Tag Archives: British Crown

287 – Oct. 14 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

Liberty equals peace equals churches

 

1644 – William Penn, son of Admiral William Penn of England was born. In early life he embraced the tenets of the Quaker religion, and in 1666 was imprisoned in Cork, Ireland for practicing his faith. In 1668 he was put in the Tower prison in London and again in 1671 he was incarcerated in the Newgate Prison for six months for his outspoken faith. Following that he accepted in full payment for all obligations from the British Crown a great territory in North America called “Pennsylvania”, and on March 4, 1661 Charles II gave him the charter. Penn established a free colony for his Quaker brethren and in 1682, along with many emigrants, sailed for America. It was Penn who laid out the city of Philadelphia, and for two years, before returning to Great Britain he governed wisely, giving full religious freedom to all of the inhabitants of the colony. Several Baptists from England, Wales, and Ireland were among the first settlers. Thomas Dungan, who had fled Ireland because of severe persecution, had sailed to Newport, Rhode Island, to enjoy soul liberty and after several years, in 1684, hearing that a new colony had opened, migrated with a few others to Bucks County, near Philadelphia, and formed a Baptist church, along with a cemetery. Elias Keach, son of the famed English pastor Benjamin Keach, and one of Dungan’s converts referred to him as, “an ancient disciple and teacher among the Baptists.” Dungan finished his course in 1688 and passed the mantle on to Elias who founded the Pennepek church which, subsequently, became the foundation for all of the Baptist work throughout the colony. [William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 1:350. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 563-64]  Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

 

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PATRIOT PREACHERS


These patriot-preachers were   staunchly patriotic, seriously independent, and steadfastly courageous. They   were found in almost all of the various Protestant denominations at the time:   Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Anglican, Lutheran, German Reformed,   etc. Their Sunday sermons — more than Patrick Henry’s oratory, Sam Adams’ and   James Warren’s “Committees of Correspondence,” or Thomas Paine’s “Summer   Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots” — inspired, educated, and motivated the   colonists to resist the tyranny of the British Crown, and fight for their   freedom and independence. Without the Black Regiment, there is absolutely no   doubt that we would still be a Crown colony, with no Declaration of   Independence, no U.S. Constitution, no Bill of Rights, and little liberty.
The exploits of the Black Regiment are legendary. When General George   Washington asked Lutheran pastor John Peter Muhlenberg to raise a regiment of   volunteers, Muhlenberg gladly agreed. Before marching off to join   Washington’s army, he delivered a powerful sermon from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8   that concluded with these words: “The Bible tells us there is a time for all   things and there is a time to preach and a time to pray, but the time for me   to preach has passed away, and there is a time to fight, and that time has   come now. Now is the time to fight! Call for recruits! Sound the drums!”
Then Muhlenberg took off his clerical robe to reveal the uniform of a   Virginia colonel. Grabbing his musket from behind the pulpit, he donned his   colonel’s hat and marched off to war. And as he did, more than 300 of his   male congregants followed him.
Muhlenberg’s brother quotes John Peter as saying, “You may say that as a   clergyman nothing can excuse my conduct. I am a clergyman, it is true, but I   am a member of society as well as the poorest layman, and my liberty is as   dear to me as any man. I am called by my country to its defense. The cause is   just and noble. Were I a Bishop … I should obey without hesitation; and as   far am I from thinking that I am wrong, I am convinced it is my duty so to do   — a duty I owe to my God and my Country.”
Remember, too, it was Pastor Jonas Clark and his congregants at the Church of   Lexington who comprised that initial body of brave colonists called   Minutemen. These were the men, you will recall, who withstood British troops   advancing on Concord to confiscate the colonists’ firearms and arrest Sam   Adams and John Hancock, and fired “the shot heard round the world.”
The “Supreme Knight” and great martyr of Presbyterianism was Pastor James   Caldwell of the Presbyterian church of         Elizabethtown   (present-day Elizabeth), New Jersey. He was called the “Rebel High Priest”   and the “Fighting Chaplain.” He is most famous for the story “Give ’em   Watts!” It is said that at the Springfield engagement, when the militia ran   out of wadding for their muskets, Parson Caldwell galloped to the   Presbyterian church and returned with an armload of hymnbooks, threw them to   the ground, and exclaimed, “Now, boys, give ’em Watts! Give ’em Watts!” — a   reference to the famous hymn writer, Isaac Watts.
Not an easy path: Presbyterian   minister James Caldwell, who gained fame during the battle of Springfield,   New Jersey, when he gathered Watts hymnals from a church for use as rifle   wadding and shouted to the troops as he handed them out, “put Watts into   them,” was killed in the war, as was his wife.
 Then   there was the Baptist, Joab Houghton, of New Jersey. Houghton was in the   Hopewell Baptist Meeting-house at worship when he received the first   information of Concord and Lexington, and of the retreat of the British to   Boston with heavy losses. His great-grandson gave the following eloquent   description of the way he treated the tidings:
Stilling   the breathless messenger, he sat quietly through the services, and when they   were ended, he passed out, and mounting the great stone block in front of the   meeting-house, he beckoned to the people to stop. Men and women paused to   hear, curious to know what so unusual a sequel to the service of the day   could mean. At the first words a silence, stern as death, fell over all. The   Sabbath quiet of the hour and of the place was deepened into a terrible   solemnity. He told them all the story of the cowardly murder at Lexington by   the royal troops; the heroic vengeance following hard upon it; the retreat of   Percy; the gathering of the children of the Pilgrims round the beleaguered   hills of Boston. Then pausing, and looking over the silent throng, he said   slowly: “Men of New Jersey, the red coats are murdering our brethren of New   England! Who follows me to Boston?” And every man of that audience stepped   out into line, and answered, “I!” There was not a coward nor a traitor in old   Hopewell Baptist Meeting-house that day. [Source: Cathcart, The Baptists and the American   Revolution, 1876]
Consider,   too, Pastor M’Clanahan, of Culpepper County, Virginia, who raised a military   company of Baptists and served in the field, both as a captain and chaplain.   Reverend David Barrow “shouldered his musket and showed how fields were won.”   Another Baptist, General Scriven, when ordered by a British officer to give   up Sunbury, near Savannah, sent back the answer, “Come and get it.” Deacon   Mills, of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, “commanded skillfully”   1,000 riflemen at the Battle of Long Island, and for his valor was made a   brigadier general. Deacon Loxley of the same church commanded the artillery   at the Battle of Germantown with the rank of colonel. (Source: McDaniel, The People Called Baptists,   1925)
A list drawn up by Judge Curwen, an ardent Tory, contained 926 names of   British sympathizers living in America — colonial law had already exiled a   larger number — but there was “not the name of one Baptist on the list.”   Maybe this is why President George Washington, in his letter to the Baptists,   paid the following tribute: “I recollect with satisfaction that the religious   society of which you are members has been, throughout America, uniformly and   almost unanimously, the firm friend to civil liberty, and the persevering   promoters of our glorious Revolution.” Maybe it explains why Thomas Jefferson   could write to a Baptist church, saying, “We have acted together from the   origin to the end of a memorable Revolution.”
(Source:   Ibid.)

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