They Gave Themselves to the Lord as a People of God
It is interesting to note how our Lord took humble people across great stretches of ocean, planted them on a vast continent, brought them together, and established local churches. Generally, they were feeble numerically, but the seed sown was nurtured and, during times of spiritual awakening, multiplied amazingly. It is interesting to see how the churches of the Philadelphia Association of Regular Baptists began. The church at Montgomery is an example.
In the year 1710, John Evans, and Sarah, his wife, from a church in Carmarthenshire, in South Wales, (James James, minister) came over and settled in Montgomery aforesaid. In 1711, came John James and Elizabeth, his wife, from Pembrokeshire, members of the church at Rhydwillym, (John Jenkins, minister) and settled in the same neighborhood. After some time Mr. Abel Morgan visited them, and preached to as many as came to hear, at the house of John Evans; and after his visiting for sometime, as often as he could, several persons were proposed for baptism, which was administered by Mr. Morgan. In the year 1719, it was moved to them either to join with some neighboring church, as that of Pennepek, being the nighest, or to be settled in gospel order as a distinct church by themselves. Upon which they consulted, and concluded, by reason of the distance of the place and diversity of the language, they understanding very little English, to be rather a church by themselves. Their conclusion being approved by Mr. Morgan, a day was set apart for the solemnizing of this great work, being the 20th day of June, 1719; and Mr. Abel Morgan, and Mr. Samuel Jones, being spent in fasting and prayer, with a sermon being preached by Mr. Morgan, suitable to the occasion, they proceeded. Being asked whether they were desirous and willing to settle together as a church of Jesus Christ, they all answered in the affirmative; and being asked whether they were acquainted with one another’s principles, and satisfied with one another’s graces and conversation, it was also answered in the affirmative; and then for a demonstration of their giving themselves up, severally and jointly, to the Lord, as a people of God and a church of Jesus Christ, they all lifted up their right hand. Then they were directed to take one another by the hand, in token of their union, declaring, at the same time, that they had given themselves to God, so they did give themselves to one another by the will of God, 2 Cor. 7:5, to be a church according to the gospel; to worship God and maintain the doctrines of the gospel, according to their ability, and to edify one another. Then were they pronounced and declared to be a church of Jesus Christ; a right hand of fellowship was given to them as a sister church, with exhortations and instructions suitable to the station and relation they now stood in; and the whole was finished with solemn prayer to God for a blessing on the work of the day. Their number, nine or ten persons.
It is true that “from small acorns mighty oaks are grown.” Our spiritual fathers were more concerned with purity of doctrine and life than large numbers. God’s heritage is a “little flock.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/ Cummins) pp. 253 -254.