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to. With the condition of the church, and a knowledge ot myself, and by the discovery of the truth, I was excited to pray that the Lord would turn, and overturn, by his own special power, until his will, and not mine, should be accomplished.
About this time I found cause to call the attention of my Free-will Baptist brethren to to reconsider the grounds of their church order as to baptism.
For having myself been requested to form a society in a certain place where I had been labouring in the ministry, the foundation was laid for me to find the freedom of this people. When I joined society I had previously asked the preacher if the connexions to which he belonged made baptism the door into the church; he replied that the connexion did not make baptism the door into the church, for they equally fellowshipped such as were not baptised by immersion and that they fellowshipped such as had not even been baptised at all
. Though this was his reply (or to this amount) I had already discovered that they had manifested much zeal for baptism, and other ceremonies which I did not believe when I joined society ought to be a bar among christians, for this reason I questioned the preacher as I did, and when I joined society
found, as I supposed, a free people, and did not intend to have joined any other. This teacher, also said, that he did not believe, neither did the order to which he belonged, believe that the church was a prison, but that if a member came in and found things not satisfactory, he might go out at his own pleasure, provided that he or she should be in good standing, as to a christian walk; but I had known the church to derogate from this rule in several instances, so that my mind had became jealous that this people might not be so free as I had taken them to be.
In the place where I was requested that a society might be established, there were some persons who had been baptised by sprinkling, and did not, as they said, feel it duty to be rebaptised by immersion. There were others who had not been baptised at all, neither did they, as they said, feel it duty to be baptised in any way.
As I had been the only person who had generally laboured among them, they had heard nothing but faith and repentance preached to them.
Seeing the condition of this people, and knowing that they were in union one with the other, I foresaw the division which must ultimately arise if part of them should be baptised by immersion, and be received into society, where the rest could not be received, merely because they did not feel a duty to be rebaptised. I saw that though this people were in union now, it would be with them as I had seen it with many other neighbourhoods; there would be two parties which would immediately contend for creeds and forms. It was not with that people under
my administration, as it was with them afterwards, under the administration of others ; they had no controverted points introduced amongst them by me: they were in love and in union, one with the other, and had not learned to bite and devour each oth
The inhabitants of that neighbourhood, in the town of Collins, shall be my witnesses, how holy and unblameable I walked amongst them.
From seeing these difficulties, I proposed in my mind to find the professed liberality of my brethren if possible, and have thein received, not for being baptised in water, but for the fellowship, which was due to them as christians.
My first object was to try the freedom of the church to which I belonged, to know if they would receive members into society, who had received aspersion for baptism, provided the candidate witnessed a good profession by a proper christian deportment.-Here I had little reason to expect opposition, as the leading members in society had hitherto professed much openness ; and I had still much less reason to expect opposition from him who first gathered the society, as he had, at the first formation of the church, plainly given me to understand, that he did not, neither the order of the people to which he belonged, believe that baptism ought to be considered as the door into the church. The thing proposed, though not consented
to, met with but little opposition; it was thought best, however, to refer the subject to be determined by the Elders, in their conference, which was to be holden at the next quarterly meeting, 9th month, 1817. At this conference I found a majority in my
favor, and among the minority, as opposers, were several members of the society to which I belonged-persons from whom I did not expect but little opposition ; but this was a trying place, and that which had long been kept under a cloak must now come out.Such was their zeal for their particular baptism, that when they saw the majority in favor of receiving christians, not for baptism, but for christian experience, they were obliged to shew themselves as strong as was in their power ; but I was not a little surprised that any should have before manifested such indifference in the subject in debate as to agree that they would not be found my opponent, still make their appearance, and act: the part they did ; but I was still more surprised, when the man who was the first founder of the society, and the very man who had always taught in word, and who, when the society was first organized, and at the time I joined society, pretended that he did not make baptism the door into the church ; now say that he would not be in society if there should be in it one single member who had not received baptism by immersion. It was agreed in this conference, that the majority should submit to the minority ; this was to avoid a split in society. When I saw that there was not a probability that sprinkled members could be received in general, I proposed that sprinkled members might be received, instancing certain cases; that if any church in the connexion who should gain à fellowship for a brother or sister, if that fellowship was unanimous in that church, if then, that church might not receive him, or her, without being disfellowshipped by the connexion at large; though such member or members, should not have been baptised by immersion : this also was strongly opposed by the very man who had until now pretended so much freedom-he now only manifested, in truth, what he was, and cast much censure upon me because that I had not preached water-baptism as well as other preachers of the connexion, adding that the people for whom I was petitioning, that they might be received into society, not for a particular mode of baptism, but for the fellowship due to them as christians, would have long since been baptised if I had only used my influence to that end. Of this I was not altogether unsuspicious then, but I have been made more sensible since, how much influence preachers contract in the minds of their parishioners, and was it not for this a system-serving priest-hood would cease to be: and when priestly-paralogy comes to an end, bigotry, superstition, exuberance, and austerity,