David Benedict Christian Society (1848)
A G E N E R A L H I S T O R Y OF THE BAPTIST DENOMINATION IN A M E R I C A AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. BY DAVID BENEDICT
C H A P T E R X X I X.
Historical Sketches of various communities of Baptists who differ from the main body of the denomination, and also from each other.
C H R I S T I A N S O C I E T Y.
THE following account of the community which passes under this name, I select from a work recently compiled by one of its ministers.
COMMENCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION.
"About fifty years ago, several Methodist preachers in the State of Virginia, and in the Carolinas, became dissatisfied with the discipline of that church, and withdrew. They then agreed to search the Scriptures for a rule of life; and to believe, preach, and walk as they should direct. The result was, they soon became agreed that Christian was the appropriate name for all the followers of Christ, as all true believers hold; and that while others go farther, and take some sectarian name, of human origin, they ought not and would not, receive or use among themselves any other. By thus searching the Scriptures for a rule, they became satisfied that as that book contained the whole of the rule of duty and faith, so no other was necessary, and all others, if authoritative, served to divide and, lead astray. Here they settled down upon the broad plan of the name all believers take, Christian; and the rule they all acknowledge, the Bible.
"A few years after this, several ministers of the Presbyterian order, in the State of Kentucky, broke off from that body because of the government under which it acted, and several of their usages appeared to them both unscriptural and oppressive. This act threw them upon the Bible, as the like act had thrown the seceders from the Methodists in Virginia; and with the same result--for they soon agreed to be nothing but Christians, and to have no discipline or rule but the Bible.
"About the same time, a few ministers in New England, who had been connected with the Baptists, were led to see that human creeds were both useless and hurtful, and in relinquishing these, they too were thrown upon the Bible alone. As they found there none of their names but Christian, and none of the modern denominational titles, they also soon agreed on that name, and on the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice.
"Here, then, were three companies in the United States all agreeing in these two points. But they were strangers to each other, and even to the fact that such companies existed. But in a few years each learned that others existed, and by means of letters, and a periodical which was soon commenced among the New England Christians, a correspondence was opened, and a union created, so that the three became one, and have to this day been known as the 'Christian Connection in the United States of America.'
"The Christians in the several States were soon organized into Conferences; and for several years delegates from these met in a General Conference; but this was discontinued, and a closer organization of the several Annual Conferences, embracing the ministers and churches, was adopted.
"Thus having fought their way into existence, by using, not carnal weapons, but those that are mighty through God, they have spread abroad over the face of the country, and become many thousands."'1
The statistical account of this people I shall make out from the Christian Register and Almanac for 1842, the latest I have seen.
Conferences in this connection take the place of Associations and Quarterly Meetings with the Regular and Free Will Baptists. They are about forty in number; their names are as follows:
Doctrinal Sentiments. They are very decided in their opposition to what is denominated the calvinistic creed; they are also **anti-trinitarians** in the common acceptation of that term.
I have before me a number of works giving expositions of their theological views, all of which come about to the same point, and confirm the report which is generally given of them as being **unitarians, in opposition to the trinitarian creed, as expounded by orthodox divines.**