Richard B. (Richard Briscoe) Cook.

The early and later Delaware Baptists online

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his views settled on the subject. He wished me to
converse with his wife and four or five others, who
were then much troubled with doubts ; all of whom
were baptized afterward.

Yours truly,

B. Sears.


From John L. Dagg, D. D.

Haynesville, Ala., August 28, 1880.

Eev. R. B. Cook.
Dear Beother :

Your letter of the 17th inst. was received yester-
day. . . . Brother Calvin Tubbs was a highly-esteemed
member of the Fifth Baptist in Philadelphia when I
was its Pastor. The place of his nativity I cannot tell
you. His wife was a daughter of a Baptist minister
in the State of Delaware. ... I think it was Gideon
Farrell. Brother Tubbs was captain of a trading ves-
sel Avhich used to sail from Philadelphia to Hamburg.
At Hamburg he formed acquaintance with the Rev.
J. G. Oncken while yet a Pedobaptist, and not only
became much interested in him, but interested me also
by the account of him which he gave me. At one
time he showed me a letter which he had received
from him, and which at my request he permitted me
to get published. It was published in the Baptist
Tract Magazine, the organ of the American Baptist
Publication Society, and this published letter, I think,
was the first thing that brought Mr. Oncken to the
notice of our American people. ... On the question
whether Captain Tubbs had any connection with the
conversion of Mr. Oncken to Baptist views I can say
nothing. . . .

Your brother in Christ,

J. L. Dagg.


From Jonah G. Warren, D, D.

Newton Centre, Mass., August 12, 1880.

Rev. R. B. Cook.

My Dear Brother :
Yours of the 11th is at hand. In looking into my
copy-book, containing letters written from Germany
in 1867, I find the following reference to Captain
Tubbs. It occurs in a description I gave of a certain
house in which Oncken at one time lived, and reads

"While living in this house, an American seaman,
Captain Tubbs, a member of the old Sansom Street
Baptist Church, Philadelphia, being ice-bound, was
compelled to spend the winter in Hamburg. Oncken
took him into his family, and during the long winter
evenings they talked over the doctrines and practices
of the Baptist churches in the United States, prayed
together, and together went to the ' upjDer room ' and
worshipped God in company with the band of be-
lievers. When he returned home Captain Tubbs told
his Pastor, Mr. Dagg, and afterward Dr. Cone, what a
treasure he had found in Hamburg, and how his late
' host ' was looking for some one to baptize him. God
always has some way to bring to pass his grand
designs. Soon after correspondence was opened be-
tween America and Germany, and results whose fame
is in all the churches followed in rapid succession."

I may say, in addition, that my book, now open be-
fore me, gives the fullest, most accurate and detailed
description I have ever seen of the origin and progress
of the Baptist work in Germany as connected with


Oncken, and I believe the best in existence, as it was

taken down on the spot from Dr. Oncken's own

lips. . . .

Yours most truly,

J. G. Warren.

Enough lias been said to show tliat German
Baptists, if not Germany, are under obligation
to Captain Tubbs, a missionary Baptist of the
Welsh Tract Church, and through him to the
Baptists of " Little Delaware/' The blessing
has already returned to us, for Jeremiah Grim-
mell, the founder of the German Church in
Wilmington, was baptized by Dr. Oncken. It
gives us a peculiar pleasure to begin the his-
tory of the great German Baptist movement,
so far-reaching and wonderful, upon Delaware
soil. Dr. Oncken acknowledges his indebted-
ness in the following extract from a letter ac-
knowledging the reception of tracts from the
American Baptist Publication Society, con-
tained in the Tract Magazine for 1833: "The
publications of your Society on Baptism are ad-
mirable. They were quite new to me, and
have tended not a little to establish me in my
purpose to comply with this part of my Sa-
viour's command as soon as possible."*

* For those who wish to examine the matter further I


In the days of these men the Baptists of
Delaware were a missionary, and consequently
a growing, people, and Delaware was a centre
of Baptist power and influence. Here is an
extract illustrative of the missionary spirit of
this period, taken from the Corresponding Letter
of the Delaware Association, written by John
M. Peck and endorsed by Rev. Jethro Johnson,
Moderator, and approved by the Association at
the meetings the year following that in which
Captain Tubbs was baptized (1816): ''If we
take a cursory view of what has been effected
in the last twenty-five years, who can withhold
the exclamation, ^What hath God lor ought P
At that period the missionary flame commenced
in Europe : it hath kindled across continents
and islands, until the same holy fervor, in a
good degree, warms the hearts of God's chil-
dren on every side of the globe. Xo difficulties
are insuperable to the zeal which animates the
heralds of salvation : they go forth in every
direction, bearing the precious treasure of

refer them to The Baptist Jlissionary Magazine for 1834
(p. 290), 1835 (p. 229), 1836 (p. 223 1, 1837 (p. 65), 1838
(p. 229). The Eev. Frank S. Dobbins has kindly fur-
nished me with these references.


eternal life. Already the streams of salvation
are poured upon the burning plains of India !
The disciples of Brahma, the votaries of Jug-
gernaut, and the deluded followers of the Ara-
bian impostor catch the song of redeeming love !
Ethiopia is beginning to stretch forth her hands
to God, and the isles to wait for liis law ! . . .
The real Christian, while viewing, on the one
hand, the darkness, misery, and guilt of a large
portion of the human family who are famishing
for the ^ bread of eternal lijej and on the other
the ardent zeal discovered to relieve their mis-
erable state, pants for the ])rivilege of entering
into the harvest. . . . Had we lived half a
century ago, we might have been suffered to
sleep securely, insensible to the wants of our
perishing fellow-men. . . . Let us cast our eyes
on the multitudes around us in this land of
gospel light, . . . without the means of re-
ligious instruction. . . . Let us feel for the
poor Hindoo. . . . Let us be aroused by these
considerations to make one united and vigorous
effort to spread the gospel of Jesus both at
home and abroad."

74 the early and later

12. The Delaware Association, 1795.
Benedict says tliat an Association was formed
among the Baptists of Delaware, but at what
date he is unable to say. It seems from the
following, published in 1830, that the date of
organization was 1795: "The Constitution of
the Delaware Baptist Association, ratified and
confirmed by the delegates of the Welsh Tract,
Cow Marsh, Duck Creek, Queen Anne's, Wil-
mington, and Mispillion churches, the 24th day
of October, A. d. 1795." This document is
sitjned bv the Pastors of the churches at that
time, and by one delegate from each church.
Other proof is not wanting. Five of these
churches were in Delaware, and one probably
in Maryland. Several churches in Pennsyl-
vania soon joined the Association, those of them
connected with tlie Philadelphia Association
withdrawing for the purpose. According to
the Minutes of the Philadelphia xissociation
of 1794, the Cow Marsh, Welsh Tract, Duck
Creek, and Wilmington churches requested
" a})probation and dismission " from the Asso-
ciation '' to join another." It was voted that
as the relation had been a long and happy one,
they would be glad to have it continue; but if


they wished to withdraw, consent was granted.
They withdrew, and formed the Delaware Asso-
ciation, as we have seen. One, the Mispillion,
came from the Salisbury Association. It seems,
then, that union between Delaware and Penn-
sylvania churches in a Delaware Association is
no new thing. Benedict says that the Delaware
Association was a corresponding body of the
Philadelphia Association as early as 1798, but
the Philadelphia Association sent both letter
and messenger to them in 1796, which was the
first meeting held after the organization. At
the same meeting of the Philadelphia Associa-
tion, Dr. Rogers and Rev. T. Ustick were ap-
pointed to revise and publish the materials
toward a history of the Baptists in Delaware
by Morgan Edwards, just dead. Of the four
churches in Delaware that had joined the Salis-
bury Association, three — viz. the Sounds, Broad
Creek, and Gravelly Branch — continued in that
connection. All the other Baptist churches in
Delaware united with the new Association.
The Delaware Association was composed —
In 1801 of 5 churches and 293 members.
''■ 1825 '' 9 " '' 596 "

" 1879 " 7 " " 197 "


Four of the seven churches reported in 1879
are in Delaware, and with a total membership)
of one hundred and twenty-eight. There are
besides two churclies in the Salisbury Asso-
ciation, Little Creek and Broad Creek, with
seventy-two members, in all (Salisbury Min. of
1879) making a total in the State, belonging to
these six churches, of two hundred members.
The once-flourishing Welsh Tract Church has
decreased from one hundred and ninety-two in
1817 to sixty-four in 1879, while in the same
period the First Wilmington has fallen from
two hundred and eight to eleven. And this
decline does not come because the new churches
established draw from them, for only one new
interest has been established by the efforts of
the earlier churches of the Delaware Asso-
ciation since 1786, or for nearly a century.
One church has been organized in that time,
for which I cheerfully give them all the credit
due. It is called the Bethel, and was started
in 1786 as a mission in New Castle County
by the Welsh Tract Church. It was made to
stand alone by its mother in 1839, and consti-
tuted a church with sixteen members after an
existence as a mission of forty-six years. There


were also three churches formed in the lower
part of the State in the early part of this cen-
tury, and connected with the Salisbury Asso-
ciation—the Bethel, in Sussex County, the
Little Creek, and the Hillsborough. The Lit-
tle Creek is the only one of the three that sur-
vives, and is served in conjunction with the
Broad Creek Church by Elder E. Rittenhouse,
who is Pastor also of the First Wilmington
Church, and the only Pastor of the Old School
denomination now {1880) in the State. The
Gravelly Branch, Sounds, Mispillion, Bethel
in New Castle County, Bethel in Sussex Coun-
ty, and Hillsborough churches are no more;
tiieir light has gone out, their '^ candlestick "
has been removed, and their empty meeting-
houses stand like deserted windmills, testifying
of the industry of a past age that built them,
and of the progressive spirit of the present that
has left them flir behind. And "the things
which remain " " are ready to die.'' The most
indication of life is observable in the venerable
Welsh Tract Church. Yet even here regular
service is held only twice a month, while with
the others it is but monthly. The attendance
at all of them is mostly small.


The meetings of the Association, which are
annual, are sometimes largely attended.

The cause of this unusual decline in our de-
nominational affairs, and of the decayed and
feeble state of these early churches, is thus
stated by Rev. Morgan J. Rhees, then of Dela-
ware, himself a Welshman, in Benedict's Hi>i-
tory of the Baptists : " One general remark is
true of them all : ' They j^fogress backward.^
There has been a regular decline for years,
even greater than is exhibited by their returns
and their congregations, to almost nothing.
There is one prominent reason why these
churches, and those of a kindred spirit in Del-
aware and Maryland and everywhere else, are
declining, and do not and cannot prosper. You
will find it in Haggai i. 2-12 and in Malachi
iii. 8-11. They withhold from the Lord's
cause that which he demands, and the result
is the heavens withhold their blessings. God
has called for a drought upon them in spiritual
things, and they are withering and fast decay-
ing ; and it needs no prophetic gift to see their
speedy dissolution unless they repent and re-
turn to the Lord and engage in his service.
It is lamentable to see the light extinguished


where it shone so clearly, but it is in accord-
ance with his plans w^ho doeth all things well,
and who will be honored by the service of his
professed disciples. These churches opposed
all missionary, Bible, Sunday-school, tract, and
temperance organizations, and are thus hinder-
ing the fulfilment of the Saviour's command
^ to preach the gospel in all the world, to every
creature,' as far as they can do it ; and while
they thus act they cannot prosper" (p. 630).

They are numerically much weaker to-day
than when these words were written (1845),
and we can almost hear the Saviour say to
them, as to the church at Sardis : " For I have
not found thy woi^ks perfect before God."
Were these always the principles and practices
of these churches? we ask. Their history be-
fore the formation of the Delaware Association,
the multiplication of members and churches
among them through their own missionary
labors as well as those of others, prove that
their faith and practice have changed. And
for a quarter of a century after the formation
of the Delaware Association these w^ere mis-
sionary churches, favoring societies for extend-
ing the Redeemer's kingdom at home and in


foreign lands. But first let us hear the testi-
mony of the fathers upon these points.

Benedict, in his History of the Baptists (p.
626), says : " The numbers and influence of the
denomination in this State for many years was
small, yet it was for a long time equal, in pro-
portion to the population, to any of the Middle
States.'^ ^^The community at Welsh Tract in
early times held a respectable stand among the
American Baptists ; it was one of the five churches
which formed the Philadelphia Association ; its
ministers were among the most active in all Bap-
tist operations ; and the whole concern was not
behind any of the members of that quintuple
alliance." A. D. Gillette, D. D., in the Cen-
tenary volume of the Philadelphia Association
Minutes (p. 15, 1849), says : " This church ap-
pears to be very regular in its first settlement,
and hath been the best supplied with ministers of
any church belonging to this Association." W.
Cathcart, J). D., in his Centennial Offering (p.
62), says that " John Adams of Massachusetts
was on some occasions the bitterest enemy of
the Baptists in Revolutionary days, and yet he
gives them considerable credit for bringing Del-
aware from the gulf of disloyalty, to the brink


of which, he declares ^ the missionaries of the
London Society for the Propagation of the Faith ,
in Foreign Parts ' had brought her, to the plat-
form of patriotism." * This shows their in-
fluence at an early date. In 1790, M. Edwards
writes (p. 224 M8, History of Delaware) : " The
Delaware Baptists are Calvinistic in doctrine,
and differ little or nothing in discipline from
their brethren in neighboring States."

From these extracts it appears that they were
strong, influential, patriotic, and orthodox as to
faith and practice.

Still later, Benedict says of all the Delaware
Baptist churches, that they ^^ were in full fellow-
ship and cordial co-operation with their breth-
ren in all plans of benevolence and evangelical
efforts, and their course was prosperous and
progressive " (p. 30).

Let us now follow briefly the history of the
early Baptists, as we find it in the Minutes of
their own Association, the Delaware. We
shall find that the latter statement of Benedict
is strictly true in every particular. In 1804,
they were a missionary people, for they pro-

* Life and Works of John Adams, by Charles Francis
Adams, x. p. 812.

7* F


vided for a missionary sermon and a collection
in each church for the support of "missionary
brethren '' preaching the gospel in destitute
places. In 1812, a plan of the " Baptist Edu-
cation Society for the. Middle States'' was read
and approved. This was doubtless a society for
ministerial education, to which they are now
opposed. When the Foreign Mission Society
of the Baptist denomination in America, now
known as the American Baptist Missionary
Union, was organized in Philadelphia, May
18, 1814, by thirty-three delegates from all
parts of the country, two of this number were
ministers closely identified with Delaware —
namely, Rev. John P. Peckworth, then Pastor
in Philadelphia, and Rev. Daniel Dodge, Pas-
tor in Wilmington and the representative from
Delaware in the body. In June following
(1814) the Delaware Association passed the
following: "This Association having learned
with pleasure that a general Board of Commis-
sioners for Foreign Missions has been formed
in the city of Philadelphia, whose object is to
translate the Scriptures into the diiferent lan-
guages of the heathen and send the gospel
among them, we do therefore recommend to


our brethren and friends to encourage the Mis-
sionary Society formed in this State."

This action endorses missions and missionary
societies, and shows the existence of an auxiliary
society in Delaware.

In the record of 1815 we find the following
minute: ^^It is with heartfelt satisfaction we
have received communications from our Brother
Rice, with the first Report of the Board of For-
eign Missions, accompanied with a letter from
their Corresponding Secretary, and would earn-
estly recommend to our brethren to have a
missionary sermon preached annually in their
respective churches, and a collection raised
and forwarded to the branch society of Dela-

In 1816, at Welsh Tract, the Association
passed the following : " It is with pleasure that
we have received the following letter from the
Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist Board
of Foreign Missions (Dr. Staughton), with a
request that it be inserted in our minutes, and
have appointed Brother Dodge as our Cor-
responding Secretary to receive and distribute
the next Annual Report (the second) of the
Board, and preserve our correspondence with


them." The letter referred to is printed in fall
in the Minutes.

At the same meeting the first Report of the
Delaware Bible Society was presented and
affectionately commended to the brethren. At
this time (1816) the Welsh Tract Church had a
membership of one hundred and ninety, and
the Wilmington Church two hundred and eight.
This shows the effect of the missionary spirit.
Now (1879) the Welsh Tract numbers but sixty-
four, and the Wilmington Church only eleven.

In 1817, the Constitution of " The Delaware
Society for Domestic Missions" was adopted
by the Association, and printed in the Minutes.
Its object was to " aid poor and destitute
churches in the support of the stated ministry
of the word, and to supply destitute neighbor-
hoods with the gospel." The Society existed
for years, carried out its object, met with and
had its proceedings printed in the Minutes of
the Association. Women were appointed col-
lectors in all the churches.

In 1818, Rev. Samuel R. Green, Pastor of
the First Wilmington Church, wrote in the
Corresponding Letter : " Although there are not
many added to our little number to swell our


song of praise, yet the pleasure of hearing that
our churches are firmly established in the faitli,
and that they are cemented in love, cheers our
hearts. The kingdom of the Lord is rapidly
advancing; the stone cut out of the mountains
without hands is spreading ; the little handful
of corn that is scattered upon the mountains
shall wax like Lebanon. Christians are uniting
their energies; the gospel is spreading. . . .
Ethiopia is about to stretch forth her hands
unto God. We live in an eventful period.
Much remains to be done. May we, brethren,
look about us, and while we pray Thy Jdngdom
come, endeavor to exert every nerve, remember-
ing that God has connected the means with the

In 1 820, the Association " Resolved, That our
Brother David Greene be appointed our mis-
sionary, as far as our funds will admit, and that
he be authorized to make collections as often
as expedient, whenever he may preach, to aid
the funds of this Society. That Brother Greene,
receive four dollars per week for his services,
and that he have a letter of recommendation,
signed by the Moderator and Clerk of this
Association." In the Corresponding Letter of


the same year Rev. Jethro Johnson says : " It
appears by the information we received during
the session from different parts of the continent
tliat a union in sentiment and practice general-
ly prevails among our churches, and that al-
though additions are not numerous, yet peace
almost univ^ersally prevails, and most of the
meeting-houses among us are commonly crowd-
ed with attentive hearers. The gradual increase
of the gospel, together with the missionary
spirit that in almost every place appears to
prevail, leads us to believe that j^rophecies are
actually fulfilling ^Thy kingdom come.^ "

In the Corresponding Letter of 1822, they
say : " The accounts we have had from differ-
ent sources, and especially from the Mission
Board, are truly refreshing." . . . "May we
feel ourselves deeply interested in this, and es-
teem it not only our duty to put up our pray-
ers, but to use all the means God has placed in
our power, believing at the same time that he
who hath said, ^ He must increase,' hath also
declared, ' Be ye workers together with God.' "

One might suppose from this that there were
differences of opinion among them, but in 1824
the Corresponding Letter says: "We have the


pleasure to inform you that harmony now pre-
vails in our churches/^ Also, " We have been
cheered witli accounts from various parts of
the world, in which the Lord is lifting up his
banner and drawing souls to it, and we earn-
estly pray tliat he will continue to display the
powers of his grace/^

In 1825, they received a report from the
"Baptist General Tract Society," now the
"American Baptist Publication Society,"
through the agent in Wilmington, Samuel
Harker. It was referred for examination to
Messrs. Dale and Wool ford, who reported,
highly approving its design and wishing en-
couragement for it; and this report was adopt-
ed. At the same meeting the formation of a
Domestic Mission Society was reconmiended,
and it was agreed that a special meeting take
place for the purpose at Bethel; that a mis-
sionary sermon be preached by either Jethro
Johnson or Thomas Barton; that an appeal
for aid be made in an address; and that a
certain constitution be adopted to carry the
purpose into immediate effect, so far as to pro-
ceed in obtaining subscribers.

We append a few extracts from the address.


prepared by Messrs. Barton and Woolford,
and published in the Minutes and endorsed by
the Association : " Upon our Peninsula there
lias been, and still remains to be, a lamentable
deficiency in the supply of the preaching of
the gospel. The Christian, . . . realizing . . .
the danger to which the unconverted soul is
exposed, ... is disposed to employ his purse
and his pen that he may aid in disseminating
a knowledge of that only ^name given under
heaven among men, whereby we must be
saved.' The ordinary means by which this
knowledge is to be obtained is the preaching
of the gospel. . . . AVe are called upon by the
most imposing considerations to regard the
condition of those who are famishing for want
of the water of life, and to endeavor to supply
them. . . . Those who can be indifferent . . .
are certainly not under the proper influence of
the spirit which the religion of the cross is cal-
culated to produce."

The next year (1826) the Corresponding Letter
says : " Since our last communication we have
formed a Society for Domestic Missions, to
carry the word of life into those places adjacent
on this Peninsula which are destitute; and we


trust that the zeal and vigor with which the
thing is entered into is an indication that the
time to favor Zion is at hand."

The record in 1827 is : " No questions gen-

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Online LibraryRichard B. (Richard Briscoe) CookThe early and later Delaware Baptists → online text (page 4 of 8)