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This certifies, that we have attended to the duty assigned us by the General Conference in revising the following work. We regret that our ability and circumstances have not permitted us to bestow upon it the labour that the importance of the subject demands. A more critical revision would increase its value; but as we are unable to bestow further attention to it we submit it for publication; earnestly praying that our heavenly Father will be pleased to make it a blessing to our churches, and to thousands who are inquiring after truth.
SAMUEL B. DYER,
DANIEL P. CILLEY,
Dover, N. H. April 23, 1834.
Publishing Committee, chosen by the Gen.Conference in 1833. Book Agent.
This certifies, that we have examined the following Treatise, as revised by the Publishing Committee, carefully compared it with the original manuscript, and given it what further revision our ability and circumstances would admit. The sentiments, read and approved by the General Conference, have been, in our opinion, scrupulously retained in the revision.
HENRY HOBBS, by Gen. Conference ENOCH PLACE, JOSEPH WHITE,¦ HOSEA QUINBY, Dover, N. H. April 23, 1834.
to examine the revised MS. of the following work.
was chosen, brother SAMElder A. CAVERNO has See the Minutes of the
Since the above Committee UEL BEEDE has deceased, and been elected to fill the vacancy. 7th General Conference--page 14.
1. RISE OF THE FREEWILL BAPTISTS. In the year 1770, BENJAMIN RANDAL, who, under God, was the founder of the Freewill Baptist denomination, was converted through the instrumentality of George Whitefield. In 1776, he was baptized by Elder Wm. Hooper, of Madbury, and united with the Baptist denomination. At this time divisions respecting doctrine were little known among the Baptists in New England. Randal, however, held to general sentiments; nor was he at first aware that he differed from his brethren, as discussions upon this subject were not then frequent. He felt a serious conviction of duty to come forward as a preacher of the gospel, and soon after commenced his public labours. Shortly after this, a difference of sentiment was per
ceived among the preachers, and Randal was publicly called to an account, because he did not preach Calvinian election, but free salvation. As the brethren came to examine these points, a division was manifest; for some found themselves in fellowship with the doctrine of unconditional election and reprobation, while others thought it erroneous. Hence, they took different positions, according to their views. Randal joined a church in Barrington that held general sentiments; and, in 1780, was ordained an evangelist. In the same year, he gathered a church in New Durham, New Hampshire. As Randal held to the freedom of the will, and that all men may be regenerated in this life and fitted for heaven, through improving the means of grace which God has bestowed upon them, he and his adherents were, by their opponents, reproachfully called Freewillers. Hence this church received the distinctive title, Freewill Baptist. They took the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice; and Elder Randal was selected to write a summary of the doctrine contained in the
Scriptures. Accordingly, he wrote thirteen articles and a covenant, which the members of the church all signed. These articles, however, were afterwards laid aside. The church held a conference once a month, which was called a monthly meeting. As their number increased, it was soon found impracticable for all to meet at one place, and other monthly meetings were established. They also held a general meeting once in three months, which was called a quarterly meeting. The vine shortly extended to other towns and states, and other quarterly meetings were held. At length, yearly meetings were organized by a delegation from the quarterly meetings: and in 1827 the General Conference was instituted by a delegation from the several yearly meetings. In this Conference, eight yearly meetings are associated. There are now in connexion, 48 quarterly meetings, comprising 661 churches, 401
*The Bethel and Shiloh Conferences in North Carolina are here reckoned as quarterly meetings, though they hold their sessions annually.