On the other hand, the Regulars complained, that the Separates were not sufficiently explicit in their principles, having never published or sanctioned any confession of faith; and that they kept within their communion many who were professed Arminians. To these things it was answered by the Separates, that a large majority of them believed as much in their confession of faith, as they did themselves, although they did not entirely approve of the practice of religious societies binding themselves too strictly by confessions of faith, seeing there was danger of their finally usurping too high a place: that if there were some among them, who leaned too much to the Arminian system, they were generally men of exemplary piety, and great usefulness in the Redeemer’s kingdom; and they conceived it better to bear with some diversity of opinion in doctrines, than to break with men, whose Christian deportment rendered them amiable in the estimation of all true lovers of genuine godliness. Indeed, that some of them had now become fathers in the gospel, who, previous to the bias which their minds had received, had borne the brunt and heat of persecution, whose labors and sufferings God had blessed, and still blessed, to the great advancement of his cause — to exclude such as these from their communion, would be like tearing the limbs from the body.
These and such like arguments, were agitated both in publick and private, so that all minds were much mollified, before the final and successful attempt for union was made. The terms of the union were entered on the minutes in the following words, viz.
“The committee appointed to consider the terms of union with our Regular Brethren, Reported, That they conceive the manner in which the Regular Baptist confession of faith has been received by a former Association, is the ground-work for such union.” The manner of this reception was, that they should retain their liberty with regard to the construction of some of its objectionable articles.
After considerable debate, as to the propriety of having any confession of faith at all, the report of the committee was received with the following explanation:
“To prevent the confession of faith from usurping a tyrannical power over the conscience of any, we do not mean, that every person is bound to the strict observance of every thing therein contained; yet that it holds forth the essential truths of the gospel, and that the doctrine of salvation by Christ, and free and unmerited grace alone, ought to be believed by every Christian, and maintained by every minister of the gospel. Upon these terms we are united, and desire hereafter, that the names Regular and Separate be buried in oblivion; and that from henceforth, we shall be known by the name of the United Baptist Churches, in Virginia.”
This union took place at a time when a revival of religion had commenced which soon burst forth on the right hand and on the left, throughout the State, “and nothing,” says Mr. Semple, their historian, “could be more salutary than this conjunction of dissevered brethren, and the accommodating temper of the parties by which it was effected; and they have, from that period to the present time, most fully demonstrated, that it was an union of hearts as well as parties.”
Benedict, D. (1813). A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America. Roger Williams Heritage Archives.