Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Minutes of the Sabine Baptist Association, 1843

In late 1843, the Sabine Baptist Association ordered the printing of 200 copies of their minutes.[i] The following is a transcription of minutes of the convention forming the Sabine Association, as well as the association itself.[ii] The Sabine Baptist Association was formed at the Union meeting house in Nacogdoches County, by five churches located in three East Texas counties. Sabine was the third Baptist association organized in the Republic of Texas, after two associations, both named Union and both formed in 1840.[iii]

In places the photocopy in my possession is blotched, marred, or otherwise hard to read. I have inserted in brackets [] words of which I am unsure. Most of the time I have inserted what I believe would be the correct word or words based on the context, in order to make the document more readable, but which may not reflect what was actually written. If the brackets are blank, I was uncertain of what word or words to suggest.

The Republic of Texas—County of Nacogdoches
Union Church, Nov. 11th, 1843
            Agreeably to the previous arrangements, the churches met through their delegates at the Union church meeting house, for the purpose of forming a Baptist Convention.
            Elder Asa Wright preached the introductory sermon to a large and attentive congregation, from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, 2d chapter 19th verse.
            After preaching, the delegates from the different churches convened: whereupon Elder Lemuel Herren was called to the chair, and Jas. Davenport appointed secretary.
            The letters from the different churches was called for, read and received as follows:—
            1st. The Border baptist church of Harrison county, Texas, by her messenger, James Davenport.
            2d. The Union baptist church, Nacogdoches county, Texas, by her messengers, Wm. Sparks, [Ambrose Crain][iv] and C. H. Whitaker.
            3d. The Bethel baptist church, Harrison county, Texas, by her messengers, Elder Isaac Reid and Lemuel Herren.
            4th. From the Bethel baptist church, Sabine county, Texas, by her messengers, Elder Asa Wright and Isaac Renfro.
            5th. From the Mount Zion baptist church, Nacogdoches county, by her messengers, B. C. Walters, Robert Walters, and Wm. Roark.
            6th. After the letters were read and received, the convention was formed, and declared to be organized, for the purpose of forming a Baptist association.
            7th. Whereupon a committee was appointed to draft a constitution, articles of faith, and rules of decorum, for the government of said Baptist Association.
            8th. The following brethren were appointed in conjunction with the secretary and chairman, viz: Elders Asa Wright and Isaac Reid, B. C. Walters, and Ambrose Crain, and report on Monday morning.
9th. Whereupon motion, a special committee was appointed, to arrange the preaching during the convention, to consist of the following brethren—William Sparks, Ambrose Crain, and C. H. Whitaker.
10th. On motion, the convention adjourned, until 9 o’clock, a. m. on Monday next.
11t. The [convention] met pursuant to adjournment—Whereupon the committee were called upon to report to the convention their labors.—Therefore, the following constitution, articles of faith, and rules of decorum, which we, the committee, present to the convention, for the government of the association, submitted—First:

Constitution of the Sabine Baptist Association
This association shall be called the Sabine Baptist Association; which shall be composed of members duly chosen by the different churches, who shall bear friendly letters, stating their appointment, who shall be entitled to a seat in the association.
            2d. Any new church wishing to become a member of this association, may petition by letter and delegates. They being found orthodox and orderly, may be admitted by the moderator, giving the right hand of fellowship to the delegate or delegates.
            3d. This association shall not have any authority to Lord it over God’s heritage, nor to infringe on any of the internal rights of the church, but may give advice in matters of difficulties; but [is] necessary to have some uniform rule pursued. In where one church offends another, and the necessary steps of dealing have been taken, as directed in the 18th chapter of Matthew and other scriptures, as one member against another, and satisfaction is not obtained, the case may be referred to the association, who may deal in the case as they think proper.
            4th. This association may open a friendly correspondence by letter and delegates, with any other association she think proper.
            5th. This association may withdraw from any church that may be found heterodox in principles, or disorderly practices.
            6th. This association may appoint any member or members, with his or their consent, to transact any business for the association.
            7th. It shall be the duty of this association to endeavor to perpetuate a union among the churches, and to furnish them with their minutes; and for this purpose the churches shall send their contributions, to enable them to do so.
            8th. The minutes of the association shall be read by the clerk, and corrected by the association, if necessary, before they adjourn, and be signed by the moderator and the clerk.
            9th. This association shall appoint a recording secretary, who shall keep a just record of all the proceedings of the association.
            10th. This association shall adjourn to any time or place she may think proper.
            11. Each church shall state in the letter the number received since the last association; by baptism, [letter], dismissed, restored, excommunicated, dead, and the number in fellowship.
            12. Each church shall be entitled to representation, but no more than three [members] from any one church.
            13. It shall be the duty of the association to inquire why any church fails to represent herself in the association more than once.
            14. Any alteration of amendment may be made to this constitution at any time by two thirds of the churches concurring therein.

            1st. Of the Scriptures, we believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a sufficient treasure of heavenly instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. That it wields the principles by which God will judge us; therefore it shall remain to the end of the world, the true sentiment of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.
            2d. Of the true God—that there is one, and only one, living and true God, whose name is Jehovah, the maker and supreme ruler of heaven and earth, inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love wield under the person and [function] of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct, but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
            3d. Of the fall of man—that man was created in a state of holiness, under the law of his maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state, in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice, being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, wholly given to the gratification of the world, of Satan, and of their own sinful passions, therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defence or excuse.
            4th. Of the way of salvation—that the way of salvation of sinners is wholly of grace through the mediatorial offices of the son of God, who took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the law by his personal obedience, and made atonement for our sins by his death; being raised from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven, and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathy with divine perfection, is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Saviour.
            5th. Of justification—that the great gospel blessing which Christ of his fullness bestows to such as believe in him, is justification; that justification consists in the pardon of sin, and the promises of eternal life on principles of righteousness; [that it is bestowed, not in] consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through solely through his redemption and righteousness; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.
            6th. Of the freeness of salvation—that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel, that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial and obedient faith, and nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, except his voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, which refusal will subject him to an aggravated condemnation.
            7th. Of grace in regeneration—that in order to be saved we must be regenerated, or born again, that regeneration consists [in giving a] holy disposition to the mind, and is effected in a manner wholly above our comprehension [or calculation] by the power of the holy spirit, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel, and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God.
            8th. Of God’s purposes of grace—that election is the gracious purposes of God, according to which he regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners, that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connexion with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God’s saving goodness, being infinitely, wise, holy, and unchangeable, that it [utterly] excludes boasting, and promotes humility, [love, prayer, praise, trust in God], and an anticipation of his free mercy, that encourages the use of means in the highest degree, that it is ascertained by its effects in all who do believe the gospel, is the foundation of christian experience, and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves, demands and deserves our utmost diligence.
            9th. Of the perseverance of the saints—that such only are real believers as endures to the end, and that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors, that a special providence watches over their welfare, and they are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.
            10th. Of the harmony of law and gospel—that the law of God, the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government [is] holy, just, and good, and that the inability which the scriptures ascribes to fallen man to fulfill its precepts arises from their love of sin; to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law, is one great end of the gospel, and of the Means of Grace connected with the establishment of the visible church.
            11. Of a gospel church—that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel, observing the ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws and exercising the gifts and privileges invested in them by his word, that its only scriptural officers are bishops or pastors, and Deacons, whose qualification, claims and duties are defined in the epistle of Paul to Timothy and Titus.
            12. Of baptism and the Lord’s supper—That christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost, to show forth in a solemn and a beautiful emblem of our faith in a crucified and risen saviour, with its purifying power, that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation; and to the Lord’s supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ, preceded always by solemn self examination.
            13. Of the christian sabbath—That the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, or christian Sabbath, and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and recreations, by the devoted observance of all the means of grace, both private and public, by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God.
            14th. Of the righteous and the wicked—That there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked, that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the spirit of our God, are truly in his esteem, while such as continue in impenitence and unbelief in his sight are wicked, and are under the curse, and this distinction holds among men both in life and after death.
            15. Of the world to come—That the end of this world is approaching, that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven, and the dead raised from the grave to final retribution, that a solemn separation will then take place, that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy, and this judgment will fix forever the final state of man in heaven or hell, or principles of righteousness

1st. This association, when convened, shall choose a moderator and clerk from among themselves, who shall serve until the next association is organized.
            2d. The moderator shall take the chair at the hour appointed, and after prayer shall proceed to business, and shall keep order, and take the sense of the association, but in no case shall vote, unless in case of a tie, but shall have the same privilege of speaking as that of another member, provided the chair be filled.
            3d [But one person] shall [speak at the time] the [person thus] speaking to say[v] subject shall rise to his feet and address the moderator by the appellation of brother, who shall not be interrupted while speaking, unless he digress from the subject, who shall not make any remarks on the slips and failings of any other speaker, but give his own view of the subject, without sophistry or criticism.
            4th. No member shall speak more than three time to any one subject, without first obtaining leave of the association.
            5th. No member shall leave the house in time of business, without leave of the moderator.
            6th. Every motion made and seconded shall come under the consideration of the association, unless withdrawn by the member, together with his second. After a motion is made and seconded, no other motion shall be made until the first is disposed of.
            7th. A majority shall rule in all matters coming before the association, except in the reception or exclusion of churches, which shall be unanimous.
            8th. Any member who shall willingly and knowingly violate any of these foregoing rules, shall be reproved in any way the association may think proper.
            9th. Any query may be presented to this association, and may be read by two thirds of the members voting for the same.
            10th. All the [names] of the delegates shall be enrolled by the clerk, and called over as often as the association may direct.

            There being no further business before the convention, it adjourned. The association immediately formed.
            On motion, agreed, that the next association be held with the Border church, Harrison county, Texas, on Saturday before the first Lord’s day, in October next—brother L. Herren to preach the introductory sermon; brother Reed in case of failure.
            On motion, agreed, to open correspondence with the [Saline][vi] Association; brother Davenport to write and [][vii] the letter.
            On motion, agreed, that two hundred copies of the above minutes be printed, and that brother A. Wright be appointed to superintend the same.
            On motion, agreed, that the thanks of this association be tendered to the inhabitants of this vicinity for their kind [consideration] manifested to the members of the convention and association during their continuance among them.

[i] The two pages of photocopy I possess suggests the minutes were printed in a broadside. There appears to be one large page divided into three columns. I have tried to reproduce the original as best as possible, though it is not in the same formatting.
[ii] This transcription is made from a photocopy of a photocopy held at the library at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
[iii] Sabine Association did not initiate correspondence with either of these associations. However, the “United Baptist Association of Western Texas” referred to the 1844 minutes may be the same as the “pro-missionary-society” Union Association.
[iv] This name is unreadable in the photocopy except for “Crai”, but information is supplied from the Union church minutes, p. 17.
[v] Perhaps “said” was intended.
[vi] Difficult to read, but correspondence to the Saline Association in Arkansas is mentioned in the 1844 minutes.
[vii] Possibly, “bear” or “send.”

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