1844: Rev. Henry Jones Ripley to Rev. Erastus Adkins

This letter was written by Rev. Henry J. Ripley, an American clergyman, born in Boston, Mass., June 28, 1798, died at Newton Centre, May 21, 1875. He graduated at Harvard college in 1816, studied theology at Andover, was ordained in Boston in 1819, and became pastor of the North Newport Baptist church, in Liberty co., Ga. In 1826 he was appointed professor of Biblical literature and pastoral duties in the Newton theological institution, Mass.; in 1833, when the duties of the professorship were divided, he became professor of Biblical literature and interpretation, and afterward of sacred rhetoric and pastoral duties. He resigned in 1860. He published “Memoir of Rev. Thomas S. Winn” (Boston, 1824); “An Examination of Prof. Stuart’s Essay on the Mode of Baptism ” (1833); “Notes on the Four Gospels” (2 vols., 1837-8); “Notes on the Acts of the Apostles” (1844); “Sacred Rhetoric, or Composition and Delivery of Sermons” (1849); “Notes on the Epistle to the Romans ” (1857); “Church Polity” (1867); and “Notes on Hebrews ” (1868).

The letter was written to Rev. Erasus Adkins, born on 7 December 1805 in Greenfield, NY and died on 27 October 1890 in Tecumseh, MI. He was a professor of Greek at Richmond College and Marietta College, a professor of English at Shurtleff College, Ill. and served briefly as their acting president. He was a Bible translator, Pastor, scholar, author. Erastus married Martha Hill Shaw, the daughter of Soranus Shaw and Priscilla Clark.

Stampless Cover



Addressed to Mr. E. Adkins, Newport, Ohio

Newton Centre, Massachusetts
May 10, 1844

My dear Brother,

I am happy in being able to say that I have just completed reviewing the last proof of sheet of your essay. The printing has proceeded very slowly for several reasons; partly on account of the printer’s sickness for some ten days, and partly on account of my absence in attending the meeting of the Triennial Convention.

The book will be a pretty little volume of 164 pages. I trust you will have reason for joy in publishing it. Your name does not appear on the title page. The publishers concluded that your place of residence might not to be mentioned, as your name was kept back. I doubt not the publisher will soon have the whole edition printed and ready for delivery.

Macte virtute. Peace be with you.

Truly yours, — H. J. Ripley


Triennial Convention (General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions). The Convention was called “Triennial” because the national convention met every three years. Members of the denomination were called American Baptists or Triennial Baptists. (Barkley, McBeth). The Philadelphia Baptist Association’s headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became the Triennial Convention’s headquarters.

The Triennial Convention was affiliated with a number of seminaries and universities to support Baptist education. By the 19th century, the Philadelphia and other northern associations required their ministers to have seminary or university education. This created a knowledgeable clergy, but it blocked some would-be aspirants to the ministry. Triennial Baptist ministers were ordained by local congregations and by regional associations. Regional ordination helped create consensus about appropriate ministerial qualifications, but it also contradicted the Philadelphia Confession and limited the role of the local congregation (Johnson).

While the Triennial Baptists supported Christian education, Christian morality, they supported public education and separation of church and state, and opposed state-sponsored churches. None of the state-sponsored churches in the United States were Baptist. The Triennial Baptists helped abolish states’ sponsoring of churches in the United States in the early 19th century.

The Triennial Convention took no position on slavery. This moderate position allowed both abolitionists and slavery supporters to remain in the denomination. The majority of Triennial Baptists in the Northeast opposed slavery, while the growing number of Triennial Baptists in the Southeast supported slavery. The abolitionists helped abolish slavery in the northern states in the early 19th century.

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