THE CHURCH IN PORTSMOUTH AND NORFOLK, VIRGINIA.
In the year 1789, there were a few members in Portsmouth and its vicinity, who were of the Baptist society, but were members in the church at Shoulders's Hill. Through the instrumentality of Elders Elijah Baker, Thomas Armistead and others, there were several added in Portsmouth and Norfolk. After which, the members petitioned the Association, then held in the Isle of Wight, to send helps to constitute them into a church. Whereupon Elders John Meglamre and David Barrow were sent; who, when attending, called to their assistance Elders Elijah Baker, William Morris, Thomas Armistead, James M'Clenny and Etheldred Lancaster. A covenant being formed by a committee appointed for that purpose, was read in conference, consented to and subscribed by the members. They were constituted on the principles of Free-grace. Elder Thomas Armistead took the care of this church, and his labors were blest for a season.
In the year 1791, there came from Europe a certain Mr. Frost, in the habit of a Baptist preacher, who at first seemed to be approved of, but soon began to deny the faith of the church, and preach the doctrines of free-will, supposing man had power to work himself into a state of favor with God. This man caused great uneasiness in the church. The brethren appointed a committee to wait upon him and try to gain him over to embrace the principles of the church; but he remained incorrigible. The church appointed another committee to go and try to silence him, but could not prevail. He said he had a meeting to attend the Wednesday night following; and he should preach. But the Lord interfered in behalf of his distressed church, for when Frost went to preach again, and took his text, which was, "He shall thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner; and coming to the words "purge his floor," his tongue failed; he cried, "Let us pray," but sunk on his knees, and spoke not another word. He was dead in less than three hours. Thus did God avenge his suffering church in these towns, for this fox was spoiling the tender grapes.1
1Taken from Burkitt, Lemuel, 1750-1806; Read, Jesse; Burkitt, Henry Lemuel, b. 1818. A concise history of the Kehukee Baptist association, from its original rise down to 1803. (Kindle Locations 2882-2900). Philadelphia, Lippincott, Grambo and co.