Saturday, May 23, 2015

From Burkett & Read's History of the Kehukee Association

Elders LEMUEL BURKITT and JESSE READ published their history of the Kehukee Association in NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, October, 1803.  Here are some of the things I have copied from this history and which should be read by all Hardshells who think the "History of the Church of God" by C.B. and Sylvester Hassell is the standard Hardshell history apologetic.

These citations are given in order and are cited mainly to counteract Hardshell false claims about the history of the Baptists and of their own denomination.

Burkett and Read wrote the following about how their history first came into being (emphasis mine):

"It has been, of late, the wish of some of the leading characters in the churches belonging to the Kehukee Association, for a brief history of that Association to be published, from its origin to the present time (1765 -1803 - SG), hoping it may prove a blessing to the churches in general, and their posterity in particular; that they may be fully acquainted with the faith and practice of the churches to which their forefathers belonged. It was, therefore, the request of some of the churches and ministers that we should engage in this work.  It was a subject which had not engaged our attention before; but, upon a serious reflection that, whereas, we had been members of this Association as long perhaps as any now living, and one of us had been Clerk of the Association for thirty years, and acquired a considerable degree of information relative to the Association and churches in general, and being persuaded of the general utility of such an history, we were encouraged to undertake the publication thereof." (pg. 7 - Burkett-Read History)

No one can doubt the authority of Burkett and Read to write about the beliefs and practices of the Kehukee Regular Baptists from 1765 to 1803.

They write:

"The most of these churches, before they were ever united in an association, were General Baptist, and held with the Arminian tenets. We believe they were the descendants of the English General Baptists...They preached, and adhered to the Arminian, or Free-will doctrines, and their churches were first established upon this system. They gathered churches without requiring an experience of grace previous to their baptism; but baptized all who believed in the doctrine of baptism by immersion, and requested baptism of them. The churches of this order were first gathered here by Elders Paul Palmer and Joseph Parker, and were succeeded by a number of ministers, whom they had baptized; and some of whom, we have no reason to believe, were converted when they were baptized, or first began to preach." (pg. 15)

According to Hardshells, a church is not valid unless it has been established by other valid churches.  The General Baptists did not all receive new baptisms when they became Calvinistic Regular Baptists.  With their Landmarker views, how can they say that their churches are valid since they were descendents of Arminian churches and invalid baptisms and ordinations?

They also write:

 "This was the state of these churches until divine Providence disposed the Philadelphia Baptist Association to send Messrs. Vanhorn and Miller, two of the ministers belonging to that Association, who lived in New Jersey, to travel into the southern Colonies, and visit the churches and preach the Gospel. And it appears that it was attended with an happy effect...Through their instrumentality, many people were awakened; many of the members of these churches were convinced of their error, and were instructed in the doctrines of the Gospel; and some churches were organized anew, and established upon the principles of the doctrine of grace. These churches, thus newly constituted, adopted the Baptist confession of faith, published in London in 1689, containing thirty-two articles, and upon which the Philadelphia and Charleston Associations are founded."

The Kehukee Association was started by missionaries "sent" by the Philadelphia association (who obviously then were missionary Baptists).  Further, the Association even designated the field of labor, a thing the Hardshells of the 1830s charged as being a new thing among Baptists.  Further, the Association also paid these missionaries.  Clearly the first Baptists of the Philadelphia, Charleston, and Kehukee Associations were missionary Calvinistic Baptists.

They write:

"THUS, by means of those ministers who visited the churches, several were reformed, and the work of reformation progressed, until the greater part of what few churches were gathered in North Carolina, both ministers and members, came into the Regular Baptist order."

"The churches thus reformed, although but few in number, entered into an association compact about the year of 1765, and first convened at Kehukee, from whence the Association took the name of the “Kehukee Association.”

"The principal ministers which belonged to the Association on its first establishment, were, Elders Jonathan Thomas, John Thomas, John Moore, John Burges, William Burges, Charles Daniel, William Walker, John Meglamre, James Abington, Thomas Pope, and Henry Abbot. All of whom, except Elders John Meglamre and James Abington, we believe, were baptized by ministers of the Free-will order."  (Chpt. 1, pg. 17)

"The distinction between us and them was, that they were called Separates, and the Philadelphia, the Charleston, and the Kehukee Association, were called Regular Baptists."  (Chpt. 2, pg. 20)

abstract of the principles in 1777

2. We believe that Almighty God has made known his mind and will to the children of men in his word; which word we believe to be of divine authority, and contains all things necessary to be known for the salvation of men and women.

Obviously these first Kekukee Baptists believed that there are things in the Scriptures that are "necessary to be known for salvation." But, today's Hardshells do not believe that any revelation that is to be found only in the Scriptures is necessary to be saved.


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

Notice how they were not guilty of the Pelagian notion that a command implies ability and were therefore not in agreement with today's Hardshells (who claim to represent the true faith of the first Kehukee Baptists of North Carolina).


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

 Many Hardshells would later attempt to explain "by means which he has ordained" to exclude the preaching of the Gospel, and evangelical faith and repentance.  But, this is reading into facts what one pleases and is dishonest interpretation.  It can be easily discovered just what "means" these first Kehukee Baptists had in mind by reading their other writings of the period.  But what Hardshell wants to do that kind of honest research?


Did the first Kehukee Baptists not adopt the London Confession of faith?  Is it not clear on what "means" are under consideration?

Notice also how they explained what it meant to be "called" (quickened, regenerated).  It involved "receive" the call (or not "refuse").  They also viewed this "call" as involving "offers of mercy" which must be accepted in order to have been called.

8. We believe that justification in the sight of God is only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, received and applied by faith alone.  (Chpt. 2, pg. 25)

"Received and applied by faith"?  Is this not what today's Hardshells deny?  Also, is it not clear that these Kehukee Baptists believed that "faith" was one of those "means"

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

Today's Hardshells will not accept this article.  They do not believe that God's elect will all be "converted."  They believe they will all be "called" and "regenerated" but not all "converted."


XV. The Association shall have power

5. To appropriate those moneys by the churches contributed for an Association Fund, to any purpose they may think proper. (yr. 1789 - pg. 54)

Today's Hardshells say that Associations have no power to distribute money to missionaries!

Burkett and Read write of the following early evangelistic practice:

"Shaking hands while singing, was a means (though simple in itself) to further the work. The ministers used frequently, at the close of worship, to sing a spiritual song suited to the occasion, and go through the congregation, and shake hands with the people while singing; and several, when relating their experience, at the time of their admission into church fellowship, declared that this was the first means of their conviction. The act seemed so friendly, the ministers appeared so loving, that the party with whom the minister shook hands, would often be melted in tears. The hymn

“I long to see the happy time,
When sinners all come flocking home,
To taste the riches of his love,
And to enjoy the realms above:”
And especially that part of it,
“Take your companion by the hand;
And all your children in the band,”

— many times had a powerful effect. Giving the people an invitation to come
up to be prayed for, was also blessed.

The ministers usually, at the close of preaching, would tell the congregation, that if there were any persons who felt themselves lost and condemned, under the guilt and burden of their sins, that if they would come near the stage, and kneel down, they would pray for them. Shame at first kept many back, but as the work increased, numbers, apparently under strong conviction, would come and fall down before the Lord at the feet of the ministers, and crave an interest in their prayers. Sometimes twenty or thirty at a time. And at some Union Meetings, two or three hundred would come, and try to come as near as they could. This very much engaged the ministers; and many confessed that the Lord heard the prayers of his ministers, and they had reason to hope their souls were relieved from the burden of their sins, through the blood of Christ. It had a powerful effect on the spectators to see their wives, their husbands, children, neighbors, &c., so solicitous for the salvation of their souls; and was sometimes a means of their conviction. Many ladies of quality, at times were so powerfully wrought on, as to come and kneel down in the dust in their silks to be prayed for. The act of coming to be prayed for in this manner had a good effect on the persons who came, in that they knew the eyes of the congregation were on them, and if they did fall off afterwards it would be a disgrace to them, and cause others to deride them; this, therefore, was a spur to push them forward."  (pg. 76, 77)

No Hardshell today, if he is honest, will confess that the above practices are the practices of sound and orderly churches and yet, this is what the first Kehukee Baptists practiced.  This practice shows what they believed about salvation and its relation to the preaching of the Gospel.  Also, the word "means" is used three times in the above citation which explains what the Kehukee brethren meant by "means which he has ordained."  It was by the means of preaching, urging and inviting lost sinners, to come to Christ for salvation and that prayer was also one of those "means."

They write:

"This gracious work in this Association, has been differently manifested in its operations, and the effects it took on the people. Some were deeply affected under a sense of their lost state, and their hearts ready to burst within them, whilst reflecting on their past conduct; yet under the ministry of the Word made no noise. Others, sensible of these things, were in floods of tears, and at last constrained to give vent to their passions, and cry out in the presence of the multitude, What must I do to be saved? Some were taken with a tremor, like a fit of the ague. And others fell to the ground like a person in a swoon, and continued helpless and motionless for some time; and this power was manifest at times, on persons at home about their secular concerns in the house, and in the field."  (pg. 80)

Notice how these first Kehukee Baptists believed that the means of salvation involved "the ministry of the word."

They wrote:

"Let the politician with all his maxims of policy; the deist with all his deistical reasoning, endeavoring to invalidate the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures; the soldier with all his arms and ammunition, see if any, or all of them together, can by all their art, sophistry, or power, or even by the force of gunpowder, effect such a reformation in the morals of men. Can they do what the simplicity of the Gospel of our dear Lord Jesus has done? Can they make those who hate God and religion, with all their hearts love him and his service? Can they make men at variance and enmity love one another? This the Gospel has done in this revival. In some neighborhoods, persons at enmity with each other, and when they met would not speak to one another, after receiving the benefits of the Gospel’s gracious influence, could take each other in their arms with the greatest pleasure, and cause an unbelieving world to say, Behold how these Christians love."  (pg. 81)

Here again is language that shows that the first Kehukee Baptists believed that the Gospel was the means of regeneration.

CIRCULAR LETTER

The Messengers of the several Baptist churches belonging to the United
Baptist Association, formerly called the Kehukeee Association, met at the,
Flat, Swamp meeting-house, in Pitt county, North Carolina, October, 1791:
To the several churches in union with this Association, send greeting:

And since Almighty God, in carrying on this glorious work, is pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, it therefore becomes necessary that there should be a number of preachers or ministers of the Gospel. And according to the direction of our last Association, we proceed, in our circular letter, at this time, to make a few observations on the necessary support or maintenance of Gospel ministers; although we are very sorry that there should be the least occasion to write or speak upon that subject."  (pg. 82)

There is not hint anywhere that these Kehukee Baptists interpreted the salvation coming via the Gospel as a mere "time salvation."  It is clear that by "means which he has ordained" that they intended "the foolishness of preaching."

They write:

"After the removal of Elder White, the church labored under great coldness and barenness until about 1801, when the church consisted of not more than twenty members in full fellowship. About this time, Elder Burkitt on a circuit of meetings attended this place. He preached, prayed, and sung, but no good effect seemed to attend his labors. At the close of the meeting, he at last told them, “that if there was any person in the congregation who desired to go to heaven or be converted, if he would come up to the pulpit, he would pray to the Lord for him.” No person came for some time. At length a young man came, with tears in his eyes, and requested his prayers. — Some months after, this young man was converted and related his experience at a Union Meeting, Warren, Ready Creek, and declared this was a mean in the hand of the Lord for his conviction and conversion; and said he was a thousand times obliged to the man for praying for him; and ten thousand to the Lord for putting it in the mind of his minister to do so. Soon after this a revival took place in this church, since which about one hundred have been baptized; and sometimes as many as twenty-four at one time. The church now contains one hundred and twenty members." (pg. 124)

This was the practice of the first Kehukee Regular Baptists and one in which the Hardshells have all departed, to their death.

Now, my Hardshell brethren, in light of such historical facts as these, will you still persist in saying that your views are those of the first Calvinistic, Particular, Regular Baptists?  That you are "old school" and "primitive"?

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