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respondence. For the glory of God and the welfare of the increas. ing denomination, a yearly meeting was agreed on, which should embrace all the quarterly meetings in a general association, and present an opportunity for all parts of the connexion to be directly heard from and represented once a year. The first yearly meeting was held in New Durham on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of June, 1792; “ a season of great blessing and long to be remembered.” It was next held in Gorham, then in Parsonsfield, and so in turn at different places as would best accommodate the Freewill Baptist community. As the quarterly meetings were composed of churches, and transacted their general and relative business: so the yearly meeting was composed of the several quarterly meetings, through their delegates, and transacted the general business of the denomination. This organization was also found to be of great advantage, and has been continued, there being now twenty such associations. Elder Randall died in 1808; his last written advice to his beloved connexion contains much excellent instruction. At the time when God called from Zion's walls him who was the founder, and who had for so many years been the leading actor in the connexion: its numbers and its ministry had greatly increased, and many of them were able ministers of the gospel of Christ, whose names would often come up, in a full history of the denomination, but need not in our brief article. They have now extended into several other States in the Union, and into Canada. No other Freewill Baptist minister has ever been so successful as an evangelist, or so extensively instrumental in publishing a free gospel in the more distant States, as Elder John Colby. He entered the ministry in 1809; preached a few years with great success in several of the eastern States, in one of which years he baptized three hundred. But the great West seemed constantly to rest on his mind with such impressions to preach the gospel of Christ in that vast field, as he could not well resist. Accordingly he spent much of his precious ministry in several of the western States, and particularly in Ohio. Of the eastern States, Rhode Island richly shared in his successful labours. He died in Norfolk, Virginia, 1817, after an extensively useful ministry; having baptized many hundreds, established and set in order numerous churches, and laid the foundation for several quarterly meetings in States then new ground to the denomination.
It ought to be mentioned, in this connexion, that the Freewill Baptist interest had not arisen and come down to this period without some internal trials. There obtained among them, at one time, some difference of sentiment in reference to the divinity of Christ. Some few of the churches and several ministers had imbibed Arian or Unitarian views, to the great grief of the general body. Several ministers, who afterward figured considerably in the Christian connexion, though Smith and some of the rest have never belonged to the Freewill Baptists, drew several of our ministers and a few churches into Unitarian views, and, in some instances, into the annihilation doctrine, both of which were not regarded as scriptural or the sentiment of the connexion. A small secession was the result on the one hand, and on the other, unanimity of sentiment was restored. The 'Freewill Baptists have always been, and are, Trinitarian. The above trial was not long felt, and it is presumed that others do not require to be mentioned in the present article.
The Freewill Baptist denomination having now extended over a large portion of the country, and there being several yearly meetings, and the whole body being represented in no one of them: a General Conference was organized in 1827, in which the whole connexion should be represented. The General Conference was at first an annual, then a biennial, and now a triennial association. It is composed of delegates appointed by the twenty yearly meetings, and to it are referred the general interests of the denomination, at home and abroad. Since 1827, the period last mentioned, the Freewill Baptist interest has been constantly extending, and their numbers augmenting, not so rapidly as in some of the sister denominations, but in a good ratio. Of course for a long time they had to struggle with the numerous obstacles universally common to all new causes. From the first they have not, so much as older denominations, enjoyed the advantages of an extensive and liberal education. The harvest seemed truly great; souls were perishing; and many young men whom God called to preach, felt constrained to enter upon the great work without waiting a long time to acquire a regular education ;they have been eminently pious, the means of turning many to God, yet not so extensively useful as they would have been in the enjoyment of better early advantages. Intelligence, however, has for some years been, and is, increasing, both in the ministry and membership. From their origin the press has, more or less, been brought in to aid them. First, only their minutes and circulars, with occasional sermons, were published. Afterward, for several years, Buzzell's Magazine, a Freewill Baptist Register, and other periodicals, were published; and occasionally such books were printed as the wants of the connexion demanded. For some twenty years last past the “ Morning Star," the principal organ of the denomination, has made its weekly visits among them with an extensive circulation, and has accomplished for the cause a great amount of good. Though they regard the Holy Scriptures as their only rule of faith and practice, they have found it to their great advantage to publish, some years ago, a Treatise of their Faith, which combines, summarily, the doctrines and usages of the connexion. Standard hymnbooks, works on the Freedom of the Will, General Atonement, Divinity of Christ, Free Communion, Baptism, etc., memoirs of Randall, Colby, etc., have been published, and a complete History of the Freewill Baptists is now printing; and there is lately issued from the press a theological volume, by the principal of their Biblical School. Works and authors, though not numerous, are increasing among them. Though the Freewill Baptist ministry generally are not so learned as it were desirable, many of them having to pick up much of their biblical knowledge as they preach, there is now in the ministry quite a number of liberally educated men, and this number is yearly increasing. They have one Biblical School and several flourishing academies; and it may be safely said, that their ministry is becoming better and better educated.
The Freewill Baptists have arisen, essentially, by religious revivals; by conversions and accessions from such as were “ without," rather than by secessions from other denominations. Protracted meetings, and their quarterly and yearly associations, have been blessed of God, as well as the ordinary means of grace. Last year about two and a half thousands of Free Baptists in the State of New York united with them. But they have never adopted a policy particularly calculated to increase their numbers. They would have numbered thousands of communicants more than they now do, but for their uncompromising anti-slavery position ; having withdrawn connexion some years since from four thousand in North Carolina on account of their being slaveholders; and having refused, on the same principle, to receive into the connexion some twelve thousand from Kentucky and vicinity, who sent a delegation, four years since, to the General Conference for that purpose. As a denomination, they have no connexion whatever with the horrid system of slavery; the General Conference, Yearly, and Quarterly Meetings, having taken a strong and decided anti-slavery ground. Thence the reason why there are no more Freewill Baptists in the slave-holding states. The General Baptists of England are in their sentiments and usages with us, and a correspondence and exchange of publications, have been carried on for many years; and their Foreign Missionaries, and ours, in Orissa, in part, co-operate together. Our connexion have warmly espoused, and are zealously supporting, the various religious enterprises of the age. Finally, The Freewill Baptist denomination considers itself a humble branch of the great Christian Church, a lesser tribe of the true Israel of God; but purposes to do all it can for the salvation of immortal souls, and the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom among men.
II. DOCTRINE AND USAGES.
The Scriptures.—The Holy Scriptures, embracing the Old and New Testaments, were given by inspiration of God, and constitute the Christian's perfect rule of faith and practice.
Of God.-There is only one true and living God, who is a spirit, self-existent, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, independent, good, wise, just, and merciful; the creator, pre. server, and governor of the universe; the redeemer, saviour, sanctifier, and judge of men; and the only proper object of divine worship: He exists in three persons, offices, distinctions or relations, -Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which mode of existence is above the understanding of finite men.
of Christ.— The Son of God possesses all divine perfections, which is proven from his titles: true God, great God, mighty God, God over all, etc.; his attributes: eternal, unchangeable, omniscient, etc., and from his works. He is the only incarnation of the Divine Being
of the Holy Spirit.—He has the attributes of God ascribed, to him in the Scriptures; is the sanctifier of the souls of men, and is the third person in the Godhead.
Of Creation.—God created the world and all it contains for his own glory, and the enjoyment of his creatures; and the angels, to glorify and obey Him.
Of man's primitive state, and his fall. Our first parents were created in the image of God, holy and upright and free; but, by yielding to temptation, fell from that state, and all their posterity with them, they then being in Adam's loins; and the whole human family became exposed to temporal and eternal death.
Of the Alonement.--As sin cannot be pardoned without a sacrifice, and the blood of beasts could never actually wash away sin, Christ gave himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and thus made salvation possible for all men. Through the redemption of Christ man is placed on a second state of trial; this second state so far differing from the first, that now men are naturally inclined to transgress the commands of God, and will not regain the image of God in holiness but through the atonement by the operation of the Holy
Spirit. All who die short of the age of accountability are rendered sure of eternal life. Through the provisions of the atonement all are abilitated to repent of their sins and yield to God; the Gospel call is to all, the Spirit enlightens all, and men are agents capable of choosing or refusing.
Regeneration is an instantaneous renovation of the soul by the Spirit of God, whereby the penitent sinner, believing in and giving all up for Christ, receives new life, and becomes a child of God. This change is preceded by true conviction, repentance of, and penitential sorrow for, sin; it is called in Scripture, being born again, born of the Spirit, passing from death unto life. The soul is then justified with God.
Sanctification is a setting apart the soul and body for holy service, an entire consecration of all our ransomed powers to God; believers are to strive for this with all diligence.
Perseverance.-As the regenerate are placed in a state of trial during life, their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain; it is however their duty and privilege to be steadfast in the truth, to grow in grace, persevere in holiness, and make their election sure.
Immediately after death, men enter a state of happiness or misery, according to their character. At some future period, known only to God, there will be a resurrection both of the righteous and the wicked, when there will be a general judgment, when all will be judged according to the deeds done in the body; the righteous be admitted into eternal happiness, and the wicked assigned to eternal misery.
These are the Freewill Baptist views of the principal points of Bible doctrine.
The Church, Ordinances, Ministry.- A Christian church is an assembly of persons who believe in Christ, and worship the true God agreeably to his word. In a more general sense, it signifies the whole body of real Christians throughout the world. The church being the body of Christ, none but the regenerate, who obey the gospel, are its real members. Believers are received into a particular church, on their giving evidence of faith, covenanting to walk according to the Christian rule, and being baptized. The ordinances of the church are two, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is an immersion of the candidate in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; the only proper candidate being one who gives evidence of a change of heart. Communion is a solemn partaking of bread and wine in commemoration of the