-house, Edgecombe County, Saturday before the first Sunday in October. The introductory sermon was delivered by Elder Amariah Biggs. Elder Philemon Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Bennett Barrow. Letters from twenty-nine churches were read, from which it appeared 108 had been added by baptism, and the whole number in fellowship 1,974.
A certificate of the Raleigh Association, with thirty-one copies of her Minutes, was received by the hands of Elder Wall, their messenger. Elder Spivey, from the Chowan Association, with twenty-five copies of her Minutes, was received. Elders Spivey, Barnes and Ward were appointed to preach on Sunday. Letters to the Virginia Portsmouth, Red River, Kentucky, Chowan and Neuse Associations were read and approved ; and Elders Read and Joyner appointed messengers to the Virginia Portsmouth; Elders P. Bennett and Amariah Biggs to the Chowan; and Elder P. Bennett to the Raleigh Associations. Elders P. Bennett, Lawrence, Read and Amariah Biggs were appointed delegates to the General Meeting of Correspondence to be held at Union meeting-house, Wake County, on Friday before the fourth Sunday in July, 1814, and the Association sent, by the hands of Elder Read, five dollars to the fund of that meeting. The contribution was increased a little, inasmuch as the General Meeting had been held somewhat in check by this body. It was decided at this meeting that the road leading front Hill's Ferry, on the Roanoke River, to Tarboro, on the Tar River, should be the dividing line between the churches, and all those situated above it should be entitled to the Association one year, and those below it the next year.
In 1814 the Association was held at Morattock meeting-house, Washington County, commencing Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Joseph Biggs preached the introductory sermon. He was chosen Clerk, and Elder P. Bennett Moderator, and brother Bennett Barrow Assistant Clerk. Twenty-nine churches were heard from; 44 baptized; whole number in fellowship, 1,964. A letter front the Red River, and Elder Dupree, messenger from the Neuse, with Minutes, were received. Letters to the Chowan, Red River, Neuse and Virginia Portsmouth were read and approved; and Elders Biggs and Ward appointed messengers to the Chowan; Elders Read and P. Bennett to the Neuse; Elder P. Bennett and brother John Fowler to the Raleigh; and Elders Joyner and Lawrence to the Virginia Portsmouth Associations. It was resolved to send five dollars to the fund of the General Meeting by Elder P. Bennett; and he with Elders Read and Lancaster were appointed delegates to the next General Meeting of Correspondence.
1815. The Association met this year at Daniels' meeting-house, on Fishing Creek. The first sermon was preached by Elder Joseph Biggs, who was also appointed Clerk, and Elder P. Bennett Moderator. Letters were received from twenty-nine churches, showing additions to be 41, and whole number in fellowship 1,921. Messengers from sister Associations: Elders Hervey and John Roe, from the Chowan; Elders Landress and Campbell, from the Country Line (a new correspondent). Letters were also received from the Neuse, the Virginia Portsmouth and the Red River Associations. Elder Martin Ross presented to this Association thirty-one copies of the Report of the Board, at Philadelphia, of Baptist Foreign Missions, received through their agent, Luther Rice. This was the first report of the kind ever made to or accepted by the Kehukee Association, which was fifty years - just half a century after her organization. It needs no argument to show that this was the introduction of a new thing to the consideration of this body of Baptists. The committee appointed to examine the Circular Letter was requested to examine this report also, and make their report to the Association on Monday. On Monday the report came in, recommending that the Circular of the agent, Elder Rice, be read, which was done.
Brother Bennett Barrow was then appointed Corresponding Secretary of this Association, until the next annual meeting, "to write to said agent, receive payment for the pamphlets, and transmit the same to the Board or agent."
It was thought necessary that further alterations be made in the Constitution of the General Meeting of Correspondence, and therefore, "Resolved, That the delegates from the Association be authorized to assist in making any alterations in said instrument that may be thought necessary."
Elders Read, P. Bennett, Lancaster, and brother Barrow, and, in case of either failing, Elder Moses Bennett, were appointed delegates to the next General Meeting; and it was resolved that in future the Association would not send any of her funds to that meeting.
Ministers who preached on Sunday of this Association were Elders Roe, Spivey and Whitfield.
1816. On Saturday before the first Sunday in October of this year, the Association convened with the church at Log Chapel, on Conoho Creek, Martin County. Elder Amariah Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder Jesse Read was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk. Letters from twenty-five churches showed 44 added by baptism, and the whole number in fellowship, 1,834. Letters from Chowan, Red River, Little River and Flat River Associations were received. Elders Landress, Spivey and Lawrence preached on Sunday. Letters to the Neuse, Chowan, Virginia Portsmouth, Flat River, Country Line, Red River, Tennessee, and Little River, Kentucky, were read and approved. Elders Lawrence and A. Biggs were appointed messengers to the Neuse; Elders Read and Lawrence to the Chowan and Virginia Portsmouth; Elders Lancaster and A. Biggs to the Flat River; Elder Read and brother Barrow to the Country Line; and Elder Joseph Biggs was requested to forward letters to the Red River and Little River Associations. Brother Bennett Barrow was appointed the standing Secretary of this Association, to correspond with the Board of Foreign Missions. The Association, after deliberation, decided not to send any delegates to the General Meeting of Correspondence, and brother Barrow was appointed to give information of the same to said meeting, to be conveyed by Elder Read, and to send up four dollars contributed by individual churches to its fund. Thus it appears the Association dropped this "New Thing," after trying it for a few years and finding no advantage in it. It was taken up in 1810 and laid down in 1816 - lasted only six years.
1817. The Association convened this year with the church at the Falls of Tar River, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Joseph Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk. Letters from twenty-five churches were read, showing the number of baptisms to be 48, and the number then in fellowship to be 1,739. A letter from the Chowan Association, by their messenger, Elder John Rowe; one from the Red River, and some Minutes of the Flat River Association were handed in.
Correspondence with sister Associations was as follows: Elder Lawrence, messenger to the Neuse; Elders Bennett and J. Biggs to the Chowan; Elder Lancaster to the Raleigh; and Elder Amariah Biggs to the Virginia Portsmouth.
Elders Roe, Lawrence and Hyman preached on Sunday. The Association thankfully received fifty copies of the proceedings of a General Convention of Baptists in the United States, held in Philadelphia from the 7th to the 14th of May, 1817.
The churches composing the Association were requested to signify, in their letters to the next session, whether they approve of the General Meeting and wish to continue a member thereof.
1818. The Association met at Skewarkey, Martin County, Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder P. Bennett preached the introductory sermon, and was then chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother John H. Drake. Letters from twenty-seven churches showed an increase by baptism of 41, and in fellowship 1,634. Letters were received from four Associations, viz.: Neuse, Chowan, Red River and Little River. Messengers from Neuse, Elder Dupree and brother Simpson; from Chowan, Elders Spivey and Newborn.
The Association received sixteen copies of the fourth annual report of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions from the United States Convention at Philadelphia. This showed the age of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions to be four years. It was born of spurious philanthropy and false zeal in 1814. We are naturally led to inquire, How did the churches and the people of God in America get along without it till this auspicious year dawned upon the world? If it was necessary in 1814, was it not necessary in 1714, and in 1614, and every hundred years backward, through the centuries to the Apostolic Age? If it was not necessary until 1814, was it necessary then, or can it be necessary now? We find nothing of it previous to this time in the history of the American churches, and nothing of it in England previous to the days of Fuller and Cary. We cannot escape the conclusion, therefore, that the modern missionary system is an innovation and a human appendage to the church of Christ, worldly in character and insulting in its nature to the King in Zion. And, lamentable to record, the Kehukee Association was implicated in 1814 in this maneuver, and a majority of her body were led off into error by the blandishments of men to sanction this newfangled scheme.
Elders Dupree, Bennett and Lawrence preached on Sunday. Messengers to corresponding Associations were appointed: Elder Amariah Biggs to the Virginia Portsmouth; Elders Joseph Biggs and Bennett to the Chowan; and Elders Lawrence and Hyman to the Neuse. Letters were to be forwarded to the Red River and to the Little River Associations. Elder Joseph Biggs was requested to procure a blank book and record the proceedings of this Association from the termination of Elders Burkitt and Read's history, and report the expense thereof.
1819. At Deep Creek meeting-house, Halifax County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October of this year, the Association convened. Elder Joseph Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother John H. Drake. Visiting brethren in the ministry from sister Associations were Elders Newborn, Crompler and Murrell. Letters from twenty-six churches showed 49 to have been added by baptism, and the number iii fellowship 1,634.
A church in Tarborough, Edgecombe County, was received into membership. Letters from the Neuse awl Little River were received, the former by Elder Riddle, their messenger, and the latter by Elder Biggs.
Elders Bennett, Lawrence and Hyman were appointed messengers to the Neuse; Elder Lawrence to Virginia Portsmouth; and Elders Lawrence an(l Bennett to the Chowan Associations. Elders Newborn, Riddle and Lawrence preached on Sunday.
1820. The Association convened on Saturday before the first Sunday in October this year, with the church at North Creek, Beaufort County. Introductory sermon was preached by Elder P. Bennett, who was also chosen Moderator, and Elder J. Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Jesse Little. Letters from twenty-five churches were received, which showed 120 to have been baptized, and the whole number to have been 1,659. Elder Newborn, messenger from the Chowan Association, seated himself on invitation. A letter from the Red River Association was received. Elders Newborn and Hyman preached on Sunday. Elder Hyman was appointed messenger to the Neuse, and Elder Biggs to write to the Chowan, Red River and Little River Associations.
1821. The Association convened at Mearn's Chapel, Nash County, Saturday before the first Sunday in October, this year. Elder Amariah Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder P. Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder J. Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother John H. Drake. Visiting brethren in the ministry were invited to seats, whereupon Elders Spivey, Dupree, Worrell, Walke and Robbins seated themselves. A letter from the Neuse Association with Minutes was received; one from the Chowan, by their messengers, Elders Newborn and Crompler, and brother Cotton; and Minutes of the Virginia Portsmouth, by their messengers, Elders Wolford and McGlamack, were received also a letter from the Red River Association. Letters from twenty-seven churches composing the Association were received, which showed an increase by baptism of 154, and then in fellowship in all the churches, 1,746.
Elder Biggs, Corresponding Secretary of the Association, presented a Circular Address from the Baptist General Convention, accompanied with a letter from James Monroe, President of the United States, to the President of Columbia College, in the District of Columbia.
Elders Dupree and Lawrence preached on Sunday. Elder Lawrence and brother Jesse Powell were appointed messengers to the Virginia Portsmouth Association. A letter to the Red River Association was read and approved; also one to the Little River, and Elder Lawrence appointed messenger. Elders Amariah and Joseph Biggs were appointed messengers to the Chowan.
The committee appointed to examine the Circular Address of the Baptist General Convention reported that they had not time to examine it, and therefore submitted it without comment, The committee were discharged. It was resolved that the Corresponding Secretary send one copy of the Association Minutes to said Board. Elder Lancaster was appointed to prepare a Circular Letter for the next Association. This custom had prevailed in the Association pretty generally since 1789. In that year Elder Burkitt was requested to prepare a Circular Letter for the next session, on the doctrine of sanctification.
1822. The Association met at Cross Roads meeting-house, Edgecombe County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder P. Bennett preached the introductory sermon. He was chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother John H. Drake. Letters from twenty-five churches reported 94 baptized, and total number1,522. A church in Washington, Beaufort County, was received into membership. The Association received a letter from the Chowan Association by the hands of her messengers, Elders Newborn and James Ross; one from the Virginia Portsmouth, with thirty copies of her Minutes, by her messenger, Elder Nathaniel Chambless; one from the Neuse, by her messenger, Elder Benjamin Bynum; and one from the Red River, through Elder Biggs, Clerk; and an address from the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, through Elder Biggs.
Elders Chambless, Newborn and Mastin preached on Sunday. Elders Amariah Biggs and Lawrence were appointed messengers to the Neuse; Elder Mastin and brother William Dicken to the Virginia Portsmouth; and Elders Joseph Biggs, Hyman and Bennett to the Chowan. It was recommended to the churches that the first Wednesday in the ensuing November be observed as a day of fasting and prayer to Almighty God, invoking Him for a revival of religion. The churches at Sandy Creek, Reedy Creek and Mattamuskeet having failed for some time to represent themselves in the Association, committees were appointed to visit them, inquire into their standing and their reasons for not representing themselves.
At this session of the Association it was represented that a practice prevailed, calculated to injure the feelings of the truly pious, by members of the Baptist Churches joining the Masonic Society and frequenting their lodges. The Association was then called on to advise the churches how to act in such cases. Whereupon the following select committee was appointed to draft an answer of advice, viz.: Elders Benjamin Bynum, William Dicken, Jeremiah Mastin, and brethren John W. Mayo and James S. Battle, who reported the following resolution:
"We, your committee appointed to draft an answer of advice to the churches relative to the above query, would recommend to the churches to admonish such persons thus acting to desist from attending Masonic Lodges, which we think is calculated to injure the feelings of the truly pious; and should they refuse to submit to such admonition, that it would be disorder in them, for which they should be dealt with accordingly."
The Association concurred with the report, and ordered that the same be spread on her Minutes. This was the second rebuke given by the Association to this practice, the first having been given in 1786.
Brethren John H. Drake and Peter P. Lawrence were appointed a Committee on Finance; Elders Biggs, Bennett and Newborn to examine the Circular Letter; brother Valentine Bailey to write to the Virginia Portsmouth; brother Lewelling Bowers to the Chowan; Elder Biggs to the Red River; brother Jesse Little to the Neuse Association; and Elder Biggs to the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions at Washington City.
1823. The Association met at Lawrence's meeting-house, Edgecombe County, Saturday before the first Sunday in October of this year. Elder Joseph Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder P. Bennett was chosen Moderator, and Elder J. Biggs Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Jesse Little. Brethren in the ministry from sister Associations were invited to seats, when brethren William B. Worrell and Irvin Mayo seated themselves.
Letters from twenty-six churches reported 119 baptized and 1,772 in fellowship. A church at Goose Creek, Beaufort County, and one at Red Bud, Franklin County, petitioned for membership and were received. A letter from the Neuse by her messenger, Elder Dupree; one from the Chowan, with Minutes, by her messengers, Elders Newborn and Crompler and one from the Red River Association, through Elder Joseph Biggs, were received. Brethren Jesse Powell and John W. Mayo were appointed a Committee on Finance; Elders Amariah Biggs, Newborn, Bennett and Worrell to examine the Circular Letter; Elder Lawrence to write to the Virginia Portsmouth; Elder Mastin to the Chowan; Elder Amariah Biggs to the Neuse; and Elder Joseph Biggs to the Red River Associations. Elders Bennett, Mastin and Worrell preached on Sunday. It was recommended to the churches that the last Thursday in October 1823, be observed as a day of fasting and prayer to Almighty God.
Poplar Spring Church, in Franklin County, was given a letter of dismissal to join an Association more convenient.
1824. The Association met at Great Swamp, Pitt County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. The introductory discourse was delivered by Elder Philemon Bennett, who was chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk. Elder Newborn was appointed Assistant Clerk. Visiting ministers, Elders Howell and Warren seated themselves. Letters from twenty-seven churches showed 160 baptized and 1,500 in fellowship. A church on the south side was admitted to membership. The Red River was heard from by letter; the Neuse, by her messengers, Elders Dupree and Biddle; the Chowan, by Elders Newborn and Rueben Lawrence, and brother William Hill Jordan. An address from the Board of Managers of the Baptist Convention of the United States was received. Elders Howell, Jordan and Biddle preached on Sunday.
Elders Joseph Biggs and Philemon Bennett were appointed messengers to the Chowan Association. A letter was to be forwarded to the Virginia Portsmouth Association. Elders Hyman, Ward, Hosea Lanier and Beattie were appointed messengers to the Neuse, and Elders Bennett and Mastin to the Raleigh Association. The messengers of the churches had been tardy in attending the Association, and the Association advised that such hereafter be appointed as would faithfully attend.
1825. The Association convened at the Falls of Tar River, Nash County, at the usual time. The first sermon was delivered by Elder Amariah Biggs. Elder Bennett, Moderator, Elder Biggs, Clerk, brother Peter P. Lawrence, Assistant Clerk. Visiting brethren in the ministry were invited to seats, when Elders Worrell, Howell, Thomas and Beattie seated them- selves. Letters from thirty churches showed an increase of members by baptism to be 180, whole number in fellowship 1,798.
A church situated at the head of Pungo River was received to membership. The Neuse and the Virginia Portsmouth were heard from.
Elders Murrell, Thomas and Worrell preached on Sunday. Elders Hyman and Lawrence were appointed messengers to the Neuse, and Elder Lawrence to the Virginia Portsmouth Associations.
The churches were recommended to set apart the fourth Sunday in November and the first Sunday in March following as days of fasting, prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the temporal and spiritual blessings received from Him; and that lie be implored for a revival of religion at large, and more especially within the bounds of this Association.
Elders Bennett, Dupree and Murrell were appointed to examine the Circular Letter; brother Jesse Powell and James S. Battle a Committee on Finance; brother Peter P. Lawrence to write to the Chowan; Elder Hyman to the Neuse; Elder Biggs to the Red River; Elder Worrell to the Virginia Portsmouth Associations; and Elder Biggs to the Baptist General Convention at Washington City.
1826. The Association convened at the usual time (Saturday before the first Sunday in October), at Skewarkey, Martin County. Elder Philemon Bennett preached the first sermon, and he was appointed Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, and brother Joseph D. Biggs Assistant Clerk. Brother Amos Rayner, a visitor from the Chowan, seated himself. Letters from twenty-eight churches showed additions by baptism to be 140, and the whole number in fellowship to be 1,900. A church situated at Little Alligator, Tyrrell County, and one at Blount's Creek, Beaufort County, were received into membership. Elder Irvin Mayo from the Neuse, and Elder James Ross and brother William H. Jordan from the Chowan Associations, appeared as messengers, with Minutes, and were seated. Elders Carrowan, Lawrence and Jordan preached on Sunday. Elders Joshua Lawrence, John Tice, and brother Mark H. Bennett, were appointed messengers to the Neuse; Elders Biggs, Bennett, Hyman and Lawrence to the Chowan Associations.
Matters were now becoming so unsatisfactory to many of the churches and brethren in regard to missionary operations, Masonic Lodges, Secret Societies generally, etc., etc., that it seemed necessary to take a decided stand against them, and thereby no longer tolerate these innovations on the ancient usages of the church of Christ by fellowshipping them. Accordingly, we notice in the proceedings of the session held at this time the following item: "A paper purporting to be a declaration of the Reformed Baptist Churches of North Carolina (read on Saturday and laid on the table until this day, Monday), was called up for discussion and was referred to the churches, to report, in their letters to the next Association, their Views on each article therein contained."
Elders Biggs, Lawrence, Hyman, and brother Jordan, were appointed to examine the Circular Letter ; brethren James Mayo and James S. Battle a Committee on Finance ; Eider Lawrence to write to the Neuse and Elder Hyman to the Chowan Associations.
Elder Lawrence was requested to prepare a Circular Letter for the next Association.
1827. The Association met at Kehukee, Halifax County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October of this year. Elder Philemon Bennett Preached the introductory sermon, and was appointed the Moderator; brother William Clark Clerk, and brother Joseph D. Biggs Assistant Clerk. Letters from thirty-five churches were read, which showed an increase, the past year, of 119 members, and the whole number in fellowship to be 1,951. A church lately constituted at Picot meeting-house, Martin County, was received into membership. A letter from the Neuse Association, accompanied by some copies of her Minutes, was handed in by Elder Benjamin Bynum, her messenger. Elders Bennett, Carrowan, Ward and Worrell were appointed a committee to examine the Circular Letter ; brethren James Mayo and James S. Battle, the Committee on Finance; Elder Hyman to write to the Neuse ; and Elder Lawrence to the Chowan Association. Elders Lawrence, Hyman and Carrowan were appointed to preach on Sunday. Elders Hyman, Tice and Lawrence were appointed messengers to the Neuse ; and Elders Ward, Lamer amid Clark to the Chowan Associations. Thirty copies of the Minutes of this Association were directed to be sent, each, to the Contentnea and Neuse Associations.
This session of the Association was one of the most remarkable ever held by her. At this time came up for consideration the Declaration of Principles submitted at the last session to the Churches for approval or rejection. And upon a full and fair discussion of them, the following order was made, Viz.: "A paper purporting to be a Declaration of the Reformed Baptists in North Carolina, dated August 26, 1826, which was presented at last Association, and referred to the churches to express in their letters to this Association their views with regard to it, came up for deliberation. Upon examination, it was found that most of the churches had given their opinions ; and after an interchange of sentiments among the members of this body, it was agreed that we discard all Missionary Societies, Bible Societies and Seminaries, and the practices heretofore resorted to for their support, in begging money from the public; and if any persons should be among us, as agents of any of said societies, we hereafter discountenance them in those practices; and if under a character of a minister of the gospel, we will not invite them into our pulpits; believing these societies and institutions to be the inventions of men, and not warranted from the word of God. We further do unanimously agree that should any of the members of our churches join the fraternity of Masons, or, being members, continue to visit the lodges and parades, we will not invite them to preach in our pulpits, believing them to be guilty of such practices; and we declare non-fellowship with them and such practices altogether." In adopting this resolution there was not a dissenting voice. It was unanimous. Before the vote was taken there was a diversity of sentiment, and brethren freely interchanged views on the subject. Some of course were favorable to the toleration of these innovations, and pleaded for them with all their power; while those opposed to them as being contrary to ancient usage and pernicious in their consequences, boldly denounced them and contended for their abolition. On taking the vote, it was found that a large majority were opposed to these new men-made schemes; and then it was agreed to make the vote unanimous; and the same was accordingly done. It may therefore be set down as having the entire sanction of the Kehukee Association, composed of thirty-five churches, holding 1,951 members.
Those messengers of the churches in the Association at that time who favored these new things appeared before the adjournment of the body to be thoroughly convinced of their error. They gave signal demonstration of their acquiescence in the final decision, embraced the brethren who took opposite views, fell upon their shoulders, and seemed to be overwhelmed with joy. Never perhaps in the whole period of her existence, either before or since that time, did such a melting scene occur in a session of the Kehukee Association as did then. All present seemed to be fired with love for each other, and thankfulness to God that He had conducted the controversy to such a happy issue.
The Moderator, Elder Philemon Bennett, adjourned the Association with an affectionate address and prayer. Here was a stand taken against corruptions which had sprung up in the American churches about twenty- five years before, and had taken rapid hold on many of them, so that they were exceedingly loath to give them up.
It was a noble stand taken by the Kehukee Association, and would have done honor to bold defenders of the faith in any age of the world. The men of that day were renowned in Zion. Their memories will be cherished by future generations. They emancipated the churches with which they were connected from priestcraft and religious fetters that were becoming more and more intolerable every year.
This was the first and great decisive stand taken by the Baptists on American soil against worldly institutions, as being necessary for the propagation of the gospel and the salvation of men. Some had resisted them at the very outset, and all along through their progress; but now they could be borne with no longer, and it was resolved to cast the entire trumpery overboard. This example of the Kehukee Association, then sixty-two years old, was encouraging to other similar bodies; and from 1827 to 1840 there was a stir among churches and Associations all over the land, and many followed the example of old Mother Kehukee.
In September, 1832, a number of churches belonging to the Baltimore Association convened with the church called "Black Rock", in the State of Maryland, and took the position that had been taken by Kehukee; so that, in the Northern States, Primitive or old-fashioned Baptists were called "Blackrockers," and in the Southern States they were known and stigmatized as "Kehukeeites."
The Country Line Association withdrew her fellowship from these things, their aiders and abettors, in August, 1832, in session with Deep Creek Church, Alamance County (then Orange County) ; and so one Association after another in North Carolina and in other States threw off the despotic yoke of priestcraft and idolatry, and asserted their entire disconnection *with these things. They declared non-fellowship for these new men-made institutions, and resumed their ancient order. A war of words was the result of these divisions; and in every instance those leaning over toward these new things were sure to predict the speedy extinction of those whom they left behind. Those brethren contending for the ancient landmarks of Zion were denounced by their fashionable brethren of the New School party as being old-fashioned, ignorant people, who would all soon die out and give place to the younger, fashionable, educated men, who expected soon to occupy the whole land, and gather in their tithes without any murmuring or complaint on the part of those who were being fleeced, or any one else who should defend their rights.
One thing is generally set off against another. In the commencement of these troubles in the Kehukee Association there was a Martin Ross, of Martin County, to originate them, to plead and apologize for them, with the eloquence almost of an Apollos. He gained converts to his cause one after another, men of energy and talents; who so zealously and so continuously portrayed their great advantages, that for years opposition was overcome, in a measure, and their plans were encouraged by the Association. But eventually a Joshua Lawrence, of Edgecombe County, arose into public notice; and being fully convinced by experience of the mischievousness, sinfulness, and desire for filthy lucre, shown in the management of these extraneous societies, he placed the whole force of his reasoning powers, eloquence and influence against them. He strengthened those who were already with him; he gained accessions to the cause of primitive usage, and never gave up the contest until 1827, when victory perched upon his banner, and he saw the churches free from all these human entanglements. He was the author of the "Declaration of Principles" submitted to the churches in 1826 by the Association, which brought up the whole subject for consideration at her session held in 1827. So that while there were others equally faithful to the principles of the gospel kingdom, Elder L. in this contest was considered leader among them, and they looked to him a great deal for direction and advice during this trying period.
Elder Lawrence was a man of limited education, was in fact almost destitute of any literary attainments; but such were the strength of his genius, his originality of thought, and the force of his native eloquence, that he could move individuals or masses to a wonderful degree. Elder Lawrence was one of the most remarkable and influential men ever raised up within the bounds of the Kehukee Association. He was a gifted minister of the gospel and a forcible writer, so that his ministry and publications were eagerly sought, and both seemed to carry conviction to the minds of many that his views were correct.
Very soon after the close of the session of 1827 some of those who were present during that session, and at first defended the cause of missions, etc., but finally yielded their advocacy of them, with a great deal of apparent good feeling, had by consulting with outsiders, it is supposed, gone back to the occupancy of their old ground; and when the Minutes were printed and distributed, they charged upon the Clerk that the Minutes did not speak the truth. The Moderator, Elder Philemon Bennett, was included among the fault-finders, and objected to the truth of the record; and this continued the trouble to some extent until 1828 and 1829, when the position taken in 1827 was reaffirmed. In the meantime some of the churches divided, and heartburnings and distress prevailed wherever such was the ease; and all this trouble and distress was caused by the introduction of missionary and kindred projects among them early in the nineteenth century. It is contrary to matters of fact and the truth of history to deny this assertion; or to say that these men-made institutions of the current century always existed, as auxiliaries to the church of Christ, since it was established by its great Founder over eighteen hundred years ago on the plains of Palestine.
The history of the Kehukee Association, in this respect, is but the history of all Associations throughout the length and breadth of this broad land that were similarly situated. They can therefore sympathize with her, and she with them, and all can bear testimony to the wiles of the enemy, and to the falling away both in doctrine and discipline of those who claim to be Missionaries or New School Baptists. With a departure from the ancient usages of the church went a departure from the faith also once delivered to the saints; so that at the present time there is scarcely one of their ministers in a hundred who preaches the gospel of Christ, or salvation by grace alone. One may as well expect to hear Christ preached as the Way, the Truth and the Life among Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Quakers, Campbellites or Catholics, as to hear such preaching among New School or Missionary Baptists. They have evidently departed from the faith of the gospel, and given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, as much so as any of the numerous sects with whom they so cordially fraternize. The same schemes are adopted by them to excite the passions of men, women and children that put in operation by the Wesleyan Methodists, a sect that arose in England during the eighteenth century under the leadership of John Wesley, who was a communicant of the Established Church, so called, of England.
The whole body of "Missionaries" stand as excommunicated by the genuine Bible Baptists of America and of the world wherever found. They are widely separated, with no prospect of a reunion, except as the Missionaries occasionally become well established in the doctrines of grace, and return to the true fold of Christ by repentance, faith and baptism. Some valuable acquisitions have been made to the church in this way already, and more are expected. The sons and daughters of Zion gladly welcome all who come to them from the Missionaries or elsewhere, bringing fruits meet for repentance - all who give evidence of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty and all fellowship with idolaters. Those who fall down and worship the idols which they have made themselves are justly termed idolaters. The Kehukee Association bias remained firm and unwavering from 1827 to the present time.
1828. The Association was held with the church at North Creek meeting-house, Beaufort County. Elder William Hyman preached the introductory sermon. He was also appointed Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk. Elder Philemon Bennett, who had been chosen Moderator for so many years, was absent at this session, and among the malcontents. Elder Amos Rayner, from the Chowan, and Elder Whitford, from the Neuse Associations, seated themselves as messengers. Letters from twenty-two churches were read, which showed the number of additions by baptism to be 119, and the number in fellowship to be 2,004. here was a falling off of thirteen churches in the representation.
North Creek was inconveniently situated for most of the messengers to attend; yet there was the same number baptized as was the year before, and more members belonging to all the churches than twelve months previous. Churches unrepresented at Associations are put down in the table as they stood the year previous. Three churches were added to the number at this session, viz.: One at Grindel Creek, Pitt County; one at Old Ford, Beaufort County; and one at White Plains, Beaufort County. A letter was received from the Neuse Association, by Elder Dupree, her messenger. Elders Hyman, Carrowan and Dupree preached on Sunday. Elders Carrowan, Ward, Lawrence, and brother Enoch Brickhouse, were appointed messengers to the Neuse Association. Elder Joseph Biggs was appointed to write a letter to the Chowan Association, and attach the signatures of the Moderator and Clerk, and send her the usual number of Minutes, to be conveyed by Elder William Clark, and brethren Enoch. Brickhouse, Benjamin F. Eborn and Robert F. Lanier.
The temporary dividing line, for holding the Associations, was again changed, so as to have it run from Hamilton on the Roanoke along the main road to Greenville on the Tar River. The following extract is taken from the Minutes of 1828:
"It was made known at this Association that some persons had suggested that the decision of the last Association, found in the fourteenth article of the Minutes, concerning Missionary and Bible Societies, Theological Seminaries and Masonic Fraternities, was not correctly stated; and whereas many members of this Association were members of the last; it was resolved that the article as it appeared in the Minutes contained the true spirit of the decision, and that the Association did not approve of any alteration thereof, bat advised the churches to strictly adhere thereto."
1829. The Association convened at Little Coneto Creek meeting-house, Edgecombe County. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder William Clark. Elder William Hyman was appointed Moderator, and brother Benjamin F. Eborn Clerk, who called to his assistance brother Joseph D. Biggs. This was the first Association that the [senior] author of this work attended after being baptized. He was baptized by Elder Joseph Biggs, pastor of the church at Skewarkey, near Williamston, in Martin County, on the eleventh of March, 1828, and became a member of that church in the nineteenth year of his age. His membership without interruption has continued in that church from that day to this (1880), a period of fifty-two years.
It was then (1829) the first time that he became acquainted with the differences in opinion prevailing among Baptists in regard to modern inventions; hitherto supposing that all were agreed as to faith and practice, in the bounds of the Kehukee Association at least. Neither did he at that time obtain much information on the subject, but was gradually led into a knowledge of it, as his experience with church matters increased.
Elders Mayo and Congleton, from the Neuse, and brother Rayner, from the Chowan Associations, were invited to seats at the session of 1829.
Letters from thirty-four churches were received and read. They showed additions by baptism for the previous year to be 198, and the number in fellowship to be 2,150. A church at Beargrass, Martin County, was received into membership at this session. A letter from the Neuse Association, by their messengers, Elders Dupree and Bynum, was received and read. A letter was presented from the Minutes of the Chowan Association by Elder Rueben Lawrence. A letter from the Raleigh Association, by her messenger, Elder P. W. Dowd, was received and read. The Association resolved to open correspondence with the Raleigh Conference and Nauhunty Association; and Elder Joshua Lawrence was appointed to write and carry a letter to the former, and Elder William Hyman to the latter.
Elders Hyman, Lawrence and Clark were appointed a committee to draft the resolution and decision in regard to the fourteenth article of the session of 1827 in more explicit terms. The committee obeyed the request, and reported as follows, viz.: "That they view with regret the incorrect inferences which have been drawn from the decision of this body in 1827; which have arisen in part from the misrepresentation of those who were affected by that decision, arising from the conviction that it would ultimate in the prostration of their fondest hopes of personal aggrandizement; and we are sorry to perceive, in the words of the decision, that it affords the semblance of justification.
"We do deeply regret the influence which we perceive it has had upon our sister Associations, but we do not, we cannot, and we will not recede from those measures in which we believe are involved the glory of God, the happiness and prosperity of this Association, and the destiny of unborn millions. We however owe it to ourselves to make such explanations as will present to our brethren, in clear and unambiguous terms, the attitude which this Association has assumed, and which by the help of God she will sustain.
"We disclaim any right, and, consequently, any intention, either directly or indirectly, of meddling with the internal government of any Association but our own. We do not assume to ourselves the right of saying that any member without the bounds of our Association shall or shall not do any act. They are accountable to their own respective Associations, or churches, and not to us. But we do claim a right, in the bounds of this Association, to prescribe (under the authority of the churches) such rules and regulations as are indispensably necessary to promote what we think will be for the peace and harmony of the churches within our bounds; and to discountenance such practices among us as are calculated to interrupt our harmony. Therefore your committee do recommend the adoption of the following resolution and explanation: First. We will not hold in our churches any member who is in the practice of visiting the Masonic Lodges, or who on any occasion conforms to their custom of parades; nor will we countenance any such individual who may reside or come among us in the character of a preacher. Second. We will not countenance any preacher who travels within the bounds of this Association, establishing societies for the collection of money, or who may be himself collecting money to support any institution whatever. We do not attempt to circumscribe the liberty of conscience; every per- son has a right to think and draw his own conclusions. We do not attempt to suppress the liberty of speech; every individual has a right to speak or express the convictions of his own mind. We do not attempt to restrain the liberty of any man; he may give his money when and to whom he pleases. We do not object to the spread of the Bible by all fair and honorable means, but pray for its extension by means which God may bless and own. We do not object to the support of the ministry on the gospel plan, but earnestly recommend it to the direct and immediate attention of all the Deacons in this Association; whose business God has made it to see to this matter, as well as all the moneyed concerns of the Christian community. We do not object to the general diffusion of intelligence and literature in the Baptist community, but wish its extension, But we do object to the education of men to the ministry by establishing seminaries for that purpose, believing that preaching would thereby become a lucrative employment; like the law, physic, etc. If any minister, although he be a Missionary, without the bounds of our Association, comes among us to preach the gospel, and not to make collections, we do not reject him."
The report being read twice, was adopted, and ordered to be spread on the Minutes. The committee appointed to examine the Circular Letter reported that they approved of it; it was then read and ordered to be attached to the Minutes. Elders Lawrence, Dupree and Worrell preached on Sunday. It was ordered that twenty-five copies of the Minutes of this year be sent to the Chowan and Raleigh Associations, each.
1830. The Association was held at Morattock meeting-house, Washington County, two and one-half miles from the town of Plymouth, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. The [senior] author at that time resided in Plymouth as assistant in a mercantile establishment, and paid some attention to the proceedings of this session of the Association. He saw more clearly the gospel principles on which the faith of Baptists was founded, and the departure which some had made and others were making from those principles.
Elder William Hyman preached the introductory sermon. He was also chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, and brother Joseph D. Biggs Assistant Clerk. Letters from thirty-two churches reported 120 baptisms, and the number in fellowship 2,225.
A church at Coinjock, Currituck County, was received a member of the body, after satisfactory reasons were given for her withdrawing from the Chowan Association. A letter from the Little River Association, in North Carolina, accompanied with twenty-five copies of her Minutes, by her messenger, Elder Burwell Temple, and one from the Nauhunty Association, by her messenger, Elder Benjamin Bynum, with thirty copies of her Minutes, were received.
A letter to the Association from Elder James Osbourn, of Baltimore, Md., was received and read, and Elder Lawrence was appointed to answer it. And it was ordered that said letter be spread on the Minutes for this year, and that a copy be forwarded to him. Elders Temple and Lawrence preached on Sunday. Elder Hyman amid brother John H. Daniel were appointed messengers to the Little River, and Elders Luke Ward and William Dicken to the Nauhunty Associations.
The proceedings at this session of Kehukee showed the loss of correspondence with two Associations, viz., the Neuse and the Chowan, and the gain of two others, viz., the Little River and Nauhunty. This was on missionary and kindred grounds. The Chowan and Neuse, though daughters of the Kehukee, had no further use for her, when they became thoroughly convinced that she would not encourage their humanly devised schemes any longer. The Little River and the Nauhunty, on the other hand, having set themselves steadfastly against these things, were glad to open correspondence with the Kehukee. The subject of continuing the Kehukee History from the period where Read and Burkitt left it in 1802 was taken up and discussed in the Association. And it was finally resolved at this session that Elder Joseph Biggs, of Williamston, N. C., and pastor of the church at Skewarkey, be appointed to write a continuation of her history, from the termination of the one published by Burkitt and Read ; and Elders Joshua Lawrence, William Hyman, Green Carrowan, Micajah Ambrose, and William B. Worrell were appointed a committee to collect such necessary information as might be within their reach, and the churches were requested to afford all the aid in their power.
1831. The Association convened at Flat Swamp meeting-house, Pitt County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Joshua Lawrence preached the introductory sermon. Elder William Hyman was chosen Moderator, and Elder Joseph Biggs Clerk, and Joseph D. Biggs Assistant Clerk. Letters from forty-two churches showed 429 baptisms for the previous year, and the number in fellowship 2,683.
The Neuse Association having divided on the subject of the modern missionary schemes, a portion of her churches took the name of Contentnea and planted themselves on original ground, and affiliated with the Kehukee, and do to this very day. In 1831 she sent her messengers to the Kehukee in the persons of John Atkinson and Mark H. Bennett. Another church from the Chowan Association was received into membership, viz., the one at Powell's Point, in Currituck County, and her messengers, James Nelson and Willoughby Sawyer, were received also, who reported twenty members belonging to it. Elders Green Carrowan and Joshua Lawrence preached on Sunday.
The churches at Sappony, Sandy Creek, Maple Spring, Red Bud, Peach Tree, Rocky Swamp, Quankey, Mearn's Chapel, and Fishing Creek petitioned for letters of dismission from this body to form another Association, on the score of convenience, with some Churches from the Raleigh and Flat River Associations ; disclaiming all intention of forming a "Missionary" body or departing from apostolic doctrine; whereupon their petition was granted. Elder Joshua Lawrence was requested to write a letter of dismission and give to them, with the signatures of the Moderator and Clerk attached.
Here was a loss of nine churches at a dash, which, for convenience, were to form another Association of the same faith and order as the Kehukee, but nearly all of whom came under the influence of "Missionaries," and in forming an Association, called the Tar River, yielded to the wire-workers and schemers of that day.
Seven of these churches remained away, and never corresponded with the Kehukee Association afterwards. Two of them, viz., Sappony and Rocky Swamp, returned to the Kehukee.
During part of the years 1845 and 1846 the [senior] author of this work resided in the neighborhood of these seven dismissed churches, and occasionally visited some of them. The old members among them were generally sound, and desired him to preach in their houses; but the young members, as a general thing, who were brought into a profession of religion under modern excitements, such as protracted meetings and their accompaniments, did not wish to hear him preach. But he almost invariably did try to preach to them, on visiting them, and gave satisfaction to some few of them. He saw, however, that a majority of the members of each church were Arminians and were wedded to their idols. The leaders held all in bondage, as are Hagar and her children to this day, so that there is no prospect of their ever returning to orthodox principles.
These churches constituted the fourth lot that the Kehukee had dismissed to form other Associations, and at the present writing she receives no credit or respect from either of them.
Brethren John H. Daniel and Edmond Andrews were appointed messengers to Contentnea, and brethren John Ward and James S. Battle to the Little River Associations. A letter from James Osbourn, of Baltimore, was received and read. In regard to an additional history of the Association up to this time, the committee appointed the previous year to collect information reported some progress, but that much more was necessary to be obtained, and that it was the wish of many that the old history and the new should be embodied in one volume. Whereupon the Association resolved that the committee and the compiler be requested to arrange the materials as they may think proper, and that Mr. George Howard, of Tarboro, be authorized to publish the same on his own responsibility; and the printer of the Minutes was requested to forward to the different churches subscription lists.
1832. The Association met this year with the church at Log Chapel, or Conoho, Martin County, on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Joseph Biggs preached the introductory sermon. Elder Hyman was chosen Moderator, and Elder Biggs Clerk, and brother Joseph D. Biggs Assistant Clerk. Letters from twenty-nine churches reported 97 baptized and 2,414 in fellowship. Elders Thomas Dupree and Mark H. Bennett were received as messengers from the Contentnea Association. A church at North Mattamuskeet, in Hyde County, and another at Hunting Quarters, in Carteret County, were received into membership.
Elders Dupree, Lawrence and Bennett preached on Sunday. Letters to the Contentnea and Little River Associations were read and approved, and Elders Lawrence and Hyman appointed messengers to the former, and brethren James S. Battle and Joseph S. Battle to the latter.
The publication of the History was deferred another year, and subscription papers were to be sent again to the churches.
1833. The Association convened at the Falls of Tar River on Saturday before the first Sunday in October. Elder Hyman preached the introductory sermon, and was chosen Moderator. Elder Biggs was appointed Clerk, and his son, Joseph D. Biggs, Assistant Clerk. Brethren in the ministry from sister Associations were invited to seats, when Elders Philemon Bennett Mark H. Bennett, Thomas Dupree, Benjamin Bynum, Burwell Temple and Eli Holland seated themselves. Letters from thirty-three churches reported 34 baptized and 1,740 in the whole number.
A church on Cedar Island, in Carteret County, was received into membership. Contentnea and Little River Associations represented themselves. Elders Temple, Lawrence and Dupree preached on Sunday.
Messengers were appointed to the Little River and Contentnea Associations; Elders Luke Ward and Micajah Perry anti brother William Thigpen to the former, and Elders Lawrence and Biggs to the latter.
The publication of the History was again inquired into, when finding, upon examination of the subscription lists, that a sufficient amount had not been subscribed to justify the undertaking, a collection was taken up in the body on the same terms as heretofore proposed; and the result being favorable, the Association resolved that the work be put to press as early as practicable.
The former committee was then discharged and another appointed, consisting of Elders Joshua Lawrence, William Hyman and Luke Ward, and brethren Thomas Biggs, Joseph D. Biggs and Cushing B. Hassell, whose duty it was to examine the manuscript which Elder Joseph Biggs was requested to prepare.
The churches at Grindel Creek, Pitt County, and Tranter's Creek, Beaufort County, having failed to represent themselves for some time past, and information being given that they had departed from the faith on which they were constituted it was resolved that they be struck from the list of churches composing this Association. This Association disapproved the course pursued by some members of the churches at Old Ford and Smithwick's Creek, who had departed from the faith, and attempted to establish other churches (so called) of another order at those places in opposition to the churches already there.