AN HISTORICAL ADDRESS
Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the
By Elder Leonard Cox, Pastor.
From the collection of the
Historical Society of the Town of
Transcribed February 2003
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 The published notice of this meeting having been withdrawn, after one insertion, is doubtless the cause why some are not present, it being supposed by many at a distance that these services were to be postponed.
the present month, the Baptist church in
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.
the early records it appears there were a few Baptists who removed here from
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
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
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
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.
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.
a vote 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.”
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
Pastor of the church at
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.
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.
this time an effort was made to remove this church to Westmoreland, which was
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
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
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.
Benedict resigned his pastoral charge on
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
“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
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.
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.
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
this year, John Morris Fought was chosen Deacon, in which capacity he served
until his removal to
October 1792, the brethren residing at
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.
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
Montanye resigned the pastoral office of the church
in December of 1800 for the purpose of assuming that of the church at
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
Stevens resigned his charge
a special church meeting
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
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.
the date of
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
the removal of Deacon Fought at this time to
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
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
Sept., 1829, a call was given to Eld. John C. Murphy,
which he accepted, and sustained the pastoral office till
(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,
Bro. John Sutton, who was baptized
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
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.
After the removal of Elder Hartwell,
various efforts were made to secure the services of a pastor but without
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.”
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.
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
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
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.”
---This copy of the address is taken from the Advertizer
Charlotte Co. House,
Transcribers note: As mentioned on page one of
this transcription, the decision to place the history of 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.
As mentioned on page one of
this transcription, the decision to place the history of
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.
this record I learned the church was organized in 1765 and that
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.
connection with the church at
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:
Reply to the above. -----Warwick,
Orange Co., N.Y.,
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
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
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