Richard B. (Richard Briscoe) Cook.

The early and later Delaware Baptists online

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dering strife have interrupted the harmony of
our present meeting;" while the next year
their session Avas "particularly harmonious;"
and they were greatly rejoiced in communi-
cating "the pleasing intelligence of large ad-
ditions to our churches J ^

In 1830, the Association, by the unanimous
approval of the churches, ordered to be printed
the Constitution and Rules before referred to as
having been previously adopted in 1795, and
signed by the ministers and delegates of the
churches at that time. This shows that their
faith in 1830 was the same as in 1795. This
document is preserved with their Minutes.

But notice the final article of faith : " Final-
ly, we approve of the Confession of Faith
adopted by the Philadelphia Association, Sep-
tember 25, 1742, as generally expressing our
opinion of the Holy Scriptures, which we hold
above all as the only certain rule of faith and
practice." This carries us back fifty-three year^,
more, and we find the doctrines of 1742 un-

8 •*


changed in 1830, and in accord with the Phil-
adelphia Association. And in this same year
(1830) we find them in fellowship and corre-
sponding with the Philadelphia, Hudson River,
New York, and New Jersey Associations, and
receiving by vote the Central New Jersey As-
sociation as a corresponding body.

From the foregoing facts we are justified in
reaffirming that the earlier and the later mis-
sionary Baptist churches of Delaware are one ;
but from this period on, mark the change.

Rev. Samuel Trott became Pastor of AYelsh
Tract Church in 1831, and immediately ap-
pears to have taken the front in leading the
churches away from the faith. In the Corre-
sponding Letter of 1831 he says : " We receive
him (Christ) as our Pattern ; hence we do not
walk in the observance of many things which
have been introduced among Baptists generally,
and received, though of human contrivance, as
of great importance in furthering the cause of
religion, because we do not see our Jesus going
before in the practice of them, and we desire to
keep in his footsteps, believing it the safest
path. Hence we prefer praying to him, the
Lord of the harvest, to send forth laborers


into his harvest such as lie shall choose and
qualify, and rely on his wisdom, power, and
faithfulness to provide all things necessary for
gathering in his elect and extending the know-
ledge of his salvation to the ends of the earth,
to resorting to the plans of human contrivance,
however plausible, for accomplishing these
things/' In 1832, he returns to the charge in
the Circular Letter endorsed by the Associa-
tion, and condemns the plan of ministerial sup-
port by salaries, the mission societies (ministers-
agents, missionaries of societies), and theological

In the Corresponding Letter of the same
year. Rev. Thomas Barton says : " Our letters
chiefly coQiplain of small ingatherings. . . .
As to the cause of the state of our churches,
various conjectures exist. By one, lamentable
inertness and the predominancy of anti-effort
principles is assigned as the cause. As to the
first, we hope none of us are prepared to adopt
the invitation of Jehu, ^Come, see my zeal for
the Lord of hosts,' but with humility would
acknowledge our shortcomings. As to the mod-
ern system, imposed upon the churches under
the assumed authority of divine institutions, we


are not prejiared to receive it. We know that
the work of salvation is of God ; and why he
does not convert more sinners among us we
leave to him," etc.

After 1834 the Philadelphia Association is
dropped from the Minutes as a corresponding
body, the New York, Hudson River, New Jer-
sey, Central New Jersey, and other Associations
having been dropped before.

The crisis, however, came in 1835, when a
handful of faithful ones withdrew from the
church at Wilmington and formed the Second

Rev. William K. Robinson, Pastor of Welsh
Tract Church, writes in the Corresponding Let-
ter of 1835 : " We have truly reason to lament
the state of things, while there are so many
that have embraced the general system of doc-
trine and the whole brood of benevolent insti-
tutions so called, therein uniting the cliurch
and the world together, saying that in money
there is power sufficient, if there can be enough
obtained, to save the whole world ; but we as
an Association have not so learned Christ."
And in 1836 the Association refused by vote
to receive into fellowship persons baptized "by


those who are engaged iu the new-fangled sys-
tems of the day." In the same year (1836) the
Corresponding Letter, written by one " Brother
Scott/' and signed by Rev. Peter Meredith,
Pastor at Cow Marsh, as Moderator of the As-
sociation, contains the following : " Jesus Christ
has been set forth as the only way of life and
salvation, and that entirely independent of hu-
man agency. The enemy has made a descent
upon one of our churches to sow the seeds
of discord, and by that means endeavor to
carry off the prize; but in this we rejoice to
say that they have been disappointed and their
partial triumphs have proved a blessing to

It proved their ruin and a blessing to the
cause of Christ, for while they have dwindled
to eleven, the thirteen who seceded now number
in Wilmington alone five churches and fifteen
hundred and eighty-six members.

" We are," he continues, " but a feeble body,
and much exposed to the innovations of the
learned gentry of the day, who swarm out of
the theological institutions like locusts, and are
ready to devour the land." What would the
writer say now to see so many noble young


men trained at the Crozer Theological Seminary
laboring in Delaware in the cause of Christ?

The misrepresentations and unfairness of some
of these statements as to the doctrines and prac-
tices of missionary Baptists are apparent to every
well-informed mind. It is, doubtless, the case
that the Antinomianism that led to the separa-
tion of 1835, as well as the change of action
in tlie Association, was for some time gathering
force, like a smouldering fire, before it gained
controlling power.

The Corresponding Letter of the Philadel-
phia Association of 1834 contains the following
words, which show plainly the wide difference
then and now existino; between those calling^
themselves the Old School Baptists and those
called the K"ew School : " Our churches gen-
erally are rooted and grounded in the faith,
and in that faith which is fruitful of good works.
The circulation of the Holy Scriptures and of
evangelical tracts ; the teaching of sacred truth
to our children in Sunday-schools ; the promo-
tion of temperance associations, with kindred
institutions, having in view the glory of God
and the advancement of the best interests of our
fellow-men — have enlisted, and are continuing


to enlist more and more, the affections and the
energies of our body/'

In 1856, for the first time, the Association is
called in the Minutes the " Delaware Old School
Baptist Association/' The school to which they
belong is doubtless old. Do-nothings need not
search far for precedents and ancestors even
among Baptists. But, had they chosen to do
so, they could have discovered Baptists in un-
broken line whose labors and successes render
them worthy of emulation by all who come
after them, and especially by those who glory
in the Baptist name, which their lives have
made honorable as the very synonym of Chris-
tian activity.

Who the men were that led the churches
away from the faith and practice of the fathers
is apparent in some cases. Some of them were
ministers of the Delaware Association and Pas-
tors of the Baptist churches connected with it
in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Some of them
at one time were active in the cause of Christ
and of missions. We have brought together in
these pages their views and actions at different
times, and found them to be in strong contrast.
They changed, and the churches and the Asso-


ciation changed with them. One notable in-
stance is that of the Rev. Philip Hughes, who,
after laboring so zealously in tlie cause of mis-
sions, embraced Antinomian views, and thus
became widely separated from his former com-
panion in labor, Mr. Baker. His name is
merely mentioned by Semple, and not at all
by Taylor, and the reason is given in Semple's
History (p. 397, note): He became intempe-
rate in habit as well as Antinomian in view.
'' His last days were a blot upon his first."
He died at Dr. Lemon's, where Mr. Baker
had ended his days so gloriously. I would
not doubt the piety and good intentions of
these men, but results prove that theirs were
fatal mistakes — fatal to the very life and exist-
ence of the churches that they meant to serve.
Would that their churches would own their
error, retrace their steps, and help to recover,
in part at least, what has been lost !


1. The Second Church, Wilmington,


The first of these was the Second Church,

Wilmington, organized September 7, 1835,



with thirteen members, dismissed by request
from the First Church. Being opposed to the
erroneous views and practices into which the
latter bad fallen, they separated to form a mis-
sionary church. The constituent members were
Gideon F. Tindall, Susanna Boulden, John
Heazlet, Susan Darby, Moses Bannister, Ann
Bannister, Robinson Beckley, Margaret Spring-
er, Sally Ann Todd, Sarah A. Graham, Mar-
garet Sterrett, Mary E. Stroud, and Jane
Cochran. Of these but three are living: Gid-
eon F. Tindall, Robinson Beckley, and Mary
E. Stroud.

The Council by which the church was consti-
tuted was composed of the following ministers :
Rev. Joseph H. Kennard and Rev. James J.
Woolsey of Philadelphia, Rev. Leonard Fletch-
er of Great Valley, Pa., and Rev. George I.
Miles of West Chester, Pa. It will be ob-
served that this movement received recognition
from Pennsylvania, and that no Delaware min-
ister was present. The next year (1836) the
church united with the Philadelphia Associa-
tion. The American Baptist Home Mission
Society extended aid to this feeble band at this
time and once afterward.

9 G


The new church worshipped first in a rented
room on Sixth Street, and in the old meeting-
house of the First Presbyterian Church. They
soon secured a house of their own, on the cor-
ner of Walnut and Fifth Streets, now occupied
by the German Baptist Church. During the
eighteen years they occupied this house great
prosperity attended them. For seven years of
this period Rev. Morgan J. Rhees, D. D., was
their Pastor, during whose pastorate the church
reached a membership of four hundred, and
showed great liberality in their contributions to
the various objects of benevolence. One year
they report one thousand dollars contributed for
benevolence abroad. Besides, they became self-
sustaining, giving up voluntarily the aid ex-
tended to them by the American Baptist Home
Mission Society. In 1848, while Pastor here,
Dr. Rhees was made Moderator of the Phila-
delphia Association.

In 1852, Rev. Frederick Charlton being
Pastor, the church resolved to build in a new .
location, and Mr. Washington Jones was made
Chairman of the Building Committee. A lot
was purchased at the corner of Fourth and
French Streets, and the present commodious



house of worship built. It y/iU seat over six
hundred persons^ and is worth at least thirty
thousand dollars. Mr. Jones took an active
part in the enterprise, both by his own large
contributions and his zealous efforts in collect-
ing funds from others. Besides, he gave his
time and personal attention to the erection of
the building, and when it was complete he, his
father, William G. Jones, and Jacob M. Chal-
fant, gave their individual notes for ten thou-
sand dollars debt remaining upon it. Mr.
Jones was then, and has been ever since, the
largest contributor to the funds of this church.
It is remarkable that while engrossed in build-
ing a new house of worship they contributed
more to Christian benevolence abroad than in
former years, and enjoyed besides a gracious
revival and large accessions.

On the 3d of May, 1855, the new and hand-
some house of worship was dedicated. The
sermon was preached by Rev. Benj. Griffith,
D. D. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the
opening was commemorated May, 1880. In
preparation for this, nearly one thousand dollars
were raised and expended for painting and re-
pairs; and as much more being required for


the same purpose, Mr. S. A. Hodgman proposed
that three thousand dollars be raised — two thou-
sand dollars to pay off the debt of the church
contracted for improvements some years ago.
On Sunday morning, February 22, 1880, Mr.
Washington Jones secured the whole amount,
and the house, handsomely frescoed, was re-
opened May 16 and 17, 1880, with appropriate
exercises. Tlie Committee having the work in
charge — Alfred Gawthrop, George A. Le Mais-
tre, and Edgar H. Quinby — did their work

The present membership is three hundred
and sixty-six, Avith two Sunday-schools and six
hundred and sixty-seven scholars and teachers.
This church has enjoyed in its history, extend-
ing over nearly fifty years, five great revivals.
In 1842, under Rev. Sandford Leach, aided by
Rev. Emerson Andrews, evangelist, the mem-
bership was increased from seventy-nine to two
hundred. In 1843-44, under Rev. M. J. Rhees,
D. D., assisted by Elder Jacob Knapp, one
hundred and fifty-six were converted. In 1854,
under Rev. Frederick Charlton, their number
advanced from three hundred and fifteen to
four hundred and one. In 1865, under Rev.


J. S. Dickerson, D. D., assisted by Elder Jacob
Knapp, one hundred and ninety -four were
added. In 1876, during the present pastorate,
one hundred and seventy-two united with the
church. In 1867, the Philadelphia Association
met with this church.

The following is a list of Pastors, with the
dates of their service : Rev. Jonathan G. Col-
lom first served the church as supply for three
months. Rev. C. W, Dennison, from Septem-
ber 9, 1836, to February 25, 1839. Rev.
George Carleton, from September 15, 1839, to
April 14, 1841. Rev. Sandford Leach, from
July 1, 1841, to June 17, 1842. Rev. Morgan
J. Rhees, D. D., from April 2, 1843, to May
27, 1850. Rev. Jonathan G. Collom, from
August 1, 1850, to March 22, 1853. Rev.
Frederick Charlton, from June 27, 1853, to
August, 1857. Rev. George M. Condron, from
April 1, 1858 to October 1, 1859. Rev. James
S. Dickerson, D. D., from March 1, 1861, to
May, 1865. Rev. W. H. H. Marsh, from
September 1, 1865, to March 26, 1871. Rev.
James Waters, from March 24, 1872, to No-
vember 16, 1873. Rev. Alexander McArthur,
from March, 1874, to September, 1875. Rev.

9 *


Richard B. Cook, the present Pastor, who came
December 1, 1875.

Prior to the formation of this church a few
members — sixteen in number — withdrew from
the First Church, and formed themselves into
a church which appears on the Minutes of the
Delaware Association as the Second of Wil-
mington. It was organized April 4, 1814,
and received into the Association the same
year, William G. Jones being one of the mes-
sengers to receive the hand of fellowship. But
this church was dissolved February 5, 1816.
Mr. Jones did not go back to the First Church,
but united with that at Marcus Hook. He
was very active in the present Second Church,
however, from the start, though he did not be-
come a member there until the pastorate of Mr.
Leach, who, when called by the church, made
this the condition of his acceptance — that
Mr. Jones bring his letter. It was done, and
Mr. Jones from that time till his death was
Deacon of the church. His house was the
" Baptist Hotel " throughout his time, and
many of the leading men of his day enjoyed
his hospitality.


delaware baptists. 103

2. Dover Church, 1852.
The second existing church formed in the
State was that at Dover in 1852. In 1832,
George Parris came to the neighborhood of
Dover from New Jersey. No Baptists of our
faith and order were there then except Jonathan
Stites and Mary his wife, also from New Jer-
sey, who preceded Mr. Parris about two years.
They Avere intelligent Christians, and adorned by
their walk and talk the Christian life for many
years, both dying in 1869. Rev. John P.
Thompson, an old man, and formerly a sailor,
came to Dover and vicinity, and labored for
several years for a small salary from the Amer-
ican Baptist Home Mission Society and for
what could be collected on the field. He and
others labored up to August, 1847, when Rev.
John P. Walter was persuaded to come to
Dover. He came October 1st as missionary
on a salary of three hundred dollars, of which
amount one hundred dollars were provided by
the American Baptist Home Mission Society,
one hundred dollars by the Second Church, Wil-
mington, and one hundred dollars were assumed
by Mr. Parris to be collected on the field.


In 1850, a subscription was started for a house
of worship; Brethren Stites and Parris gave
five hinidred dollars each toward it. Besides,
tliey had bought the ])arsonage and ground
next to it, facing the Public Square, whereon
the church now stands, in 1848 and 1849, in
trust for the Baptist Church, which was not
incorporated till 1853. The corner-stone of
the new house was laid, September 9, 1850, by
Rev. A. D. Gillette, D, D., of Philadelphia,
and the basement dedicated, January 25, 1852,
at which time the church was constituted with
eight members — Jonathan Stites, Mary Stites,
George Parris, Jane E. Parris his wife, George
P. Barker and Ruth Barker his wife, Eliza-
beth Walker, and Beulah Magonagill. The
two latter were daughters of Stites and wife.
Mrs. Walker was the only one living in Dover,
the others living in the country. Rev. J. G.
Collom, Pastor of the Second Church, Wil-
mington, officiated at the constitution of the
church. Mr. Walter became Pastor of the
church, and worked with his own hands to get
the house built. He resigned July 1, 1852,
and was succeeded by Rev. D. A. Nichols, who
resigned in 1853. Rev. E. R. Hera succeeded


Mr. Nichols, and left in 1854. From 1854 to
1859 the church had no Pastor. Rev. C. J.
Hopkins became Pastor in 1859, but retained
his charge only three months. The church was
without a Pastor until 1861, when Rev. H. C.
Putnam settled with them. He resigned Sep-
tember 20, 1863. They were again without a
Pastor until 1866, when Rev. D. B. Purinton
was sent to Dover by the American Baptist
Home Mission Society. He resigned the charge
of the Dover Church in 1868, and was succeed-
ed by Rev. O. F. Flippo in March of the same
year, who remained Pastor for over two years.
While Pastor he baptized nearly one hundred
believers. Before this there had not been a
baptism nor an accession for nearly two years.
The church-doors even had been closed, and all
was cheerless and discouraging. November 8,
1869, Mr. Flippo left for a time to collect funds
for the purchase of the Wyoming Institute for
the Baptist denomination. Rev. George Brad-
ford supplied the pulpit during his absence.
Mr. Flippo resigned, September 15, 1870, to
l)ecome General Missionary of the American
Baptist Home Mission Society in Delaware and
to give attention to the Wyoming Institute.


The coming of Mr. Flippo into the State was
followed by an awakening among our churches
and a growth of Baptist sentiment. We are
reminded of the labors of Messrs. Baker and
Hughes nearly a hundred years before. He
was instrumental in the formation of several
new churches, one of which came over to the
Baptists from another denomination, Pastor and
all. He was also the means of purchasing for
the denomination, at a reasonable price, the Wy-
oming Institute, and was its first President.
He also edited and published in the State The
Baptist Visitor, by which our history, work,
and principles were brought before the people,
and much good done. The frequent invitations
he received and accepted to present our views
in sermons or lectures was another means of
extending our principles and multiplying our
churches. " It pays," he wrote, " to cultivate
Delaware." In all his work, Mr. Flippo was
aided by Rev. George Bradford, Rev. N. C.
Naylor, and Rev. Dr. Isaac Cole, who rendered
him efficient service. Mr. Flippo felt that he
had hardly begun his w^ork in Delaware when
it became apparent that he must seek a change
of climate for his wife, and a field of labor



where he could be more at home during her
decline. In March, 1873, he left the State to
accept a pastorate in Maryland, and a few
months afterward his wife died. The Dover
Church had no Pastor from 1870 to 1873.
Rev. Charles Harrison was Pastor from Feb-
ruary 27 to September 27, 1873. There was
no Pastor from 1873 to 1875. Rev. J. J.
Reader was called April 18, 1875, and resign-
ed October 1, 1876. Rev. B. G. Parker, the
present Pastor, was called October 29, 1876.

3. First German Church, Wilmington,
Rev. J. M. Hoefiflin says : " In the year 1855,
a German Baptist, Jeremiah Grimmell by name,
a bookbinder by trade, came to Wilmington,
Delaware. He was a native of Marburg in
Hessen, where he was banished from house and
home on account of his free confession of Jesus
Christ, the only Saviour of the lost world.'^ The
Rev. Julius C. Grimmell, Pastor of the Ger-
man Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York,
and son of Jeremiah Grimmell, writes : " Fa-
ther was born January 25, 1809, converted in
1835, and baptized October 25th of the same


year, at midnight, in the river Lahn, by J. G.
Oncken of Hamburg. He endured bitter per-
secution, the loss of property and business, and
was often held in prison up to the year 1848.
In 1851, he came to America, where he first
gained converts in Williamsburg, thus laying
the foundation of the church over which I am
Pastor. ... In 1867, he made Buffalo, N. Y.,
his home, helping his son, then Pastor of the
First German Baptist Church, as a most de-
sirable aid and adviser. He died while on a
visit to his beloved Wilmington, April 4, 1871."
" In accordance with his own conviction," con-
tinues Mr. Hoefflin, " Mr. Grimmell, now being
in the land of gospel liberty, improved his op-
portunity to bring the joyful tidings of salva-
tion through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to
his German friends, making, in this way a faith-
ful use of his spare hours, and making even
more spare hours for this very purpose than
the wants of his family well permitted of; but
the love of Christ constrained him thus to de-
vote much of his time to making known the
precious news which had gladdened his heart
and brightened his path. Miss Anne Semple
found him once in an upper room, his shop,


working industriously, and all the while talking
to a young woman, an inquirer, whose tears
were freely flowing. After some personal
contact in visiting with his German friends, he
invited them to a religious meeting in his dwell-
ing-house, where a number met with him. The
number thus meeting together increased rapidly,
so that his own room was found too small ;
when a neighbor, Mr. John Schwager, who
afterward proved one of the first converts,
kindly opened his basement, on the corner of
Pine and Fourth Streets, where the meetings
were held for a long while. After some time
the brethren of the Second Baptist Church gave
them the use of their lecture-room, on the cor-
ner of Fifth and Walnut Streets, where their
meetings were held for some time, until the
church was rented ; then they received short
notice to vacate the place, and were obliged to
return into the basement of Mr. J. Schwager's

"Meanwhile, Rev. Conrad Fleischmann, Pas-
tor of the First German Church in Philadel-
phia, had come down to Wilmington several
times to proclaim the w^ord of life to the gath-
ered company. The Lord signally blessed the



labors of both Mr. J. Grimmell and Rev. C.
Fleischmann, so that at the end of nine months
there were seven persons hopefully converted,
who were baptized on the second day of March,

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Online LibraryRichard B. (Richard Briscoe) CookThe early and later Delaware Baptists → online text (page 5 of 8)