Posted: 15 Feb 2015 04:03 PM PST
Dr. Richard Furman
When church membership meant something
On Feb 16, 1750, Oliver Hart began his ministry in Charleston, S.C. at the Baptist church that was established when William Screven led his congregation to flee when they were persecuted in Kittery, Maine. Richard Furman who later became pastor, began his term of service in 1787. Following are some of the terms of church membership for the Charleston church at that time. Possibly the pendulum had swung too far to the right by then, but who can deny that in these days of “anything goes religion”, the pendulum has swung too far to the left, and in many instances, church membership has almost become meaningless. They had three main rules for church membership. First they were to notify the pastor of their desire for membership in time before the next communion seasons so that he could appoint the deacons or any other of the brethren that he may think proper, to visit the candidate to obtain needful information concerning their faith, character and life. The second phase involved a period where appointed people would spend a time of fellowship with the prospective members to become better acquainted with them. The third step would be a face to face meeting with the congregation where they would have the opportunity to ask the candidate any questions concerning their faith and repentance, etc. If all was well, they would then be baptized and admitted to all of the privileges of the church. Or they would accept them on receiving a letter of recommendation from the church from where they had come – The date was 1828.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 95-97.
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Colby College Today
They were balanced in their doctrine
Thomas Francis served on a committee on Sept. 26, 1811, to petition the General Court in the District of Maine to establish a school of higher learning among the Baptists. When Maine became a State, the Maine Literary and Theological Institute became Colby College. Francis served the Baptist church at Leeds as pastor and the following report was sent to the Association upon his death. “Our meetings are fully attended, we have many refreshing seasons; have a neat and comfortable house of worship; we stand fast in doctrine, neither Antinomian [Hyper-Calvinism] nor Arminian.” Francis had apprenticed as a youth to a physician but ran off to sea and came to America. The ship wrecked off the coast of Maine and Thomas along with some of the sailors found shelter in the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Stinchfield. Later, at Leeds, Maine Francis was saved while reading the scriptures and began to teach others. Some Methodist preachers came to minister but Thomas along with a few in the group were not satisfied with their doctrine of “falling from grace” and left. James Potter, a Baptist preacher, hearing of the group, came and baptized Francis in 1795 and it wasn’t long until he became pastor of a Baptist church in Leeds. The Lord had turned the seventeen year old runaway around and made him a useful servant of Christ. [Henry S. Burrage, History of the Baptists in Maine (Portland, Maine: Marks Printing House, 1904), p 137.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, pp. 527-29.
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Fox founded the Sunday school
William Fox called a meeting on August 30, 1785, for the purpose of organizing a “Sunday School Society.” He must be considered the architect behind the Bible-centeredSunday school of modern times. It was resolved unanimously “that it is the opinion of this meeting that great benefit would accrue to the community at large from the adoption of such a measure, and that a Society be formed for carrying the same into immediate effect.” Fox was a Baptist layman, “who was a godly member of the Baptist church in Prescott street, where he enjoyed the able and spiritual ministry of the eminent Abraham Booth,“ However, the concept of having Sunday school just for children has added to the lack of emphasis on adult training in the Sunday school hour in Great Britain and Canada. Historians commonly agree that prior to Fox and his Bible hour on Sunday, it was the Anglican, Robert Raikes of Glouchester, England, that actually started the “Sunday school” in 1780. However it had no special spiritual significance, it had social benefits for underprivileged boys who were working during the week in the sweat shops. Raikes hired teachers to instruct the lads in reading and writing. There were no child labor laws in England and these children were not privileged to receive an education. What Raikes did surely was of great benefit, but as Mary, what Fox chose was surely “that good part which shall not be taken away from him.” When we think of the impact of the Sunday school historically on America, we cannot help but pause and thank God for the vision of William Fox. Missionaries are serving around the world and pastors here in our own land.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 358-59.
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The first Baptist missions society in America
Dr. Thomas Baldwin on August 29, 1802, co-authored the call for the establishment of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society. In 1803 he became editor of the “Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine” and served until his death. Dr. Baldwin received a letter from Adoniram Judson in February, 1813 in which he wrote, “Should there be formed a Baptist Society for the support of missions in these parts, I shall be ready to consider myself their missionary!” Baldwin immediately invited several leading pastors from Mass. to meet and confer on the matter. The result was the organization of a temporary society to assist the Judson’s until such time the Baptists nationally could rally forces for the undertaking. Ultimately, with the formation of “The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the U.S. for Foreign Missions,” Dr. Baldwin served as secretary. Thomas Baldwin was born on Dec. 23, 1753, in Bozrah, CT. When he was 17, he received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and soon declared in favor of Baptist doctrine. He severed ties with his denomination in which he had been raised and therefore many of his friends severed ties with him. Upon moving to Canaan, NH, Baldwin, though young was chosen to represent his village as a legislator in the General Court of the State. However in due time he surrendered for the ministry and on June 11, 1783, Baldwin was ordained and for seven years pastored the Baptist church in Canaan, CT. In 1790 he was installed as pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church of Boston, Mass. A great revival broke out under his leadership with 212 added in 1803.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 356-57.
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238 – August 26 – This Day in Baptist History Past
First Baptist – NY City-1800
He had no fear of the yellow fever
Benjamin Foster who had been the pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City since 1788, died of yellow fever on August 26, 1798. The disease had reached epidemic proportions in New York City that year, and when the dreadful disease began to prevail, Pastor Foster was frequent in his visits to pray and give comfort from God’s Word to those scenes of affliction from which many of the best men shrunk back with terror. Foster was born into a typical pious Congregationalist home in Danvers, Mass. At age 18 he was sent to Yale College where he distinguished himself by his out-standing moral life as well as his success in classical literature and languages – Greek, Hebrew and Chaldean. At this time there was much debate over the scriptural mode and candidates for baptism. At one point Foster was chosen to defend infant baptism in debate. He carefully studied the scriptures and the history of the church from the times of the apostles and to his surprise and chagrin of others, came to a different conclusion than what was expected. When the day came, he declared himself an avowed convert to believer’s baptism, and that only those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are to be the subject of baptism, and that immersion only is the mode of Christian baptism. He was soon baptized and joined the Baptist church in Boston, and under the pastoral care of Samuel Stillman he studied theology. He pastored the Baptist church in Leicester, Mass, where he was ordained and then the Baptist church in Newport, RI. On his tomb in a NY cemetery it says, “…the church was comforted by his life, and now laments his death.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 352-53.
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The First Swedish Baptist Church in America
Rev. Gustaf Palmquist became the first pastor at the founding of the first Swedish Baptist church in America at Rock Island, Illinois on August 13, 1852. It consisted of only three members, two men and one woman. It had been commissioned by the Baptist church at Galesburg, IL where Palmquist, formerly a Lutheran, had been baptized in 1852 and ordained. The true honor however must go to Palmquist’s dear mother. Gustaf was born on May 26, 1812, into a family of seven children during a time of great spiritual dearth in Sweden. His mother came under deep conviction and turned to the parish priest who told her that her piety was sufficient. Having no peace she turned to an old widow who was considered spiritually odd who pointed her to Christ. Mrs. Palmquist began earnestly praying for the salvation of her children, though Gustaf and his brother Per did not come to full assurance until eight years after their mothers death. By now, at 32, Gustaf was a professor in a teachers’ college in Stockholm, and his vocal witness brought him into contact with F.G. Hedberg of Finland and Rev. F.O. Nilsson, the exiled Baptist preacher. In Helsingland in northern Sweden, there was a group of believers who, in an attempt to escape persecution, determined to imigrate to America. They asked Gustaf to go with them as their pastor which he did and they landed in N.Y. in August of 1851. He was soon disheartened to learn that his flock was scattered over three states so he went westward and settled in Rock Island, Illinois. He heard of a wonderful moving of the Spirit of God in the Baptist church in Galesburg and went to examine it for himself. This is where he was baptized and ordained into the ministry.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 332-34.
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“…And he That Loveth Son or Daughter More Than Me is Not Worthy of Me.”
Helen Maria Griggs was saved, baptized and joined a Baptist church in Brookline, Massachusetts on August 11, 1822. When a small girl Helen had been very sick, and her mother had prayed that if God spared her life that she would give her without reservation unto God’s will. When Helen told her mother that God had called her to go to Burma, her mother was fully willing for the Lord’s direction. However the Board had never sent a single lady out alone. But the Lord of the harvest was working behind the scenes, and Francis Mason, a student at Newton Theological Institution met Miss Griggs.
He too planned to go to Burma, and after a courtship of nearly five months, they were married on May 23, 1830 and their honeymoon was spent on board ship as they sailed the next day for Burma. Their trip took 122 days before they arrived at Calcutta. Mrs. Mason’s health provided problems for the missionary couple, but whenever possible, she labored beside her husband. She became proficient in the Burmese and Karen languages and was able to teach and write in both. But the matter of leaving her children came to pass after a furlough in the States. Many in the homeland criticized Mrs. Mason, and she was charged with having “no more affection than a Sandwich Island mother.” Editors of Christian periodicals had to go to her defense, and in a short time a drastic change for the better took place in public opinion.
Four years later when Mrs. Grover Comstock left for Burma and parted from her children, an announcement was made in the newspaper under the caption, “The Noble Mother.” The Lord took Helen to Himself at forty years of age on Oct. 8, 1846.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 330-31.
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As the son of Charles CIay I fear no man
Elder Eleazer Clay was born August 04, 1744, a rugged Virginian, and when just a boy of 14, he enlisted in the army and fought in the French and Indian War. He moved to Chesterfield County and married Miss Jane Apperson. It was here that he came under deep conviction of sin as a result of the preaching of William Webber, Joseph Anthony, and John Weatherford, who preached through the prison grates. Clay made his profession of faith in Christ in Aug. of 1771, and became a member of the Baptist church, and was soon preaching the gospel of Christ. Col. Cary, magistrate of the county said that he left Elder Clay alone and arrested others for preaching because Clay had a livelihood, and he took the others under the “vagrant law.” Clay was probably the richest preacher in Virginia. He used his wealth to help the other preachers in prison and to build a Baptist meetinghouse that he planted as the first Baptist church in Chesterfield, County. He was not without enemies. A man rode into the yard where he was preaching in a private house and said that he had come to “cowhide him.” Clay said, “I am the son of Charles Clay, and I fear no man. If I have to go out after him, I will give him one of the worst whippings of his life.” Obviously the gentleman didn’t accomplish his objective. Clay pastored the church that he planted for over sixty-years. He loved the Word of God and read his New Testament once each month in addition to his O.T. reading. He went to be with the Lord at 92 years of age. His brother John Clay was one of the imprisoned preachers of Virginia and the great Kentucky statesman Henry Clay was his nephew.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 319-20.
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The man who had two conversions
John Comer experienced two conversions, one involving salvation and one, sanctification. Comer was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on Aug. 1, 1704, during a time that it was not unusual for Congregationalists and Baptists to be a member of the same Congregational church. In this case Comer’s pastor was the famed Dr. Increase Mather. He occasionally had serious concerns for his soul. Then he caught what he called the “distemper” in which he said that he was unprepared for death with no sight of a reconciled God, or any application of the soul-cleansing blood of Christ “to my distressed soul.” Finally he heard the words, “Thou shalt not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.” He had a glorious conversion to Christ and did indeed live. After his recovery he pursued his education at Cambridge and joined the Congregational church. He believed that it was wrong for a friend, Ephraim Crafts to join the Baptist church in Boston and debated with him on the issue of baptism. However he had a change of mind but kept silent. Another close call with death of a very dear friend, and a violent storm at sea, “brought eternity directly near him in the words of Christ, “whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of His father, with the holy angels.” After that he was baptized and went on to pastor and co-pastor several churches in New-England during a period of spiritual dearth. He succeeded in bringing order to some in the area of the ordinances and practices, including public singing. His heart stirring preaching increased attendance in the weaker churches. He was a “way preparer” before great things came later.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 315-16.
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The importance of a godly wife
Only eternity can reward the wives of the great preachers of the past such as the godly wife of Benjamin Keach, who at 28 years of age, was called to pastor the Baptist church at Horsleydown London in 1668. This holy lady, who had borne him five children in ten years, died in 1670, and Keach wrote a poem in her memory entitled “A Pillar Set Up.” In this poem he gave her a very great and noble character, commending her for her zeal for the truth, sincerity in religion, uncommon love to the saints, and her content in whatsoever condition of life God was pleased to bring her to. He particularly observes, how great an help, and comfort, she was to him in his suffering for the cause of Christ, visiting, and taking all possible care of him while in prison, instead of tempting him to use any means for delivery out of his troubles, encouraging him to go on, and counting it an honor done them both, in that they were called to suffer for the sake of Christ. He also said that some acknowledged that their conversion to God was thro’ the conversation that they had with her.” Two years after her death, he married a widow of extraordinary piety with whom he lived thirty-two years. Susanna Partridge bore him five daughters, the youngest of whom married Thomas Crosby, a renowned Baptist historian. After the death of Keach, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, and Crosby wrote of her, “She lived with me…the last twenty years of her life. I must say, that she walked before God in truth, and with a perfect heart, and did that which was good in His sight. She lived in peace, without spot and blameless.” Many godly wives saw their husbands pilloried, imprisoned, and treated roughly, and the encouragement of these women provided the strength that kept them strong. Keach died July 18, 1704. Joseph Stennett preached from, “I know whom I have believed.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From this Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 294-95.
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