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Posted: 26 Feb 2014 07:20 PM PST


Dunster House


Erected 1930


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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143 — May 23 – This Day in Baptist History


To Lay or Not to Lay on Hands



John Comer was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 1, 1704, as the oldest boy of John and Mary Comer. When he was less than two years old, his father sailed to England to visit relatives and died, leaving him in the care of his widowed mother and grandfather Comer.


He entered Cambridge, where he became a Christian and a member of a Congregational church. A friend of his, Ephraim Crafts, joined the Baptist Church, and John Comer took every opportunity to correct this perceived wrong.  After long debate, John Comer was convinced to read Stennett’s work on baptism,  which presented ideas that John Comer had never considered from Scripture.  On May 19, 1726, he was ordained. He reintroduced singing  into the worship services, began regular church records, and collected material  on the history of the church. Although a salary was voted for him when he came,  there were efforts made to use the more Scriptural means of raising money  through the giving of offerings each week, as God had prospered the membership.  A vote was taken and approved on September 8, 1726 for weekly offerings to begin. The former church split returned and the Church prospered.


He came to believe that it was important to have a “laying on of hands” service for newly baptized believers. This was generally believed  by a majority of Baptists. In November, 1728, he preached a sermon on the  subject, but it offended two leading men in the congregation, and his ability  to minister became handicapped.  John Comer along with several other notable Baptist pastors successfully  worked with the Baptists in Connecticut to help them get the same freedoms of  worship granted to the Quakers. His signature was added to the memorial of the  occasion in September, 1729.


He caught tuberculosis due to overexertion and zeal in the work  of the ministry. He died “joyfully” on May 23, 1734, not yet 30 years old. He  had been one of the most eminent preachers of his day, with an unspotted  character and respectable talents and popularity.




One of the things that his work has proven is that the first Baptist church in America was not started by Roger Williams in Providence, Rhode Island, but instead by Thomas Olney, in what became Newport, Rhode  Island.




His death came at a time of severe persecution of Baptists by the Puritans, and the loss of this great pastor and his talents was keenly  felt by many in New England.


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. Thompson/Cummins) pp. 210 -211



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A House For A Church

From nearly the beginning of the Massachusetts Colony until 1769, the Baptists had been persecuted in various ways in the city of Boston and, indeed, throughout the entire colony.  An infant church was first organized in Charlestown near Cambridge.  Thomas Gould became its pastor. He and his members paid dearly. They lost the right to vote, were fined and imprisoned, and were threatened with banishment. Gould was brought before both the secular courts and the church courts and charged with Anabaptism.  This Baptist church came into existence under the influence of Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College, who had adopted baptistic principles.  The church moved from Charlestown to Noddle’s Island and then dared to enter Boston sometime after Gould’s death in 1675.  John Russell became the new pastor.  Philip Squire and Ellis Callender built a small meetinghouse.  This building was so plain that it did not attract the attention of the Boston authorities until it was completed and the church began to use it for worship on February 15, 1679.  On March 8, 1680, the marshal was ordered to nail the doors, which he did, posting the following notice on the door: “All persons are to take notice that, by order of the Court, the doors of this house are shut up, and that they are inhibited to hold any meetings therein, or to open the doors thereof, without license from authority, till the Court take further order, as they will answer the contrary to their peril.”   In May, they came to the property to find the doors open! They went in boldly and held their services in their own building. For nearly 70 years this was the only Baptist church in Boston.

Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from:  This Day in Baptist History  III (David L. Cummins) pp. 93-94

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