76 – March 17 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


76 – March 17    Baptists and the Land of the Free

What an important date March 17, 1644, is for American freedom.  It was on that date that Roger Williams obtained a free and absolute charter, entitled “The Incorporation of Providence Plantation, in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England.”  The influence of our godly Baptist forefathers created in Rhode Island the only one of the  thirteen original colonies that featured total religious freedom!  Nine of the thirteen colonies maintained a State church, and others such as Pennsylvania and Maryland offered partial religious freedom, but only Rhode Island granted complete religious liberty.  Though Baptists have been persecuted by many wherever they have existed, they have never persecuted others.  When laying the cornerstone of the great Metropolitan Tabernacle I London, Mr. Spurgeon stated: “Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man.  We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.”  Historically Baptists have always held to the principle of voluntarism, and as a result, they would rather provide total religious freedom than to dictate the religious persuasion of another.  Baptists have ever championed a free church in a free state.  Unfortunately today the Baptists reach out their hands to readily join with the state and are no longer the free people our forefathers fought and died for, “Soul Liberty.”

Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III”  David L. Cummins. pp. 157 –  158

 

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