FREEDOM EXISTED IN NAME ONLY
1638 – Conditions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had become intolerable for any who held views that tended toward liberty of conscience or baptism for believers only. Isaac Backus stated that the Massachusetts Court ruled that if any group wanted to meet and establish a church they had to first have the approval of the magistrates and the other ministers in the area. If you did not get approval you were not admitted to the “freedom of the Commonwealth”. There was great controversy. The House of Deputies was dissolved and reappointed to suit the ministers. Pastors, men, women and children were banished from the colonies and others were put to death as heretics. Massachusetts made a law that everyone was taxed to pay for the support of religious ministers, even though they had no vote in choosing them. Under this terrible influence. John Clarke, the Baptist preacher, his brother Joseph, and many others moved away to Rhode Island. On March 7, 1638, they entered into a Covenant to incorporate themselves into a body politic, submitting everything to God and following His absolute laws as guide and judge. Backus stated, when they could not find laws to govern themselves in the New Testament, they returned to the laws of Moses and elected a Judge and three Elders to rule over them. On March 12, 1640, they changed their plan of government and elected a governor and four assistants until they came under a Charter from England at a later time. It becomes very clear that any government of men is as fallible as the men who govern, and that the trials and errors of the colonies, endeavoring to set up systems of government to guarantee order and yet give the people governed liberty of conscience, resulted in a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that brought the leaders as well as the people under the law. Our Constitution was not thrown together but was born after much travail by millions of people over hundreds of years of suffering. God bless America.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 94-95.
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A FAITHFUL SERVANT – PAIN AND SUFFERING ASIDE
1754 – Caleb Blood, born in Charlton, Massachusetts, while attending a dance at 20 years old was struck with his sinfulness and gloriously converted. Because he progressed so rapidly in his knowledge and understanding of the Word of God, within a year and a half he was licensed to preach by the Baptist church in Charlton in 1776 and became an itinerant preacher. In 1777 he was ordained and served a newly formed Baptist church for four years in Marlow, New Hampshire. In 1781 he accepted a call to Pastor in Newton, Mass., where he served for seven years. During this time he was active with the Warren Association combating the doctrines of Universalism. In 1788 he accepted the Pastorate of the Fourth Baptist Church of Shaftsbury, Vermont where he served with great blessings for twenty years. During 1798-99 a great revival broke out where Blood saw great numbers added to his church. He always discouraged an excess of mere feelings and knew well the difference between the genuine operation of the Holy Spirit and mere human excitement. During this time he also traveled in missionary expansion into the northwest sections of New York and Canada. From 1791 to 1807 he also served as a Trustee for the University of Vermont. In 1807 he assumed the pastorate of the Third Baptist Church of Boston, Mass. Tragedy struck when Blood suffered a blow to his face. It looked small at first, but he suffered great physical pain the rest of his life, as well as being depressed in spirit. But he never stopped preaching even accepting his last pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Portland, Maine. He died on March 6, 1814. He had perfect peace and expressed one great desire that ministers might be faithful, souls saved, and his Master glorified. He was one of the leading Baptist ministers in Massachusetts and Vermont. He authored several tracts on the differences between Baptists and pedobaptists, another one for youth and another on marriage. During his ministry Baptists were debating the propriety of their members being allied with secret societies, such as Freemasons. Blood was one of the first early Baptists to speak out against the participation of Baptists with any secret societies.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 92-93.
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He Forsook All To Follow Christ
1557 – At Cologne on the Rhine, printer, Thomas van Imbrock, was arrested as a God-fearing man, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel. He was imprisoned and interrogated concerning his opinions on baptism and marriage. He so skillfully answered their objections with the Scriptures they stopped the questioning and moved him to another prison. His wife wrote him and exhorted him to contend for the truth in a godly manner and remain steadfast in the truth. His conscience was clear from offense before God by forsaking his wife and child, and all earthly things to follow Christ, rejoicing that God had found him worthy to suffer for His name. Two priests debated him concerning infant baptism. One believed infants who died unbaptized to be lost, the other believed they would be saved. They vehemently urged him to repent which he did not, He said, “The Scriptures teach nothing of infant baptism; and they who will be baptized according to God’s word must first be believers.” Three times they called him a heretic and brought him to the rack, but did not torture him. He was brought before a superior authority who tried to persuade him to recant. To cause someone to recant was of greater value to the oppressors of God’s truth than the martyrdom of one of His saints. This is why so much time and torture were given to persuade someone to deny his Lord, instead of just putting him to immediate death. Faithful Believers always represent that which the satanic, immoral forces of the world hate and bring forth from them the most violent and cruel conduct. Ultimately, Thomas was condemned to death by the highest court and was beheaded on March 5, 1558. He was a faithful, preserving witness of Christ and sealed his testimony with his blood at the tender age of 25 years.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 91-92.
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An Anabaptist imprisoned
March 4, 1647, the Baptists of England received some relief from persecution when the Lords and Commons published a declaration providing some religious freedom. In essence it said that even though they would wish that all would agree on the subject of “infant baptism”, it still remained a matter of time and place, therefore men should come to a reasonable conclusion from the Word of God, “…without being beaten out of it by force and violence.” This referred to the fact that early in the 17th Century, Samuel Oats, a very popular preacher went into Essex, and an adjoining country, and baptized great numbers of converts. One of those women died after she had been dipped in cold water, Oats was indicted, sent to prison for murder but acquitted by a jury. However the enmity was so great against Oats that a group of rowdies dragged him from his house and bragged that they had thoroughly dipped him. Peace was short lived however, for on May 2, 1648, The Lords and Commons rescinded the law by saying that anyone who baptizes someone formerly baptized “…(shall) be committed to prison,…until he (promise) that he will publish such errors that he will no longer do such things.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 89.
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The Ship the missionaries
Indigenous Church Method
1854 – On this date Mrs. John Sydney (Martha Foote) Beecher, was buried at sea as they were returning from the field of Burma where they had labored among the Karens. Though Beecher’s heart was broken, he continued on in his laborers though with another mission’s agency. With failing health he was forced to journey to England for treatment in September of 1866, however he died on Oct. 21, 1866. Among other things he had established a Christian school in Burma besides being an able replacement for Elisha Litchfield Abbott who he replaced in 1846. Abbott, born in New York in 1809, after being trained at the Hamilton Theological Seminary, in Hamilton, N.Y, became one of the highlights of missionary activity because of his work with the Karens of Bassein, Burma from the time he left for that field in 1836 until after the death of Mrs. Abbott in 1845. At that time, with consumption coming on him, he left for the states with his children. It was apparent to him that if he was to return to the field he would have to have an assistant. Abbott did return to Burma in 1852 but died on Dec. 3, 1854. It was Abbott who established the indigenous method of missions. He founded fifty self-supporting churches among the Karens. But it was during his first return to America that he met the young man Beecher and was able to influence him to follow in his footsteps. Beecher had planned to go west to our own nation but said that he couldn’t make a decision until consulting Martha Foote who was in Chicago, and knew that letters could not transfer between them before Abbott left. However the next day a letter came from Martha declaring that if he ever decided to go to an Eastern field, “I should lay no obstacle in your way.” Beecher accepted that as the Lord giving him the clearance to go to Burma.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 88.
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A Baptist Warrior
1793 – Samuel (Sam) Houston was born on March 2, 1793. After enlisting in the U.S. Army, he became a Lieutenant, lawyer, district attorney, adjutant general, congressman, and the governor of Tennessee. He accomplished all of this before moving to Texas in 1832, where he arrived from Virginia. Almost immediately he was elected major general of the Texas troops. When war broke out with Mexico he dealt a crushing blow to Santa Anna and won Independence for the Republic of Texas. He was elected governor of Texas in 1859. Houston’s conversion was doubtless due primarily to his wife Maggie Lea prior to 1840 but didn’t make a public profession until 1854 when he was united with the Baptist Church of Independence, Texas and was baptized by Dr. R.C. Burleson on Nov. 19 of that year. He regularly led in public prayer, was a regular attendant, even at prayer meeting service and when he lay dying at his home in Huntsville, he expressed to his family and friends his clear faith in his Savior. After Texas was admitted to the Union he served for fourteen years in the U.S. Senate. He was inaugurated governor of Texas on Dec. 21, 1859, and these became the most trying days for there was great ferment before the Civil War. Houston was in the minority for secession but the majority of the people voted to secede on Feb. 23, 1861. His office was declared vacant and he retired to his farm outside of Huntsville where he died on July 26, 1863. Today Sam Houston is one of the most revered names in Texas and in the United States.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 86.
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Congregational singing began
1640 — In that we have no leap year in 2014 we are going to use the entry of Feb. 29 on this date because of its importance to our Baptist churches. This was the day that Benjamin Keach was born into the home of John Keach of Buckinghamsire, England. By the age of 15 Benjamin became convinced of believers baptism and submitted himself to the ordinance upon his profession of faith in Christ. By the age of 18, the society of believers that he fellowshipped with saw fit to set him apart for the gospel ministry. At age twenty-eight he became pastor of the Baptist church in Horsleydown, London. In the beginning they met in homes because of the persecution but finally built a meeting house which was enlarged several times up to nearly a thousand. He wrote many treatises and apologies on the issues of his day which found him in court on many occasions. He not only differed with the state church officials but with some of his Baptist brethren relating to doctrine and practice. Baptists have always differed on non- cardinal issues. One such controversy involved congregational singing. Because of persecution, it had been necessary to avoid singing in worship until around 1680. The whole issue turned on one point, whether there was precept or example of the converted and unconverted, to join in the singing as a part of divine worship. Also they believed that those whom God gifted could sing as the heart dictated the melody but not by rhyme or written note. First they only sang at the Lord’s Supper and then later after the sermon and prayer. Some of the dissenters would leave the building and stand in the yard. Later they withdrew and started their own non-singing church, but then started singing around 1793. Thanks to Benjamin Keach and others we have congregational singing in our churches today.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 83.
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An aged man stands true
1644 – On this day William Witter of Lynn, Massachusetts was arraigned before the Salem Court for “entertaining that the baptism of infants was sinful.” Later, on Dec. 18, 1645, he was charged with saying that, “they who stayed whiles a child is baptized do worship the devil.” On June 24, 1651, he was accused of “absenting himself from the public ordinances nine months or more and for being re-baptized.” In time he united with the Baptist church in Newport, R.I. where Dr. John Clarke was pastor. However, because of his age and the fact that he was blind, it was impossible to travel that far for services, so on June 19, 1651 Pastor Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and John Crandall, as representatives of the Baptist church in Newport, upon the request of Bro. Witter, arrived at his home after walking the eighty miles in two days. Spies informed the authorities of the Mass. Bay Colony that services were conducted on Sunday morning at the Witter home without the authority of the Congregational Church, which caused the three men to be arrested and hauled away to a tavern. Then to cleanse their souls they were taken to an afternoon worship service at an established church service, and then they were imprisoned, and a great miscarriage of justice followed which ended in the brutal beating of Holmes. Witter was not arrested, no doubt because of his advanced age.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 82.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2014 07:20 PM PST
He wouldn’t bend or bow 1659 – Henry Dunster died on this date February 27, 1659. He was born in England around 1612 and came to know Christ as his savior. He graduated from Cambridge in 1630 and then received his master’s degree in 1634. He was ordained as a minister in the Church of England but was grieved with its corruption and sailed for America where he was soon installed as the President of Harvard College in 1640. In those days some in the Anglican Church practiced immersion, as did Dunster. In 1641 Dunster married a widow of a minister and took her five children as his own. Two years later she died, he remarried and she had five more. During this time he came to the conclusion that visible baptism of believers alone was correct Biblically. When he refused to have an infant son sprinkled he was indicted and put on trial and convicted for disturbing the ordinance of infant baptism. Because of these firm convictions Dunster left Cambridge. Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 80.
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