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Written by Mark Bennett   


Some Church History by Elder Mark Bennett

In looking into the early history of the church in the Southern States, as presented us in the works of Burkitt, Read and Semple, we find the Baptists were divided into General, Regular, Separate and Free-will churches. Several ineffectual efforts were made to produce a reunion of these parties, until 1798, when at an Association held at Sappony church, in Sussex County, Virginia; this most desirable object was effected. All the churches did not fall in at that meeting, but they continued to join the Association afterwards, one by one, until finally they were all united. The effect has been of the most happy character. The churches in most of the Atlantic States, have generally since, on subjects of doctrine and practice, walked together in the most perfect harmony. As the ground on which they effected a union, “an abstract of principles,” as they call it, was drawn up and submitted, to which they all agreed. There is some little wont of perspicuity in the instrument, and the style is quaint, as our brethren were wont to write in olden times, but in the hope that the various divisions of the church will consider well the acts of their fathers, and perhaps unite upon the same principles, we here insert the document to which we refer.

“An abstract of the principles then agreed to, and the substance of which afterwards was published in print, by order of the Association at Whitfield’s meeting  house, Pitt county, North Carolina, 1779, is as follows:

1. We believe in the being of God, as almighty, eternal, unchangeable, of infinite wisdom, power, justice, holiness, goodness, mercy and truth: and that this God has revealed himself in his word, under the characters of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

2. We believe that Almighty God has made known his mind and will to the children of men in his word; which word we believe to be of divine authority, and contains all things necessary to be known for the salvation of men and women. The same is comprehended or contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, as are commonly received.

3. We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for a purpose of hi own glory, did elect a certain number of men and angels to eternal life; and that this election is particular, eternal and unconditional on the creature’s part.

4. We believe that when God made man at first, he was perfect, holy and upright, able to keep the law, but liable to fall, and that he stood as a federal head, or representative of all his natural offspring, and that they were to be partakers of the benefits of his obedience, or exposed to the miseries which sprang from his disobedience.

5. We believe that Adam fell from this state of moral rectitude, and that he involved himself and all his natural offspring in a state of death; and for that original transgression, we all are both filthy and guilty in the sight of an holy God.

6. We also believe that it is utterly out of the power of men, as fallen creatures, to keep the law of God perfectly, repent of their sins truly, or believe in Christ, except they be drawn by the Holy Spirit.

7. We believe that in God’s own appointed time and way, (by means which he has ordained) the elect shall be called, justified, pardoned and sanctified; and that it is impossible they can utterly refuse the call; but shall be made willing by divine grace to receive the offers of mercy.

8. We believe that justification in the sight of God is only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ received and applied by faith alone.

9. We believe in like manner, that God’s elect shall not only be called and justified, but that they shall be converted; born again, and changed by the effectual working of God’s Holy Spirit.

10. We believe that such as are converted, justified by his grace, shall persevere in holiness and never fall finally away.  

11. We believe it to be duty incumbent on all God’s people to walk religiously in good works; not in the old covenant way of seeking life and the favor of the Lord by it; but only as a duty from a principle of love.

12. We believe baptism and the Lord’s supper are gospel ordinances, both belonging to the converted or true believers; and that persons who were sprinkled, or dipped, while in unbelief, were not regularly baptized according to God’s word, and that such ought to be baptized after they are savingly converted into the faith of Christ.

13. We believe that every church is in dependent in the matter of discipline; and that Associations, councils and conferences of several ministers or churches are not to impose on the churches the keeping, holding or maintaining any principle or practice contrary to the church’s judgment.

14. We believe in the resurrection of the dead both of the just and the unjust and a general judgment.

15. We believe the punishment of the wicked is everlasting, and joys of the righteous are eternal.

16. We believe that no minister has a right to the administration of the ordinances, only such as are regularly called and come under imposition of hands by the presbytery.
17. Lastly, we do believe, that for the mutual comfort, union and satisfaction of the several churches of the aforesaid faith and order, that we ought to meet in an Association way wherein each church ought to represent their delegates and attend as often as necessary to advise with the several churches in conference, and that the decision of matters in such association, not to be imposed, or in any wise binding on the churches without their consent, but only to sit and act as an advisory council.”

When the union of the churches took place as already noticed, by mutual agreement, the names Regular Separate, &c. were dropped, and the churches in commemoration of the event, took the name of United Baptists. Since that time however, this epithet is also lost, and ours is spoken of in Virginia, North Carolina, &c. only as the Baptist Church.—Ed.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.