Church and Family History Research Assistance for Livingston County, New York



The following published accounts give some insight into the trials which resulted in the establishment of the Lakeville Old School Baptist Church. "Lakeville, Livingston Co., N. Y., Feb. 14, 1838. DEAR BROTHER BEEBE:- With this I shall send you a copy of the Minutes of the Sixth Anniversary of the Livingston Baptist Association, held with the Church in Livonia, on the 28th and 29th of June 1837. Now I do not send them to you because I think there is anything in them which is calculated to edify, or enlighten any of those dear blood-bought souls upon whom the "Son of righteousness has arisen with healing in his wings," and has driven away the fog and "smoke of the bottomless pit" from the eyes of their understanding; so that they are enabled to see clearly in this dark and cloudy day. But I thought perhaps you would like to learn how they disposed of your remarks on the last year's Circular letter. I was informed that one of the ministers belonging to the Association, expected you would make some remarks on the last year's Circular letter, and he intended to reply to your remarks, but when he came to see how you handled their letter, he concluded it was best to have nothing to say to you, and that I suppose is the reason why they have not mentioned your name, or the name of your paper, in their Minutes or Circular Letter this year. The fact is, Brother Beebe, you talk or write too plain, and tell too much truth, to suit them; they do not like to have their doctrine exposed too much, they had rather keep the bad part of it hid, but notwithstanding all their care it will sometimes leak out and expose them, and then they are in great trouble until they can plaster and daub it over so that they think others will not see it. And another reason why I send you the Minutes is, I want you should see what an excellent letter they have published this year. How full of "benevolence" it is. Yes, it seems to me that the "benevolent spirit" of the day in which we live, pervades the whole of it. It is a "spirit" which boasts much of what men are doing to save a lost world; and says but little about what the Saviour has done to save his chosen ones. It is a spirit which boasts much of its own charity and liberality and knowledge, while it brands all those with "covetousness and ignorance" who do not happen to fall in with it, or join it in all its schemes for self-aggrandizement or worldly gain, and popularity among men. There are many things in this Circular Letter, which I should like to notice but for want of time, I shall notice but very few of them, and shall be very brief. The first thing I shall notice, is where the letter says "God has, by his word and spirit, influenced his people to enlist in the enterprise of giving to the whole world the Bible; because, by its power, he has designed to save them that believe. The church with its ministers, in the execution of the duties which are devolved upon them by the commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," have embarked in the missionary operations of the day, because it is by the preaching of the gospel that men are to be saved. The living part of the church of Christ feel that Bible and Missionary Societies have claims upon them, the most imperious and weighty: and while they have endeavored to respond to those claims in discharging the duties assigned them, great success has attended their labours, and the cause has been steadily and triumphantly advancing." I would just enquire whether they have not grossly perverted the text which they have quoted, "Go ye into all the world," &c., by endeavoring to make it sanction their practice of joining the church and the world together and forming societies for the purpose of hiring and sending men to preach and collect money for them. Although they have time after time been called on to show either precept or example from the Bible for their practice in this thing, they have utterly failed to produce either, and therefore they are led to pervert the scripture in order to induce the unwary to fall in with their schemes. The Circular says, "The living part of the church of Christ feel that the Bible and missionary societies have claims upon them, the most imperious and weighty." So of course all those in the church who do not feel these claims, are dead. Yes, no matter how much they may feel engaged for the cause of truth and righteousness, no matter how much time they may spend in preaching the gospel or how much they may give for the support of those who do preach the gospel, no matter how great sacrifices they may make for the promotion of the cause of the dear Redeemer, if they do not feel the claims of these societies they are dead; yea, my brother, and blessed be God for the idea, I believe that they are dead, and that their "life is hid with Christ in God," and when Christ who is their life, shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory. Col. 3:3-4. But as I promised brevity I will pass to notice another idea in the Circular, it says, "The prosperity that has attended the exertions of God's people in the cause of benevolence, as they have exhibited themselves in its several departments, has awakened the latent malevolence of Satan and his emissaries to bold and determined action." I would just enquire whether it is a characteristic of God's people to exhibit "themselves" or whether they do not rather endeavor to exhibit Christ. But the Circular after noticing the "advance of infidelity in cities, villages, and the country," &c., "the alarming increase of Catholic population;" &c., "the multiplied and still increasing sects of religionists, with their destructive errors;" &c., say that, "If the influence from these sources - which is more baneful to the moral condition of man, than the Upas of Java is to his physical system - was all that we had to meet, we should soon be able to overcome by the power displayed in the gospel, and hear victory declared on Zion's side. But (lamentable to express!) there is an influence within the precincts of our communion, which proves more deleterious to the cause than any thing we have met with as yet; and that is the course pursued by some of our own brethren, in taking the ground of anti-mission or anti-benevolence." Here seems to be an acknowledgement that there are some even in this "Sardis" who wish to keep their "garments undefiled" from following after the "commandments and traditions of men" in things of religion and they are represented (by the "Benevolent Spirit" of the Circular) as being even worse than 'infidels" or "Roman Catholics" or both of them and all other "errorists" put together. Well, this is just as it always has been in all ages of the world, those who have been led by the Spirit of God to take his word as their only guide and could not be persuaded to leave it to follow the inventions of men, have always been considered as being worse than open and avowed infidels, yea, they have been accounted, as the offscouring of all things and the filth of the earth. And why then should we complain who live in this day, should we not rather rejoice that we are "counted worthy to suffer shame and reproach for the name of Jesus." Acts 5:41. But says the Circular "Did such brethren realize how much the Saviour has done for them, and that through the influence of the word of revelation, in some of the ways by which it is made successfully to bear upon the sinner's soul; that the soul of the impenitent sinner now out of the ark of salvation, is as precious to him as theirs were to them; and that the enjoyments of the sweets of religion, would be as dear to him as to them; we are ready to conclude there would not be as much holding back on the part of such brethren, as there now is, in so glorious an enterprize." Here I think the Circular or its writer has mistaken the point; I am of opinion that a realizing sense of what the "Saviour has done for them" is what makes them "hold back" in the "glorious" (or rather inglorious) cause of modern benevolence, such as giving their money to support men who preach false doctrines, men who tell us that the Saviour has done all that he can do and now it remains for us to do the rest. Sinners are dying and going down to endless misery in multitudes just because christians are so covetous that they will not give their money to save them, making the blood of the Saviour of no effect in the salvation of sinners unless a plenty of gold and silver is added to it in order to give it efficacy.

In fact some of our modern "benevolent" divines would almost have us believe that Peter was mistaken when he told his brethren that they were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from their vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." I. Peter 1:18, 19. These modern "benevolent" divines would have us believe that silver and gold is the very thing to redeem the heathen, that many are already lost for whom the Saviour's blood was spilt and many more will be, unless the money is speedily collected and sent on to save them with. Now what friend of Jesus would give his money to support men who propagate sentiments which coincide with the above? methinks that no one would who understands his Bible. Does not the money which is paid into the missionary and bible societies go to support men who propagate such sentiments? if it does not, then I entirely misunderstand many of their writings which they have published to the world. "We are aware" (says the Circular) "that the excuses rendered by those brethren who take no active part in this business for the honor of God and the benefit of souls, but are opposed, are many; and that they originate mostly in ignorance and covetousness, which we are taught is idolatry." How benevolent is this! Because a brother is so conscientious as to require a "thus saith the Lord" for his practice they call him an idolater. Then accuse him of "ignorance and covetousness." No matter how well he may be instructed in the scriptures of truth, no matter how gifted he is, or how capable he may be of instructing and edifying the saints, or how liberal he may be in bestowing his goods to feed or clothe the poor, or for the support of those who preach the gospel: if he does not subscribe his name to some one or all of the benevolent (so called) societies of the day, they brand him with "ignorance and covetousness." And if he goes so far as to oppose them in their unhallowed schemes, they brand him with the name of infidel; yea they will call him the very worst kind of infidel. But we will notice the Circular a little further; says the Circular "How will such brethren appear, and how will they feel, when called upon to stand at the judgment seat of Christ, and pass the infinite scrutiny of the judge of quick and dead? How can they expect to hear dropping from the lips of the injured Jesus who commands they now disobey and treat with neglect, "Well done good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many; enter thou into the joy of the Lord," Matthew 25:23; or, "Come, thou blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?" "Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." Galatians 6:7,8. In reply to the above questions I would just remark that if the above mentioned brethren had nothing more to recommend them at the "judgment seat of Christ" than their own good works they would never expect to hear the blessed plaudit "Well done" &c., or "Come ye blessed" &c., but having some little evidence in their own hearts that God has for Christ's sake forgiven their sins they hope in that day to "be found in him, not having on their own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil. 3:9. And no doubt their language on that day will be like those on the right hand of the king, they will not recollect doing any of the good things which he ascribes to them and which the self righteous are so ready to boast of. No, they will be ready to ascribe all the honour and glory of their salvation to the free and unmerited grace of God. As to their "disobeying or neglecting the commands" of the Saviour in not helping to support the benevolent (so called) societies of the day, they have yet to learn the Saviour has ever commanded it. They have in vain searched the King's statute book for the command; they can find no such command there, and they have in vain requested the advocates of these societies to produce the command if they know in what part of the statute book it is, and they have utterly failed to produce it. Therefore these brethren conclude the Saviour has never given any commandment, and if he has not, then it is neither more or less than the "commandment of men" and they dare not obey it, lest the question should be asked them in a coming day "who hath required this at your hands." Here I would just notice the quotation from Galatians 6:7,8, "Be not deceived." &c. And would enquire whether the inventors and advocates of Bible and missionary societies, &c., are not "sowing to the flesh?" Is not the object of these societies to make provisions for the flesh? Is it not their object to provide funds for the support of the body? So that they need not be obliged to labor for it. If this is not the case then I have mistaken the point altogether. And if this is their object, why is it not as much "sowing to the flesh" as it is for a man to try by industry and economy to gain an honest livelihood? Methinks it is more so, for the Apostle says "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." II. Thess. 3:10. I might perhaps pursue the subject of the Circular further, but I should probably weary your patience without casting any further light on the subject than has been done by far more able writers than I am, in your valuable paper. But I felt a desire thus far to expose my ignorance, and I want to go a little farther and say that I think the scripture is greatly perverted throughout the whole Circular Letter. And when I see how many dear brethren are led away from the simplicity of the gospel by these "cunningly devised fables of men" and are led to think that by supporting them they are helping to support the gospel and save sinners which would otherwise be lost and go down to perdition, my soul mourns in secret places and my prayer to God is that he would deliver his chosen ones from these awful delusions of the adversary. I should like to have you just notice the digest of the letter from the Lakeville church, which you will find on the 9th page of the Minutes, it is the words following, to wit: "Lakeville - are thankful to God for a hope in his mercy, have endeavored to maintain discipline, are at peace among themselves, have not forgotten our dear brethren and sisters in heathen lands, have done something to aid the American and Foreign Bible cause to the amount of $34, which they hope is but a beginning." That you may not be at a loss to know how they have "endeavored to maintain discipline" I send you the following copy of a copy of the church records which Elder Justin gave me instead of giving me a letter of exclusion, it is in the following words, to wit: "Saturday, 10 o'clock, June 3rd, 1837. Met pursuant to adjournment. After labouring with much anxiety, to regain our dear Brethren, but to no purpose, voted to withdraw the hand of fellowship from Erastus West, Clement West, Orin Shepard, and Tyrannus Ripley, for refusing to walk with the church, meanwhile believing, that their having given liberty, to those who felt disposed to have a sabbath school, or the contributing of their substance, for the circulation of the Bible, and the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, is not departing from the letter and spirit of our articles of faith. J. P. BRIGGS, Church Clerk." Now, Brother Beebe, I will close this epistle by requesting all Old School Ministers who can make it convenient, to call and see us. We had the privilege something more than a year ago of hearing Elder Martin Salmon preach, and we earnestly desire to hear him again. We have also had the privilege of hearing Elder Hezekiah West, and we should rejoice to hear him again. Why will not some of the Old School preachers travel this way so that we can have an opportunity to become acquainted with them. I believe there are a number scattered about the country here, wh would be glad to hear Old School preaching, but we are scattered like sheep without any shepherd. The fact (I believe) is we are poor, and despised by all and every class of people. We are despised by the world. We are despised by the New School because we will not help to support their numerous inventions for the support of what we believe to be another ospel than that which Paul preached. And we are despised by the professed middle ground folks because we cannot fellowship them in their ambidexterity. And we despise ourselves because we are so full of corruption, because we are so much in love with the world and its vanities and so much unlike our divine Lord and Master. And if in a coming day it should be ascertained that the blessed Jesus despises us, our case will be miserable to the extreme. But notwithstanding our low condition we are not entirely without hope. No, my brother, we have a little hope still left, for we have many blessed promises on record which our divine Lord and Master enables us many times to receive comfort and consolation from. I will just mention one of two for the comfort of others in similar circumstances. One you may find recorded in Isaiah 56:5, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name sake, said, let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." Also see Luke 6:22-23, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets." Many more might be mentioned, but I have already written much more than I intended, and must close. I remain yours, in love for the truth's sake. CLEMENT WEST.

"LAKEVILLE, LIVINGSTON CO., N. Y., March 11, 1840. DEAR BROTHER BEEBE:-With this I shall forward you a copy of the "Livingston Republican Extra," of March 3, 1840, containing a letter from my brother to Elder Ira Justin, dated Lakeville, Feb. 24, 1840; and if you have room you will confer a favor by giving it a place in the Signs of the Times. I would just remark that at the time the above mentioned letter was written and handed to Elder Justin, the church to which he belongs, in this place (and himself with the rest) were very zealously engaged in a Protracted Meeting, held by the same Elder Miller (of Geneva) that held the meeting here in 1838, mentioned in my brother's letter: and although after the close of the meeting in 1838, Elder Justin assured my brother that the same measure would never be used here again, yet at this last meeting the anxious seats were used with more zeal than ever, and so many were constrained to go forward and set on them, by being persuaded and urged until they could no longer with common civility refuse; and then were urged to get up and tell - what the Lord had done for them? No, - but what they had done and intended to do for the Lord! and Elder Justin said those were the best and happiest days he had ever seen. Now why will the dear children of God, yea even some of the ministers of the blessed Jesus, stay in the ranks of the New School until they get so bewildered that they cannot tell the difference between the gospel that Paul preached and the system of works preached by the New School? I say, why do they stay there? Some tell us they do it for the sake of influence, i. e., by staying with them they have an influence over them which they would not have if they came out from them and were separate, and so by means of this influence they are enabled to preach the truth to them, and prevent them from going so far astray as they otherwise would. But do they in this matter reason correctly? Is their influence as great as they pretend? Do they not find themselves often led away, little by little, until they are led to adopt all the new measures in doctrine and practice, without being able to tell where or when they left the original ground of the gospel? Or, if they are enabled by divine grace to continue their opposition to the doctrine and practice of the New School, do they not often find themselves obliged to take letters from the churches to which they belong and go to some other place, where their gift will be more profitable? Is it not a fact that in most cases where ministers who say they are opposed to the new measures, but remain in the fellowship of the New School, for the sake of influence (as they call it), find ere they are aware that their influence is all gone, and that they have none, either among the Old or New School, and that the New School consider them no better than dead weights attached to their car, or "Jonahs which ought to be thrown overboard," and they must either succumb to them or occasion is sought against them whereby they may be cast away! Why then, I say, will they stay in their ranks? Why will they not obey the injunction of the Apostle, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." II. Cor. 6:17. But I must stop, for I have already written much more than I intended; for I intended when I began to write, no more than merely a request for you to publish my brother's letter in the Signs. You can do as you please with this scribble. I remain yours in hope of eternal life. CLEMENT WEST."

[The letter now follows:] Lakeville, Feb. 24, 1840. TO ELDER IRA JUSTIN: Dear Brother:- It is with reluctance I attempt to address you at this time, as you appear to be zealously engaged in a protracted meeting, but when I call to mind the many happy seasons we have enjoyed together in trying to serve God, my mind naturally runs back to my earliest acquaintance with you, when my heart could not receive, nor my head understand the doctrine of grace which you then taught; and you took unwearied pains to show me, as well as others, that salvation was wholly of grace, and that Divine sovereignty, eternal, personal and unconditional election, total depravity, particular atonement, &c., were Bible doctrines, and it was your highest enjoyment to teach those doctrines, and that in direct opposition to the notions of my carnal heart. But when it pleased God, by his grace, to enlighten my mind and give me a view of that salvation which was finished and complete in Jesus before the world began, I was melted into contrition before him; he made me willing to trust in his victorious grace; and you coming to this vicinity comforted me, your preaching strengthened me, and your daily conversation established me. You taught me that those, and those only, who had grace given them in Christ before the world began could be saved, and that the number was not only definite, but particular persons were heirs of eternal glory and included in the covenant of redemption with heavenly guaranty, and that it is not on account of their doings, or any other conditions whatever, except those performed by the Son of God as surety for his bride; and when we were permitted to have a view of that plan of redemption which you taught me was well ordered in all things, and sure, What peaceful hours we then enjoyed? How sweet the memory still." Suffice it to say, the temporal embarrassments and discouragements under which we labored for years, bound us more closely together, for we lived by the faith of the Son of God, and this kind of teaching was crowned and blessed of God to the ingathering of his chosen. The middle aged, the youth, and some of our own children gave evidence of life in Christ, and were joyfully received. This gospel we pledged ourselves to defend, and when we found it was invaded by preachers of our own communion, we withstood them to the face, knowing that they were to be blamed. You, doubtless, recollect that we went to Mendon to the first protracted meeting held by our denomination in this region of country, and we tried to dissuade the minister from his unscriptural course, having a high esteem for him, and feeling that he had substituted his excited feelings for gospel rule, we told him that the most of his preaching was contrary to his avowed sentiments. And now, my dear brother, did not we mutually agree, and repeatedly assure each other, that in our opinion, such meetings, with the doctrines and practices on which they depend for success, were without foundation in holy writ, and contrary to truth? And when we were afterward constrained to consent to have such meetings held here, thinking to keep the truth uppermost and admit only of gospel practice, have we not uniformly seen the people overwhelmed with excitement and confusion, and ourselves outgenerated and overcome? And when you was called on to preach at a protracted meeting at Rush, and you discharged your duty like an able, honest minister of Christ, was you not considered and treated as an opposer to the spirit of the meeting, and it was a long time before your services were again solicited at such a meeting? And when you was sent for to preach at such a meeting in Groveland, and you preached from the text, 'by grace are ye saved,' and in the discharge of your duty like an honest minister of Christ, you tried to show the people that they could not be saved by their own doings or works, but by the blood of Christ, did not the church request you, by their committee, to 'depart from their coasts,' (although you had an appointment to preach again,) telling you that your sermon was a damper, and the very reading of your text chilled the feelings of the assembly? And did you not come home and conclude that an excitement which could not bear the doctrine of grace was not of God? And have you not uniformly disapproved of the doctrine and measures used at protracted meetings? And did you not oppose and object to those measures, to wit, the anxious seats and anxious meetings at Elder Miller's protracted meeting, held in this place in 1839? And after that meeting closed, did you not assure me that although those measures were used almost against your consent, such measures would never be used here again? And were you not disgusted with his doctrine, viz., that the only way that sinners could be reconciled to God was upon condition of their serving him as well as they could, and as long as they lived, telling them it was much easier for them to pass the line of mercy and sin away the day of grace now, than it was fifty years ago, &c., maintaining that their obedience was the procuring cause of the new birth, instead of the evidence of it, &c. Bear with me, my brother, while I use plainness in stirring up your pure mind by way of remembrance. I ask, is it not a prominent feature of the doctrine of the New School Baptists, with whom you are in fellowship, 'that the number of the saved is proportionate to the efforts of men and means, upon the same principle as men raise wheat, viz: the more they sow, the more they expect to reap? And so with saving souls, the more ministers and preaching, the more souls saved. And hence the conclusion, that many souls have gone to hell which might have been saved had christians done their duty.' And have you not opposed such notions as false, and agreed with me, that salvation is not of effort, but of grace, and that the Son quickened whom he will, and that obedience, faith, repentance and joy in the Holy Ghost are the evidence and fruit of that, and not the procuring cause of it? And have you not encouraged me to assist and sustain you in that truth, and in opposing the errors above cited, which you saw were gaining ground in the denomination, and had been for years? If this is so, my brother, then why have you excluded from your number ten or eleven of your brethren and sisters, whose highest pleasure it was to sustain you in the truth; those who have borne the heat and burden of the day with you, and whose ears were never deaf to you in your temporal embarrassments? You thought it best, you say, to go along with those errors in doctrine and practice, although you did not fellowship them? But we did not so judge. We dare not say by our actions that we are in fellowship with those errors when we are not. We plead and begged, with tears, that you would be guided by the covenant and articles of the church, and we assured you that we never would forsake you; and on that very ground we are ever ready to renew our travel with you. I asked you if you had anything against us in faith or practice, and you said no, if we would go along. I ask now, my brother, for you are still dear to my heart, how could you exclude your best earthly friend, whose heart you could always read, and whose mite was always shared with you, and for no other reason but his firmness in contending for the faith of Christ, which you had taught him to defend? And why did you reject from your pulpit those fathers in the gospel whose silver locks show the frost of seventy winters; who have worn out their lives in proclaiming the very doctrine of grace which you love? Was it because they opposed the errors of which you so often complain? or was it because they were unpopular in the world, and also among the New School party? If you were a New School man I should think it useless thus to write. But you are not. You are my friend and brother, one who did not receive your ministry from man, neither by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; and since God has hid the mystery of his grace from the wise and prudent, and revealed it unto babes, why should you lend your talents to sustain a system which is foreign from truth? and why do you now, with your aversion to new measures, lend your influence to sustain them, and take hold and pull those into your anxious seats who tell you they do not wish to go? You will recollect when we went to a similar meeting in the woods, where the same doctrine and practice prevailed, you said it was your candid opinion that the true God was not worshiped there. And now, my brother, what is the matter? Have you courted a delusion till God has sent it? I hope not. Is the doctrine and practice which has stood the scrutiny of more than eighteen hundred years proved to be wrong? It cannot be. Then why are we parted asunder? We still love as brethren, and have said to forgive each other's faults, and I feel that you will forgive what is wrong in this letter, for depend on it, I have not written this without much prayer that we may het be united in the truth. Yours affectionately, ERASTUS WEST.


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