Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the
Old School Baptist Church of Warwick,

At Warwick, Orange County, N.Y.,
October 10th 1865

By Elder Leonard Cox, Pastor.


Published at





From the collection of the
Historical Society of the Town of
Transcribed February 2003



*Transcribers Note*

This document has been reversed from the original format
 putting the earliest history first and the Civil War era information second.
Please see page 17 for explanation.

Transcribed by Sue Simonich, February 2003 and published on the web with permission of
The Historical Society of the Town of



            We are met on the present occasion to celebrate our hundredth birthday.  Few churches among us have reached so advanced an age I regret there are so few with us on this occasion: some of our older brethren, who have borne the burden and heat of the day, as well as those of the former pastors are still living.  The published notice of this meeting having been withdrawn, after one insertion, is doubtless the cause why some are not present, it being supposed by many at a distance that these services were to be postponed.

            With the present month, the Baptist church in Warwick completes the hundredth year since its organization. Mindful of the injunction of the divine word that we should “remember all the way that the Lord our God has led us.” It has been deemed proper that there should be collected and left on record a brief summary of some of the facts connected with the rise and progress of the church, the changes through which it has passed, its officers, it order and its discipline. Those who are familiar with such labors know something of the difficulties to be encountered. I have used every effort to make the record as accurate as possible, but the meagerness of early records, the demise of all who were actors in the early scenes, and the unreliable nature of mere tradition have rendered it impossible for me to obtain all the facts I could wish.  It has been my aim, however, to be as particular as possible, and to present something like a bird’s-eye view of the daily life and travel of this ancient church for the past hundred years.

            The ancient records of this church, for a number of years were supposed to have been lost; but providentially while searching among the papers of the late deacon Burt for material to aid me in preparing a reliable history of this Association, I discovered the first church record book.  As from this it appeared that the present is the hundredth year of its existence, it was deemed proper that its anniversary be observed by prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God.  A committee was appointed to make suitable arrangements, which committee reported in July that a two-day’s meeting be held on the 4th and 5th of October, that an invitation be published for our brethren and friends to participate with us, and that the pastor be requested to prepare an address and brief history of the organization of the church and its progress to be presented by him on the occasion of the anniversary.

            From the early records it appears there were a few Baptists who removed here from Connecticut something over a hundred years ago – There were at this time one or two churches on the Hudson river, in Dutchess county. In the whole State, it appears, there were not more than four Baptist churches.  Gold Street church, in New York city, was constituted June 12, 1762, and Elder John Gano became its pastor.  There was a church at Fishkill as early as 1745 of which Elder Holstead was pastor.  The records state that “in 1764, the Lord was pleased in his infinite mercy and grace to awaken and convert a number of souls.  Being destitute of those ministerial helps and ordinances that our souls thirsted after, and many of us being acquainted with Mr. James Benedict, who was a member of ye Baptist church of Stratfield, Conn., under the pastoral care of Mr. John Sherwood, and said Benedict being licensed by that church and other ministers to the work of preaching the gospel, a number of us agreeing together drew up a letter and sent to said Benedict to come over and help us.”  He complied with this request and came about the middle of November, and preached two weeks to the joy and satisfaction of the brethren, returning home in December. Mr. Dakin who is called “a regular minister of ye Baptist order,” also came and preached and baptized three persons.  In March, 1765 a messenger was sent to Mr. Benedict, who again came over and brought a church covenant with him, which was read and approved by the brethren. A letter was then sent by the hand of a messenger to the church at Stratfield, requesting the dismission of Mr. Benedict which after due consideration was complied with.

            At a meeting in May, after solemn prayer and fasting, Mr. Benedict was by the suffrage of the brethren unanimously chosen to the ministerial work, who accepted of the same and gave himself up to it.  June 20th Elder Dakin came over and by request administered the ordinance of baptism.  October 10th the record declares, “Now our number being sufficiently increased to be organized we by the mutual consent of each other sent letters of request to these sister churches under mentioned to come and assist us in setting apart our brother, James Benedict, to the pastoral work, by solemn ordination viz: Elder Samuel Waldo’s church, Elder Simon Dakin’s church and Elder Clark Roger’s church.  These churches appear to have been located on the east side of the Hudson river.

            Elder Dakin was pastor of a church organized in 1751 at Northeast town, where he was ordained in 1754; he was a native of Concord Mass, and died in 1803 in his 83rd year.  Elder Waldo was at this time pastor of a church at Dover some distance below which was organized in ’55 where he preached for 35 years; he was a native of Conn., and died in ’92 in his 62nd year.  Of Elder Rogers but little information has been obtained.  In the minutes of the Shaftsbury Association his name appears as pastor of a church at Hancock.

            On the 7th of Nov. two of the churches mentioned sent their ministers and messengers, viz: Elder Dakin and Rufus Cole messenger; Elder Rogers and Joseph Rogers messenger; with letters from their respective churches recommending them to us and to the work required by us; for some reason the church at Dover was not represented.


The action of the Council and work of the Ordination is thus recorded;

1st The church was examined with respect to the calling Mr. Benedict to the work of the ministry.  2nd In regard to his call to take the pastoral office of this church in particular.  3rd They then proceeded to examine Mr. Benedict on sundry points; which examination being satisfactory they then proceeded to ordination.

            Elder Rogers preached the sermon; Elder Dakin gave the charge; Elder Rogers gave the right hand of fellowship and “thus” the record declares, “our brother James Benedict was set apart to the work of the ministry, and as pastor of the Baptist church of Christ in Warwick, November the 7th 1765.”

            It appears the church originally numbered eighteen souls, nine males and nine females; The following year twelve persons were added to their fellowship; in ’67 nine more: in ’68 seven; and in ’69 ten; in ’70 five were added: in ’72 eleven; and in ’73 twenty and in ’74 forty-five; so that within the first ten years of its existence the church appears to have increased to one hundred and forty members.

            By a vote of the church November 21, ’65, it was “ordered that the Lord’s Supper be celebrated the first Sabbath in each month,” and also June 31, ’66 it was voted, “that any person absenting himself from the communion without giving satisfactory reason, should be charged with covenant breaking.” As the members were much scattered, the meetings appear to have been usually held in private houses and in different places, as in Sterling on the mountains, at Smith’s Clove and at Warwick.  In November ’98 it was determined “that the Sabbath meetings should be held no longer on the mountains but at Warwick and also considering the want of ministerial gifts over the kill, that the Elder should exercise his gift there every second Sabbath in the month during the pleasure of the church.”

            In 1769, the church joined the Philadelphia Association under the name of Goshen Precinct, which connection continued until the formation of the Warwick Association in ’91.  In 1770 occurs the first record of a case of discipline; two brethren were charged with covenant breaking, and the church, “finding all labor and all proper means that could be used to fail, were obliged to execute the laws of Christ’s kingdom upon them both.”  In another instance, the church sent letters of excommunication to two persons, “having had a long labor with them both, for the unsubjectiveness to the rule and order of the gospel.”  In Sept. ’73, the church considered the case of a brother who had been called upon by a committee to render a reason for having absented himself from the communion; he alleged a difficulty between himself and the Elder.  The church perceiving he had not taken the rule and direction of “the Great Head of the church, could not then act upon it, but laid conviction before him, upon which he promised to take gospel steps.”

            It was at this time, Sept. ’73, that the church voted to set apart Philip Ketcham, Jonathan Silsbee, and Samuel Roberts to the office of deacon, by the imposition of hands; they sent for the assistance of these sister churches --- Elder Lawrence’s, Elder Runyon’s and Elder Cox’s.  These appear to have been churches in New Jersey; Elder Runyon was

Pastor of the church at Piscataway, which was organized in 1689; he was at Morristown in 1772.  Elder Cox was pastor of the church at Newtown, afterwards called Wantage, which was organized in 1756.  He was afterwards settled as pastor of the church at Kingwood.  On the 17th of November, the day appointed for the service, Elder Cox and two of his members, being the only delegates present, the record states “We had first the sermon on I Tim.  3:8 by Elder Cox to the abundant satisfaction of the church, and then proceeded to the solemnity of the laying on of hands and giving of the solemn charge.”

            From the best information that can now be obtained the first meeting house was completed during the year 1774, and is remembered by some still living among us.  It was a nearly square building some 36 feet by 40 with galleries and moveable wooden seats, some of which are still to be seen in the present church edifice.  The males and females occupied seats on opposite sides of the house, after the manner of the time. The building stood on a piece of ground which was the gift of Elder Benedict, near the residence of the late Mr. John Wood.  The deed was not given until Sept, 1801 at which time the Board of Trustees was incorporated.  On the erection of the present building, it was taken down, the material being used in the construction of the still house of Mr. Benjamin Sayre, which was recently burned.  The residence of Elder Benedict was on the lot of land now occupied by Jacob Gaul.

            June 3rd 1774, the church chose James Benedict, jr., to tune the psalm with Jonathan Rockwell for assistant.  In September of this year by request of the brethren at Sterling, the church voted to allow the Elder to administer the Lord’s Supper to them once a quarter, not omitting the monthly communion at the usual place of worship.  In December, the church having cited the brethren who brought the accusation against the Elder contrary to the rule of the gospel, hearing from the Elder that the difficulty had been removed, takes off the admonition and restore the brethren to their place.  In September ’75 a brother who had been under the censure of the church for his disorderly walk, remaining stubborn, “the church finding him guilty of breach of covenant in many particulars and railing in a particular manner, withdraw the hand of fellowship.”  They labored to maintain strict discipline.

            In August, 1776, on request of some of the brethren residing at Westmoreland or Lackawana, the Elder and two brethren were appointed to visit them and to act on their behalf as they found matters when thy came there. Finding twelve of the brethren of this church, and some in good standing of other churches, with six that were then baptized, making thirty-two in all, they organized them into a church, as which time the twelve members were dismissed from the watch-care of this church; to all which, on report being made, this church agreed.

            About this time an effort was made to remove this church to Westmoreland, which was in the Wyoming valley, and the church took some action on the matter.  The Elder went out there, but was driven off at the time of the massacre by the Indians, at great loss, as appears, to himself; the whole country was laid desolate; the church reconsidered.

            In the minutes of the Philadelphia Association for 1779 mention is made of the loss incurred by Elder Benedict and appeal is made to the churches in his behalf.  The disturbed state of the country is doubtless the reason why no record is made from 1778 to ’82. Most of the church were zealous patriots and warmly endorsed the cause of the Revolution.  In 1782 the first record is made of a license given by this church as follows: “After hearing the improvement of Mr. James Finn’s gift, the church judged it to be a preaching gift, and licensed him accordingly.”  In April of the following year, he was at request of the church at Newtown, dismissed to its fellowship, and he was subsequently made pastor of the church at Pittstown.

            In July 1783, the brethren residing over the Wallkill requested to be constituted as a church, and on the 20th of August sent a messenger with a request that the Elder and brethren be sent on the 28th to assist in the organization of the church, and to ordain brother Clark as their minister.  The Elder deacon Jonathan Silsbee and brother Enos Silsbee were sent, and the record shows that after baptizing several the church was organized and on the day following the brother was ordained.  This was probably the origin of the church at Brookfield.  How long Elder Clark continued with the church I do not know; Elder Lathrop was ordained as its pastor in 1739 who was succeeded by Elder John Caton in 1795, whose pastorate terminated in 1807.  This church, which is now nearly extinct, numbered in the year 1822, 340 members.  There were connected with this Association at this time thirteen churches with an aggregate memberships of 1648 souls.

            In May 1785, an accusation was brought against the Elder by a brother, from which he cleared himself to the satisfaction of the church. The brother was then admonished, but it appears that he refused to hear the church and they judging him guilty first of covenant breaking, second of refusing to hear the church, and third, of holding false principles, excommunicated him.

            Elder Benedict resigned his pastoral charge on June 29th 1786, thus terminating a pastorate of nearly twenty-one years.  He is represented as being a man who was deeply versed in the Scriptures and zealously devoted to the work of the ministry.   He encountered much opposition as well within as without the church; but his labors were very greatly blessed of God, and under his ministrations the church was edified and built up.  His memory is cherished as an able preacher and an upright man.  He went out to the Susquehanna country, and returned to this county in 1789, and died in the faith of the Gospel September 9th 1789 at the age of 72 years, 6 months and 17 days.  His remains lie interred in the spot of ground which was his own gift on which the first meeting house stood, in connection with many of his church and society, though as yet not stone has been erected to his memory [*] Many of his descendants are still living among us; a grand daughter Mrs. Fannie Benedict and three great grandsons, all being members of the church at present.

            After the resignation of elder Benedict there appears to have been some dissension in the church.  A portion styling themselves “Brethren of the Unity,” still maintains their meetings. Elders Jones and Jayne preached for them until some time in 1778, when the church united in calling Thomas Montayne, a licentiate of the First Baptist church of New York city, to the pastoral office. He accepted the call and was ordained on the 20th of November by Elders Waldo, Gano, Jayne and Southard.  Elder Waldo preached the sermon and Elder Gano gave the charge.  Elder Gano was born at Hopewell, N.J. where he was ordained in 1754 and was subsequently pastor of the First Baptist church in New York City twenty-six years.  He died in Kentucky in 1804 in the 78th year of his age.  Elder Montayne, at the time of his settlement here was yet a youth of a remarkably prepossessing appearance and decided qualifications for the pulpit.  The church is represented as being in a low state, not more than thirty members being known and they widely scattered.  It was at this time that a new Covenant was formed and a Declaration of Faith and Order made of which the following is the main portion;

            “We acknowledge but one God, the only object of adoration, possessed of all possible perfections, yet believe in the Father, Son and Spirit, and that these three are One, the same in essence, equal in power and glory, by whom the worlds are made; that man was made upright; that Adam represented the whole human race, holding unconditional Election in Christ, Particular Redemption, Effectual Vocation, Justification by the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, believers the subjects of baptism, and that only by Immersion; Joint Communion; Perseverance in Grace to Glory; the resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment with all others contained in Lord’s word, which we receive as a Rule of Faith and man of counsel; and being satisfied with each other’s personal religion, do solemnly join ourselves together and submit ourselves to the discipline of the Gospel and all holy duties required of people in such spiritual relation:

I.                    To walk in love, peace and harmony, and pursue holiness in the fear of the Lord, that our communications may be redown to the Glory of God.

II.                 To watch over each other, admonishing with meekness, to stir up to love and to good works.

III.               To pray for each other, the increase of the church, the presence of God in it, the outpouring of his Spirit upon it, and protecting it for His own glory.

IV.              To bear each other’s burdens, to cleave to and have fellowship one with another, in all conditions as God in his providence shall cast us into.

V.                 To act with tenderness towards each other, not discovering their infirmities to any without or within the church, contrary to the rule given us in the Gospel.

VI.              To contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, that we may keep the unity of the Spirit in bond with Peace.

VII.            According to our abilities, to communicate to our pastor or minister, of our substance God having ordained that “they who preach the Gospel should live the Gospel.”

These, and all other duties we humbly submit unto, desiring to perform them in the strength and by the help of Almighty God, whose we are and whom we serve to whom be glory in the church now and forever.”


The labors of Elder Montanye were greatly blessed in the upbuilding of the church as it appears that in less than eighteen months 140 members were added.  In the year 1789 James Burt, who was baptized the year previous, was chosen deacon.  Enos Silsbee was also elected at the same time.  In September 1790 the brethren living at Cornwall were dismissed to constitute a church by themselves, and John Caton was ordained as their pastor.  Elder Caton was subsequently called to the church at Brookfield, where he continued many years.  In the year 1791 J. M. Fought, John Sutton and James Burt were incorporated as trustees of the Baptist Church in Warwick, under the law of the State passed April 6th 1784.  The act of incorporation was acknowledged April 26th 1791.  For many years the Board consisted of three members, one of whom was chosen annually:  Nov. 19th 1864 the number was increased to nine, three being elected each year.

            During the pastorate of Elder Montanye, great attention appears to have been paid to the discipline and order of the church.  The records of nearly every meeting of the church make mention of committees appointed to inquire into reports touching the character or walk of members or to assist in healing difficulties and whose report was the basis of action by the church.  Frequent mention is also made of the appointment by the Church of the Elder and brethren to sit in council for the settling of difficulties in other churches.

            In the year 1791, this church which had previously been connected with the Philadelphia Association united with some eight or ten others in forming the Warwick Association , the first meeting being held at Singsing.  Elder Montanye and brothers John Monroe and Henry Wisner were the messengers.  The New York Association was formed the same year. April 26th 1791 Daniel Burt, David Lobdel and J. M. Fought were appointed to keep good order at the meeting house on Lord’s days.  In August of this year, the brethren living at Chemung requested that they might be constituted a church and brother Parks ordained as their minister.  Elder Montanye, Deacon Burt and Henry Wisner were appointed to visit them, and to act in their behalf as the good of Zion might seem to demand.  The church was constituted, but the candidate was not ordained charges being brought against him and on the 20th of November he was excluded from this church.  Jan 17th 1791, the Elder and a brother were appointed to sit in council for the settlement of a difficulty in the church at Brookfield.

            At a meeting held Feb. 28, 1792 a letter was received from the Pittstown church, charging Elder Montanye with disorderly conduct as follows:  “During the Summer, after Elder Lathrop had preached a sermon, the church and congregation being together, Elder Benedict made a public acknowledgment for his misconduct in times past; after which Elder Montanye asked the people if they were satisfied with it to testify it by holding up the hand which they called taking the lead of their church.”  The record adds: “We judged he acted only in the line of his duty.”  The letter informed the church they had called a Council to sit in Warwick on the 20th.  The council was composed as follows:  Elder Southworth and Evi Adams, from Wantage, Elder Lathrop and Jon Finton from Brookfield, Elder West, John Harding and John Green from Deerpark, now New Vernon, Elder Finn and Thos. Weeks representing the Pittstown church and Elder Montanye and Deacon Burt the Warwick church.  The decision of the Council fully exonerated Elder Montanye and this church and is signed in behalf of the council and church, with this signature. “Evi Adams, Clerk.”

            During this year, John Morris Fought was chosen Deacon, in which capacity he served until his removal to New York city in Nov. 1820.  He also filled the office of clerk of the church from 1790 to May 2, 1818.  The deacons associated with him were James Burt and Enos Silsbee, who were elected in 1799. A question arising whether the practice of ordaining them was apostolic, this service was deferred for the present.  In July, the church decided the practice was apostolic, but the deacons wishing to know their duty more perfectly the ceremony of ordaining them was again still further deferred to the future.

            In October 1792, the brethren residing at Middletown, with whom Elder West had been preaching a portion of the time requested to be constituted as a church.  The Elder being absent, deacons Fought and Burt and brethren Abijah Whitney and Jehiel Wisner were appointed to act upon the council in this matter.  In November, a member having been excluded for disorderly conduct the Elder was directed to publish the same to the congregation next Lord’s day.  This appears to have been the practice of the church for a considerable period. April 30th 1797, delegates were appointed to attend three councils:  One in a matter of difficulty at Cornwall, the second Sunday in May; another at Brookfield  May 20th and one at Peekskill on the 4th of June.

            In April, 1794, the time of the regular communion was changed from the first Lord’s day in each month to the first Lord’s day in each quarter; the church meetings being held on the last Tuesday before the first Lord’s day in each month.  February 2nd 1797 a request was received from the Second Church in New York city, asking that the Elder might be sent to them as a supply for two or three weeks, they being destitute.  The church, expressing sympathy for their brethren voted to grant their request.  June 30, 1797 it was voted “that it is needful to publish to the congregation at large that it is a vote of this church which was passed some years ago to admit as evidence against any member the testimony of any person without the church of good moral character.”  In December, 1796 it was voted that the business meetings of the church be held quarterly and then necessity required it the Elder and deacons should call a special meeting.  The number of members reported to the Association this year was 173.  The number of churches now composing the Association was 17 and the aggregate membership of all the churches embraced was 809.

            In May 1797 delegates were appointed to aid in organizing a second church at Wantage also to sit in counsel in a matter of difficulty at Middletown and also to attend the meeting of the Association, which this year was held in New York city.  In November, Samuel Tatem and David Wilcox on behalf of the inhabitants of Pochock and Long Swamp came forward with a request that the Elder should preach for them every fourth Lord’s Day for one year, for which service they promised to pay him or the Trustees of this church 25, “This request having been preferred three or four times before, the church could no longer forbear, and granted the Elder the liberty to comply for one year.”  Frequent mention is made about this period, of the forgiveness of the church being granted to offenders on a public acknowledgement being made before the church and congregation of the Lord’s Day.

            Elder Montanye resigned the pastoral office of the church in December of 1800 for the purpose of assuming that of the church at Southampton, where he continued to labor till his death in September 1829.  A letter of dismission expressing the most earnest fellowship of the church was given him April 27th 1820.  He was a faithful minister of the New Testament and his labors as a preacher were greatly owned and blessed of God.  Though thus left destitute of a preacher, the church still maintained its order and discipline, and it is worthy of note that the meeting January 1, 1801 a committee was appointed to labor with certain members who had absented themselves from communion.

            The church continued without a pastor till May, 1802 when a call was given Thomas Stevens a licentiate of Mt Pleasant church, which was accepted and he was ordained on 25th of July 1802.  Elder John Stanford of New York preached the sermon, Cor. 1:7 the candidate made a public confession of his faith; Elder Silas Southworth made the ordaining prayer and elder John Caton gave the charge to the pastor and the church.  During the first year of his pastorate a large number were added to the church, thirty being reported as baptized.  In 1803 thirty-three of the brethren were dismissed to constitute the church as Newfoundland.  The church was organized Jul 7th 1807 and Ebenezer Jayne ordained their pastor, Elder Cassel preaching the sermon.

            Elder Stevens resigned his charge Aug. 30 1803. Objection was made to giving him a letter in consequence of his being intoxicated at the time of the Association at Brookfield.  He acknowledged the charge, expressed contrition and asked forgiveness.  Deacon Fought stated there were other objections to giving him a letter.  A vote being taken, a small majority was in favor of giving the letter, “chiefly,” the record states, “as the dear young lambs of the flock, did not know how to act in the matter, without giving offence to the man who stood before them.”  On the 17th of August. 1805, a complaint was made by the churches of Brookfield and Wantage that the church had acted irregularly in giving the letter and many of the members being dissatisfied it was voted to write him a letter and cite him to appear and remove the difficulty.  In Dec. 1806 a letter was received from Elder Stanford, stating a meeting had been held at his house to inquire into the case, and that Elder Stevens had promised to meet the Association at its next meeting at Bedford.  And thus as it appears the matter ended.

            At a special church meeting October 23rd 1805 a call was given Elder Lebbeas Lathrop who was ordained at Brookfield in 1789, which call was united in by the congregation.  The church at this time numbered one hundred and twenty-eight members.  Elder Lathrop continued as pastor until May eighth, 1819 at which time he resigned his charge to accept the call of the church at Samptown N.J.  The period of his pastorate was a season of great prosperity for the church.  Some 70 members were added, of whom over 50 were by baptism and notwithstanding the members dismissed to form or join other churches. The church in the year eighteen-seventeen numbered one hundred and sixteen members.

            During the earlier period of his ministry, the old meeting house had become too straight for the congregation, and the title of immigration setting toward the village measure were taken for the “erection of the present edifice.  There are yet a few left among us whose hands assisted in the preparing the materials of which it is composed.  Among them Stephen A. Burt, esq., of Bellvale, and Benjamin Sayre deserve honorable mention.  The ground upon which it stands was the purchase and gift of our beloved and deceased brethren, deacons Jeffrey Wisner and James Burt.  The strip of land leading to the place of baptism was also the gift of Deacon Burt.  The building was designed mainly by Dea. J.M. Fought and erected under the supervision of Azaria Ketchum, who about this period returned from New York.  The high pulpit which was designed to represent a candlestick, with its surrounding board above was the workmanship of Dea. Fought, as also the dove as the emblem of Peace.  The old pulpit was removed last year to make way for the present more convenient stand.  The building was commenced in the year 1810, and the first sermon was preached in it by the pastor, Elder Lathrop on the 9th of May of the following year.  Deacon Azariah Ketcham was received by letter from a church in New York on Jan 30th 1810 and the same day was elected to the office of deacon of deacon of the church Oct. 29, 1811, he was also licensed “to speak in public” he departed this life December 10th 1832.

            Although they entered a new place of worship, the order of the faith and practice of the church remained unchanged.  At nearly every meeting “a door opened” for the reception of members; the question was asked whether all the brethren and sisters were united in love and fellowship.  Strict attention was given to the order and discipline of the church.  Evil reports as to the character or conduct of brethren were invariably given into the hands of a committee for investigation and the laws of Christ’s kingdom were carefully and kindly administered.  The following is an illustration: in Dec. 1812 a brother having for some time neglected his duty in attending with the church, a committee was appointed to visit him, who finding him stubborn, reported the fact to the church; the committee was instructed to cite him to appear before the church; they reported that he said he did not know he should attend and the church might do as it pleased.  For thus rejecting the authority of the church, he was excluded.

            Under the date of Aug. 31st 1831 occurs a record which shows the former practice of the church with reference to days of public fasting and prayer. “On a proclamation of the President of the United States for a day of humiliation and prayer being recommended to all religious societies, it is voted that we cheerfully agree to attend on the day appointed which is the 9th day of Sept. next, at 2 o’clock, p.m.”

            From this period to the time of Elder Lathrop’s removal, the church appears for the most part to have been at peace and walking in the fellowship of the gospel.  By a record of May 2nd 1818, it appears that Elder Lathrop had promised to supply the Presbyterian congregation at Amity on the first Lord’s day in May, not recollecting that by vote of the church our communion was to be attended on that day; the church consequently voted to defer the service to the first Lord’s day in June.

            On the removal of Deacon Fought at this time to New York, ---- who had acceptably served the church as clerk since 1790 --- bro. Benjamin Barney was chosen clerk in his stead.  He served till 1822 and died October 11, 1823.  David Forshee, who was received as a member Sept 12th, 1821 was chosen clerk in his place, and served till March 28th, 1831, when he was dismissed to the church at Ramapo.

            From the period of Elder Lathrop’s removal in May, 1819, the church was supplied with preaching a portion of the time by Elder Daniel D. Lewis.  On the second of Feb. 1831 a call was extended to Eld. Aaron Perkins, which, for some reason he did not then accept.  On the 29th of Dec., Philander D. Gillette accepted a call from the church, and on the 25th of May 1823 a vote was passed  to invite the neighboring ministers to meet at Warwick as soon as convenient to set apart bro. Gillette to the ministry.  No record of this service is given.

            July 27th 1833 delegates were appointed for a council for the organization of a church at Greenville, also of others, Oct. 26th to meet at Wantage.  In March, 1833 brethren Jeffrey Wisner and Jeremiah Moorehouse were chosen deacons; deacon Wisner was baptized May 4th 1805 and served as deacon till his death, which occurred April 11th 1855---Moore was baptized on Jan., 1803 and died April 15th 1840.  They were faithful in their office, and in all duties and their memory is blessed.

            August 30th, 1833 the church appointed James Burt, jr., to lead the singing in this congregation, and requested the Elder to announce it on Lord’s day.  October 10th on request of the church at Hamburg, delegates were appointed to sit in a council in a matter of difficulty between them and their pastor Thomas Teasdale.  At the same meeting a committee which had been appointed to labor with some delinquent and disorderly members made their report.

            April 29th 1836 Elder Gillette requested and received a letter of dismission from his church, which remained without a pastor until September 39th<sic> 1827, when a call was again extended to Elder Aaron Perkins, which call was accepted, and he continued with the church till April 10th 1829, when he was dismissed at his own request.  On the 17th of June 1838 on request of New Vernon church, Elder Perkins and Deacons Burt and Moorehouse were appointed delegates to aid in the ordination of Amos Harding, a licentiate of that church.

            On the 18th of Jan. 1889 at a public meeting called for that purpose, a committee was appointed to select a suitable place for a parsonage.  In accordance with this action, James Burt, Jeffrey Wisner and Nathaniel Jones as trustees purchased of the heirs of Benj. S. Hoyt, a house and lot contained something over three acres of land for the sum of $870.  The amount was readily raised by subscription.  At a later date an addition of some four more acres of land was added.  In 1851 the old house was taken down and the present dwelling erected.

            In Sept., 1829, a call was given to Eld. John C. Murphy, which he accepted, and sustained the pastoral office till March 30th, 1833.  The number of members reported the year that Eld. Murphy left was I03.  In April 1834 the church invited Elder Richard Pickard, who had preached for them as a supply to remain with them for one year; on the 26th of July, he presented a letter of dismission from the First  Pat. Church in New York city, and also a certificate of his ordination, which on the 9th of June, In Jan. 1835 a committee was appointed to confer with Eld. Pickard respecting his continuance with the church, and he continued to hold the pastoral office till June 29th 1844, when he asked and received a letter of dismission to the Frankford church, near Philadelphia.  Elder Packard died at Williamsburg, July 3rd 1863 and his remains lie interred in the burial ground of this church.  At the time he left, the church numbered 139 members, some thirty-four having been added during the period of pistorate.


(Note from transcriber.  The above paragraph has been transcribed as it was written in the tract.  There are several misspellings of the pastor’s name and even that of his office, which I have left intact.  Some of the above dates are suspect as well.  Apparently, the author set the type himself, and probably was tiring of it toward the end of this discourse.)


                About this period, and for some years previous, an active discussion had been going on in the Association respecting certain measures, which had been introduced among the Baptists, such as the cause of Missions, Ministerial Education, Sunday Schools, and the like.  Some of the churches, which had been connected with the Association had adopted these measures, and were consequently discontinued from its fellowship, voluntarily withdrew, (forming the Hudson River Association.) each part charging the other with “departure from the faith” received by the Association at its organization in 1891.  This church with a few of her sister churches, retained its standing as a member of the Association in opposition to what were called “new measures,” and in maintenance of “the doctrines of grace.”  From this period, this church has been recognized as belonging to what is called the “Old School.”  In 1840 the Warwick Association was composed of twelve churches, as follows, viz: Warwick 125 members, Brookfield 62; Wallkill and Middletown 27; New Vernon 42; Liberty 36; Thompson and Greenville, number not reported; Hardiston 57; Ramapo 40, Abington, 44 Salem, N.Y. city number not reported; Waterloo 25; --- being an aggregate membership of 488.

            Bro. John Sutton, who was baptized July 26th 1834 was chosen deacon June 26th 1841, which office he held until his death on Dec. 10, 1856.  Bro James Broock, who was received by letter from the church at Cornwall Sept 21, 1836 was also elected deacon June 26, 1841.

            On the first of March, 1845 the church extended a call to Elder Philandar Harwell, then pastor of the church at Woburn, Mass and formerly of North Berwick, ME to become their pastor.  On the 31st of May, 1845. elder Harwell presented his letter of dismission and recommendation, and was received into fellowship.  His coming was attended by the gracious manifestation of the divine favor, and twenty-seven were added to the church by baptism in the first year of his pastorate Weld. Harwell resigned the pastorate on Dec. 1852 to take effect April 1, 1853.  During his ministry here 53 persons were added by baptism and 7 by letter.  His resignation was unexpected and greatly regretted; but God had called him to another field of usefulness at Hopewell, New Jersey where he still continues to labor.

            During this period, the church enjoyed a goodly degree of fellowship.  The door was frequently opened for the reception of members, and when there was no special business the time was occupied by the members in narrating the dealings of the Lord with their souls.   The same order in cases of discipline was continued which had heretofore been observed the case being given to a committee, whose report was the basis of action and thus no party wrangle in the body permitted. January 25, 1851, a committee was appointed “to visit such members as habitually absent themselves from church and other meetings.”  Feb. 23rd 1851 Elder Harwell, Dea. Broock and brethren Parkinson, Sayer VanDuzer and Benedict were appointed “a committee to sit in council with the church at Ramapo in a matter of difficulty concerning their pastor, Elder James Mansur.

            On the 17th of March 1852 occurred the death of Dea. James Burt, sr. who had filled the office of deacon from 1786 and that of the clerk of the church from March 26, 1801 to Aug. 28 1841.  He was succeeded as Clerk by J. L. Sayer who retained the office till May 30th 1847 and was succeeded by bro. Wm. L. Benedict, who was also elected as a deacon August 27, 1852.  On the 4th of September, Brother Minard Sutton was also elected to the office of deacon.

            After the removal of Elder Hartwell, various efforts were made to secure the services of a pastor but without success.  April 30th 1653 <probably meant 1853> a call was extended to Elder Leonard Cox, of Cambridge, then pastor at Woburn, Mass., which was declined.  In October of the same year, a call was given to Elder Thomas Hill, of Utica, N.Y., which was also declined.  In May 1854 a call was given to Elder James Bicknell of Westmoreland, N.Y. which he declined and in June another call was sent to Elder Hill, but the church continued without a pastor until April 1856 when a call was extended to Elder J.F. Johnson of Indiana, which was accepted and he entered upon his labors the October following.  He resigned his charge July 25, 1857.

            In August 1858, the church gave a call to elder Wilson Housel of N.J. to become their pastor, which he accepted and removed to this place the first of the following year.  His pastorate continued till April 1863.  During this entire period, dissensions of the most unhappy and distracting character disturbed the tranquility of the church, and the rules and order of discipline formerly observed seem to have been entirely neglected.  In October 1859 “it was resolved, that all matters growing out of the difficulties lately or now before the church he dispenses with until the course prescribed by the gospel has been observed by those interested.”

            February 26th, 1860 bro Wm. L. Benedict resigned the office of deacon and clerk, and was subsequently excluded from the fellowship of the church.  Bro. John E. Conklin was made clerk in his place, which position be held till June 29, 1861 when bro. J. L. Sayre was chosen, who was dismissed Jan 25th 1862.  In March 1860 a motion was made to elect two deacons and brothers John Parkinson and J.B. VanDuzer were elected April 27th 1861.  An ineffectual effort was made to settle all existing difficulties by reference to committees or council.  June 29 this position was rejected:  July 27th it was proposed “to call a council of five brethren of this church sit in council with four brethren of the New Vernon and Wallkill churches, to aid in an investigation and report to the church.” The record declares, “it was voted not to have a committee.” The church now became divided into two organized strongly contesting parties, known as the “Majority and minority parties.”  The minority asked for and obtained a council of brethren whose decision was in part accepted by the majority in Jan. 1863.  In April of this year Elder Housel was dismissed and subsequently resigned, “the majority” giving him a letter.

            In June a committee of three from each part was appointed to consider the matters in dispute and report on basis of settlement.  This committee reported July 25th in substance as follows: that “we return to the order and rules of the Gospel, from which we have departed, confess our faults one to another, retract and rescind our action, so far as it has been governed by majorities and organized minorities, and in our future walk and conversation avoid those things which have not made for our peace and believe those offending in such manner to be proper subjects for discipline by the church.”  This report was adopted and the church came together and communed.

            August 27th 1863, a call was again extended to Eld. Leonard Cox, formerly of Mass., then located at Bowdoinham, ME, which call was accepted, and he removed to Warwick. Bro. Welling, who was chosen clerk at the dismissal of brother Sayre, was dismissed and brother W. L. Benedict was chosen in his place.  April 30, 1864 a committee was appointed to visit certain members who were accused of neglecting to observe the order of the gospel, and following May these members with many others who had constituted “the majority party,” withdrew from the church, declaring non-fellowship; those who had been visited and labored with were excluded.  Aug. 27th 1864, bro. W.L. Benedict was re-elected to the office of deacon of the church.

            As we review the long history of the past hundred years, and call to mind the scenes of joy and trial through which as a church we have passed, how varied are the emotions which crowd upon the mind!  The little band which here rallied, under the standard of the truth, a hundred years ago, whose prayers ascended for and whose tears watered this vine, have long since gone to their reward.  We can but admire the heroism which nerved their hearts under all the difficulties by which they were surrounded.  Nearly three generations of men have passed away, and we, their children, today meet to celebrate the goodness and mercy of Him who was our fathers’ God and who is the dwelling place of His children in all generations.  The seed which they planted has yielded an abundant harvest; and though some of the children have grown old and fallen into decay, and others have seemed to turn asides from the sublime teaching of their youth, they are none the less evidences of the fruitfulness and vigor of the stock.

            The history we have reviewed of the past hundred years furnishes us undeniable evidence both of faith and practice of those churches known as Baptist.  Acknowledging the Scriptures as the only rule of faith, this church has maintained the fact of God’s everlasting and unchanging love.  His sovereign choice of all his people in Christ, their helpless and ruined state by nature, their redemption and justification by the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, their effectual calling by divine grace in regeneration, and their preservation by divine power to eternal glory.  These principles this church has ever zealously maintained carefully abstaining from all mere human dogmas and questions of mere worldly policy.  However widely individuals may have differed on various moral or political questions of the times, the church, through its ministry, has ever confined itself solely to the advocacy of those principles which constitute its faith.

            The position which this church has occupied, and which she still holds with regard to the various exciting political and civil questions of the day is worthy a moment’s attention. Declaring her faith in the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ and the absolute and entire separation between Church and State, her pulpit has never yet been prostituted to the purposed of political partisanship; nor to the agitation and discussion of the sectional questions of our land.  In the struggle of the Revolution, the members of the church were not behind their fellow citizens in patriotic zeal.  As citizens of the State they have always manifested their interest in those questions which concerned the public good. The example of Roger Williams, the first Baptist in this country, and a victim to his devotion to personal religious liberty, is matter of history.  As members of the kingdom of Christ, Baptists have refrained from introducing these things into the discussions of the pulpit and discipline of the church. Never in all the history of the church, for a hundred years, has the endorsement of the system of Slavery, even while existing in the land, been made a test of fellowship, and it remains yet to be seen, whether, now that the question concerning it has become settled forever, in our land, by its abolition, the church will so far depart from the record of the past, as to assume this monstrous position!  No specious reasoning and forced construction of the word of God can ever alter the well-adjusted and distinct record of this church for the past hundred years.  A fundamental article of our faith has heretofore been that “God governs in the army of heaven and in the affairs of men.” And now, that, by the providence of God, Slavery has been abolished in our land, it remains to be seen, whether this church will so far depart from its faith, and all the previous practice of the denomination, as to devote its pulpit, in the language of a proposition recently made to me, “to the recognition and observance of Slavery by all the church of God.”

            As regard the position of the ministry, the relationship of the members one toward another, and the administration of its discipline, the practice of this church is clear and distinct.  Acknowledging no ecclesiastical hierarchy, not recognizing the right of any man or body of men to assume dictatorial authority; they have ever contended for the right of private judgment the personal responsibility of individual members, and independence of the churches.  No individual possesses the power of hurling the anathema of papal excommunication, and every offender against the laws or regulating of the church is guaranteed a fair, impartial and brotherly hearing; and all questions are to be determined by the voice of majority, expressed according to the rule of the Gospel and the established practice and usages of the denomination.  Associations are simply gathering of individual members of different churches for religious edification, and Councils have authority only so far as their advice may be received by the churches.  The practice of the church, with regard to all questions of discipline and difficulty is clearly set forth in its history.

            In respect to the religious activities of the church, there is somewhat great difficulty to be encountered.  From a very early period in the history of the denomination efforts have been made for the intellectual elevation of its ministry.  As early as 1756 Isaac Eaton, who was the pastor of the church Hopewell, N.J. opened a school for the instruction of young men under the auspices of the Philadelphia Association with which body this church was for many years connected.  While our fathers believed fully in the necessity of a Divine call and preparation for the work of the ministry, they did not despise or reject the advantages of human learning.  At a later period, however, when the system of ministerial education became more fully developed, and the attempt seemed to be made to substitute training for a divine call, earnest protest was entered against it.  The same may be said also of Sunday Schools, Missionary Societies, and other religious activities.  The discussions which followed upon these questions, led to the distinction between the Old School and the New and since about the year 1840 this church has been known as belonging to the Old School.

            How varied are the scenes through which this church has passed! ---What numbers, under this vine, have enjoyed the refreshing influences of Divine Grace, who are now drinking at the full fountain and raising their tuneful voices, in full chorus in the courts above!  What scenes of sorrow, of trial, and of labor, have been succeeded by the joy, the rest, the light of heaven!  They labored, and we have entered into their labors.  Rich indeed has been the legacy they have bequeathed to us – the faith it is ours to maintain – the practice it is ours to perpetuate - - the virtue it is ours to emulate.  Sad is it we so little realize the important trust – so feebly follow the bright examples set before us.

            Of the influence of this church upon the community in which it has so long a time existed, I cannot forbear a single word.  God has said; “I will make her and the places ‘round about my hill, a blessing; the shower shalt come down in its season, and there shall be showers of blessing.” For a hundred years the Banner of the cross has floated here, and under it how many chosen soldiers have enlisted who have gone to swell the number of the triumphant army above!  For so long a time this church has stood in this community a monument of God, unchanging faithfulness, sustaining the ordinances of His House, in defence of sound morality and a pure Christian faith and practice.---Here the distinguishing doctrine of the Cross has been proclaimed and the trumpet of the Gospel has given forth its “certain sound.” When can calculate the influence which has thus been exerted?


“The church, adorned with grace, Stands like a palace, built for God to show his milder face.” 


            If ever amid the strife of the world and jarring human interests the banner of Truth has seemed to waver, it has been only to be raised by other hands and to be born onward to fresh victories.  Little wonder is it, if in the period of a hundred years some evidences of weakness or decay should betray themselves; but may we not hope that purged from these, and purified by the trials through which the church has passed, or may now be passing, she will yet arise and put on her beautiful garments as of old, “and look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”

            Another hundred years and all of us will have passed away, to be numbered with the pale congregation of the dead; who can tell what its record shall be?  Perhaps ere then the archangel’s trump shall waken the sleeping myriads of Earth, and the mighty angel of the Apocalypse proclaim that time shall be no longer. But should the sun dawn on the opening of another centennial period, may it find the record of this church yet brighter than the record of the past, the banner of Truth still floating here on Zion’s walls, and our children’s children be prepared to celebrate the goodness of Him whom we this day adore; and raise with us, as we do with our fathers, the grateful Ebenezer ---“Hitherto God hath helped us.”




ERATUM. ---This copy of the address is taken from the Advertizer of February 26, 1866, sent to me by Thos. Burt, esq., the original copy having been sent by me to Rev. Dr. Thos. Armitage of New York, at his request with promise of return, which his death prevented.  The type has been set by my own hand in my 87th year, amid other pressing duties, and the weakness of age must be my excuse for typographical errors and blunders.  --- L. C.

                Charlotte Co. House, Va., July 31, 1908



Transcribers note:

As mentioned on page one of this transcription, the decision to place the history of Warwick’s Old School Baptist Church first in the document, was made to help the reader follow the historical chronology and perspective by which the church evolved.

The introductory notes and EXPLANTORY LETTERS below were originally placed at the beginning of the historical pamphlet from which this transcription was taken. This made sense for the centennial anniversary of the Church and the historical period in which they were embroiled, however, we felt that the reversal in this case would useful to the reader.













            On assuming charge of the Old Baptist church in Warwick, Orange Co., N.Y. in 1864, I asked to see the records and was informed that its original records had been taken, as was believed to New York, and had probably been destroyed at the time of what was known as the “great fire” in that city.  It was only after much labor and most patient research that I found the original documents, well nigh destroyed by age, in the attic of the house formerly occupied by the venerable deacon Burt, the old clerk.  In the house then occupied by his son.

            By this record I learned the church was organized in 1765 and that the 6th of October 1865 would be the anniversary of the Centennial of its organization, and it was suggested that the occasion be observed by a two days’ meeting and the delivery of an Historical Address by the pastor.  A committee appointed on this matter reported to this effect July 10th. Soon after this Elder Hassell, of No. Carolina, arrived at Middletown and in a sermon in which he endeavored to set forth “The Apostles’ doctrine” as being at veriance with the results of the War much bitterness was excited and the main purpose of the church anniversary was transformed measurably into a political wrangle.  Elder Beebe wrote me the letter of Aug. 4th to which I made a reply as elsewhere given, and subsequently sought an interview with him, accompanied by deacon Sutton, to ascertain on what grounds our differences could be adjusted.  He submitted three propositions as ground of fellowship.  1st That the relationship of master and servant with all the relative duties of both is an institution of God, in harmony with the name of Christ, and “the doctrine which is according to Godliness.”   2nd That Timothy and Titus, and all other ministers of Christ, are commanded to teach and exhort its recognition and observance by all the church of God; and 3rd, That all who teach otherwise and consent not to these wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to be put away from our fellowship.” From these propositions I dissented.

            I did not acknowledge the right of the elder to impose them on me, they were never the creed of the church, nor recognized in my ordination vows, but I recognized the authority of the church, and submitted the matter for their consideration, stating if they endorsed Elder Beebe’s matter at this time, I resigned my pastoral office. No notice was taken of the matter at this time, as the time approached for the Centennial exercise.  The notice published in the “Signs of the Times,” had been withdrawn, but a two days’ meeting was held as arranged.  The address which had been prepared was delivered and at its conclusion, Wm. L. Benedict arose and said that I had been asked to prepare an address which had been heard and approved by the church; that I had changed or altered the form to what he believed the church did not or would not accept.   I replied that I had given the facts as I found them; that I had no idea of presenting it for anybody’s sanction or that of the church; a proceeding we deemed as unnecessary as it would be for me to read sermons for approval before delivery! On the 28th of Oct., at a church meeting, it was voted that the sketch I had prepared was the property of the church and that I be called upon immediately to deliver it up.   When called upon to do so, I replied I was not prepared to do so at that time; if the church wished to publish it as I delivered it, I was perfectly willing to do so.  I was then required to assign a reason why I was not prepared to deliver it up at once, and on adhering to my previous declaration, a motion was made that I be excluded from the church for resisting its authority and for disorderly conduct. On the 5th of Aug., the day following the day of the Centennial, Elder Beebe had full opportunity to explain his position and the new order of the church, as set forth by the division at Black Rock in 1832, of which body he was a prominent member, but not as a delegate from this Association, being as we believed then resident at Alexandria.  No delegate from the Warwick Association participated and the division here came later.

            The trouble in this church seems to have had gradual growth and was more or less interwoven with personal if not political prejudices.  The war had created much feeling and the sympathies of many were strongly with the South, and it is greatly to be regretted that the close of the contest at arms should arouse bitterness in the church.

            My connection with the church at Warwick was during the most exciting period of the Civil War.  An incident that occurred at an Associational meeting at Mt. Salem, at the time of the call for 75,000 men is an illustration.  Elder Beebe and myself occupied the same chamber.  On the morning of Sunday, the last day of the meeting, he informed me he had dreamed that he saw two dark clouds, one from the north the other from the south approach each other full of armed men; there was a deadly contest, and ended in total darkness.  I had also dreamed of a most stormy passage to my old home, as I reached the land and looked back to the harbor, the water seemed to have gone out and instead were millions of beautiful doves, and above them a most magnificent dove.  Opening the door of my old home, I cried to my mother, “here is the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven!”  He was to preach first Sunday morning and I was to follow him preaching the final sermon of the meeting. His text was from the Apealypse, <sic> and his sermon was in keeping with the excitement of the time.  I thought I had best close with few words, but before he closed, the words of Jer. 26:20 came to me with such force that I felt compelled to speak; and I endeavored to set forth the duty of the Christian citizen to the State in times of great political excitement.  It had effect afterward.

            After leaving the pastorate, the people of Warwick asked me to start a local paper, furnishing ample means, and from the 4th and 5th numbers of the Advertizer, which is still living the following address is copied, the original having been given to Rev. Dr. Thos. Armitage, of First Baptist Church of New York., having renewed my membership with my old church in Cambridge, then aided in organizing a church in connection with the Hudson River Association and in 1871 came to Virginia.




            About the first of August, 1864 Elder Hassell came from N.C. and preached at the hall at Middletown, N.Y., in which sermon he asserted that “the Apostles’ doctrine sanctioned Slavery, and that the acceptance of this dogma was essential to fellowship among all true Baptists.”  This produced much discussion, and called forth the following letters:


Middletown, N.Y.  Aug. 4, 1865.  Bro. Cox: --- Since we parted last night Bro. Durand has had an interview with one of our brethren and finds him railing against the sermon preached at the Hall on Wednesday night by bro. Hassell, and in the discussion, the brother alluded to claimed that you occupy substantially the same ground with himself on the subject of Slavery or Abolition.  Having heard from others that you have recently changed your view, or have expressed views on that subject thought to be the reverse of what you have formerly held or contended for; as I have never heard you utter anything inharmonious with your former views, in which we have always been so well agreed and as the present indication as presented to my mind, are that we are to be involved in a serious difficulty on this subject.  I am anxious to know from yourself just what are your views on the matter, and how far you have given our brethren or others to understand that your views are now or have at any time been in harmony with those who advocate the “abolition of Slavery,” as it is termed.  You know what are and have been my views, or rather my firm convictions on the points involved; --- what I now desire to know is whether we are agreed, or if we are not how far we disagree.  I feel constrained, even if it should subject me to the loss of all I possess on earth, and my own life also, to heed the dolmen admonition of 1 Tim. 8 6., especially the last clause of verse 5, --- I hope you will not fail to answer these inquiries calmly, candidly and without delay, as I feel exceedingly anxious on the subject.  Meantime I remain, your anxious brother in suspense.     GILBERT BEEBE


Reply to the above. -----Warwick, Orange Co., N.Y., Aug. 4 1865


Dear Bro. Beebe:  On my return home this evening, I found your letter of this day and tho’ somewhat fatigued, and the hour late, I sit down to pen a few words in reply.  I hardly know where to begin; your letter appears to refer to three things:  1st  my views on the subject of Slavery  2nd  my views on the position taken by bro Hassell;  3rd my sentiments expressed to brethren.  As regard my view on the subject of Slavery, I have held and still hold it was an institution given to the Jews but not the Christian church; that while there is nothing in the gospel expressly forbidding the holding of slaves, it is not the duty of Christians to hold them, or to defend the system.  I have been and still am opposed to the agitation of the subject.  I have always advocated the “let alone” policy having no sympathy with Abolition or with Slavery propagandism.  The agitation of the subject I have deplored and its introduction into the church I have opposed.  As regard the position assured by bro Hassell, there are two points in regard to which I think if I understood him, I do differ.  First, as regard the obligation of a gospel preacher to present the subject of Slavery.  I understand Paul to teach, not that Christians should hold slaves, or even endorse the system but that if one were a slave, he should obey his master, or if a parent rightly train his child.  In other words, the gospel gives sufficient rules to govern us in every relation of life.  In this view, it appears to me an extreme spirit is opposed to the spirit of the gospel.  Second, as regards the fellowship of all believers; --- the first time I ever met Bro. Hassell was some years since while preaching in N.Y. city; he came up on business; it was the first time I ever sat in the pulpit with a slaveholder.  His prejudices and mine were necessarily different both from education and habit; I did not disfellowship him that he could defend the system of Slavery, nor he me because I could not.  I know that the times have changed since then, but has our relation to Christ and His Church changed?  Is there better reason why we should disfellowship one another now?  I do not hold Slavery to be a part of the Apostles’ doctrine, but the minister of Christ is to present the scriptural rules which are to govern husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant; but I believe one may refuse to fill at least some of these positions and yet be a Christian.  Endorsement of the views or practices of one section are not obligatory upon another and there may be difference in forms while there is unity in spirit and true faith.  Should we not “strive for the things that make for peace and the things whereby one may edify another,” rather than fan the embers to a devouring flame?  Bro Beebe, must our views on every subject agree in order to ensure true Christian fellowship?  As regards what I have said to brethren, I do not now remember to have said anything different from what I have herein said.  With Brother Harding two years ago, I took the same ground; we differed in some points, but it did not destroy our fellowship; you doubtless remember our preaching and conversation at Mt. Salem nearly two years ago.  In your interview with bro. Tatam, in which I took part, I thought we all agreed as to the matter of fellowship.  Perhaps I said as much to bro. Durand as to any one; “that I thought that all good men would be glad when this vexed question was taken out of politics and ceased to be agitated.”  In conclusion, bro. Beebe, let me use the language of

Ruth:  “Entreat me not to leave thee.”  Let us not break fellowship over a difference which does not exist.  I trust you will understand my feelings and position.  I am anxious to know and I contend for the “truth as it is in Jesus.”  If I have said or done aught to harm your feelings I regret it, and will endeavor to make all amends in my power. 
Yours, in love for the Truth,                          LEONARD COX.



Leonard Cox in old age


Photo of Leonard Cox as a young man on page 1