An Abstract of the Former Articles of Faith Confessed by the Original Baptist Church Holding the Doctrine of General Provision with a Proper Code of Discipline
This Abstract of the Former Articles of Faith is now often referred to as the “1812 Former Articles” because it originated in 1812. At a general conference in Green County, North Carolina in November 1812, Elders James Roach and Jesse Heath were appointed to revise and reprint the former confession of faith. This document was a forerunner of the current Free Will Baptist Articles of Faith. In contrast, this 1812 document teaches final perseverance in grace rather than the possibility of apostasy.
1. We believe that there is but one living, true and eternal God: the Father of whom are all things from everlasting to everlasting, glorious and immutable in all his attributes. I Cor. viii, 6; Isa. xl, 28.
2. We believe that there is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, the only begotten son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, whom God freely sent into this world, because of the love wherewith he loved loved the world, and Christ as freely gave himself a ransom for all, tasting death for every man; who was buried and rose again the third day and ascended into Heaven, from whence we look for him, the second time in the clouds of Heaven, at the last day to judge both the quick and the dead. I Tim. ii, 6 and 8; Rev. i, 7; Acts xxiv, 15.
3. We believe that there is one Holy Ghost the precious gift of the Father, through his dear Son unto the world, who quickeneth and draws sinners home to God. John xvi, 7 and 8; Acts ii, 4; Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6.
4. We believe that in the beginning God made man upright and placed him in a state of glory without the least mixture of misery from which he voluntarily by transgression fell, and by that means brought on himself, a miserable and mortal state, subject to death. Gen. ii. 17, & iii. 17, 18, 19
5. We believe that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth, that they might be saved; for which end Christ hath Commanded the Gospel to be preached among all nations, to every creature. Mark xvi, 15; Luke xxiv, 47.
6. We believe that no man shall suffer in hell, for want of a Christ that died for him, but as scripture has said, for denying the lord that bought them; because they believe not in the name of the only begotten son of God. Unbelief therefore being the cause why the just and righteous God of Heaven will condemn the children of men, it follows against all contradiction, that all men at one time or another, is found in such as capacity as that through the grace of God, may be eternally saved. II Peter ii, 1; John i, 17; Acts xvii, 30; Mark vi, 6; Heb. iii, 10; I John v, 10.
7. We believe the whole Scriptures are infallibly true, and that they are the only rule of faith and practice.
8. We believe in the doctrine of general Provision made of God in Christ, for the benefit of all mankind, who repent and believe the Gospel. Luke xiv. 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20; Mat. xxviii. 18, 10.
9. We believe that sinners are drawn to God the Father, by the Holy Ghost, through Christ, his son, and that the Holy Ghost offers his divine aid to all the human family, so as they all might be happy; would they give place to his divine teaching; whereas such who do not receive the divine impressions of the holy spirit, shall at a future day, own their condemnation just, and charge themselves with their own damnation, for wilfully rejecting the offers of sovereign grace. Mat. xi, 27; John vi, 44 and 66; Psalms l, 1; Titus ii, 11 and 12; Jer. xxii, 29.
10. We believe that the Saints shall persevere in grace, and never finally fall away. John x. 27, 28 and 29.
11. We believe that God hath before the foundation of the world, chosen or elected unto Eternal life, such as believe in Christ; yet confident we are, that the purpose of God according to election was not in the least arising from any foreseen faith or righteousness done by the creature, but only by the mercy, goodness, and compassion, dwelling in God towards the creature, and so it is of him that calleth, whose purity cannot admit of any unclean person or thing in his presence. Therefore his decree of mercy, reaches only the Godly man; whom saith David, the Lord hath set apart for himself. John iii, 16; Rom. ix; Psalms iv, 3.
12. We believe that men, not considered simply as men, but ungodly men were of old, ordained to condemnation, considered such who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ that bought them; and therefore shall bring upon themselves swift destruction: but we observe that they and such the Apostle saith, because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; therefore the indignation and wrath of God is upon every soul of man that doth evil, living and dying therein; for there is no respect of persons with God. Jude i, 4; II Peter ii, 1; II Thes. ii. 10, 11, 12; Romans ii, 9.
13. We believe that all children, dying in infancy, having not actually transgressed against the law of God in their own person, are only subject to the first death which was brought on them by the fall of the first Adam, and not that any one of them dying in that state, shall suffer punishment in Hell by guilt of Adam’s sin, for of such is the kingdom of God. I Cor. xv, 22; Mat. xviii. 2,3,4 and 5; Mark ix. 36 and 37; Mat. xix, 14.
14. We believe that good works are the fruits of a saving faith, and that in the use of the means of the grace, and not out of the use of those means, eternal life is promised to men. Rev. xxii, 14 and 15; Isa. i. 19 and 20; Matt. vii, 7 and 8; Jer. vi, 16; Luke xiii, 34 and 35.
15. We believe that no man has any warrant in the holy scriptures, for justification before God through his own works, power or ability, which he has in and of himself, only as he by Grace is made able to come to God, through Jesus Christ; believing the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be imputed to all believers for their eternal acceptance with God. Rom. vi, 24; Jer. xxii, 16.
16. We believe that all things are foreseen in the wisdom of God, so that God knoweth whatsoever can or cannot come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet not as having decreed any person to eternal death or everlasting life, out of respect of mere choice, farther that He hath appointed the Godly unto life, and the Ungodly, who die in sin unto death. Heb. iv, 13; Prov. viii, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 & 31; Matt. xxv, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 & 46.
17. We believe as touching Gospel ordinances in believers Baptism, laying on of hands, receiving of the sacraments in bread and wine, washing the saints feet, anointing the sick with oil in the name of the Lord, fasting, praying, singing praises to God, and the public Ministry of the word, with every institution of the Lord that we shall find in the New Testament. Luke xxii, 19 and 20; John xxiii, 8th down to the 17th; James v, 14.
18. We believe that the Gospel mode of Baptism is by immersion, and that believers are the only subjects for Baptism. Mat. iii, 8 and 16; Mark i, 5 and 10; Acts viii, 38 and 39; Romans vi, 4; Heb. x. 22.
19. We believe in a general resurrection of the dead and final judgment at the last day. John v, 28 and 29; Revelation 20:4-6, II Cor. v, 10.
20. We believe the happiness of the righteous are Eternal, and the torments of the wicked are endless. Matthew xxv, 46.
In The Free Will Baptists in History, author William F. Davidson compares the Abstract to the 1660 Standard Confession (pp. 91-99), effectively showing the Abstract’s basis in the Standard Confession. In A History of Original Free Will Baptists, Michael R. Pelt also briefly discusses the Abstract.
This was transcribed from a photocopy of an original printing graciously provided by the Welch College, comparing the articles as referenced by Davidson in his book, and a transcribed copy made by Ronald Creech in 1962.