John Gifford, a Baptist Pastor…led him to Christ
November 30, 1628 – John Bunyan was born in the midst of the struggle between Christianity and infidelity. The year he was born was a great victory for freedom in the passing of the English Bill of Rights. The sum of the act was that “no man shall be taxed without the consent of Parliament, nor be arrested, imprisoned, or executed but by due course of law.” However, every attempt was made by the court (throne) to recover arbitrary power. To attain this power, horrible atrocities were perpetrated on people beyond description. Bunyan was born in the village of Elstow, one mile from Bedford. He was born into a family of Tinkers. Bunyan described them as being, “of that rank of the meanest and most despised of all the families in the land.” At a time when very few were taught to read and write his father sent him to school where John learned both but soon forgot both utterly. He gave himself over to sin, principally lying, swearing, and profaning the Sabbath. He experienced agonies of conviction. He had several brushes with death such as drowning’s and snake bite. He also served in the army and fought in the battle of Leicester. He was spared any serious injuries although he took on the wicked habits of his peers. Bunyan married a very poor, but pious, woman. She encouraged him with two books. The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven, and the Practice of Piety, and through this he regained his ability to read. Her affectionate compassion became a blessing and his rugged heart was softened and he felt alarm for the Salvation of his soul. Another woman who was loose and ungodly rebuked him for his cursing and said that his oaths made her tremble. Some women talking about the New Birth took him to John Gifford, a Baptist Pastor who led him to Christ, and the rest is history.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 499-500.
Monthly Archives: November 2012
John Gifford, a Baptist Pastor…led him to Christ
“A bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus”
November 29, 1685 – George Fownes died in the Gloucester, England jail. The faithful clerk of the Broadmead Church in Bristol inserted the event into the records of the church in the following words, “…having been kept there for Two years and about 9 months a Prisoner, unjustly and maliciously, for ye Testimony of Jesus and preaching ye Gospel, Fownes dyed. He was a man of great learning, of a sound Judgment, an able Preacher, having great knowledge in Divinity, Law, Physic, & c.; a bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus, and ye Gospel he preacht.” From the Broadmead records we discover that Pastors Thomas Ewins, Tomas Hardcastle, and George Fownes were all imprisoned unjustly for the cause of Christ. But many other Baptist ministers endured imprisonments, and some died in jail merely because of their convictions. Francis Bamfield suffered for eight years in Dorchester jail. Thomas Delaune suffered in Newgate prison. John Miller was a prisoner for ten years in Newgate. Henry Forty was incarcerated for twelve years at Exeter. Joseph Wright, a man of great piety and learning, pastored at Maidstone but was imprisoned in the common jail there for twenty years. Thomas Helwys fled to Amsterdam but in time became convinced that he and the others had been wrong to flee persecution. Believing it was his duty to return to England and witness of the truth, he went to London in 1611 with 12 of his followers and settled at Spitalfields. He appealed to the King to grant liberty of conscience and for his convictions “Newgate Prison” became his home. He died in Newgate, barely forty years of age. The Broadmead church was founded by John Canne. He was the first to prepare and publish the English Bible with marginal references.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 497-98.
He was imprisoned… for preaching without a license
November 28, 1750 – Philip Hughes was born in Colver County, Virginia. Following his conversion to Christ he was baptized by David Thompson on August 10, 1773, and three years later he was ordained into the ministry. His along with the name of Elijah Baker should be emblazoned in Baptist history as outstanding pioneers of the faith. Baker was born in Lunenburg County in 1742 and was converted under the ministry of Jeremiah Walker and baptized by Samuel Harriss in 1769. Soon Baker was preaching as an itinerate evangelist and was used in the establishing of a number of churches. He was imprisoned in Accomack County for 56 days during the Revolutionary war for preaching without a license while the colonists were fighting for civil liberty. However he preached through the prison bars and a Mr. Thomas Batston, Esq. heard him and invited him to Delaware. In order to silence him, the rude Virginians shipped him “anywhere but America.” They got tired of his preaching, praying and singing and put him on another ship, but the wind wouldn’t blow so they thought him being the problem, they put him on another. It finally put him on shore, and he was surprised to find out that he had landed in the state of Delaware. Remembering the offer, he made his way to Squire Batston’s home. The next year – 1779 – he was joined by Hughes from Virginia. They labored together as evangelists and saw many saved through faith and repentance. They were instrumental in founding 22 churches and were assisted in their efforts by ministers and laymen, in organizing churches and ordaining ministers. They were challenged by two Methodist preachers to debate on the subject of baptism and afterwards 3 Methodist class leaders were baptized and in a later debate 22 were baptized.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/ , pp. 495-97.
331 – Nov. 27 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST
Soetgen… sealed her profession of faith with her own blood
November 27, 1560 – Soetgen vanden Houte, sealed her profession of faith with her own blood in the city of Ghent in Belgium. Soetgen, a godly woman fell into the hands of the same persecutors that her husband had fallen into previously, and now she was left a widow with three children. Just prior to her death, Soetgen left a testament to her children: This is a portion of that testament. “In the name of the Lord: Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, be to you, my dear children…To you, David, Betgen, and Tanneken, written by your mother in bonds, to put you in mind of the truth, to which I hope to testify by word and by death, by the help of the Almighty, and as an example to you. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit instruct and strengthen you, that you may be nurtured in the ways of the Lord. Amen. Further my dear children, since it is pleasing to the Lord to take me out of the world, I will leave you a memento, not of silver of gold, for such jewels are perishable. I would fain inscribe a jewel in your heart were it possible-the word of truth. Thus I will a little teach you by the Word of the Lord, with my best wishes, according to the small ability I have received of the Lord, and in my simplicity,” At this point she began to exhort them to fear the Lord. Soetgen concluded by saying, “Oh! My dear children, I have written this with tears, admonishing you from love, praying for you with a fervent heart, that if it were possible, you may be found among that number (the redeemed). When your father was taken from me I did not spare myself, day or night, to bring you up… After commending the children to her family and to the Lord, Soetgen concluded her letter and was soon reunited with her husband in the presence of the Lord.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson /, pp. 494-95.
“To follow the dictates of conscience, I must be a Baptist”
November 26, 1800 – John Holcombe, and a group of Baptists that had been attending a Presbyterian church that he was pastoring in Savannah, Georgia, which they found was unworkable, constituted a Baptist church in that city. Holcombe was born in 1762 but as a child his family moved from Virginia to South Carolina. By 11 years of age he completed all the education he was to receive from a living teacher. He had a naturally inquiring mind which desired knowledge of every kind. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Holcombe was quite young, however, he was impressed with a sense of wrong done to his country and felt the stirrings of patriotism. Just passed boyhood, he entered the army and quickly demonstrated the courage and discretion that allowed him to rise to an important position. It was during this time, amidst the temptations of camp, that he made his profession of faith in Christ. His father told him that he was baptized as a Presbyterian in his infancy. After searching the scriptures on the matter, he concluded (in his own words) that “to follow the dictates of conscience, I must be a Baptist; and not conferring with flesh and blood, I rode near 20 miles to propose myself as a candidate for admission into a Baptist church. Immediately afterwards he received a license to preach the gospel and his labors were followed with uncommon blessings. He soon baptized 26 persons, including his wife Frances, her brother and mother, and shortly after, 17 more, including his father. He was also elected to the Constitutional Convention in Charleston, S.C. for ratifying the U.S. Constitution. Holcombe was vigorous in his opposition to infidelity, theatrical amusements, and other things which he regarded of evil tendency. Several times his life was in jeopardy.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 492 – 94.
Susannah was the great granddaughter of Roger Williams
November 25, 1707 – Valentine and Susannah Wightman received a summons from the County of New London, Connecticut (Groton) to appear before Richard Christopher…to answer to the charges and be dealt with as the Law directs. In 1704 a company of Dissenters petitioned the “Hounorable Court at Newhaven” that though they differed in “some Poynts of Religion” but “yet we desier to live Pesable…with our neighbors…that since it has Pleased the Almity God to put it into the hart of our grasious Queen to grant us dissenters proclaimated liberty of Conscience…and we understand that your laws requires us to Petition to you for the Settling of our Meeting…do beseech of you that you would not deny us herein…that our meeting might be…held at Will Starks in New London.” The request was ignored, and accepting silence as consent, the group of 12 dissenters called Mr. Wightman to be their pastor. The young pastor, his wife, and his two children came to Groton from Rhode Island on Sept. 6, 1707. Susannah was the granddaughter of Obadiah Holmes and the great-granddaughter of Roger Williams.The case against them was resolved on June 4, 1708, when it was proved that Wightman was in compliance with the Toleration Act of England which was in effect in America at that time. From 1712 to 1714, Wightman made regular trips to New York, and his converts were formed into a Baptist church, which became the first in New York City. In sharp opposition of the Standing Order churches he founded Baptist churches in Waterford, Lyme, Stonington, and other places. A man named Wait Palmer was converted to Baptist views under Wightman’s ministry and he baptized Shubal Sterns who became the “Father of the Separate Baptists.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/ , pp. 491-92.
“And then went on and declar’d the Marriage Covenant”
November 24, 1800 – Susanna Backus quietly departed this life, five days before her 51st wedding anniversary. Through a painful, debilitating illness, Susanna said, “I am not so much concerned with living or dying, as to have my will swallowed up in the will of God.” Susanna Mason was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, in or around 1724. Her great-grandfather had been a soldier in Oliver Cromwell’s Roundhead Army. The families were Baptists in background, and she was converted in 1745 and joined the Separate church and maintained her Baptist convictions when she married Isaac Backus. Backus, not fully persuaded of Baptist principles relating to pedobaptism at that time, became “fully persuaded” and became one of the leaders among the Baptists and exercised great influence in relation to freedom of conscience in the formation of our nation. At their wedding on Nov. 29, 1749, Isaac refused to permit any of the frivolous merrymaking which normally took place at New England marriages, because he considered it a solemn ordinance of God. The wedding took place in her father’s house and was performed by a justice of the peace as was the custom. But Isaac got permission to transform it into a religious ceremony. “Br. Shepherd read a Psalm and we Sung; then we went to prayer and the Lord did hear and Come near to us. And then I took my dear Sister Susanna by the hand and spoke Something of the Sense I had of our Standing in the presence of God, and also how that He had clearly pointed out to me this Person to be my Companion and an helper meet for me. And then went on and declar’d the Marriage Covenant: and She did the same to me…Then I read, and we sung the 101 Psalm after that I preached a Short Sermon from Acts 13:36.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/ , pp. 489-91.
He became a great scholar
November 23, 1697 – Dr. John Gill was born, who was to become an influential leader among the Particular Baptists of England during the 18th Century. He became a great scholar in Latin, Greek, logic, Rabbinical Hebrew, and the book of Zohar, with their ancient commentaries. He produced many works, including a commentary on the whole Bible. He still is acknowledged among Baptists as one of the most profound scholars. Armitage says of him, “And yet, with all his ability, he was so high a supralapsarian, that it is hard to distinguish him from an antinomian. For example, he could not invite sinners to the Savior, while he declared their guilt and condemnation, their need of the new birth; and held that God would convert such as He had elected to be saved, and so man must not interfere with His purposes by inviting men to Christ. Under this teaching His church steadily declined, and after half a century’s work he left but a mere handful.” During the same period of time, many General Baptists embraced the extreme liberalism of Arian and Socinian views fostered by the apostasy of the state churches. Between 1715 and 1750 their churches fell from 146 to 65. But the exaggerated emphasis on election and predestination dried up the springs of evangelism in the Particular Baptists and their churches were reduced from 220 to 146. This decline changed in 1750 when the spiritual awakening began to sweep England and America and men like Andrew Fuller began to emphasize the “Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” It was Fuller who held the ropes in England, while Carey descended into the pit in India. May we learn that any truth taken to an extreme by rationalistic processes will become heresy that can lead to apostasy, and that always leads to the death of evangelism.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson /, pp. 488-89.