The Baptist Church:
By Rev. D. Macarthur
Clinton ,----The first Baptist Church of Clinton, Ills., was organized February 1st., 1839, in
the house of George L. Hill. The following ministers and brethren constituted the council who
was called upon for the purpose of assisting in the organization of the church, viz: Rev.
Johnathon Mirriam, Rev. Isaac Newell, and brethren William Randolph and Jacob Coppenbarger.
The usual proceedings, in such cases, were had, and the church was duly organized according to
the usages of the Baptist denomination. The names of the constituent members were, Rev. Joel
Hulsey, George L. Hill. William Hulsey, John McAboy, Polly Hulsey, Elizabeth Hulsey Louisa V.
Hill, Mary McAboy, and Sarah F. Hickman. Brother George L. Hill was the efficient church clerk
for a number of years, to him, in fact, the church owes to a great extent, its existence and
present standing in the community. The following named Pastors have served the church, Rev. Joel
Hulsey, from February 1839 to December 1841; Rev. William McPherson, from January 1842 to May
1854, Rev. Lucias H. Gibbs, from June, 1854 to August 1854; Rev. Zenas Hall, from December,
1854 to February, 1855; Rev. Thomas Rees, from June 1855 to November 1856; Rev. Overton Ely,
preached occasionally the church for some time; Rev... W.G. Johnson was pastor from June, 1857
to April, 1859; Rev. J.Z. Zimmerman, from June, 1860 to April 1861; Rev. H.B. Johnson, from
June, 1861 to March 1862; Rev. D. MacArthur, from July, 1865 to March 1870; Rev. C. A. Quirell,
from March, 1870 to June, 1871; Rev. J. W. Rees, from Sept. 1871 to March 1873; Rev. J. Storrs,
from Aug. 1873 to Dec. 1873; Rev. L.J. Huntly, from Jan. 1874 to April 1874; Rev. Joseph H.
Sedgewick, from Oct. 1874 to Dec. 1876; Rev. D. MacArthur, from September 1877 to October 1881;
Rev. J. W. Estey, an evangelist, held a protracted meeting, which resulted in great and
permanent good to the community and the church, in the year 1859. A house of worship was
erected early in the history of the church. In 1866 the church resolved to build a new meeting
house, the result was, the present commodious building,seating capacity about two hundred. The
building. The building and lots cost $7000, all paid for, The church at present is out of debt.
Considering the financial condition of the memebership of the church, they may be said, to give
cheerfully and liberally for the maintenance of the church at home, and also to the various
benevolent enterprises of the denomination at large. The present membership is fifty-five.
This church has sustained an efficient Sunday School since the year 1859; there is at present
a membership of 140 scholars. The present Superintendent, Benjamin T. Hill, is doing a great
amount of good, he is aided by an efficient force of teachers. The following statement may be
accepted as the historical characteristics of the Baptist denomination in the United States.
The Baptist are a denomination of evangelical Christians, who hold that the immersion of
Christians believers is of universal obligation, and practice accordingly. "They hold this,
because they acknowledge no master but Christ; no rule of faith but His word; no baptism but
that which preceded and hallowed by personal piety; no church but that which is the body of
Christ, pervaded, governed and animated by His Spirit." Ever since the church and State were
first united, the Baptists have suffered every form of persecution on account of their loyalty
to the doctrine of soul liberty. The historian Bancroft, speaking of the German Baptist, says:
"With greater consistency that Luther, they applied the doctrines of reformations to the social
positions of life, and threatened an end of priest-craft and king-craft, spiritual domination,
title and vassalage. They were trodden under foot with foul reproches and most arrogant scorn,
and their history is written in the blood of thousands of the German peasantry; but their
principles, secure on their immortality, escaped with Roger Williams to Providence, his colony
is witness that naturally the paths of the Baptist are paths of freedom,pleasantness and peace."
Mr. Locke has truly said; "The Baptist were from the beginning, the friends of liberty, just
and true liberty; equal and impartial liberty." Yet, until the Quakers arose in 1660, the
Baptist stood alone in its defence. A writer in the New American Cylopedia, says "Among the
Baptist, Christian freedom found its earliest, its staunchest, its most consistent and most
disinterested champions. Nor less powerful has been the influence of the in the United States.
Introduced into Rhode Island with Roger Williams and John Cook, in 1638. Their history for more
than a century in most of the colonies is that of proscribed and banished men, yet persecuted
themselves, it is their glory to never to have persecuted others." On the code of laws
established by them in Rhode Island, Judge Story says:"We read for the fist time, since
Christianity ascended the throne of the Caesars declaration that conscience should be free, and
men should not be punished for worshiping God in the way they were persuaded he requires." From
that declaration Rhode Island has never departed, and in this it was followed, first by
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, after-wards Virginia, and since by all the United States. The
article on religious liberty in the amendment to the American Constitution, was introduced into
it by the united efforts of Baptist in the year 1789. The new impulse given to the spirit of
liberty by the revolutionary war was followed by the rapid spread of Baptist principles.
Their great prosperitydates from that era. In 1762 there was but 56 Baptist churches in America;
In 1792 there were 1,000; in 1812, 2433; in 1832 5,322; in 1852 they exceeded 9,500; in 1858
there were 12,000 churches with 1,000,000 members. At the present time, statistics of 1880,
there were 25,000 churches, 18,596 ordained ministers and 2,296,327 members. From these
statistics it appears that the rate of increase of the Baptist far outruns that of the
population of the United States. And the rates of increase have been the greatest in
Massachusetts and Virginia, where they were most persecuted. The Baptists are ardent supporters
of the cause of missions both home and foreign. They are sustaining missions in North America,
Europe,Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Islands of the Sea. In the province of Burmah alone,
they have 400 mission churches, 200 ordained ministers with over 30,000 members, all converted
from the grossest idolatry.
There has been given by the Baptist churches in the United States for the support of Home and
Foreign Missions during the year1880, $885,486. While the Baptist do not make educational
attainments a test of fitness for ministry, yet they have always encouraged their candidates
for ministry to secure the highest possible attainments in scholarship. Hence, in order to
provide such advantages, they are sustaining 10 Theological Seminaries, 31 Colleges and
Universities, 46 Academies and Female Colleges, with an attendance in all over 10,000 students.
They also support 70 religious newspapers and periodicals. End.