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These were the only churches to give light to a vast extent of wilderness; and we have mentioned their distance from a given point, to show their scattered situation, and the necessarily accumulated labors of their first public ministers. For a more full account of the organization of the preceding churches, consult "Rise and Progress of the Otsego Association,” by Elds. A. Hosmer and J. Lawton, 1800.

VIDEGO ASSOCIATION.

THE FORMATION OF THE OTSEGO ASSOCIATION.

of age;

In the year 1789 Eld. William Furman, then about forty years

from St. Coyte, took up his residence in the town of Springfield, in the county of Otsego, N. Y. At this time there was not one Baptist church in the vast territory, bounded as follows: on the east by a meridian crossing the Mohawk at the mouth of the Schoharie river ; on the north and south by parallels of latitude intersecting said meridian on the northern and southern boundaries of the State of New York, and extending west to the Pacific ocean; and on the west by the Pacific. Eld. Furman was the first minister settling in this extensive wilderness, who was particularly useful in planting churches and promoting the rise of the Otsego Association. Having the glory of God in view, and desirous of the increase of the Redeemer's kingdom, he spared no pains, but exerted himself to the utmost, for the accomplishment of this object. It may with propriety be said of him that he was, under God, the father of these churches. He is now, we trust, reaping, in heaven, the reward of his unwearied exertions in the cause of his glorious Redeemer.

In the spring of 1794 he proposed to the churches to meet in conference, to consult on the propriety of forming an association. Accordingly, seven churches met on the 4th of Sept., 1794, at the house of William Goff, in Burlington. Elds. Peter Worden, Joseph Cornell, and Joseph Craw, from the Shaftsbury Association, being present, took seats with them in their deliberations. After an agreeable interchange of views on the subject, they adjourned until the second Thursday in Jan., 1795, to meet at the house of Paul Gardner, in Burlington. At this meeting, which was held on the 8th of January, (pursuant to adjournment,) two more churches were added. The plan of an association having been pro. posed, it was unanimously resolved that it should be referred to the churches, with a request that they would appoint delegates to convene at the meeting-house in Springfield, in September following, with power to decide on the propriety of forming an association.

On the 2d of Sept., 1795, delegates from the churches were appointed, pursuant to request, and they accordingly assem. bled at the meeting-house in Springfield. The introductory sermon was delivered by Eld. Ashbel Hosmer, from Luke xxiv. 26. A moderator and clerk being chosen, letters from the churches were read, and the following list was taken :

56

2d

66

66

Churches.

Ministers. No. of Members. Springfield,

William Furman, 1st Burlington,

22

Ashbel Hosmer, 101 3d

10 Norwich, (now New Berlin,)

30 1st Unadilla, (now Butternutts,)

17 Richfield, (now Exeter,)

22 Stuart's Patent, (now 1st Otsego,)

21 Schuyler,

'John Hammond, 63 Charlestown,

Elijah Herrick, 24 Fairfield, Palatine,

Joel Butler,

31 2d Unadilla, (now Otego,)

15 Otsego,

12 Churches, 13; Ministers, 5; Members, 424.

Elds. Cornell and Finch, delegates from Shaftsbury Asso. ciation, took seats with the brethren. Adjourned until 8 o'clock the next morning. September 3. Met pursuant to adjournment. Sermon by Eld. Cornell, from Timothy ii. 3. Proceeded to business. A plan of union for these churches was read, and unanimously adopted.

The infant churches being unsuspicious, hospitable, and eager to hear the gospel preached, were often subjected to imposition from artful and designing men, claiming to be Baptist ministers, who, dangerous in principle, and corrupt in practice, had already obtruded themselves upon the new settlements, and shamefully abused their confidence. It was therefore thought indispensable to devise some efficient means for preventing a repetition of such impositions, and preserve the churches from farther contamination, Eld. Joseph Cornell was accordingly appointed to examine the churches and ministers concerning their faith and practice.

The churches and ministers already mentioned, being found to agree in judgment and heart, unanimously resolved to consider themselves at this

and future meetings as an associa. tion, by the name of the Otsego Association. The visiting elders and brethren gave them fellowship. A correspondence was opened with the Shaftsbury and Danbury Associations, and a vote was passed to meet annually on the first Wednesday in September, at 10 o'clock, A. M.

This being the first interview of the kind ever enjoyed in this wilderness, it was one of intense interest. The presence of the great Jehovah was deeply felt, and the souls of his people expanded with joy. Some, who came to the meeting with a resolution to oppose the forming of an Association, were constrained to acknowledge that God was there; their opposition ceased, and their souls melted in the pleasure occasioned by the union of their infant churches. Indeed, it was a delightful scene to behold these little flocks scattered throughout this extensive region, coming up out of the wil. derness, evidently led by the good Shepherd to associate together in this capacity, and thereby exhibit what the Lord had done, and what He was still to do, in this once howling desert. Thus in weakness, with much fear and trembling, and amid trials of the most distressing character, was the foundation laid, on which a glorious superstructure has been raised in western New York.

In a review of what God did for his people in this hitherto uncultivated country, we are reminded of the prediction of the rise and progress of the kingdom of Christ, Psalm lxxii, 16 and 9 verses : 66 There shall be a handfull of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains ; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him, and his enemies shall lick the dust."

After a sermon delivered before the Association, by Eld. Joel Butler, from these words, “That they may be one," the

following lines, composed by him, were introduced, as expressive of the feelings of the brethren :

“One is our God, who reigns above,
And one our Savior whom we love ;
One is the faith; the Spirit one,
That brings us round Jehovah's throne ;
One hope we have, one race we run
To our eternal, shining home :
One is our Guide, and one the way,
That leads to shining fields of day;
And one the song of praise we sing
To our eternal, glorious King."

The second anniversary of the Otsego Association was holden at Burlington, Sept. 7 and 8, 1796. The introductory sermon, by Eld. J. Butler, was from John xvii. 22. The letters were read, and the following account was taken: Dismissed, 3; excluded, 6 ; died, 2; added, 318; total, 653. Four churches and four ministers were added at this sessionFranklin, Aurelius, Scipio, and 1st Litchfield ; Eld. James Bacon, Peter P. Roots, David Irish, and John Bostwick.

The third session was holden at Fairfield, on the first Wednesday in Sept., 1797. Eld. James Bacon preached the introductory sermon from John xv. 16. The letters furnished the following account: Dismissed, 55 ; excluded, 11; died, 5; added, 358; total number, 1,054. The churches added this year were ad Litchfield, Kortright, Paris, North Burlington, 2d Richfield, Augusta, Whitestown, and 1st Hamilton; and Elds. Stephen Parsons, Hezekiah Eastman, and Warner Lake, were received as ministers.

The fourth session was held at Franklin, Sept. 5 and 6, 1798. The introductory sermon, by Eld. Stephen Parsons, was from Romans x. 13, 14, 15. The following statistics were furnished by the letters: Dismissed, 20; excluded, 40; died, 8; added, 308; total, 1,292. The churches added were 2d Norwich, Pompey, and Oxford; the ministers were Elds. Stephen Taylor and Simeon Smith.

The fifth anniversary of the Association was held at Exeter, on the 4th and 5th of Sept., 1799. Eld. Furman preached the introductory discourse, from 2 Cor. v. 20. The letters presented the following summary: Dismissed,

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