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.