As we have never seen this sect noticed in any of the general summaries of religious denominations in our country, we have thought it might be well to insert a sketch of them in the Memorial, for the use of future historians. It is an isolated sect, found principally in Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama. It is composed of the followers of Rev. Cyrus White, who was once a preacher of some reputation amongst the Baptists of Georgia. He embraced Arminian sentiments, and as the Georgia Baptists have ever been noted, (until at least of late years,) for a rigid adherence to what are termed Calvinistic principles, they soon came in collision with each other. Strife ensued, animosities were engendered, and, as is common in most cases of controversy, every attempt to heal the breach served but to widen it. Both parties evidently ran into extremes. On the one side, something of a spirit of intolerance was manifested; and on the other, obstinacy, resentment, and an undue emulation. The one party, anxious to expose the heresy of the other, would put a construction upon words which the speaker never designed they should have. The other, too proud to disclaim the uncourteous imputations, would evade them. But from the evading of charges to the vindicating of that with which we are charged, the transition is easy; and we are often led from the one to the other by insensible degrees. So it happened with Cyrus White. Had he never been opposed with violence, it is not probable that he ever would have become a schismatic. This is the conclusion to which we have been led by an impartial review of the past. With the controversy itself we never had any thing to do; for we were not a resident of the State at the time that it was pending.
The result of the controversy was, that the Baptists of Georgia, in 1830, withdrew their fellowship from White and his adherents. The latter established a standard of their own, and have labored with great zeal to propagate their views. Several churches have been built up under their labors, and formed into an association which they denominate the “Chattahooche United Baptist Association.” This association, in 1840, reported twenty-one churches, eight ordained ministers, one licentiate, 227 baptized, and a total of 766 members. Its churches are located as follows: In Georgia, there are two in Early, two in Randolph, three in Stewart, one in Marion, one in Talbot, two in Muscogee, three in Harris, and one in Decatur; total in Georgia, 15 churches, and 539 members. In Alabama, there are four churches in Russel, and two in Chambers; total in Alabama, six churches, and 227 members.
The association, at its session in 1839, appointed a committee “to endeavor to effect a correspondence with the Free Will Baptists of North Carolina.” At its session in 1840, the committee reported, “that they wrote a letter of correspondence to these brethren, and that they have received no answer.” During the same session, (in 1840) delegates from the United Baptist Association were received, and a resolution passed to reciprocate the correspondence. It was also resolved, “to make an effort to open a correspondence with the following associations—Concord, Mount Zion, and Duck, in Tennessee, by letter and delegates.”
White (who is still living,*) and his partizans are undoubtedly Arminians in doctrine. They are also charged by some with being Socinians, but this charge is certainly not well sustained. They agree with us in our views of gospel baptism, but practice mixed communion, and are strenuous advocates for camp meetings; appointments for which are usually made at their annual meetings, and published in their minutes. We conclude with cautioning the reader against confounding the “Chattahooche United Baptist Association,” with the Chattahooche Association of United Baptists. The latter is an orthodox, efficient, and liberal body of Baptists in the upper part of Georgia, a succinct history of which was published in the Christian Index in August last.
* He resides near Wacooche, in Russell County, Alabama, about twenty miles above Columbus, Ga.