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as he had expected to find them. Some had become much attached to a person of the name of Priestly, who had been lately among them for some time, as a temporary supply; while others appeared no less partial to one of the Methodist preachers of the name of Wadsworth, or something like that, who was understood to be inclined to quit that connexion in case a fair opportunity should occur to settle with a Dissenting Congregation. The predilection in favour of the latter soon subsided, but the attachment of those who wished to retain Mr. P. proved more permanent and operative. They and he, to save appearances, thought proper to give the new comer a hearing the first Sunday; and then, after declaring and promulgating their utter disapproval of his ministry, they prepared for immediate separation: and having procured a place to meet in, they assembled there on the very next Sunday. They continued to meet three times on the Sunday, and once in the week. At last, the audience beginning to fall off, and the prospect becoming less and less promising, the preacher left them. He was, how,ever, for a little while longer, succeeded by one of the party, a tradesman in the town, who had before been a kind of occasional preacher. The experiment proving in the end unsuccessful, this new society broke up in the course of about three months, when most of its constituents returned to the old place.
By that time, those who had continued to assemble there along with the new Minister, were earnestly and diligently employed in examining the scripture account of the formation of Christian Churches, or what may be called Social Christianity, and had begun to make some progress in that interesting, but much neglected branch of christian knowledge. In order to assist them in this laudable pursuit, and facilitate their progress, they were often directed, in the stated ministry, to such passages of The New Testament as had a more direct bearing upon the subject of their inquiry, and which showed it to be the constant and uniform practice of the Apostles to unite or form the primitive converts into distinct societies or churches. Those passages also pointed out the mode of their organization, and the form of their constitution, together with the duties and privileges of church members and officers.
These religious inquirers had also stated conferences, or meetings for free conversation, in which the scripture account of the first planting of ChrisTianity and Christian Churches was carefully perused and closely examined, so as to enable those who attended to form their own judgment, as well as afford them a fair opportunity for discussion, if aught appeared that seemed attended with any difficulty or obscurity. This simple process well suited the circumstances of the people, and had soon the desired success; for most of the attenders at those exercises became presently convinced, that it was their incumbent duty openly to profess repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; and upon that profession, first to be Bap
Tized, and then to enter into the bonds of Christian fellowship, as a gospel church, that they might the more effectually promote the cause of God in the world, as well as their own mutual comfort and edification. Thus united, after the example of the Primitive Churches, they would be in the way, both collectively and individually, to observe all the other precepts of Christ, and so become partakers of those benefits and privileges held out in the Gospel, as the sure portion of those who would follow their Saviour through honour and dishonour, through evil as well as good report.
In consequence of embracing these principles, and entertaining these views of Christianity, several of the people, to the number of nineteen, came forward, in the course of the first year, and made a correspondent public profession of their faith; upon which profession they were all baptized by immersion, at the Meeting House, one Lord's day morning, in the presence of a large assemblage of people, who behaved on the occasion much better than might be expected, considering the very unfavourable light in which most of the townsmen viewed such a performance, and that the ordinance had not been administered here before in the memory of the oldest inhabitant! There had been a Baptist church here about the time of the Revolution; but whether its members were baptized in the town, or somewhere else, cannot now be ascertained. It was much discountenanced and persecuted by the higher
orders, and seems to have become soon extinct. See Hist, of Lynn.
The persons who had been baptized were well satisfied with the step they had taken, considering it as an act of solemn submission to the authority of Christ, and of conformity to his example. Their infant baptism they reckoned a corrupt and pernicious practice, not only unwarranted by Scripture, but even subversive of the very genius of Christianity, which is a religion designed by its founder to be propagated by instruction, and the promulgation of a series of interesting and well attested facts; and therefore cannot be said to commence among any people till they appear to receive that instruction, and believe those facts: whereas the doctrine of infant baptism pretends, that persons may become Christians, or disciples of Christ, before they are instructed, and before they are capable of believing or knowing any thing about those facts which the Gospel promulgates—thus changing and perverting the original character of Christianity, and making way for the introduction of all manner of innovations, transformations, and absurdities!
Among the beholders or spectators of the administration of baptism that day at Lynn, the most part, no doubt, were not further affected than having their curiosity gratified with the sight of an unusual performance. Some of them, however, were very differently affected, and seriously declared afterwards, that long before the conclusion of the service, they felt their minds so impressed by the solemnity of it, and its obvious coincidence with The New TestaMent account of the ordinance, that they could have wished to have been themselves among those who went then into the water! One of those who so expressed themselves died soon after, but others lived to prove the sincerity of their declaration, and never saw any reason afterwards to be dissatisfied with that part of their conduct. Nothing, perhaps, has contributed more to debase Christianity, or to multiply, uphold, and perpetuate its corruptions, than the widely extended and almost universally adopted practice of infant baptism: whereas the distinguishing tenets of The Baptists are obviously calculated to preserve, at least, the original form and feature of Christianity; which, at any rate, must be a matter of some real use and importance.
Sometime after those nineteen persons had been baptized, they, together with some of those Baptists above-mentioned, who resided in the town, were solemnly formed into a church; Mr. llees David, of Norwich, (Mr. Kingdom's predecessor) was here at the time, and gave such assistance as was deemed necessary: but the service was chiefly conducted by the stated minister, agreeably to the united wish of both Mr. D. and the people. It was earnestly endeavoured to make the constituents of the new church duly sensible of the nature and importance of that social union which they were then forming. Nor did those earnest endeavours appear to be thrown away, or misapplied, either in regard to