We extract the following letter from the American Baptist:
Orange Co. N. Y.
Mr. Editor: – I returned a few days ago to the city, from Mt. Salem, N.J. – distant from Newburgh about thirty-three miles. Mt. Salem is where our good brother Elder S. White labors, and where there is a united flourishing Baptist church under his care. It is a colony from the church at Orange, and constituted about two years ago, under the ministry of its present incumbent.
This church has a neat commodious house, always well filled with an attentive congregation, numerically the largest within fifteen miles around. About forty have been added to their communion since their origination. – They countenance and patronize all the benevolent institutions of the day. They have a Sunday School with a library, a Missionary society, and a Bible class connected with the church; and have given to missionary purposes within the past year, about one hundred dollars. This is doing a great deal for an infant church so circumstanced as they are, having but lately rid themselves of the shackles of Antinomianism, and located still in the vicinity of an anti-missionary influence the most approbrious, because the most obtrusive and withering.
The pastor is in the habit of attending at the Sunday school, and Bible class every Lord’s day morning, to impart instruction, and to encourage his young members to progress and “abound in the worked of the Lord.” A little boy in the school, committed to memory, and repeated last week fifty one verses in the New Testament. This church is truly, a “burning and a shining light” in the double night of darkness and ignorance that surrounds the churches in that region of country.
I was present at their covenant meeting, and was truly animated; my soul could say, – “it is good to be here.” The farmer left his team in the field, and the reaper his rye and wheat to fill their places at the meeting. There was no backwardness among the brethren, one waiting for the other, but a promptness in praying, and a freedom in speaking the exercises of their mind. They appeared to be no strangers to prayer. There was much to admire in the humble piety and devotedness of two young brethren, Spencer and Carpenter, and in the excellent fathers, Rowlesson and Whyckam; the two latter, are, indeed, men of strong faith and ardent prayer. Brother Whyckam has ten children, and they are all believing in Christ, except the youngest. A daughter-in-law of his, and a man and his wife related their experience at the meeting, and were baptised, on Lord’s day morning, in the waters of the Walkill. I preached on Saturday evening at Jacksonville; on Lord’s day morning at Mt. Salem to a large assembly; in the afternoon at Orange; and in the evening I returned, and preached at Mt. Salem to a numerous and serious audience; and on Monday I visited some of the brethren in their log-houses, scattered among their native hills and dales, and in the evening preached again at Mt. Salem, to a listening, and never before to my knowledge, to a more solemn and attentive congregation. At the close of our preaching, it was found necessary to protract the meeting, as a strong religious feeling seemed to pervade the whole assembly. Some three or four brethren prayed, and sinners present, who, before, trembled only, now wept aloud. Some six or seven, who seemed o smart most bitterly under the lashes of an awakened conscience were conversed with and exhorted to embrace Christ. After we had dismissed the assembly, and had driven a short distance, we were hailed and urged by dear old sister Fountain to stop, and take a dish of tea in her little log-cabin in the bushes: it was then midnight, and raining fast. We tarried. While the good soul was making ready of “her abundance,” we introduced the subject of religion to two young men of the family, who “stood without weeping bitterly,” and on inquiry, found that they were weeping,
“For nought but sin,
And after none but Christ.”
The Lord had met with these young men under the ministry of the Word, and had fastened conviction upon their souls. One of them was the son of the widow of the log-cabin – her youngest son, a youth of great promise. He has a brother a laborious preacher, – may the Lord make him one too, to preach “Christ and him crucified.” After sharing freely of the hospitality of our dear sister, we bid her and her family farewell.
In my journey, I passed through Washington Ville, situated between Newburgh and Goshen, ten miles from either place, and found it destitute of a meeting-house, and of the preaching of the gospel. It is a pretty village, not unlike Whitsboro’ near Utica, of about four or five hundred inhabitants. I should be glad to hear that Elder James, of Newburgh, were in the practice of giving this village a sermon now and then. I believe that our denominational preaching can be successfully introduced into Washington Ville, and permanently sustained by the right sort of a preacher.
I should like to see attention directed to this, and to many other fields equally destitute. – We have great need to be constantly praying in the “Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”
New York, July 24, 1835
Hitherto we have been able to avoid what we might consider faults in the character or standing of the churches and individuals of our immediate neighborhood. But when we see the most corrupt and disorderly of our acquaintance eulogised in the most extravagant manner thro’ the popular prints, merely because they have apostatised form, or have never known the truth and order of the Gospel of Christ; and the churches in this county so wantonly assailed, and so wickedly misrepresented, as in this statements of W.G.M.; we should be wanting, in respect for ourselves and faithfulness to our implicated brethren, if we should pass such effusions with that silence and contempt whcih they would otherwise deserve.
The Editor of the N.Y. Am. Bap. might have spared us this trouble, by refusing to give currency to the scurrilous attacks of his citizen preacher upon the Baptists of our county; or had Mr. Miller possessed less aversion to the spirit of the ninth commandment, he might have passed through our county to N.J. and back, without slandering those of whom he had not the slightest personal knowledge; but in his present case he is “like one that taketh a dog by the ears,” Prov. xxvi. 17.
The writer’s first eulogism is spent upon Eld. S. White of Mt. Salem; and pray what are the extraordinary qualities of that distinguished individual? Let the stranger tell the story: and first, he is good! Truly this is somewhat remarkable, for eighteen hundred years ago, there were none good but ONE. His goodness is developed however in the attention whcih he pays to his young members, i.e., the Sunday S. Bible Class, &c., whom he visits every Lord’s day morning, and every week encourages them to abound in the work of the Lord, – strange it may sound to hear the pupils of S. Schools, Bible Classes, &c., claimed as members, and the apostolic exhortations and encouragements to the Church, applied to them. In this case we are told that the S. Schools, B. Class and Miss. Soc. are connected with the church, and hence the children of these institutions stand in the same relation to Mt.Salem’s Ch’h. as sprinkled babies do to the Presbyterians. That such young members may need instruction, we do not question; but we seldom hear of the pastors of S. Schools, encouraging that class of their members to abound in the work of the Lord – a work of which it is impossible they should in their unregenerate state have the least conception.
The House alluded to, which is an old one removed a few years since from our State to its present site in N.J., may be neat and commodious; but that it is always well filled is rather strange, inasmuch as meeting-houses generally in this part of the country are occupied but a part of the time; but that this perpetual assembly should be attentive, is much easier for us to conceive, as the commanding officers of Sabbath School members are generally furnished with a sort of instruments that will command attention, especially when applied with a firm hand to the shoulders, backs and sundry other parts of these young Ashdod connections of the church. How this transcient traveller through our country should be able to assert so positively concerning the number who attend the meetings held within 15 miles around Mt. Salem, in places where he has never been, is to us as incongruous as the testimony which the Roman guard were hired to give: “While we slept, his disciples came and stole him away.” Among the prodigies of the covenant meeting, Mr. M. records that the farmer left his team in the field, and the reaper his rye and wheat, to fill their places at the meeting! But where would this city gentleman have them left? would it not have appeared much more strange if they had taken these with them?
The encomiums lavished upon the two young men, Spencer and Carpenter, may be in tone with other parts of the letter. Of the former we have no personal knowledge; the latter we consider famous for nothing more than his uncouth forwardness and self-conceit, together with the facility with which he mimicks the gestures and sounds of a former preacher of that vicinity. Passing by the powerful effects, which, according to Mr. Miller’s story, his preaching, exhortation to sinners to embrace Christ &c., produced, with all the lumber so common to protracted meetings, together with his midnight entertainment at dear old sister Fountain’s log cabin, and the two young men who stood without weeping bitterly, &c., we will notice his description of Washington Ville. Our readers who are acquainted with this village and unacquainted with W.G. Miller’s art of painting, may be surprised to hear the inhabitants of that place rated at from four to five hundred. The village is pleasantly situated and contains from sixty to one hundred inhabitants with Meeting-houses for public worship in almost every direction within a very small distance, and a Baptist Church among the rest of the New School order within a few miles of the spot.
Mr. M. seems to b of opinion that a preacher of the right sort, might introduce and sustain our denominational preaching in that place. But it appears that in the double night of ignorance and darkness which surrounds the churches of Orange county, Mr. M. cannot find a right sort of a preacher; he seems therefore to make his appeal to the Home Mission Society, and we wonder if New York cannot furnish another like Elder Miller’s good brother, S. White? Lest they might not exactly understand what sort would please Mr. M. we will give a brief sketch of Mr. White’s course among us. Mr. W. made his first visit among us two years ago last June, and introduced himself among the old fashioned Baptists at Brookfield, in presence of a number of respectable elders and brethren, as a thorough going old School Baptist preacher, and complained of his old pastor in N. York and other city preachers for their duplicity. He attended our Warwick Ass’n. with the Orange Church, at which place he managed so as not to commit himself, and soon after received a call to preach for the Orange Church, in the place of Elder Zelotus Grennel, who was then about removing to Patterson N.J. Mr. W. accepted the call, and as soon as he found himself in possession of the seat, and power, and authority of his predecessor, he threw aside his Old School mask and laboured hard to persuade that Church to leave the Warwick, and join the New York Association. In this attempt he utterly failed, but without the loss of his standing among them; for having as we were informed by members of that Church, in a passion demanded his dismission, it was immediately granted; and when he, like one of old, sought his birth-right again with tears and confession, he could not find it. Being thus circumstanced, Mr. W. found a shelter in the newly organized Ch’h. at Mt. Salem, and subsequently prevailed on them to join the N.Y. Association. Since Mr. W. has had the charge of the Mt. Salem flock , he has been able from time to time, with the help of Messrs. Jackson, Teasdale, Smith, Grennell, Miller and others, to get up such revivals as are so common among all those who have forsaken the right way of the Lord, and are gone in the way of Cain. A man answering the above description may pass with Mr. M. for a right sort! – but of of a sort that can never be admitted into the fellowship of Old School Baptists.
As we contemplate giving our readers an account of the Churches in this County as soon as convenient, we shall be the less prolix in refutation of that part of the letter which charges the churches of our region of country with being surrounded with a double portion of darkness and ignorance. If Mr. M. really believed his own statements, how could he, being one of those who lay an exclusive claim to the spirit of benevolence, pass thus hastily through our benighted land without even dashing his flaming torch in our eyes? Why did he, like some small meteor, dart through our county? Ought he not to have blazed out like a Comet, that such of us as are so awfully remote from Mt. Salem as not to be benefited with her fox-fire light, might have enjoyed at least a twinkling ray from his abundant store.
In closing our remarks, we will suggest an idea to Eld. Miller, as probably the thought has never occurred to him, viz: As he is so enamored with Mt. Salem, could he not send over a sufficient number of members from Delancy St. by letter into Mt. Salem Church, to raise a majority against Mr. White, and then serve Eld. White as he did Elder Chase of New York.
Does Eld. Miller understand allusion?
Elder Gilbert Beebe
New Vernon, September 2, 1835
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 18
September 2, 1835