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Written by John H. Fisher   

Dear Friends,
 
 I present by request the minutes of the Fort Worth Council of 1902. This meeting was held more or less, as an opposition to the Bonham Council also of 1902. Said Bonham Council's intent was to draw the line between "Conditionalists" and "Absoluters" in the State of Texas. As there were several in Texas who did not feel that this should be made a test of fellowship, they organized the Fort Worth Council.
 
 Let the reader view the proceedings and decide for himself.
 
 In His service,
 David Montgomery


Signs of the Times 

MINUTES OF THE FORT WORTH COUNCIL.

Pursuant to a call made by the church at Fort Worth, Texas, of the Old School Baptist faith and order, the messengers, ministers and brethren whose names appear below, met with the church at Fort Worth, Texas, from the 21st day of October, to the 23d day of same month, A. D. 1902, and deliberated as follows:

1st. Praise and prayer by Elder J. H. Daniel.

2d. Elder J. H. Fisher, pastor of Fort Worth Church, made a brief statement of the object of the meeting.

3d. Appointed Elder J. R. Hardy clerk pro tem.

4th. Appointed the following, Elders W. G. Green, J. W. Martin, J. C. Sikes, brethren J. I. Money and T. L. Adams, together with Elder J. H. Fisher and E. Holt, moderator and clerk of Fort Worth church, a committee to seat the messengers in the Council.

5th. The committee reported as follows:

NEW HARMONY ASSOCIATION.
CHURCHES.           MESSENGERS.
Ephesus ......……Elder S. N. Stephens, B. O. Glover.
Concord .............P. W. Warren, E. Huckaby.
Shiloh .................Elder W. G. Green.
Antioch .............. Elder S. C. Brinson, J. R. Rice.
Willow Springs ....Elder J. W. Martin.
Friendship ............Elder W. B. Sikes.
Macedonia …….. Elder J. C. Kilgore, W. R. Bowden.
Mount Olive ...…..A. J. Been, J. N. Watson.
Pioneer ................Elder J. C. Kilgore.

NEW HOPE ASSOCIATION.
Sabine ................. Elder J. C. Sikes. Elder J. R. Hardy, J. I. Money.
Shiloh .................. L. B. Mackey, J. K. Dennington.
Lebanon ...............Elder S. M. Dickens.
Lake Fork .............Frank Clifton.
Prospect ...............W. C. Voos.
Mount Zion……….J.A. Money, J. J. Darnell, R. M. Kilgore.
Beulah ..............… Elder W. W. Slaughter.
Arm of Sabine ....... J. M. Hamlin, J. A. Osteen.

TIMBER CREEK ASSOCIATION.
Providence ......... Elder P. H. Pearce, O. B. Fisher.

UNION ASSOCIATION.
Center View.. ...........Elder W. L. Goss.
Pilgrim Rest. ..............Dennis Owen.
Cool Springs ............ G. W. Martin, W. H. Burns.
Elm Ridge ................. J. E. Polk, E. D. Potter.

MOUNT ZION ASSOCIATION.
New Mount Zion ........ Elder J. H. Fisher.

PEACE VALLEY ASSOCIATION.
Friendship ................... Elder W. L. Rogers.

CHURCHES NOT IN ASSOCIATIONS.
Roane ..........................Elder. J. R. Perry
Pleasant Hill .................W. S. Tippett.
Fort Worth ...................E. Holt, J. L. Lewis.
Fairland ........................Elder R. E. White.
Emeas ......................... J. S. Young, J. M. Right, A. J. Hurley.
Macedonia .................. Elder J. B. Adams, W. A. Turner.
Providence ...................Elder J. M. Griffin.

The following visitors were seated:
Elder John H. Smith, Newark, Texas; Elder D. Bartley, Lebanon, Ohio; Elder J. H. Daniell, Magnolia, Arkansas; Elder J. J. White, Bryan, Louisiana; Elder G. M. Fetter, Eaton, New Mexico; Elder J. D. Hopkins, Norton, Texas; D: J. Dossey, Willis Point, Texas; Elder J. A. Rutledge; Peaster Texas; Elder Asa Howard, Snyder, Texas.

The Council was then duly organized by electing Elder J. H. Fisher, Moderator, and Elder J. R. Hardy, Clerk.

The moderator then appointed Elders S. N. Stephens, J. C. Sikes, W. G. Greene, D. Bartley, J. H. Daniell, J. C. Kilgore, W. B. Sikes, J. W. Martin, and brother J. I. Money, after which the moderator and clerk were added, as a committee to prepare matter and submit to the Council for their consideration, which they did with much deliberation and caution, as shown below, which was then read, first as a whole, before the entire Council,. then re-read and carefully considered and unanimously adopted, article by article by the entire Council and the committee was discharged.

By motion and second the entire work of the committee was then unanimously adopted as a whole by the entire Council. After which the assembly sang the song, "Blessed be the tie that binds," and engaged with Elder J. H. Fisher in prayer and thanksgiving to God for his mercies and protection.

Minutes were then read and adopted.

ELDER J. H. FISHER, Moderator.
           Graham, Texas.

ELDER J. R. HARDY, Clerk,
            Tidwell, Texas.

INTRODUCTION.

Forasmuch as men have risen up among us, denying the predestination of God in all things, as is most surely believed by us, and as has been held and repeatedly set forth by our ancient brethren, and those who are of like precious faith with us, in all former times; and denying that salvation is wholly of grace, both in time and eternity; and contending for certain practices in matters of worship in the churches, which we believe to be unauthorized in God's word, and threatening to the peace and welfare of Zion. Also those of the household of faith who refuse to be drawn away by their new doctrines and practices have been misrepresented by them, and many of them deprived of church privileges by the raising of bars to fellowship. Therefore, we, the messengers, members and ministers from regular Old School Baptist churches, having met with the Old School Baptist church at Fort Worth, by their request, to consider of the things that might be for the peace and unity of our people in Texas and adjoining territory, with representation from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, New Mexico and Texas, representing a large number of churches and brethren of the old predestinarion faith and order; and desiring to be understood by Our dear brethren and sisters abroad, do hereby set forth this, our declaration of faith, as we understand the holy Scriptures and our experience to teach.

AS TO PREDESTINATION.

We believe that God's eternal and holy purpose embraces all things whatsoever come to pass, as "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." That God has purposed that all righteousness shall come to pass by his authority .and influence, and that all unrighteousness shall come to pass without his authority and influence; as is most explicitly set forth in the London confession of faith of the Baptists of 1689, and re-affirmed by them in the Philadelphia confession of 1742, upon the authority of the holy Scriptures.

We do not believe that the predestination of God is the cause which moves men to action either in righteousness or un-righteousness, but that all righteous acts are the. fruits of the holy Spirit, and that all unrighteous acts are the works of the flesh, under the influence of Satan. Therefore we do not believe that God is or can be either the author or approver of sin, as we have been unjustly accused.

AS TO ACCOUNTABILITY.

We believe that all human beings are under law to God, and are therefore accountable thereto, and should obey, all the precepts of this law, and are justly punishable for any violation thereof.

AS TO SALVATION.

We believe that the salvation of God's people, whether in time or eternity is by the free and reigning grace of God through Christ Jesus. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."

We believe that all spiritual blessings received by God's people, are secured to them in Christ Jesus, and bestowed upon them freely as a merciful gift from God, "According as he hath chosen them in him before the foundation of the world," and are not dependent upon conditions to be performed by them.

We believe that the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of his children binds them under the most sacred obligation to walk in the good works which they are created in Christ Jesus unto, and in which they enjoy the salvation of the Lord, but because the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, they cannot do the things they would, only as they are enabled and led thereto by the Holy Spirit, according to the power that worketh in them, being renewed in Spirit day by day: "For it is God that worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure," and "makes them perfect in every good work to do his will; working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight, thorough our Lord Jesus Christ." Therefore Jesus said, "Without me, ye can do nothing."

We believe that teaching the hope of reward, and the fear of punishment, as incentives to obedience, are carnal and selfish, and belong to the legal covenant, and have no place in the covenant of grace, in which every good thought, word and deed of the subjects thereof are the fruits of the life of Christ in them, and they are constrained thereunto by the love of God, which passeth knowledge. We therefore do most heartily believe that, so far from the children of the regeneration being neutral and passive in their christian service and obedience to the Lord, as stones or lifeless machines as has been so uncharitably charged upon us they are ever active in turning to the Lord in their repentance, supplications and faith, as also in all their work of faith, as also in their work of faith and labor of love in the worship of God. We certainly that all christian obedience in the fruit of the Spirit, and love of God in our hearts, and is unto the praise and glory of God in Christ Jesus by us, and that with such sacrifices God is well pleased, and that in his loving service, we are blessed with his loving smiles, but that he faithfully chastises us for our disobedience, until we learn obedience by the things we suffer.

We therefore believe that while all our obedience and good works in the gospel arise from the love of God bestowed upon us, as our willing and active service unto him, on the other hand, all our unbelief and disobedience arise from our sinful flesh, and is not pleasing to God.

Therefore we believe that all the gospel obligations, commandments, encouragements and exhortations exist in this holy and blessed relation of children unto God, and that he lovingly and faithfully dealeth with us as with sons. And they who have believed in God are commanded to maintain good works, that they may thereby adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, and glorify him in their body and in their spirit, which are his.

We believe that God's children, through the instructions and exhortations of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which our Lord makes use of in leading and directing and saving his children from disobedience and its consequences, as on the day of Pentecost the apostle exhorted, saying, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation," and as ministers save themselves and those that hear them, by taking heed unto themselves, and continuing in the doctrine, for "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." They are often even "made all things to all men that they may by all means save some," and being influenced by the grace of God in their hearts, they labor abundantly, endure all things for the elect’s sake; seek they find; knock, and it is opened unto them; I ask, and God even gives to them the holy Spirit. And while we do not think that any obedience is the price or meritorious cause of spiritual blessings bestowed upon us, yet we do most sincerely believe that those who are hearers and also doers of the word are blessed in the deeds of obedience. Not for keeping a law, (which is legalism) for law pays nothing to those who keep it, and all of us come short of God's law, and therefore cannot receive anything from a violated law but condemnation, and we can look only to the mercies and grace of God, since we are .sinners who have come more or less short of compliance with any of God's laws. This shows us how unprofitable is even our best service, yet we are under continual obligations to obey all of the commands and exhortations laid down in the New Testament, and to serve God without distraction, in decency and in order.

Therefore we hold that it is right for us to exhort one another with all long suffering and doctrine, warning every man, teaching' every man "that denying ungodliness and worldly lust., we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil world."

AS TO BARS OF FELLOWSHIP.

We believe the practice of raising bars to fellowship against those who hold to predestination and salvation alone by grace, as above set forth, is wholly without scriptural authority or church precedent, and has been a fruitful source of confusion among the churches, and all who are or have been engaged in raising such bars, have involved themselves in disorder, and have thereby separated themselves from the fellowship of all sound Old School Baptists, and we should cease to affiliate with them until they renounce said bars and return to the primitive faith and practice of the church of Christ.

However, we would not have this article construed so as to mean that we would non-fellowship those dear brethren who are yet with us, but are not fully agreed with us on these points of doctrine, and yet are willing to live with us in peace.

We recommend that those who have been deprived of church privileges for no other cause than believing and contending for the doctrine of predestination and salvation alone by grace, as above set forth, and refusing to submit to bars of fellowship against those points of doctrine, be received and recognized by the Old School Baptist churches. We would urge, however, that the utmost precaution used in receiving such members, so as not to be imposed upon by any who might be cut off for disorder of any kind.

We further recommend that where divisions have occurred among any of our churches on the points of doctrine above mentioned, and on the raising of bars to fellowship, that those who contended for the points of doctrine on predestination, and salvation wholly by grace, as before ;forth, and stand in opposition to bars non-fellowship, be recognized as the church proper, whether they be in the majority or in the minority.

AS TO ADULTERY.

We believe a man or woman who puts away his or her companion for any cause except it be fornication, and marries another commits adultery. And who marries the one which is put away commits adultery. (Matt. xix. 9.) And just so long as they continue in that condition, they are living in adultery. The Scriptures say adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom Of God. (l Cor. vi. 9, 10; Gal v. 21.) Therefore we will not, knowingly, receive such into our churches, nor hold in fellowship those who persist in doing so.

AS TO TWO-SEED AND NON-RESURRECTION.

Inasmuch as Two-Seedism and NonResurrectionism in their different phases have troubled the Lord's people in places and are a denial of both grace and redemption, as embracing the sons and daughters of the earthly Adam in joint-heirship with Christ in the salvation which is in him; therefore it behooves us to affirm the Bible truth:

1st.--That the elected by grace were by nature the Children of wrath, even as others, so that grace only makes the children of God to differ from others, and

2nd.--That redemption by the blood of Christ, which cleanseth us from all sin includes our "whole spirit and soul and body." And that as the Spirit quickened the buried body of our Redeemer, so also shall our mortal bodies be quickened b his Spirit that dwelleth in us; and the bodies of the saints shall be raised up from the dead in the likeness of Christ‘s resurrection at his coming, at the last day, unto which adoption to sonship God hath predestinated us, for which we now wait, "to wit, the redemption of our body." Therefore we are forbidden to receive or bid God speed to any who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ.

AS TO ASSOCIATIONS.

We believe that associations have no right to dictate to, advise or usurp any authority over the churches; but that they are only general meetings of the churches, for their mutual worship. Any usurpation of authority by the association over the churches is wholly unscriptural. And a church belonging to an association or not belonging to an association does not affect her order, neither should the suspending of correspondence between associations be construed as affecting the fellowship between the torches in the associations whose correspondence is thus suspended. We therefore urge forbearance by the church and brethren on these lines.

CONCLUSION.

TO ALL OF LIKE PRECIOUS FAITH WITH US--DEAR BRETHREN IN THE LORD :--In the special providence of God, we have been convened together in Council with the church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, the last three days (October 21st, 22d and 3d, 1902,) for public worship and godly deliberation, as messengers of numerous sister churches and other visiting brethren and ministers, who were invited to eats with us. A committee of brethren arranged for preaching each day and night, apart from the work of the Council, which work was conducted throughout with the utmost good feeling and brotherly kindness, and all of it was adopted in mutual love and entire unanimity. For this we are humbly grateful of the Prince of Peace, in whom we rejoice for his presence in our midst, and or his grace and truth in our hearts. We joyfully realize the truth of his word, hat "the work of righteousness shall be peace," and we have been led to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, desiring only to know and abide in the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, to the praise and glory of God and his saving grace.

It has not been either the purpose or the effort of this Council to change or interfere with the articles of faith of the churches in the least, neither to dictate to nor control the churches; for Christ alone is the Head of the church, and our Master. We therefore recognize that all the authority of our dear Lord is in the church, and by the church, and for the church, unto his honor and glory.

This being true, we have therefore been called and drawn together as members of sister churches in Christ, and as brethren in him, to pray and confer together upon the confusing things which have come in upon us of late, and have greatly afflicted us all. In this conference we have faithfully considered and set forth the things which have troubled Zion, and have also given a brief outline of the doctrine of God our Savior, and of the order of the gospel of Christ, according to the wisdom he hath given us, and in harmony with our understanding of the sacred Scriptures. This we have done in godly fear, sincerity and love. We believe that we have expressed the faith of God's elect, as sacredly held by our fathers in the gospel, and the apostles of Christ.

This is for the faithful brethren and churches to judge of, and decide for themselves, as the love of Christ constraineth them, and as they may believe their general good and mutual fellowship and peace requires of them. We desire no more than this.

Now, having been enabled to bring this labor of faith and love to a happy close, we prayerfully send it forth to the Predestinarian Baptists of the United States and Territories, and in love submit it to their charitable judgment and disposal. We do this, beloved brethren in Christ, because a sore trial of our faith has been forced upon us, as you all sorrowfully know, and we are all made to suffer for the truth's sake. It therefore behooves us all, who are of the truth and love of it, to unitedly stand together, ask for the old path, the good way, and walk therein, and so find rest.

With this in view, and unto this end, we kindly request that The Advocate of Truth, and all other sound Old School Baptist papers that will do so, to publish these proceedings, so that all our brethren of like faith may read them.

Besides this, we authorize two thousand copies of these proceedings published in pamphlet form, by our secretary, and that he sell them at the lowest price he can afford. We also request all the churches that may adopt these proceedings as their own declaration, will please give official notice thereof to The Advocate of Truth, for publication therein.

To the Forth Worth church and friends who have so untiringly entertained us, we express our hearty thanks for their generous hospitality and christian kindness.

With our prayers for God's grace and peace upon you all, dear brethren, farewell.

Signed for, and in behalf of the whole assembly.

ELDER  J. H. FISHER, Moderator,
                     Graham, Texas.

ELDER J. H. HARDY, Clerk,
                      Tidwell, Texas.

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