Tag Archives: forefathers


Baptists – The Authors of Soul-Liberty

Isaac Backus-Baptist Historian

Back in 1898, Charles F. James wrote, “there has been manifested at various times…a disposition to rewrite the history…, and to rob our Baptist forefathers of the peculiar honor which has ever been claimed for them, that of being the foremost, most zealous, and most consistent and unwavering champions of soul liberty.”  If he were living today he would know that he was right more than ever.  In the early days of America’s existence there were two Baptist historians, one well known and the other quite obscure.  The one quite know was Isaac Backus who wrote the History of New England from 1620-1804.  The other was John Cromer who was born on Aug. 1, 1704 and died on May 23, 1734.  The brevity of his life kept him from his goal of writing a history but he kept a detailed diary.  In his entry of March 3, 1729, he wrote: “A number of Baptists, Churchmen, and Quakers, 30 persons, of Rehoboth Township, were committed to Bristol (Massachusetts) jail.”  It was because they would not pay the Congregational minister’s salary.  On March 10 he wrote, “I went to visit the prisoners at Bristol with Mr. Stephen Groton.  Upon the request of the prisoners I preached this day in the old prison at Bristol, from Psalm 86:11.  Sundry of the town attended the meeting.”  May we never forget the price that others paid for the liberty that we enjoy and may we be willing to pay the same price that they paid.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 143 – 144.

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Missionary to the Outcasts
We are familiar with many of our great forefathers.  Frequently, however, we are unaware of some of those who assisted and worked alongside those better-known men. George Bana Boardman is such a person.  He was born in Livermore, Maine, on February 8, 1801, the son of a Baptist pastor.  He was ordained at North Yarmouth, Maine, on February 16, 1825.  With his wife, he sailed on July 16 of that same year for Calcutta, India.  There they remained until March 20, 1827, when they embarked for Amherst, Burma, to assist the well – known Adoniram Judson.  They arrived in Burma only days after the burial of Mrs. Ann Judson.
It was decided that the Boardmans should move to the province of Tavoy and establish a mission at its principal town, which was also called Tavoy.  In April 1828, they began their missionary work in that place.  The Karens, who had long been oppressed by the Burmese, held a tradition that at some time messengers from the West would bring to them a revelation from God.  They were prepared to receive our missionaries and their message.  Two converts were soon won, one of whom was Ko Thah-byu, who served as an evangelist to his own people.
Just days before George Boardmans death, he was carried by a cot on the shoulders of the Karens for a three day journey to a zayat built by faithful disciples. More than a hundred were already assembled, nearly half of whom were candidates for baptism.   At the close of the day, his cot was placed at the riverside as they gathered to witness the first baptism ever held in that region.  The Boardmans left the next day to return to Tavoy, while on the second day of the journey, February 11, 1831, George Boardman went to his eternal rest.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from:  This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 79-80.

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In a publication called Sightler Publications of Greenville, S.C., additional confirmation has been given of the historic meeting between Rev. John Leland and James Madison, the Father of the US Constitution.  The Baptists of Virginia, along with Patrick Henry, initially stood in opposition to the ratification of the constitution.  Our  forefathers feared a constitution that did not provide safeguards against limiting the powers of a centralized government.  Without clear assurance that government could impose a “state church” upon the entire nation!  With Leland’s mind and Henry’s oratory they were sure to defeat the ratification of the constitution when it came before the Virginia state convention if they were elected delegates from Orange Co.  When Madison, also from Orange, Co. was told by Joseph Spencer that the Baptists opposed ratification he went to see Leland at his house.  Madison agreed, that if elected to append a Bill of Rights to the constitution, including a First Amendment to prevent of an official “state church.”  Leland withdrew his name and threw his support to Madison for delegate.  Ratification was by 19 votes, 187-168.  Two witnesses confirm that such a meeting did take place between Rev. Leland and Madison, George Nixon Briggs, a Baptist and Gov. of MA, who spoke to Leland in 1837, and John Strode Barbour, a native of Orange, Co.  This is Chronicled in an article by Samuel Chiles Mitchell, Prof. at the U. of Richmond, which appeared in the Religious Herald of Oct. 18, 1934, entitled James Madison and His Co-worker John Leland.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 37-39.

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Once upon a time – maybe that is not the proper way to begin this article, but it is the way I choose. What appears to me to be popular is to read books written by men and thereby gain our Biblical knowledge. The problem that I see is, this is not Biblical knowledge but what some one else states is Biblical.

Our fore-fathers displayed such a profound depth of knowledge in their day that it should shame us today in the shallowness of our “Jesus living.” These men, many with an education that left a lot to be desired learned how to study the Word of God. The availability of the men written books were limited and they had to pursue the Word of God and became knowledgable in the truths of the Word by direct study of God’s Word. Now our command is – “Study to whew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Tim. 2:15.

I see a great problem that is occurring at this time. People have forgotten the rudiments of studying. A simple reminder might be appropriate.

Isaiah 28:9 lays out the method of study clearly when it says – “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 – For precept must be upon precept, precept uon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11 – For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 – “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13 – But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. 14 – Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.

Every time I read weaned, I remember what my father called those saved that were shallow – “BOTTLE BABIES. There are to many that are exactly what Romans 10:2 describes – “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” This is about the same as a car going down the street at top speed with no driver at the wheel and it careens at every bump it hits. That is a dangerous situation.

Will we learn to study the Word of God and not man’s opinion of the Word. May we use wise principles of precept on precept and line on line.

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