“the Great, the Incomparable”
Abel Morgan, was born at Welsh Tract, April 18, 1713, and educated near by, at Pencader Academy, kept by Rev. Thomas Evans. He was ordained at Welsh Tract in 1734, and was called to the Middletown Church, New Jersey, which he served as Pastor till’ his death in the seventy-third year of his age. In 1772 he was Moderator of the Philadelphia Association, the celebrated Dr. James Manning being Clerk at the same time. Previously, Mr. Morgan served as Clerk. It was in 1774, upon his suggestion, that the Circular Letter was adopted by the Philadelphia Association for the first time. He was among the most noted Baptist ministers of his day. Dr. Samuel Jones calls him “the great, the incomparable Abel Morgan” (Benedict, p. 582). The same writer (p. 209) says: He “is the oldest writer I can find among the American Baptists in defense of their sentiments. Between this learned writer and Rev. Samuel Finley, a Presbyterian minister, then of Nottingham, Pennsylvania, a dispute appears to have arisen, which was carried on with much spirit on both sides for a number of years.” The Reverend Samuel Finley, who became president of Princeton College, challenged Pastor Morgan to a discussion relating to baptism. Finley wrote a pro-pedobaptist treatise, A Charitable Plea for the Speechless, and Abel Morgan replied with his Anit-Paedo Rantism; or, Refuted, the Baptism of Believers Maintained and the Mode of It by Immersion Vindicated. This treatise was printed in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1747.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: William Catchcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988, pp. 814-815.
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The Welsh revival spreads to America
The Philadelphia Association of Regular Baptists began meeting as early as 1688, in what they called general, and some-times yearly meetings. The business of these meetings was confined to the ministry of the Word and the administration of the gospel ordinances. But at their meeting July 27, 1707 they seem to have taken more the form of an association, therefore this is the date that historians use for the founding of the Philadelphia Association. The members and ministers that made up these churches came from the great Welsh migration in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Such leaders as Jenkins Jones, Abel Morgan, and Samuel Jones brought with them their tradition of great preaching, love of singing, and warm and fervent evangelism. They were a feeble, though faithful, band of believers at that time, consisting of but five churches: Lower Dublin, Piscataqua, Middletown, Cohansie, and Welsh Tract. There were only 14 Baptist churches in all of the colonies at that time. Some things that were discussed in their meeting were things wanting in the churches especially pertaining to who was not to preach in their associational meetings. “…a person that is a stranger, that has neither letter of recommendation, nor is known to be a person gifted, and of good conversation, shall not be admitted to preach, nor be entertained as a member in any of the baptized congregations in communion with each other.” They were careful to emphasize that they desired no creed and that a “Gospel church is the highest earthly ecclesiastical tribunal and is in no wise subject to any other church, or the decrees of associations or councils. They believed strongly in the sovereignty of God, but kept a fiery spirit of evangelism.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 307-09.